We live a few blocks from a park that is essentially a giant field, perfect for playing fetch, flying a kite, and doing a cartwheel.
"Watch Mama do a cartwheel," I called out to Rue the last time we were there. This was my moment.
The Olympics had just ended, and Rue had spent several evenings standing inches from the TV watching girls in sparkly leotards fly. Naturally, she was obsessed. Our family spent many hours on the living room rug as Rue directed us in somersaults.
(Note: a toddler discovering that a dog can't do a flip will always end in tears.)
So, when faced with a giant field, I thought I would show her that her mama was just as graceful and strong as those Olympic athletes. (a baldfaced lie, but isn't parenting really just a series of lies?)
My cartwheel felt smooth, like I was flying and strong. I landed on my feet and smiled at Rue, who was grinning in amazement.
"That was terrible," called Y, who I should note is a former gymnast and a current snob.
I had a flashback to being ten, chubby, and friendless. My sister-in-law, a professional gymnast, was coming over, and I had been counting down the days to her visit. If she could teach me how to "do gymnastics," like I hoped she would, I would finally be pretty, popular, and loved.
She had barely arrived before I made my first request. "I was thinking you could teach me how to do a back handspring right now."
"Um," she said, "Probably not."
At the field with Y and Rue, I gawked at Y. "Are you kidding?" I asked. I had just been upside down and then right side up again. Without falling. It felt impressive to me.
He rolled his eyes. "You were piked and you didn't put your hands down correctly."
"Fine," I snapped, feeling ten, chubby, and friendless. "I'll do it again."
Angrily, I launched my cartwheel. I would show him. I started running. I was graceful. I was strong. I was upside down. Weightless.
"That wasn't any better," Y called. "You didn't... what's wrong?"
My face must have given it away: at the peak of my graceful, perfect cartwheel, my hand had landed squarely in dog shit.
I held my hand up, a horrified expression on my face. Y started laughing hysterically. Rue started laughing hysterically.
We walked home, Y detailing everything that was terrible about my cartwheel. I walked beside him, graceful, strong, my hand wrapped in a plastic doggy poop bag.
(We are so lucky to have such an accomplished gymnastics coach on hand.)
I hate coffee, but I love coffeeshops. The music, people-watching, and constant activity spark my creativity and help me concentrate (and I enjoy my frequent eavesdropping breaks.)
Each of my favorite places has a personality, so I recommend you choose your location based on your current project:
Your project: post an aesthetically pleasing photo of a cup of coffee.
Where to go: Spyhouse | North Loop location. With marble tables and impeccable latte art, the North Loop Spyhouse guarantees at least 37 likes on your Instagram post.
The vibe: corporate man bun
Favorite treat: the Spygirl, a predictable yet delicious lavender latte
Your assignment: dream up your next large scale mural
Where to go: Spyhouse | Nicollet location. You'll be surrounded by other artists, fresh from a sleepless night in their studio at Minneapolis College of Art and Design down the street.
The vibe: art school grunge
Favorite treat: the Spygirl again, but when you get hungry, you're on Eat Street, so you should probably get pho.
Your assignment: an emotional chapter of your memoir.
Where to go: Quixotic Coffee | Highland Park. Curl up in a dusky booth at the back of the shop and let the warmth of this place hug you like your mother never did.
The vibe: serious writers; family breakfast; one time I saw a Keri Russel lookalike squeal at the top of her lungs "I LOVE lavender in drinks" and stand on top of a stool to get a photo of her coffee. So, whatever that is. It's a mixed bag.
Favorite treat: this place has the best coffeeshop food. I highly recommend the matcha chia pudding. Right now they have an orange clove chai that is perfect.
Your assignment: create a gig poster for an underground band
Where to go: Five Watt Coffee | Kingfield. The hum of conversation is your playlist. The fliers lining the bar are your inspiration. The Sweet Science ice cream pints are your reward. Get to work.
The vibe: hip, loud, crowded, leave your pc at home.
Favorite treat: Nearly every drink is dressed up with bitters and house made syrups, and you can't go wrong with the Kingfield. on Sunday mornings, there's a delightful toast bar. (formerly an oatmeal bar)
Your assignment: a new post for your style blog
Where to go: Urban Bean | Uptown. You've got an SD card full of outfit shots and 500 words to tap out. This quiet, bright white spot is perfect for your post on your minimalist capsule wardrobe.
The vibe: upscale hipster, inside voice.
Favorite treat: my friend and I had their oatmeal once and it was LUH-GIT but every time we've been back, they haven't had any.
