La Vendetta

I have what a psychiatrist might call very minor focus issues. It’s probably just the tiniest touch of the familial ADD coming through, and it manifests most in extreme distractibility. If we’re talking outdoors, I might stop in the middle of a sentence to listen to a bird chirping nearby. I’m often incapable of ignoring background noises, so other people’s conversations have a tendency to drive me to… well, distraction.

This also means I can’t listen to music while I work. This is terrible, of course. Everyone should be able to listen to music while they work. But I end up spending half my attention on the music and half my attention on the work, and nothing is done well. And I get frustrated, and no one likes She-Hulk Kelsi. They just don’t.



I now work in an open office plan, and share a large cubicle with someone who is a… mutterer. More than a mutterer, a talk-to-him-selfer. A talk-to-him-selfer who is full of general rage at the world. This means that all day long, we have full voiced narration of his day as he goes, responding verbally to emails as they come in with expostulations and frustrations and it is making. me. bonkers.


In a fit of seething (my fits are low-key and mostly turned inward,) I pulled out my ipod and tried to figure out the least distracting music that I can use to drown out his ferociously loud negativity. The man even types loudly, I don’t even… I just…

So, I’ve narrowed it down to instrumental music that can be enjoyed at low volumes. I have a ton of Mozart and a good amount of Beethoven, both of which are appropriate. (Mahler is too crazy to listen to while working, and I’ve eliminated opera by virtue of the fact that words are involved and even though they’re not in English I will be trying to understand the words… so…)

Anyway. Internet! Do you have any good ideas for what I should be listening to that fits into the category of soothing instrumental music I can use to avoid a fit of seething turning into something more dangerous? Please advise!



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Suburban Cake

Today was the first day I spent more than just sleeping-hours at the new house. I’ve been unpacking boxes, sweeping, mopping, naming spiders (Boris, Ivan, Andrei, Sasha and Petya) and taking occasional breaks to watch the thunderstorm that rolled through since about 8 this morning, so that makes 15 hours. The end isn’t really in sight, although I think I can see the corner where the end will be in sight. I’m at the inverse of that phase I hate so much every time I pack to move – random crap in boxes that make no sense.

So anyway, I’ve been listening to Lady Gaga (I am going to be such an embarrassing mom to my someday kid(s)) and organizing and trying to figure out why it was that I let myself live on urban city streets for the last 15 years. Because finally, after immersing myself for all of those years in East Oakland, mid-city Los Angeles and upper Manhattan (with a brief break in Astoria, which was a pleasant break but still awfully urban what with Con Ed right down the street and all), I can open my front door and experience this:

photo (2)


I feel a tight coil in my heart unwinding with every hour I spend here. Here is a place I can call home – something I haven’t had in so long let’s just not talk about that any more. Here is the place where Raven and I can start fresh, without awkward memories stashed in corners – and without neighbors who blast their terrible (and I mean terrible) music at all hours of every day and night.

That yard across the way is the home of a seriously large groundhog who is very nearly fearless. I have seen her trundling around all over that yard, even coming within a few feet of the street to… do whatever groundhogs do. Here, look:

photoDoing groundhog things.

What are groundhog things? I assume bug-eating, digging holes, sniffing things. The yoozh. Anyway, I’m digging it. The groundhog is icing on a very good cake.


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Pink Dot

The things that come flooding back from behind the closed doors of my brain are strange sometimes. Not sometimes. All the time. When memories show up, complete and intact and full of tastes and smells I haven’t thought of for years, it unnerves me. If they can disappear so completely, and then reappear out of nowhere, what else is hiding up in there?

Today, it was the memory of the  bright white glare of Southern California sun on the sidewalks up near Sunset and La Cienega that cut through my attention and distracted me from the budget I was reviewing. I spent four years near that corner, almost exclusively. Quite seriously, I almost never left. I gave myself over to a work-life entirely, and lived and breathed and slept that life without respite. It’s shocking how vague, how romantic, how foreign it feels now, when it was all I knew for years.

Those formative years between 22 and 26, years when I changed from being a hollow shell without an identity to being a human of some kind. A human who was finally on the way to the human I am now. But before I got on the path I live on now, there was Everything Else.

