Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lately

Life has been a bit of a challenge.

Gosh, I hate starting out like that.  Because it's pretty much annoucing to the eworld: hello, I am a Debbie Downer.  How are you?  Don't care! We're all miserable until we die anyways!

It's just that ever since May, work has been krazy.  And ever since the wedding, I have been exhausted.  And ever since the end of August, I have been having a case of the feels and just dreading dreading dreading the second week of September.  And ever since Saturday I have had a constellation of mosquito bites on my torso.  And ever since Monday, my arm has been sore (flu shot) and my leg has been bruised (a perfectly routine injury from my off the counter dismount after closing the kitchen window that sticks.)  And ever since Tuesday the Red Sox's have had a game at Fenway Stadium every.single.night, which means that I have to be David Blaine levels of magic in order to catch a train home (which I suppose would just entail building a plastic box around the train car that I would sit in, neither eating nor sleeping for 4 straight days).  AND for some effing reason, the fruit flies in our kitchen have wised up to our, thus far, fool-proof traps and now I'm out a bottle of organic apple cider vinegar and if that don't beat all...

So, yes.  Things have been challenging.

But don't cry too hard from me, Argentina.

Fortunately, I have my cheery disposition and a few glasses of chardonnay to see me through.  Because apparently, I am a rich woman on a diet.  Plus we have a lot of it leftover from the wedding.  Waste not want not.

The weather here has finally transitioned from 90 degree and 90% humidity to something more decidedly fall-like.  And no one could be more excited about this than me.  I am such a higher functioning cold weather person: I dress better, I cook better, and I am just generally happier, fitter, and more productive.

Pumpkin flavored paraphernalia is out in full force and...to be frank, I'm kind of over it.

I am much more into the caramel apple flavor profile this season. I recently discovered a hard cider made locally in Somerville called The Americain.  I know.  Total hipster nonsense.  But it's really, really good.  And gluten free.  Not that it matters because gluten and I will be bffs until the day I die.  From what I can only hope is a gluten overdose.

For the past few nights Moses and I have been watching clips from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on youtube because we don't have cable, or HBO, or nice things in general.  And I'm probably the last person on earth to board this train, because that's how it usually goes with me--years of inexplicable resistance, followed by a momentary succumbing, followed by years of commitment and adoration: the Wendy Kozak Story--but I love it.  I am continually impressed by its hilarity and poignancy.  Aside from BBC and NPR (aw, just look at me, what a communist!), it's some of the best reporting I've seen in years.

Have you seen Going Clear?  If not, you should.  Equal parts fascinating and horrifying. The best things usually are. (Like Marriage.)  (Just kidding.) (Marriage is only horrifying.)

Have you seen True Cost? It's on Netflix and it will totally transform the way you think about fast fashion and stores like Gap, H&M, and Forever 21.  After watching it, I managed to successfully boycott these places for a solid month before fall fashion, like the brazen hussy it is, seduced me with its crisp flannel shirts.

Last September, I bought a pair of duck boots off eBay that I thought were the real deal but I was a bit of an eBay novice that the time, so I figured duck boots + high seller rating = authentic.  Turns out they were cheap knock offs.  So this year, I got me a bonafide pair.  The kind that are handmade in Maine.  I know this because inside the box was a card from the maker.  Her name was...mostly illegible but I want to say Lenora?  So thank you, maybe Lenora, for making my boots.  I find both them and you utterly charming.

Things on my fall Boston to-do list:

1. Go to Concord and visit Orchard House and Walden Pond.
2. Go to Salem and visit the witch museums before the swarm of  creeper tourists descends in late October.
3. Go apple picking.
4. Go hiking at Blue Hills Reservation and/or Harvard Aboretum.
5. Go kayaking on the Charles.
6. Go to a clam chowder cook off.
7. Find the energy deep within my being to go to all of these places and do all of these things.

And not to get all serious on you or anything, but I am about to get all serious on you...

Even though things have been "challenging" recently, I've been thinking a lot about how I felt this time last year compared with how I feel now.

Around this time last year, my brother had just died, I was at a new job, in a new city, and I was grasping at any semblance of normalcy.

Now, even though I miss John everyday, I am mostly able to think of him with happiness rather than sadness.  I am able to feel so much more like myself again and so much more at home in my new environment.

And it feels good.

Not just because I've been feeling pretty much like perpetual shit for the past year but because feeling more like myself means I feel closer to John.  Because John is in the best parts of me, really.  When I am at my kindest, calmest, and funniest--that's John. And boy does it feels good to see him again.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Things you do...

...in the weeks leading up to your wedding:

1.  Try out alllll the all natural facial masks you can find on pinterest because apparently, now that you've turned 30, "all natural" means something to you.  Make your mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey and get one smear in when your future husband enters the room.  You, startled, abruptly blurt out: "It's not what is looks like."  He, eye brow raised, responds, "So, you're not covering your face with dog poo?"

2. Buy adorable/pricey (adorably pricey? nope, not a thing) crafts from stores like Paper Source.  Put said adorable/pricey crafts in their adorable bag into your adorably stuffed closet.  Promptly forget about them.

3. Begin asking your future husband questions like: "Yes, but which font do you prefer?"

4. Resent him for not having a preference.

5. Fall down the rabbit hole of the BHLDN website and suffer the bitter pangs of dress regret.

6. Make tenuous plans not to diet exactly, but to be mindful of what you eat.  Go to Portland ME and find yourself at a restaurant called "Duck Fat" and decide, definitively, that all bets are off.

