Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Riding the funk train, and I'm not talking music

This morning I woke in a funk. A big one. Now don't get me wrong- I swung my legs over the same side of the bed I always do, but I swear, this morning things felt different... Even the floorboards groaned, due, I think, to the weight of my mood (as a skinny girl, I don't think it was my body weight).

Poor Anevay, having to deal with monster mom this morning. I'm sure she was thanking her lucky stars she had school. I clenched my jaw on our walk to the train, but did emit a couple of barking sentences and questions. "Did you remember your homework folder?" has probably never sounded so horrific.

After returning home- which is where my 'office' is- I made a cup of tea and got to work on a few orders I have to send out (a few custom orders- go to my store for an idea of what sort of things I made). My head, however, due to the sinus cold I'm suffering (not made any better after my night out this past weekend), cut down on my productivity. I only finished a couple of orders before needing to go pick up Anevay from school.

Tonight I had planned on attending a PTA meeting, but when even making eye contact with other parents proved painful, I decided it was best to get my stuffed-up self back home...

On our way home, Anevay chattered on about her day, telling me about a plan she had come up with to make a machine so that she might launch food to hungry people on the other side of the world. Under normal circumstances, this would have generated a healthy conversation. Today, however, I could barely form a grunt.

Anevay eyeballed me warily.

"You OK, Mama?"

Even this set me off.

"I'm fine, Anevay."

We walked the rest of the way in silence, and I had to grit my teeth to keep from making a comment to Anevay about how she was shuffling her feet.

Once home, I made dinner (a quick meal of Dr. Praeger's veggie burgers, which are awesome) and a thought occurred to me:


And so, I pulled the whole mind over matter trick.

Guess what? It worked!!

No, I can't take back how grumpy I was with Anevay today. And I certainly won't win any mom of the year awards, even after righting my upturned mood. I've always been a moody person (just ask my parents, bless them, for putting up with me when I was a teenager). But having a kid means I need to keep it reigned in. They say practice makes perfect, right? Well, I'm practicing, really, I am. I'm training as though I were about to run in the Olympics...

This evening I can and will be a happy go lucky mama, even if it kills me (do sinus colds ever kill people?). But maybe, just maybe, I'll actually get over myself enough to enjoy it! Maybe my bad mood will lift... if there's no negativity for it to adhere to, perhaps it will just float away?

Thoughts? How do other single parents keep the ugly grumps at bay? For that matter, how does any person keep a nasty attitude from inflitrating an otherwise normal day? (normal, in my case, except for the sinus cold)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sad Panda's Got the Monday's

Have any of you been following the continuing saga of the Sad Panda? Poor thing's got a right 'turrible' case of the Monday's...

Read more here.

'Change' at the White House

Sorry, guys, I couldn't help it. Even though this is totally inappropriate, I thought this was too good to pass up... Thanks to Lil for sending it to me!

Pink Party- slightly hungover, but happy

Greg, the birthday boy! (pic by Tricia McBride)
(pic by Tricia McBride)
Ryan, Tricia, and Jason (pic by Tricia McBride)
A great band called 'Royalty' (pic by Bruno Navarro)
Shay, Greg's girlfriend and baby momma (pic by Tricia McBride)
Shawn, singing with The Fakers (pic by Tricia McBride)
Happy Greg and The Fakers (pic by Tricia McBride)
Me, gearing up for the party (pic by Bruno Navarro)
Me, before switching to impossibly high heels! (pic by Bruno Navarro)

And me after switching to impossibly high heels! (pic by Bruno Navarro)
Me, messing around in the car on the way to the party (with one of my many pairs of boxing gloves) (pic by Bruno Navarro)
Yes, her breasts are golden (pic by Bruno Navarro)
They just were married in Las Vegas! (pic by Bruno Navarro)
Me and Shawn (pic by Bruno Navarro)
Boxing, and yet I didn't spill a drop of my Maker's... (pic by Bruno Navarro)
Notice that the Maker's is all gone... And no, please don't ask me why I was showing my belly-button. (pic by Bruno Navarro)

Good thing the Pink Party is only once a year! It was a lot of fun, but man, did a night of dancing, drinking and cavorting sure take it out of me. I'm pretty sure it was worth it...

The party attendees happened to be some of the most talented, interesting group of people I know- lots of great musicians and artists as well as just plain kind and happy individuals who know how to stay young...

Although man, did I wake up feeling what my mom calls the "O-L-D." If this is what a hangover feels like at 32, then what will one feel like at 40?! I'm not sure I want to find out...

I spent many (thousands of) hours of my youth drinking and laughing with friends, and although now I am much more constructive with my time, it's still good to let loose every now and again.

Just takes longer to tie it all back together again the next day!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

My sweet daughter's struggles...

Yesterday, as I painted a room in my house, Anevay watched a film called 'Nim's Island'. The film is about a little girl who lives with her father on an island, and the adventures she has after he goes missing at sea.

My daughter talks less and less about her father. This summer, it'll be four years since we've seen him (the last time we saw him was traumatic). Anevay was very silent while watching the film, and didn't say a lot after it was over. I knew she was tossing around some difficult ideas.

Whereas Anevay used to have distinct memories of her dad, they have all but disappeared. She talks about how she once slept with him in his bed, and remembers what his armpits smelled like. She remembers watching a movie with him. Playing with a ball in a backyard.