"Pitty nazi," says a tiny voice at my feet.
"I'm sorry, what?" I say
"Pretty nazi," she repeats, gazing up at me, reaching for... my necklace.
"Yeah!" she shouts, nodding, "Mama nazi."
These days, I'm a human jukebox; a shitty one with only four songs:
1. MMM MMM (Shake it Off)
2. Whoa Whoa Whoa (Row Row Row Your Boat)
3. Doo doo doo doo (Here Comes the Sun)
4. Appy! (Happy)
Here's how it goes, every time: I ask her what song she wants to sing, she requests one of the above, I sing three words, she says NO and says the name of a different song. Around and around we go.
Rue and I listen to a lot of audiobooks on our commute to daycare. Together, we've explored the world of Seinfeld, examined the gender politics of the 2008 election, decided we are lukewarm about Padma Lakshmi, said a giant F you to cancer, and became experts on scientology and instant fans of Lindy West. Most recently, we listened to Amy Schumer's audiobook.
Here's my "I swear I'm a good parent" disclaimer: I was fully prepared to turn the book down at any super racy moments (not that I was expecting any of those from Amy), but I happened to listen to the tamer chapters in the car with Rue. The most scandalous thing we heard was the chapter where Amy examined her teenage shoplifting habit.
I glanced in the rearview mirror.
"Don't steal," I called to the back of the car.
"Rue, can you say 'don't steal.'"
"Rue. Say 'don't steal!"
"STEAL! Steal! steal! steal!"
15 minutes later
Other things I often hear from the back of the car:
1. Iwasawawa. (Translation: I want some water.)
2. Mama car. Mama car? Mama car! Mama car.
3. ALLLLLLL!! DONNNNNNNNE!! CAAAAAAAR!!
4. Outside bee! Oh no! Outside bee! (Every bug is a bee (which, in my head, I just sang to the tune of Every Rose Has its Thorn)).
3. Outside baby. Outside baby. Outside baby.
She must have said "outside baby" for ten minutes straight one afternoon after I picked her up. "I don't think there are any babies outside," I said, confused. But she persisted. I gave up. "You're right, there is a baby outside."
The next morning I asked her daycare teacher why she might have been saying that. And what do you know, in the afternoons, the baby class plays outside ("outside baby!") near where the toddlers play, and the toddlers run to the gate to watch them like zoo animals.
So. She was trying to tell me about her day. And I dismissed her. But to be fair, she could have given me a tiny bit more context.
Let's start a book club; the kind where we don't have to read the book but also don't have to go through the "WE READ MORE WINE LABELS THAN BOOKS" trope.
I'm going to post something about books or reading every Sunday, and if it ends up being me and my computer screen, well, that will be less airbrushed shirts to make when my book club goes on a weekend getaway together.
If the list of books I've read this year was my Netflix account, this category would be witty memoirs with a strong female lead. It seems like there's been a lot of those this year, don't you think? These are the ones I've read:
I thought maybe Issa Rae and I could be friends. A lot of her stories of growing up awkward resonated with me, but then I realized she created her own show on HBO and she is way cooler than me (the first episode of the show aired this month and I was very into it). I thought some of Issa's stories landed better than others and there were a few continuity things that annoyed me (it seemed like maybe some stories got moved around at the last minute and threw off the flow), but as a whole I enjoyed the book, which led me to her web series (way late to the game), and then her tv show, and I'm excited to keep following her career. IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: She has amazing teeth. (3/5 stars: I was a fan, but, a few months later can't remember specifically what I loved about it.)
I loved everything about Lindy West's book of essays about her life, rape culture, and fat-shaming—it made me laugh, cry, think, and it may have even made me a slightly better person. Basically, it's all I ever wanted in a book. (5/5 stars: I will be thinking about this book for a long, long time.)
Nora Purmort is a local celebrity here in Minneapolis—she's basically the new Prince. When her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer, she started a blog called "My Husband's Tumor." He passed away not too long after, and the essays she wrote in the aftermath were unexpectedly funny and charming. This book builds on those. I read half on paper, and listened to the other half, and I think she is at her best performing her stories out loud.
Important sidenote: I met her one time and she immediately told me her eye was twitching, which means maybe she's just as awkward as I am. (3/5 stars: Highly recommended, but I wanted a little bit more from some of the stories)
Obviously, I picked up Amy's book because I thought it would be funny—but in the end I preferred her more serious chapters. I love Amy's standup and show but somehow, for me, her humor didn't translate well into her personal stories...which makes no sense since you'd think those two would intertwine naturally. Also, I was annoyed by the essays that were literally lists of facts. (2/5 stars: I liked it, but I didn't love it.)
