29 December 2006

photobooth friday

with ava last new years' eve, at city museum

I'm all upside down lately. I'm not even sure what day it is. today feels like a wednesday to me but it's friday. it's friday, yes? I'm somersaulting in ways that may or may not be good for my health. on the homefront, there's much to report: ezra's reaction to buzz, my broken camera, hanging out with lovely meridith (and delightful nathan), my meltdown over an (almost lost) ipod, the breaking in of an easy-bake oven, new heights of exhaustion, and thankfully-- love overflowing. again, my broken camera, my broken camera, MY BROKEN CAMERA. I don't have it in me to weave the words together, friends.

most importantly, there are but three days left in this year of 2006. I would love to be where I was last year-- painting paper new years' hats with ava (see above, the paint was still wet), shooting down long steel slides (skirt flying over my head, exposing my knickers) and hopping in and out of the photobooth with my family at city museum. but I am here and it will have to do.

coincidentally, it was on that two-hour drive home from city museum on new years eve that I decided to start photobooth friday. I was looking at all the strips we had taken that day, thinking of my enormous collection at home and all the stories they held and wanted a little place to share them. thus, the birth of a weekly ritual. I had no idea anyone else would want to participate, fancy that.

(happy happy new year to every last one of you xoxo)

check it, the last photobooth friday revelers of the year:

acumamakiki (and last week, too)
nessie noodle
woof nanny
matt and jördis together
the whole self

21 December 2006

thursday love

foil stars, I love them. they make everything better-- fingernails, spelling tests, love notes, photographs, birthday cards, homework assignments, christmas tags, envelopes, the tops of little feet. but the reason I love them most: they keep ezra entertained for hours. well, not hours. but fifteen minutes with ezra is like seven hours. something like a christmas miracle.

17 December 2006

put the lights on the tree

james brown christmas music, furry red slippers, the smell of a fresh christmas tree in the house, trips to the attic to hide presents, more apron-wearing than usual, glitter all over the place, googly-eye glasses for everyone, handmade pompom garlands, the charlie brown christmas special, ezra's obsession with finding buzz, neighborhood houses that go crazy over-the-top with lights, sufjan stevens' video (thank you dear meridith, for sharing), nails painted red with green polka dots, the promise of an easy-bake oven (I want one almost as badly as ava does), jars of maraschino cherries in the refrigerator, the smell of sugar cookies baking and the inevitability of messy, icing-covered hands, faces and clothing (and um, sprinkles in your hair), our christmas fun jar, family coming to town, the sacred story of the birth of jesus, nothing but the christmas tree lights on in the house.

15 December 2006

photobooth friday

taken at the primal screen christmas party last year where they'd rented a photobooth for the festivities. folks, it was a dream come true-- unlimited photobooth use for the entire evening. ward and I were in and out of that booth so much I am sure we royally annoyed all in our ruthless photobooth-crazed path. ah, but there was no booth this year. instead, there was a belly dancer, a henna tatto artist, slippery silk pillows everywhere to lounge on, silk tents to congregate under, hookah pipes to smoke and an impressive spread of middle eastern food. during the course of the evening, I had a lovely henna tattoo applied to the top of my right hand, lounged on said silk pillows and made polite small talk. I feasted on eggplant-something and hummus and smoked from the hookah pipe. I never EVER get to go to parties so you better believe I smoked from the hookah pipe. and I can't believe I didn't throw down with the belly dancer because that is so my kind of thing. I thought about the swiveling and shaking I could do with beautiful belly dancer-girl and then remembered where I was. ward has to work with these people every day of the week, could I really do that to him? no, I could not. (merry christmas, ward).

hard to beat the chocolate fountain and photobooth from last year, though. it's the stuff of christmas party legends.


woof nanny
brina head
nessie noodle

13 December 2006

self portrait #40 (red velvet cake)

every year, I bake a red velvet cake for my birthday. I use a recipe my mom used for years and then passed on to me. I wear a lovely old apron that once belonged to my favorite great aunt. I love that apron.

gorgeous red

I love the part where I get to lick the batter.

the recipe

I love that the recipe card is torn and taped back together, yellowed and stained with cake batter from my ten years of using it. the cookbook that the cake recipe came from, the one my mom used (and continues to use) has been coverless for at least twenty years and is in even worse shape than my recipe card. I love that. and I love that old cookbook.

adding the buttermilk

I love the gorgeous shade of the batter, that it takes two whole bottles of red food coloring to get that bright red color. I'm pretty sure that much red food coloring can't be good for you. actually, you don't really need two whole bottles of red food coloring. you could get away with just one but I only make this cake once a year and I am not messing around.