7. Do some pivotal emotional training by listening to your first dance song on repeat until you no longer cry at it.

8. Have dreams about the wedding being a surprise or happening on day you are not expecting.  Remember how you once saw a documentary (ahem, reality show) about a man who surprised his wife with a wedding.  Spend a few moments ruminating on how much you would have hated that. Vaguely wonder if that couple is still together.

9. Begin thinking about all inanimate objects like cartons of milk or britta filters, in terms of your wedding date: this filter will need to be replaced the month of our wedding, this milk will last us until the week of our wedding, etc.

10.  Make an infinity number of Portlandia jokes that "this wedding is OVER" before realizing that nobody else finds them quite as funny as you do.

11.  Relish the power of flash decision making.  It's so much more empowering than the drawn-out agonizing method that you're used to.  Begin feeling like a titan of industry.

...in the weeks following your wedding:

1. Obsessively stalk your photographer on social media for updates on your wedding photographs.

2. Tell your mechanic: "Oh no, my husband will be picking up the car."  Even though he didn't ask and you'll probably end up picking up the car anyways.

3. Let it casually drop in your work emails that the reason you haven't responded in three weeks is because you were out of the office getting married.  How deliciously passive aggressive!

4. Crave getting back to normal life.

5. Loathe getting back to normal life.

6. Sink back into to the chronic indecision that has been your entire life up until this point.  Spend your nights fretting over whether it's Law and Order SVU or Top Chef that you really want to see.

7. Marvel at the mystic powers of spanx.  Bid them a fond aideu as spanx have no part in your wear-jeans-to-work-every-day existence. It pays to work at art colleges, where they are just SO happy you put on actual clothes to come to work!  Although a memo about not wearing shorts to work may have been sent out at one of your previous jobs that may or may not have been in direct response to your wearing of high waisted shorts on a semi-regular basis.

8. Come to the tragic realization that all that fabulous new kitchen gear needs to be washed AND put away.  Come to the even more harrowing discovery that you do not have as much cabinet space as you initially thought you did...

9. Dreadfully miss being able to use wedding planning as an excuse for why you are mentally checked out of: fill in the blank.

10. Savor your hipster cashier/liquor store frequenting free existence because you have three cases of leftover wine so...you're good.  For a few months at least.

11. Bask in the afterglow of such a lovely day, filled with such lovely people.

Of course, we had to end on a cornball note.  Because #myday.




For more exquisite photographs that photoshop me into beauty, check out the superb work of our wedding photographer.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pater Familia

One of my all time favorite blog posts was the one I did for my father on Father's day four years ago, when this blog was in its infancy.

I was so content with it, that I haven't even so much as attempted a father's day post since.  Until today.

It feels necessary because this year, I learned a lot about my father. 

I learned just how much he would sacrifice for his children and for his family.  

My father spent every waking moment in the hospital with my brother, John.  He lost sleep, he missed work, and he did so uncomplainingly--even with a bad back on soft foam mattress.

He held my brother John's hand whenever John was scared. He had to be pulled away almost by force from John's bedside.  (Incidentally, I learned that I could only out-stubborn my father by a small margin: I told him that I didn't care what HE was doing but that I was staying.  God, it all seemed so much easier when I was a teenager...)

All of us look up to our father, but I think John did in particular.  When he got sick, he was only at ease when my father was nearby. He trusted, as all of us do, that my father would do everything in his power to protect him.  And he did.

In someways, I wish that every child could be shown the strength of their hero like that.  In other ways, I hope that they never have to.

And as much as I loved my paternal grandfather, I know that he wasn't as good of a father as my dad is to us, which, to me, makes my dad's triumphs as a father all the more impressive.

Next month, my father will be officiating my wedding.  I can't think of anything more perfect than that: the man I respect most in this world, joining my hand in marriage to the only other man that I respect just as much.

I love you, Dad.  And I am so proud to call you my father.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

While the Mose is Away the Mice Will Blog

Alternate title: I don't feel like exercising or washing dishes or cooking dinner, so I will pretend to be productive by blogging

Catchy, I know.  But it is the alternate.

Or the Mallory, if you will.

I really should have identified with her more given that she was also a writer and older sister to many a younger siblings but, what can I say?  I am a Claudia at heart: creative, fashionable, and total flake.

Anyways.

Here I am!  Back for the obligatory bimonthly stoking of this flatten, mostly untended, mordant hologram.  You, sir/or madam, are most welcome!

Speaking of holograms and beloved characters from my childhood... have you seen the new trailer for JEM and the Holograms movie?  It looks really good.  PSYCHE.  It looks like THE worst.  And yes, people are still saying psyche as evidence by the fact that I just said it.  Duh.

Perhaps if Christopher Nolan were to direct it, we would get the gritty JEM origin story that we've all been waiting for, but full many a flower is born to blush unseen, I suppose.

As you can probably gather from the title of this post, Moses was away recently at a conference.  He's back now, thank god.  Because the trash reeeally needed to be taken out.  Ha! Psyche again! I took out the trash, all by my lonesome.  My medal should be arriving in 2-4 weeks.  Along with whatever I ordered from Old Navy because whenever I order from there it literally takes fo-re-ver to get here.  Anyone else have this problem?  Anyone else care?  No?  That's fair...

When Moses was gone I really did try to blog, I swear.  But like so many other times that I sit down to write, I was immediately paralyzed by blankness: who am I?  What I am doing here?  What the hell do I have to say?  You know.  The usual existential crises that plague bloggers.  Because clearly I am blogger first!  Haven't you seen my four posts this year?

So my sister and I (somewhat) impulsively decided to skip town and head to my parents house in Ithaca.