Jessi Klein was the head writer and producer of Inside Amy Schumer, and their books came out within months of each other, so it's hard not to compare the two. Maybe I could relate to a lot more of Jessi's stories (there's one about Anthropologie that was basically a transcription of my thoughts inside that store), but I recommend this book over Amy's. (4/5 stars: I loved it, but it's not my favorite book of alll time.)
Any funny lady memoirs to recommend? Next on my list: Phoebe Robinson's book, Anna Kendrick's book, Lauren Graham's book, and I just heard about the upcoming One Day We'll All be Dead and None of This Will Matter. (because I'm a sucker for any blurb that starts out "For readers of Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson, and Roxane Gay.")
While planning my triumphant blog return, I agonized over what to write about. “Hmm,” I thought, tapping my pen against my pumpkin spice latte, “What’s trending right now in the blog world?”
I took a walk, my boots crunching over leaves in shades of orange. Nothing came to me.
I sat blankly over a bowl of pumpkin oatmeal studded with honey crisp apple slices. A chill washed over me, and I wrapped my plaid blanket scarf tighter. What was that chill? Was it writer’s block?
Nothing came to me.
So, I just decided to write about fall.
+ The word of the day is feuillemort: having the color of a dying leaf. Hey Starbucks, Feuillemort Mocha Frappucino has a nice ring to it, yes? (Call me, I'm v good at naming things.)
+ I’m not sure why the blogosphere hasn’t caught on to Sukkot. OPEN YOUR EYES, PEOPLE: there’s an entire holiday centered around building your very own fall hut and throwing parties in it, and this year marks 5,777 years of celebrating it. The Jews are way ahead of you. (Above, I'm in a Moroccan themed Sukkah.)
+ Eleven years ago, in college, my friends and I marked the arrival of cooler weather by making this gooey pumpkin butter cake. In my eyes, this is the ultimate fall recipe. Nothing says "It's decorative gourd season" like four sticks of butter!
+ "There isn't something mystical about dead leaves tumbling down on your head, it's just the emotions you assign to things like that." -MTV | I've been wondering why we're all so obsessed with fall, and there's clearly a lack of research about this— Google returned my search mostly empty-handed, with offerings from MTV, the always reliable PsychicsUniverse.com, a story from NPR that's so old it could go to kindergarten next year, and, finally, these two articles I did think answered my question: 1 & 2 (spoiler alert: the Industrial Revolution, reactance theory, and social conformity are at play here.)
+ Do you know about The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows? The creator invents surprisingly beautiful words for human emotions that have no name. One of his inspirations for starting the project was the lack of word for "the wistful foreboding of the first sign of autumn."
When anyone wears a hat, point to it and say “ah-dah!"
When Rue was about six months old, I discovered that I could make her laugh by putting something on my head, then pretending to sneeze so it fell off. Soon, she started trying it, too—except that she couldn’t say “ah-choo,” only “ah-da.” Now, anything that goes on a head is an “ah-da."
1. Hats are a popular topic in our household—not only does Rue delight in talking about them, but Ike is actually terrified of them, and has been since he was a puppy. If we want him to leave us alone, asking "do you want a hat?" usually does the trick.
2. In preparation for her first bike ride, I've been following Rue around with a helmet for the past week telling her it's her "special hat" and clapping every time it touches her head.
This was what stood out most to me about Paisley Park; Prince and Applebee's don't exist in the same universe, do they?Read More
LAUGHING, still, at this photo from a few weeks ago. You can't see it, but Rue is screaming at the creepy hand in front of her. I don't actually blame her. (That photo was taken at the fabulous Art-A-Whirl, where artists in Northeast Minneapolis open their studios to the public/dream up insane homages to fallen musical heroes.)
READING a real, live book - with paper and everything. I'm all about the e-reader for all kinds of reasons, but sometimes I just want to turn the pages of a physical book. The book is It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool, too) by current local hero/celebrity Nora McInerney Purmort. I laughed out loud for the first time on page six and have been ever since.
WATCHING Fixer Upper and Veep, both of which are predictable in all the best ways. I laugh every time Buster offers to make Selina a cup of tea, and every time Jo announces she'll be putting an island in a kitchen.
WAKING up a little earlier every morning with the help of my army of alarm clock apps. Have you seen Ruggie? I need it, I think.
CHASING a toddler who would prefer not to sit down for too long, thanks.
