Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

Udupi Palace makes both vegetarians and the gluten-averse very happy! (Pretty hand to show the scale of enormous lentil-rice crepe)

My birthday today and so far, forty-eight is great! A long wonderful dinner with Christina last night, who surprised me with a story collection by Anthony Doerr and some sweet-smelling Etsy soap; another surprise at Virginia's, whose chocolate cake with butter icing made us swoon and whose candy-fetching cat made us laugh. We talked long and hard about Bergman and Michael Mann movies, about why people choose the work they do, about the limits and myths of psychotherapy and the weird power of the mind-body connection.

Today I woke to tiny hand drawn cards tucked into my bedroom door, got treated to some extra sleep and second breakfast in bed, more funny cards, flowers and warm wishes on Facebook. Time for a workout and some scribbling, a train ride down to the One Million Moms for Gun Control Peace Rally and dinner with Randy, followed by The Book of Mormon will round out a gorgeous day! Very grateful.

Here are some gifts for you, dear Readers, some of my favorite things to celebrate with me!

I loved this show!

Salt of the earth Boston carpenters helping build the new Partners in Health-funded hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti.

Dear husband on Corporate Wig Day at Optimus.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Join Us

Candlelight Vigil & Peaceful Gun Control Rally

Sat., January 26,
4:45 - 5:45 pm

WHERE: N. Clark St. & W. Washington St.,
Chicago 60602 

One Million Moms for Gun Control (1MM4GC), along with the IL Council Against Handgun Violence & Chicago's Citizens for Change, will host a rally in downtown Chicago with speakers from the metro area, including Toni Preckwinkle (Cook County Board President). We need you there, to launch this strong movement of concerned parents, united in unwavering support of common-sense gun laws. We demand a safer world for our children -- please join us. Prominent public officials and clergy will participate. We invite all compassionate, supporting citizens to attend in peace and unity.

Meet inside at the Chicago Temple Building (a.k.a. First United Methodist). Moms, Dads, Grandparents, students, parents and non-parents, all are welcome.

I'll see you there!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Expats: Visiting the World of Large "T" Thrills

The Expats, the newest book we're discussing at the From Left to Write bookclub is a thriller from first time novelist Chris Pavone.

Protagonist Kate Moore has left the dangerous CIA job she hid from her husband Dexter to move with him and their two young boys to Luxembourg. After years of international travel and thrilling casework, Kate finds adjusting to a new culture less work than staying engaged with being a full-time mom. A sudden friendship with another expat American couple brings up the threat of revealed secrets from Kate's past, and worse.

Reading Pavone's book offered the pleasures of working a literary Rubik's cube. The story jumps back and forth in time, each switch offering a new revelation from what the reader knew before. Suspicions and sympathies are confirmed, swapped, rearranged. I loved the journeys through the European countryside and capitals and through the workings of Kate's analytic mind.

Our bookclub usually discusses how the literature touches our own lives but Kate reminded me more of a jet-setting mom like Angelina Jolie than myself. The closest connection came when I was reading about Kate's family ski trip to the mountains above Geneva, Switzerland while Randy and the girls and I were enjoying New Year's in the Colorado Rockies. But Kate's slopes were black diamonds, while mine were bunnies and greens. Her fears were of treachery, assassination, betrayal; mine were of landing on my bum.

In many ways, it was the perfect book to tuck into my carry-on bag. Next to an adrenaline-filled week of performing on stage in our grade school Variety Show in March, Colorado will be, I am nearly certain, one of the biggest adventures of my year. And that is fine for me right now. Kate Moore's story added a little extra vicarious zing to an experience I wanted to leave with intact knees and memories of thrills with small "t"s.

We saw my brother in Fort Collins before we headed for the slopes. Mia is only a few months older than he was when we lost our parents. "Right now your job is staying alive," he told me, and I nodded with complete understanding. For the two of us, that is normal conversation.

If Kate's story of international manhunts and cyber-crime touched me at this point in my life, it was through a realization about safety.

It's not news that stories like Kate's reinvention of her life appeal to women like me for whom routine, stability and safety are precious gifts we want to sustain. Nor is it any surprise that fantasy is our means to temporarily sink into an alternate reality. We giggle through Magic Mike and then go home to take a shower and wash off the temporary sweaty indulgence. We watch Downton Abby and commiserate with the British noblewoman or man of our choice. Girls makes us feel again young, hungry, searching and clueless in our twenties before we feel again old enough to be glad we will never go through such hell again.

Kate brings risk and intrigue back into her world by the end of the book; it's lovely to watch another woman make that choice.

Read more posts about The Expats at From Left to Write. I received a copy of the book with no obligation.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year

"It's dark. Who are you?" was the almost eight year old's contribution to our New Year's Eve dinner game of Jokes and Riddles We Make Up.

"That's scary," said her big sister.

"That's deep," said her mom, who approved the question on this most reflective of long nights.

My own products of that reflection (Life is various and wonderful, constantly new and ever-ending; 2012 was both the year I turned 47 and apparently the last time I will be able to fool the mirror into believing otherwise; no matter -- when I don't like what I see, I smile and it improves the view; this clean and quiet time in deep winter may be the perfect season for the year to begin again as well as to end....) will need to wait for another post to be compiled, (or not, since this living business takes up so much of my time these days.)

But I really do want to tell you another of the homemade jokes from the last night of the year that we spent together at the fancy mountaintop restaurant where I was working it as Camp Counselor Mom ("Let's play Jeopardy! First category, Beetlejuice!") to stave off the electronics option that was keeping our neighboring table quietly engrossed in their laps.

This joke takes some effort; say it outloud for the full effect.

Here's the original, a family favorite from dear friend Brent:

Two monkeys are sitting in a tree and one asks the other, (jut your lower jaw forward as far as it will go) "Do you ever get water in your mouth when it rains?"

(Now pull your jaw back and give yourself an enormous overbite to be the other monkey) "No, why do you ask?"

Mia's variation: Two bats are hanging from a tree and one asks, (do the underbite again) "Do you ever get water in your mouth when it rains?

(Pull the overbite and say) "Oh yeah, all the time! And you?

Third variation:

Two camels are walking through the desert and one asks... Etc.

The second one says, "We live in the desert. It never rains here."

Here's hoping you have some silliness and shared laughter of your own this 2013.