Monday, December 29, 2008

Peppermint Peeps

Ok for the record, Peppermint Christmas Peeps are kinda yarfy. And I loves me some Peeps. Anyone who knows me knows I loves me some Peeps. I get them for all seasons from loving friends who see new designs and pass them on to me. I eat them. Sometimes I microwave them for ten seconds or so. I enjoy them.

Friends of mine even worked Peeps into a production of a Shakespeare play (I think it was "Alls Well that Ends Well") just as a private joke for me.

I even like the websites about Peeps. Have you seen this Peep Research page? A bunch of scientists do all kinds of experiments on Peeps. Mostly to see what, if anything, will destroy them. As it turns out, pretty much nothing will destroy the eyes.

I am most fond of the original Easter Peeps. The chicks. In yellow. But I like the bunnies a lot too. I have had the Christmas trees Peeps, the Jack o Lanterns Peeps, a giant Valentine's heart Peeps, and now...the Peppermint Stars Peeps. And I think this is the first variety that has ever had some kind of additional flavoring. And as aforementioned, it's kinda yucky.

But I still ate two.

Even though I'm trying to detox a bit from holiday binging.

I get very sad when the holidays end. I like the idea that a day can be special just because it's in late December and a few days before an even more special day. I like the idea that a time of the year or a date on the calendar is special just because it is. And it always is every single year. And when that special time ends I get a little sad. Like my mother and my grandfather, I start thinking about Spring just after my birthday passes in early January. I start looking through seed catalogs. I note that the days are indeed getting minutely longer. I think about vacations.

And I ponder Peeps. Because eventually, the Easter ones will come.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

List of Things I Have Burned Since Giving Birth

A partial list.

  1. 12/7/08 Roasted Sweet and Regular Potatoes
  2. Wednesday before Thanksgiving '08 Sweet Potato Biscuits
  3. Lentils
  4. My Arm (after burning the lentils)
  5. The Black & White Sandwich Cookies I was Making for the Nieces and Nephews


I will continue adding to this. It's getting ridiculous.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pa Ingalls and My Responsibility Project

So there's this thing going on at right now called The Responsibility Project. Spurred by a Liberty Mutual commercial of all things, the site features a bunch of short films about personal responsibility. And I'm so on about that.

I hate it when I see kids litter in the subway. I saw a teenage boy hand a half-full can of grape soda to another kid right before getting off the train. The other kid, a girl, didn't want it, yelled loudly in response, and held the soda can very briefly like it was a dead animal. I'm pretty sure the boy had a crush on her and thought handing her his garbage was a good way to show it. Have I mentioned I didn't have a high school boyfriend? In retrospect, maybe not so bad. Anyway, the girl then put the can on the floor under a seat and got off at the next stop.

Not surprisingly, within minutes the can overturned, and a narrow, shallow, sticky river of grape soda began to run the length of the subway car. I watched it all happen, and I was so mad about it. Mad when I watched people having to step around the mess. Mad when I saw people step right in it. Mad when a diverging stream ran into the open-toed shoes of someone innocently reading a newspaper, not noticing.

Finally a woman picked the can up and exited the subway with it. And I wanted to get her email address and send her a thank you note. That woman exercised the kind of personal responsibility that germaphobic me was not willing to do (Pick up some kid's yucky, germy, discarded soda can after it rolled around on the subway floor? No thank you. I will just sit, watch it obsessively, and steam).

So will my baby girl leave half empty cans of soda on the subway when she's a teenager? Gulp.

As a parent, my inherent, goody-two-shoes, nerdy to a fault, Presbyterian, "follows-directions-well-ness" has kind of exploded. The sense of responsibility I feel towards this small person is kind of staggering. I think this feeling is probably why I have obsessively posted videos and photos about cutting her bangs too short--for an entire MONTH. She was fine. Then I took scissors to her and mangled her hair. Fairly harmless in the grand scheme of things. A spilled can of grape soda on a subway train. But when it comes to...you name it. Making medical decisions. Protecting her financial future. Keeping her from hurting herself. Even teaching her not to litter. Am I indiscriminately wielding craft scissors?

So, Liberty Mutual (and I am so not selling anything for them or getting paid by them...I just watched this movie after the link was sent to me) is sponsoring this film project to get people talking about individual responsibility. And I find it so refreshing. In this age--heck in this election month--where many are passing the buck, many are blaming our problems on everyone else, here's a company using film to raise the issue of individuals choosing to stop the buck.

Here's the movie I watched. It's called "Tony." I watched the whole 13 minutes of it, which is rare for me, and actually found it kind of touching. I'm a new mom so I guess that's not too surprising. I'm not sure about the end...but I've only been a parent for 14 months. Talk to me in a couple of years. And did the boy need to be sick to make the story work? I'm actually not sure about that either. Maybe yes. Again, talk to me in a few years.

But all this is really about me of course, and my penance for hacking the baby's bangs. My crazy sense of responsibility which is hitting me so hard that I feel the need to post photos for a month featuring very blatantly "the bad thing I did." So here's the latest, and let me say also the final, one.



And here's a sneak peek of the little bean in her Halloween costume. She's going to be Laura Ingalls (before the "Wilder" when she was still "Half Pint"). So how did Ma and Pa teach those kids to be so darned responsible? I guess they had no other choice. Everyone pitched in or they wouldn't have anything to eat after Plum Creek froze in November. Minnesota winters in a poorly insulated homestead slap some responsibility into you pretty quickly, I guess.



None the worse for the wear. Still the biggest responsibility project I've ever undertaken. And I love her.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bangs Week 3



How's the diet going?

(While eating a brownie) Not well. This afternoon I binged on organic vanilla alphabet cookies.

At least the baby's hair is looking better.