I love that ava now participates in this yearly ritual with me and will one day bake the cake for herself. or her family. or me.

happy birthday to me

I love that my birthday cake looks like it's on fire. I earned every last one of those candles, yes I did.

so good

it took me ten years to get this cake right. the first one I made was ridiculously flat, the frosting sad and lumpy. I ate it anyway. ward did too. but I kept on baking it year after year, no matter how flat it turned out or how strange it tasted. now it's a little bit of heaven. every december 11th. I love that.

(the entire red velvet cake-baking process is here and more red self portraits are here)

12 December 2006

36 things to do before I turn 37


yesterday I turned 36. here are some things I'd like to do before I turn 37:

1. read three classics. done
2. break in my holga camera. done
3. take a capoeira class.
4. write a letter to someone I admire.
5. organize a color swap for kids.
6. take susan eldridge's weekly modern dance class. done
7. teach ava how to play checkers. done
8. participate in the MLK march in january.
9. spend an entire weekend with my best friend. done
10. purchase a bicycle. done
11. write down the stories of the charm bracelets.
12. develop the 58 rolls of film sitting in my closet.
13. visit howard finster's paradise gardens.
14. organize a postcard swap. done
15. construct The Wall of Photographs. done
16. make out at the drive-in. um, done
17. take the neighborhood african dance class.
18. make a collage a week.
19. learn one new recipe. done
20. make shrinky dink jewelry.
21. take a photography class. done
22. perfect my fake accent. done
23. teach for moving in the spirit again.
24. take the kids to the zoo to see the baby panda.
25. buy produce at the sweet auburn curb market.
26. get away with ward. done
27. read three new authors. done
28. teach ezra the robot dance. done
29. learn how to rewire a lamp.
30. go back to new york. done
31. projects #34, #45 and #52 from this book.
32. fly a kite with ava and ezra. done
33. be a guerilla artist. done
34. write a short story.
35. let it go.
36. take a photograph everyday for one year. done

10 December 2006

amateur hour

so we were on our way home saturday night when we heard it.

we'd spent the better part of saturday rushing around like crazy people, a day that culminated in a dreaded (but necessary) trip to The Mall. we were there to do one thing: purchase ezra's big christmas present. a buzz lightyear doll. I should also preface this by saying the ez has been a little out of sorts lately. nothing major, just the usual toddler stuff-- super wiggly, extra grouchy with a whine that makes you to want to pull eyelashes out one by one. by saturday night, we were all on the verge of something big and ugly but somehow, we made it. we made it through the day without any major meltdowns, the dignity of the family fairly intact. most importantly, buzz lightyear made it to the car with ezra none the wiser. this might not seem like a major thing but not too much gets by the kid and ward and I were basking in it. we were feeling pretty cocky, ready to celebrate. and-- the wiggling and the crying and the whining had finally stopped. when I caught sight of ezra's heavy-lidded eyes, I felt the sort of relief that only comes at the end of this kind of day. the car was silent. dear readers, it was a thing of beauty.

and then we heard it. loud and clear and from the trunk:


ward and I looked at each other in horror. we looked back at ezra and his eyes immediately popped open. he was wild with excitement, as if the rescue he'd been waiting so long for had finally come, as if he'd always known it would happen this way. his mouth made the tiniest little 'o' and his eyes were wide as silver dollars. he could barely speak. ward abruptly stopped the car. we looked at each other, waited for a divine intervention of sorts. silence. and then ezra began to scream for buzz, pointing upwards and backwards, laughing, struggling to turn around in his car seat.