We had the loveliest time.

I did have to drive through a thunderstorm twice on the way there AND back and had forgotten just how scary braving a highway three inches deep in rain can be but...worth it!

Sure it probably aged me a few years but maybe I will get unnecessarily carded less.  Or the well meaning pharmacist at the CVS by house will stop commenting on my baby face, which I am now convinced is a veiled attempt to tell me my face looks fat.  Glass. Half. Full!  Always.

But seriously, it was great to see my family.  It was great to see my parents busy and happy.  It was great to got out to dinner and breakfast with my siblings and laugh and joke like we used to.


Sorry for the blurriness, but I guess that's what you get when you
 solicit giggly drunk girls to take you and your siblings' photo...

I love the dripping egg.

Believe it or not, he actually posed for this photo.
Part of a complete breakfast!
Being together has taken on such a new significance now.  It feels like we are honoring John whenever we do.

It also feels weirdly important because of how soon it is before my wedding.  Like a last hurrah of sorts.  But that's silly because nothing is really going to change.  I've already prepared myself for how very un-different married life will be after eleven years of coupledom.  Also, I will probably see all of my siblings again before I get married.  So seriously Kozak, wtf?

Well, for whatever reason, this time feels sort of sacred.  And I am grateful for it.

Also, I can't seem to stop eating donuts and drinking beer despite vague vows to cut back on sugar before the wedding.  But my desire to be super model thin is trumped by my desire to not be miserable.  Always always always.

Honestly, if I could look at a photograph from my wedding and see the bacon maple donut I ate two weeks previously,  I would be happy.  What a beautiful memory to immortalize!

Now off I go to finish my Ithaca beer and read some more Harry Potter before bed. This life of mine! #blessed

Or #uneventful?

You decide.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Girl, you better blog!

Dear Internet,

Why have I been feeling like death recently?

Is it the humidity?   Is it allergies?  Is it the lack of 10 hour beauty sleep that I inexplicably require to be a functional human?  Is it the lack of Georgetown Cupcakes that I've consumed this week?

Please reply soon.

Best,

Wendy


Dear Wendy,

You probably have one, if not all, of the following ailments:

Cholera
Shingles
Hedgehog AIDS
Dragon Pox
Greyscale
Consumption (Dickens definition: meaning, it could any number of diseases)
Teen wolf syndrome (1985 strain: meaning, it may make you good at basketball)
Common cold

Sincerely yours,

The Internet

Low energy and infectious diseases aside, Boston is all loveliness in the spring.




I feel like I am constantly being courted by my city.





And I like it.

Especially after months of winter's sweatpants everyday level of not caring, it feels good to have Boston putting in some effort again.

I decided that I was spending too much money on gel manicures, so I bought Essie's Chillato nail polish and painted my own fingernails for a change.


I would give myself a C-.



A generous C-.

Fine motor skills are hard.

When It Comes to Women's Fashion...

Wendy Be Like:

1. Bold lipsticks
2. High Wasted Jeans
3. Clogs
4. Rompers of any variety
5. Boxy Dresses
6. Painted Nails

And Moses Be Like:

1.  "Too clown-like."
2.  "I don't know, they just look like Mom jeans."
3.  "That is literally the ugliest shoe I've ever seen." (Statement later semi-revised.)
4.  "It's not that you don't look good in them; it's that they don't look good on anyone"
5.  "It just looks like you forgot to put pants on..."
6.   "Oh, you got your nails painted?"

Spring/summertime is the perfect time for pesto.  I use the Silver Palate Cookbook recipe.  I just wish that my hatred for cleaning out the food processor wasn't fractionally higher than my love of pesto.   But that is just my cross to bear.

My hair has reached Duggar lengths recently, despite having just gotten it trimmed (and by "just"  I mean in November so...6 months ago), and I really need to get it trimmed before the wedding, but it makes me squeamish to think about going to an unfamiliar hairdresser so soon before I walk down the aisle.  I have an irrational fear that I will leave the appointment looking like Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1992.

Source (because you know you want it)

Except less cute.

Over the past few days, my beer consumption to exercise ratio has been...off-kilter.  But tomorrow!  Tomorrow I will get my life together.  Pinky swear.

Now to leave you with my favorite, as of yet unshared #TBT (that means Throw Back Thursday, Mom) of sorts, from back when there were still sizable snowbanks adorning every street corner.




You know, just your typical day in Harvard Square.  Asking Darth Vader for directions to the closest JP Licks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Art of Losing

I was all set to begin work on my Kimye post and wouldn't you know it?  I realized I sure don't know anything about them! (Except that baby North totes just got baptized in Jerusalem at the same legendary site as Jesus Christ.  Because, you know, of course.)  So I thought: oh bother! Might as well write about grief instead.

I know I've said this before but my feelings of blogging about this subject are so bifurcated.  One half--the bold half--cheers: this your blog, do what you want!  If you feel like writing about it, write about it! Who cares if others find it dreary and uneasy?!  It hums with the same resounding force as the last line of Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art." Write it! 

But the other half--the meeker half--balks and cowers at the thought of it.  No one wants to hear it, it whispers, no one wants to wallow with you in your sadness--they want to see your strength not your weakness.

I think that part of this duality is rooted in my personality: I am fiercely independent and am mortified at the thought of burdening anyone.  I gird my innate vulnerability with acerbity and aloofness, until I am fairly certain that you will not prick my heart once it is open to you.

But I think that the other part is more external--it stems from just how poorly we are taught to cope and comprehend grief as a culture.