Those vanilla cookies friggin rock.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Makes Me Not Want to Chant "USA"

So remember how I was all charged up about there being a woman and a black man running for the highest offices in our nation. I wanted to chant USA.

Yeah not so much any more.

I'm frankly appalled by what's happening. I feel that this woman is being used, and actively allowing herself to be used, in some of the most shameful hatemongering that I've had the misfortune to see. Hatemongering so appalling that even John McCain had to silence his own supporters who have taken to shouting out that Obama is a "terrorist" and remind them that he's a good and decent man. It's shocking and appalling and upsetting and frankly, I am no longer all that excited that my daughter will learn about it one day in school. At least, not what the minds behind the Republican campaign have done during the last few weeks.

But it's been a kinda lousy day. I had an audition for an agent tonight. Not getting rid of my sweet manager--in fact he set up the audition. Just considering adding another person (read, deducting another %15) to my "team." Let me tell you, it was friggin' sobering. First of all, I didn't really do my audition pieces too well. As the Red Sox proved tonight, you can't always hit them out of the park. And I so didn't. But that aside, what followed was a respectful, but painful interview in which I answered frankly questions about whom I do not know in this industry. Pretty much, I discovered, I know no one. I mean, I know some people. I've met a lot of people. But "know know"...like if you say my name to them will their eyes light up with happy recognition? Yeah, not so much.

And this is, as I have stated before, not an industry that takes kindly to aging. Particularly to women aging. So as the years have passed, and I have lived in this unforgiving city, and my career has moved at it's own leisurely pace (note my passive voice in discussing it...as if "it" not "I" were moving so slowly) I find myself in a bit of a pickle, pushing...well pushing the age I am pushing. "Opportunities for women 40 to 60 in this country" as I heard a wonderful, creative, imaginative and smart casting director say the other day, "are limited." I nearly fell over. Did he actually lump 40 - 60? This very smart man whom I respect a lot and knows this industry inside and out? Me with my mother? Yup. He so did.

So this all brings me around to what the people who are running this campaign are doing to this former beauty queen and sportscaster. Let's face it, she was lifted out of the entertainment industry to feed the entertainment industry. She's as much a player in a drama as I am. Here was an opportunity for a woman 40 - 60. A huge one. And it has become a punchline. No worse. It's become dangerous.

And that so does not make me want to chant U.S.A.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bangs Week 1


Well since I hacked the baby's bangs off...not much has changed. They still look horrible. I've just become somewhat numb to it. I almost can't remember how they looked when they were long, wispy and adorable. Before I got out the craft scissors.

And I've been using product to keep them swept over to the side. She looks like a little 1950s baby when I do that. And I ignore what the gel is probably doing to her sweet skin. For the record, I barely use any at all. But to continue to do my own penance, I must, weekly, return to the scene of the crime, brush the bangs straight down, photograph her, and atone. So that I never ever ever try to cut her hair again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Elusive Icelander

They have begun construction on the next door apartment upstairs. I just left the sleeping baby (MIRACLE!) to go and check it out.

Last year at this time they began work on the apartment next door. It is a three bedroom...count em 1 - 2 - 3 friggin' bedroom apartment. Something so rare in New York that I am considering charging admission for people to simply peek in the door when the occupants leave for jogs. And as loud as the constant banging is upstairs right now, it was three times as loud last year. I guess...hard to say. It's pretty damn loud right now.

So yeah, last year our neighbors left (a very nice family who were sweet and friendly but seemed to have no interest in actually becoming our friends) and men began systematically dismantling their apartment. They stripped the place. Floor to ceiling. Removed molding (lead paint fears I guess), appliances, floors...caused teeny tiny nasty piles of toxic dust to seep under cracks in the molding and form inside our apartment.

But I was actually kind of excited. A small family had left, I could only imagine a small family would be moving in. After all the apartment has (have I mentioned) three bedrooms! Maybe they'd have two kids. Maybe we'd end up watching "Project Runway" together and sharing babysitting. Maybe we'd actually have friends next door.

So after months of wall-shaking banging and floor vibrating sanding and nauseating noxious odors, the apartment was done. And the guys who work in the building confided to me that it's all top of the line! Stainless steel appliances, fancy light fixtures, custom everything. I was flipping ecstatic when I got to choose the paint colors in this place. And then didn't have to paint them myself. But no one was offering me granite countertops, believe you me.

And the people who moved in? A young couple. I have seen the husband maybe three times in the last year. The wife I have never laid eyes upon. So far as I know. The university which offers us this housing (not for free mind you) apparently thought that his coming here from Iceland merited a complete overhaul and three months of constant noise. And possible lead paint exposure. So he and his wife (? I assume) could spread out their Icelandic stuff over three bedrooms.

So is it just sour grapes? I mean, no shared babysitting. No pizza and reality TV. No friends. No sightings even for months on end. Which is the truly amazing thing about New York. For as much as we live in each others' laps...we never ever ever lay eyes on our neighbors. Ever. We smell noxious things from their apartments wafting through the walls (don't get me started on the lovely Asian couple who cooked some kind of cabbage stuff daily while I was so "morning" sick that I couldn't leave my couch for weeks), we see their strollers in the hallway, but we never actually see them. Let alone exchange holiday gifts.

And it's kind of sad and lonely.

So (and now the baby is awake and chattering in her crib) I now have to put up with months more of deafening noise while they renovate another presumably gigantic apartment (it's directly over the one next door) for another person? couple? family? who I will most likely not lay eyes upon.

I miss seeing people in the driveway or working out in their gardens. I fantasize that if I lived on a regular street I would exchange plant clippings and invite them over for bbq. Rather than simply say (if I do happen to lay eyes upon my neighbors) "oh we should really get together sometime."

Because we never ever do.