LISTENING to Beyonce, riding the high from her concert a few weeks ago.
BUYING flare jeans from American Eagle and feeling like it’s 2000.
FEELING like an elderly person on Snapchat, which I am treating like my own personal lip sync battle. Is that frowned upon? (username: werejustdandy)
DRAWING with my new art supplies in an old book about racquetball. Does that need an explanation? Probably. I saw the artist Lisa Congdon speak at Creative Mornings Minneapolis and immediately started following her on every social channel and bought all of the art supplies she recommended. One of the things she does is practice doodling in an old book so she does’t waste valuable sketchbook paper. Hence.
WAGGING my finger at Rue, apparently, because now every time I scold her she wags her finger at me.
I have this mental image of you. You're sixteen years old, talking to a person you have a crush on. You two will be staring at each other google-y eyed (that's what it will be called in 2031 when someone uses their eyes to search the internet) and your crush will be like, "I just found this blog post about that time you pooped all over your mom on an airplane."Read More
When people ask me why I stopped blogging, I’m always surprised for a second. “But I am still blogging,” I think.
This is because anytime anything happens to me—a conversation, an observation, a life-changing event—I think to myself, I can’t wait to write about this. Often I actually start writing in my head.
In my mental internet, I blog three days a week with a hefty list of links on Sundays. I went viral a few times. I got picked up by the Huffington Post. How dare you ask me why I stopped blogging?
But when I have the opportunity to sit in front of a blank screen or an open notebook for a luxurious, blog-writing amount of time, nothing comes out.
One day I hope to figure it out. But as I'm writing this, I’ve got an entire afternoon, a hipster coffeeshop (Which is playing, naturally, a surfer punk version of hava nagila), and no one to take care of.
A day like this happens about four times a year: I'm off work, for a holiday I don't necessarily celebrate, but D still has daycare. I'm free, and I only let myself feel guilty about it for three minutes. This is the hardest thing about parenting, I think: succumbing to the fact that I might have five days to myself, tops, for an entire year.
I guess it's worth it, though.
I've read some fantastic books recently, but there's one I keep coming back to.
The protagonist, a mother, is concerned that her child isn't home for dinner. She tries to remain calm, and before panicking, searches various places around her home. Eventually, she finds her baby (he was in a basket!) and along the way learns a few things about herself...like that there's a hippo in her piano.
I've read Where's Spot more times than I can count.
But unexpectedly, between board books with talking animals, I've been able to continue reading grown-up people books. When D was first born, I read when I needed to distract myself from any number of aches and pains, or when I needed to stay awake. I read when I had been feeding her for 75% of the day and just couldn't stare at her teeny lips and count her teeny toes any longer. And when I went back to work, I read while pumping to forget the fact that I was pumping because pumping is kind of the worst.
Here's what I loved the most:
I read this last January and knew immediately that it would be hard to top. I'm so intrigued by post-apocalyptic stories—especially when the cause is a public health outbreak—but I especially enjoy reading about what happens while the world is crumbling down. This book switches between before, during, and after a flu outbreak and so many of the images still haunt me. A plane, presumably full of infected people, lands in an airport and NO ONE EVER EMERGES. The main character was checking social media in his high rise apartment while the world ended! THAT COULD BE US, YOU GUYS. He looked out the window and saw the highway completely full of cars. I can no longer go to an airport or be stuck in traffic without thinking of this book.
But here's one good thing that stuck with me: what doesn't change between the old world and new world is the human tendency to understand our world through art—love that.
Before he was making all of your favorite movies and TV shows, Judd Apatow was a kid who loved comedy. In high school, he cold called up and coming comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno (heard of them?) and asked to interview them for his publication, which he did not mention was a high school newspaper. Slick move, Judd.
Sick in the Head is those interviews and more recent ones, with comedians ranging from Amy Schumer to Mel Brooks to... Eddie Vedder? This book is full of behind the scenes stories, nuggets of wisdom, and funny one liners (and random rock stars).
I did not expect a book that starts with an in-depth account of Auschwitz to be so uplifting and happy... but here we are. Martin Greenfield came to New York after surviving Auschwitz and with a lot of determination and smart decisions (and a little luck), he became the tailor of choice for pretty much every important person ever (you know—the Presidents Bush and Steve Buscemi.) I especially loved seeing the United States through the eyes of an immigrant, and hearing how accepting and welcoming our country was to him. It made me think about how our country treats immigrants, and how we can do better. I read this right before the 4th of July and was feeling all of the red, white, and blue feels.