We look often at photos from when Anevay was an infant. Fortunately, we have some amazing pictures of her father holding her, smiling at her, loving her. Anevay's favorite picture is one just minutes after her birth, in which her father stands over her, a huge smile across his face. "He was so happy," she said.

I want her to know that he was happy. That the smile she sees in that picture was not part of some act... See, he's not a monster... He just had (has?) a lot of growing up to do, and couldn't figure out that he wasn't the center of the universe. Unfortunately, it is Anevay who suffers...

Last night I put Anevay to bed, but about twenty minutes later she came out to the living room and hugged me tight, crying, "I miss my daddy." I brought her to bed, let her cry it out, and then we talked about it.

What bothers my daughter the most is that she knows that she once had a father... She knows that there is a void, that there is an empty space where he once was that can never be filled by anyone else. I remember this feeling acutely, as my own biological father was largely absent (although I have an amazing step-father who has always been loving and supportive).

My heart goes out to my daughter. I try hard to compensate for the loss of my daughter by being super-mom. We spend most of our time together, we cuddle a lot, and she always has the choice to sleep either in her bed or mine. There was a time when she had a lot of nightmares... She rarely had them when she slept with me. Even though the nightmares have largely subsided (they were mainly about her father not being there), she takes comfort from sleeping with me. And, to be honest, I rather like waking up to my daughter's cherubic face on the pillow beside me.

I wish things were easier for my sweet Anevay. I think that the love she has for her father is wonderful. I hope that someday, when she's old enough to make her own decisions, that she makes wise choices concerning what her relationship with him might be, and that he is more receptive to her wishes than he was to the idea of being a parent.

Until then, I'll be here for Anevay. I'll sleep with her every single night, if need be. I'll be there when she needs to cry, I'll hug her when she delights in things. And someday, if her father can get with the program (I'm not going to hold my breath), I'll tell him about all of the many successes our daughter has had. How much she has always loved him. Perhaps it will be a lesson in unconditional love.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

More work in progress...

This weekend I got to work filling some orders!

Spring fever and my brand-spanking new rose-colored glasses.

The longer days and warm(ing) spring weather has prompted my blood to quicken like tree-sap on a hot day. The call of the wild has been urging me to leave my hibernating nest...

Yep, it seems I've contracted a case of spring fever!

Last night I had plans to go to the annual pink party, an event my friend Greg throws to celebrate his birthday. Many years, his parties have a theme... Two years ago was a pink prom, four years ago it was a pink roller skating party (I broke my wrist at this event. No joke. Two surgeries later and my right wrist and hand still don't work as they used to!) This year there wasn't a theme, just a couple of bands, a slew of DJs, and hundreds of party-goers, all wearing pink, of course.

I threw on a hot pink t-shirt I printed a few days ago (as I foray into screenprinting, this will probably happen more and more often), the shortest short-shorts imaginable (actually, they were pink tights that I cut off into shorts... completely inappropriate and totally fun), and went to the party with a couple of good friends (one of whom I adore... once upon a time, we dated, although now we maintain a healthy friendship). I envisioned a night filled with flirting, dancing, and, hopefully, I thought, it would be topped off by making out with a cute man off in some dark corner.

I'll write about the party details momentarily, but first, let's talk about how it was to wake up this morning, after the pink party...

After waking to a throbbing head (oh, sweet reader, get your mind out of the gutter), I donned my favorite pair of paint-laden overhauls and got to work painting one of the bedrooms in my loft apartment (you can see from the 'before' pictures above that there had been some water damage to the room). I definitely wasn't in the mood for this, but I have a new roommate moving in, and the room was in desperate need of a painting job. So, hangover aside, I got to work.

The many hours I spent painting gave me time to privately mull over not only the party details from the night before, but about all of the memories I have of living in my loft. (I swear these two seemingly disparate thoughts will eventually intersect)

I moved into my huge loft five or six years ago (I can't seem to keep track of how long it's been) with Anevay, my ex-boyfriend (not Anevay's father), and a whole lotta dreams. My kid was perfect, I was madly in love with my boyfriend, and I would soon be graduating from an Ivy League school. It appeared that my life was in order... I believed that I would graduate, find a job in the arts, eventually marry my boyfriend, and live happily ever after.

But sometimes things don't go as planned, do they?

And here's where I provide a few details about the pink party...

Last night, I ran into the ex at the pink party (not as big surprise, as the birthday boy is his best friend). We chatted, even danced. All of it was innocent, and, I must say, it was nice after all of this time to just hang out as friends (I use the word 'friend' here for lack of a better word). It was nice to have things seem so normal.

Unfortunately, my ex tried taking things to another level. "Wanna go make-out?" he said, his come-hither brown eyes a-flutter. I was utterly shocked.

A little background...

For about a year after the break-up, whenever I saw my ex out and about, we inevitably ended up in some bar bathroom making out, or even back at my place. I didn't seem to have it in me to say no, not even after he started seeing someone else. I guess a little part of me was still hopeful that we would get back together. This little illusion was shattered after my ex, in conversation the morning after a night we spent together, called me by the name of his current girlfriend. At that point I decided never to be with him again (in the biblical sense)... Not only was it too painful, but he had a girlfriend (or so it would seem). I felt a little guilty. In the back of my mind I had rationalized sleeping with him by thinking of his girlfriend as the one who was tearing my ex away from me. But that really wasn't the case.

Last night, after my ex asked me if I wanted to make out, I went with him into a private room, where we stood, facing each other. It would have been really easy to not only make out, but to sleep with him. Instead, I stood up straight and said, "I can't do this. I won't do this. It would only make me feel bad."