A friend of mine recently sent me this article and while I still might be commencing the longest, hardest eye roll at the fact there is something even called the Grief Recovery Institute, overall this piece resonated with me--it articulated a lot of why I feel reticent about sharing my grief with others.

Here's the thing: grief is hard.  It's unattractive, it's inconvenient, it's bewildering, it's selfish, it's unpredictable, it's irrational, it's isolating, and it's difficult to know precisely how to deal with--it is everything that we as culture tend to shy away from discussing. It's the part of the narrative that we prefer to belie or to skirt in favor of the cheerier triumph that follows the struggle.  

As a result, unless someone has experienced a deep loss themselves, they have poor tools for interacting with someone who has.  They have nothing but banalities to grasp at--"time heals all wounds," "life's short, cherish what you have" etc.--and nothing but misconceptions to inform them--"there is nothing I can say," "they probably just want to be left alone right now." For some, the mere thought of grieving the death of a loved one makes them so uncomfortable, they  have no clue how react and say nothing.  Or worse yet, they treat you with contempt. 

It's those last two that I have the hardest time with.  Nobody wants to be viewed as strange or a Debbie Downer, even if their reasons for being so are perfectly legitimate. 

And, trust me, I've been guilty of all of those responses at one point or another.

I remember writing, rewriting, and then finally tearing up a card that I was going to send to a friend who had lost their mother.  Telling myself, there's nothing that I can say of comfort anyways

I remember seeing an acquaintance post on Facebook about the loss of their father and I drafted a message only to delete later it because, it would have been weird for that person to hear from a rando like me.

I remember reading the blog of someone who had lost a loved one and becoming frustrated when they blogged about their grief week after week: I've had a stressful day, I would think, I don't want to have to read about how much your life sucks.

It's nobody's fault, really, we just aren't trained to respond to someone's tragedy with the same grace as we are to someone's success. 

This, of course, is complicated by the fact that half the time, I don't even know how I want people to react to me.  Sometimes, I want people to feel sorry for me.  Other times, I find it infuriating.  Sometimes, I want people to reach out to me.  Other times, I want to be just left alone.  Sometimes, I wish everyone in the world knew I was grieving.  Other times, I do everything in my power to hide it.  It's an impossible situation, which I think, is the ultimate lesson.

One thing that Moses' Aunt Becky said to me, right after John died, that someone had said to her after her father died is: "well, it's a shitty deal."  That stuck with her and it sticks with me.

Really, there is nothing that anyone can do to change the situation, which is, I think, what makes some people feel so awkward and disempowered.  But just because you can't resurrect the dead, doesn't mean that you can't still help! 

I've found that the most powerful thing has really just been acknowledgement.  Even if it was someone I only met twice, or a person I hadn't spoken to since elementary school, I can't tell you how meaningful it was to have someone, anyone reach out to me and say they were sorry.  It made me feel connected to them in way that, to this day, I can't describe.  It made me feel grateful to them in a way I could never repay.  It made me wish that I had been braver to send that card or that message, when the situation had been reversed.

I'm not trying to make this into a "how to" manual or to lecture you or tell you that everything that you are doing is wrong.  Most of you reading are my dearest friends, who have been and are beyond amazing to me. All that I am really trying to do is to be open and candid about my experiences, to make this soliloquy part of what may become a dialogue about grief. 

Even if the only voice that answers back is also one of loss.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

All About That Bass

Don't worry.  When I accept my award for most original blog posts titles, I will be sure to thank god and all of my fans.  Trust.

This past week has been a glorious 70 degrees and sunny here in Boston and I'm definitely not one of those weather-is-the-great-influcer-of-moods people...but holy smiley-faced emoji, Batman.  It really does make me want to pull my boot sole from out of the heaviness I've been trudging around in lately.

So we will be going Wendy lite this week.  With half the melancholy and half the calories!  Only kidding.  This will be full-on Pilsbury Frosting levels of fat.  Hope you are hungry for regret! I know I am!

So, onward ho!

Do you listen to podcasts?  I do.  I find them really pleasant background noise at work. 

You've heard me talk about this one before and I still wholeheartedly recommend it.  

You've probably heard about this one from everyone you've ever met but it's one of those rare things that totally lives up to the hype.  I have the HUGEST crush on Sarah Koenig.  I think she is magnificent and I even feel a little bit less resentful of the drunken rowdiness that happens outside of my windows now that I know that she also lives in a college town and has to endure people peeing in her peonies.  I've listened to all of her pieces on This American Life and while she wasn't featured in this particular episode, it's very much up her alley and one of my absolute favorites.

I also recently discovered this podcast.  It inspired me to watch Grown Ups 2, which was ghastly. I can't believe they watched that movie over 50 times.  Once nearly gave me an aneurism.

I bought this recently because of the high reviews on amazon and was not disappointed.  It's hypoallergenic and soothing for my drier than dry skin.  It does nothing about my skin's natural pastiness but...not much can...

This is one of my favorite summertime recipes.  My friend Ruth made it for us during grad school and it's become a staple in our household ever since.  I made them for Cinco de Mayo this year.

I also made this last week.  I think next time, I will make it will mole.

I am obsessed with these and these.  But I just bought these and am technically saving for a wedding and I think my number of pairs of sandals may have just reached infinity.  But, you know, restraint is not really my forte, so...we'll see.

I finally broke down and bought one of these.  My grad school friends had been raving about it for ages and I--true to form--dragged my feet for no apparent reason but it is easily one of the best decisions I've ever made--it's a dream.  It utterly horrifies Moses, which makes it all the more appealing.

