Category Archives: thoughts on life

How long can you stand it, there’s no end in sight…*

*Lyrics from Hold On by Róisín O from their 2012 album, The Secret Life of Blue. I heard this song (easily the best from the album) in an Irish independent movie called The O’Briens, but I can’t recall if the movie was worth watching (watch at your own risk, but I recall thinking it was sweet, if predictable). At any rate, her voice is very pretty. And, for serious, the song lyrics are kind of right fucking on. This MIGHT be your life. Or, rather, my life.

The views of the city skyline are one of the best features of this neighborhood.

The views of the city skyline are one of the best features of this neighborhood.

Ok, well, sigh.

Here’s the thing: we’re no closer to finding an apartment to call our own than we were a year ago. The Brooklyn housing market, as I mentioned before, is crazy, but not regular crazy… it’s the kind of crazy that get articles written about it, that confounds (and, alternately delights) seasoned real estate professionals, and that create a sellers’ market of the sellers’ dreams (ten offers per apartment, please!). At any rate, over the past several weeks we did put in offers on a couple of places, and were promptly overbid. Like, by a lot. The price-per-square-foot is outrageous (some of that is city sticker shock) and steadily rising, but add that to the feeding frenzy of record low inventory, and you get bidding wars that are taking the prices anywhere from 4% to upwards of 13% over asking (asking price means very little right now). All of this is to say, we’re not comfortable buying (or attempting to buy) at the top of what we perceive as a real estate bubble (not to mention that we don’t have the buying power that many of our competitors seemingly have).

A friend posted this to instagram. Yep, says it all.

A friend posted this to instagram. Yep, says it all.

If the market subsides (which all indications say it won’t for some time), we’ll reconsider our position, but for now, we’re tabling the issue. Which really sucks. We might consider trying to find a larger rental apartment, but with summer on the horizon, we’re reluctant to give up our (very rare and private) roof access when there isn’t much public green space/park space to enjoy in the neighborhood. Our location is great for lots of reasons – proximity to Jeff’s office, restaurants, parking, etc – so, for now, we’re going to stay put. read on…

Lately everything I see is painted blue…*

*Lyrics from Lately I by Faith Evans from her 1998 album, Keep The Faith (I can’t believe I actually own the record this song was on, and that I’m admitting it), not to be confused with Faith Hill, who is a completely different kind of artist (I do not own any of her stuff). Do you ever wake up with a song in your head that you haven’t heard in years and years, and suddenly it’s all you can think of? Well, this song has been ruminating in my brain for weeks. A combination of serious winter blues, fruitless and tedious house hunting, and maybe some form of mid-life crisis, and this song has pretty much nailed my mood of late. Depression, party of 1… as usual (insert Eeyore emoticon here). And, speaking of a completely different kind of depression, I stumbled up on a different song with the same title – Lately I by The Maldives from part of a No Depression festival. I’m not an alt-country fan per say, but I definitely would have rather had their song in my head than Faith’s (sorry, Faith).

Winter this year left me feeling trapped in a cage, not unlike how you will feel looking at this sunset picture.

Winter this year left me feeling trapped in a cage, not unlike how you will feel looking at this sunset picture.

If you’re anything like me, or if you live anywhere in the north eastern United States (or perhaps just all of North America), you’ve had a rough winter. Like, maybe the roughest ever. The sun never seemed to peek out long enough to get a decent dose of Vitamin D, and the cold, ice, and snow (and lack of shoveled sidewalks!) trapped us in our too tiny apartment for too many weeks. Add all this to an east-facing apartment and you’ve got yourself a tiny, dark dungeon for a home, and nothing but remorse for the lost glory of the home that once was yours. It hasn’t been easy, so I’ve been trying to lay low, and busy myself with anything uplifting that I can think of. Sadly, that hasn’t been much lately, but I did think of one thing to get me eager to get out of bed in the morning: art. read on…

Well I got no place to go, I got no other life I know…*

*Lyrics from Take It As It Comes by J Roddy Walston and The Business from their album Essential Tremors. I heard this song on Conan the other night, and I reluctantly liked it (I resist grasping at my youth in unflattering ways, like with music that is clearly meant for younger people). I have yet to check out their whole album. It borders on alt-pop for me, but I did enjoy the singer’s voice, and the overall vibe. Check it out, and let me know how you like it.