The baby is totally awake. And it sounds like the guys upstairs are jumping around on pogo sticks. It's gonna be a long couple of months.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lock Up Your Craft Scissors


Note to all you Moms out there, if you don't have any hairdressing training or experience, take a moment before you take scissors to your child's bangs. Even if they are full of toast and yogurt and spit and gunk and getting in her eyes...start very very very very small. Or better yet, take her to someone with some training and expertise.

Do not...I repeat do not...do what I did.

I am tormented by this brief horrible moment with a pair of craft scissors and a Winnie the Pooh comb. I snipped her bangs once before in her short life. Just a tiny bit. A wee itty bit. And it was fine. How did i manage to turn her into Moe from the Three Stooges?

How do I solve this? Do I take her to a real haircutting place and have them try to fix it? Honestly, I can't bear to tell anyone that I did...this.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Apocalypse

So I'm looking at USA Today...come on, like you're gonna say you never read USA Today even at hotels when it shows up hanging from your door knob for free? And I was looking based on a tip from a twitter friend that the world is possibly going to end on 12/21/2012 according to the Mayans. So I was like, dang, better get that book published before then, cuz I'm gonna feel like a total failure if the world ends and I don't have anything to show for it except for a couple of commercials for chewing gum.

So anyway, according to the respected authorities quoted by USA Today, it's a wee bit more complicated than that. Basically, on that day, which also happens to be the winter solstice, the Mayan Long Count calendar will flip back to zero. Like the odometer in my Dad's 1979 Volkswagen camper van did after 100,000 miles.

According to the article
Part of the 2012 mystique stems from the stars. On the winter solstice in 2012, the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years. This means that "whatever energy typically streams to Earth from the center of the Milky Way will indeed be disrupted on 12/21/12 at 11:11 p.m. Universal Time," Joseph writes.


They then go on to say that scholars are pretty sure the Mayans didn't know that.

The thing is, I'm guessing that they did. In fact, I'm pretty sure they did... Those dudes kinda specialized in knowing unknowable things about the universe.

And what I want to know is...

how?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pole Dancing and Drag Shows

So in the last two weeks, I, Wendy, formerly of Lewisburg, PA, have attended both a drag cabaret show and a pole dancing class. Interestingly, I gained three or four new followers on Twitter when I tweeted about the pole dancing. The followers were guys. Not mommy bloggers. Go figure.

In both cases, I found myself at the event, alone, several minutes before it started. And in both cases, in an attempt not to look like a lonely loser, I texted everyone I knew to demonstrate to those around me that yes I do have friends...they just don't happen to be here with me tonight like your friends are. Plus, I wanted all my friends to know where I was because, honestly, usually I'm in front of my TV watching "Ghost Hunters" and eating brownies. 99 nights out of 100. And that's even before the baby came.

I have always been a stay at home kinda gal. I got married, when I was, like, twenty (ok, twenty-five) and just never got into the going out scene. Which frankly, is a bit of a problem when you're trying to make a career in an industry that is all about going out and meeting people and being part of the scene. I don't even know what subway stop the scene is closest to. But I like to be at home with my cat and my husband and the television. Oh yeah and the baby.

However, I'm working on this. This going out thing. Before the cabaret show, I was at an on-camera audition class, which, honestly, I'd rather have a root canal than attend. Not because the teacher isn't good. He's great actually, as are the other participants in the class. Just it's so...kinda painful. I used to think that if I just worked hard and did my best and was a good person I would find success in this business. Did I mention I'm from Amish country? I now know that I need to plunk down cold hard cash to meet the people I should have met ten years ago when I still believed all this was a meritocracy. So I did that. Incidentally, the casting director gave me a scene for a 50 year old psychologist that first week and a 55 year old truck driver for today. But that's really a subject for another post.

So then I high tailed it down to the Duplex to see the Sunday Morning Mimosa live show. As I texted my friend Rebecca (different Rebecca from the Titanic Agent post--pretty much half the women in my life are named Rebecca) before the show started, while sipping my ginger ale and peach schnapps (did I mention I was raised Presbyterian), she wrote back that she felt I was there for a reason that would become evident in its own time. I texted her back, "clear eyes full hearts can't lose" because "Friday Night Lights" makes me cry and I think that's true despite all the meritocracy hopes being dashed.

Let me say, Gina Marie Rittale and Anita M. Buffem--two lovely ladies from Astoria--were totally delightful. I have been in touch with their nephews James and Steven about maybe doing a teeny tiny part in a movie they are creating. I love them. Their show was charming and surprising and everything a root canal is not. Much more sketch comedy than "drag" in any kind of a traditional sense. Just a super fun hoot. Even by oneself!

So then the following Friday...I went pole dancing. And can I just say, pole dancing is a surprisingly good workout. My right leg is bruised from foot to knee from the vomit-inducing spins that peppered the routine we were taught. I went with friends to celebrate my friend Katie's (not the same Katie as the punctuation post--several other women in my life are named Katie) impending nuptials. And though I wasn't the pole dancing savant Katie was, and I didn't look as professional as Joey did (though she is a dancer and she has a great body), my friends told me I was "surprisingly good with the pole." Yup. Wendy from Lewisburg...surprisingly good with the pole.

Though I left my shins a goose-egged throbbing mess and nearly upchucked the delicious tomato cheddar soup I had before the party, I did spin around the pole like...well like I once spent hours climbing poles on the playground, which I did. Yes pole dancing, to me, was a throwback to playing on the jungle gym. Another delightful surprise. Though it would have been even more delightful if Anita and Gina Marie were pole dancing with me. I think they could have showed all those skinny pole young dancing actresses a thing or two.

I did ache for about four days after pole dancing. But I'm actually thinking about going back and taking some more classes...for the exercise. And the spinning. Maybe next time I'll wear knee pads and shin guards.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Punctuation Junction

"bloody furious Isabella lost Jack wretched morning now napping."