I might be exposing too much about my musical tastes but I just recently discovered this band.  This so far is my favorite of their songs.

I saw the new Avengers movie.  It was okay.  Has that been everyone's reaction to it?  Probably.  One of the previews before it was for the movie Tomorrow Land, after which Moses said: "I'm tired of Disney making movies about park attractions.  What's next?  Churro Stand?"

Speaking of movies, I heard about this project and I'm...hesitant.  Not only do I think it would appall her to have a movie made about her, but pretty much all of the plot has to be conjecture, which, I guess is just preserving and perpetuating the myth so maybe she would be fine with it?  But Miranda?! Was early 90's Holly Hunter not available?

I know I've whistled their praises before, but I've been exercising about five days a week pretty consistently for several years now and I keep coming back to these workouts.  1% because they are free, 90% because they are challenging and effective, and 9% because after years of being taunted by Jillian, I finally decided I need my trainers with a spoonful of sugar.

Today was Berklee graduation.  It was amazing to be there with and for our graduates and I cried probably three times during the ceremony but I also got up at 6:30AM and was there until it finished around 2:30PM.  I took a long nap when I got home.  I'm so glad it's over.

This has been my night so far...





Frozen yogurt and Top Chef Masters?!  Could this night get any crazier?



Gurl, you better stop!

And I will.

Happy weekend friends!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

That thread that unites (A Vlog)

video


And just in case you can't hear it/ don't particularly enjoy listening affected readings of things, here is the text below:

I was walking home from work today.  Along Newbury street.

The sun was shining and the trees were blossoming and the Beatles Across the Universe was playing on my Pandora radio station.

I thought of the universe.  I thought of how the atoms in our bodies are the atoms from ancient stars.

I thought of my brother John and I thought about where his atoms are.

I thought of an article I read about how when we are fetuses our cells cross the threshold of the placenta and set up residence inside the blood and marrow and organs of our mothers.  I thought of how my brother John’s cells might still be living in there, alongside my cells and the cells of my siblings: helping to repair and protect. 

There is something so utterly poetic about that.  That our cells are doing for my mother what she does for us in life. And there is something so comforting in thought that at least we can all still be together, even if it’s just on a cellular level.

I thought of the interconnectedness of all things: of the elements before me, of this moment—like so many others that came before it—this walk, this street, this inching along in the arch of my narrative.

It’s a good story.  A sad story.  A funny story. A hopeful story that I tell so hopelessly sometimes.

I thought of other stories too.  I thought of Baltimore, of Nepal, of the harrowing and often unsatisfying denouements of those tales riddled with catastrophe.

But then I thought of the deeper thread that unites these stories.  The one buried beneath the frayed and enmeshed fibers of calamity.  I thought of love.

As archaic or as archetypal as it might be, love is common pulse to the plot, that thing that moves and undergirds everything.

And it is the best part.  The part worth listening to and remembering.


It is the archive I hold in my heart, as I turn the corner, and take the stairs down into the metro, and make my way home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You're Gonna Get Hop-ons

Moses and I have this saying: you're gonna get hop-ons.

Well, it's not really our saying.  It's something we've appropriated from the show Arrested Development.

Used in reference to this compact, family friendly vehicle:



Upon which, you will quite literally get hop-ons.

Moses and I use this to mean something that's an inevitability: a situation that you can't do much about, it just is what it is.

Whenever I have a sad morning or a challenging interaction with a student or feel generally exhausted and overwhelmed with life, Moses will shrug and say: sometimes, you're gonna get hop-ons.

And it almost always makes me smile.

I've really been struggling with the blog recently.  I know it's stupid.  It's a blog.  No cares.  No one reads it but my family (and secretly me after two glasses of wine).  Blah blah blah.  I know.

I just can't tell what it's supposed to be anymore.  A garbled anthology of essays?  A public diary?  A cobbled crucible of creativity and catharsis?  Too much?  I never know...

The trouble is that I vacillate between levity and solemnity so quickly these days that I can't ever seem to gain enough traction to nudge a post beyond its meager point of origin.  It slumps, rooted in nothing in particular.

Maybe it begins as a funny, pointless narrative about the number of packages from J Crew my neighbors get every week (seriously, so many. How do they have money to eat?) and I get about as far as the set-up before the whole thing suddenly crumbles into trite and tiresome bits of plaster that I scrape into a dust bin with humdrum thoughts of maybe returning it to something of value.  Someday, perhaps, but not today.

And then the next week, I start with something graver and heftier and harder to maneuver.  Here, I will get only as far as the opening paragraph before I feel my tendons stretch under the weight of it and quickly release my grip.

After nearly a month of this, it's starting to feel like I am the sole purveyor of a crooked, half-sown row of red cabbage--hardly a prize, even when it's good.  So why bother?

Well, A. Are you the latest Dashboard Confessional album because seriously, get over yourself and B. because, in a lot of ways, I think it's really important for me to have something to work at outside of my job and my relationships--something that I find enjoyable and interesting and (mostly) worthwhile.

The results don't need to be grand or remarkable or even finished--they just need to be attempted.  Because an attempt requires a few moments of quiet engagement in task (that doesn't involve the parsing out of logic of a Real Housewife) and although, at times, it may feel tedious, it is ultimately always rewarding.

So much of my day-to-day life still feels so upheaved and disrupted that it seems beneficial to have a small little plot, like this blog, to focus on and to cultivate.

And sure somedays, it will feel like a burden, it will feel wrenching and difficult and dumb and contrived and all of those million other unpleasant things it has felt like before...

But hey, sometimes, you're gonna get hop-ons.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

In the details

Setting: A (mostly) clean apartment, late-evening.