in an instant, it was clear what we must do. we must play dumb. we must pretend we had not heard the Voice From The Back. we turned the radio on, spoke to him soothingly, pleaded with him to go back to sleep but the child, he knew. HE KNEW WHAT HE HAD HEARD. and he was not about to abandon hope. he screamed, MY BUZZ MY BUZZ MY BUZZ and if he'd had the words he would have said, I KNOW I'M NOT CRAZY, I KNOW WHAT I HEARD. friends, there was nothing to do but to keep on driving. and hope against all hopes he'd fall back asleep. and forget. and he did. fall back asleep, that is, but he did not forget. at three in the morning, he remembered. at six in the morning, he remembered. at eight, he put a set of car keys into the hands of his very groggy father, pulled him towards the front door. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ in back, he'd say. b a c k. slowly and with great emphasis, in case there might be any confusion as to the exact location of his beloved buzz. still, we continued to feign ignorance.

and it broke my heart just a little, but it had to be done. come christmas morning, the pay-off will be monumental. cameras will be charged and ready to go.

well, unless we pull another rookie stunt and mess that up too.

08 December 2006

photobooth friday

taken on friday, november the 17th at the booth in the basement level of the manhattan mall while I was waiting for h&m to open (lookit, jesC and kristen have both been here). then, while I was switching from the red curtain to the blue one, I discovered the background graffiti. better even than the curtains, I say. funny, because later on that night, I went to see david dorfman's revolution at bam (so much more to say about that, so much I don't even know how or where to start) and all I keep thinking about when I look at these frames is how much it reminds me of that performance. which may not seem like anything, but it is.

I'm a little embarrassed of these. maybe because of the expressions, I don't know. I do believe in peace, though. and I am quite fond of my green hat.


some photobooth treatlets for today: thanks to poppy for this link to constructing your own photobooth. if only! coincidentally, I've just joined the new flickr fauxtobooth group. absolutely marvelous idea, especially if you're without a photobooth. and here's how folks are trying to bring the photobooth into the 21st century, check it: mark van s. and the shine flickr photobooth in san francisco (thank you very much for sharing, leSophie). although I'd be in a state of perpetual bliss if someone would just please oh please figure out how to modernize the old skool photobooth without robbing it of the old skool charm. all you technology-minded peoples out there, I am begging you. the old booths are rapidly vanishing into the night and without any warning to the world. I guess I could say something here about how we can get a man on the moon but we can't figure out the old photobooths, but I won't. although I already have. feh. as always, don't forget about the folks at photobooth.net, they are so very fantastically, magically delicious (well, in the eyes of this photobooth fanatic). and I have to say it: nice to have a boy in the friday mix. say hello to matt, won't you please? he's balancing out our revolution just a bit. I think it's nice.

ahem, not so much with the writing skills today.

righteous words or not, the revolution lives on:

the whole self
nessie noodle
woof nanny

06 December 2006

self portrait #39 (red)

on the streets of new york, I saw red. I saw it everywhere I went and wondered if it might be following me. half-eaten apples, doorway graffiti, large metal trash cans, bundles of flowers for sale at every corner deli, paper lanterns, cupcakes with gooey red roses on top. umbrellas opening and closing, bouncing rubber balls on the playground.

it was the photobooth curtain I ducked behind early one morning, the color of a dress I loved, in delicious window displays, in the pattern of a linty shag rug I stood on at a fleamarket in hell's kitchen. below me above me all around me, it was there.

fire engines in a hurry, lips stained with cherry popsicle juice, bottles of ketchup, freshly pinched cheeks, polka dotted tablecloths. the forgotten sock in the middle of the street. it flows through veins, spills unnecessarily, is terribly horribly lovely. angry, passionate and alive, red is for love. red is anywhere and everywhere.

(the december challenge over at self portrait challenge is red and I LOVE IT)

04 December 2006

stuff I did (this weekend)

1. took the kids on their first marta train ride.

2. mentally rearranged my book shelves-- first in order of subject, then in order of color.

3. while at The Mall, wandered into the mob scene that was urban outfitters and as the kids scaled waist-high piles of shag rugs, managed to drool over this. and this. and this. which led to the dropping of mad hints to the one I call dearsweetadoringlovelyandamazing husband. and then wondered where these shoes were because I wanted to try them on for the 17th time already. really, they're just a winterized version of a pair I already own. still, I heart them. also, wondered why urban feels the need to be the new spencer's gifts. it's really gross. really.

4. burnt the pizza (again).

