It Snowed in Boston this Weekend

snow

The Snow Arrives After Long Silence (by Nancy Willard)

The snow arrives after long silence
from its high home where nothing leaves
tracks or stains or keeps time.
The sky it fell from, pale as oatmeal,
bears up like sheep before shearing.

The cat at my window watches
amazed. So many feathers and no bird!
All day the snow sets its table
with clean linen, putting its house
in order. The hungry deer walk

on the risen loaves of snow.
You can follow the broken hearts
their hooves punch in its crust.
Night after night the big plows rumble
and bale it like dirty laundry

and haul it to the Hudson.
Now I scan the sky for snow,
and the cool cheek it offers me,
and its body, thinned into petals,
and the still caves where it sleeps.

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Every Book You Should be Reading Right Now

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Every week the New York Times Book Review does this clever little Q&A with an author. It’s so clever that whenever I read it, I supply my own answers to the questions inside of my head.

Remembering that I do indeed have a blog, I realized I could share those answers with you too. So, every week when I remember to do it, I’ll post my own little NYT Book Review Q&A here.

What book is on your night stand now?
I just finished this crazy memoir, “Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality” by Jacob Tomsky that I just loved. It wasn’t incredibly well written, but it was so refreshing. Usually memoirs are a little morose or life-affirming or something and this was just a straight-forward take on how this guy worked as a front desk agent in a  hotel.

What was the last truly great book you read?
I loved “Liar’s Poker”. Just so incredibly well-written.

What is your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
I read memoir. I’m absolutely fascinated by people and how they choose to present themselves to the world. I’ll watch any reality show and read pretty much any memoir ever. There’s this great Quaker saying of “Let your life speak”. I love seeing how other people are letting their lives speak.

Have you read any good books on philosophy lately?
No.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? The prime minister?
Every person at all times should be required to read Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” I’ve always said that when I win the lottery, I’ll stand on street corners and pass out free copies of that book. I read “A People’s History” about the same time as Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie” and Dorothy Day’s “On Pilgrimage”. The combined effect of reading each of those in such a short period of time were really foundational in my progression toward being a latte-sipping East Coast elitist liberal.

What were your favorite books as a child? Did you have a favorite character or hero?
My all-time favorite book as a child was “Poky Little Puppy”. I mean seriously. What’s not to love about roly-poly puppies? I was also a huge big fan of the under-rated “Tommy Goes to the Doctor”. This was kind of a brilliant read because not only did Tommy go to a doctor, but running underneath Tommy’s journey was the story of a bunny (Fluffy, maybe?) who also went to a bunny doctor. So brilliant. Tommy’s doctor gave him a lollipop after the visit and Fluffy got a carrot.

I loved the structure of that book. Two stories! In one!

What books had the greatest influence on you when you were a student?
I had this amazing classics professor in college who taught Oedipus just brilliantly. I had never read any classics before then and was BLOWN AWAY. I remember just being so completely shocked at the end of that book. Reading that and the other classics helped me really understand humans have always craved a certain bit of structure in the stories we’ve told one another throughout time.

What was the last book that made you cry?
I can’t think of one. I try to not read books that make me cry.

The last book that made you laugh?
I apparently don’t read funny books either.

The last book that made you furious?
“The Receptionist” by Janet Groth. Honest-to-G*d it just could have been so much better. What a great story she had to tell as a long-time receptionist at the New Yorker! And she just wasted it by being a name-dropper. And tedious. She was so very tedious.

What’s the best love story you’ve ever read?
Cutting for Stone was just so beautifully written. A love story in every sense of the word. I wish I were still reading that book.

Are there any architects that you think are also particularly good writers? What are your favorite books on architecture?
I don’t know if it’s by an architect, but “House as a Mirror of Self” is just brilliant. It’s all about our emotional connections to our homes. How we surround ourselves with things… or not.. how we decorate them and the houses we choose as a reflection of our selves.

If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?
Since I was 8-years-old and fell asleep on Christmas Eve clutching my new collection of Little House on the Prairie books, I have wanted to meet Laura Ingalls Wilder. I stand by that wish. There’s not anything really I’d want to know, but I’d probably make her my best friend and we’d hang out together writing awesome memoir.

And if you could meet a character from literature, who would it be?
Oedipus!!!! I mean. COME ON.