Wendy sits down at her computer, wearing her Zella Live In Leggings knock offs from Old Navy (which she inexplicably finds more comfortable than her actual Zella Live In Leggings), with a half consumed bowl of minestrone soup she made (in which she maybe added too many noodles) on the coffee table in front of her.

Wendy: What up internet?  Did you miss me?!

Internet: Who are you again?

Wendy:

Internet: You should check out the following article on buzzfeed: "21 Signs You're a Horrible, Self-Involved, Neurotic Harbinger of Patriarchy That Nobody Cares About"

Wendy: Sigh. Click.

End scene.

So as that dramatization clearly demonstrates: things are happening in the Wild Wild World of Wendy.

...except not really.  I've basically just been working and watching a lot of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (Which, btw, is excellent.)

In my fleeting and mostly unintentional four week sabbatical from this blog, I actually did seriously consider shutting it down.  Not for any particularly melodramatic reason, I just simply thought to myself one day: hmm, I wonder if I might be done with this.

But then I would catch myself missing it from time to time, mostly when I noticed small, extraneous details--a bouquet of red cups and dunkin donuts wrappers in a slowly receding snow bank, the cornucopia of dried fruit in my desk drawer at work, that I snack on every afternoon, apricot by apricot, blueberry by blueberry, opening and closing the drawer with each one (clearly the most energy efficient method of delivery)--but I especially missed the blog whenever I had one of my notorious, ill-faited misadventures: trudging through a snow storm with Moses to see the Valentine's Day Harvard vs. Cornell Hockey game only to discover that it had been moved three hours earlier due to "weather" or questing to find my lost Charlie Card in the Trader Joe's escalator (spoiler alert!  I didn't find it...) or that time that Moses and I made the mistake of going to the Ikea cafe after we finished our shopping and almost had to walk through the entire store again just to leave.

Or if you prefer books with pictures...

Such an obliging snowbank


Cold.

But never too cold for poorly lit selfie

At a Harvard vs. Cornell, I will always root for Cornell,
especially now that Harvard has refused to refund us our tickets...
Before the panic of not being able to leave set in

You know.  Blog worthy stuff alll around.

So, I finally decided that I could keep this up a bit longer.  Besides, who else would I share all my clever quips with?  They shouldn't all be wasted on Moses.

If you read this blog with any regularity--or with as much regularity as barely squeaking out bi-monthly posts warrants...which is none--you know that I can rarely manage anything more than a series of fragmented vignettes.  So Shyamalan twist! That's precisely what you're getting from me today...


This is typically the number of bobby pins I use to hold my bun in place, whenever I should decide to wear my hair in one. And whenever Moses sees me dismantling it at the end of the day, he always says: "she's more machine than man, now..."

Did you read that article on NPR about how we're not taking enough lunch breaks?  Me neither.  But! I sure did read the title and I'm sorry to admit that I fall squarely into the category of dum dums who burn themselves out by scarfing down their lunches at their desks between emails.  So, long story short (too late) I've resolved to get out of the office at least once a day.  Especially now that it's a balmy 40 degrees outside (hollah!).

Number of lunches taken since said resolve: ...

I walked to Trader Joe's to buy a granola bar and a coconut water today.  Does that count?

Speaking of coconut water...I am a full-fledged addict when it comes to this stuff.  It makes me regret ever referring to coconut water as "sweaty" water.

Speaking of lunch breaks...my favorite way to spend them (on the rare chance I take one) is to read in the sunny prudential center.



Usually accompanied by something caffeinated.

As you can see, I am currently reading Nora Ephron's Heartburn.  It's utterly delightful.  But I would expect nothing less from the woman whose movies I've turned to most over the years for emotional reassurance.

Also, this book is narrated by Lily Tomlin in my head.  Not that you cared or asked.

I recently bought a Kate Spade Dress at Buffalo Exchange for $20, so...I win at life!

When I gently brushed an elderly woman's foot on a crowded train a few weeks ago, she looked up at me with such repugnance and said: "Don't kick!"  When I apologized, she said: "Well, watch where you put your feet and you won't ever have to say sorry."  I just smiled and thought: I bet you're a big hit at parties.

This is a thing!



Moses bought this for me at PAX, in front of all his other nerd boyfriends (colleagues?).  Isn't that romantic?!  What if I told you that one or more of the witnesses were dressed as Link from Legend of Zelda?  Is that more or less romantic?  I agree. More. Way more.

I. love. this. show.


With all of my heart.

Although I did hear someone on a podcast use this as an example of a show that gives young people unrealistic expectations about money, since the main characters are allegedly broke but still manage to live in big apartments in NYC and go to concerts and have teeth replaced but seemingly face zero repercussions for their irresponsible spending behavior...and I sort of agree with that but I also sort of think that this podcast need to chill the f out.

If someone doesn't realize after watching the show Friends that $700 a month will get you approximately one half of a cardboard box to share with a feral cat, well, then they have bigger problems...namely that they watch the show Friends.

Yeah, yeah.  I've been totally netflix binge watching it too.

Last night, I stayed up until 1AM doing work.  I tell you this to account for the fact that this evening, I drank a glass of red wine (94 points! Spared no expense) and watched Maid in Manhattan.

I was particularly amused by the band at the gala.  Mostly the back-up musicians.  You sort of have to see it...


It's kind of long, so start at second 33 and don't stop watching until you've noticed the triangle player.

Or this guy:



Wardrobe: No, you see this is a hip NYC event and the musicians have to be cool--not like trying to be cool but just sort of effortless.  Yes!  That's it!  Someone get this man a saxophone for his outdated 2 minute solo!