Those years were spent drenched in incomparable Los Angeles sun, vodka, gin, cigarettes, secrets, adrenaline, ambition, Red Bull and a coffeecoffeecoffee buzz that never really quit. And they were bordered by fear, sadness, despair; imbued with the smell of vanilla lotion from Bath & Bodyworks, antibacterial soap, southern food and the sharp, high tang of booze-soaked wood floors. And they were populated with ghosts. Some of those people are no longer living, some are just like me – no longer the person that they were.

The core of the memories in that place, though, the richest moments, were with a man who is no longer alive. He lent intensity to those years, focus to hand-rolled cigarettes, import to trips in his truck to Pink Dot, where we each bought four-packs of Red Bull for $9 that would be gone before the evening was over. My feelings for this man were echoed when got to know Chekov’s Three Sisters – Masha says of Vershinin “At first I thought him strange, then I was sorry for him, then I came to love him, to love him with his voice, his words, his misfortunes…” Unlike Vershinin, this man didn’t have two little motherless girls, but he was strange, and intense, and fed a part of me that needed both of those things. Our relationship hovered somewhere between flirtation and fraternity, and a vague but persistent nausea settles over me when I look back on how little I knew, how safe I wasn’t, how broken my heart was before we even met.

Is this what happens to everyone? I wonder all the time, and want to ask – do you pity your younger self? Does she (or he) make you cringe, but also feel sorry that no one was there to guide you? I think this must not happen to everyone, or how would we have made it as a species? The utter shame of having once been young and dumb would cripple us all.

Although really, the utter shame of having once been young and dumb should probably cripple us more than it does, on the whole.

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The cleanest slate

There is literally nothing as effective as moving to create for me the illusion that this time, everything is going to be different. This time, I’m going to turn all of my domestic dreams into reality and my sock drawer is going to be organized by color. There will be no dust dragons in the corners and the light in my house will always be perfect. I will always have the exact right kind of tea to offer people, and I will entertain weekly. (Hahahahahahahaha etc.)

Yesterday was moving-the-stuff day (although moving-the-people day won’t happen for a few more days, so we’re set up with a pretty glam situation, air mattress on the floor and a suitcase full of work clothes) and it was glorious. The light was perfect, and the imperfections seemed manageable. That ripped screen I didn’t notice before we moved in? I CAN FIX IT. (And I have been scouring the internet for the right screen patch system, so I’m not just joking here.) I’ve ordered the replacement parts for the broken latches on two of the windows (not a safety issue, just a keeping-the-window-open issue) and really, I’m just spending the day mentally arranging lawn furniture.

It’s telling, perhaps, that I’ve never had a blogging tag for anything like “home.” I haven’t really had a home at any point in my adult life, so of course I haven’t written about it. I’ve had lots of places where I’ve lived, but none of them have been anything more than sleepholes. Well, to be fair, the apartment that Raven and I have shared for the last three years has been more than a sleephole, but much less than home to me. It was his home long before I moved there, and his memories and history sit in the place. He shared the space with other women at other points, and I just couldn’t ever settle there. I was a lodger, not an inhabitant.

So this – this seems different! It will be my home! Our home! We will set it up together and put the same furniture in different places and collaboratively choose the wall art, rather than living with his choices from long-ago times. We will agree on organizational systems – or disagree, perhaps – and I will put labels on drawers and pretend that maybe, after all these years of living in the world, I will be able to do it a little differently. I will be organized. I will dust weekly.

Yeah, ok, probably not that.

So, we we had movers move a ton of boxes (possibly literally?)photo (2)

And when we got to the new place, a couple of beautiful people helped us do some organizing and moving things around, and we kept coming across Raven’s little jokes to himself:

photo (1)He did more of the packing than I did (well, frankly, he has more stuff than I do, and also a much more flexible schedule) and had clearly cracked by the time he got to the end of the process. This one, in particular, made my day – which is pretty special, since the day was already pretty well made.

And in the evening, we went back to Washington Heights (for just a few more nights!) and went for a walk in the flower garden:

photo (3)Forget-me-not indeed. I won’t forget my years in Washington Heights, but I’m pretty sure I won’t yearn for them, either.

Clean slate.

Clean cup.

Move down.

I’ll be a Jersey girl before you know it.

And weirdly, I can’t wait.



