29 January 2007

leg rodeo rocks

my world is spinning at an alarming rate of speed. I wish I could talk about what's causing all the spinning but I can't. I really can't. what I need is a break from all the spinning. so I am going to tell you six things about me that are relatively unknown. making lists relaxes me but also, the lovely 62cherry wanted to know. I'm hoping that if I take the time to slow down, think about these things and write them down, then maybe the head-spinning will slow to something more manageable. at this point, I'd settle for a relaxed swivel.


1. I mentally redecorate every house I walk into. even if it's perfect. even if I like it just the way it is. and when I'm telling you I like it, I'm also dreaming up new colors to paint your walls. like buttercup yellow. or water pitcher green. or tangerine dream orange. or whatever.

2. I am ashamed that I don't know how to sew and desperately want to learn. I dream of making wildy colorful patchwork dresses for ava and fantastic purses and a-line skirts for myself.

3. I used to think mimes were cool.

4. I have forbidden myself to visit web MD. too many vague symptoms listed that I may (or may not) seem to have, which of course leads to further fevered exploration. in five short minutes, I am convinced I am suffering from any number of diseases. days and nights are spent worrying, eyes wide open, blankets pulled up to the chin. and then the worrying makes me so sick that I can't tell where it begins or ends. people, I haven't always been like this. something happened when I became a mother and hit my thirties. all I can say is that I am making a concerted effort to mellow out. until then-- no web md, no leisurely trips down the medical aisle at the book store. seriously, I'm not even going to link to web md. and everyone knows I am as link-happy as they come.

5. from 2001 to 2005, I had a booth space in a local antique shop where I sold old travel memorabilia, mid-century lovelies and other vintage goodies. and I loved doing it. absolutely loved it.

6. I am really good at 'leg rodeo'. which is when somebody tries to hold onto your legs while you kick them like crazy all over the place. the object of the game is to make the person lose grip of your legs in the shortest amount of time possible. this is a game that only siblings could come up with, yes? both brothers refuse to believe they can be thrown across the room by me and my freakishly strong gams, but I always win. EVERY TIME. I am unbeatable. a skill like this is bound to come in handy at some point in life. I'd be willing to put money on that.

I'm supposed to tag five people but I've never been really good at that. and I think maybe I was only supposed to list five things instead of six. hard to pay attention to specifics when your head is spinning out of control.

also, I miss summer.

26 January 2007

photobooth friday

my dad (on the right) and his college pal rowdy, milwaukee, 1966

I can't tell the story like my dad. I'm not even going to try. he's the one you want sitting at your dinner table on a friday night. really-- get him going and it's better than what's playing at the local cineplex. I swear. and cheaper, too.

the particulars: one traveling college baseball team and the fine city of milwaukee. a snowed-out double header and a double breasted suit in midnight blue. the song 'hold on' by sam and dave had just come out and the guys, they were so happy. happy that they didn't have to play that double header, thrilled to death that they had the weekend all to themselves. there were nightclubs and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that there were also pretty girls. of course, the double-breasted suit (in midnight blue) was worn. he doesn't remember the photobooth so much as he remembers the weekend. I love to hear him talk about it.

lucky for me, one frame survived. look at my dad, just look at him.

more to look at, more more more:

jek in the box
mati rose
bobby s
maraid design

19 January 2007

photobooth friday

one year later and I still love photobooths. and yes, I still love me some fridays. I think the two have gotten along quite nicely together. sure, they aren't exactly the hot new couple on campus anymore or anything, but they're still cute together. more in the vein of classic-- a la peanut butter and chocolate.

thanks to all y'all for participating, for showing photobooth friday love. when I first started this gig, I thought I'd be sailing alone. I had absolutely no idea anyone else would be interested. and then you all came along with your fantastic photobooth strips and your lovely words and stories and your fridays. if it were possible, I would rent a photobooth and throw a big slumber party in your honor. we would watch scary movies and eat yummy stuff and jump into the booth whenever we felt like it. also, I would make my brother work the turntables so we could dance until we pass out. he owes me one. and don't think for one minute that I am not the kind of girl that wouldn't put aquafresh toothepaste in your hair and paint the words 'photobooth freak' in bright red lipstick all over your face while you are sleeping BECAUSE I WOULD. and then I'd wake you up and make you get inside the photobooth so we would always remember.

keep on keepin on, photobooth friday revolutionaries. if this joint is still cooking 52 weeks from now, well then we had better get our slumber party on. got to start saving my money now, yo. until then, get thee on over to flickr to join the new photobooth friday group. why it's taken me so long to start one up, I'll never know.