So depending on how you punctuate the above text message, or don't punctuate it, your husband could spend an agonizing 35 minutes believing that your friend Isabella lost your baby. Who has since somehow been returned, presumably unharmed, and is napping.

My friend Katie had flown to D.C. to visit a friend. When it was time to leave, Isabella offered to drive Katie and her son back to the airport, which seemed like an okay idea at the time. Isabella's house was only about fifteen minutes from the airport. It would save Katie cab fare. They'd have a few more precious moments to talk. What could possibly go wrong? Assuming Isabella did indeed know how to find the airport.

But when Isabella got hopelessly lost, and then when she subsequently plowed into a vending machine at the gas station where they hoped to procure reliable directions, Katie texted her husband the above message. Unpunctuated.

Her husband called immediately to find out if "Jack was okay." Katie replied that he was. Her husband asked "Can you talk?" Katie said "Not really." Husband asked "Are you okay." She replied "Not really." For the next 35 minutes, until Katie called her husband while breathlessly carrying the baby down the ramp to the plane (which miraculously they actually made), and then clarified the details of the morning, her husband believed that Isabella had, in fact, lost Jack.

Note to self. Punctuate text messages.

9-17-08 Addition--Realized I never indicated how this message should indeed have been punctuated. "bloody furious. Isabella lost. Jack wretched morning. now napping." Ahhhhhh yes....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Makes Me Want to Chant "USA"

The Democrats have left Denver. The Republicans are in St. Paul. And I just had this thought.

So listen, I'm not gonna tell you who to vote for. I mean, I'll put a magnet on my car and wear a tee shirt around, but I'm not campaigning on my blog. I just pretty much don't want to see another doofus in the White House.

But look, at the risk of totally overstating the obvious, something kinda cool is happening right now. Because whatever you think of Obama, and whatever you think of Palin, if you plan to vote this November, and if you plan to vote for one of the two major parties, you won't be able to leave that funny little voting booth without pulling the lever or flipping the switch or putting your stone in the coke bottle for either a black man or a woman.

And that's friggin' awesome!!! I mean, come ON! That rocks. If I were the type to chant "USA" in any other circumstance besides during an Olympic Games, I might do so right now.

This is the first presidential election of my wee baby gal's life, and there's a woman and an African American man on the ballot...for different parties. That totally rocks.

Of course it rocks. Hollywood did it, like, ten years ago. Right? And Hollywood is always at the forefront of cool. The first woman in a position of power who comes to my mind is Glen Close in "Air Force One". She played Harrison Ford's Vice President Kathryn Bennett in 1997. Eleven years ago! Ok so maybe they had to give her a Jane Austen name so we wouldn't be so afraid of her while she was running the country like a total bad ass. But still. Eleven years ago.

Geena Davis was Mackenzie Allen in the frankly lousy TV show "Commander in Chief" in 2005. Like anyone would have named their daughter Mackenzie in the fifties. I don't think the show failed because Hollywood pushed the envelope. I think it failed because the writing kinda sucked. And they didn't cast my friend Rebecca as young press secretary Kelly Ludlow. Still, Hollywood gave the American people a chance to try out having a woman in the Oval Office (sitting behind the desk thank you very much) without actually having to vote for her, long before that opportunity has actually made it to the November ballot box. And though America said yes to "The West Wing" (a genius show in every respect), for whatever reason, they said no to "Commander in Chief." And ultimately, they said no to Hillary. Maybe Hillary should have had Aaron Sorkin writing for her.

I don't watch "24", but Dennis Haysbert was an inspired choice to play President David Palmer (about as unthreatening a name as you could possible give him, huh?). According to Digital Spy, Haysbert himself thinks his role on "24" contributed to America's acceptance of Barak Obama as a candidate. I say, of course it did. Look what "Will and Grace" did for the gay community. Little old ladies think gay guys are cute because of Jack. Again, Hollywood gave us the chance to audition something new and formerly inconceivable. Brought it right into the safe haven of our living rooms. Let us peek inside, feel it out while no one was watching, and decide that actually, as those guys and gals running things out there on the west coast already knew (because really, that's why they get paid the big bucks), it's kinda cool.

So how do we weigh the outcome here? "24" is about to begin its seventh season. It is tremendously popular. My mother and brother both love it. "Air Force One" made over 315 million dollars. I still sometimes say "Get off my plane". I'm not sure how to weigh the relative success of those two enterprises.

I know who I want to win. And I think he will. I really do. But either way, it will be pretty fun to hear my daughter talk about this election some day like it's no big deal.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Project Subway Platform

So I was at 34th Street on the subway platform waiting for the 1 train a few weeks ago. And I saw this dark-haired guy standing there waiting for the train. And I thought to myself, hey I know that guy! Where do I know him from? Did we do a show together? He was small and bearded and kinda theater-y looking. So I smiled a big, dumb, goofy smile. And he looked right past me.

Which made me feel kind of lousy for a second. And then I realized. He's that guy from Project Runway. Kevin, from Season 4. Not the one who cried all the time. That was Ricky. The other guy. Kevin. I liked him. That's probably why when I saw him, I assumed he was my friend.

What a strange thing it is to be a reality TV star. Because when it ends, unless you "win", you're back to riding the subway. The money's not that good, I don't think. If you don't win. I mean, it's better than waiting tables. But you know, you're not gonna retire on it. So unless you "hit" somehow... either win the whole thing or become the breakout story, you're back on the 1 train, pounding the pavement, scrambling for work.

Kinda like what it is to be just a person living in New York.