This scene was (sadly) the highlight of hectic/stressful/delirious/exhausting day! When chased with wine, of course, which makes everything more palatable.

Yes, even the early 2000s.

Setting:  The same (mostly) clean apartment, even later in the evening.

Wendy: I am sooo tired.

Internet: No you're not.  Google some more about the plotline of Hart of Dixie since you stopped watching it.

Wendy: But I am really tired. And my laptop is hot.

Internet:  How about just a quick search for diseases caused by hot laptops on lap?  Or what about  that Mandy Moore?  What's she up to these days?

Wendy:  Good night, internet.  Have a good weekend.

Internet: Fine. See you first thing tomorrow.

Wendy: Sigh.  Okay

End Scene.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Snow, Parades, and Some Thoughts for Your Wednesday

I haven't felt much like blogging recently.  I'll half-heartedly begin posts that pivot upon some semblance of a theme and then just as half-heartedly abandoned them, relegating them dusty annuals of drafts that will never be fanned out and curated for viewing.

January was a rough month.  I sort of knew it would be but somehow the knowing it would be didn't prepare me at all for the fact that it actually was.  I am often plagued with the pervasive fog that lingers in the wake of the holidays and this year--with everything that's happened--it was ten times worse.  I was moody and anxious and not myself and it was frustrating.  Especially because I didn't show myself the same compassion I so often do with others who are having difficult time.  Instead, I scolded and lectured myself daily, which, of course, only perpetuated the vicious cycle of moodiness and anxiety and not myself-ness.

But then January changed into February and almost as suddenly as it descended, the gloom seemed to dissipate.  Go figure.  Sure I still have my moments--grief arrives at random intervals, heaves its weight upon me, and then wanes--but in general, things are better and I feel a little bit less like straight-up clawing someone's eyes out on the T when I hear them complaining about their Poli Sci Professor.  Or maybe I still do, but my revenge fantasies are decidedly less gruesome.

So onto lighter, happier notes.

I don't seem to mind winter and all the snow we are getting as much as everyone else around here seems to.  Perhaps it's my seven year reprieve from winter, which causes me to find such thrill in a snow day (we've had five over the past three weeks! What I can only assume is an administrative nightmare!) or such charm in the frantic grocery store scurry for bread, milk, and water.  (Like, what is this the zombie apocalypse?  Throw some in ammo and a stained wife beater and it might as well be.)

Yeah, it's cold and I miss eating lunch outside and wearing moccasins to work year round and it's sometimes tricky to navigate the narrow labyrinth of snow undergirded by brick in the downtown streets of Boston, but I can still find the loveliness in a snowfall (even if it is 18 degrees outside) and I don't dread the infinity of winter because I know it always ends, making the return of spring that much more gratifying.




I am a huge believer in relativity in the sense that we can only truly appreciate happiness through the existence of sadness.  I know that's not quite relativity but whatever.   If it really bothers you, you can cry about it into your nerd pillow.  I have one too.  It's reserved primarily for the tears that accompany references to Emily Dickinson on shows like Gossip Girl.

Regardless, there is something so satisfying about the change in seasons, particularly the change from winter to spring.  It was a feeling of triumph totally absent from my days spent in sunny Southern California, with the exception of maybe a few notable warm winter mornings and a few equally notable breakfast burritos.

But fine. Go ahead and vote me off the island for being a winter sympathizer.  (This is 1999, right?)

All of my colleagues keep asking me if I miss California and I do but not for the obvious, more temperate reasons.  I miss the patchy, bald mountains of its circumference.  I miss the bike paths along the beach.  My heart swells (inexplicably) when I think of the intersection of the 405 entrance nearest our apartment and the Days Inn (with Technicolor Television, always a selling point)--the visual cue that we were almost home.  I miss the bright, edgy fashion, the art, the inability for most people to understand sarcasm, the art deco/strip mall hybrid architecture of the city.  I miss my friends and family and Mexican food.  Although, I think I've finally found the knack for buying avocados on the east coast.  Feel every single avocado in the store, pick the 1-2 that are just on the verge of softening, wait 2-4 days and enjoy.

All I'm saying is: check your avocado privilege LA.

Of course there is so much I love about Boston too: I love the brick and brownstones and history that seems like a barely perceptible hum to the city--you know it's there but it's soft and unobtrusive.  I love the bakery down the street from our apartment and the seasons and the Charles and being able to walk or take a train pretty much anywhere I want.  I love that my sisters are here.  I love my job and the possibilities life holds in this city.  And I love how blue collar it is.  Of course, I also love the glamor of LA, so I guess just call me Denise Richards because My Life: It's complicated.

I still don't get the sports culture of Boston...and frankly, I doubt I ever will.  It's nothing personal, it's just not for me.

But I do have to say that there was tangible sense of excitement in the city during the last 10 minutes of the Super Bowl--a sense of excitement that I personally had been fostering since the first glimpse of the lion puppet that Katy Perry rode into the half time show on.

And there was certainly something remarkable about watching the Patriots Parade pass by outside my office windows.







It was bizarre and sort of magical and it became difficult to resist the feeling of pride that swarmed my heart as I watched the players wave to their city and the confetti billow and collect in the nearby construction sight (where the workers had all paused to watch the parade).

And then I remembered that I was watching the parade because the team couldn't wait until the weekend to go on vacation.

But perhaps I too would be itching for a topical getaway at the end of my six months of work.  Good for the joints, you know.