and take a lookie at who showed up today:

brina head
the whole self

18 January 2007

thursday love

about a year ago, I participated in my first postcard swap. initially, I was all giggly and excited about it. but then I did that thing where I wait until the very last minute to get started. when that happens, the thing that I have put off doing becomes more like work and less like fun.

all my supplies were neatly laid out on the dining room table, right next to the list of names I'd be sending postcards to. I walked past those supplies several times a day-- folded clothes around them, spilled milk from my cereal on them, fought tooth and nail to keep them safe from grubby little hands. still, they went untouched. and worse, they began to mock me.

when I could stand it no longer, I made my first postcard. while the kids were asleep, I spread everything out on the living room floor and got to work. my name was at stake, people. and I really dug christina (the woman who organized the swap and invited me to take part) and couldn't have her thinking less of me. wouldn't you know? once I got going, I couldn't stop. a kind of euphoria set in-- like when you get lost in a project and you lose all sense of time and place. you don't want to stop to eat or sleep, you don't care about the monumental mess you're making. in fact, the bigger the mess, the better. my kindergarten self came bubbling to the surface and I found out she's pretty tired of being all pushed down and smothered by the grown-up self.

then it came time to mail them off. I'll tell you-- I had a difficult time letting them go. my hand would not release that thick stack of postcards, I was physically unable to drop them into the mailbox. all those little miniature pieces of art that I'd spent so much time on, all of them helplessly out there in the hands of any given postal worker? I hadn't thought about that part. they might be subject to rain. or greasy hands. or worse. they might very well be put in a situation where unnecessary manhandling would be involved. why didn't I put them in envelopes? although, wouldn't that have defeated the whole purpose of sending out postcards? oh, the vulnerability! too much. finally, the guy in the car behind me honked extra loud and rude-like and I came to my senses, reluctantly tossed them into the slot and drove away.

as I turned onto dekalb avenue, I thought about all the different places they would be going-- texas, vermont, california, oregon, arkansas, washington, tennessee, maryland, canada, japan. so terribly exciting to be sending them out into the world like that. I remembered the time in fourth grade when we each attached our names and our school address to balloons. on a sunny afternoon (and in dramatic ceremonial fashion), we let them go. so many red balloons floating away, bright like tulips against the turquoise of the sky, strings trailing and spiraling. I remember the humble little white squares of paper that held our neatly printed names, I remember the way they flapped in the wind. I will never forget the sight of it. the idea behind the project was that maybe somebody somewhere would find your balloon and write to you. I never received a letter but that didn't really matter. the real joy was in the moment I decided to open my hand and let the balloon go. the real fun was in the possibility it represented and what it felt like to intentionally put something good out into the world. where would it go? how far would it travel? who would find it? what would they think? I remember watching my red balloon grow smaller and smaller, I watched until it completely disappeared from sight and I wondered about it and I felt good.

so I've decided I have mad love for postcard swaps. even though I've only done one. I've just signed up for another and am planning on organizing one of my own. if you care to join in, leave something in the comments or email me. details will be decided in the coming weeks. or we could all get together and release red balloons into the sky. I'm open, you know.

(more thursday love aka TILT here)

15 January 2007

right on

"hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

12 January 2007

photobooth friday

(ava, city museum, december 31, 2005)

"courage... courrr-aaage... what does that mean?"

"um, it's kind of like bravery, what it means to be brave. do you know what that means?"

"sort of."

"okay, well... you would be considered brave if you did something that needed to be done, even if you were really REALLY scared to do it. get it?"

"kind of... not really."

"when was the last time you were scared?"

"today in school, when I had to go up to the teacher's desk to get a kleenex to blow my nose."

"you know what? when I was in 4th and 5th grade, I HATED walking up to the front of the class room to sharpen my pencil... I hated it so much that I'd wait until my pencil was worn down to the nub, until I couldn't write with it anymore. then I would take a deep breath and make the long walk to the pencil sharpener."

"but why were you so scared?"

"because I didn't like the idea of everyone looking at me. it made me nervous."


(long pause)

(and then her face lights up)

"hey! that sounds just like me! that's just like what I felt like too!"

"I KNOW! we're so totally the same. so did you get the kleenex anyway, even though you were scared?"

"yup. I didn't want to but I HAD to."

"see, that took courage. you were afraid to do something but you knew you had to do it and you did it. you were brave! understand now?"

(she nods)

"courage. I like that word."