Who are your favorite writers of all time? And among your contemporaries?
Dorothy Allison, Minnie Bruce Pratt and Peggy McIntosh. All of whom have saved my life any number of times.

And if you had to give a young person a list of books to be read above all others to prepare for adulthood, what would you include?
A People’s History of the United States. Standard.

What are you planning to read next?
I like to keep a few books going at a time. So up next on the Kindle are Wendy Lawless’ “Chanel Bonfire”, Stephen King’s essay “Guns” John Kenney’s “Truth in Advertising” and Lois Frankel’s “Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It.”

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Let’s talk about how we really did re-elect Obama

Let's talk about how we really did re-elect #Obama and so I got this inaugural invite. #love
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That’s all.*

*Don’t worry, it’s a commemorative invite. But. It’s still awesome.

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This is What I Came Home to Tonight

These eggs are #hard #boiled
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Two things happened this weekend: 1) The wife got ridiculously sick, and 2) I continued to not eat donuts. Neither of these things were really pleasant, but it did cause us to focus a lot on what we were eating.

During a panicked call to the urgent care nurse wherein I attempted to learn the exact point in “throwing up for a few days” that one should become really concerned (panic when they can’t walk or they’re ill immediately after eating, btw) — the nurse happened to run through a list of foods to try to eat on an unsettled stomach.  It ran the spectrum from chicken broth to broiled chicken breast and along the way she mentioned hard boiled eggs.

Boy… the nurse had a real focus on the whole chicken there, didn’t she?

Hard boiled eggs! I had forgotten about them completely! What a genius idea. A pre-cooked, pre-packaged, portable punch of protein! (Feel free to use that, American Egg Board.)

So that’s what we did. And after we had very nicely progressed straight from broth and onto corned beef and cabbage (she craved it, I didn’t) we had an egg or so left over for me to have as a snack post-Ward Committee meeting last night. It was awesome! It filled me up, didn’t involve a drive-thru and it tasted good even without having to pour melted cheese on it.

Having mentioned briefly to the wife how great it would be to have a few hard boiled eggs on hand for other meeting-filled evenings – I came home to this. A bowl of very cleverly marked up hard boiled eggs.

And that picture. Is exactly how a hard boiled egg becomes better than a donut.

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I Don’t Blog Much, But I Did Make the World’s Best Playlist

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My friend Casey is a seriously awesome blogger. She’s good at it *and* she makes time to do it. Which is more than I typically do.

Instead of blogging, yesterday I did errands. I went to the pharmacy to get pharmacy-things, the UPS store to drop off some poor Zappos purchases from September, the dry cleaner, and then vet to pick up Callie’s medication. And then because why not, I went to the Apple store, Sephora for a lipgloss emergency and then out to Ikea because I’m a tiny bit obsessed with their wooden hangers and needed more. Lots more of them.

Instead of blogging today, I did everything around the house that I haven’t done since the holidays or when the wife was ill or when it snowed. So there was all of that dusting and cleaning and laundry and picking rock salt out of the carpet and whatever other tiny obsessive thing I decided needed to be done.

So all of that was super important, but the most important thing I did today was to make the world’s best playlist. Seriously. World’s. Best. (I mean other than the fact that I just this second noticed the severe lack of Tegan and Sara here.)

Behold.

  • Hell On Heels — Pistol Annies
  • All the Above (feat. T-Pain) — Maino
  • Wild At Heart Gloriana — Wild At Heart –
  • Raise Your Glass — P!nk
  • Paycheck Man — Randy Houser
  • Ridin’ — Chamillionaire & Krayzie Bone
  • Fire Bomb — Rihanna
  • Mountains — Lonestar
  • Loneliness — Annie Lennox
  • One Big Love  — Patty Griffin
  • Untouchable Face — Ani DiFranco
  • Back That Thing Up — Justin Moore
  • There Goes The Neighborhood — Sheryl Crow
  • The Queen — Lady GaGa
  • Missundaztood — Pink
  • This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues — Rodriguez
  • I Wrote the Book — Beth Ditto
  • It’s Alright — The Smithereens
  • Vertigo — U2
  • Love Will Find Way  — Yes

You can thank me later.

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I Have to Do Something. So I’m Having Tea.

Night tea

We have a Shetland Sheepdog who is beautiful, smart and growing slightly senile in her old age. (By which I mean she does things like comes in from being outside and stands and waits for a treat. Which is what she’s always done, but now she’s staring at a wall instead of looking up for me for the treat.)

