30 July, 2010


Rambling thought on this Friday...

Went to Starbucks this morning (a treat for myself to get the weekend off to a good start!) and after about the 4th person who was in line behind me picked up their drink from the exhausted-looking barista, I came to the conclusion that my drink had gone missing from the queue.  So I quietly, politely, without raising a fuss, asked the overwhelmed lady by the espresso machine to make my iced tall vanilla latte.  And she apologized and made me my drink within moments... but it wasn't quite my drink. It was a venti (read: too large for Rachel).

For those of you unfamiliar with Starbucks (and I suppose I'm mostly addressing my immediate non-coffee-drinking family here), a "tall" is the smallest size - and even at that, it's 12oz. - which is more than the amount of a true "cup of coffee".  Regardless, the 12oz. version is now widely considered to be the one serving that an 8oz. cup used to be.  Keeping this in mind, let's consider the "venti" - the largest Starbucks size.  The iced (having a cup that holds more than it's hot cup equivalent) is a whopping 24oz. which, if we're all keeping up with our math, is double the amount of coffee I requested and three times the amount that I actually needed... and yes, I realize that you could argue the point of whether I "need" coffee at all or not.

For those of you familiar with my coffee drinking habits (and I suppose I'm mostly addressing my husband here), on a good day, I can barely finish 1/2 of my tall (small) iced coffee.  So a venti - although intended, I'm sure, to be a kind way of making up for a mistake - seems daunting to me... and yes, I realized that there are those out there who would trade places with me any day to get 24oz. of iced deliciousness while only having to pay the tall (small) price. 

(And I suppose paying only $3.55 for a coffee is another blog post all to itself!)

27 July, 2010


"Just because people are fed up with organized religion doesn't mean their appetite for spiritual things has been swallowed up, too.  I know because I was one of these [40 million] who dropped out of active involvement in organized religion. But unlike the majority of the other 33,999,999 dropouts, I was a religious leader when I did."



Last night, my beau and I were discussing the fact that he will always figure out the most efficient way to accomplish a task (even if it means taking a little extra time up front), while I will usually just do what I know... even if it means more work or less efficiency.

Until today.

When I took the time (all of 5 seconds) to figure out the automatic stapling feature on our copy machine at work.  And my life will never be the same.

(Yes, I have been stapling my own copies of things for the past several years.  I know.  I know.)

21 July, 2010


I'll not comment on the politics and opinions swirling around Irena Sendler, but assuming her heroic story is true, there's no doubt that this was an incredible woman.

20 July, 2010

ON AGING (by George Carlin)

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? 
If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions. "How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key. 
You get into your teens, now ... they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. "How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16!

And then the greatest day of your life . . . you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . . . YOU BECOME 21. . . YES!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk. He TURNED, we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40.

Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 . . . and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime.

And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I was JUST 92." Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"


An excerpt from a speech President Obama gave to the White House audience last night just before they watched some of Broadway's talent perform a few musical numbers:

Now, as we’re about to see this evening, there’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. At its heart, it’s the power of a story -– of love and of heartbreak; of joy and sorrow; singing witches, dancing ogres. Musicals carry us to a different time and place, but in the end, they also teach us a little bit of something about ourselves. It’s one of the few genres of music that can inspire the same passion in an eight-year-old that it can an 80-year-old –- and make them both want to get up and dance. It transcends musical tastes, from opera and classical to rock and hip-hop. And whether we want to admit it or not, we all have the lyrics to a few Broadway songs stuck in our heads. (Laughter.) 
In many ways, the story of Broadway is also intertwined with the story if America. Some of the greatest singers and songwriters Broadway has ever known came to this country on a boat with nothing more than an idea in their head and a song in their heart. And they succeeded the same way that so many immigrants have succeeded -– through talent and hard work and sheer determination.

Over the years, musicals have also been at the forefront of our social consciousness, challenging stereotypes, shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics.

But perhaps the most American part of this truly American art form is its optimism. Broadway music calls us to see the best in ourselves and in the world around us -– to believe that no matter how hopeless things may seem, the nice guy can still get the girl, the hero can still triumph over evil, and a brighter day can be waiting just around the bend.

As the great Mel Brooks once said, musicals “blow the dust off your soul.”


About 8 months ago I wrote about a woman who crossed her fingers for our baby-to-be.  And yesterday, on our way to the car, I saw her again - this time with the bundle of joy tugging at my neck and clinging close to my chest.  Just as sweetly and as if she recognized us - I don't think she did, but who knows? - she stopped for barely enough to time to make the sign of the cross in front of us, as a blessing, and sputtered in her broken English "Good Luck" (if you say it to yourself as "Gouda Luck" you'll get a better idea of how she actually sounded).  Everything comes full circle, doesn't it?  And I am reminded, as I often am, what a small neighborhood New York really is.