"yeah. it's a good word".

and then we finished the chapter of the book we were reading (matilda), said our prayers and exchanged hugs and kisses. nightlights were turned on and sheets and blankets were adjusted to accomodate hot little feet.

night after night of this same sort of thing and I have grown to love it exponentially. not just the nightly bedtime rituals, but more so the reading. to have that short-lived time with her-- re-reading the books that I grew up loving, explaining what certain words and ideas mean (which almost always leads to a good story or two), witnessing the light of recognition in her eyes. surely she will be reading chapter books on her own soon. she reads picture books just fine now but I know it won't be long before I find her hunched over a book with a flashlight, way past bedtime. at least, that's what I'm hoping. that's where my love of books was born-- impossible stacks checked out from the library each week and then me under the blankets, unable to sleep for all the reading. I could not stop reading. in this way, worlds cracked wide open for me.

I am wishing that for ava. but I am also wishing that this time I spend reading to her never ever ends.

more photobooth friday reads:

the whole self
shameless self promoters

11 January 2007

ten days

(day two)

the day after my 36th birthday, I began to (purposefully) take a photograph each day.

(day three)

I already seem to be shooting all the time, but somehow this felt different. in the sense that I was setting out to do something I'd never done before, something that felt huge to me. no matter what kind of day I was having, there was always this thing I was doing.

(day four)

and then, just when I was really starting to find the joy in it, when I was really getting into the habit of the everydayness of it, just when the set was beginning to take on some sort of interesting shape, my camera broke.

(day 8)

really, I shouldn't have been so easily thrown. but there I was, all thrown. as if the project would be immune to any sort of hiccups along the way.

(day 9)

I do have the grandest of plans to pick right up where I left off the moment a new camera is in my hands, but until then-- these ten days of photographs will have to do.

(more of my humble beginnings can be found here)

09 January 2007

two for tuesday

I'm through apologizng for all my meme-doing. you can thank lovely kristen for today's diversion:

two names you go by:

choochi (not really, but a girl can dream)

two parts of your heritage:


two things that scare you:

enclosed spaces

two everyday essentials:

kiss me lip balm
camera (of which I am currently without)

two things you are wearing right now:

I heart new york tee
shaggy pink socks (which, according to ward, make my feet look disturbingly like muppets)

two of your favorite current bands/artists:

mars ILL (checkit, the new album is ironsides)
sufjan stevens

two things you want in a relationship (other than love):


two truths:

I like to spread elmers glue on the palm of my hand, let it dry and then peel it all off
I once stole a spoon and I don't like to talk about it

two favorite hobbies:

making all kinds of junk

two things you have to do this week:

go to the farmers market
go to the post office to mail out packages

two stores you shop at:


two favorite sports:


two shows you like to watch:

the office
project runway

two things you'd buy if money were no object:

a rickety old (but completely renovated) cobblestone house with secret hallways, working fireplaces, clawfoot tubs, hidden reading nooks, bleached out wooden floors, ridiculously slanted ceilings and a family room with a photobooth... and a studio out back... and a big garden... and a place for a hammock and a porch swing and hundreds of string lights zigzagging all over the joint

a villa just outside florence, italy

two wishes for 2007:

I wish to laugh everyday-- really really hard, like when you are laughing so hard you can't breathe and you almost make yourself sick

I wish to see a little more of the world

05 January 2007

photobooth friday

firstly: I think her name was something like a judith. and she wanted to be a writer but ended up in cosmetology school instead. you know, because her uncle said he'd pay for it and all.

secondly: dig that ridiculously fantastic coat collar. and something about her pose, the plaid background and striped awning at the top of the frame has me happy in a way I can't really explain.

lastly (and most importantly): thank you, photobooth angel, for sending me a christmas card full of vintage photobooth snapshots. all those little sepia-toned squares falling into my lap when I least expected it. like manna from heaven. a thousand times over, thank you. (you know who you are)

and the first official photobooth friday postings of the new year are (drum roll, please):

bobby S

(with honorable mentions to nessie noodle and woof nanny)

04 January 2007

the first year ever

collage for week #1, from the list

sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store, I watched the people go in and out. there was the man with the slumped posture and sad eyes carrying a bag full of pink carnations. the slick-looking man dressed in chocolate browns from head to toe, smoking a cigar. and the woman with jeans so tight she could barely walk in a straight line. I try to look and really see. and I like to write. when I'm sitting in the car like that, I like to paint a little, paste things. I read. I listen to music. I take photographs. I think about things and I'm quiet.

this is when I am most creative-- in the middle of the afternoon in a parking lot while ezra naps. it's unfamiliar territory to me but I'll take it, I'll take it when I can get it. I used to be a hardcore night owl, the juiciest parts of my creative self only making appearances after the midnight hour. I just can't do that anymore and can barely stand to admit it. every once in a while, I'll feel the surge of something electric and I'll stay up all night to see where it takes me. those impulses are growing dim, though-- as if my brain has a hand on a dimmer switch somewhere inside my head. suddenly, sleep seems like the smart thing to do. sleep is no longer the necessary evil I used to see it as, but the gateway to bright eyes and patience. to health, energy and daytime creativity.