Using the Glaze App to distort a nighttime view of the Empire State Building, et al.

Using the Glaze App to distort a nighttime view of the Empire State Building, et al.

During a recent walk-and-talk with the husband, discussing all the ups, downs, and turn-me-all-arounds of our sluggish house hunt, I got to thinking about death. Not death, exactly, but more like the stages of grief, and how similar they are to our search. As we began our process by first leaving our too-big-for-us house in search of a just-right apartment, we had high hopes for finding just enough space to live comfortably in the neighborhood in which we had already gotten a foothold. Well, it’s becoming evident that that desire is impossible, and that we can hope for maybe more than we have in our Pied, but not even close to what we had hoped for initially. At least not here (in the ‘hood, and surrounding ‘hoods). So if not here, where?

One of my dream streets, one of my dream homes. Completely unattainable.

One of my dream streets, one of my dream homes. Completely unattainable.

read on…

And I’m getting older, too…*

*Lyrics from Stevie NicksLandslide. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain this one.

This year it seems like everyone is rushing to ‘hurry up and get Thanksgiving over with’ so they can get on with the ‘real’ holiday. I mean, from stores opening up ON Thanksgiving, to those stupid emails we all get trying to cram Christmas shopping specials down our throats, it feels like poor little Thanksgiving will be forgotten if we don’t hang on a bit tighter. I for one LOVE Thanksgiving – it is easily my most favorite holiday – and I am sad to see that it is starting to be usurped by commercial interests. Let’s all cling to this moment, and get a little grateful together, shall we?

Walking in nature, even manicured paths, is enough to produce a deep and satisfying gratitude.

Walking in nature, even manicured paths, is enough to produce deep and satisfying gratitude.

There was a challenge laid down that involved photographing and denoting one thing that I’m grateful for each day throughout November. I sort of did that, sometimes in a not so direct way, but I sort of do that all the time. I’m a pretty grateful person, even if I do tend toward the sad side of the spectrum. Gratitude comes as naturally as worry, which make for an interesting inner-stew that can sometimes burn sweet, salty tears of joy when things turn out well.

And, as this is an especially special month – not only is this the classic month for giving thanks, but it is also my birthday month – I thought I ought to illuminate my Top 40 Things I’m Grateful For (in no particular order):

1. My family. They are stupid, and weird, and wonderful, and mostly I don’t know how or who I’d be without them.
2. Nature. Many of my instagram snaps this month were nature-based, and for good reason.
3. Sunsets. An offshoot of my love of nature is my love of the way the sun changes the sky into an evolving painting for about a half-hour each evening. I could watch it every day.

You may tire of seeing semi-constant snaps of this vista, but I shall not. Sunsets everyday. Sunsets for life.

You may tire of seeing semi-constant snaps of this vista, but I shall not. Sunsets everyday. Sunsets for life.

4. Organization. I have the ability to be orderly, and that comes in handy. It is not a skill I inherited, but it is one that I have cultivated over the years, and happily so.
5. New York City. This city isn’t always easy. In fact, it usually isn’t. But, every now and again, being a part of it is magical. There is a huge pile of people who actually care about people, even if they say they don’t. It’s remarkable, and can bring on some salty tears of humanity.
6. Movies. I have watched movies for all of my life, and the joy they bring me, even when they are terrible, is deep.
7. Chocolate. This might seem like a cop-out, but seriously, if it weren’t for this magical product, and all the amazing things we’ve learned to do with it, I don’t know that I’d be as happy to be alive. Simple fact.
8. Photography. I love that we have the ability to easily record our day, to craft our particular emotional vision for that moment, and save it for the future. It makes life so much more romantic.
9. Music. It’s no secret that I’m a music fan. I even started using artists’ lyrics as my blog post titles as a way to set a soundtrack to my own life. Isn’t that the ultimate fantasy?

When I got to see the Local Natives show in September, I barely took any photos, yet I remember the concert as one of the best musical moments of my life.

