31 December 2005

seek and ye shall find

it's true: I've done more than my fair share of complaining. it's so easy to do. it just sort of wears on you, the everydayness. dirt and the rocks, that's what it is. the everyday dirt and rocks of a foundation you work so hard to build, and you get lost in it and then it becomes near impossible to see what you were working so hard to create in the first place.

and then all of the sudden, it is the last day of the year and you find yourself looking back. if you're lucky, you really see. you are able to look beyond the daily gritting of teeth, the sweating, the steady application of much elbow grease, the inconvenience of 365 days of living and you see your life for what it really is. people, I am an expert whiner, I am superb. my skills in this area are unmatched (it may surprise some people to know that I am the pessimist, the realist and ward is the eternal optimist in this marriage deal). I am not so dense though, so steeped in my ways that I can't see the beauty in my life that is spilling out all over the place. I am so rich, I am rolling in it, I'm drenched and saturated. love, love, love. I see it, feel it even when I don't want to.

this year: watching ava and ezra grow up in a million heart-breaking little ways (too many to name), playing in the ocean, dancing again, teaching again, celebrating eleven years of marriage, and wow, the writing I have done. this blog gig broke open a world I didn't even know existed until about a year ago. and the people I have met along the way have inspired me in the most divine ways. I'm humbled by the creativity and support my new friends have so willingly offered up. sitting here writing this, I feel something crazy and alive bubbling under my surfaces and I am excited to think of where it will take me. I have been laying in bed at night, eyes wide open. thinking clearly and slowly untangling threads of ideas in my head. the possibility of art, of painting, drawing, of photography, of choreography, of more dancing, more writing, it's too much. I feel good and green and bursting with colors, seconds away from eruption.

2006! here it comes. to my friends, my family, the world-- happy new year.

22 December 2005

it's the thought

ava has really gotten into the spirit of things. she has taken to wrapping up tiny little found objects to give to all her school friends. I haven't had the heart to tell her that her classmates might not be so excited about receiving a piece of an old pencil eraser. frankly, I was thrilled to see her focus shift from getting to giving. it's an exciting thing to witness, it's what you hope for as a parent. even if it has been breaking my heart on the daily. any little thing that caught her eye (which included the cracked half of a plastic pink bead she found on the floor of the thrift store the other day) was lovingly wrapped in a minuscule piece of red tissue paper and a whole mess of tape. she held them in her hands the other day, all those tiny little red packages. she held them carefully, as if they were jewels and her eyes shone with pride. she could not wait to give them to everyone in her class and I said a small prayer that her friends would somehow see the love behind the odd little gifts. and then in the car on the way home from school the other day, she told me that she had given out all her presents. she looked out the window and said nothing else. and of course, this worried me but I did not pry.

yesterday, we had lunch with ava at her school to celebrate the grand opening of the new cafeteria. as we sat eating macaroni and cheese and fruit cocktail (naturally), a little boy eyed me from across the table. I could tell that he was working up to the saying of something. then finally, "ava gave me a present," he said, grinning generously. oh, he was so happy about that little gift, he was. and then ava, she smiled too-- a smile as wide and as open as the whole of the sun.

kids, man. they can be so cool.

19 December 2005

fa la la la la

I am currently in a state of super-crazy-holiday-momminess. I'm not screaming at sarcastic sales people or swiping parking spaces from nice old ladies in oldsmobiles or anything like that but I am feeling completely spent. super-mommy wants to make everything extra-special for everyone, but andrea (the real live human-being) is unable to do so without some sort of superhero powers. and so I am letting it go. which is why I decided to post the above photo of the ava girl because I look at this and I think that I'd like to be all wrapped up in her glowy happiness and earnest anticipation. so I am going to try to let go of all the lists and the urgenturgenturgent need to cross all items off said list and I am going to get all wrapped up in the spirit with ava and ezra and ward and my family and friends. maybe it's corny but goodbye to all my caring about what's corny and what's not because we are going to sing and bake cookies and dance around the house in our pajamas and wrap presents and celebrate the birth of christ and revel in the love.

I'm off to revel. I'm wishing you the same.

13 December 2005

self portrait tuesday #16

more self portrait tuesday loveliness here and here.

12 December 2005

hello, I'm 35

hello, I'm 35 years old

and I'm blissed out. check it:

1. adorable children and husband treating me to breakfast in bed (which would be a warm krispy kreme donut with birthday candles stuck in it and a glass of ice-cold milk).
2. an ava-girl original birthday card (best present EVER).
3. and more food: lunch with all my people at figo. butternut squash ravioli good enough to make the knees buckle and the eyes roll back in the head. chaotic and lovely and everyone together.
4. three words: RED. VELVET. CAKE.
5. and you know there were presents (and they were good ones).
6. a fabulously designed birthday card (jan, I LOVE it) and an inspired gift from poppy.
7. a little shopping spree at victory vintage (where loverboy is painting a mural in return for a nice little chunk of store credit).
8. a massage at my favorite local spa, natural body.
9. brown suede wedges that I finally broke down and bought myself.
10. and still, more food: dinner with ward at agnes & muriel's. working on my '35 things to do before I turn 40' list over fried green tomatoes and mashed potatoes. ward kept making me laugh thus preventing me from finishing this list (stalled at number 21).
11. lovely words from the man I love most (thank you).

people, it was a birthday weekend extravaganza. started off with a bang when we hit the scene at husband's work christmas party. no lie, there was a photobooth on site (free and unlimited use! I almost passed out, I swear). hence the above photo. AND there were fresh strawberries and a chocolate fountain. A CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN, PEOPLE. that's really just about all I need. saturday included a trip to the fleamarket with my momma and the purchasing (and setting up) of a fresh christmas tree. the house smells fantastic. and so today, I am on a post-birthday high. me likies birthdays.

09 December 2005

oh christmas tree

soon the house will be filled with the scent of fresh pine. we are headed to pick out a tree this weekend and when we bring it home, we will play vince guaraldi's charlie brown christmas music and sit on the couch and stare lovingly at it. we'll be breathing deeply, through the nose, taking in as much of that christmas tree smell as possible. eventually, we'll get around to stringing the lights on (a day or so later) and then finally, the ornaments. ah, the ornaments. sadly, all the vintage ornaments (so carefully wrapped in paper and just waiting to make their yearly appearance) will have to remain in the attic. ezra is completely and totally head over heels in love with and obsessed with balls. or anything AT ALL ball-like in nature. 'BAH! BAH!", he screams. or "BOON! BOON!" when he catches sight of a balloon. he dives into the refrigerator the moment I open it, hoping to get his hands on an orange or an apple or kiwi whereupon he will throw the poor fruit around until it is reduced to mush. I knew we wouldn't be able to hang the ornaments on the tree this year but thought at least maybe I'd be able to set them all out in clear glass bowls around the house (which is what we did when ava was two). but I just KNOW that once he lays his big brown eyes on all those sparkly little orbs (placed just out of reach), it will be all over. it will become his personal mission to get his hands on any and all ornaments and my time will be consumed with preventing him from doing this. there will be unbelievably wild acts of baby desperation: supernatural scaling of walls and furniture to get at said ornaments, crying, whining, baby-like pleading and begging. and you know, you just can't reason with a baby. which is why I have chosen not to bring them out (oh how I will miss you, glittery little ornaments). they will stay nestled in their old cardboard 'shiny brite' boxes. and we'll be cutting out many MANY paper stars to hang on the tree instead.

06 December 2005

self portrait tuesday #15

reflection all over the place, what with this month's self portrait tuesday theme and me turning 35 in like, less than a week. bring it, I'm READY. (shut yer piehole nate I am embracing my age and I am proud of it and OH YEAH YOU ARE IN YOUR THIRTIES TOO).

04 December 2005

keeping my head above water

clothes fresh from the dryer, the japanese maple in our front yard (currently a brilliant fiery red), ava's new pixie cut, music by the shins (chutes too narrow please because I cannot get enough), my husky/scratchy/raspy head cold voice (that I wish I could keep forever), freshly painted toes in crimson (thank you amy), sugar lemon soap , this birthday/christmas wish list (that was loads of fun to make), ava's super enthusiastic nightly discoveries of planet venus and all the stars, these bright colored photos (that make me want to lick the computer screen), strawberries dipped in chocolate,  paper snowflake-making (with the ava-girl), a dance class high, the promise of a red velvet cake, ezra walking around with boots on his hands, the scent of freshly cut christmas tree, the possibility of a tuesday night trip to star bar (whereupon I will dance with lovely dancer friends to the likes of double dutch bus and come home with clothes drenched in sweat), recently thrifted knee-high boots, a new season of project runway (I can't wait, people), ward's new beard (which I am weak in the knees over), this christmas album by my bro (original album cover art by this totally hot guy I know), the possibility of a road trip to see this art exhibit, the unconditional love heaped on me daily via sloppy kisses, frantic squeezes and much bum rushing.

