Category Archives: C.K.

Farewell, Austin

IMG_1685(written from the Embassy Suites on Congress Avenue in Austin, TX on August 20, 2015)

Hi, I need to order four pies.
Beat.
Yes, pizza pies. 2 pepperoni and 2 regular.
Beat.
Yes, 2 with pepperoni and 2 with just cheese.

My husband called our local pizzeria to buy lunch for our moving guys. His clarifications reminded me that yep, I’m actually not a Texan. I’m not from Austin. I order “pies” at a pizza place. Why do I need to explain further? I’m not calling a bakery. I also stand “on line,” not “in line”–but that regional language irregularity justifiably needs correcting. You’re reading this online. Or if you’re on Long Island and standing in a queue, maybe you’re reading this post “online while on line.”

Okay, get to the point. It’s 7 am and I’m in a hotel room with my littles before we drive to Dallas to meet C.K. So I’m groggy. The point is—these jarring moments remind me that I’m not actually from Austin. And it’s unsettling because most of the time I walk around considering Austin my home. In fact, it’s where I’ve felt the most “at home” as an adult. Apologies to New York where my heart still beats a little quicker. And no apologies to Los Angeles because it’s the hellmouth.

Why Austin has such a strong hold on me? Why do I (and so many others) feel so comfortable in the city’s embrace? The answer is summed up in two phrases. The first is from a volunteer coordinator at my church. While presenting on Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a charity that rehabs roach coaches and stocks them with food daily to drive around and feed the poor, Bob remarked of the charity’s founder, “Bring anything to him. Any stupid idea. And he’ll hear you out and try your idea.” That may seem a little condescending but I assure you it wasn’t meant IMG_1648that way. There’s an openness to MLF’s structure that can been seen in many organizations around town, both charitable and for-profit. Austin is a place where you’ll be heard, your ideas won’t get shot down, your thoughts are valued. Any. stupid. idea.

I heard the second phrase before we moved to Austin in 2013. A friend from New York, Sarah, told me repeatedly that I’d really like Austin, that I’d be happy there. I thought it odd—we hadn’t been friends for too long when she told me that. Maybe she was just well-wishing since she knew moving to a brand new place with a 3.5yo would be traumatic no matter what. “Austin is a very come as you are city. You’ll really like it,” she smiled sweetly as we watched our sons play at the local community center. And she was right. And the phrase “come as you are” is the best way I can think to describe this amazing place. Granted, sometimes come as you are means not shaving your legs or armpits at the hippy-dippy Bouldin Creek Cafe. Granted, sometimes come as you are means arriving to a posh club on a segue in a nerdy T-shirt. Or looking like you just failed a urine test with your patrol officer but you’re really a tech shot caller.

But it’s true. Austin accepts you as you are. There is no uniformity to how people look in the city. And that come as you are attitude permeates everything. I believe it’s why my husband has flourished at Chaotic Moon, a company that doesn’t just pay lip service to innovation–they innovate again and again. I think it’s why I was immediately asked to serve on the board at Jackson’s school. (Imagine that happening in Westchester County? Never. Unless, Mama gets out the checkbook early on.) I think it’s why Women’s Storybook Project trusted me to pitch to the New York Times. Austin makes the fact that you’re creative a good thing. It’s something to explore, not ignore.

IMG_3622So I love this place. My children love this place. My husband loves it here. My sister moved here. She loves this place. My New Yorker parents who are the poster children for townies, love this place. That’s because it’s easy to love. But they better expand Mopac soon because word is really getting around. #understatement

So good bye, bats under the Congress Ave bridge.
Good bye, Zilker Park.
Good bye, food trucks.
Good bye, hipsters and vegans and other types I can’t stand.

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2015 Goals

Notice how I didn’t call this post New Year’s Resolutions? I hate resolutions. So permanent. So scary.  If I haven’t made the change already, the chance that it’s going to happen just because there’s a new number on my calendar is pretty slim.

Besides, my New Year’s resolution always has to do with losing weight. This could be due to the barrage of Weight Watchers commercials and news pieces about dieting or fitness that tend to gather like media storm clouds at the beginning of each year.  Moreover, the weight loss resolution takes me right out of the positive, hopeful attitude that accompanies the new year. I’m constantly focused on my flaws, on what I don’t have, on what I’m not.

So this time, I’m setting “goals.” Much less intimidating. A goal is something to aspire to, not to fear. And since I’m solidly a millenial with a millennial’s attitude, if I don’t achieve my goals, at least I tried. I’ll still get that little trophy at the end of the little league season whether I got a hit or not. Right?

Pink-dress-lisa-lisa-simpson-7864705-303-550This is not to say that I’m going into 2015 with a laissez-faire attitude. I usually get it done when it comes to my goals. I’m the lady who gave birth to her first child and went to graduate class a week later so she wouldn’t be deterred from finishing her second Masters. (Confession: I also did this to scare impress the professor into putting in a good word for me at her school district.) Yes, I’m that person. I’m a Lisa Simpson.