No, we didn't make out. To be honest, I had absolutely no desire.  We did, however, talk. I told him how long it had taken for me to be OK after the break-up, and how angry I had been. I asked him if he was happy with his girlfriend. He said that he was, and also that being with her "was easy."

I suppose being with me is not very easy. I have an extremely strong personality, become impassioned by many things, am incredibly driven, have wicked PMS (which also drives me to create great art and write some of my best work), and, on top of it, have my daughter (with all that entails- good and bad!).

But I realized something last night...

I am pretty fabulous. My enthusiasm for life is boundless. My kid is amazing.

As I looked at my ex, I realized that my attraction for him had waned. The spell was completely broken. I no longer wanted him, and though I think he's wonderful, I could see all of the ways that he wasn't enough for me!! Besides, a guy willing to cheat on his girlfriend isn't very attractive... At least, not in my eyes. And the lack of consideration for me- for how I might have felt had we gone and 'made-out', made me realize that although I might be a 'liberated' woman, I have a system of ethics that I want the people in my life to adhere to...

It was liberating, truly. For although I haven't been in love with the ex for a long time, there was still a little part of me that was made sad by the memory of us having been together...

But not any more!

After our talk, I went home. It was late (or early in the morning, depending on how you look at such things). I had spent the night dancing, flirting (with oh so many beautiful men), and just generally cavorting. It had been so much fun. No, I hadn't made out with a cute boy. My spring fever had propelled me into a new direction...

My fever made me want to get home to my beautiful daughter. To fall asleep, alone(!), in my bed. To wake up, paint the empty bedroom, do some spring cleaning, and start the week feeling fresh and new.

My 'fever' already has me thinking about how I want to spend next weekend with Anevay... I'm thinking that we ought to go to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden so that we can see all the green things starting to grow. Or perhaps we'll go to Coney Island, a strange, beautiful place at this time of year.

And so, this morning, when I finally rolled out of bed (thank you, sweet little Anevay, for letting me sleep in!!), I looked around my loft and felt extremely thankful for all that I have. Two amazing roommates, a stellar kid, and, with my unemployment insurance having been extended, many more months before I'm in total dire straights (currently my finances are miserable, but depending on your definition, they are not yet dire).

Today, while painting, it was impossible not to remember what the loft was like before the rooms were built. I thought about my ex. About what it had been like when we lived together (in the beginning, not at the end). I'll admit that I felt a little tug at my heart, but it passed quickly.

Amazing people have come to live with me. Mostly foreigners, from whom Anevay has picked up smatterings of other languages. I thought about my ex-roommate, Viola, and how she listened to me get excited over certain men I've dated, and ultimately, broken up with. I thought about all the brunches and lunches and movies with our ex-German roommates, about all the great things we've been up to lately with our South African roommate (thanks, Clare, for being so great!), and how much richer our lives have become.

As I painted, I could hear Clare making bread in the kitchen. I listened to her sweet little interactions with Anevay, and I felt lucky that I get to live with such a kind and thoughtful person. I wondered about how Alberto, who is just moving in, would contribute to our little household. How exciting, all of it!

No, I'm not living with a partner... But over the last couple of years, my world has certainly opened up a bit...

Yes, I have spring fever... Undeniably, I feel the call of nature, the warm weather luring me outside. But this year, my fever doesn't seem to have me going boy crazy as it has in the past... In just one night, I seem to have lost all desire (for now) for empty make-out sessions.

In fact, I feel solid. True. I imagine myself as a spring plant, sending off new shoots in every which direction.

It would seem as though the pink party gave me a new outlook on life... certainly I am now looking through rose-colored glasses!!

Oh, how good to be alive.

Before I get to work finishing painting (I have yet to paint the ceiling), I leave you with the first line of Walk Whitman's 'Song of Myself':

I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to

Happy Spring, all my lovelies! I'll soon be posting a few pictures from the Pink Party... Seeing me in my pink outfit will probably provoke a little laughter!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Generosity and Art/Work


Paige West from Art Addict has left a great post about this book by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber. She writes:

"Heather and Jonathan not only share their experiences and expertise, but the book is chock full of quotes from all walks of life within the art world. Every single topic on running your own business is covered in here: submission do's and don't's, websites, studio visits, residencies and grants, rejection, crating and shipping work, consignments, gallery relationships, and more. I can recommend this book so strongly that if there is an artist out there who can't afford this book ($16.95) I'm willing to buy it for them. No joke."

First of all, does this book sound like what I need, or what. As I'm currently trying to get my own business off the ground, have been looking into grants, and am trying to come up with a website, this book sounds like the class I want to take but can't afford.

Which leads me to the most amazing thing about Paige's write-up about the book...

Did she really write that she would buy the book for an artist who can't afford it!!! Um, I'm an artist! And I can't afford toothpaste right now, let alone a book!

And yet, with all the good luck and tidings I've received lately, I think it would be bad mojo to take Paige up on her fabulous offer...

Instead, I think I might have to cut off my right arm and cave in to make this great purchase! Might be worth it!

(hey, I can always draw and paint with my toes)


This week is too good to be true!!! I sent Paige an email and a link so that she might know I wrote about her posting, and she writes back:

"Melissa! I am serious! Please let me send you a book! If you send me your address I'll drop it in the mail Monday. I believe this book can really help artists and it sounds perfect for you.

I also love your very kind blog post. I'm not sure I am worthy, but I am humbled by it none-the-less.