I'll not front. the title here was indeed inspired by the good times theme song. ain't we lucky we got em? you know you want to sing the song now, don't fight it.

01 December 2005

dance class

photo by david olivari.

class was so good the other night that I slept in my leotard and sweats. walked in the door of my home and crashed, deliciously exhausted yet strangely energized and ready to take on whatever the world might be dishing out. with as much as I have been squawking about getting back into it, I finally felt like my foot was in the door of a place I have not been to in some time. oh, I have been going to class but really struggling to find my way back.

just getting myself there every tuesday night feels like an impossible feat, one that I am continuously attempting with what feels like several large rock-filled bags attached to my body. slow and deliberate and just a little bit agonizing. ava takes creative movement at the beam right before my class and so there's a whole special tuesday night routine that must be carefully followed lest things fall apart at the seams and wreak havoc on the entire evening. it starts with dinner (which must be served early) and is then followed by a drawn-out potty time that absolutely positively must take place. then comes a whole mess of dance clothes that have to be squeezed into while ezra runs amok. there's the hurried round-up, the packing of everyone in the car (which often feels like I am collecting marbles that are rolling in all directions). there's the trip to pick up ward at work downtown whereupon I try not to race and swerve and pass and speed. we sing along to 'they might be giants' here come the ABCs (at the top of our lungs, natch) and we do this to get excited about dance class. but also to keep ezra from falling asleep. if he sleeps early then there will be hell to pay and we might be in for an epic struggle at bed time involving relentless whining that will feel a little like chinese water torture and will make us want to whine and cry too. so I feel like I am tormenting ezra by tickling him, singing loudly or rolling down the window a tad for 'a little bit of cold air' to keep him awake but it must be done. normally, I would not have him in the car at this time of day, but it is unavoidable. why don't I just prod him with an electric stick? I feel like a horrible mother. and nine times out of ten, he falls into a deep sleep by the time we pull up to ward's work. then there's the fight to make it through traffic the short distance to moving in the spirit, where class takes place. we struggle to make it on schedule and by the time we pull up, I am on edge. I hate being late. after ava's class is over, ward takes both of the kids home while I stay to take (the oh-so-fantastic) wayne smith's 7:45 modern technique class. but by 7:45, I am depleted of about 98% of my energy. my reserves are low and I wonder how I am going to make it through class. I'm tired. I want to go home and cuddle up on the couch with ward. but I stay. I stay because I remember how important it is for me to stay, how good it feels to move, to sweat, to dance. I stay because I can't give up on that part of me. and I try not to think about the times in my life where class was an everyday occurrence, late night rehearsals were the norm and I try not to think about how much I took all that for granted.

and so I am there. I have been getting myself to class for a while now but this tuesday night felt different. oh, I was still tired but once we started moving, things started to feel electric. when you are dancing and everything is working the way it should be, it feels a little like your body is taking you for a ride. everything you have is engaged- brain, muscle, skin, bone, organs, nerves, cells, blood, breath, EVERYTHING. muscles expand and contract, the back widens, shoulders relax and drop, the chest opens up. your movements are weighted but you feel like you are floating. mad energy spirals up and out of the core of the body, out through the fingertips, the top of your head and every part of you feels like it is alive and buzzing. you are moving through space fully and effortlessly and it feels exactly like it sounds. it feels AMAZING. it's glorious, such a thrill. it's a little bit like flying and yes, a lot like a good ride at the carnival. don't get me wrong, you are working and thinking and (best of all) sweating (oh, the sweating) but it feels more like the natural, automatic rhythm of breathing. which is where I found myself the other night.

my chica danette says that dance 'shakes things loose and free' and I think there is no better way to say it than that. which is why I keep dancing. and why the fight to get there is worth it.

(check out this photographer's beautiful work on flickr. he is responsible for the stunning photo above and best captures what movement really feels like, I think. I am especially taken with this set. oh yes, and thank you wayne.)

29 November 2005


remember that the most beautiful things in life are also the most useless. peacocks and lilies, for instance. -john rushkin

24 November 2005


happy birthday to my lovely lovely boy. had you not been born on that 24th day of november, who knows where I'd be. I've been thinking all week long about you and all the fantastically quirky and lovable things about you and how you embrace your age like a proud teenager. I want to write about you forever, you are so good. even when you are driving me batty and making me pull my hair out and everything feels wrong, you are good. so I bake the chocolate cake with ava and we get crazy with the sprinkles. we make your card together. I wrap your presents, wishing I had more to give you, wishing I had some sort of spectacular surprise that would take your breath away and make you squeal with boyish glee (yes, that's right- BOYISH GLEE). because what I have to give you seems sort of ordinary and humble (even though I know you'll really like it). it's not the keys to a charming old villa in the middle of tuscany or a shiny new turquoise vespa scooter or even a huge box filled with every single item off your amazon wish list (just a few of the things I would slap a big red bow on and give to you if it were at all possible). does the fact that I wish I could give you these things count as anything? thing is, you'll read this and you'll tell me yes. yes andrea, it does, it counts.

and this will make me smile. which is why I am so glad you were born and why I married you in the first place, homeboy.

it's all about the mashed potatoes

and (lest I sound ungrateful), giving thanks.

happy thanksgiving, y'all.

22 November 2005

self portrait tuesday #14

yes I am a girlie girl. I'm not afraid to say it. there's no shame in my game here because there seems to be some balance. yes to pink and red, to glittery, sparkly things but also yes to getting dirty, to swimming in my own sweat. yes to sexy kitten heels and fab wedges but also yes to crusty old (beloved) shelltoe adidas sneaks. yes to smelling nice (like lemons and roses and sugar, please) but also yes to knowing that you are occasionally going to smell bad and then, you know, being okay with that. yes to curves for days and lovely skin and endless softness but also yes to power and muscle and strength beneath those curves.

yes, I say.

(more self portrait tuesday identity explorations here)

21 November 2005

with electric brains

the other day, as we were getting out of the car to go into the book store, ava says this:

"this place smells like robots."

and really, I just want a mind that works like that.

17 November 2005

that tooth fairy, she can fly

ava lost her first baby tooth on monday at school. that sweet little tooth. it's been hanging on for a while now, threatening to flee the scene. hung around long enough to get a taste of the halloween candy goodness and then it must've decided it was time to give up the fight. so tiny, that sweet little baby tooth. which got me to thinking about how tiny that ava-girl once was and well, I don't think I can stand to think about that for too long. I start to feel all mushy and soft and sentimental inside and there's just no time for that today, no time for the weepiness.

we spent monday evening excitedly discussing the tooth fairy. is she small? or is she a giant? how does she know when all the kids lose their teeth? what does she wear? does she fly? and if so, how? we have come to the conclusion that she is very tiny and that she travels with a tiny computer where she receives emails from all over the world from parents of newly toothless children. we're pretty sure she can fly and also believe she has sparkly wings that change colors. we decided we needed a special box for the tooth and so out came the paints and brushes and crayons and an old jewelry gift box that was just begging to be reincarnated as something more fabulous and important. I had to hold back my gasp of mama-like horror as ava placed that FRESHLY PAINTED little box under her pillow. one look into those eyes all lit up with excitement and possibility... I just didn't have the heart to point out how the gloppy wet paint might make a mess. bedtime was a breeze that night, you would have thought it was christmas eve. and true to christmas-morning fashion, ava woke me VERY EARLY the next morning to show me what the tooth fairy had left in the box: a plastic purple heart ring with a dollar bill attached and a shiny new fifty-cent piece.

and that big kid tooth is already pushing its way through, the first of so many. when ava went to show off her 'new' smile to daddy, he said, "wow. you look like a real kid!"... and it breaks my heart a little, but she does. she really does.

(ava drew a picture of the whole thing and it is lovingly featured here on loverboy's blog... and there's a little more of the toothless wonder here)

15 November 2005

self portrait tuesday #13

I look at this photograph and and can't help but remember how idealistic, how optimistic and free-spirited I was at age twenty-four. I was a newlywed, therefore I walked around in a perpetual state of bliss. I was also knee-deep in the joyous trenches of dance-- teaching, working with kids in the inner city, performing and finishing up a degree in dance education. I was so on fire to change the world.

so, I'm a little different now. ten years will do that to a girl. I'm a little less optimistic, a little less free-spirited, a lot less idealistic. a little broken maybe. but so much stronger and smarter. and seasoned in ways I never thought possible. I know who I am. the barefoot girl whipping her skirt around in the photo still buzzes around inside my head. she is occasionally called upon to breathe new life into the beat down part of me that hangs on by a thread. and she represents a sacred facet of my identity I hope to hold onto for the rest of my days. though I keep this photo around as a reminder. just in case I forget.

