Today would have been my daddy’s 75th birthday. Happy, happy birthday to the man who shared all his favorite things with me: Turner, Paris, stinky cheese, chunky wool sweaters, neutral colors, IKEA, quiet times by yourself, books, tea, and a good sunset. I miss you every day.
The temperatures dropped into the 40s and 50s this week, which means I’ve been wearing my fall boots every day along with a wool coat and scarf. I am beyond excited. To go along with the fall weather, tomorrow we’re going pumpkin and apple picking like we do every year. Then we’re hitting up IKEA to look at a potential new sofa, then tomorrow night is the ballet! Sunday will hopefully look a lot like that photo above, from my Instagram.
How do people find the time to write or devote themselves to their creative pursuits with a full-time job? I only really have Sundays, when all is said and done. Sundays are my writing days. I’ve come to love them even more than I did before, it’s the day I look forward to the most, but it’s also a lot of pressure for one day. I tend to beat myself up a bit if, when I finally emerge for dinner after locking myself at my desk for the day, I haven’t written “enough.” I recently read that a first time author’s novel shouldn’t exceed 80-100k words, which is both a good end point and also insanely daunting. It took me a year to get to 31k, and that’s not an accurate representation because of all the sucky parts I’m going to have to cut. Does someone have a magic wand? Or perhaps a grant equal to my salary + benefits they can bestow on me so I can take a year off and work on nothing but this novel?
What are you up to this weekend? Make it a good one, kiddos!
Here’s something you might not know about me: I danced ballet for 11 years. I stopped when I was a freshman in high school (I promptly gained my weekends back and about 15lbs, finally breaking 100). I had just started en pointe, and yes my feet are a little worse of for it even today. My parents enrolled me at 2 (3?) at the urging of my pediatrician, who was polite in his concern over my knock-kneed-ness, but forceful in his suggestion to straighten that out. Literally. I danced for 7 years under a teacher who graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance, in London, and who once worked with Margot Fonteyn. She was the most terrifying English woman I’ve ever met (Ms. Tonner, not Margot Fonteyn), but damn if she didn’t turn out some fantastic dancers.
Partially traumatizing story: my mother washed my tights with a regular load of wash once, which you’re never supposed to do, and they turned an angry shade of dark pink. Ms. Tonner called me “lobster legs” for months in her alarming accent.
I still miss ballet even 13 years later. I miss darting to the corner to crunch your slippers into the rosin box. I miss buns bobby-pinned and sprayed into a shellacked rock at the back of my head so tightly that not even the fastest pirouette could disturb it. I miss the controlled breathing, the posture, the grace, and that classic ballerina figure. I miss all the French! I miss late Friday evenings and early Saturday mornings spent in the studio, at the barre, classical music filling the large space. I still listen to Shostakovich ballet suites on repeat. This one, performed by the Russian Philharmonic gives me goosebumps:
Also, If I had continued I probably could have crushed someone to death with my thigh muscles. Also also, I know every line of “Center Stage” and don’t you try to tell me that’s not awesome.
So at every ballet recital my nieces have been in the last few years, I get a little weepy and emotional. The studio they attend brings in two professional dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company to perform one piece during the recital. Professional ballerinas are a thing of beauty. Unless you’ve seen them in person there’s just no describing it. Immediately after they’d finished at the recital this past June, I said to Jamal, “God, I miss ballet. Why don’t we go to the ballet?!” To which he responded, a few weeks later, with tickets to a George Balanchine production called Jewels for our anniversary. We thought it was tonight, but when we dug the tickets out this morning and checked the date, we realized it’s next Saturday. Oops.
In the meantime I’ll be practicing my arabesque.