So send me your address! Save the money!!



Ps- I loved your obama condom post! I have a similar philosophy about being honest and open with my kids. I have totally ruined 'hard ons' for my four year old son because I gave him the scientific answer about blood flow and what not when he asked me "why is it hard?" Don't stop doing what you are doing. You are a great artist and sound like a fabulous mom! Xoxo"

Folks, I seem to be riding a good luck streak... pray for me that it continues!! I can't wait to read my new book! What a fabulous start to the weekend!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Buying an Obama condom and the conversation it started with my kid...

China Town is filled with the cries of vendors hawking their wares. The shops spill their goods over the sidewalks, luring tourists with cheap prices and bright colors. I'm often in China Town. Anevay's school is just minutes away, and both my Muay Thai gym and one of my art supply stores (Pearl Paint) are located on Canal Street, which is located right in the thick of the neighborhood. Amid the flurry of commotion in China Town, I feel completely anonymous. It's a strange, yet strangely welcome feeling.

Today, as Anevay and I made our way down Canal Street, a man's voice stood out in the crowd...


I pulled Anevay through the crowd and stopped in front of the man, laughing. "Where do they come from?" I asked.

He told me about how he and his partner made condoms for each of the presidential candidates, bought domain names, and that after the election, they ceased production of all of the names except for Obama.

Poor as I am, I bought one, just so that I can keep it in my bag to pull out as a conversation starter. I can't see wanting to use it with a partner. (Although seeing as how I'm looking for a presidential boyfriend, who knows... Maybe there's a fella out there who wouldn't be intimidated by wearing Obama's cap?)

As Anevay and I traipsed off towards the subway, she asked, "well, that was cool. But what's a condom?"

Oh, man... Did I open up a can of worms or what?

I'm pretty open with my kid. She knows what sex is. She knows all about a period and what that means for a women. I don't hold back much, although I do refrain from discussing violent crimes made against women (those discussions will come... but not yet).

After a brief hiccup, I looked down at my sweet little daughter and told her the truth.

"A condom," I said. "Is a piece of thin material called latex that a man puts over his penis before a woman lets him put it inside of her vagina while they are having sex. The condom keeps his sperm from going inside of the woman, and therefore lessens the chance of her becoming pregnant. It's one of many ways men and women can practice what is called 'safe sex'..."

At this point, Anevay nodded, understanding a little bit about what safe sex entails.

See, just this morning, after singing 'We Are the Champions' on the way to school (some kids sing Hannah Montana... my kid sings Elvis, Queen, the Ramones and, among other things, Fugazi and the Beatles), we mandered into a conversation about Freddy Mercury dying of AIDS, which led to a lengthy discussion not only about AIDS, but how many people around the world are not getting the preventative care they deserve, and, finally, a talk about safe sex and responsibility.

Yes, Anevay and I covered a lot of ground today.

And yes, I realize that these are heavy topics for a seven year old kid.

And yet, I am resolved to continue being matter-of-fact as I give my daughter information. At school, Anevay roams the Internet. I want her to be well-equipped and informed enough to sort through all the garbage that might cross her path. I want her to be powerful. She is powerful.

I like to think that I am powerful...

Funny, then, that the question of what is a condom made me- if only briefly- falter. As a women, there are many ways that I take precautions to take care of myself when I'm with a partner. And yet, I've always left it up to men to supply the condoms... Sure, I have them at home (who doesn't?!), but I never carry them on my person. It's baffling!


Why leave this responsibility to a partner instead of taking it upon myself? And what message might this send to my daughter (not that I talk with my daughter about my sex life... The topic is a little more generalized)?

Don't get me wrong. I insist that my partners (save for the few that I've been with longterm) wear condoms. No condom? No sex. Simple as that.

But today got me thinking... I realized that someday, when Anevay is older (much older, I hope), I will let her know that being in charge of her body means that she should- when the time comes- be in charge of the condoms her partners wears (oh, man, the thought of this makes me feel queasy!!). I want her to know that being a strong woman means that one makes strong decisions for herself, and that she ought to always, when and if she is sexually active, carry a powerful weapon against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases... And not only by taking the pill, but by carrying condoms on her person and insisting that they be used.

My Obama Condom may be in my bag only as a conversation starter, but the one I've put next to it will be there when and if it is needed...

Check out the Obama Condom's website for more info on their product. If I were Obama, I'd be proud to be the face of a product that promotes safe sex (although truth-be-told, Obama Condoms is selling their little pieces of latex for an outrageous price... Besides the gimmick, they are, after all, just condoms, which can be picked up for free at any Planned Parenthood in the country. But hey, power to the people. It's a tough economy. I commend anyone able to legitimately make a buck... or five smackers, in this case.).

Thoughts? As a single mom- sans partner to refer to about such things- I'd especially like to hear how other parents deal with the difficult questions our children ask.

Laying off pregnant women = really, really crappy

In case you didn't read the NY Times article today entitled 'Patient Money- When the Stork Carries a Pink Slip', click here. I promise you'll be upset. (nice, huh, right before the weekend?!)

Melifera offers a kid's clothing sale!

People have been pretty generous with me lately...

I'm of the feeling that what comes around, goes around... Therefore, I'm taking off $3.00 from every children and infant article of clothing in my shop!

I have only recently begun to post items on my online store, so please stop back soon to see more (above you saw only a small sample). I do custom orders, and would be happy to whip out something special for your little one!

