Saturday, November 28, 2015


Perhaps the most obvious, and certainly the most important, thing that I am grateful for in my life is friends.

Whether it's Thanksgiving dinner with good friends I have known for almost half my life (yikes!), dessert and puzzle gatherings and a mom's night out with Beatrix's school friends' families, impromptu dinner and pie, or calls and emails and Facebook messages over then holiday weekend, or even shopping at places where I know and like the owners, I feel like I have totally won in the friendship department.

And I think Beatrix, whose holiday weekend has been equally full of playdates and gatherings, feels the same way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Quiet I

More to post later on what I've been grateful for the past few days.

Tonight I am focused on the fact that though my Myers-Brggs typo has always firmly been ENTJ (years ago, when I was first tested, Vijit said I was the most strong example he had ever seen), lately I seem to slide I when I am super-stressed.

Tonight, the thing I most loved was that I sat down to finally watch the movie Wild with my husband, and that I have shelves and shelves of books I could read. I feel like hiding for a week and only reading.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Paper (Tiger)

It's a good thing I started this day of thankful thing because today would have been a good day to ignore it. Kind of blah and weighted down.

So I'm grasping a little and landed on a project that Beatrix and I actually did yesterday, making candleholders by putting maps and book pages around jars. But I think it turned out super-cute:

I also spent some time tonight fixing a project that has been weighing me down for a long time. The back hallway is covered with brown paper, and over time (and kids) some of it has been ripped or peeled up. So tonight I took some time to paste it all down again and repair some areas — let's hope it matches.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

You're Lucky to Even Know Me, You're Lucky to Be Alive

Again, a lot of great parts to today.

But the high point was a house concert tonight.

It was Beatrix's first violin public performance; a few weeks back, her incredible teacher Kelsey asked if she could do it, and she wanted to, so she has been practicing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (or Baa Baa Black Sheep, or the ABC song, depending on how you think of it) since then. It's been a hard few weeks of practice, and she literally only got a strong hold on it minutes before we left for the concert, when Patrick came up with the idea of videoing it and showing her what she was doing wrong. It was like a light bulb came on, and just in time too.

So an hour later, we're sitting on the living room of a quintessential Saint Anthony Park home, the kind I grew up knowing, with a strong architectural sense, full of mismatched mugs and flyers about peace rallies and arts events, picture everywhere, candles burning — a place I feel very at home in, and with an audience of interesting people. Beatrix plays her piece and it's not perfect, but my heart is bursting with pride that she got through it. The Ladies Music Club (whose concert it was) were enormous fun to listen to, and were highly inspirational to Beatrix.

Near the end she leaned over to me and said "Are they going to be done soon and we'll have to go home?"

"Probably in a few songs. Are you getting bored?"

"No, that's just the problem, I don't want to leave."

It's a good night of music when you don't want to leave.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Happy Advent - Donuts

This time of year is always really hard for me. AND I am having a super-stressy deadline month.

So I am starting Happy Advent — hopefully I can stick with it. One thing I am happy for every day.

Today I am happy for donuts. Specifically, my friend Pablo hosting a donut party at Heartland, and getting to bring my daughter to it. For amazing sugar donuts (how could I have forgotten I like sugar donuts?) For a table full of Dans and one in particular. For spending time with and having an excellent conversation with my old friend Mischa and his adorable son Sasha. For remembering that I love Saint Paul and its hangouts, and that there are fantastic people in the Twin Cities. Thank you, Pablo!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wrong Approach

I stayed up last night, unwilling to be torn from my Twitter feed, watching the situation unfold with the Black Lives Matter protests outside Minneapolis' 4th Precinct. I was amazed at the bravery and persistence of the protesters, and it takes some special kind of guts for CM Lisa Bender to say to an officer "If you want to shoot someone, shoot me."

I am all for supporting those who enforce our laws, but I think the police are wrong here, for any number of reasons.

But the main reason I think that this is a major error on the part of the MPD is because, for as long as I can remember, the police force has said that the Northside and that precinct is especially difficult to address, that they are doing the best that they can, but that its simply impossible to keep order there.

And now they are actively fighting against — assaulting with mace and rubber bullets — the very people who are proving that they give a damn about that community and their city and are willing to fight to make things better. Imagine if we had a police that was smart enough and cared enough to engage these people to work better to make improvements. But instead, the alienation and hurt that they are actively fostering will take years, if not generations, to heal.

It's a mistake of enormous proportions by those who are supposed to be our leaders and protectors, and I grieve for that.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Those of you who know me well know how obsessed I have been with "Hamilton" lately. Which, even before yesterday, has had me thinking about how America may have descended from England, but owes its freedom to France. A nation of immigrants, stemming from the best of these two great countries, and the hearts and souls of all over the world.

You'll also know then, that I disapprove of co-opting tragedy. I have a number of friends and acquaintances in Paris (mainly from my Jeune Lune days), and they are all safe. We're not in Paris until June. I can't even begin to comprehend the pain of those who were directly affected — I just can't.