(take a little looky at what others doing for the self portrait tuesday identity challenge.)

14 November 2005

when disaster strikes

oh, it was to be a weekend filled with much goodness, a weekend that held fantastic possibility. there was to be a visit from parents, a trip to the fleamarket, a double date (to the movies), two birthday dinners for friends (one to include dancing, OH THE DANCING), a chili cook-off and a trip to the newly re-opened high museum of art (for FREE). ah, but the weekend gods had something else in mind, something more in the vein of disaster. the parents were here less than twenty four hours before being called home for a family emergency. and before we could salvage the weekend, the sick children were called in. yes, there was public vomiting and a high fever, the kind of fever that reduces mothers to tightened little balls of nerves and forces them to curl up on the couch into fetal positions. no, I could not enjoy a saturday night viewing of disc one of season two of arrested development, could not even enjoy that golden time when the kids have been put down and you know that the evening is yours. there was worrying to do and of course, more vomiting (this time by ezra). and all of this sickness, this paralyzing maternal fear cancelled out the fleamarket, the double date, the birthday dinners, the chili cook-off and the high museum of art. and essentially any chance we had of recovering from the unexpected and quite disappointing departure of my parents.

I love this photo of my mom and dad holding me and my brother nate, have loved it for so many years now, for so many reasons. but now I love it because I can relate. because this could just as easily be a photograph of me and ward holding ava and ezra. sort of speaks to the kind of weekend we had and I am strangely comforted by it. I am reminded that it is just going to go down like this sometimes, things are going to fall apart and sometimes all you can do is hope to make it through. and that's what we did, we made it through. we took care of the kids and tried to hold it together and sometimes that's all you can do.

09 November 2005

like peanut butter and chocolate

the beatnik and the butterfly. excuse me, butterfly fairy. ten days after halloween and we're all finally coming down off a legendary sugar high, the kind of sugar high that people write songs about. and the good candy is long gone. I know it's gone because I broke down the other day and finally ate the mounds bar (why? because SOMEONE HAD TO).

for more photos of the fairy in flight and the beatnik that looks more like a french thief, clickety-click here.

it's the magic number

two is the magic number. well, no. we all know it's three but let's just pretend like it's two for the sake of the title. the oh so lovely poppy would like for me to do this and since I think she's the BEE'S KNEES, I'm saying yes! yes, I will do this. like anyone would have to twist my arm. hello, my name is andrea and I'm addicted to memes and questionnaires.

two names you go by:
1. hula/girlhula
2. and this

two parts of your heritage:
1. italian (predominantly)
2. german (vaguely)

two things that scare you:
1. heights
2. and these

two of your everyday essentials:
1. this
2. lip gloss in 'love nectar' made by these people

two things that you are wearing right now:
1. my brown leather wrist cuff
2. a pair of these ...though mine don't really look like that. they're black leather (and wooden) and made by BP and I love them. I've also been known to clunk around in brown ones and would like some in red, please.

two of your favorite bands or musical artists (at the moment):
1. mum
2. mars ILL

two favorite songs (at the moment):
1. 'trapeze swinger', by iron and wine
2. 'I've been thinking', by handsome boy modeling school (featuring cat power)

two things you want in a relationship (other than real love):
1. fun
2. passion (the gloriouslyreallifemessyrollercoasterridemakemecrazy kind)

two truths:
1. I would drink ice cold coca cola for breakfast every morning if it wasn't just the most horrible thing for my health
2. I believe in kicky little berets

two physical traits in the opposite sex that appeal to you:
1. lips and eyes like these
2. personal style like this

two of your favorite hobbies:
1. making stuff like this
2. photography

two things you want really badly:
1. a holga
2. an airline ticket to new york

two places you want to go on vacation:
1. here
2. and here (yes, I'd like to go back, would love to take ava and ezra)

two things you want to before you die:
1. see the world with this man
2. watch my children grow up, watch them raise my grandchildren in happiness and health (thank you jan, rhonna- can't put it any better than this)

two ways you are stereotypically a dude/chick:
1. I'm such a girly-girl who loves to shop and look at sparkly girly things like clothes and jewelry and shoes and make-up
2. I love fresh flowers

two things you are thinking about right now:
1. I need to brush my teeth and wash my face before it is officially wednesday afternoon
2. where can I buy a pink wig?

two stores you shop at:
1. here
2. and here (when I can)

two people you would like to do this:
1. lulu
2. m

06 November 2005

how to survive

all too often, I find myself on my hands and knees cleaning up slimy green peas. or chunks of watermelon. or cottage cheese. all foods that will never make it into ezra's mouth, foods that will meet with an unfortunate fate, foods that will end up in those doughy little fists only to be enthusiastically flung into the air. and it's my job to clean it all up. now, the ez is a fairly good eater but he is (after all) a baby and when babies are finished eating they like to to tell you. they yell, they squirm, they throw the leftovers. they just want those peas to GO. AWAY. which is where I come in and I've got to tell you, I detest the cleaning up of the aftermath. something about being on all fours, my face inches away from a sticky, grimy wooden floor that is screaming to be cleaned. nothing brings on such an unwelcome look at my everyday reality as this (and here's the part where I talk about that bath product called calgon and how they claim to take the average housewife far, far away but it's a lie, people don't buy into it because seriously, you need a plane ticket to tahiti and a private masseuse for that sort of escape). the thought of a hot bath only reminds me of yet another room in the house that needs to be vigorously scrubbed. and who wants to soak in a soup of filth? clearly CLEARLY out of the question. at least until the bathroom is clean. and so there I am, crouching under the dining room table, muttering complaint after complaint under my breath while the kids giggle above me, oblivious to my miserable state (thankfully). I can't help but wonder how my mom did it for so many years with three kids-- all those messes, those runny noses to wipe, the countless dinners to make, the piles and piles of laundry, the daily drama, the hardcore everydayness of everyday.

and I understand why she started painting. I finally get why she was often taking a class of some sort or learning how to make something or getting together with friends to make something. everyone needs to play. I am really understanding just how important that is in our big bad important world of adultness, what with all of our hang-ups and responsibilities, how essential it is to find the time to play. why does it always seem to be at the bottom of my list when it should be near the top? isn't it the the very thing that keeps us from going to that crazy place? to paint, to write, to make a collage, to chase bubbles with ezra, to spin around and around with ava until we are dizzy and laughing and on the ground. this is what keeps me from having a little breakdown under the dining room table with all the peas.

02 November 2005

it calls out, this dancing

"marcel duchamp said art is primarily an intellectual activity, right? well, that's not where I live. I want my art to be tender, brave, sexy, outrageous, seductive. I ask myself, is that being fair? yes, I say. yes, it's fair because I'm the one who makes the rules. so don't buy a ticket if you can't handle that." -bill t. jones

m, this is for you. and it's for me. it's for anyone and everyone. bill t. jones, I celebrate you. because you believe that all body types belong on stage and that amazing movers come in all shapes, all sizes. because you once said that 'modern dance was nobody's sleeping beauty' (amen and hallelujah to that). because when you conducted a master class with fifty nervous young dancers, you still took the time to come around and personally introduce yourself to each one of us, warmly shake each hand. because during that ridiculously nerve-wracking ninety minute class where everyone seemed to be watching everyone else, you had us whispering desires and screaming our names, you had us flying effortlessly through thick summer air. because you created a book about modern dance for children that I am proud to read to my daughter, my son. because you make breathtaking work, work that is indeed tender, brave, sexy, outrageous and seductive. because watching you perform, watching your company onstage can only be defined as exhilarating. because you make me feel like singing, like shaking, like jumping, like grinning, like crying, like dancing.

01 November 2005

self portrait tuesday #12

"when in doubt, overdress." -vivienne westwood

I am crazy about this month's 'self portrait tuesday' challenge. any excuse to experiment, to play, to think, to take on unfamiliar roles or gently expose facets of the personality that rarely see the light of day... I do believe this goes beyond wigs and sunglasses. and carnival/circus act headpieces, as pictured above, ha. though I'm not going to pretend that I am above playing dress up (oh yes, there's a reason ava has two giant old suitcases overflowing with feathery, glittery, colorful junk with even more in the attic and I can't stop). I'm not going to pretend that my initial attraction to the challenge was anything short of girlish glee (I have always always wanted an excuse to buy a bright pink wig). but in my attempts to overdress (loving this quote by brilliant designer ms. westwood), I'm also hoping to maybe find a little something. anything. or maybe nothing. I don't know. and the not knowing part is what I like best about this assignment. mainly, I'm just hoping for fun.

and a shockingly bright pink wig.