And note, I still ride the subway every day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Agents and Shipwreck

A quote by a renowned and accomplished theater actress as relayed to me by Rebecca Harris:

"Changing agents is like switching seats on the Titanic."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Conversation Late Last Night

Doc Hubby: Look at this. (Points to self and frowns.)

Me:
Yeah, I'll see your Christmas boxers, and I'll raise you a pair of maternity underwear.


Somebody needs to do some laundry.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Taking the A Train With My Baby

My baby loves people. I mean LOVES them. We are actually able to go out to eat all the time because she is so happy to flirt with everyone around her. Busboys to hostesses, patrons to chefs. My baby loves them all. More than once I have seen people grimace when they catch sight of the high chair on the opposite side of the restaurant. Then Baby Girl smiles at them. Then they smile back, delightedly. And then they are unable to finish their lunches because my baby demands their attention for the next 45 minutes while I eat my omelet in peace.

I live in post 9-11 New York City. I have been here for fifteen years. I am well aware of the need to be cautious. But I am staunchly opposed to the culture of fear.

Lots of people have responded with outrage to Lenore Sekazy, the woman who allowed her nine-year-old to ride home on the subway alone. She wrote a column about it, appeared on the Today Show, and people came out of the woodwork. Many of the people who oozed through the cracks have never set foot in Manhattan, let alone on the D Train. I live here. I ride it every day. Since my baby was born, I bring her on the subway too. Which is a challenge for me, as a bona fide germaphobe. I took her on a 1 Train this morning that was far too crowded for 10:15 (what the heck is the problem with the trains these days...they are getting insane) and whipped out my hand sanitizer five times between here and 14th Street. I suppose there are some who would criticize my decision to take my baby on a crowded subway in the first place. Think of all the risk factors--terrorists to muggers, germs to track fires.

However, you want to know what my experience riding the train with my baby has been like? Kinda amazing. People offer me seats a lot. More than when I was pregnant. Though frankly I think people are too afraid to risk offending someone who might not be actually pregnant by offering her a seat. (And honestly, I'd rather stand on a crowded subway than sit--more distance between baby's face and coughing passengers. I told you I was a germaphobe.) Several months ago a rowdy car full of teenage boys noisily and colorfully told each other to shut up because a baby was sleeping. And then, I kid you not, sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to her. She goes looking for friends, there's no doubt about it. But not a ride goes by that she doesn't succeed. And that makes the time pass more easily. And it makes her giggle.

She is a trusting soul.

I want her to be like that. I want her to believe in people. I want her to have a little dose of Anne Frank's optimism about the essential goodness of others. I love it that busboys will line up to spin dishrags on their fingers so she will laugh.

Maybe the guys at the Toyota Place are jacking the service fees up and doing unnecessary repairs on your car...but maybe they're not. Maybe your breaks actually need to be replaced. Perhaps that crazily bearded guy in the plaid shirt who is always lurking in the parking lot of the grocery store is a dangerous wacko. And maybe he's just a little lost and a little bit sad and lonely. Maybe the Middle Eastern guy sitting next to you on the plane is a terrorist. And maybe he used to be an engineer in Pakistan and now has to drive a cab to support his wife and kids in Queens. I choose to believe the latter until proved wrong.

I asked my friend Sarah who grew up in the city how old she was when she started riding the subway alone. She said she was in fifth grade. And this was in the early 80's -- pre-Giuliani, pre-Disneyfication of Times Square, pre-metrocard. We used to sell Girl Scout cookies to apartment complexes full of college kids when I was that age. Our parents dropped us off, and we went door to door. No one thought we would get molested. No one did get molested. And we sold a hell of a lot of thin mints.

So at what age will I let baby girl ride the subway alone? Hard to say. I'm inclined to say that nine is a bit early for us. But who knows? At some point I know I will need to talk to her about stranger danger. About trusting her instincts. About listening to the voice in her head that's telling her a situation might not be right and it's time to leave.

But until then, my baby is growing up in a world where people go underground and sit next to other people of every size, shape and color. She can smile at them, even if her Mama doesn't speak the same language they do. And they will smile back. And that's nothing to be afraid of.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deception of Olympic Proportion

So the footprints were fake. The huge firework footprints that TV viewers saw traipse across the sky to the Birdsnest at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Bejing. I was absolutely astonished by them. They were so cool. And apparently, they were computer generated. Right down to the smoggy sky and the suggestion that the camera was shaking from the force of the booms.

And Lin Miaoke, the little girl who sang "Ode to the Motherland" as the Chinese flag progressed around the stadium? Cute as a button. Definitely camera-ready. Yeah she didn't sing a word. The song was actually sung by Yang Peiyi who was deemed "not cute enough" to appear on camera.

It's old news, really. But what do I tell my daughter? About what's real and what's not. About the need to be perfect, even if it can only be accomplished digitally or through deception.

I'm all for magic. I think there are not enough fairy houses and elves running around these days. But I'm not sure I like watching magic on TV when those sending out the signals didn't let me in on the secret.

Which is funny, really. For the Olympics. Right now, we are watching an event in which real people, actual live human beings, do the impossible right and left. A Chinese gymnast did something on the rings last night that Tim Daggett said was flat out impossible. If, even only a few years ago, you had told someone you were going to do that particular move, Bart said, people would have laughed at you and said it was impossible. Yet this young gymnast did it. Seemingly effortlessly. Indeed it is the gymnasts that most appear to defy the laws of reality. People can't fly, right? Oh wait. They can. And apparently they can swim like mermaids and twirl off diving boards, in perfect synchronization with another human being...all in real life. And lift cars over their heads. And shoot through the eye of a needle.

The Olympics is an opportunity for us to witness the incredible abilities we human beings have. With a little bit of talent and lots of training, we can do things that it would seem could only be created on a computer screen. But have we become so used to deception in the movies and on TV that we now take it for granted? Hollywood can bring dinosaurs back to life, raze New York City, and air brush pounds from celebrity Mommy's waists. Hollywood can do anything. Of course they can.