Y'ALL. I loved this book so, so much. It is essentially William and Kate fan fiction but calling it fan fiction seems like a disservice. It was smart, hilarious, fun, and satisfying—which I completely expected from the authors, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan of the blog Go Fug Yourself. I didn't want this book to end. In fact, I could barely bear to bring it back to the library so I paid approximately three dollars for it to sit next to my bed so I could gaze at it a little longer. WORTH IT.
I mentioned at one point, while talking about Fates and Furies, that I'm over whiny, privileged narrators. Is it so much to ask to read a book where people are happy?
By the end of this book I had highlighted so many beautifully written passages that I didn't even care that no one was happy. Also this book is like, 160 pages. I can handle whiny hipsters in small doses.
Between the World and Me
I relate far more to Jenny Offill's whiny hipsters than I do to Ta-Nehisi Coates -- that is to say that I will never understand what it's like to black in this country. But I can listen, and I can learn, and when a book like this exists there's really no reason not to.
...You'll never believe what his photograph revealed.Read More
This post is the blog version of me running into a meeting fifteen minutes late, sweating even though it's -11 degrees outside (that's not hyperbole, it's -11 degrees outside right now), carrying thirteen different notebooks and four bags hoping that one of them contains the notes I need. Am I too late? Can I still participate? (Am I fired?)
In 2015, nothing changed and everything changed. We brought a new human into the world and our hearts grew three sizes and I now catch vomit in the palm of my hand...but I don't feel all that different. My street got its first handlebar mustache, a sure sign that our neighborhood is headed for bigger and better and more hipster-y things. Ike hasn't been on a walk since February (that's not true but I think that's how he feels.) Y started his first office job, and I had to coach him through traumatic experiences like "people keep interrupting me and I can't get anything done" and "OUR PRINTER NEVER WORKS."
I always like to use these "currently" templates to reset writer's block:
reading It's What I Do, by Lyndsey Addario -- the memoir of a photojournalist who runs toward bombs in Istanbul, sneaks into remote towns in Iraq, and wanders through Darfur without water. I like reading about brave women because frankly, I am not one. (I cried at a bat mitzvah because the DJ wanted me to play a game where balloons would be popped in my vicinity. I was 30.)
writing in THREE of those novelty journals that places like Anthropologie basically force me to buy every time I walk in the door: Q&A A Day, Mom's Q&A A Day, and Mom's One Line a Day. When Chronicle Books outlined their ideal target market, they basically drew a picture of me.
listening to D's sound machine, which is an old iPod tuned to a white noise album on Spotify. My "Discover Weekly" on Spotify is so sad. It's all ocean sounds and meditation albums.
thinking about which critically acclaimed drama* Y and I should take on next. We're just starting season 2 of Fargo.
* "If you've ever held someone you love and watched hours of critically acclaimed dramas, you've experienced the peak of human happiness." -- Aziz Ansari
smelling lingering garlic from the disaster of a crockpot meal I tried to make yesterday. I really want to be an amazing cook, but I just don't think it's going to happen. I'll stick with baking and restaurants and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
hoping that I can find some way to sweat this week. Some days I manage to work out 5 times in a week, sometimes it's once.
wearing This dress that I tried on thinking was just a dress, but quickly realized was actually loungewear - a word that I feel really fancy saying. For this lounge-y Sunday, I've paired it with a simple pair of snow boots in case I need to let the dog out.
loving INSTACART. LISTEN. They brought my groceries to. my. house. At 9 pm on a Friday. I love the future so much.
wanting ice cream. I am broken, y'all. The colder it gets, the more I crave ice cream. D is in the middle of an epic nap, but I'm thinking we might need to go on an ice cream date to Milkjam -- the latest ice cream shop to hit Minneapolis (it looks like a cross between Jeni's and Milk Bar and I am SO DOWN) -- when she wakes up.
needing to think about packing for our next adventure, to exotic and mysterious Wisconsin.
feeling panicky. Nap time is a beautiful, wonderful thing, but I panic throughout each and every one. Should I clean? No, why waste precious free time with something boring like that -- read blogs! No wait, work out! No wait, write something! No wait, read a book! Just when I decide what to do, she wakes up.
clicking the Zillow app. We have no plans to move but in the summer I like to walk around the lake and imagine what the multi million dollar houses on the shore look like inside. Now I'm in hibernation mode and I have to be creative, so I just look at the multi million dollar houses on Zillow. Pro: I can actually peek inside them. Con: this activity yields far fewer steps on an activity tracker.