When I got to see the Local Natives show in September, I barely took any photos, yet I remember the concert as one of the best musical moments of my life.

10. Color. I can’t live without it, just as I couldn’t live without music, and I’m grateful I don’t have to.
11. Wind Chimes. When we moved to our first house, my oldest friends in the world gifted us with a set of wind chimes that we took with us to The Pied when we moved here full-time. The delicate sound is so romantic, and so precious to me. It always reminds me of my friends, and I love that I have a piece of them in my home life.
12. Wine. I have developed a healthy (and at times mildly unhealthy) appreciation of this incredible product. The human knowledge in each bottle, combined with the craft, the gift that is the grape, the care that goes into creating each complex sip makes me grateful for the fellow humans of the earth that understood that we needed this in the world.
13. Art. I am lucky to count myself among the creatively inclined, and I am equally lucky to bear witness to other artists and their work.
14. Instafriends. More so than any other social media platform, Instagram has given me the greatest sense of community, and the gift of finding like-minded individuals to interact with.
15. Seasons. I love that I get to live in a place where the seasonal changes are vast. The sunsets move, the moon changes, the plant life evolves, the human life shifts, and we adapt as a group together. Makes me feel intensely connected to the earth, to those that share it with me, and I love that.

There is no sweeter beauty than spring after a harsh winter.

There is no sweeter beauty than spring after a harsh winter.

16. Baking. Now that we’re fully in cold-weather living I get to create seemingly living things from seemingly inanimate objects (flour, why you gotta just sit there, huh?). Nothing is as comforting as the scents that baking things can emit.
17. Cooking. I love to cook. I love to feel capable, and creative, and useful on a daily basis. Simple cooking, complicated cooking, fast cooking, group cooking, feast cooking, you name it, I love it.
18. Health. I am healthy. I have the odd routine kerfuffle, just like anyone, but I am in good health. I count my lucky stars that I have bounced back from each cold, flu, minor injury, root canal, emotional scrape, hangover, and doctor visit thus far. Not everyone is so lucky, and I know that.
19. Laughing. I have a funny family. We are always laughing (when we’re not crying, see below). My brother is extremely funny. My husband makes me laugh every day, several times a day. I am thankful I get to laugh, easily, always.

My younger sister hamming it up for the camera. This is standard fare in our family. We're not called the 'stupid weird family' for nothing.

My younger sister hamming it up for the camera. This is standard fare in our family. We’re not called the ‘stupid weird family’ for nothing.

20. Crying. No, this isn’t a mistake. I am grateful that I can cry. That I’m not ashamed to express my emotions, happy, sad, whatever. Tears can be healing (if we’re to believe wikipedia), and they can provide a proper vent to keep yourself from exploding. Sometimes crying sucks, but sometimes it’s the best thing. I know you know what I mean.
21. Good sheets. Now, I don’t know about you, but once I became an adult and graduated from polyester-blend sheets, my life improved. Again, simple fact.
22. My eyesight. I do not have perfect vision. I do not have the worst vision, but I can’t see distance clearly. This is going to sound weird, but I actually like it. I like the intimacy that it provides when I’m not wearing glasses/contacts, and the romantic bokeh effect my own vision creates. Sincerely, I’m grateful for it. (Google ‘bokeh effect’, and check out the images!)
23. My hands. I’m a good crafter, can draw reasonably well, and have developed pretty good dexterity over the years (hairdresser training taught me a lot). It’s handy. HEY-oh!

A little self-portrait I did in art school in 2009.

A little self-portrait I did in art school in 2009.

24. Lipstick. Ok, make-up, and beauty stuff in general. Stupid stuff that when used correctly can turn a crappy day into a romantic one. I know it’s superficial, but it’s true.
25. The printing press. One of the greatest and most democratic inventions that man has ever made is the machine built for equal dissemination of information. It’s seriously awesome.
26. Humans. Mostly we say things like, “I hate people” when someone does something thoughtless or careless, but we rarely notice all the thoughtful and careful things we do for each other all the time. The farmer who voluntarily dedicated his life to nourishing other people? The person who pursued art/music/dance as their profession for the sake of contributing to culture, even when it meant struggling to make ends meet? The person who held the door just a little longer to save you some effort? That kid who smiled at you for no reason at all? Thanks, humans.
27. Dogs. Since we no longer have a pup of our own, I have some serious puppy lust. I don’t get bonkers over babies (sorry, babies), but I do love me some sweet dog face. And nose. And wriggly tail. And dog breath. And slobber. I love it all.