The way it works... First, mention that you saw this posting. If you purchase an item that I've already made, I'll refund you $3 through Paypal. If you request a custom item, I'll take off the amount from your invoice...

YAYYYY for babies in cute embroidered clothes!

Artist paints herself having sex with each US president...

OK, yesterday I did write about my love for Obama, but artist Justine Lai has taken her love to a whole other level. She writes that she wants to "humanize" the presidents by painting herself have sex with each of them...

Funny, 'cause I've never thought of any of the presidents (except, perhaps, George W.) as being anything but human.

Justine goes on to say, "the presidency itself is a seemingly immortal and impenetrable institution; by inserting myself in its timeline, I attempt to locate something intimate and mortal. I use this intimacy to subvert authority, but it demands that I make myself vulnerable along with the Presidents."

Hm... After going to an Ivy League for art history, and having been both a painter and artist myself, I can recognize art-babble from a million miles away...

Justine, you should have just let the paintings- which are witty and beautifully executed- speak for themselves.

Thoughts? See the write-up that prompted this post here...

I F*%king love New York!!

What a beautiful spring morning! As I towed Anevay and one of her pals to school this morning, it occurred to me that there is no where I'd rather live than New York... Bathed in the morning light, neither the shrill sound of trucks backing up, migraine-inducing jackhammers, nor the stinky woman who stood behind me on the subway with her bag pressed full-stop against my spine, could shake my good mood.

It being a Friday, and me being the type of mom I am, we were running late. 20 minutes late, to be exact. There's something about being late that makes me move even more slowly... It's the feeling of heck, I'm already late, so instead of stressing out Anevay trying to make her hurry, why not just take our time and enjoy it!

See, New York has a pace that is a little faster than most other places. When we moved here from Wisconsin six years ago it took us a few months to adjust. I've always been a fast walker, but it was more than that. It was learning how to navigate my way through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of people without bumping a single person, and running to catch a subway train even though another one was only two minutes behind it (what a difference from Wisco, where a bus might not come for another hour). In New York, minutes count.

Or, in the case of one man this morning, seconds count.

Since this morning I had decided to slow the pace, it made sense to stop for coffee at the donut cart close to Anevay's school. The two men who run the cart are incredibly kind, know how I like my coffee (even though I rarely buy from them). They were getting my coffee for me when Anevay asked if she might be allowed a donut. I'm not big on junk food (in fact, although we're not vegetarians, we eat a lot of tofu and veggies in my house), but being in such a great mood, I told Anevay to pick something out. Two seconds later, and the man in line behind me hollered, "Hurry the f*%k up!"

My (American)Irish blood immediately blushed my cheeks, and even as one of the guys in the cart yelled, "hey, man, it's Friday, cool off," I spun around and proceeded to get all 'New York'.

"Don't talk to me like that. Can't you see I'm standing here with kids?" (note- Anevay and her friend were standing to the side of me, talking, and hadn't even picked up that any of this was happening)

Immediately, the man smiled, then laughed in a good natured manner. "Hey, how you doin'?" he said in his best New Yorker's accent.

It was one of the security guards at the Tweed Building, which houses Anevay's school (I seem to be having quite the time with security guards this week).

"Not bad, man, how you doin'?" I responded. After all, it had been me who had ignored the cardinal rule of the New York minute... namely that in such a large city, surrounded by millions of people, even when I want to slow things down, I need to understand that the rest of the city is still moving along at the same fast pace!

This is what I love about New York. Sure, the people are abrasive and confrontational. But most of them don't hold grudges. If New York were a person, it would be a PMSing woman... emotional, sensitive, alternately laughing and crying...

New York is my cup of tea. It's the bee's knees. I hang my hat every night on image of the Empire State Building. I call it my own. I'm raising my kid within it's stifling, sweaty, warm, and yet arm's length embrace. New York is home, man, it's home.

And so, a small list is in order (hey, it would be longer, but time is of the essence!!).

1) 'New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down' by LCD Soundsystem.

The title of the song says it all... My daughter and I sang it a lot this past winter on cold walks to the subway. Click here to hear the song. It's AMAZING.

(A little aside: Anevay's first love is the son of the drummer for LCD Soundsystem (nice guy). They used to buddy up at the park quite a bit. Now that I'm done hibernating for the winter, maybe I make a call to set up the playdate I've promised to Anevay!)

(Another little aside: One of the best big concerts I've seen in NY was the Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem show at Randall's Island two summers ago... SO. MUCH. FUN.)

2) 'Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Last night one of my best friends, a native New Yorker, came by for movie night. What we saw delighted both of us, and even elicited a few laughs from my roommate, Clare, who sat across the loft working on her computer).

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (see trailer here) is not only a well-written, witty screenplay, with great acting and amazing music, but it was so much fun to follow Nick and Norah on their adventures around the city to all of the music venues I love so much, as well as watch them foray into Brooklyn to see their favorite band play, which leads me to number three on my list...

3) 'Union Pool'

In Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, most of the characters were on a mission to find the secret location where the band 'Where's Fluffy' would be playing. At one point they all piled into a van and drove into Brooklyn, where they ended up at a location called 'Brooklyn Pool'.

Well, Brooklyn Pool is, in real life, the fabled Union Pool, where amazing bands and too much booze (at least that's been the case for me) meet on a weekly basis. Union Pool even has a photobooth (I have late night pics from that booth that will never see the light of day)...