But to be truly amazed, we don't need them! Just look at these unbelievable people from all around the world doing unbelievable things right before our eyes. Complete with sweat, blood, vomit and tears. We need to remind ourselves and our kids while we are watching these athletes that what they are doing is actually REAL! No green screens. No acting. Well, maybe some acting. But still, what their Adonis-like bodies are undergoing is true. Michael Phelps can swim so fast that he leaves a wake.

So yeah they faked the fireworks and the little girl. So far as I know that undulating box thing they did was real, but who's to say? I guess in this world where absolutely anything is possible one can never be quite sure. Any image can be created on screen and brought to life, whether it's through the magic of computers or just a plain old bait and switch.

But here's the thing--I don't want my little girl to lose sight of the truly incredible. I want her to know real magic when she sees it. And I never want her, or me for that matter, to lose the capacity to be amazed.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Left-Wing Butterflies

I made butterfly cookies today for my baby girl's first birthday party using an antique cookie press. My mom has had one for years, and then she gave me one. Search "Vintage Mirro Cooky Pastry Press" on Ebay, and you'll find about thirty. For seven bucks plus shipping you can own one of your own. The contraption is basically an aluminum canister with a screw top twisty thing that pushes dough out through a stencil and onto the cookie sheet. We always made them for Christmas when I was little. Some of the templates are Christmas trees and some are stars. There is even a camel.

Making these cookies takes patience and some practice. In case you decide to give it a whirl let me pass on a little advice: be sure you chill the dough before you begin pressing the cookies, chill the dough again in between each tray, and do not by any means attempt to press cookies in a boiling hot kitchen with no ventilation like the tiny kitchen in the tiny studio apartment we rented at a crazy low price for the first five years we were married. The cookies will staunchly refuse to break from the press and you'll end up with columns of Christmas trees snaking out across your one square foot of counter space like play dough.

This past Christmas I took at look at some of the other templates just for fun. Very 1950s. Very Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Which the device proudly sports. Many of these cookie designs would be just right for a "bridge night" or "ladies guild luncheon." But I was particularly taken by the butterfly. And I decided that evening in December that my wee gal's first birthday party would be a butterfly theme. Call me Martha. But I like themes.

So how do I feel about my baby, my teeny tiny baby, turning one? Frankly, it seems completely impossible. There is no way she can be one. I was just pregnant, like, five minutes ago. As my friend Katie said when we were strolling our strollers in the park today, "I still think I'm pregnant. When I pass pregnant women, I smile at them knowingly and I'm completely astonished when they don't smile back. Especially when I'm with him." She nodded to her sweet-faced 8-month-old. I have done the exact same thing. With the exact same puzzling results. Ok, sure I don't have the heartburn, but I'm still part of the club, right?

I try to remember what I thought when I passed women pushing strollers while I was pregnant. In early August. In the stinky stinky city. I suppose I was so totally wrapped up in my own experience (ie. trying to make it to the subway without peeing in my pants, throwing up, doubling over from Braxton Hicks contractions, or allowing stomach acid to completely erode what remained of my esophagus) that I didn't even notice them. This was my pregnancy. Sure other women had been pregnant before...but not like me. I do remember smiling at other pregnant women like we were members of a not-so-secret sorority. But actual Moms...they had crossed some kind of Rubicon that I, up until the minute that pitocin was racing through me, and honestly, even for a few hours after that...kinda didn't think I'd ever cross. Sure I was pregnant, but I wasn't ever going to be one of those women pushing a Maclaren in the park.

And now I have a one-year-old. And a Maclaren. How did this happen?

Much as I'd like to take the butterfly analogy and run with it...sorry, it ain't happening. I don't think I'm spreading my beautiful wings and flying off over the Gulf of Mexico. If anything, I'm going back inside. Wrapping myself and my wee gal up in some kind of cocoon of homeness and safety and warmth and organic food and expensive car seats and BPA-free sippy cups. Weaving a giant silky net around her while I still can. Making cookies with the same antique cookie press and the same recipe that my Mom uses.

Despite my hard-earned expertise, many of the cookies came out lopsided. I pondered eating all of the mess-ups. Raw. (There's a benefit of being kicked out of the preggo club--bring on the cookie dough and soft cheese.) Or smooshing them back in the press to try again.

And then I realized: they are "Left Wing" butterflies. Which made me giggle, alone in my kitchen.

And then I looked forward to the day that I could tell my baby girl that joke, and hear her giggle too. And then fly away.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why I Hate The New York Post

Yesterday a dear friend of mine died when he fell from the balcony of his NYC office at Beth Israel Hospital.

The "New York Post" splashed "Doc in Death Plunge" atop their web page. I haven't seen if there's a story to match it in the regular paper. I have never actually picked up a copy of the Post. Rest assured I never will.

I always sort of avoided "The Post" because it seemed sensational and sleazy. But I never really thought about the people behind those lurid headlines. The friends. The coworkers. The families. The victims.

This man who died was one of the the kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful men I know. He went to Macy's and picked out two pink dresses for my baby daughter when she was born. He was very simply a good doctor. His loss is not only a loss to those of us who were lucky enough to be his friends. It was a loss to all the patients who will never receive care in his hands.

The paper made insinuations as to what happened. With no proof. This story is what people will remember. Yet we will probably never know the truth. And those of us who knew him will never believe what the reporters suggested.

So here is the headline Doug deserves:
Caring Friend, Wonderful Doctor, Sports-Fan, Uncle, Son, New Yorker--Lost to the World in Tragic Accident.

May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Have the Greatest Manager in the World

I have the greatest manager in the world. I am so lucky.