I was a mildly angsty teenager -- angsty enough to listen to music and feel something, but not so angsty as to feel actual angst for more than a few minutes at a time. I think this is a good temperament to shoot for.
When I was a freshman in college, I was at school six hours from home and a hurricane was hurtling toward my hometown, my family, and all of the friends I was desperately missing. In one of my moments of angst, I thought, "If they're going to get hit by a hurricane, I'm going to be there with them," jumped in my car, and sped home (I literally sped. I got a ticket in the middle of nowhere Mississippi.) listening to the song "Hurricane" by Something Corporate on repeat.
you don't do it on purpose but you make me shake / now I count the hours till you wake / with your baby's breath sweet symphonies / come on sweet catastrophe
Whenever I needed to be angsty, Something Corporate was there for me with lines like "she needs to hear she's beautiful" and "you can tell me why you just don't fit in/and how you're gonna be something" and, when my mom died, an entire song called Ruthless. Her name was Ruth.
I stood in line for hours to be in the front row at shows; to meet the lead singer Andrew McMahon. For high school art, I did a photography project based on Something Corporate lyrics. I posed my friend Michael holding a bouquet of flowers in the doorway of a half constructed house in my neighborhood (maybe when the door gets broke down, love can break in.) and, in the darkroom, watched my favorite song come to life in a tub of developer.
I was very deep.
And then, for whatever reason, I stopped needing music to help me feel things. I left this band and its words with my high school self's "problems." I was vaguely aware that Andrew McMahon was still around - making music, dealing with a terrible cancer diagnosis, fighting cancer, beating cancer, making music.
And then, when I was six months pregnant, he re-emerged into my life with a song called Cecilia and the Satellite, about his baby girl, Cecilia.
And I remembered how music can help you feel things.
Last month, I convinced my friend Bri to go to with me to Andrew McMahon's Minneapolis concert at First Ave. She had a baby two days after I did, and as soon as I had her listen to Cecilia and the Satellite, she was on board. We were sitting in a restaurant just before the concert, drinking wine and eating tater tots like the classy new moms we are, and I was telling her how far back my Andrew McMahon fandom went.
"I even brought one of the photos I developed to a concert," I said out loud for the first time since high school, cringing, "and handed it to him after the show. It felt very important."
We laughed at former me.
"I wonder if he still has it," Bri said. "I wish we could ask him."
And then he walked into the restaurant.
Seriously. He was wearing a giant coat, because Minneapolis, and his wife and baby -- the Cecilia -- were right behind him. He greeted some fans around the restaurant, and walked right past me and disappeared as we sat there, frozen, our question unasked and unanswered.
We laughed at current me.
We laughed at timing. At pictures of our babies. At how many tater tots we consumed. And then we ducked into the concert and marveled at how the dad in the coat that had just brushed past us was now jumping on a piano, moving hundreds of people to tears.
And then we blogged about it -- the 2015 version of standing in line to tell an artist how much their work means to you.
November 8 weekend | 1. A November warm enough to sit outside is a beautiful thing | 2. I just love that these are our neighborhood swings | 3. One of the many activities they enjoy doing together (others include playing with dirty diapers and drooling) | 4. Just Sunday
November 1 weekend | 1. There is something equally hilarious and, for some reason, sad, about the idea of a baby painting a picture of a dragonfly | 2. First Halloween: successful until you consider that our trick or treaters took all the Reese's pumpkins and left all the Twix | 3. She has good taste | 4. My dinner part rules: I'll make you food if you bring your instant camera and take lots of pictures of me
1. On Sunday I read a book on my couch for TWO UNINTERRUPTED HOURS. Do you have any idea what a luxury that is?!
2. Crazy Halloween this year, guys. I dressed Dalia and myself in Rosie the Riveter costumes under the guise of feminism, but really because it required nothing more than a five dollar bandana from Target. (We already had chambray shirts. What are we, animals???) We went to a party at 2 pm in a basement apartment where I sat on the floor with a bowl of candy corn and an apple cider and grand marnier, and Dalia enjoyed one chicken nugget. Then we answered the door for our six trick or treaters while friends came over for a glass of wine. Something about this series of events makes me feel refined and low key all at the same time.
3. In the books: my first Shabbat dinner as a Jewish mother. My matzah balls were, according to Y, "bad." The challah I picked up from Whole Foods was, according to Y, "meh." The ham stuffed squash our friends brought was, unanimously, "not kosher." (But so, so good.)