...a huge patio, and, although the crowd has become younger (or maybe I'm just getting older), it's just a terrific one-stop venue for chatting up strangers about music, life in Brooklyn, and for seeing some great characters...

In fact, a couple of years ago I went to see some of my pals in TV on the Radio play a Hurricane Katrina Benefit- I went not only to support a good cause, but because I had heard through the grapevine that my all-time favorite, Will Oldham himself (Bonnie Prince Billy), would be playing a few songs... (He did, but unfortunately I was in the bathroom making out with my ex-boyfriend. Sigh. That's sometimes how it goes at Union Pool. Oh- that reminds me... That was the same ex- whom I had met through the Internet and eventually shared the loft I'm in now with- that I had my first date with at Union Pool. Go figure.)

4) Williamsburg Bridge

I live blocks away from the bridge, which is a suspension bridge that connects the Lower East Side of Manhattan to my Williamsburg neighborhood in the BK. I run across it, walk across it, and have even skateboarded across it. From the bridge one can see landmarks in both Brooklyn and Manhattan (duh), the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and George Washington Bridges, and, from that vantage point, the water of the East River looks *almost* blue... My ex-roommates from Germany (we miss you, Daniel and Eveline!!) used to celebrate birthdays and holidays with champagne in the middle of the bridge.

Good times!

(And not such good times... I remember a few years ago when the MTA strike happened and I had no choice but to walk home in heels from the Seagram Building on the corner of Park and 53rd to Williamsburg... By the time I got to the bridge I was not a happy camper... Have you ever had blisters on the bottoms of your feet? Not fun.)

5) 'This is New York' by Miroslav Sasek

This beautiful children's book from 1960 is filled with illustrations and brief descriptions of NYC landmarks. My daughter and I have spent many hours pouring over the book's pages...

(both notable and poignant is the absence of the World Trade Center... the book was written before the Towers were built and subsequently destroyed)

And that, my dears, is the shortest list in the world... Perhaps you could add some of your favorite New York places/films/music in the form of a comment? But hurry the f*%k up, wouldjya (written with a HUGE New York smile)?!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Earl Grey tea, delivered right to my door...

This has been a week of luck and gifts... and all for me!! In addition to winning the Chick Chair from Design Mom, and being invited to attend a Recession Dinner, I just received some Earl Grey tea in the mail from my good friend Anthony over at Macha Teahouse and Gallery (owned by Anthony and his lady friend, Rachel)!

I just took a gander at the Macha website and am thrilled to find that I can place an order to have shipped (as I'm in New York and Macha is in Wisconsin, it makes it difficult to just stop by...).

My cup of Earl Grey is exactly how it ought to be... beautiful color and the tangy scent of Bergamot...

Make sure to contact Macha to place your own order, and thanks to Anthony and Rachel for my great tea!

I'm a winner!

Hey Good People!

The stars seem to finally be aligning...

Not only have I been invited to one of Jeffrey Ruhalter's Recession Dinners (see here for my posting about this), but Gabrielle Blair from Design Mom just emailed to let me know I've won the Design Mom Random Giveaway!

I'm amazed... I never win anything! (Well, there was that BMX bike from Walgreens that I won when I was a kid in the 80's...)

Can we say YAY!! Whoo hoo!! Yee-haw!!

Design Mom writes:

Good morning! And congratulations to Melifera who said, "Ooohhh... my bird-obsessed self would love this chair. My daughter would like it, too! I'm going to repost info about the giveaway on my blog!"

You are the winner of the Chick Chair from Mahar Drygoods! Yay you.

Click here for the full posting about my win!

And a BIG THANKS to Design Mom and Mahar Drygoods (they have some of the best ever vintage and artisan designs for kids)!

Golden Triangle won the Battle of the Bands at SXSW!!

Check it out! My pal OJ (from here in the 'hood) and his band Golden Triangle won big at SXSW! They have a lot of upcoming shows- clear your calendar!!

(you can also take a peek at their Myspace page...)

60-foot penis painted on parents' roof by 18-year old son

Now THIS gave me a laugh. Wonder how I'd feel if Anevay someday decided to draw an enormous vagina on the roof of our home!! (although right now it looks as though a future in home-owner-ship is slim)

Click here for the BBC article.

Taking applications for a presidential boyfriend...

I think I've been barking up the wrong tree. Sure, I've dated (a lot) of great guys, but not one of them has been as community-minded, motivated, dapper, handsome, smart, and witty as President Barack Obama. Heck, he's a writer, too- a bona fide artist! And he drinks beer and goes to basketball games (see photo above)! Don't get me wrong, I've dated guys who have had *some* of these qualities...

But now I want the whole enchilada.

The whole presidential, 'man-with-qualities', enchilada...

Before the election, my ex-Italian roommate (Viola, come back, we miss you!) made me giggle when, with starry eyes, she called Obama "my Baracki", and said, "I lovvvve him!" like a schoolgirl. I used to make fun of Viola as she sighed and placed a hand over her heart. Said her teenager-ish love for Obama was a totally un-American 'Italian' thing.

Well, I'm starting to see what all of her fuzzy-heart-felt fuss was about...

See, I love Obama. Always have. Hell, I followed his career and then voted for him. I trust the man. But now I love-love Obama.

This leads me to wonder- is there any other man on the planet who has all of Obama's qualities? A man, perhaps, who loves slightly off-the-wall, creative women like myself?


Read this article in the New York times that prompted me to post this bit about my love for our president.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go hang up a poster of my Baracki on my wall...

Homemade bread and a couple of suggestions...