So life carries on here and I carry along with it: steady and content with my eyes towards spring.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

On Nothing

Don't worry.  It's not as existential as it sounds.  I just don't really know what to write about.

Some might say: then why post anything?  To which I might respond: don't tell me what to do, you're not my dad.  And then they'd be all like: well yo blog is so dumb it thought that Fleetwood Mac is a new hamburger at McDonalds.  And then I'd be all like: you're using Fleetwood Mac in a yo blog joke, what is this 1978?  And then someone would slip on the wet blacktop and break something and their parents would have to come and pick them up.

Anyways.  It's been kind of a weird week.  It simultaneously dragged and flew by.  Did anyone else notice that?  Was it just me?

It wasn't a bad week, exactly.  Just nothing terribly eventful happened...

Work was busy but good.

My resting heart rate has been a little higher than normal but I am chalking that up to 85% stress and only 15% bacon intake.

I learned that I am now at that stage of life where I would rather pay the extra $5-$10 for that nicer bottle of wine.

Fitness Blender is releasing a new workout video every weekday this month, which is maybe the second best thing that has ever happen to me and incidentally the second worst thing that has ever happened to my downstairs neighbors.

I've been buying a lot of workout gear recently that I then deem to be "too nice" to work out in, so I just lounge the house in it.

I cooked shrimp perfectly for the first time last night while making this recipe.  I am a chronic shrimp overcooker, but who isn't?  Am I right?  Btw, I would recommend adding veggies and leaving out the mayo and just adding double of the thai sweet chili sauce.  Not to tell you how to live your life or anything.  (Except that your life will legit be better if you do this.)

On the coldest day of this very cold week, I waited 30 minutes (outside) for a train, finally got fed up and decided to take the bus to another train.  As the bus was pulling away from the stop, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the train I was waiting for approaching.   But who cares, that train was probably super crowded anyways.  These grapes are NOT sour!  I got off the bus near the next train line, delighted to see that it was already approaching the station.  Then proceeded to watch in horror as that train broke down 15 feet away from the platform.  So with my near-frostbitten head held high, I took the bus back to my apartment and worked from home.

Netflix Watch Instantly (do I still have to keep calling it that or can I just start referring to it as Netflix and you'll get what I mean) recently added the entire series of Friends, which is the second worst thing that has ever happen to me.  So so bad and yet...

Well, let me ask you something: sure one can binge watch something but how does one purge all that something from their system?  I'm not asking for me, obviously.  I am asking for my friend.

I woke up this morning to discover that Wet Hot American Summer is being made into a short series on Netflix and the entire cast is returning.  This is the single best thing that has ever happen to me.

Turns out that linens are something I have to think about for my wedding.  Who knew?  Spoiler alert!: not me.

Turns out that Moses is a party pooper who doesn't want to use the photo of me in a dinosaur costume for our save the date cards.

Turns out that we have very few non-dinosaur/non-ironic high resolution pictures of the two of us.

Turns out that even when I have nice eyeliner, I still won't use it because it's "too hard" to put on.

This morning, I elected to eat a granola bar and yogurt, over eating the belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream that I really wanted.

Of course I did consume like 50 glasses of wine last night so...it all evens out?

I learned today that the word "dolphin" comes from the Greek word delphis, which means womb and the word porpoise comes from the French word porpoise, which means pork fish because apparently dolphins look like pigs?



I promised you I would bring you more posts about dolphins.

Man, I am just nailing it in 2015!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mater Familia

Today is my Mom's Birthday.

Sorry Mom, apparently this is the only picture I have of the two of us that is not from the 1980s.

I was going to send her an eCard but then I was like: whatever, I have a blog.

So here we are.

You know all about my mother; I've written about her many times.  And if you haven't read any of those posts...well, then...get out.

I am sure that what I am going to write today I've already said much more cleverly and eloquently before.  As a writer you are instructed to fear and rebuff repetition at all costs and in general, that's a good rule to follow.

But over the years, I've learned that repetition can be useful.  

When I was teaching, I would repeat myself what felt like 500 times over.  And yet each time, a new student heard me for the first time.  So for clarity purposes, repetition is beneficial--crucial even.

Then there comes that small matter of telling the people you love that you love them.  Here too repetition proves helpful. Especially for moms.  

I am not a mother myself yet, so I can't say this for certain, but I am enough of a perfectionist in all other things to suspect that as a parent, you are never quite sure you are doing your job right.  Sure there maybe fleeting moments of triumph over the years and you may feel a sense of reassurance when your children don't grow up to be methheads but I can imagine that the  self-doubt is (at times) oppressively omnipresent.  Obviously, this is a matter that I've stressed out about very little.

Anyways, the point is that I really can't tell my mother enough how incredible she is.  I can't say too many times how kind, patient, and devoted she is--how fortunate I feel to be growing steadily like her.  It's not tedious to recognize, just once more, how much strength she gives to everyone in our family.

Especially this year.  My mother's strength has never been more apparent.

I've said it before and I will say it again: my mother is the most amazing woman that I know.   I will forever be grateful to be one of the lucky six people who can call her Mom.  And hopefully because I am one of the lucky six, these words will be more impactful.

As to the title of this post, my dad loves to reference O Brother, Where Art Thou? by jokingly calling himself the Pater Familia.  Which, he is, of course.  But, we both know, Mom, who's really running the show...<wink>

Oh and p.s. for all you non-family member readers--all two of you--I promise to have less family-centric posts coming your way in this shiny New Year.  How do you feeling about discussing politics?  Or the career of Gina Davis?  Or fracking?  Or dolphins?  Let me know.