19 July, 2010

WAKING DREAMS (From Left to Write - Book Club)

"It's amazing how we talk ourselves out of our dreams."

by Laura Munson

A few days ago, my husband and I had a talk about our dreams. Big Dreams. Dreams with a capital "D".  And although I always knew it about him - that he had Big Dreams - having a real conversation about them, (especially as a newly married couple, and with all the implications those dreams would have on the life of our not-yet-one-year-old daughter) shone a bright light into the depth of his passions.

Reading Laura Munson's THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS stoked the burning embers of my own dreams.  And these past few days since I've finished reading her memoir, often quite funny and downright heartbreaking within the same sentence, my mind has been swirling with all the possibilities that I've been able to talk myself out of - all those elusive waking dreams that I have put on the shelf, waiting for a better time to start them (or more money to start them with).

There are writer dreams, singer dreams, motherhood dreams, wife dreams, travel dreams, dreams for my parents, dreams for my daughter, dreams for my siblings, weighty dreams like what kind of legacy I will leave, frivolous dreams like fitting into the same size jeans I did in high school, and realistic dreams (an oxymoron or an attainable goal?) like doing what makes me happy and feeling good in whatever jeans I'm wearing - no matter the size.

Telling me that I can be "too accommodating sometimes" is my mother's gentle reminder to me that I have the ability to be an absolute pro at talking myself out of my dreams... and not in a way that makes me unhappy, but in the way in which I more often than not put others' dreams before my own (and while it truly makes me happy to support those I love and see them get ever-closer to their dreams, it's not the same as shooting for your own stars).

Munson's reminder to me has been swirling in my head since I lingered on the last few pages of this book: "So what if I had to ask? Sometimes we have to ask."

My husband asks for his dreams.  He asks the world to make room for his work.  He asks his boss to recognize his contributions with more financial stability.  He asks his family for their support and love.  And so what if he has to ask?  So very many things would never happen if we never asked for them.  Tonight I will take a page from both these books, Munson's and my husband's.  And I will dust off those dreams.  I will take them down from their safe places and give them room to run.  And I will ask.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom.

Disclosure: I received a copy of THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS by Laura Munson to read and discuss as a member of From Left to Write.   The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own.  Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

07 July, 2010


I dig this girl. And her perspective on the last 10 years of her life.  And I especially love where she's ended up (not that it's anywhere near the end - far from it!).  I appreciate her honesty and her think-of-me-what-you-will-I'm-still-gonna-be-who-I-am mentality.  I feel I could use a little dose of that confidence in my life tonight.  Glad to have read this spark plug's thoughts this evening. 

(Happy Birthday, Old Lady!)

06 July, 2010


On this exhausting, sticky, uncomfortable-is-an-understatement day, I overheard this on the street:

GUY 1:  "It's hot as HELL out here."
GUY 2:  "Actually, I think Hell is probably a few degrees cooler."

Agreed, Guy 2.  Agreed.

05 July, 2010


"To open heart:
Ignore what is irrelevant to who you are.
Choose beliefs that align with how you want to feel
And what you want to create."

by Katherine Rosman

When I read the subtitle of this book - A mother, a daughter, a reporter's notebook - I thought to myself, "Uh, oh. Break out the tissues."  (As a first-time mother of a five-month-old daughter, I tend to cry at even the slightest mother/daughter comment, or blog, or stranger passing by on the subway who says my beautiful girl looks like me.)  And then when I read further on and realized it would be about a daughter's account of losing her mother to cancer... well - I made sure to have a whole box of Kleenex at the ready.

But in a sweet surprise, the book is filled with stories both sad and silly, powerful and emotional, heartbreaking and uplifting.  And I found myself wanting to share it with my very dear friend who lost her mother in her mid-twenties.  And I dog-earred passages that reminded me of another friend who loves dancing, and whose children (I presume) will one day love the fact that their mother dances.  And I wanted to call my own mother several times while reading it - and wished my daughter were old enough to tell her my own stories (soon, Lovebug, soon enough!).

Some of the things that most endeared Katherine Rosman's writing to me were the hints at spirituality and faith and a general way of living your life to the fullest - something that those of us who, thankfully, are healthy can often take for granted.  And I also loved witnessing a daughter beginning to see her mother as more than being defined by her motherhood alone - something I am just now starting to view in my own mama, and something I feel about myself as a newbie to this group. 