I awoke this morning to a text message from Jamal. If there is anything more divine than waking up to, “Macarons: procured!” I’ve yet to experience it. So yes, Jamal is in Paris and I’m split somewhere in the neighborhood of 80/20 when it comes to my happiness/jealousy ratio. I talked to him this morning and he’s having the best time; he bought cheap bleu cheese from our local fromagerie on Rue des Abbesses, stopped in for a coffee break and stood at the bar with the other old French men while drinking his café. He went to our favorite street near the Eiffel Tower, bought himself new mustard at Maille. Last night in French class, my teacher told me I was “more advanced” than the class level, so that’s basically the same thing as being in Paris, right? Right.
I’ve been writing up a storm these past two weeks. It’s one line at a time (bird by bird) usually (most recently: “But that’s it. You don’t know they’re bad until the end.”), but on Sunday as the afternoon light faded, it was 3 whole hand-written pages on my sofa, the scratch of my pen against the paper the only sound in the room.
It’s been a good two weeks sans fiancé, honestly. As good as can be expected. I vacuumed a lot. Ate Halloween oreos before dinner if I felt like it. He’s in Paris until late tomorrow afternoon, and while I’m really, truly thrilled he’s there, enjoying our city and falling in love with it on his own, I’m ready for him to come home.
With macarons, naturellement.
Did you happen to catch this article, “Step Away From the Phone!”, in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times yesterday? Imagine my delight when I read that my recent second attempt to disconnect and spend less time on my phone/in front of technology is actually part of a larger movement. Turns out, I’m not the only person feeling overconnected and saddened by being tethered to a smartphone 24/7 (don’t even get me started on the idiots who waited in line for the new iPhone over the weekend. I have no words, just eyerolls). The people interviewed in the article, including Marc Jacobs himself, have all set a hard line when it comes to limiting technology at home. Throw your phone in an empty fishbowl, leave your iPads outside the bedroom, first one to check their email puts the kids to bed. Genius, right?
“Whenever Michael Carl, the fashion market director at Vanity Fair, goes out to dinner with friends, he plays something called the “phone stack” game: Everyone places their phones in the middle of the table; whoever looks at their device before the check arrives picks up the tab.” I suggested playing this with a few girlfriends earlier this year; one, (who shall remain nameless ;), insisted she couldn’t afford the entire bill, not realizing she wouldn’t have to pay more than her share if she just left her phone unchecked. While I love the idea of the phone stack game, how sad is it that we had to invent a game with incentives just to concentrate on your friends at the table? What have we devolved into?
My favorite line in the whole article was this: “Public cellphone use has reached an uncivilized fever pitch, so now it’s chicer behavior to exempt yourself from that. You’re not answerable 24/7, and that’s a powerful and luxurious statement.”
Powerful and luxurious. I love it. I have to think that with all the swirling excitement over the latest cell phone release date or those silly commercials with iPhone and Android users brawling over bragging rights, that eventually the smartphone craze will burn itself out and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a world without cell phones again.
Christine linked to this last Friday but I thought it was so important it bore repeating here. I’ve recently been feeling overconnected again, and I don’t like the squirmy feeling it gives me to not even realize I’ve been glued to my phone and look up and see Fitz next to me, just staring at me, asking for attention. He gives me these looks like, “Oh. That thing again. Guess you can’t pet me.” Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing, but when your dog gives you guilty stares because your laptop is on and your tv is on and you’re still scrolling through your phone instead of rubbing his belly, maybe it’s time to cut back on technology.
I grew up without a cell phone, and when I finally did get one in high school, no one had text messaging. We didn’t have Facebook or Myspace or even Youtube, forget Instagram and Pinterest. We hung out in person, not Google+ hangouts, and no one spent the meal with their face buried in a smartphone. I miss that.
I spend 9 hours a day at work in front of two computers, why on earth do I need a phone to send me more email during my short commute home, where I have another two computers? Or get Twitter messages in bed? Long story short: I’m going back to my Nokia bar phone for a while, as a cleanse. Unlike those unhealthy and bizarre juice cleanses, this one makes sense. A phone that just makes phone calls. What a novel concept.