31 October 2005

happy halloween

halloween costumes I have worn (as a child): kitty cat, gypsy, ballerina, wonder woman, chorus line girl, mime

halloween costumes I have worn (as an adult): belly dancer, hippie/flowerchild, cat in the hat (with ward as a highly imaginative green eggs and ham), crazy mary, sexy french girl fifi, daisy (actual flower), butterfly

halloween costumes I'd like to wear (if time and money were no issue): sonny and cher (with me as sonny and ward as a cher), 40s pin-up girl, lace paper doily (as seen in martha stewart living magazine), madonna (the borderline/lucky star days)

piece of halloween candy I always ate first: milky way miniature bar (though as I got older, I learned to save the best stuff for last)

piece of halloween candy I always ate last: mounds bar or anything black licorice-related (though these usually went totally uneaten)

scariest halloween moment: I grew up in a small southern illinois town where my dad was the basketball coach so our home was ALWAYS the target of so many halloween pranks. our trees were always full of rolls and rolls of toilet paper and our windows were always stupidly scribbled with white soap. kids were always ringing our doorbell and running for the hills. because this is what people in small towns do. and so one halloween, while my mom was getting my brothers and I ready for bed, the doorbell rang. dad was at the grocery store so my mother had to run downstairs to answer it. what we heard next was the loudest, longest and most horrific-sounding BLOOD-CURDLING SCREAM. my brothers and I sat frozen, staring at each other. should we go down and see what happened? what should we do? is she dead? I don't even remember what we did. here's what happened: a student of my dad's had come to the door dressed as a werewolf. when my mom looked out the window to see who was there, he looked in at the exact same time. I imagine their faces were no farther than 2-3 inches apart and family folklore has it that my mother actually fainted. one thing's for sure, I will never forget the sound of that scream and how I terrified I was, thinking something horrible had happened to my mother. happy halloween to me!

if you are thinking of how you would answer these questions, well then you are falling right into my halloween trap. please feel free to play along and leave your halloween history here. come on. waste some time with me.

28 October 2005

help me

here's what's going to end up happening this weekend: I'm going to get all wrapped up in transforming the ava-girl into a butterfly fairy creature and the ez into a baby beatnik. and I will be too tired to think about my own costume. and there will be an extra added/special bonus edition of lameness that will flavor the usual excuses. we will listen to each other mutter things like how we're too tired and please, don't we already have enough to do, isn't this really all about the kids anyway? and let's just try to get through the day so we can do what we REALLY want to do which is make ourselves sick on candy corn while watching the original halloween movie with jamie lee curtis then pass out on the couch and blah, blah, blah. at some point, I'll come to my senses and want to throw something together to wear. I'll find myself going through costume boxes in the attic, frantically throwing together whatever I find. I predict that I will stand before ward with a crooked old wig on my head and some sort of weird dress and ask, "is this anything? could this be a costume? WHAT AM I?" (which reminds me of the time I bought a cheap blonde wig from k-mart and smeared bright red lipstick all around my mouth and called myself 'crazy mary').

or maybe I could just squeeze myself into a rubbersuit like the happy child above and call it a day. though something tells me that this scenario has absolutely nothing to do with halloween. but whatever.

26 October 2005

self portrait tuesday #11 (self documentary)

all month long, I've been wanting to try my hand at the self documentary challenge. I think it may be time for a digital camera, folks. I have mad love for my sweet canon rebel EOS, love the way the film looks. and nothing really compares with the giddiness I feel the moment I walk into the camera shop to pick up my film. BUT I have sixty or so rolls of undeveloped film from the past four years, SIXTY ROLLS. I keep trying to catch up but we just keep taking roll after roll after roll and I'm beginning to lose hope. in the past, I have borrowed a digital camera from my brother and sister-in-law (thanks, y'all) but now I must look into full-time ownership. it's just too expensive to play around with regular old film. wish I did my own developing. but I don't.

and somehow, I have gotten really off track from the subject of this self documentary.

which is lunch. everyday, ward and I have lunch together (yes, I do realize how lucky we are). I'll admit, I take these lovely lunches for granted. they are essentially what get me through my day, through my week. we almost always opt for cheapo slices of pizza and one of our favorite places to go is fellini's. it's cheap and fast and there's a fountain there that reminds me of italy. we sit next to that fountain and feel the sprays of water and I feel just a little bit like I am back in rome. lunches are for goofing, they are for venting and complaining (and sometimes arguing). we talk about the kids. we talk about the week. we dream about what we are going to do on the weekend, we dream about where we're going to be in five years. sometimes we say very little. sometimes ezra sleeps through and it feels like we are on a special lunch date (rare). sometimes he is a dream and giggles all through lunch, stuffing mandarin oranges and tiny bites of cheese pizza in his mouth with such a cuteness I cannot help but swoon. sometimes he is a terror and the both of us spend the short hour retrieving pieces of food that have been thrown across the room. even still, I'll take that. I'll take it all. I'd be a mess without the daily lunches.

24 October 2005

string of beads

we are all so different. we are born and we live and things happen to us along the way that give us each such distinctly personal histories. they are the random quirks and stories that distinguish us from all the other billions of people out there walking around on this earth. and as I'm really thinking about the truth behind that statement, it's blowing my mind a little. I was inspired by this fabulous writer and so here are nineteen random things about me:

1. I love to make lists. I make lists of lists to make so I don't forget anything.

2. growing up, I wanted to be a solid gold dancer AND breakdancer but also dance for the new york city ballet on the side. I love how I actually thought I might be able to be a prima ballerina on the side.

3. the taste of cilantro in my mouth makes me gag.

4. my imagination often got me into trouble growing up. beads got stuck in noses and walls were set afire. when I was about six or seven, I had these really fantastic 'I dream of jeannie' pajamas. I happily slept in this very authentic two-piece fuschia number with gold trim every night and played in them during the day. once, I was digging through my grandma's big tin of buttons and discovered an irresistibly shiny ruby-colored bead. it seemed like the most natural thing at the time to stick that ruby-red bead in my nose. I could not imagine a more magical accessory and I remember feeling like, "yes. NOW I am a true belly dancer." but then the bead wouldn't come out and the more frantic I became to remove the bead from my bleeding nose, the farther it worked its way up into my nasal cavity. finally, my grandma and grandpa had to take me to the emergency room where the little gem was sucked from my nose with a large clear plastic tube. I was thoroughly humiliated but remember feeling happy about the piece of juicy fruit gum the nurse gave me when it was all over. setting the wall on fire is another story that also involves my vivid imagination and my pretending to be someone exotic.

5. I am a superb speller.

6. I was a cheerleader. I have always been a little ashamed of this but worked hard at it and I'm sorry, but we were a good squad.

7. when I am upset or angry, I get in the car and drive. which I realize may not be the best thing for me or all the other poor drivers out there who see me crying, my face all sad and contorted. it soothes me, though-- the loud music, the wind on my face. and when I come home, I am always ready to work things out.

8. I have bathed in a traditional japanese bathhouse in gifu and it was the cleanest my body has ever felt.

9. when I was six years old, lightening struck the white wicker lamp inside my room while my brother and I were sitting on the floor reading a book together. I remember a blinding flash of light and an ear-splitting cracking sound followed by my mother's panicked footsteps. she tells of how she found the two of us frozen, looking up at her with eyes as big as silver dollars. silver dollars! she says. to this day, every window in my house is immediately shut at the slightest threat of lightening outside.

10. hostess suzi Q cakes are my favorite junk food, my guiltiest pleasure. have you seen these? they are two slices of devils food cake with a whole mess of cream filling (ha, lard and sugar) in the middle. they are the kind of 'sandwiches' only a sugar-crazed child would love. I haven't eaten suzi Qs in years but drooled over some at the gas station the other day.

11. my feet are a mess. twenty years of modern dance (read: dancing barefoot) have rendered my feet hopeless. they are dry and cracked and torn up. they are often black on the bottom from walking around on hardwood floors that so desperately need to be cleaned. ava calls them 'old' feet and loves to study them up close as if they are specimens of some unexplored ancient geographical region. every once in a while, I treat myself to a pedicure and always dread the moment the technician realizes the work that my feet are going to require. I usually apologize all over myself and launch into lengthy excuses as to why my feet are in such horrible shape. and I tip. GENEROUSLY. but secretly, I am proud of my feet. I earned those callouses, they are like my own personal battle scars- proof of the years spent in class, in rehearsal, on stage. I am learning to fall in love with my feet all over again.

12. when I was eight, I had a lisp and had to go to speech therapy. I met my first boyfriend there, dustin javorski. he couldn't pronounce his r's. we were impossibly cute together.