Maggie, Jeff's mom's new pup, is too sweet for words.

Maggie, Jeff’s mom’s new pup, is too sweet for words.

28. Numbers. Without the ability to quantify things, and easily communicate that information, we’d be lost. Numbers make life better, no doubt about it.
29. Snow. The silence and insulation from noise that snow provides is so soothing to me. That feeling of aloneness, but not loneliness, of being surrounded by something delicate, yet powerful enough to render sound dampened… it’s pretty neat.
30. Private dance parties. You know when you’re cleaning the house, or doing laundry, or just messing around on your own, and you turn up the music and just go sweaty-nuts? Yeah. That.
31. Sadness. Without it, without knowing what is wrong, without feeling the worst, you could never feel the best, have the joy, or know what is right. Grateful.
32. The internet. Honestly, where would we be without it?
33. Jog bras. A better use of apparel technology I have yet to find.
34. Paint. I LOVE to paint. I love the feeling of paint on a brush, sweeping it across a surface, and mushing it around. One of the reasons I liked doing hair color, and one of the reasons you can always ask me to help you paint your place.
35. Sunshine. Not the same as sunsets, my gratitude here is for the life-giving warmth and vitamin D creating beams. My mood instantly improves with a direct hit, and I’m thankful when I get them.

Late October sunshine warmed my heart and soul.

Late October sunshine warmed my heart and soul.

36. Shoes. I’m not exactly a fashion diva. I don’t have many fancy clothes, and I almost never wear jewelry aside from my wedding band and some earrings. But, shoes. Yeah. Plus, who would want to go through life barefoot? Thanks, shoe makers.
37. Ibuprofen. This stuff has gotten me through some tough moments in the past few years (dental woes, mainly). I’m intensely grateful to live in a time when that kind of relief is available.
38. Mirrors. No, not so I can look at myself (though, they have certainly saved me from leaving the house in stained shirts, or kept me from being laughed at as I walk down the street with a pile of messy hair), but so that I can enjoy reflections of other things. Mirrors give a distanced vantage point that can really shift your perspective on things. Plus, they can help direct some of that much appreciated sunshine around in dark places, which makes them vital to my list.
39. Language. I’m a talker, writer, and generally a word-lover. Languages fascinate me, their variance, their ability to denote emotions and culture, to bridge us together or tear us apart.
40. Jeff. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for his love, for his faith in me, for his willingness to forgive my flaws, and to support my dreams. I wouldn’t know who I was if he hadn’t let me relax into myself. I wouldn’t be able to live in gratitude so easily without his presence in my world. Not unlike a proper Oscar acceptance speech, I saved him for last because he is the most important thing that I’m grateful for.

I am sharing this Thanksgiving with my actual birthday – a feat that I haven’t enjoyed since 2002 (I looked it up) – and I’m turning (gulp) 40. I’m not sure what this all means (probably nothing), or how my life will change from listing my gratitudes, but I encourage you to spend some time listing out yours. Not because you’re having a milestone birthday on a milestone holiday at a freak time in the collective calendar when millions will be celebrating life, miracles (Hannukah begins on my birthday), and giving thanks to each other, but because it feels good to look at your life through grateful eyes. Even if they be misty.

xoxo

People, get ready…*

*Lyrics from People Get Ready as sung by Eva Cassidy. I don’t think I need to explain why this song works here. Well, except that there is a double meaning this week – working on a blog redesign and some exciting new content. So, get ready. Twice.


Photo via instagram (afirepoleinthediningroom).