File this under “Happiest Thing Ever,” cross-filed under, “Laughed So Hard I Cried.”
You guys. I need to introduce you to Doctor Pug, perhaps the best fake twitter account to come into fruition ever. Wait, I’m lying. It is THE BEST twitter account and it’s 100% real, run by a pug who happens to be a doctor. Obviously.
I had a pug for a few years, and he was the most magnificently chubby and lazy dog to ever walk to face of the earth. He was only interested in food and naps. His name was Potato, and I’m pretty sure he went to med school in the past few years and is now doling out
hilarious sorry, totally serious medical advice. Such as:
Please go follow him on twitter to make your days infinitely better. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go burp a lil burp, put on some pants, and install a doggie door for Dr. Pug.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I keep a line of post-its on the bottom of my iMac with word count goals. It’s a good way to set tangible milestones when I sit down to write, especially when it doesn’t feel like I got anything done after a particular session. Writing is a lot of just sitting there, I’ve found, typing a few words every five minutes. Deleting them. Rephrasing them. Sneering at them. Starting over. But the post-its keep me on track, and thus far I’ve crossed off four: 15k, 18k, 20k, 22k. And then I set fire to 28k.
I did not magically write six thousand words in a single session this past weekend, but I got to take down the 28k milestone post-it. Because while writing, I like to light a mini French baguette candle to ‘set the mood,’ and on Sunday I accidentally slid the candle too close to the bottom of my computer screen. You see where this is going.
No one should ever leave me home alone. Jamal left that morning for Colombia for a business trip, and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my privileges with matches from now on. The best part was I wasn’t even in the room when the fire started, so the likelihood that our entire house went up in flames was pretty high. Thankfully, the smell of fresh baguette quickly turned to burning paper and adhesive, and I came back to find a singe mark on my computer (which thankfully came off) and bits of hot pink post-it floating in the candle. And that: that sad, burnt milestone.
It’s like visiting old friends again, saying hello to Renoir, and Monet, Degas, Seurat, Pissarro. Keep your churches, your synagogues, your meeting halls; this is my place of worship. I think of all the Sunday mornings spent here with my dad, before playing on the dirt trails of Fairmount park right behind the museum. I think of the tile making class I took here one summer as a kid, painting my own tiles and being amazed at how they came out of the kiln. I think of the times I came a few years ago following an ugly breakup and a year of unemployment, when the only thing I could afford to do, emotionally and financially, was sit in front of Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic” for hours at a time, thanks to our life-long family membership. I think of the unbelievable embarrassment of riches this museum holds, right here in my city, and am staggered. I think of the plan I made 20 some years ago, that if there were ever a world war and everyone was wiped out but I magically survived, I would move into the museum and live among my favorite paintings.
I love museums. I love this museum.
I would like to formally request that every weekend be a 4-day weekend, please and thank you. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was so delightfully disoriented and confused as to what day it was from spending the previous two days off, that I almost burst into tears when I found out I still had one more day before Monday. Incredible!
As we’ve done for the past few years, every July 4th Jamal and I have a picnic at his alma mater, with Fitz in tow. I didn’t snap any shots of us spread out on our blanket with our sandwiches and fruit, mostly because it was approximately a billion degrees and we didn’t stay long. Fitz, however, was beyond excited. Look at that face! Friday, as part of my anniversary present to him, Jamal and I went on a 2 hour tour of the Phillies stadium and got to wander the park and the field (unfortunately, we weren’t able to tour the locker room, but I was totally hoping for some player encounters). That night we went out for drinks at a rooftop bar, dinner at our favorite Italian place, and an impromptu comedy show featuring Kevin Nealon. We were exhausted by the time we got home after midnight, but in the best way possible. Have I mentioned before that I love this guy? He’s my favorite. (Jamal, not Kevin Nealon.)
Tomorrow: photos from our museum date on Saturday!