5. laid on the couch with ward and discussed photography, christmas cards, ezra's erratic sleeping habits, future life endeavors and ava's current my little pony obsession.

6. wondered what a cotton candy stand was doing in the middle of the walmart parking lot in december. there it sat, in a sea of SUVS and frenzied shoppers, like a beacon of hope. like it had just dropped from the great carnival in the sky.

7. stood in front of the refrigerator in the middle of the night and ate mandarin oranges straight out of the can.

how about you?

01 December 2006

photobooth friday

sad but true, the old skool booth at niagara had been replaced by a digital one. what is the world COMING TO? ah, but The Great Photobooth Adventure could not, would not be stopped. there was a brief mourning period over the loss of the old booth and then there was a general feeling of outrage when the new booth refused to accept our bills (dollar bills we'd all been madly collecting over the past couple of days, breaking tens and twenties at every corner newstand with purchases of packs of gum and such). so we set off to find another booth (albeit a digital one) at a bar down the street. and then there was all the squeezing and so much sweating (check the strips, I'm the sweater), the repeated feeding of dollar bills into the skinny slot. there was a lot of moving around and trading of laps and positions and also: a creepy female digi-voice commanding us to smile every ten seconds or so but mostly, there was a lot of laughing.

(check out jesC's version here)

say what you will about blogging and flickr and being a dork about it all, I really don't care. the most magnificent aspect of this whole gig has been the meeting of new people. these women I've met along the way (and I've met so many, all of them fantastic in a hundred different ways)-- these women are my new community. when my dance company dissolved and I found myself at home with young babies, I felt like I had lost the invaluable circle of women I'd known and been unconditionally supported by for so long. I felt absolutely lost. it's a little crazy to meet people like this, I know, but it's how I've rebuilt my community-- a spectacularly supportive one made up of women who are artists, mamas, writers, crafters, fellow booth-lovers, fellow life-lovers. so, to meet up like this-- in a bar on the lower east side of new york city, just to hop into a photobooth together because we share a mutual love for it and having never met in person before but feeling inexplicably linked by the reading of each other's words on a regular basis and the viewing and admiring of each other's photographs... it's a tad surreal. and quite possibly beyond words. is what it is.

the women I danced with for so many years, they are still around. they never really abandoned me but lives shift and change. we connect from time to time and I am most grateful for that. but now I've found new ways to expand the circle and my little community of women. you all reside in so many different parts of the country and in some cases, other corners of the world.

and despite the fact that I was sweating like a pig and that there was something nutty going on with my hair-- despite my expression in the third frame (hello, I've never made that face before in my life, not ever), despite the digitalness of it all-- it's booth perfection. jessika and kristen, you are beautiful, beautiful women-- so friendly, so super smart, so fantastic. and I would gladly squeeze into a booth with you again. and again and again. in fact, I'm counting on it.

for these reasons, I am dreaming of a big photobooth friday party. don't be surprised if you get the call, boothers.

and more from my fellow booth-lovahs:

the whole self
woof nanny

30 November 2006

every stinking day (almost)

goodbye NaBloPoMo, you weren't so bad. and I didn't flake out, not really. I only missed a couple of days towards the end. the habit of writing everyday (blogging, whatever) is a habit I can really get behind. much more dignified than this thing I've got going on with my tights. not that I'm going to continue on with this blogging everyday gig. well, maybe I will. although it's more likely that I'll find some nice comfortable place near the middle.

most importantly-- if you've left a comment in the past couple of months, thank you. thank you for the kind, kind words about my writing, my photographs. I savor them all and you (and you know who you are) deserve to know that. I'm a little off with my responding these days and can't let another moment pass without saying so.

29 November 2006

at war

with three things:

1. ava's room: where does all the mess come from? WHERE?

2. my keys: do I really have so much going on in my head that I can't remember to take them out of the door before I go inside? how long until I start wearing them around my neck like an idiot?

3. my tights: people, I will win this battle. I have to believe that I will. intellectually, I know that I am bigger, stronger and smarter than my tights. however, I'm not beyond yanking them up to my chin in front of a room full of people. just to make a point. just to show them who's boss. I have no problem yelling at said tights out in public. I do what I have to do. we can't go on like this forever. I WILL WIN THIS BATTLE.

that is all for today.