You don’t need no ticket, you just get on board. And, ok, so you need a TV, and possibly a cable subscription. But, tonight, Heather and Aaron of A Fire Pole in the Dining Room are going to be on HGTV’s House Hunters! Cool people, a drinking game, and a fun behind the scenes look at finding the perfect home on TV makes for a fun evening of entertainment. Or, at least a half hour’s worth.

Check it out, or just check out their blog. You know, if you like original thinkers, creative spaces, and mixing modern with vintage, and clean with character-laden craft.

Congratulations on your big debut, kids!

xoxo

They gotta believe that I’ll never forget you…*

*Lyrics from Ghosts by On An On from their album Give In. I actually wanted to feature a different song, but I couldn’t find the lyrics or make them out well enough myself (which is my kinda music), so I chose their big single. This album was just sitting in the ‘highlights of 2013’ list on iTunes, and I really liked the album art. Sometimes it’s as simple (and stupid) as that. Album is great. Perfect to usher in a new, more relaxed end of summer feeling. Give it a listen on Spotify first. Then purchase and offer to do some errands by yourself so you can listen again.

Sun, surf, shadows, and bare toes. Too bad the only day like that was our first one. I usually like to save the best for last.

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a mental hiatus of sorts. I’ve been letting go of my worries about the future, my melancholy about the past, my general anxiety about all things out of my control… I’ve been trying to, at least. It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a stress monkey, and the past year or so has been taxing. Don’t get me wrong, lots of great things have happened, but stress can mount even with positive change. So I took a break from thinking, from worrying, from planning, from participating. Sometimes that’s the best course of action while you’re waiting for time to heal all wounds, or whatever.

So, we had a vacation in two parts. Part one (which was actually two separate weeks, on in July, one in August) was in the form of hosting my niece for a summer vacation in the big city. She loves New York, and claims that she “hates the country” (which isn’t really true, but she’s ten, so it feels true to her). Getting to experience the city through the eyes of an exuberant and saucer-eyed child is uplifting, and really helped create the feeling in me that ‘yes, I live here!’ We saw museums, we walked too much (on an injured foot), we ate too much restaurant food, we listened joyously to the din that makes up city summer nights, we sweated, we laughed, we rode the subway like locals, we hung with my local sister, we made up fake accents and pretended to be weird characters, we (mostly she and my sister) sang karaoke, we shared an apartment too small to comfortably host guests, we bonded. It was a great distraction from my own bullshit.

read on…

If you wonder where I am, I will tell you just where I am…*

*Lyrics from Moonbeams by Family Band from their album Grace and Lies. I heard this the other night while enjoying a mini bar-like atmosphere at home entertaining Jeff’s business partner for a casual dinner. He has some great music finds, and we often share in the spoils of his exploration. This song was on his summer mix (which I totally want, despite the fact that Jeff is forced to listen to it daily). Plus, the song (and video) sort of suits this post in its melancholy, romance, and oddness. It IS where I am.

Nighttime views of the sunset are one of the few things we’ve done on repeat.

So, ever since we moved back to the city full-time, we’ve been going back and forth up to Massachusetts pretty frequently for various chores: picking up my niece for a week-long visit (a happy chore, but still, a 6 hour trip back and forth); visiting our storage space looking for important documents (that I totally would have brought with us, but a certain someone who shall remain unnamed – uhem, cough <husband>, cough – thought that packing them and storing them at the bottom back of the storage unit was the most efficient solution); showing and selling the car. Basically, we’ve barely spent two weeks in a row in our new place, so finding that day-to-day rhythm has been difficult.

read on…

I’m feelin’ so bad, won’t you make the music easy and sad…*

*Lyrics from Frank Sinatra’s One For My Baby (And One More For The Road). This song pretty much epitomizes my feelings for these past weeks. Plus, who doesn’t have random Frank Sinatra songs rolling through their head, late at night, after a few too many glasses of wine? Lucky for me, I have a patient, understanding, and sympathetic husband who will play me songs while I weep in the middle of the night.

Last look: the foyer. Many things - from finding out about Heath Ledger's passing, to inventing a new nick-name (Bern) for my brother (Ben) - happened here. Cheers to the good times.