And if you know anything about shelties, you know they’re ridiculously clever, can be trained to do anything and they bark. It’s how they herd sheep. Apparently though there are some oddly quiet shelties who can just mind control a sheep into doing sheep things. That’s not how Callie does things. Callie loves to bark. It’s her great joy — and she’s really good at it.

In all of her almost 14 years on the planet, we’ve never been able to get Callie to not bark. But what we can do is get her to stop barking and do something else. It took a few tries, but now when the grocery delivery arrives, Callie barks at the truck and then puts herself into her crate and stops barking.

She trained herself to do something else.

A few months ago I read a book — OK, part of a book — about changing habits. And one of the points the author made was that people are most successful in changing habits when they switch a habit with another habit. Find something else to do instead of smoking when you drink your coffee in the morning. Or if you always have a vending machine run at 3pm when you’re tired and crabby… then switch it with a walk around the building.

One of the habits I’m trying to adjust this year is snacking before bed. I have no idea why I started doing it, but it sure hasn’t done me any favors.

I’m replacing that sad little habit with tea. A nighttime tea in the fanciest cups we have. With little special serving dishes and this oddly special quiet time spent waiting for the kettle to whistle. The whole process has a wonderful rhythm to it that I’m really enjoying.

I’ve given myself a little bit of mind space that I never noticed before because I was too busy doing what I’ve always done.

Turns out? I take my tea with a little milk.

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What Hope Looks Like in 2013: Overturning DOMA

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When I was going on a filing fling before the end of the year, I came across an envelope of “Things From When We Got Married.” Including the front page of the Boston Globe from our wedding day. June 15, 2007.

It’s so odd to me. In my memories, the span of time from when the state legislature refused to put the issue on the ballot and when we got married was a couple of weeks. But it was actually the next day.

We got married on the day of that headline.

We’ve been together since 2001. Marriage equality became law in Massachusetts in 2004. We didn’t get married then because we kept telling ourselves that we didn’t believe in marriage. That whole “patriarchy” and “property of the man” thing. Which might have been pretty true. But looking at this headline, the date on the paper and the date on my marriage certificate… I think it might also be true that we didn’t let ourselves think that marriage was a possibility until we were sure that it wouldn’t be taken away from us.

How absolutely devastating that must be. To have the state tell you one day that you’re a real citizen with real rights. And the next day to take that away from you.

I feel so absolutely grief-stricken for the couples in California that happened to. How did we allow that to happen to them? How did we tell them their love was OK one week and then tell the next week that they didn’t love the “right way” for the state to recognize them? How did we allow that to happen?

The day that we got married. The day that this headline ran on the front page of the Boston Globe, we had a judge grant us a “marriage without delay” allowing us to get married on that day rather than holding out for the three-day waiting period. We couldn’t wait any longer. And when she granted it to us, she told us. In front of a full courtroom she said:

“On behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I wish you both a long and happy life.”

I’m placing so much hope this year on the Supreme Court overturning DOMA. You have no idea how much. Mostly I just keep telling myself that I really want my spouse’s Social Security. Like every other spouse gets. That I want to be able to put her on my health insurance without paying taxes on the full premium (not my portion of it). Like everyone else gets to do. That I don’t want to have to pay taxes on anything she gives me. Or for the state of Virginia to recognize us as a married couple when we go to the River House. Or to maybe someday think about moving back to Nashville to care for my parents as they get older and to see my nephew grow up without having to worry about getting fired from a job for. You know.

Being gay.

I told my friend Casey the other day that I was so nervous about 2013. At the time I didn’t really know why. I thought maybe I was nervous that it wouldn’t be as wonderful as 2012 was. I had such a great 2012, I didn’t want my luck to wear out. But looking at this headline and seeing the date on it, I think I’m really nervous about the Supreme Court telling me that I’m not like every other citizen. That I should have to pay extra taxes. That I shouldn’t have the same rights.

That the United States of America isn’t wishing me a long and happy life.

I have so much hope for this year.

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Are We Doing Resolutions?

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Are we making New Year’s resolutions now? I think I’ve put off thinking about it because 2012 was such a fantastic year for me, 2013 makes me a little nervous. Like maybe my luck will run out or something.

That’s probably not how things work. So. Let’s do resolutions.

