“I will hold on strongly to my values, while still recognizing and respecting others’ values. Even when there is conflict between the two, there is a way to do both; though that solution may not be easy to find, I will willingly accept that challenge.”—My newest mantra. Thanks, family dinner, for letting my thought process lead me here.
The product is funny; the pictures on the website (including below) are funnier. WAN (a Wrap-a-Nap) is a pillow, a blindfold, and an earmuff all in one. This is something my mom would like for sure, but something I can’t really imagine anyone sincerely owning. But hey, it has fans! I suppose I can’t knock it til I try it!
Karen, my two friends and I learned well tonight. Thank you very much for helping us to reach this domestic milestone. We feel not only empowered but totally wowed. The art of the blind hem is excellent.
I like the man-smell of a hardware store:
odors of old leather,
fresh cut lumber, oiled machines,
limey smell of plaster and new paint.
I like the men who come to hardware stores,
men with calloused hands
in dirty jeans and sweaty shirts,
men who work.
I remember times we came together
for shingles and to re-roof the shed,
cement for the outdoor barbecue,
bricks for the patio.
Now I come alone and pause a moment
just inside the door.
Almost I see you there
beyond the ray of dust motes in the aisle.
So strong the sense of deja vu
I have to catch my breath
As if these old familiar smells
could bring you back from death.
An untitled, unattributed poem hanging in the back of Moody’s Hardware Store in Montgomery, Alabama. The poem and story of Moody’s was really a gem to stumble upon, because Boston Hardware in Uncasville, Connecticut was our family’s pride for more than 40 years.
It’s amazing what gifts small-scale blogs by everyday folks like us can bring in unexpected ways.
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.”—
I’m so saddened by how our justice system failed. There was far too much doubt for his execution to be justified, and the onus is now on us, the American public, to either change the judicial process with respect to the death penalty or to legislatively get rid of it all together. False positives should not be an option.
Yes please! Love the idea always of converting dumpy, unused, publicly-owned space to something amazing and rejuvenating in the form of a park. This old subway tunnel (below) is currently under the control of the MTA, so we’ll see if they can make a good decision (for once).
Cyros International, the world’s biggest sperm bank, doesn’t want redheaded donors anymore. The demand is too low, they stated. I suppose there’s still a chance that the ever-popular brown hair brown eyed donor is a carrier of the recessive mutated MC1R gene, but my completely scientific theory is that even less redheaded babies are going to enter this twisted world.
On September 11, the National Day of Service and also a National Day of Remembrance, I wanted to do both without gratuitously doing either. So, what better than hosting a fun event and celebration of girlfriends with a charity component? In the end, 15 girls each went home with some fun new finds and also donated more than 120 items to Housing Works. Here’s how it went down:
Beforehand: Clothing swaps need more notice than your average party, because people like time to clean out their closets. In this case, I gave 5 week’s notice via a facebook event, and it paid off; people brought suitcases full of stuff! Also use this as a chance to give guidelines of what’s ok - dresses, jackets, pants, belts, shirts, shoes, jewelry, scarves, skirts, hats - and what’s not ok - underwear, baby clothes, canned food. Also ask them to bring either a snack or mimosa makings to share. You should buy a few to get people started with, but people definitely will bring if you ask.
As people arrive: Use as much surface space as possible to lay out and sort all items into ‘like’ buckets. It’s not an exact science, but it helps give order to an otherwise overly chaotic event. Also, distribute mimosas and snacks, and introduce people who don’t know each other.
Let the swap begin: Set ground rules: 1) Everyone who wants to try something on can, 2) Anything brought is up for grabs, 3) Everyone leaves with something, and 4) Anything jokey said about clothing is not an insult to anyone; have a sense of humor about it all. Then, someone (doesn’t have to be you as host, but can be) starts holding up items, giving a brief description (incl. size and brand) and throwing to a person who’s interested. Note that this is also a great time to attempt comedy. If nobody wants an item, it goes in the donate pile, which grows rapidly. When enough items have been distributed, take a break and start trying on! When someone has a clear winner, everyone knows it, and you should probably all cheer, because it’s pretty exciting. Continue trying on and distributing more items.