28 November 2006

self portrait #38

(click on drawing for special notes)

for the last glam self portrait, I was all set to take on the shoe project. that is, until I found this drawing while going through The Magical Childhood Boxes. lookit people, it doesn't get any better than this. my idea of glam as a 9 year-old girl! please note: the heavy make-up (tammy faye bakker-style eyes, yo), the funky (as in, won't-you-take-me-to-FUNKEEE-TOOOWN) little beret, the strappy sandals, the disco ball-- it's all there. oh yes, it's all there. and that skinny belt, which I just KNOW was meant to be a slinky little metallic gold number. I know because I had one. I bought it at wal-mart and remember how I couldn't believe I'd found such a cool belt at my small town wal-mart. but the funniest detail (and perhaps the most troubling)-- cigarette in one hand, cocktail in the other.

my parents must've been so proud.

(the last of the november glam self portraits are here)

27 November 2006

I can't help myself

the words aren't flowing but the images are. they say more about my trip than I ever could.

I am planning on writing about it, though. just easing into it is all.

26 November 2006

well, I'm not going to win any awards

yesterday, I let ezra run around diaperless until he pooped on the floor. this would be okay if we were in the midst of potty training but alas, we are not. no, I was deep into the wonderful world of fred flare (creating a christmas wish list, natch). apparently, the only thing capable from ripping me from that world was the hearty declaration of poop on the floor.

and then later on that afternoon, while both ezra and ward were napping, I fell asleep watching an HBO documentary on eating disorders. which, again, would be perfectly okay if I had not awakened to find ava watching the tail end of it (yes mom, I know-- the very reason we shouldn't have HBO in the first place). I have no idea how long I slept or what she actually saw or if it made any sort of impact on her at all. I downplayed my reaction and asked the smallest amount of questions as she seemed completely unaffected. frankly, I can think of worst things for her to have seen, but still. I found the whole thing horribly, horribly troubling.

and then I threw a fit when we decided to spend saturday night at mcdonald's. normally, I'm quite skilled at masking my disappointment in these situations (particularly where the kids are involved) but something about saturday night and the thought of those unhealthy happy meals and all those screaming kids racing through the tunnels of the playplace... I don't know. so depressing. before I knew it I was yelling something about how there were going to be apple slices ordered instead of french fries (wow, I'm so tough) and how everyone better eat every last apple slice OR ELSE. or no playing on the slides! OR NO MORE MCDONALDS. EVER. and then I pouted for a very long time.

last night I had a dream about a giant orange sea creature trying to devour my children. that's WHAT I GET.

no, I'm not going to win any motherhood awards. not for my saturday shenanigans, anyway.

24 November 2006

photobooth friday

happy birthday happy birthday happy birthday. happy birthday to my one true love.

(had big plans to share my photobooth adventures with jes and kristen but you know. had to come correct with some birthday love for my boy)

more for all to behold:

acumamakiki (and also: last week)
the whole self
woof nanny (and also: last week)
velvet vox
jördis (and also: last week)

23 November 2006

are own thanksgiving

in the spirit of ava thursday, something from the 7 year-old me (recently discovered in the magical childhood boxes). I'm quite certain I was proud of that title. and crushed when I found out I'd misspelled the word 'our'.

happy thanksgiving, y'all.

21 November 2006

20 November 2006

and now back to our regularly scheduled program

in the plane on the runway last night, preparing for take-off: I always squeeze my eyes shut and pretend it's not happening. take-off, that is. I never like to think about what's actually happening in those moments.

I could see the manhattan skyline from my tiny rectangular window. the faint lights of the empire state building, the chrysler building. and the bridge lights, they looked like giant glittery garlands draped over the city. someone behind me was sucking on a cough drop. I could smell something strong and medicinal, something like eucalyptus. the people across the aisle were already sleeping soundly and the small bright light above me felt like my own private spotlight. I've always loved that. if you fly at night and turn that thing on, you feel like you could have your own show. like if you had a microphone and a clove cigarette, you'd be all set to growl out poetry to whoever might listen.

