Category Archives: general

saturday (away)

I had grand plans to put a post together earlier this week to be “ahead of the game”. It was a sweet one, and was perfect for a week focused on love. But I didn’t feel too great on Tuesday, and slept poorly all week, and more urgent things arose in the place of planning ahead. It was more of a treading water sort of week.

And now I’m away from a computer – hooray! – for the weekend, and I don’t enjoy texting on a phone keyboard, let alone blogging from one. So this will be short and sweet. I mostly wanted to say how much I appreciate you reading here again, your thoughtful comments, and emails, and notes you’ve sent. It feels good to connect again in this way, and to return to the ritual of writing.

And reading! I’m slow at it these days, but I’m tearing through a collection of essays today, and sitting in sunny spots whenever possible, like this one next to my girl, bass player just behind us. Glorious.

saturday (theater love and just love)

I thought I was going to write about something else today, but I decided to save it for another week after watching two different shows recently with a common thread.

Last weekend M came home from the grocery with a movie disc from Red Box – it was out of character for him, but he was walking out of the store and saw a particular movie advertised on the dispenser, and remembered that E had mentioned wanting to see it. So he rented it on the spot and brought it home. We started it up that night after F had gone to bed. I was working on something on the computer in the back room – which also happens to be the location of our only TV – and E and M were sitting in the only two chairs we have in that room. After a few minutes she climbed into the same chair with her dad, because that’s what they do. Even at nine and fifteen, both girls are still cuddle bugs.

The movie was Call Me By Your Name – I wasn’t familiar with it, but was excited to see that the story was set in Lombardy, Italy, and the villa and surrounds were so lovely. E didn’t know much about it either, but had heard from several trusted sources that it was a great movie – a coming of age story about a teen aged boy and an older visiting graduate student of his father’s. It was the kind of movie I would have died watching with my parents (if we would have watched it together, which we wouldn’t have).  But despite the fairly explicit sex scenes, and my general uneasiness around the age spread of Elio (17) and Oliver (24) – maybe mostly because the actors looked much younger / older than the characters they were playing – the movie was so good, and also painful and poignant and difficult to watch.

There is a scene with the father and his heartbroken son at the end of the movie that left us all breathless. I can’t remember the last time I watched a scene like that – so raw and intimate and everything that you could never imagine a father saying in a moment like this but everything that you wish that every father could say. We were silent in the room, and then M finally broke it saying “well, the entire movie was worth it just for that scene,” and E and I nodded, and I couldn’t believe how he spoke the words aloud that my heart was nearly screaming.

In that moment I realized just how grateful I was to be in that room with them. That somehow the wishes that we outlined in rough letter form and awkward whisper-prayers when they were babies seemed real – that they would know that we are open and listening and excited to share anything and everything that they are curious or enthusiastic or passionate about. That our home is a safe space for any conversation. And seat sharing is not only encouraged, but delighted in! What an extraordinary gift this part of parenting is. I had no idea.


A few nights later M and I were sitting in theater seats, watching Fiddler on the Roof at the Fox. I had confessed that I wasn’t really excited about our tickets that night – partly because it was Wednesday night, I was exhausted, it was freezing cold, and I was finding it hard to rally for a late night out. But the main reason was because we’d recently seen Fiddler at the Muny, and then the main scenes / numbers again as a part of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway production. It felt like a too-soon repeat to get really excited about.

But the Fox show was completely different – mostly because we were so close to the stage that Tevye was standing directly in front of us for many of the key solo scenes in the musical. It’s such a phenomenal role, and Yehezkel Lazarov was spectacularly funny, but the moments where he is working things out in his head by speaking them aloud – on the other hand… on the other hand… – those were my favorite parts of all. As each of his daughters begin to chart her own path, he’s forced into this pacing and reckoning and relinquishing of power and authority. At the root of this reckoning is love, despite his animated denials.

He loves her. Love, it’s a new style… On the other hand, our old ways were once new, weren’t they?