I’ve been remiss in filling you in on the progress at the Big House, and The Pied. I’ve been busy. I’ve been deeply sad. I’ve been just trying to get through it. I’m alive, so there’s that. And our house is no longer ours. There’s that, too.

read on…

Some will win, some will lose, some are gonna sing the blues…*

*Alright, this one’s for the locals… you know who you are. Lyrics from Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Journey (with Steve Perry) is my quintessential Massachusetts classic rock band. Go to karaoke here, go witness an entire bar full of people getting hoarse singing (badly in my case) along with whomever is brave and talented enough to cover this song. You will feel joy. You will be in Western Mass.

**UPDATE: We’ve added a credit/debit capability to our sale, so if you don’t have cash or checks, no problem! We’ll have a Square card reader with secure payment options – leave it to my savvy husband to sort that one out. Also, we’re going to be selling our grill (added to the big ticket items below). Hope to see you tomorrow!**

It's a mess now, but I promise there's good stuff in here.

Whether you want to call it a yard sale, a tag sale, or a garage sale, we’re having one this Saturday. Forecast so far is good – hot, but good – so on we will press.

A smattering of the goods that will be available:

kitchen goods, linens, craft supplies, holiday ornaments, sporting equipment, lamps, side tables, sofa tables, indoor/outdoor tables, coffee table, bookcases, Haier mini-fridge, yard maintenance tools, vases, baskets, curtains, area rug, rug pads, fans, ladies’ shoes (size 8), suitcases, bathroom supplies, towels, bedding, art, movies, books, speaker stands, fireplace accoutrements, and the odd un-burned CD. (I’m certain I’m leaving somethings out, but you get the general idea.)

Big ticket items are as follows (I will update this list if anything sells via craigslist before Saturday):

  • lawnmower – asking $75 or best offer (brand: Toro, gas powered)
  • snowblower – 520E Ariens – asking $275 or best offer (originally retailed for $689 in 2008 or 2009)
  • antique teak dining table/desk – asking $1000 firm
  • solid walnut round coffee table – asking $700 firm – in good condition, retails new for $999
  • media/TV cabinet – asking $650 or best offer
  • treadmill – asking $750 or best offer
  • grill, gas, Weber Genesis series (it’s the S-320, but it appears to be discontinued), stainless steel, with two propane tanks, and assorted accessories – $400 or best offer (this one hurts a little, it’s a great grill, but we just can’t bring it along)

If you’re interested in anything listed on craigslist, best to contact us through that route as Jeff is managing that part of the sale. Or just show up sometime on Saturday and fight it out with the rest of them.

Everything MUST go, so make us an offer. Hopefully we can’t refuse.

See you this Saturday, June 1st, from 9am to 3pm on Princeton Street in Holyoke, MA for our last hurrah. And let’s hope for good weather, shall we?

xoxo

 

And I love you, I love you, I love you, like never before…*

*Lyrics from Eva Cassidy‘s Songbird. One of the saddest songs I could think of, yet somehow beautiful, and sweet, and true. I think this song has become a dreaded ‘wedding song’ so now I can ruin it for everyone by using as my ‘leaving the only home I’ve ever known’ song.

**UPDATE: Rain date for the yard sale will be June 2nd, same time, same place. Something tells me that 49 degrees and raining won’t bring the shoppers out in droves. **

FYI: LOCALS We’ll be having a yard sale/tag sale/garage sale next Saturday, June 2nd, from 9-3pm, so come with cash, and don’t be afraid to ask for a deal. Everything must go. Unless we can’t bear to part with it, in which case we’ll be making the fool-hearty decision to store it in the hopes of using in the future. So, yeah, come by and talk some sense into us.

Lilacs in full bloom, on sunshine-filled day a few weeks ago.

As the rain sprinkles down on the lush and green lawn, lilac scent still hanging deliciously in the air, I look around at the madness, clutter and chaos of our move, and sigh. We’ve spent nearly 6-1/2 years here, more than I can say I’ve ever spent in one spot – ever – and I can’t really imagine not having this spot to come back to. This house, this home, has come to represent a childhood dream realized: to have a place to call home was that dream fulfilled, and one that I am reluctant to give up.

read on…

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