if I have any sort of new years resolution at all, it is to honor that creativity whenever it comes, whatever form it takes. this is the first year in many, many years that I haven't made any real resolutions. because they're almost always the same and by the end of the year, I find that I've won a little, lost a little. I am the queen of breaking even. I have absolutely no intention of breaking those standing resolutions, I'm just not going to make a big deal about them like I always do. for the next 365 days, I'm going to try to work my way through the list. I want to continue to look and see and write, to paint a little, paste a lot. I would like to listen to music and take photographs and think about things and be quiet. and when I'm not in the car waiting for children, I want to move my body (dance) and be loud and joyful.

and sleep.

03 January 2007

of course

I caught them fighting over cardboard boxes yesterday. the bodies of the toys aren't even cold yet and they've turned to the boxes. oh yes, it was a scene christmas morning-- a tightly-wound ezra ripping into the box that held THE buzz lightyear doll-- something like high-pitched squealing and some frantic jumping and wide-eyed adoration over the highly-anticipated arrival of buzz. oh buzz. poor buzz. he was hot for about 72 hours but now lays prostrate in the corner of ezra's room. we occasionally hear him proclaim I AM BUZZ LIGHTYEAR I COME IN PEACE and it's like he's talking to himself. like he's trying to convince himself that he's as important as he ever was.

once ezra discovered that the box could be worn on his head like so, that was it. the box went with us everywhere. he wore it in the car, fell asleep while wearing it, tried to take on entire imaginary armies with it on. and once, while I was driving, I pulled it off his sweaty, sleeping head and put it on myself. I wanted to see what the big deal was. I'll tell you, I kind of liked it. or maybe I just liked the way other drivers reacted, I don't know.

though the interest in the buzz lightyear box has slightly waned, the desire for cardboard has not. two days after christmas, ava and ezra almost threw down over a flimsy strip of cardboard. it wasn't even a box (a good box is sometimes worth fighting for)-- it was a long, skinny piece of cardboard bent accordian-style. they both desperately wanted it and were ready to shed blood for it. and the words came flying out of my mouth before I could even think about what I was saying: ALL THOSE TOYS AND THIS IS WHAT YOU PLAY WITH? I'M CALLING SANTA! I'M SERIOUS! I'LL CALL HIM UP RIGHT NOW AND HE'LL COME AND TAKE ALL THESE TOYS AWAY! OH YES HE WILL! no, I'm not proud of myself but it was the voice of an exhausted, frazzled mother. the one who spent hours obsessing over the ramifications of so much barbie in her daughter's life, the one who went to four different targets to find the froggy rainboots for her son. she is the one who stayed up all night painting and decorating a small suitcase, filling it with supplies to make a special writing kit for her daughter. she is also the one who stayed up all christmas eve night to wrap presents and fill stockings and make sure that everything looked like it had been touched with the magic of santa claus (all in the fine details, you know). the words came flying out and I couldn't help myself. sounding like so many mothers before me and so many more to come, I know. and now I think I will run for Martyr of the Year because I am sure to win.

I'm over it now, I think. that is to say, I didn't lose it when the fighting over the boxes hit new heights yesterday. at least we've moved on from strips of cardboard to boxes, I thought. actually, I'm a little proud of the creativity behind the construction of ava's makeshift playhouse. I think maybe it's at the end of the day (that magic hour, you know the one-- from 5 to 6 o'clock) when they're both screaming over the boxes that gets to me. out of the corner of my eye, I spy (the now powerless) buzz lying in the corner. I know the contents of ava's new writing kit are strewn all over her bedroom floor and the barbies have been set up in the same position at the barbie totally real house (so TOTALLY real) for three days now. the fact that barbie's doorbell really rings, that the toilet makes a real live flushing sound, that the washer and dryer really spin-- the novelty of all that has completely worn off. ava has abandoned them to live in a box in the hallway with nothing but a lantern, her two teddy bears and her wits. the scenario is complete only when ezra beats on the outside of the box with little fists of fury and wants in. ava screams and I am called to duty. totally baffled, I shake my head in disbelief. and then I remember how much fun I had taking my mom's maxi pads and making them into twin-sized beds for my barbies. no toy in the history of the world can compete with the childhood joy experienced when making something from nothing. thus, the allure of the cardboard. how could I have forgotten that?

I suppose I should enjoy this stage. before the onslaught of video games and all things electronic. long live the cardboard, I say. long live cardboard. I've made my peace with it and am ready to get on with my life already.