13. I am very particular about how my towels are folded. I love to open the linen closet door to find neatly stacked rows of perfectly folded white towels. I believe this may be the result of working at the gap back in the summer of 1990. I'll not deny martha stewart's influence here, either.

14. when I was in 7th grade, I was caught making out with my boyfriend at church during a prayer walk. I still feel crummy about it and a little weird owning up to it. even now, as I'm writing this.

15. if I really love a book or movie or television show, I will read or watch it over and over and over again. it's like comfort food to me.

16. as a child, I was a rhymer. as in, I took great pleasure in the rhyming of words. and I took even greater pleasure in bringing my agitated peers and siblings to their knees (always begging, PLEASE STOP WITH ALL THE RHYMING). this, of course, only fueled me to take my rhyming skills to new heights. and also, I just loved the rhythm of rhyming words. and still do. I am still a wacko rhyming machine and am afraid I have already passed this odd preference on to my daughter ava.

17. while on vacation in L.A., I was standing on hollywood boulevard and was mistaken for a hooker.

18. yesterday, I rode a horse for the second time in my life. I'm not sure how I feel about it.

19. I love polka-dotted underwear.

21 October 2005

friday five

oh people. I do believe I feel a meme coming on. several of them are floating around out there and though I have not been officially tagged, I. CANNOT. RESIST. my school girlyness is showing like so much frilly underwear. memes like this one and this one are just BEGGING for me to come out and play.

ah, but not today. instead, I feel like seeing what five songs come up first when I set my ipod on shuffle. why? because the checkbook needs to be balanced and if I do this I can put off doing that for AT LEAST another hour. can't have any sort of responsible behavior seeping into my life now, can I? first five songs that really truly came up:

jazz (a tribe called quest)
finally we are no one (mum)
one way or another (blondie)
I wanna be your lover (prince)
put the lights on the tree (sufjan stevens)

wow, I could do this all day. maybe I will.

20 October 2005

a is for art

I love going to the art supply store. all those tubes of paint, the brushes, the oil pastels and pencils and blank sketchbooks, so much promise. in preparation for last weekend's collage workshops with this lovely artist, I got to spend a good chunk of time wandering the aisles of said store. I had forgotten how expensive materials can be and my days as an art major (at a high school for creative and performing arts) seem like a lifetime ago. wow, I love the smell of the art supplies. didn't realize how much I missed that until just recently.

which brings me to the subject of the workshops. I haven't taken an art class since high school. there was a time in my life when I really thought I'd be a writer or an artist but then I chose to dance. and that has truly been the one thing that I have been focusing on for so many years now, the only thing in my scope of vision (and I have no regrets). my love for art has been there all along, though-- making random appearances in my life at different times. art has been in the gifts and cards I've made for friends and family and in the photographs I've taken. witnessing ward's growth as a painter/illustrator/animator/graff writer over the past fifteen years, I suppose I've been living vicariously through him in a million tiny ways. but lately, I have not been so content to sit quietly on the sidelines. I don't know what it is, but these past couple of years... something has really been bubbling under the surface and now I find myself with a voracious appetite to create. and so I finally decided to sign up for some classes because I just got so tired of seeing pieces inside my head and never doing anything. I could never really get myself to sit down and work, something always got in the way and there has been so much rationalizing and crying and gnashing of teeth (oh not really with the crying and the teeth but I have been frustrated).

taking claudine's workshops really got me out of my head and for three days I just sort of played around. hours and hours of messing with various techniques, materials, with color and composition. all the preconceived notions and expectations that have been clouding my thoughts just sort of fell away and I couldn't believe how much fun it was, I had forgotten how much fun it all is! over and over I said to ward, "it's so much fun. it's SO MUCH FUN..." (ward, thanks for listening to me and thanks for taking over with the kids). to come into the classroom in the morning and lay out all my art supplies at the large space at the table, really. just so delicious. and of course, the time flew by. before I knew it, paint was all over my hands and everywhere and I was lost in a sea of bright-colored, crumpled tissue paper and piles of images and glue and wax. it was lovely and I felt like a person on vacation.

but posting my work here has been such a difficult thing for me. I feel all raw and exposed, so vulnerable. but also good, in a strange sort of way. and liberated. does that make any sort of sense to anyone out there? the above piece was done sometime towards end of the weekend and the image of the woman is my great aunt louraine (one of my favorite people in this world). I played around a lot with family images, never really finishing anything. you can see more of the works in progress here. all week, I have been wondering where to go from here. there are no assignments or deadlines to meet. no one to please (but myself). I have the space and the supplies and the ideas and the energy. but how does it all fit in with everything? with parenting? with dancing and teaching? is there really room for it? and so, once again I am lost in my questions and doubts. but then I look at the little pieces I made and I feel happy, an uncomplicated and pure kind of happy. and when I stopped by the school the other day to give ava her milk money (oh yes, she of poncho hair fame), she surprised me with how she so proudly introduced me to her kindergarten buddies... "this is my mommy. she takes ART CLASS." and that was really just all the encouragement I needed.

17 October 2005

found photograph #136

"to collect photographs is to collect the world." -susan sontag

14 October 2005

because it's friday

and I think we all deserve a litttle treat.

12 October 2005

rocking the bells

yeah, we argued about music back in the day. I got tired of listening to you blast run dmc and you loved to make fun of the violent femmes and the cure. fragments of our fights occasionally come back to me and I'm sorry but I have to laugh when I think about you and your frustrated rebuttals: "I'm shaking like milk? what does that even mean?" lyrics were often the subject of our heated debates and I believe you were referring to a line in a song by the cure here, but brother, you won me over. you won me over with eric b. and rakim's seven minutes of madness and boogie down productions and KRSone and public enemy. then came a tribe called quest and de la soul and that was it for me, hooked for life. as a fan of underground hip hop, I'm not going to lie-- I'm incredibly proud to have a brother who is a DJ/turntablist. instant street cred (what more could a white girl/lover of hip hop want?) and witness to your artistic process have been just a few of the perks you have provided me with throughout the years. really, I'm thrilled when you play your latest tracks for me and then ask me what I think. I'm fascinated by your skills, your ability to layer sounds and samples and rhythms that produce songs with such original style and feeling. I'm blown away by your tenacity, your perserverance and vision. I remember when you begged mom and dad for your first piece of equipment. fifteen years later, you are still doing it, still loving it-- you are an established and respected artist and producer. you're all growed up, DJ dust. I know I've said it a thousand times, but I want to say it again: you inspire me. I'm busting at the seams with pride, brother.

all my people out there-- check out the new marsILL website. you can listen to clips of the music, look at photos (taken mostly by the fantastic photographer zack, who also is responsible for the beautiful above shot of nate aka dust), read the impressive articles and even watch the 'breathe slow' video as well as rare clips of dust in the mosh pit. fun for the entire family! do I really need to use the applicable and appropriate vernacular here? must I use words such as dopeness? freshness? shizzness? check it out already.

11 October 2005

self portrait tuesday #10

our day consists of (but is rarely limited to): drawing, snacking, coloring, giggling, reading, movie-watching (which inevitably leads to more snacking), wiggly-wiggling, dancing, alphabet letter-writing, playing, ball-throwing, booboo-getting, crying, pouting, bug-spotting, singing, idea-having, mess-making, naked-running, painting, dawdling, drum-beating, whistle-blowing, collage-making, discovering, noise-making, playdough-squishing, and (well, all that activity makes a kid hungry) so, more snacking. and the most important of all: the fine art of bubblegum-blowing.

let me also state for the record that in NO WAY are we able to fit all this into one day. the faves are in heavy rotation, though and we are making the rounds, people. everyday. everyday.

mommy is a tired girl.

10 October 2005

because it's monday

the EZ

and this one always makes me laugh.

07 October 2005

goodbye little blue

ezra got his cast off this morning. they took to him with a scary-looking (and horrible-sounding) electric saw and off it came. oh sure, it looks all new and spiffy and blue in the above photo but by the time we got through with it, it was all stained and stinky and covered with drawings and scribbles and signatures. those cute little baby toes were filthy and I do believe I found the sad remnants of a green pea inside. when the technician finally finished cutting it off of his leg (which he sat unbelievably still for), the ez looked at me and furrowed his brows. and then, without taking his eyes off of me for even one second, he began to scratch. and scratch and scratch and SCRATCH. I have never seen him scratch, didn't even know if he knew how to scratch and there he was, putting those little fingers to serious work-- so serious that it required the pensive furrowing of the baby brow. and you know that it must have felt SO GOOD.

he won't walk on it, not just yet (which the doc told me to expect). she showed me the x-ray where the new bone had already grown back, all strong and white. the human body, man. is it not the most amazing thing? last week, ward and I watched incredulously as ezra finally mastered walking with the cast on. I'm telling you, it was a SIGHT TO SEE. before that, he just dragged it around (though he never, ever let it slow him down, never let it stop him from doing anything). by the end of this week, he was practically running... peg-legging it around the joint like some crazy superhuman toddler creature. and now, he must start all over. though I am certain it won't be long before he is once again scaling furniture and racing from room to room as fast as his growing little baby legs will carry him.