I have not done a play in nearly two years. This realization is giving me palpitations. If a lawyer did not practice law for two years, you would still call her a lawyer. If a doctor didn’t see a patient in two years she would still be a doctor. Why is it that after two years of doing no plays, I feel like I am no longer an actor?

My manager knew I was pregnant before my mother did. I had to tell him when I got an audition for “Taming of the Shrew” and not only could I not work on the script without feeling like I was going to hurl, I knew I could never take the job. There are some roles I can imagine doing while pregnant. Kate is not one of them. I told him with trepidation that I was pregnant. That these were deep waters we were navigating. Still very early. But I couldn’t in good conscience take the audition.

So I told him, and then I took a deep breath. I feared he would pull a Donald: “You’re Fired.” With a capital “Y” and “F”. Instead he said “Mazel Tov!” and sounded as if he were jumping around his office for joy. Did I mention he is the greatest manager in the world?

He has been patient with me as I have continued from deep water to rough water and then to dead-calm-no-wind-stuck-in-one-place water. Year one of baby’s life. I really don’t know many moms who are working actors who aren’t famous. I have one friend who works constantly. She is a wonder. A few others who are struggling to figure out how to go back, as I am. But where are the rest of us?

Hellooooooooooooooo? Are there any other unfamous working actress moms out there? Maybe ones who used to be regional theater actresses and now don’t want to or can't leave home?

Working as an actor in New York City is impossible. If you aren’t famous.

I got new headshots done. I’m trying to lose the baby weight. It is stubborn. I fear I am too old. That it’s too late. That I missed this particular bus. That I wasted a lot of money on grad school. Acting is a young person’s game. These are the things that would keep me up at night if I weren’t so exhausted from caring for the baby nonstop.

But my manager is patient with me. I took him the new headshots, and he raved about them and said when the baby is two she’s going on the road with me. He did not yell at me when I said we were leaving town for a month so she can get thirty dollar swimming lessons in my hometown. Saving me approximately two hundred dollars.

He was patient and understanding. Said we’ll sit down and talk in August. Was excited about my vlog.

If he can be patient and understanding with me…perhaps I can be patient and understanding with myself?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Does It Mean to Eat Your Children?

"What Does It Mean to Eat Your Children?"

I had a teacher in grad school who asked us that question. She was crazy but to her credit it had a context. One of those horribly horribly Greek tragedies in which someone ends up being fed his own children in a pie. I was an acting student. I suppose if you are going to act eating your children you need to take a moment to consider what that means.

I have had the opposite experience for the last two plus years. I have been eating for my children. Unborn or otherwise. It was about two and a half years ago when we started trying to get pregnant. And from that moment on every single bite I took, every single drink I sipped, every breath of air I breathed, contaminated or otherwise, did not enter my body without being assessed for its potential harm to my unborn and then newborn child. I suppose that makes me sound fairly obsessive compulsive. I have a streak. I’ve actually returned from the subway platform, having PAID MY FARE, to make sure the gas stove was off. And I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and worrier. So yeah, I didn’t eat hotdogs or drink or enjoy soft cheeses when I was pregnant. And I thought about how well I could metabolize the Splenda and caffeine and ginger ale and peach schnapps when I was breastfeeding. Did I mention I’m also a lightweight? Yeah I totally am.

So I have done this obsessive monitoring…oh by the way don’t let that lead you to the oh so erroneous conclusion that I gained the perfect 25 pounds during pregnancy. So far as I know, no brownie ever led to fetal brain damage. Yeah I gained forty five pounds during my pregnancy. So I have monitored potential pathogens obsessively…until today. Coincidentally my 13th wedding anniversary. Here’s how it went down. We had raviolis for dinner at home since my husband couldn’t get home early from work today so we could go out. I left two on my plate. I am still trying to lose those 45 pounds. But they are really good raviolis, and my husband was in the process of taking the plate to finish them off when I said “oh wait” and took a few forkfuls of the very nice, tomatoey sauce because it has really good things in it for the baby. And then I remembered. This morning was probably my last breastfeeding. Ever.

I know that weaning can be really difficult. Friends have told me of sleepless nights and engorgement. But my baby was one of those who pretty much decided she was done. She just really likes sweet potatoes and cheerios. And though nursing was pretty successful for both of us for ten months, it never reached those transcendent otherworldly planes I have read about. It hurt and I had blebs and then her teeth came in and I never felt like I had a huge supply (as witnessed by the fact that I leaked once and could really only pump about five ounces from both sides combined at best). We are close. We are snuggly. But nursing was fairly utilitarian for both of us. Which maybe made it a self-fulfilling prophecy. I always said I wanted to make it to Memorial Day. I just never kind of thought that she’d hear me and then say “ok Mama I agree.”

I stopped pumping at night last night. And this morning she latched on for about three minutes and then happily guzzled her organic formula. And had a great day.

So when I reached for the tomato sauce and thought “these great lycopene thingies will be really good for the baby” and then stopped suddenly, I was genuinely surprised to feel myself tear up. For the first time in years, what I eat will not go directly to someone else. For the first time in years, I do not have to weigh every mouthful. For the first time in years I don’t have a little being dependent on my good judgment for her very sustenance. And while it is liberating, it is much sadder than I expected.

I still don’t know what it means to eat your children. But I know what it means to have my children eat me. And then move on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Addicted to Blog Giveaways

My name is Wendy. And I am addicted to blog giveaways.

I spent all of naptime today entering them. Seriously. I did.

Ok it started because I was listing my own blog giveaway on some blog giveaway sites. And let me say here for the record—there are blogs for EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. Macrobiotic LOST Fans. Stay at Home Moms who Dream of Hosting their own Crafting Shows. Roller Derby Circus Clowns. You name it, someone is blogging it in full color complete with helpful diagrams.