1. Go to yoga more often. Yoga is so awesome and I pretty much rock out the modified poses. Everyone needs someone in the class doing modified poses, so they feel more awesome about how good they are. I’ll be the modified pose person for your class.

2. Stop counting the dogs. I count my dogs. All of the time. Like, some people obsess when the leave the house about leaving the iron on or water running or something. I don’t iron, so I worry if all of the dogs are IN the house when I leave. So before I leave, I count the dogs. I’m going to stop counting dogs. One dog, two dogs, three dogs. Three dogs.

I’ll stop tomorrow.

3. I’m going to eat vegetables. Just. In general. And not act like I’m 12 about it. Because I do honestly love spinach and I think I even like brussel sprouts. There are probably others out there that I’d like too.

4. I want to go to San Francisco. They have flights there pretty regularly and some time in 2013, I’m going to get on one. I hope it’s Jet Blue. I like those tvs.

5. Read. I love to read so this isn’t really a resolution. Other than to remind me in 2013 that I love to read.

6. Look for the better seat. This is kind of a big one for me, and it’s really the stretch resolution in the list. The wife and I tell this story to illustrate our different styles. And the story is that one time we took a train to NYC. (Oh, that was fun! Sub-goal 6a is to take another train ride to NYC. Someone remember that for me.)

So we took a train ride to NYC once and we got on at Back Bay. And I sat us down in the first two seats we came across even though they weren’t together and they weren’t good seats. And the wife was like, “No, let’s go to the front of the train and get better seats.” And I’m like, “no, let’s stay here and when people get off further down the line we can rearrange ourselves into better seats.” For a really long time (read: whole life) I’ve done this thing where I take the ok seat and then strategize on how to get the better seat. And, that’s worked pretty well for me (yay me!) but there’s really no reason to do that now that I know how to get the better seats.

(Amtrak Northeast Regional Corridor travel tip: Go to the bar car.)

Happy 2013 y’all!

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Year-End Clean-Up

Yay interactive team! We're going to have an awesome 2013!!

I’m spending the last few days of 2012 getting my online world prepped for 2013.

I’ve unsubscribed to tons of email lists. I have no idea how I got onto some of these things and they clutter my inbox daily. Sometimes hourly. I have this thing where I subscribe to email lists because I momentarily get really infatuated with the idea of doing something. Like learning how to cook Indian food, or maybe knitting. And then there’s the time I read about the New York Times’ frugal traveler’s top hotel in Sienna Italy. And on the off-chance I ever achieved my dream of traveling to Sienna, I signed up for their email list.

I cancelled an Audible account that will save me like $20 a month. I do this sometimes. Click on things that are “free” trials that suddenly turned into a paying account. This one I did because I wanted a free audio book to listen to on the car trip down to Virginia for Thanksgiving. Only it turns out that it’s confusing to keep a GPS and an iPod plugged into the Scion so we didn’t even listen to the book at all.

I got all of my iTunes playlists up-to-date. I have a super bad habit of making a genius playlist of every song that comes up that I want to remember how much I love it. Like a weird kind of musical bookmarking or something Which is kind of how I ended up with something like 18 playlists that started with an Eric Church song.

I apparently really love Eric Church.

No judgements.

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Vacation Talk

#thanksging #walk #jamesriver #virginia #nocoat
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This is what my whole vacation looked like to me. Beautiful.

We took tons of walks with the dogs, ate tons of amazing Southern food and drank as much sweet tea as I could possibly down. We also talked a lot. It’s a 12 hour road trip down there, 12 hours back and then a week in the middle. So, there’s a lot of time to talk.

Here are some things we talked about:

State flag of Delaware (way too many symbols)

How many trees were down along the Merritt Parkway because of Sandy

The best rest area for those traveling with dogs on the entire East Coast

The worst rest area for those traveling with dogs on the entire East Coast (Route 13)

Bojangles biscuits (closest to Boston is Reading PA)

The history of that one statue at the College of William and Mary

Why we weren’t eating at Chick-fil-a

Why we would never live on the Eastern Shore (DelMarVa)

Where the dividing line between Ravens fans and Redskins fans are

How you can tell the Eastern Shore economy by how large (or small) the Johnny Janosic complex is

Frankie and Johnnie (the movie and the song)

Tammy and Johnny’s (the diner)

What kind of new car I need (Ford Edge)

 

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