I intended to take one or two aspects of this memoir and relate some sort of funny, insightful, full of spirit post that would delight myself and my readers alike... yet, there are too many stories, too many ideas to which I can acutely relate - I cannot boil it down to a simple blog entry.  I will only say that as a woman who is a daughter and also a mother, this book fills me with an even deeper sense of gratitude and a reminder that this life is oh so precious.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom.

Disclosure: I received a copy of IF YOU KNEW SUZY by Katherine Rosman to read and discuss as a member of From Left to Write.   The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to order your own copy of this book.

01 July, 2010


It's a little hard to believe that only 5 short months ago we were in the hospital waiting for you.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  And I wonder if I always will - or if that detailed memory will fade into a sweeping feeling instead.

We headed to the hospital at 9 PM on January 31st, bellies full from a delicious "last meal".  Although we knew we had the right time, the nurses weren't expecting us until the next morning - but our incredible Dr. Catherine swooped in and had them set us up anyway.  The room was big - bigger than I remembered from our hospital tour.  (Good thing, since there would be about a dozen pairs of eyes and hands gazing at you and helping you adjust to the world when you finally joined us.)   We opened our bags and put on our comfy clothes and FlipCam-ed our first thoughts, capturing our anxious energy.  An IV was put in.  A heart monitor was hooked up.  Water was broken and the contractions began just before midnight.

We turned on the Grammys and half-watched them through the bad TV reception.  Nurses came in and out.  We hooked up our iPod and played the "Rachel's Zen Garden" mix we'd made a few nights before.  A med student interviewed us.  We wished you well on your journey from water to world.  And we waited.  Until a couple hours later when the Doc came in and told us you had pooped in the womb - which is not ideal, which could mean that you were a bit distressed, which resulted in the administration of Pitocin to help things along so you could get to us faster, which led to more contractions.  Not just contractions.  CON. TRAC. TIONS.

For about 6 hours, you showed off your strength.  The doubling-over sharp pangs came every two or three minutes, barely long enough for me to catch my breath in-between, and not nearly long enough for me to stay as calm and collected as my Type-A personality would've liked.  We moved from laying on our back, to squatting, to crouching on our hands and knees, to walking, to swaying, to finally finding our trusted pattern: bouncing.  Bouncing on a birthing ball for those fleeting moments between overwhelming sensations.  Bounce, bounce, bounce.  And oh, here it comes... my fingers grabbing the sheets on the bed, grasping for any kind of comfort.  Your dad's firm hands pushing hard on my lower back (harder!) and encouraging me with every point of pressure and soft, supportive words.  And our doctor - who had stayed overnight so she could be there for us - coming and going, coming and going, a present but not pushy presence.

Nearing 24 hours without a wink of sleep - the last 6 being a flood of pain with a gain of merely one centimeter - we were exhausted.  The truest example of "blood, sweat, and tears" we have ever witnessed or been a part of.  And so, while the New York City streets below were bustling with Monday morning traffic, a pair of gentle anesthesiologists gave me an epidural - and I slept like a baby, while you (my baby) and nature (with the help of modern medicine) did the rest of the work.  By lunch time, Dr. Catherine woke us up and said, "You're at 10 centimeters - it's time to push."

And I was nervous.  And excited.  And scared.  And relieved.  And tired.  And anxious.  And filled with another emotion which I only now know to be an incredible love for you.

So we pushed.  Your dad on my left, a doe-eyed med student on my right, our head nurse and doctor in the middle.  And we pushed.  One cleansing breath, then a deep breath in, (and hold it!) while smiling and pushing - 1...2...3... to the count of ten.  And repeat.  More helpful hands arrived.  A mirror let me glimpse your shiny black hair.  Nurses were at the ready to weigh you and measure you and make sure you were alright.  And we pushed.  And there was laughter.  And there were tears.  And we were dubbed "cutest couple" by the hospital staff.  And we pushed.

And finally - and quite suddenly, it seemed to me - you arrived!  Head first, then the rest of your tiny body, and without a sound from your lips (or maybe you did make a noise, but we couldn't hear it over the shrieks of "You did it!" and "Look at all that hair!" and your dad whispering in my ear, "We have a daughter.")  It was all I could do to keep my heavy eyes open to see your smooshed face.  They laid you on my chest.  And we just kept saying, "Hi.  Hi.  Hi."  And you blinked back and slowly opened and closed your tiny fist, your long fingers almost waving at us. You were beauty incarnate.

Almost 18 hours after we arrived at NYU Medical Center, you were born:  February 1, 2010.  2:49 PM.  8 lbs. 9 oz. 21 inches. Black hair. Long fingers. Button nose. With opportunities ahead as far as your wide blue eyes could see.