With an eye toward achieving these goals, I thought I’d make them public.  They are all about self-betterment and therefore have a New Year’s resolution “feel.”  But they are about focusing on adding to my life and being thankful for what I have and how God has blessed me so abundantly.

Not about diets.

Here’s the list (in no particular order):

1. Drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day. This lady drank a gallon of water everyday for four weeks and look at the difference in her face. I even bought a snazzy pink bottle that holds all eight glasses. I enjoy that it makes me look a little intimidating when I bring it everywhere because I’m all about the branding of my mommyness. Whoa, that lady is such a supermom she gets dehydrated from it.

2. Take real estate apps off my mobile devices & disallow notifications from all social media on my phone. The only notifications I get on my iPhone now are texts or calendar alerts or actual phone calls (<–what a notion!). I took Zillow and Trulia off because we are not shopping for a house until next year at the earliest. Looking at homes just makes me think of something I don’t own: a home. I should be focusing on the beautiful, spacious place we rent, incredible elementary school across the street, and fabulous neighbors like the Sipping Sisters. And as for the social media app notifications, I wish had the fortitude to do away with all of it but I don’t. And I won’t cause I like fotchbook and twitterest. But really? Do I need my phone to have a banner come up every time someone repins my pin about crockpot recipes? No. I’m busy trying to finish this enormous jug of water.

3. Take more iTunes U courses. I think I can replace listening to the same Taylor Swift or Pitbull songs over and over with listening to some podcasts in the car. And while I’m getting ready in the morning or doing dishes, I could be learning something. The course I started on the History of the New Testament is given by a Yale professor and it’s free! When I listen to him talk about Peters travels in Acts or the Gospel of Mark, I feel like my brain isn’t melting from laundry and child rearing anymore.

4. Practice yoga everyday. Even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes, even if it’s a few sun salutations and that’s it, I think this could be one of the more important parts of my day. I started this practice a few weeks before the holidays, skipping only a day or two. My back already feels stronger and I think I’m sleeping better. However, now with the 8 glasses of water, I’ll be getting up a lot more to use the bathroom. Rats! Foiled again!

Blank book5. Finish my novel Stagecraft. I told my agent it would be done by the time Darcy was born. Yeah, Darcy turns one next week. I better get on this. Where’s my Lisa Simpson hat?! There is some editorial interest in the novel so I owe it to myself to finish the book and see where it goes. If you’re on facebook, like the novel’s page and follow my painstaking process.

Okay, that’s it. I’ll post an update in a few weeks. I promise to be honest about my progress.

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Christmas Reflection

Dec. 27th…

This may turn into a 2014 reflection. In which case, I apologize in advance for the long-windedness and waxing sentimentality. This post will also be rambling and slightly incoherent. It’s 6:02 here in Austin. I’ve been up since 4:09 when my 4yo Jackson busted in our room in tears because he had a bad dream. Zombies again, I think. At 4:34, my 11-month-old dragon baby stood yelling at the corner of her crib and pointing at the red lights on the dropcam. On the monitor itself, Darcy looked like she was pointing at me, eyes glowing fluorescently with camera’s night vision. So I can’t promise anything too profound in this barely caffeinated state. Perhaps “reflection” was a bit of a reach.

So…reflecting on Christmas. This was something I tried in vain to do on December 25th but with all the cooking, cleaning, unwrapping, playing, talking, drinking…well, you know how it goes.

For the second year now, I hosted Christmas. This was something I’ve always wanted to do, even before kids, even before marriage. I alway envisioned my fully decorated home filled with good people, good smells of food cooking, and lots of laughter. That tableau is the Norman Rockwell version.

The saner among us (perhaps those who have hosted Christmas before) know that hosting Christmas is not all its cracked up to be. It is an endless “to do” of menial tasks and endless stress about budgets and whether or not your food will suck. To Do Before 12/25: cookies, cards, decorations, gifts, more cookies because you ate the first batches, menu planning, food shopping, cooking, freezing, defrosting, cooking. And somewhere in there, everyone gets sick and you are somehow supposed to make it to church. I totally failed on that last one. Christmas was most definitely an “Xmas” for us this year save a few reminders to Jackson that “IT’S JESUS’s BIRTHDAY!”

Last year’s Christmas was a blur. I was 36 weeks pregnant with Darcy. Unable to bend too much or stand very long, I can remember sitting on a step stool in my kitchen mired in recipe cards and dirty dishes and suffocating from the heat of the oven. I was just waiting for it to be over.