After: Get friends to help fold and itemize the throwaways. Put in durable bags (we even had a suitcase that was being donated!) and make sure you have a plan for getting all of those items to the agreed upon donation center.
The whole thing will probably last a little more than 3 hours, and I guarantee a good time! Easy as that!
[editor’s note: this is not a women’s only affair, though I don’t think men enjoy this quite as much. however, for a unisex option, try a tshirt swap! same thing with all your old tshirts!]
This incredible documentary podcast by Jay Frosting featuring Ashley is an audio and visual commentary on a transgender girl’s transition and her adventures becoming a girl. It’s well-constructed, completely genuine, smart, and innovative. I like that Jay and Ashley are longtime friends, and that the format is just a sincere conversation. It’s not trying to achieve anything monumental, I don’t think, but in sharing an experience full of anecdotes with a generally not transgender audience, it does, in fact, monumentally put a very real, unassuming face to an otherwise foreign and perhaps slightly ‘weird’ idea. In other words, this podcast has a super comfortable feel with a normally more edgy subject, and this engrosses a listener quite effectively while also having potential to change attitudes. Granted, this podcast shouldn’t fully construct a listener’s view of every MTF, but it’s not trying to be that at all. In summary, it’s charming and engaging.
Tonight’s umpire was a true class act, a one of a kind man. A man in his 50s, sporting a pair of thick frames and a verizon wireless phone with a terrible ringtone, this ump had the worst attitude I’ve ever seen on the field, especially in what is frankly a beer league-type league. [editor’s note: I brought carrots and celery to the game today for my teammates. On average, more of these were consumed than beer.]
INSTANCE #1: He called our runner out at first. The first baseman from the other team was clearly off the bag and did not put the tag on. In a feat of incredible sportsmanship (for which we applauded), he told the ump that he definitely didn’t put the tag on. The ump called our runner out, and yelled at both teams not to make a farce of the game. [editor’s note: Nobody was. Trust me. It was intense.]
INSTANCE #2: Bags were slightly moved. People (both teams) were warming up on the field, because it’s a park in NYC and there’s nowhere else to warm up. Girl was wearing non-stud earrings. Commence Freakout by ump. None of us take the game seriously, nor do we come prepared! GOSH!
INSTANCE #3: Batter hits a grounder to short, who overthrows to first (common trend). Runner on second had held up on running, but began when overthrow was evident. Stopped at third, because the ball was then dead. We all yelled for him to come home, because he gets the extra base. Ump yells at us that we’re wrong. He then yells at our runner on third to go home. It was very confusing.
INSTANCE #4: A hit was made. The runner ran. During the next at bat, the ump let everyone know that the runner hadn’t touched the bag [editor’s note: He did.] and all the fielding team had to do was say so and there’d be an out. The fielding team’s pitcher announced that their team’s previous home run hitter didn’t touch second, but so what, none of this is in the spirit of the game. FARCE!!!
INSTANCE #5: Runner (who wasn’t running anywhere) moves (ever so) slightly off second base, probably to see the batter. Called out for leading.
INSTANCE #6 & #7: [both recurring] Ball is hit foul. Yell at everyone for miles to LEAVE IT. Next batter is up. Ask who is on deck, and who’s on double deck, because you CAN’T PLAY IF YOU’RE NOT READY. [editor’s note: It felt like boot camp]
Look, all and all, it’s always a good time. But Ump, why do you have to make it stink? We DO care about the game and playing by rules, but not to the point where both teams agree that you’re being an arrogant jerk with a superiority complex who has nothing better to do than look for violated technicalities or make them up if they’re not apparent. I would say I pity the man, because clearly this is something he cares about, but I don’t. Not even a little.
These bookshelves that can be taken apart and reconstructed into a coffin are pretty amazing. No, I’m not being morbid….just think about how awesome it is that you fill the shelves with items of importance or that were at some point a part of you, and that the same wood that holds components of your life eventually holds you. It’s also a cool statement about one’s relationship to death - that the owner is willing to acknowledge its eventual takeover, but also that they are in control of what surrounds them and is on display in life. The construction is thoughtful both as a design triumph and poetic musing. Not to mention that it’s resource efficient…
I devote today to remembering the strength and courage of our country 10 years ago, from the first responders to the heroes on Flight 93 to the support networks throughout the country, and celebrating the friendships of here and now. We all have our own stories and connections, but ultimately, as 9/11/01 taught us, this country is family, and that should trump all of the outlandish hatred and politics and injustice that sometimes perseveres. The best way to honor those who lost or risked their lives is to try our absolute hardest to help those who need help and look out for one another.