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If you spend any time on the Internet (and clearly you do because look, you’re here) you may have seen a blog called Reasons My Son Is Crying. And if you spend any time thinking on the Internet, you have probably seen some discussion about the site. Lora wrote about it with love and compassion here. Blair Koenig wrote about it here. (And oh, how I appreciate her “what were you thinking?” tone. Because it sounds like my “what were you thinking?” tone, which I use all day, every day, on grown people.)

Anyway, like so many things, I talked to a few people about it, made Raven discuss it with me, thought about it for a few days and then put it in the back of my mind, in the box labeled “Messed Up Things People Do That I Disapprove Of.” (Yes, I allow the labels in my head to end in prepositions. I’m a rebel.)

It had certainly been well relegated to that box last night, when I was having… a bit of a rough time? I dunno, things were just hard or whatever, and I was up too late making cupcakes for my sister-in-law’s birthday, when a pan slipped off its hook on the kitchen wall, knocking an entire full tin of freshly baked (HOT) cupcakes out of my hand and onto our (… not so clean…) kitchen floor.

And I crumbled.

I sat down on the (not so clean) floor and leaned my forehead against the metal cabinet door and I cried. And Raven was perplexed and concerned and I was stormy for about a half hour, even while recognizing that I was losing my shit over cupcakes. So eventually, I calmed down and quit the sobbing and apologized to Raven for behaving like an idiot. He said something about how I didn’t have to apologize to him and I stormed through making another batch of cupcakes.

As I went to get the final tray out of the oven, he called me over to look at something he was looking at on Cake Wrecks.  I laughed at it, as appropriate.

“So, are you going to send a picture of me crying over the cupcakes in to Cake Wrecks for the internet’s enjoyment?”

And I saw the most interesting expression cross his face as he decided to go for it:

“No, I’m saving that for my new tumblr, Reasons My Wife Is Crying.”

Somehow, that fixed everything.


Filed under marriage

Little Flowers

My sister had a baby this past weekend, her third girl.

Sadly, I am far, far away and couldn’t be there for the events or for giving the older nieces lots of hugs and buying them inappropriately over-the-top big-sister gifts. It’s driving me crazy. But thanks be to Facebook, my brother-in-law posted some pictures, including this one:


Which, I tell you what, really tore my heart right out of my chest because here is a picture I took almost six years ago:


It’s not really a secret that my sister’s oldest daughter is about my favorite person on the planet. If I have to choose one person to be on the desert island with me, sorry other-nieces-and-nephews (and husband) – it’s going to be my Spazmina.

(It just occurred to me to wonder – is it a desert island as in “sandy, dry, full of cactus” or desert as in deserted? This is probably a very important question!)

Anyway. Even though I haven’t met her yet (and just declared my primary allegiance to her oldest sister) I am just wild about this baby. I am wild about the way she looks just like her older sister, the middle one, except that she has curls. I am wild about how well-cooked she looks, totally edible. Nothing newborn scrawny about her, and yet still so tiny and perfectly squishy. I am wild to see how she grows up, what her accent will be like, how beloved she will be.

Sadly, that all has to wait. But until then, there’s Facebook. And for once, I am glad.

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Today was the kind of gorgeous spring day that makes a person wonder why they would even consider living anywhere without distinct seasons. There are certainly days this gorgeously new and bright in Los Angeles, but without the ferocious winter, it’s harder to notice when the days suddenly get more beautiful and the flowers start doing their thing.

I went to Brooklyn Botanic Garden with a friend this afternoon, a sister-friend who’s been in my heart since we were nine years old. We met during the summer between fourth and fifth grades, and we’ve been all over the planet since then (well, she has – I have only been all over the country) and there is still so much love. And safety.

And in a month she is moving to California, back to my land, and I’m staying here on the East Coast, watching an ever accelerating friend-attrition. In a month, everyone I called “friend” when I moved to New York will be gone from here. And while I’ve made a few in the interim, many are far away, and there are, ultimately, only a couple of people left to go for walks in the garden with me.

And to be fair, in a month I won’t actually live in New York any more. I’ll be living in New Jersey, a fact that still hasn’t settled into my brain because how can I be a person who lives in New Jersey? This is not something that ever crossed my mind for serious. But so it goes. We are starting to fill boxes, and starting to daydream about summer evenings hanging out in the yard. It’s a strange moment, where I can’t wait for the future, but I’m yearning for the past and in sum, I suppose I’m in the perfect place regardless.

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