4. Last weekend we got a baby gate. If you're visiting Minneapolis and love hearing obscenities screamed every three minutes, please do stop by my house because we have tripped on that stupid thing nearly every time we've walked into the kitchen.
In fact, one time I thought I heard Ike eating the remains of a rotisserie chicken off the counter so I ran as fast as I could and then sat screaming on the kitchen floor convinced I had broken my toes. We even got so far as to brainstorm babysitters in case we needed to go the ER.
(Well, Y brainstormed. I sat hunched over yelling something about how my toe felt like a wet noodle.)
In the end, we decided my toes were not broken, but they did turn blue. We've been calling the incident BabyGate.
And as far as who hasn't been having trouble getting past the baby gate...
1 | Breakfast with Y at a neighborhood-y spot called Pilgrimage Cafe. Neither of us were into it. At all.
2 | A new friend of mine recently introduced me to an amazing dish I hadn't really thought much about before: APPLESAUCE OMG THAT STUFF IS DELICIOUS. Also that new friend is my eight month old.
3 | I worked remotely last week from the new Urban Bean. Not only was it beautiful, I had the best oatmeal of my life, hands down. And you should know that I have traveled around Ireland eating porridge at bed and breakfasts so I know my shit.
4 | It appears I need to step up my eating game.
Still going on The Clasp, and liking it more and more. In the car I've listened to Why Not Me (Mindy Kaling's new book, and I'm one of those people who thinks she can do no wrong so I loved it), and am now listening to On the Move (Oliver Sacks' autobiography).
So much Hamilton, so many podcasts (I need an entire post to talk about my favorite podcasts), and a lot of Adele. I don't watch much tv (starting a new tv show seems like a lot of energy, and the fact that there is SO MUCH good tv and I will never have the chance to see all of it makes me not even want to try... I am officially the only person too lazy to watch TV), but we started watching Master of None (Aziz Ansari's new Netflix show) and it's SO good.
During the third song at the Ingrid Michaelson concert last June in Minneapolis, a woman in the fifth row started tapping her foot.
I know this because I was high up in the balcony with a view of the entire audience, and this woman was literally the only person moving.
Forget the snow and the bone-chilling cold: this is my least favorite thing about Minneapolis. Here, dancing at concerts is weird. People stare at you and make snide comments under their breath.
(I don't know how I still have friends, because one of my favorite hobbies is convincing people to go to concerts with me, and then spending 60% of the time complaining about how no one is moving.)
Last month, in New Orleans, I realized why this bothers me so much.
Y and I decided to take Dalia on the streetcar to the French Quarter. I was regretting my decision as we crossed the street into the icky part of the Quarter, dodging puddles of mystery liquid. It smelled like last night's daiquiri. (I, on the other hand, covered in spit up and carrying a tiny human who poops herself, smelled heavenly.)
But the whole experience was redeemed when we ran into a crowd of people, a dancer, and a band in front of St. Louis Cathedral. It was a funeral -- not just any funeral, famed chef Paul Prudhomme's funeral -- and the jazz march was about to start.
As the band led the mourners and spectators and a handful of famous chefs down the street to Prudhomme's restaurant, as service industry people stepped out of their restaurants and removed their hats in respect, as the band leader (Rockin Dopsie Jr) encouraged the crowd to dance with him to When the Saints Go Marching In, I understood why the lack of enthusiasm and celebration at Minneapolis concerts bothers me so much:
Where I come from, we dance at funerals.
4 snaps (okay, 5)
1. All of my fall dreams came true when Y raked our front yard and I plunked D into the pile of leaves and she LOVED it. | 2. Waiting for brunch at The Kenwood. | 3. Ike ate my decorative gourds and now fall is RUINED. |4. Don't you love it when you randomly stumble across the perfect leaf strewn walk? Fall redeemed. | 5. Hey, have you heard it's fall?
1 | Saturday afternoon. I'm sitting on my couch watching college football playing around on my new obsession, The List App. It's like Twitter, but instead of 140 characters, you get your very own bulleted list. I love a good bulleted list.
This is right after Ike ate my gourd, so, as has been my custom over the past two weeks, I make a list about it.
And then it happens. Someone else, from across the country, is also sitting on their couch - or maybe their toilet? In line at Target? - and sees my stupid picture of Ike, chuckles, and decides it is worth sharing.
And that someone was John Mayer.
It wasn't a big deal. I only texted "MY BODY IS A WONDERLAND" to a cool dozen of my friends and am still talking about it five days later. But it really wasn't a big deal.