So. People list blog giveaways. As the complete content of their blogs. Bless their good-hearted souls. Because you can just enter one after the next after the next. And there are SO MANY.

And may I say, I have already won three of them. Three. I hate to make this public because then so many others will start dedicating all of naptime and lunch hours to entering them and my odds of winning will plummet. Admittedly, one of them I won, well, there were five entrants for three prizes. Those are the ones you gotta find. But still, the odds are usually 500 to 1 at the worst and much much better at the best. I have a box of eco-friendly cleaning supplies to prove it. And two other gifts.

And winning is just friggin fun. It convinces me that exploring the blogosphere is so much more than a time suck. It’s practically a job. I’m gonna feed and clothe my family on stuff I win on blog giveaways. Plus the last time I won something I was in the fourth grade and it was a cakewalk at a school Halloween Party (this was the late 70s when the fear of razor blades in apples was in its fullest swing and trick-or-treating was shunned in favor of school Halloween parties which basically sucked except I won this cake). I got to choose from what seemed like about 50 cakes all spread out in the science room. I picked Winnie the Pooh.

So because I’m a good person. I will tell you where to go to find lists of giveaways. Perhaps in so doing I will cleanse myself and break my addiction. After all, it worked for Facebook Scramble. Which has now been replaced by entering blog giveaways.

www.prizeatron.com (ok I just entered another one between the time I typed that url and found the next one…I’m totally serious…I may have a real problem) www.bloggiveaways.blogspot.com and www.acontestblog.com.

Enter at your own risk. You also may soon forsake bathing in favor of giveaways.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Apology to the Girl at the Cruise Lines Audition

I don’t know a lot. But I do know that I don’t want to be that Mom.

Let me explain. I’m a freelance actress. Mother of ten month old. Wife of hotshot doc. Something of a failure but not completely hopeless yet.

Yesterday I was at the dragon lady's commercial casting office. The office where there’s never anywhere to sit and if you stand in the hallway the other tenants of the floor yell and throw things at you. The one where I am always a bridesmaid but never a bride. I have never met "herself". Or shall I say I've never been introduced to "herself". Perhaps I have met her several times. Listen, I’m sure she’s actually a lovely woman. I just hear things…

So I’m waiting to go in for what ended up being actually a very fun commercial audition for whipped cream (yeah not that fun…hold your horses there John Wayne) in which I actually got to use one or two of the skills developed over years and years of classical training (yeah did I mention I do Shakespeare…or rather I did Shakespeare…? Now, if I’m damned lucky, I sell chewing gum). So actually thanks for that fun audition, dragon lady. See you're not so much of a dragon after all. That audition made me feel like a bit more of a person and a bit less of a walking, talking, lactating boob for the ten minutes or so I was in there.

Anyway, I’m looking over the fairly humorous copy when a mom carrying a ten-month-old or so in a Bjorn (look into the Ergo lady…I’m just sayin') and her sweet 7 year old daughter arrive for the Cruise Ship call. Mom sighs dramatically. Flops down. Very nice girl Karen who will audition with me smiles at her, and Mom sighs again and says “yeah, it’s hard.” Wah wah. But anyway, it is hard, so I find a moment of generosity for her.

Mom starts to fill out size card for seven year old (How do I get my friggin adorable kids into commercials? you ask. I’ll tell you later.) and discovers that sweet young seven year old needs to be in her bathing suit now. For the audition. This I was aware of because I had seen the other little girls walking around in theirs to get their Polaroids (yeah commercial casting used to be the only thing keeping Polaroid film alive…but no more…requiem for Polaroid) and thought they were so sweet and fearless and why don’t I like wearing bathing suits anymore—oh yeah it’s that big fat undulating donut encircling my bowels. So Mom says to sweet seven year old “you need to be wearing your bathing suit.” Sweet seven year old looks horrified. She scans the narrow hallway for some privacy. A bathroom. I know the bathroom is outside near the elevators. Nothing. “NOW!” says Mom, “I didn’t carry your sister down here for you to…” Oh my god. Sweet seven year old mutters something quietly. Mom says loudly and very indiscreetly “No one is looking at you! Now change right now!” I stare at the copy which I have now completely committed to memory.

And right at this moment, I failed you sweet seven year old. I had a large coat. I had no ten month old strapped to my chest. My baby was at home. I was once a terribly self-conscious seven year old who would have become paralyzed from the neck down had my mother insisted I take off my clothes, and put on a bathing suit…on a cold metal bench in a HALLWAY! I could have offered to hold up my coat so you could have undressed behind it. I could have taken you to the bathroom. But I, too, was scared of your mother. And I didn't want to intrude. So I did nothing. I stared concertedly at the Xeroxed paper and cringed and hoped you could change quickly. And I feel you did. But still, I should have helped you.

I am a bit traumatized by what that Mom made that young girl do. Not just the auditioning. Because God knows that auditioning for commercials is soul-killing enough after adolescence let alone before. But the public nakedness too.

Resolution to self: as a mother and an actress, help any young girl who needs it. At any time. Regardless of how scary her mother seems. Because you are a grown up now.

Also apologies to Karen. Who I think was actually trying to make friends as we left the building. But I was thinking about the babysitter and if I had time to stop for salmon and I’ve lived in New York for so long that I’ve forgotten I’m a nice girl from Pennsylvania. I think Karen actually reached out her hand when we were leaving and I didn’t take it. It wasn’t until I was descending into the bowels of the subway that I realized, my gosh, I think she would have talked for a few minutes and then maybe even made a date to meet for coffee. Maybe she has a baby too. Maybe she could have been my friend.

I’m sorry to you too Karen. I’ll be looking for you in the shadow of the dragon lady.