My roommate Clare recently took a sourdough bread-making class, which means we now have a huge jar of bread-starter on top of the fridge. (the starter, FYI, is named Concord... yes, apparently many starters have names... this one was developed by her bread instructor about five years ago!)

It's so nice having fresh bread in the house, and great that Clare has involved Anevay in processes of making it (not only the kneading of it, but in feeding it... sourdough starter needs to be fed a mixture of flour and water twice a day!).

All this makes me wonder...

Clare, if you're out there, have you considered a Beef Wellington-making class? Or- oh! How about a scotch-making class? Mmmm... I definitely wouldn't mind devoting part of the kitchen to scotch distillation (is it too early in the morning to start thinking about Lagavulin?). There's gotta be a peat bog around here somewhere...

What a Big Cock!! (or in other words, a man contemplating an enormous rooster)

I just sold another one of these great shirts (although it's a custom order for a brown shirt; cream design)!

The design never ceases to make me laugh...

Visit the listing on my shop for more details/pricing!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are- the film!!

We all know the story... a naughty little boy named Max goes and hangs out with a bunch of monsters.

Well, Spike Jonze has now adapted the book for cinema!


I'm so excited!! Just watched the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are. I can't wait to see it with Anevay!

(I think it's also pretty darn cool that the song in the trailer is 'Wake Up' by Arcade Fire (singing here with David Bowie.)

Check out the trailer right here!!

Screenprinting class at Spacecraft starts tonight!

I'm so excited about starting my silkscreening class tonight. I'm poor as dirt, but I've invested the $175 into this class (part of my meager earnings from selling my embroidered goods) with the hope that I'll learn a few ways in which I might make my embroidered clothing even more interesting (I'm envisioning screenprinted shirts overlaid with embroidery...).

Check out Spacecraft's website for more info about classes, drop-in craft nights, even a craft/beer night!!

And see below for the description of the class I'll be attending!

Intro to Screen-printing @ Spacecraft
Instructor Sara Gates
3 weeks/ 1.5 hours per week
$175 including materials
March 3, 10, 17 2009 – 7:00-8:30pm

This class will cover all the basics of screen-printing. Each
student will receive their own screen and squeegee, learn alternative
methods of making a screen, and will produce a variety of prints on
paper and fabric. This class will focus on how to “silkscreen” simply
from home, but will also incorporate learning the true technique of silk-

Week 1
History of Screen-printing
Intro to materials/process
Pass around samples
Demonstration of printing
Discussion of what everyone would like to work on over the next two
Homework: Everyone bring in an image they want to print the final
week of class.

Week 2
Spend class making stencil screens and printing.
Demonstrate different printing techniques.
Everyone gets to print on their choice of paper/fabric.
Homework: I will burn everyone a screen to be printed next week in

Week 3
Print with newly exposed screens.
Discuss editions and monotypes.
Look at more samples.
Question and answer time.

Sara Gates, a native of Poughkeepsie, NY and was born in 1977. She received her BFA in painting from Syracuse University, a post graduate diploma in Fine Art from The Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, and a MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. She lived and worked in Arizona, California, and London before settling down in Brooklyn. She currently owns Kingsland Printing, a small screen-printing and design business that specializes in fashion and fine art printing. Some clients include Mary Meyer, Love Brigade, Greg Lindquist, and Linda Francis. Sara is also a practicing artist who has shown in London, California, Philadelphia and Brooklyn galleries.

355 Bedford Ave.
Btw. S. 4th and S. 5th
Brooklyn NY 11211

Recession Dinners

Jeffry Ruhalter, owner of Jeffrey's Meat Market on Essex Street in lower Manhattan.

When my friend V called to tell me that she had arranged for me to have a free dinner at a great New York restaurant, I thought she was kidding.

Free steak?
Free dining experience at a beautiful restaurant?
Now? During these difficult economic times?

No, V said. It's not a joke. She told me that everything had already been set up. All I had to do was call an incredibly kind man named Jeffrey to confirm. Unfortunately, I had a conflict with the date. So V tried to see what she could do... After a little back and forth (between V and Jeffrey), she called to give me new date. All I had to do was give Jeffrey a call to get the details on where I needed to go...

Well, the conversation that transpired between me and Jeffrey made my heart feel lighter than it has in weeks (even as I worked up an appetite!), although initially it looked as though it might not happen.

It appears that the date V told me had been changed, and since the new date falls on a night when I'm taking a silkscreening class, it looked like my fantastic free dinner was a no-go... I was just about to thank Jeffrey for his kindness, when he said:

"Tell your friend V that I'm going to host another Recession Dinner, just for you and your daughter."

My jaw dropped. My jaded heart skipped a beat. Jeffrey is not only going to feed me, but he's taking my schedule into consideration.

I'm to call him back soon to talk over the details, he said, and not to worry, he'll be taking care of all the arrangements as well as the minimal cost of the dinner (the dinner is actually $10 per head, but Jeffrey had told V that I would be covered).

I'm still in (happy) tears!

It was only after I got off the phone that I thought to do a little research about these 'Recession Dinners'. Well, what I found has made me feel even more touched...

Jeffrey Ruhalter's family has "the oldest original family owned butcher shop in New York City since 1920."

His grandfather gave away food to hungry New Yorkers, and Jeffrey is continuing the family tradition. Not only is he giving meat away to his loyal customers, but he is hosting his Recession Dinners for 115 struggling couples (yes, you read it correctly: that's 230 steak dinners!!).