(Grown) Kids, here’s a tip: suing your parents for bad birthday cards and no care packages at college isn’t kosher. At all. What’s your problem? Stop whining. Or if you must, take revenge, but don’t waste public resources in the court system, because your case is absolutely stupid.
[editor’s note: my care packages contained vitamins, newspapers, and bad jokes. but these are the things give you something to talk about on the next mandatory call home that evening. (most people) learn to deal with it.]
“Yvonne has truly fought for her freedom. She has shown the world that her urge to be free is strong – even for a cow.”—German wildlife charity Gut Aiderbichl, on Yvonne, the cow who ran away from the slaughterhouse. I love that cow.
Movie Marathon. I seldom get to watch a movie, let alone 3*. These weren’t just any 3 movies, they were all available on Netflix Instant Watch and they all had Paper in the title. I’m not a nerd, I swear.
Paper Heart: Indie documentary (comedy? drama? romance?) centered around the question “What is love?” I really liked it, and I became unnaturally curious about the evolution of Charlyne and Michael’s relationship. Totally recommend.
Paper Man: Offbeat drama (comedy? fantasy?) about an unusual friendship formed through the shared experience of not quite fitting in or feeling satisfied. It turned out to be enjoyable, sobering, inspirational, and everything in between, but also walked the fantasy line a little too closely for my full thumbs up. The main characters were also quite well cast. I’d say to watch this for sure if you’re not already cranky.
The Paper: Journalism drama (comedy? is ‘early 90s’ a genre?) filled with murder, ethics, and Williamsburg before it was what it is now. It had its tacky moments, its sweet moments, its chaotic excitement, and its ‘emote audibly’ moments. A cinematographic or script-driven masterpiece, no. A movie perfect to watch while cleaning and ignoring a hurricane, definitely.
So, there you go. Paper. *I even snuck in another film, Snatch, which had more characters conspiring against each other than the American political scene. A dog also was held at gunpoint; you’ll have to watch to see if he makes it out alive. A real silly awesome nail biter for sure. And you know what, let’s just say there was some paper in it.
Can we please give this man his life back? What will it take? Clearly, the vigils, protests, letters, requests, and pleading isn’t tangibly achieving much, and 5 birthdays as a hostage should be unacceptable to society. Worldwide, there are too many people unethically held hostage, and Gilad’s captivity is especially resonant because he’s my age. All the fun and growth you’re supposed to have in your 20s was snatched from him while he served his country. So so so sad.
So happy birthday, and hopefully this year will bring freedom and peace.
Anyone who knows me or is a loyal blog reader knows how much I love NYC Parks. A not-really-but-basically cousin is one of the voices behind an awesome effort to bring a park to Chelsea. 136 W. 20th St (between 6th and 7th aves.) is currently vacant (BORING!) and for people who live smack in the middle of Chelsea, it’s a decent walk over to the Highline or the other way over to Madison Square Park or down to Washington Square Park. There isn’t really other public space to sit outdoors (especially with kids) and enjoy the neighborhood. The lot is currently owned by the Department of Sanitation, but that’s not helping anything, and we know that NYC does nothing but amazing things with their parks. So why not bring a park here?
Will New York City also become the FIRST CITY IN HISTORY to experience an earthquake, hurricane, and tornado in one week? That, too, would be a pretty incredible feat. And panic would certainly ensue. And I might give more credence to all this silly apocalypse talk crazing the nation.
Starting today, you can sample and buy Harmless Harvest Coconut Water in your local Whole Foods store*. I had the pleasure of trying some today, and it was delicious! The product’s clean, refreshing taste is a direct consequence of the company’s philosophy, which sets a high standard of well-being for both the supply and the client (you). There are no additives, and it’s a very homegrown operation that I feel excited to support. Further, it fits into a larger portfolio of Harmless Harvest products and agroforestry innovation. Go pick some up, and I’m sure Justin, one of the lovely founders pictured below, would be thrilled to hear from you.