the pilot began whispering (really, he was whispering) something about take-off and I couldn't really hear him. not so much because he was whispering but because I was deep into all the thinking-- about all the things I did and did not do. I was thinking of what kind of job I could dream up that might require trips to new york on the regular but also allow me to maintain status as a full time mama. I was already planning my next trip, compiling every kind of mental list imaginable. so much going through my head and looping repeatedly. all of it so that my mind would not go where I didn't really want it to go. I didn't want to think about those last minutes with my brother. how he rode in the cab with me all the way to la guardia and stayed with me up until the very last minute. how we made small talk over hot tea and pretended like it wasn't the end. how he squeezed every last drop out of our time together. and it really doesn't matter how old you are or how many hundreds of times you have done it, saying goodbye is the most heartbreaking sort of thing to do. because you never want to think about how long it may be until the next time or that it may actually be the last time. you don't want to think about all the things you should or shouldn't have said.

he waved at me as I stood in line at the security check point. I thought he'd already gone on, but there he was. waving and half-smiling, one last time before he finally walked away. I fumbled with my bags then, tried to get them into the grey plastic trays as quickly as possible. I could feel the restlessness of people behind me and bristled at the thought. I yanked my boots off and slammed them into the bin. one glance back at everyone and I knew I'd made my point. and I didn't want to cry, not then but I could feel it coming-- watery eyes and that unmistakable feeling in my chest. I fought it. not under these harsh fluorescent lights, I thought. not in front of the security person who looked ridiculously bored, not while I was struggling with a wayward purse strap and wondering if my feet smelled. I stuffed the sadness someplace in the back where I knew it would be safe, someplace I might never get around to finding it. I walked towards the gate.

and then all of the sudden we were taking off. I swear I felt my stomach drop seventeen different times. I kept my eyes wide open, though. I didn't want to miss anything.

17 November 2006

photobooth friday

yes, it's friday and there was a photobooth involved. lucky me: I squeezed myself into a booth in a bar in the east village with these two fantastic women.

proof to come, lovies.

16 November 2006



a woman with butterflies on her shoulders
grapefruits as big as your head
paper lanterns bright like neon lights
a man chasing his hat down broadway
the most perfect ruffly red dress
candy-colored earrings
mysterious doorways


the screech of trains
live accordian music
more private conversations than I have time to share, including an intense discussion about someone named mary and her bad, bad breath


a shiny quarter

15 November 2006

here I am

today: clouds below me like beds of shredded wheat. easy conversations on the corner of lexington and 125th street. the sounds of my camera clicking. one bus and three trains to south brooklyn. the promise of good indian food. the promise of sleep. and then there's tomorrow.

13 November 2006

a thousand tiny disco lights

the best kind of box is the kind that is filled with things from your childhood. even better if you've not looked at the contents for years and years. best if you have no idea of what might be inside.

my parents came to visit this past weekend and just before they left to go back home, they unloaded two enormous plastic bins from their car. my dad set them both down with a thud and I could see hints of sequins, old drawings and record albums inside. ava and me, we dug right in. I couldn't pull things out fast enough. no more than five minutes had passed and there we were, knee deep in my childhood. we sat together in a pile of tiny baby dresses, wrinkled dance costumes and letters from old boyfriends. we pulled out rainbow stickers, stickers that read, 'barf me out' and 'gag me with a spoon' and 45s like 'pass the dutchie', 'the tide is high' and 'double dutch bus'. there were the nesting dolls that my dad brought me back from russia, the party book I bought with my own money in first grade and studied from cover to cover, the black fingerless gloves I wore to prom, and a broken rhinestone crown that my mother once wore as may queen. but what I loved looking through the most were the drawings and paintings and stories I'd written. I wanted to go back to that place where I was so free with color, so uninhibited with line and shape. genuinely authentic and alive, just like ava.

she's been trying on the costumes since yesterday afternoon but the clear hit was the bright pink one with all the sequins and fringe. I never actually wore it on stage. I think my mom picked it up at a yard sale for a quarter. always my favorite, it is as spectacular as I remember-- unapologetically pink with sequins that sparkle like a thousand tiny disco lights and fringe that screams 'shake me shake me shake me'.

so, we've been doing some shaking. and twisting and jumping and twirling and kicking. and although I have a million things to do before I leave for new york, I've been doing a lot of sitting around and remembering.