This year was much different in that regard. I made the conscious effort to accept any offers of help, to split up tasks and accomplish them throughout the month, to plan a menu that was simple, and to take lots of deep breaths. The result was one of the most enjoyable Christmases I’ve ever experienced and yet we had more food, more guests, and more wrapping than ever before.

They say many hands make light work. And mom, dad, my mother-in-law Karen, and C.K. did not disappoint. My mother-in-law, in addition to bringing several side dishes and desserts, helped everyday in the kitchen doing too many tasks to enumerate. By Monday we had basically a full Thanksgiving dinner to serve as our lunches and dinners leading up to Christmas. On Christmas day, she stood there washing and trimming mushrooms for about forty five minutes while I pulled together the other dishes and tried to hide my terror. She did so much in the kitchen that I looked at the dishes last night and thought “Oh, I have to do those?” She left early yesterday morning. Yes, Kristin. You have to do your own friggin’ dishes again.

And it was so nice to have her with us this year. This was the first Christmas we combined both sides of our family and I can’t even begin to express how lovely it was to see my children showered with attention from their grandparents.

My parents got here on Christmas Eve…just in time to take everyone out to a delicious dinner at Truluck’s. Last year, I made the traditional seven fishes dinner. And no, I don’t miss it. Dinner out on Christmas Eve for the win! On Christmas day, my parents arrived with three bags of gifts for us and then spent the day juggling an overtired sick baby girl, drifting in and out of the kitchen to clean and help with any extra tasks. Things just get done when my parents are around. A child is bathed. Clothes are folded and put away. A high chair is wiped down.

My husband, like my parents and mother-in-law, does too much to list here. I just give two examples of how generous a heart he possesses. First, he spent 2.5 hours putting together this Marvel Lego battle station thing at the end of Christmas day. When Jackson finished his bath, he strutted out in his Christmas pjs and promptly started taking it apart. C.K. didn’t complain at all. We did take a picture of him with the finished product for posterity though. And second, my husband, in addition to all his support of my “Christmasing” (especially the parts where I go over budget,) he got me basically everything on my Amazon wishlist.

Today we will celebrate Christmas with my little sister Maggie who spent her holiday working in the ER. She will never say it aloud but she is a fantastic physician whose medical knowledge is only outweighed by her compassion. I can’t wait to see her today, exchange gifts…and do more eating and drinking!

So Christmas was great. It was Darcy’s first. She killed it in her red velvet dress and despite being sick, she handled all the hoopla like a champ. And Jackson seems to enjoy it more every year. He is the best “gift-getter” I’ve ever met. Really, if any of you ladies out there don’t want to open all your bridal shower gifts in front of your party guests, Jackson will stand in. Upon opening his yoga mat, Jackson exclaimed, “A yoga mat! Finally! I’ve wanted one for so long. Thank you so much.” Every gift, toy or otherwise, was met with the same enthusiasm and gratitude. When I asked Jackson at dinner what his favorite gift was, he responded matter-of-factly, “my new jeans.”

Aren’t you lucky I didn’t go through the entire year? It’s late now but I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, and/or a Merry Feastivus/long weekend. And may your 2015 be filled with joy.

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Christmas in Jackson

County Line RoadC.K. and I are down in Jackson, MS for the holidays. It’s nice to see C.K.’s family again. The eating has begun and I don’t expect it to stop until we board the plane back to New York. Already I’ve sampled (no poor pun intended there) some pickled shrimp, spiced peaches, smoked ham, pound cake, and flavored pecans from Indianola (I think that’s how you spell it). All very good. The ham is my favorite though. There’s really nothing more tasty that fresh ham that has been dressed with spices and smoked. It is NOT the “maple glazed” run-of-the-mill spiral cut ham from your local grocer.

The weather is nice here in Mississippi too. According to the Samples, the 70s and partly cloudy this week is nice respite from the 20s Jackson had last week. Looks like New York isn’t the only part of the country with unpredictable weather patterns. Just last week, New York saw a beautiful sunny day with highs in the 50s and then freezing rain and snow not two days later. (Global warming is real, people.)

I’m off to eat some more. Hopefully the next few days will bring me enough quiet to work on revising the novel.

Happy Holidays!

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Obsessable

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Since we’ve moved back from California, C.K. has been working with Brian Alvey on his new company Crowd Fusion. It’s a new website publication platform (don’t ask me what that is). They just launched their first website the other day. It’s called Obsessable. Yeah, I know. The name is catchy. It reminds me of other make-believe words that are fun to say. Like Nastical (my own creation), and Ginormous (this one is way too common), and Romantical (a nod to my man Flava FLAV!).

Obsessable focuses on technology – everything from digital cameras and mobile phones to gaming consoles. I really like their product profile pages. Each contains a snippet explaining the product, further details if you want them, and some photos. I think it’s very helpful if you were going to buy a digital phone and couldn’t tell the difference between a Nikon D70 and a LeClic camera. Okay, you could probably tell the difference between those too. (Sidenote: I just got the urge to buy a LeClic on Amazon. Maybe Obsessable would let me write the “Product Profile” page?)