"I know what I'm doing is not a lot, but I'm thinking if I do this, maybe somebody else will do this," Ruhalter said in this inspiring Daily News article (yes, I actually found something in the Daily News inspiring!!). He continued, "these are really difficult times and people need a helping hand."

'Jeffrey's Recession Dinners' are being extended to people who can show a "letter of unemployment separation, unemployment payment history, foreclosure documents, Dear John letters..."

Two of these dinners have been arranged- one at the Essex Restaurant, the other at Thor Restaurant.

The fact that he is willing to set up a third dinner is amazing. Unexpected. Compassionate. His generosity moves me. I can't wait to hear about what he comes up with!

I look forward to speaking more with Jeffrey, to attending one of his fabulous dinners, and, most of all, to being able to return the favor by shopping at his meat market once I'm back on my feet again (for now, perhaps I could make Jeffrey one of my embroidered shirts to show my gratitude?).

Anevay is always hankering for meals we can't afford (I don't think she'd be thrilled to know I spent the last of my cash on a screenprinting class instead of something necessary... oh well... who needs toilet paper?). She'll be delighted to hear about the dinner 'date' (yes, mothers and daughters can go on dates together) we have planned!

Please look here for more information about Jeffrey's Meat Market, as well as details about his Recession Dinners.

Finally, I'll leave you with a little more background about Jeffrey Ruhalter, taken directly from his meat market's website. I'm starting to ADORE this man:

"A visit to Jeffrey's Meat Market is more than buying meat. Jeffrey's charismatic style and consummate knowledge of meat is enjoyed and relied upon by both his retail customers and his Restaurant Chefs alike.

Besides doubling as an Art Gallery, there are random 'Day of the Rose' celebrations that are celebrations of women, and of life. Jeffrey passes out dozens of roses and says, 'Every woman is beautiful and every woman gets a rose'."

Speaking of report cards...

Yesterday I mentioned my daughter's stellar report card.

Today there's an article in the New York Times that discusses how letter grades based on achievement have been replaced by a numerical, standards-based system based on approvement. Numbered 1-4 (with a 4 meaning a child has met the learning standard for a particular skill with distinction, and a 1 meaning she has not met that standard). Anevay, for example, received primarily 3s (which mean she is 'meeting learning standards'), and 4s, (which means she is 'meeting learning standards with distinction').

The New York Times article mentions that "the new grades are based on year-end expectations, 4s are generally not available until the final marking period." Hm. Conceptually I get it... Within this system, Anevay is working towards a year-end goal. This means that I can chart her progress as she jumps from a 3 to a 4, and that I can cheer as I see that the school system is shaping my creative, brilliant little girl into the sort of standardized learner they want her to be.


"Thomas R. Guskey," it states in the article, "a professor at Georgetown College in Kentucky and an author of 'Developing Standards-Based Report Cards,' a book that is soon to be released, said the new approach was more accurate, because it measures each student against a stated set of criteria, rather than grading on a curve, which compares members of a class with one another. 'The dilemma with that system is you really don’t know whether anybody has learned anything,' Dr. Guskey said of grading on a curve. “They could all have done miserably, just some less miserably than others.”

So does this mean that students are no longer compared with one another? That it's not as subjective?

Hm... I guess I need to know a little more about the ways in which my daughter's teachers came up with the numbers I find on her report card. What exactly is the criteria for a 3 as opposed to a 4? (And a brief aside: What were the determining factors for my daughter receiving a 2 for only 'partially meeting the learning standards' in the skill of 'understanding the cultural contributions of the arts'? I had to laugh over this one... hell, I went to school for art history, have a loft filled to the gills with art and theory books, and regularly expose Anevay to conversations and have her take part in community activities in which she is learning about 'the cultural contributions of the arts'. I'd go out on a limb, in fact, and venture that Miss Anevay has been exposed to more 'culture' than some of the teacher's she has had).

So are they really trying to tell me that this number system is not subjective? How does a teacher from an inner-city school grade using this method compared to a teacher from Westchester? Many of the children in my daughter's school have behavioral and learning issues that they're working on... Would my daughter, who is fortunate enough to not have any learning issues, and is, in fact, reading at a 5th grade level (she's in 2nd grade... and yes, the testing for this is also open to debate) have received lower numbers were she in a school with mostly children from the 'burbs? And what if, *gasp*, my kid is actually 'meeting learning standards with distinction' right now, but the reason she's been given a number of 3s is because if she had been given all 4s I would be unable to mark her 'improvement'?

Hard to say.

Without the lengthy comments teachers used to make on my own report cards (oh, sweet youth!), a number doesn't tell me much.

I agree with John, from Ohio, who made the following comment about the New York Times article.

"The time spent attempting to reach these goals winds up being counterproductive. The drive to provide more data and to 'ensure more consistent grading' is homogenizing instruction and finding teachers spending inordinate amounts of time collecting and communicating data on separate skills and 'learning behaviors' instead of planning and implementing inspired experiences for elementary children."

Amen, brother. John continues.

"Learning has its own rewards and does not have to have false rewards of A-B-C or 1-2-3. Teachers have only 24 hours in their days. I’d much rather see my child’s teacher spend time being creative and inspiring (and actually getting to know my kids) instead of designing ways to measure, collect organize, and communicate data on 39 separate skills. Have we lost all common sense?"

Any illuminating thoughts on this? I have my parent-teacher conference next week. In the meantime, please, let me know if I'm missing something...