05 October 2005

self portrait tuesday (okay wednesday) #9

six years ago today, we were in italy... more specifically, we had just left venice and were beginning our explorations of the city of florence. each year around this time, I read through that little black suede travel journal, look through my (still unfinished) scrapbook and watch the video footage. have you ever taken a trip like that? one that was perfect in most every way? one that you'd like to go back and re-live over and over, one that sort of defines your life experiences? italy was all that for me.

the planning of this trip began shortly after I suffered a miscarriage in november of 1998. it had been our first pregnancy and we were over the moon about it. family and friends had been excitedly called, names were already being discussed... and then, so suddenly, we lost it. we were in shock, paralyzed by a sort of unfamiliar sadness and frankly, not quite sure what to do with ourselves. when it came time to try again, I found that I was scared to death. it had been so physically and emotionally painful, such a horrific experience (an entirely different story for another day) that I could not even bring myself to think of another pregnancy. we wanted a family but decided we needed some time, just a little more time to heal. and so on a cold january night, we started to talk about traveling. we thought maybe we needed to take a big trip before we brought babies into our lives. initially, we had wanted to backpack through europe but were overwhelmed by the broadness of it. finally, we settled on italy. our combined years of art history coupled with my italian heritage sort of sealed the deal and well, that was that. I threw myself head first into the planning and research and it was all I could think about, all the time. every penny went into savings. I tried to teach myself the language (forced it down ward's throat, too, playing cassette tapes in the car whenever I could). once I mastered certain phrases, I couldn't stop. I loved the rhythm, the cadence of the language. "ABBIAMO BISOGNO D'INDICAZIONE!", I'd proclaim to no one in particular at the local k-mart (which means: I need directions). yes, I was driving everyone crazy but truly, it was the best thing for me, all this dreaming, this planning. it was just what I needed.

and it was an almost perfect trip. the weather was perfect, the hotels were perfect, everything was just as I imagined, only better, a thousand times better. save for an unfortunate gondola incident and a disaster involving the closing of the train station in rome, I can do nothing but wax poetic. in fact, I could fill a big fat book with all the wonderfully delicious little details. so much art, so much history, culture, so much beauty. venice swallowed me whole with all the teeny tiny alleyways, the fragrant hanging laundry, the large wooden shuttered windows in our hotel room that begged to be ceremoniously flung open each afternoon as the singing gondoliers passed us by. the vibrant, not-to-be-believed colors of the island of burano, the hundreds of pigeons in piazza san marco. and florence will forever have my heart, what with all the buzzing vespas, with michelangelo's david and botticelli's venus and the exhilarating, terrifying climb to the top of the duomo's belltower. florence has the most fabulous fleamarkets ever and was also where I experienced the best meal of my entire life (at il cantinone, a hidden restaurant in a cellar that we quite literally stumbled upon). the sunflowers of tuscany, the smell of grapes, of wine, of the earth. and rome- grittier, dirtier and more human than I had imagined but so fantastic. crumbling and ancient, but completely urban. so many fountains, so much, so much, so much. too much. my head is spinning just thinking about it all. and the love. oh, the love. shortly after we arrived back home, we discovered that I was pregnant. and that ava-girl of ours was born about nine months later.

so, if you feel like taking a little trip to italy, come along with me. click here to be magically transported.

03 October 2005

I'm all itchy


I don't know what it is, but I'm itchy to travel. ward would tell you that I am ALWAYS itchy to travel, but I am telling you-- I'm itchier than normal. maybe it's the monday blahs, maybe it's the onset of fall, but I'm one step away from packing up to go and see and do. I suspect it may also have something to do with the fact that six years ago today ward and I were in italy. it may also have something to do with the fact that I have not been alone for more than 24 hours in two years (that's 730 days, folks...YES, I'VE DONE THE MATH), since october of 2003 (when the above photo was taken). a week before I learned that I was pregnant with ezra, I went to visit my brother von in new york where I spent three glorious days wandering the city, taking dance classes, hitting up street markets and staying out late. it was the shizz (oh yes it was) though I couldn't quite figure out why I was so exhausted the entire time. I was RIDICULOUSLY tired and sleepy and couldn't seem to keep up. oh man, it's happening. I'm getting old (which is what kept telling myself that weekend). turns out I was just pregnant. after the news sunk in, I remember feeling so glad that I had taken that trip. originally, I'd felt guilty leaving ward and ava for three days-- it had been a last minute opportunity and I was out the door before anyone even knew what was happening. it felt so good to go like that, on a whim. no time to agonize over money, no time to worry and what-if myself to death.

I'm thirsty for new landscapes and unfamiliar places, ready to wander. missing my bro, too (yo vinnie). too bad there's not an ointment for this condition. okay, yeah-- actually, there is-- it's of the 'dig-up-cash-from-wherever-you-can-find-it-and-get-a-really-cheap-ticket-on-priceline-and-then-crash-on-the-floor-of-said-brother's-joint-in-queens' variety. new york is calling.

28 September 2005


a couple of years ago, I danced in a piece about women as superheroes. at the first rehearsal, the choreographer asked us what kind of superpowers we'd like to have. I wish I could say that the first thing that came to my mind was to have the power to feed all the hungry children in the world or wipe out war and poverty. I wish I could say that, but that would be a lie. instead, I thought I might like to have the power to leave a fine piece of chocolate and a fresh flower on the pillows of sad people everywhere. because wouldn't you like to wake up to that? or find those lovely things on your pillow after a long, horrible crapfest of a day? maybe the chocolate would cause you to have nice dreams. it would all be sort of mysterious and you would feel strangely loved and all of the sudden, the world might seem a little less hostile. at the very least, you would look over your shoulder and wonder who and why and you just know you would be secretly pleased.

of course, I would need to be able to fly and and make myself invisible when necessary. also, I'd like to think I'd be able to get the flowers wholesale. maybe some do-gooder chocolate company would sponsor me (thus supplying all the chocolates needed for the millions of pillows out there). but if I'm really dreaming here, I suppose I should have a field somewhere in italy where the most beautiful flowers are grown and a special chocolatier in france to hook me up with the goods because why mess around? seriously, people. though I guess if we're really talking superpowers, I should be able to miraculously produce the most exquisite chocolates and flowers with the snap of my own fingers. but then I would have no reason to abuse all my special powers and capabilities, I would have no real excuse to fly myself to italy a couple of times a week to lay around in the field of magical flowers and make myself sick on french chocolates. and don't get me started on the whole invisible thing, I don't even want to think about what I might do with that superpower in my spare time because the possibilities are endless and you and I both know what they are but let's not talk about it. oh, and regarding my superhero costume: I see bright-colored striped tights with special edition adidas, a slimming (yet breathable) bodysuit and yes, a pink satin cape. and maybe some glitter? a superhero has to represent, yo. the threads have got to REPRESENT.

don't even try to pretend you are not thinking of what superpowers you'd like to have.

27 September 2005

self portrait tuesday #8

into this self portrait gig now for two months and I just might be tired of looking at myself. though I suspect that's when things get interesting.

25 September 2005

one hundred days

"avagirl, I love you... sooo much."

"a lot?"

"yup. a whole lot."

"like for... ONE HUNDRED DAYS?"

in my mind, I started to answer her. I was trying to think of a way to explain that my love for her was beyond one hundred days, one hundred weeks, one hundred years, that it was beyond the moon and the stars and all reasonable limitations. but right now, in the world of kindergarten and counting, one hundred days represents all those things to her.

"yes, ava. I love you for one hundred days."

22 September 2005

getting me through the week

the quiet of night, the music of mum, striped socks with high heels, the sunflowers ward brought home last night, my friend poppy, long walks in the neighborhood (making dances in my head), frozen chocolate kisses, real life knee-buckling kisses, the work of this brilliant artist, making shrinky dinks and collages with the ava-girl, these words by bill t. jones (oh, please indulge me and listen), a brand new flirty skirt, this hilarious blog entry about spiders, the occasional piece of glitter I find on my body, fake accents, polka dots, dried cherries, spotting butterflies on the walk home from school (they're EVERYWHERE), these magnificent photos, ezra eating (wearing) cottage cheese, really truly dancing again, ava's pink converse all-star high tops, the 'loopy loopy love' song by the brunettes, new art supplies and a new moleskin journal, the planning of a trip to new york, the promise of a parking lot carnival, knowing that I am a child of God, the idea that people can rock the mic.

yes, I'd like to know. what is it for you?