2 | Do you watch The Americans? On one episode, a ridiculous character named Martha repeatedly asks her partner, in the most obnoxious voice known to man, if they can have a "long lazy romantic morning" and now anytime Y and I have nothing to do on a weekend, we call it LLRMing (pronounce lurming, although I think it should be pronounced yurming). A LLRM can consist of a wide variety of things, from breakfast at the restaurant down the street, to breakfast at the slightly nicer restaurant across town. But what's really important about it is that it usually doesn't involve phones. (Which can be a little upsetting when all of your friends including John Mayer live in your phone.)
3 | Speaking of phones, I felt strangely relaxed this weekend and on Sunday afternoon, I finally pinpointed why: for the first time in WEEKS, neither my phone nor my computer were out of space. I had no idea how STRESSFUL those popups were. It's like when you know you're in trouble, but your parents won't yell at you, which everyone knows is much worse.
4 | As much as I love and miss screaming my face off at an LSU game, my stomach full of free jambalaya and tequila shots, there's something to be said about my current LSU football gameday ritual: watching the game on my couch, snuggled up with Ike. Bonus points if gumbo has been sitting on the stove all day.
That being said, if you give me tickets to the Alabama game I'll be there in a heartbeat, decked out in purple and gold and ready to scream, dance and be unnecessarily mean to people from Alabama and eat all of your Cajun food.
1 | Eggy's diner. It wasn't my favorite breakfast, but it was fine and they have grits.
2 | HOWEVER, I also had brunch at The Kenwood this weekend and they ALSO have grits that are 10 times better.
3 | Also at The Kenwood: banana bread with salty butter that tasted like a legit HUG. We're going to be talking about this banana bread for a long time.
4 | I like to make this chicken on Sunday nights and make dinner out of it for practically the rest of the week - tacos, breakfast tacos, taco salad... so really, we just eat a lot of tacos.
I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloan Crosley is one of my favorite books, so when I heard her first novel, The Clasp, was coming out this month I put myself on the library waiting list immediately. I'm liking it so far.
Let's just say there hasn't been this much Drake in my house since I binge watched Degrassi.
1. I realized that one of the things I miss about the South is the front porch culture, perfect for sweet moments like this one | 2. I always make fun of Y for getting the "basic breakfast" when we go out to eat, but when the "basic breakfast" includes cheese grits and praline bacon, I'm in, too. | 3. We're fun. P.S., The husbands of the Carols have decided that they are starting Lorac Convention. I'm certain it won't be as fun. | 4. Baby's first beignet. I chickened out at the last minute and didn't let her eat any. More for me.
1 | We stumbled upon an epic jazz funeral (for Chef Paul Prudhomme!) which was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced. More on that later.
2 | I highly recommend playing Cards Against Humanity with your in laws, walking to every meal (with a bloody mary in hand, preferably), sleeping with cats that befriend you in an airbnb (we loved this place if you're ever looking for a place to stay in New Orleans!), pumping on a bathroom floor with your besties, and dancing until the wee hours of... ten pm. Hashtag this is thirty (one).
3 | Like many parts of parenting, flying with a baby wasn't nearly as awful as I expected -- even though D cried half of our plane ride home. Every time I thought someone was giving me the stink-eye, it turns out they were just trying to catch our attention so they could wave, play peekaboo, or give us a bag of cookies "for the baby" (yeah, I ate those.)
4 | Ten years ago, you might have found my friends Dana, Rachel and I on our couch on LSU's campus watching Newlyweds (Fact: I once owned a tank top from Gadzooks that said I'm a Jessica and it is one of my greatest regrets in life). This weekend, you might have found us dressing our daughters -- who are ten months, eight months, and two months -- in matching I woke up like this onesies and praying that none of them ever identifies as a Newlyweds-era Jessica.
1 | Morning Call beignets on a picnic blanket in City Park. Best enjoyed with a big group of friends.
2 | We had the first floor of Elizabeth's to ourselves on a Monday morning, so no one was there to judge me when I ate 6 pieces of praline bacon.
3 | Boudin at Frank's in Baton Rouge. We might move back to Louisiana solely for the boudin.
4 | The best part about New Orleans? When you're out to brunch and you're too busy feeding the baby to finish your mimosa, you can just... take it with you.
FATES AND FURIES CAN YOU JUST END ALREADY?
So many random songs punctuated our fun weekend: a little Feist, What Does the Fox Say, When the Saints go Marching In, the Macarena. By the end of our time down south, D had officially started dancing in response to music. What more could you expect from a weekend in Louisiana?