*Right now, you can only purchase this product in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Whole Foods stores, but it will be nationwide later this fall.
I don’t follow Canadian politics (should I start?), but I was captivated by the form, content, and tone of this letter, and also the simple fact that it was even written. Give it a read in the former leader’s memory.
I recently hosted a game night like I’ve never hosted before. Why? More than 1 game at a time! It was very exciting for me that people came early and stayed late, and I’d like to chalk it up as a success. Here’s how it all went down in case you want to host your own!
Before The Party
Invite People - I made a facebook invite with starting time of 7:30pm (anticipating arrivals beginning at 8:30pm) and asking that people bring something (beer wine or snack) but stating that I’d have some snacks and drinks to get it started. A follow-up message was sent to non-replies the day before.
Budget and Shop - I have a habit of being an overboard host (thanks, family tradition) and overbuying food, drink, and decorations. For this, I decided to stick to a strictly $60 budget and only went $3 over! I cut decorations - this wasn’t a party that needed it - and polled friends via facebook on cheap but delicious drink ideas. From the many ideas, I went with a tea-flavored vodka mixed with lemonade. Powdered lemonade mix is inexpensive and goes a long way, and is perfect for a summer party. The Absolut Wild Tea mixed in (sometimes with a splash of seltzer) did the trick. I also bought gin, which was unnecessary, because I didn’t buy tonic and it simply wasn’t a big hit. Oh well. For snacks, baby carrots, pretzels, Sun Chips, and one set of chips-and-salsa more than sufficed. I was fortunate to already have extra plastic cups and napkins; however, I would recommend purchasing some if you don’t have them on hand, as it will make cleanup infinitely easier.
Know your games - I have a large stockpile of board games and had a few select friends bringing some other cool ones. It’s important to think about all ranges people who will be attending, and make sure that you have a few games in mind for each of the styles. Remember, people have varied attention spans and skills, so pick games that balance each other.
During the Party
Get the party started - There were 25 people in attendance throughout the night. Most came within the first half hour (!!!!), and we “warmed up” with twogames that anyone can learn by just jumping in and playing. The sooner you start playing, the better (especially when people don’t know each other) because it gets people talking and working together over a shared new experience. A little music is good at a soft volume… too loud and it can detract from the game. Let people dive right in by offering to grab them food and drink while they learn rules and play.
Allow different games and types of players to emerge organically….but catalyze when needed - When people are bored (ha!) of a game and you have a decent selection, they’ll self direct when it’s time to move on to the next. But, if you see certain people not engaging, try to subtly suggest a game, strategy, or explanation that might resonate more strongly with them. It’s also great to connect people who may have similar interests or styles of play, because those commonalities can build a stronger foundation for an enjoyable shared game experience. At my party, some of the more seasoned gamers took to playing more complicated games while the more casual voyeurs took to games with simple rules and low competition level. A few folks went back and forth, but it naturally worked.
Multitask: play host AND games - It’s ok (and necessary!) to sit down and play a game or two or three, but you’re still host. A good tip is to partner up with someone in each game so that you don’t disrupt the flow when, say, more guests arrive and you go to great them, or a watermelon needs cutting, or a spill needs cleaning. Periodically make sure that everyone is set on drinks and snacks, check that there’s enough toilet paper and paper towels, and that any messes are contained. Also, make sure you talk with everybody…. it can be easy to get distracted!
When It’s Over
Cleanup time - If you can enlist a friend’s help, that’s ideal, because you want to take care of as much as you can that night. Any open bottles should be finished or dumped and recycled; trash collected and taken out, and used dishes washed. You’ll also probably have a few lost and found items, which you can take care of through a Facebook message to attendees.
Reflect - What went well and what didn’t? If you ever want to host something similar again, there are always lessons to be learned so that you can do it that little bit better next time. Take a few minutes the next morning and jot some notes wherever is most helpful to you.
Whew!!! I’d love to hear if you are hosting one, and how it goes! (and, if I can come!)