20 September 2005

self portrait tuesday #7

sometimes it seems strange to me that I am someone's mother. SOMEBODY'S MOM. five years later, I am still trying to get used to it, still desperately trying to figure out who that is and what I need to be. still working on fully embracing the all-encompassing role that is every second of every day of every week of every month of every year for the rest of my life. motherhood is a tough gig, yo. you could have tried to pound that fact into my brain in my romanticized pre-baby days but I would not have believed you.

weirder still-- years from now ava and ezra will have entire conversations about me. I wonder which of my quirks will stand out, what things I will do that will drive them crazy enough to talk about it over dinner together. I wonder what things I will do right, what things I will do wrong. and I wonder if they will truly know who I am because when you're a mother, you know-- you're their mom. you fulfill certain needs, you take on specific roles that sometimes prevent your children from seeing who you really are. in fact, I am still (to this day) learning little things about my own mother, that person whom I thought I knew inside and out.

the above photo was taken on my first mothers day (2001) and I am holding ava. seven months into it, I finally started to get it... that despite the hurdles and the challenges and the astounding levels of exhaustion, there are these moments. they are the ones that sneak up on you out of nowhere and bring you to your knees. you find yourself overwhelmed with gratitude, you are swimming in love for this small being, it is spilling out of you all over the place, this hope, this love that you have. and you know that it will all be all right. you are exactly where you need to be, right there, loving them. and all the stinky laundry and bathtub scum and unfinished art projects and poptarts for breakfast can't change that. I hope that is what ava and ezra get around to talking about someday over dinner-- that above all else, they were (are) loved with a magnificent love.


I like memes. it might possibly be the school girl in me, but I can't resisit a meme. just the word: meme. how do you pronounce it? meem? mee-mee? mehm? who came up with this? I don't know, I don't care but I'm a sucker for it. the fabulous red current has tagged me and so I present to you the shortest, most random meme ever:

1. Go into your archive. 2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to). 3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to). 4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. 5. Tag five people to do the same.

here's my sentence:

many shells were collected.

yes, I know. it's poetry. aren't you glad you stopped by?

as always, I am tagging the world. meaning, if you are reading this and have a blog, feel free to do the same. or leave your sentence here. or any randomness. happy randomness to you.

19 September 2005

inside out

most people would never look at this and think of it as modern dance and I know why. because when the average person thinks of modern dance, they think of strange people in black leotards on all fours, barking like dogs to the sound of discordant flutes and cymbals. or overly dramatic dancers in flowy gowns gesturing wildly. I'm not saying these stereotypes don't exist-- too many times I have found myself in a dark theatre, rolling my eyes or trying to hold back giggles in the middle of a performance dripping with symbolism and/or pretension. and I've danced in a couple of pieces that I am not particularly proud of. BUT. when modern dance is good, it is SO GOOD. really and truly, because modern dance, in essence, refuses to be defined. and because there really aren't any rules, there's endless room for experimentation. my favorite artists and companies are often blending and layering so many elements of movement... african, hip hop, jazz, pedestrian, ballet, release, capoiera, modern and more. this is what keeps my mind and body engaged, this is why I can't seem to get enough. I get excited when I see things come together that are not supposed to come together. I think this is why I love collage so much (ephemera and photography and paint and whatever, all coming together to evoke a sense of something). and why I love underground hip hop, love to listen to my brother's music (beats and fragments from so many different genres of music all coming together to sound like something completely different and original and fresh... hello, DJ dust). nothing inspires me more than to see choreographers turn perceptions of dance upside down and inside out. that's when things get really interesting. because you can find art in the most furious back spin and you can be moved to tears by the simplest hand gesture.

rennie harris puremovement is a company out of philadelphia that I have fallen in love with. I am giddy over the marriage of hip hop movement and modern and more than happy to fork over hard-earned dollars in exchange for a ticket to the show (counting the days til they hit atlanta's rialto on november the 5th). I think I know what I'm going to see (fortunate enough to have seen them perform once before), but really, I don't. sure, the dancers will be electric and the choreography will be brilliant but the sub-context will have me thinking about stuff for days. and days. in both big and small ways, it will change the way I move, the way I dance, the way I teach, the way I choreograph, the way I think.

15 September 2005


have you ever seen anything more pitiful than a baby with a little cast on his leg? that's what I'm looking at right now, a baby with a cast on his leg. ezra's entire right leg is currently in a bright blue cast. the other night while were at the park, ward was playing with ezra and somehow the little dude lost his balance and came down hard on his right foot. (notice how I am ever so slightly trying to escape blame and guilt here? WARD, IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT. just kidding. really.) such a small incident, considering how the ez has been barreling through life lately, digging through fireplaces, balancing on top of chairs and running around the joint like he's won some sort of baby lottery. I didn't actually witness the aforementioned act, but I heard his cry and came running. at first, we thought maybe he hurt his arm somehow. as I held him and tried to soothe him, he settled into a heart-breaking little whimper and I knew something was wrong. it was a different sounding cry and I KNEW this but it was the end of the day and I just really wanted to believe I was over-reacting. (way to ignore my mothering instincts). ezra fell into a deep sleep just then and we knew it was time to head home.

he woke up several times that night and when I finally ventured in to check on him he was balancing on one leg, reaching out for me. seriously, people. it broke my heart. the past couple of days have not been so great because who wants to see their kid in any sort of pain? even worse, he's confused because he's used to walking (ha, RUNNING) and now all of the sudden, he can't. little ez fractured his tibia and will be sporting the bright blue cast for the next three weeks. oh, and you should see the way he is already crawling and dragging that thing around. the boy is unstoppable.

good news is, we got to keep the x-ray pics. cool.

13 September 2005

self portrait tuesday #6

I really thought (with every fiber of my naive little junior high self) that I would grow up to live in a modern-day palace filled with all the coolness the eighties had to offer. I pictured myself lounging around on obnoxiously sleek couches and imagined tables and chairs in pastel colors with lots of sharp angles and chrome and lucite. (of course, now this sounds like a psuedo new wave nightmare only the set designers of every eighties music video would dream up). I wanted nothing to do with antiques, no part of what I thought of as dusty and brown and old and so NOT MODERN.

but I grew up with antique lovers, lovers of old stuff. my mom loved primitives and my grandma was a dealer who had a house crammed full of such ancient lovelies. I remember her occasionally holding auctions in her backyard. I was mesmerized by the man with the microphone and the weird rapid-fire voice selling off boxes of china and armoires faster than what seemed right. once, she let me pick out something from the tables to keep for myself and I chose a picture of ginger rogers in a vanilla-colored art deco frame (which I have saved). still, I swore up and down and all over the place that everything I would have as an adult would be modern and new.

and then my mom took me to the fleamarket when I was 14 and gave me ten bucks to spend however I wanted. that cash was destined to be spent on new clothes (from the nearest mall, natch) until I happened onto a table piled impossibly high with vintage clothing. old beaded dresses and satin slips and trousers, three pieces for ten dollars! I had so much fun digging through that pile and really, that was it for me... thus, began my habit. I started to see old things with new eyes and could not get enough of vintage clothing, hats and jewelry. when I was 16, we moved from a small southern illinois town to cincinnati and all of the sudden, I had direct access to an army of thrift stores. my mom had been taking me to yard sales and antique stores for years but the lovely underworld of thrifting proved to be exceptionally seductive. twenty years later and I'm still not tired of it. I'm up and down with it but never, ever done with it.

that's me in the disco ball up above (duh) and I am at the lakewood fleamarket. been happily making the monthly trek there for a decade now. I'm not really into traditional antiques and don't even really collect vintage clothing anymore. naturally, my taste has shifted. these days, I am on the hunt for old world globes, pull-down school maps, mid-century modern pieces, souvenir pennants, vintage purses, old signs, wood/metal printers blocks, 50s/60s lamps, letters and numbers from signs, various ephemera, and (of course) old photographs. and whatever else looks good and fun.

(take a gander at the rest of last week's fleamarket goodness here)

everytime I dig through a crusty old box and drool over the kitschy beauty of some forgotten thing, I eat my junior high words a little more. ha. words proclaimed by a 7th grader with such drama and absolution are for eating.

12 September 2005


"if your daily life seems poor, do not blame it, blame yourself. tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches." -rainer maria rilke

09 September 2005

found photograph #268

the real story behind this photograph is probably a million times better than anything I could ever, ever make up.

all speculations are welcome, of course.