Check out C.K.’s post on 5 Cool Things about Obsessable.

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The Prime Minister

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This is the perfect “prime minister” picture of Thatcher. She looks very aristocratic. She looks like she could run a country, definitely a small country like England (teehee). She might even be able to run Westchester. (The pug looks a little fat in this picture though. She’s really not fat. She’s just lumpy like that when she sits down.)
C.K. even did a drawing of the picture with PhotoShop.
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Century 21, New York’s Best Kept Secret

Century 21
Okay, so it says that on the sign but Century 21, as you can tell by the packed lot, is no secret to New Yorkers. There’s one in the city, one in Brooklyn, and one on Long Island. Last Friday, my mom and I visited the Long Island store for some “back-to-school” clothes. Century 21 carries all kinds of trendy brands and designer names at half price. Of course, you have to check the sizes and check for any weird sewing errors. The store gets surplus and some awkward stuff. But as long as you’re willing to sift through racks of clothing, you could find some really good buys. In fact, last year I found a Nicole Miller gown for a friend’s wedding here. I paid $40 for it. It’s normal retail was about $400. My friend Kim was shopping with me and agreed that I was losing money if I didn’t buy it. Like my awesome shopping logic?

On Friday, I bought C.K. four polo tops (Izod, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger included in that). I also needed some tops for work at Preston this year. Because schools don’t have air conditioning and September can be warm in New York, I needed a few professional but light, airy tops to wear to work. I got a few things. A nice Da-Nang cotton top with peasant sleeves among them.

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Escape from L.A.

It’s our last day in L.A.

thatcher in luggage(2)Our flight is early: 7:15 am on Virgin America. I like to fly early when going from LA to NY because of the time change. You lose five hours of the day flying and when you go from west to east, you lose even more time, three more hours to be exact. We’ll get in at 3:50 p.m., just in time to wash up and have dinner at Gino’s, a mom-and-pop Italian restaurant in my hometown. They have THE BEST food. What they lack in sophisticated service and atmosphere, they make up for ten-fold with their yummy pastas.

I can’t wait to get home. We’ve been here a year and a day. I’m ready to start a new chapter of our life. I’ll be directing a musical this year, working with Preston’s administration, finishing my book and securing an agent (fingers crossed on those), and probably starting back at Fordham. I have five classes of my second Master’s completed so I want to finish. Hopefully, all of those credits are still good. My first Master’s, also from Fordham, is in English. Now this one will be in Adolescent Education. I believe it’s an MST (Master’s of Science in Teaching). Didn’t think teaching was a science though. I’d say it’s more of an art form. But whatever.luggage

It’s no coincidence that I titled this post “Escape from L.A.” Kurt Russell is one of my favorite actors. Overboard. Captain Ron. Backdraft. Big Trouble in Little China. He’s been in some classics. I know Kurt Russell would want us to escape from Los Angeles. He seems like a a good egg.

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Busy Week, Car shipping

It’s been a busy week for CK and I. However, it looks like everything is basically done for the move back home. Now, I just have to get everything organized at our apartment in Westchester before I start back to work for the school year. The books and DVDs will be easy. But organizing our clothes again, our files, and just the general setting up shop will be some work. (I just realized I have absolutely nothing in my pantry. No non-perishables. No cleaning supplies. It will be some trip to Super Stop & Shop. Or maybe to Stew’s! How I’ve missed Stew’s!)

The car was picked up Wednesday morning for shipment. Probably one of the best things about shipping a car is that you can fill the trunk with clothing and linens. The contents of the trunk can’t look suspicious for check points. It can’t have anything breakable (for obvious reasons). And it can’t make the car look bottom heavy.

Just a note for anyone who needs to ship a car. They give you a rather broad schedule for when they will pick up your car. Of course, anyone who needs to ship his / her car is probably moving a long distance and therefore needs said car for a long as possible beforehand. Last summer when I shipped the Passat to LA, they gave me a week–we will pick it up any time between this Monday and next Monday. Then, the driver still called me four days prior to that first Monday and told me he needed the car the next day. This time, it worked out better.

The birdies are already in NY. The books are on their way. The DVDs are getting shipped. About twenty other boxes are following them. Tomorrow the Passat will make it way back home. And next Tuesday at 7:55 am, CK, Thatcher, and I will go back to the “right” coast.

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Will Rogers State Beach

Here’s some pictures from our trip to the beach last weekend. It was pleasant day. We drove up to the Pacific Palisades after and had some lunch at Mogan’s Cafe. I go there a lot after my dance classes. They have great soups, fresh granola, and good burgers. I had a tasty turkey burger.

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