M and E are watching Dear Evan Hansen together as I type this – and I’m both envious of their time together again in the theater, and grateful for it. I won’t be there to watch them, or to feel the power of another story about love and loss, missteps and redemption. But they are there, and that’s enough. What extraordinary gifts this week brought, the whole lot of them.

saturday (thawing out)

It has been a really cold, snowy winter. January felt like it dragged on forever and also like it was over just like that. Probably typical for this first month of the year. I think part of the reason why it seemed like it lingered for so long was because we really slowed down our pace this month, especially on the weekends. There were five of them, if you count the New Year’s extended sort of weekend / time off, and we didn’t travel for any of them. The first was long and leisurely, the second still felt holiday-ish, and the third brought a massive snowfall that quieted the city (and cancelled everything but sledding and hiking). Weekend four stretched out because of head lice, so the laundry piled up, but the commitments were low. Weekend five stretched out with the flu – again with the laundry – but also the cancellations. I’m not saying I loved all the components of the month, but I really dug the pace.

But now that we’re into February, it feels quick. February has full weekends, lots of travel, and longer to-do lists. I want to try and carry that January pace into this month as best I can, so I’m tweaking a few rituals to see if that helps.

I know there’s a massive craze to clean up and de-clutter these days. I haven’t seen the Marie Kondo show on Netflix, but I purchased her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” when it first came out in the US. I really liked the book, but I remember that several friends had really negative reactions to it. It was pretty controversial at the time (and maybe still is), although I’ve heard the show is a little more mellow and approachable.

The thing is, it really stuck with me. And as much as the idea of holding each one of my objects in my hand to determine if it does indeed “spark joy” seems a little corny, I’ve never forgotten it. I started with my dresser drawers, and changed the way that I folded all my clothes. (The folding technique seems to be the thing I remember the most from the book.) I still edit my drawers and the single rod of my wardrobe continuously. I do the same with most other spaces in the house – not all at once, but I’ve slowly tackled most of them, and I maintain them as I go. I do it weekly with the refrigerator, and monthly in the pantry. Some days I pull everything out of a drawer  or two and clean and sort and put away. Most weeks I stop by Goodwill at some point, on the way to work or home again. Small amounts each time, but I try not to let it pile up in the house. The editing feels good.

Last Sunday I had to cancel most of the things I had planned to stay home with a feverish F. I washed her sheets (again), and put her in fresh, cool clothes and sheets to rest. I moved the old bench out of our room – the one that I still haven’t replaced – and into the hallway for  a week or two, as I contemplate just letting it go. I wanted to vacuum and mop our room again, and I knew I could do a better job without the bench in the way. We re-gifted most of the dress up clothes that usually live in there to my littlest niece for Christmas, and the storage component of the piece just really isn’t necessary.

The bench-less room feels so much more expansive and… quiet. It’s felt so good all week in that room – the nights have been so cold outside, but this room feels like a warm haven. We have this sort of unspoken ritual in the evenings – at some point one of us goes into the room and turns on the reading lamps over the bed and taps the bed heater buttons on both sides to gently warm up the sheets. When I’m the one doing it, I enjoy the ritual of turning on the lights, relocating my book from my work bag to the bed, and turning down the top of the blanket. Our room is in the center, the most visible place when you move vertically through the house, which is what we do a lot of in the evenings. It might be another hour or two until we get there, but it feels like a promise of sorts, as we catch glimpses of those lights above the bed. When he beats me to it, it’s even better. It feels like a promise to me – we’ve tackled all we can of the day in two different directions, but eventually we’ll meet up again here, to read and talk and rest and reset for another day. It’s a little thing, really, but it’s one of my very favorite things.

So as February ramps up the busy, I’m looking for ways to get more benches out of the way. To find those things that I can hold in my hand as a promise to myself that quietness and restfulness are still here. A reminder to turn back someone else’s side of the bed when I can, and to feel gratitude when my own sheets are warmed by another’s attentiveness and care.