06 September 2005

self portrait tuesday #5

oh, the fabulous silence that can only be found underwater. yesterday, we decided to go swimming out at nani's on the last official day of summer. (yes, yes I know-- the last day is technically september 21st, but who are we kidding? everybody knows it's all over with labor day). anyway, in between ava's splashing and kicking and ezra's precarious toddling around the pool's edge, I was able to grab a couple of moments to myself. to flip and twirl and do the backstroke, to be goofy with ward and take pictures of my feet.

water brings so much peace. float in it, face up to a turquoise sky and you feel calm, weightless, effortlessly suspended. nothing like it in all of the world. water is our world. and so I was floating and I was thinking about all of this, the magic of water, the colors, the feeling, the taste, the sounds. crazy how something that brings so much delight, so much joy also has the ability to inflict so much pain, so much destruction. the dark side of water takes on unfathomable force and relentless wrath. sort of feels like a betrayal you have no choice but to forgive.

03 September 2005

eleven years

we were newlyweds. we started each day blissfully and sleepy-headed in the tiny lush courtyards of the place d'arms hotel. I am remembering those dream-like mornings, the thickness of the air, the distinct fragrance, the sound of the water in the mossy fountains, the quiet. I am remembering our breakfasts, the sensation of tearing delicate chunks from my croissant while we talked about the possibilities the day held. I am remembering what it felt like to be a new bride. we were on our honeymoon in new orleans.

and now here it is, eleven years later, and I find myself consumed with the television footage. I have been paralyzed by this, unsure what to do with all my emotions, my outrage, my fear, my sadness. over and over in my mind, with all these questions... what are they going to do? why haven't the people been helped? what is taking so long? what are they going to do with all that water? how will they rebuild? what can I do? WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO? I had the desperate and overwhelming urge to drive the short six hours down there to nurse those dehydrated babies myself (because how can those mothers breastfeed if they haven't had any water?). I hit my breaking point with it friday night and turned the tv off. I sat in the dark for a moment, stared at the blank screen. decided to check my email. a last-minute opportunity to get involved in the relief efforts presented itself and while it felt like the tiniest drop in a bucket of immeasurable tragedy, it was action, it was SOMETHING. a small anniversary gift to a city that my husband and I share such love and passion for.

today, we have been married for eleven years. in all honesty, I was really looking forward to writing about the trip we made to new orleans almost exactly one year ago today, a trip we made with the kids to celebrate a decade of marriage. I couldn't wait to share the photographs and the stories. and I will share them eventually, I think, if only to honor the spirit and history of the city. as I pray for all the people, for the rescuers, the volunteers, for healing and for peace, I will also be saying a little prayer for rebirth-- that we will have a new orleans to return to on our twentieth wedding anniversary.

30 August 2005

self portrait tuesday #4

it was december and it was my 34th birthday. I am fortunate enough to say that I spent part of the day celebrating in a cramped booth at a fabulous old diner with the people I love. crown candy stands on the corner of an area of the city so desolate and desperate for rebirth that you'd never guess the goodness that exists on the inside. and then you step into warmth and music and booths crammed with people, tables and menus that feel one hundred years old. a friend took me to this place quite accurately predicting that I would fall in love with it. nancy took such great care of me on my birthday. she made sure I got to visit my favorite place ever, city museum -- a place I find so wonderful that it is nearly impossible to describe. it's this huge old building filled with beautiful oddball art (everywhere you look), two and three-story tube slides, a shoelace factory and a place where you can paint old hats. there are giant slinkies to climb in, an aquarium to visit and a circus to see. you can also view the world's largest pair of men's underwear and get your photo taken in an original old-school b&w photobooth (yes, we spent many hours and many dollars in that booth). also, there is a big yellow school bus precariously balanced on the roof of the museum and I don't know why and I love that I don't know why. I LOVE THIS PLACE. I think I would like to sneak in and live hobo-style inside one of the mosaic-covered hidden tunnels. anyway, my friend spoiled me that weekend, she took us to dinner, let us take over her home for the night, surprised me with a red velvet cake (my favorite), made me the biggest, most beautiful breakfast and then took me to crown candy. meridith, I'm with you. I'm all about birthdays, all about celebrating, all about going all out. you get ONE DAY A YEAR, people. I have never understood why you wouldn't want to go absolutely nuts. (by the way, happy birthday, dearest cousin kristy jo and miss meridith).

and this is the part where I talk about the most lovely ice cream sundae to come my way in all of my thirty-four years of living. it should be said that I love whipped cream much more than ice cream. I would have been pretty happy with a goblet full of hot fudge and whipped cream but the ice cream kind of balances everything out.

29 August 2005

ezra is WALKING

I am resisting every urge I have been having to follow my children around with the camera (and video camera) to record every heart-breakingly miraculous milestone they reach. it's all flying by me at such a frightening pace. I'm so afraid I might miss something and so I keep my record-keeping means handy and ready to go. yes, we are the uncool parents that must document everything and will stop at nothing to capture the moment. though lately I have been trying to let it happen, to let the days unfold and set the camera down. this is not an easy thing for me and people, I have to use physical force to get ward to do the same (you know it's true, LOV-ERRR). between ava starting kindergarten and ezra learning to walk... well, I'm worn out.

ezra has been walking since the last week of july (picking up speed each day) and adding all kinds of words to his vocabulary. there was also the first haircut and his joyous discovery that most anything in this world can be CLIMBED UPON. he is figuring things out faster than I can handle. I can't turn my back on the ez for a NANOSECOND, lest I find him eating a lost tortilla chip from a dust pile (yup, from one of my non-committal piles). I turned my head for a second, just to see what time it was only to find him about to seal the deal with said grimy, hairy broken chip. he loves to take the tops off of markers and scribble, gravitates towards electrical outlets, toilets and cat food. he wants nothing to do with his super-fun room filled with all the most fantastic toys. one of his favorite things to do is climb the bamboo chair in the living room and then look back at me like, "so what happens now, lady!? huh? I know I'm making you crazy and isn't it FUN!?" really not sure why I'm so surprised. he's a toddler, this is what they do, this is what we signed on for, it's in the contract. and so I sound like so many mothers who have gone before me, millions and millions of mothers. he's wearing me out and driving me crazy but I just don't want to miss a stinking second of it. whether he's hurling crayons through the air with super-human force or whispering words in that most delicious ezra-speak, I want to be present for all of it.

26 August 2005


last friday, I was trying on clothes at urban outfitters when I overheard two employees talking:

"it's my birthday today."

"really? happy birthday! how old are you?"

"um. I don't want to say. you'll laugh."

"oh, come on."

(insert dramatic pause, resigned-sounding exhalation from the birthday girl here)

"I'm... 24."

"hey, that's not too bad. really. now, if you'd said 29. or 30. well..."

people, as I stood in that dressing room half-naked and eavesdropping (ezra flinging lipstick from my purse in every direction), I did not know whether to laugh or to cry.

25 August 2005

le bon mots

I love letters, I love words. I love that letters make up words and words make up sentences that then go onto bigger and better things like ideas and paragraphs and entire books. not to get all schoolhouse rock here (why not?) but it's the truth. words I have been loving:

phosphorescent, cerebral, luminous, exuberant, cheeky, brilliant, lush, mambo,vinyl, electric, kinesthetic, vintage, shrill, reciprocity, bohemian, vernacular, ishkabibble.

I like the way they sound coming out of my mouth (and often find myself saying them at random times). I love the way they look, sometimes I dig the meanings. if I could find a way to work them into every conversation, every written piece, I would. (okay, ishkabibble isn't really a word, just something I've been calling ezra lately. it's a delight to pronounce, really. you should try it).

23 August 2005

self portrait tuesday #3

earlier today, ward asked me why I decided to participate in the self-portrait tuesday group. at first, I really didn't have an answer for him. truthfully? I feel a little vulnerable posting a photograph of myself each week. I feel weird about it, which is precisely why it's such a valuable exercise. I'm genuinely interested in things that stretch me personally and creatively. the task of taking a photo of yourself is a tricky one. vanities are revealed and some playing is required, you must be open to looking at yourself with different eyes. you must be able to let go of some things. or embrace some things.

there was so much going on around me while I was trying to get this shot... ezra was crying, ava was grieving over a broken barbie vespa, the phone kept ringing, the camera battery was moments away from dying and my time was running out. initially, I was uncomfortable with the self-portrait above, self-conscious about the angle, about my mole, maybe. I don't know. and then I thought about how I have had that mole since birth, how much it is a part of my appearance. throughout the years, it has been the source of both shame and pride. over and over, I have been teased about it and complimented on it. such a small thing, that little mole on my chin. but I guess that's what self-portrait tuesdays are all about.

and oh, how I love to see what everyone else puts out there. please, help yourself to more self-portrait tuesday goodness: go here and here.