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.