But this tragedy in Paris affects us all in a very global way. And I don't know what to do or what to think, except to hold my daughter close.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Give to the Max Day 2015

I'm not the only one conflicted about Give to the Max Day, as I can tell from emails and posts from my colleagues. It's a confusing day, where you want to participate in the festival-like atmosphere, while making sure your donors understand, really understand, how much they mean to you and how that relationship is important.

This year it's earlier than usual — before the 15th of the month for the first time — and people aren't ready, or thinking about end of the year giving. And there's a lot of confusion about the site and how to give and fees and the like.

And I'm distracted by our own needs around here: a girl with tricky new orthodontia, a house that has to be finished, a dog (not ours) that needs a home, and other deadlines.

Still, I think it's important to think about giving and why you support the things that are important to you. Today's a good day to do that, because it's fun and easy and you'll feel good participating in the carnival. But any day is good. If it's easy to give online, do that — or your gift will have more impact (because no fees!) if you send a check directly.

I have a bizillion clients and suggestions:
IFP Minnesota (who doesn't love film?)
Circus Juventas (it's the closest thing to running away with the circus)
Mental Health MN (because we have all had mental health issues at some point)
KidsPark (for cooperative flexible childcare)
The Caux Round Table (a moral capitalism think tank, right here in MN)
Mixed Precipitation (it's picnic, it's opera, it's both)
Theatre Novi Most (Patrick sits on the board but has no time to pimp it today)
Skewed Visions (site specific awesome work)
Sounds of Hope (world peace through music)
Summit Ave Residential Preservation Assn (preservation)

and many more, if you have money burning a hole in your pocket.

But honestly, if you have just a few dollars to spare for a new to you organization, I would actually point you to my dad's first-time pitch, which I thought was heartfelt and amazing:
Just learned that since Medtronics’ move to Ireland, their help in funding The Bakken Museum has taken a big nosedive. As a result, the museum is launching an internal campaign to celebrate the museum’s 40th birthday. I know that GiveMN is coming up next week and that you often encourage your twitter mates to select local causes for donations. Would you consider suggesting The Bakken as one of those choices. An anonymous benefactor has pledged a match of up to $40,000 for all donations received by Dec. 10. I donated $40.00 already to qualify for the matching gift. I would hate to see the museum have to cut back on some of its programs. Thanks for your consideration.
Love, your father
So my vote for someplace extra to throw a $10 donation today and feel really good about yourself? The Bakken.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Why Our Words Have Meaning

This post is one of the most cut-to-the-chase, insightful posts I have ever read (by my friend Nora, who is awesome, but the piece would be just as striking to me if I did not know her). Take a minute to read it. I'll wait.

Ok, you're back. Hopefully you're bowled over — I was, and I can identify with the experience because it happens to me All The Time. Maybe you've never thought of it that way before, and now you are, and that's cool too.

But hey, if you're one of the many (and I am sure there are some of these in the comments to her original post by now, I haven't looked because I have learned that my cardinal rule of life is "Don't read the comments"), who is still thinking "What's the big deal? He didn't even know he said anything. He was just trying to be nice" — I challenge you to reconsider. Hard.

Our words have meaning. Everything we say. When I present something for a client, what I say and how I say it is every bit as important as the data I am giving them. When I snap at my daughter without thinking, it can wound her for days and affect everything else she does. Ninety-nine percent of my disagreements with my husband come from communication misunderstandings. And those instances are from people I have relationships with, who can at least take my words in a general context.

What you say matters (even if you are a jerk). So own that power. Make it matter. Only say what you mean — and then 100% mean what you say.

And never, ever, tell anyone to "just smile" out of context. (However, if it's something like "Smile, because I love you and here's some chocolate and I just got us tickets for Hamilton tonight and our plane leaves in 90 minutes" I will accept it!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tweet Grants

A little over a year ago, Patrick and I sponsored a project called #TweetSmallChange. Funded by our pocketbooks, it had a 48 hour submission process where people tweet-pitched their prospective projects (organizations, individual artists, it didn't matter). We got, I don't know, a little over 100 submissions and gave out ten $140 grants. (If you can't guess why the amount was $140, you should give up on Twitter, now.)

It was an incredible experiment. For one person, it was her first arts grant — and let's just go on to say she has gotten many more! We connected an artist with an arts gallery/shop. The other day I framed a set of prints another visual artist created. A local company learned the effectiveness of multiple tweets.

I was reminded of that tonight when I belatedly realized it was the final day for #deluxecares, a Tweet-an-Application program from the local Deluxe Company. I did shoot off a few tweets for clients, and took a quick look at the other submissions. There are  a lot of incredible organizations in the world.

But I can't help but feel a little mournful that #TweetSmallChange is not the only twitter-grant program out there anymore — and to feel even worse that we just don't have the funds right now to run another round. But hopefully we will, sooner rather than later.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Last year, Beatrix began having very firm opinions on Halloween — on decorations, her costume, preferred candy, etc. Last year was also the first year she wanted to trick-or-treat with school friends, which was fine with us, because we had a blast going around to the neighborhoods around her school including the famous "Halloween Street."

This year, it multiplied. The kids formed a mini-pack, running from house to house as Dave coached them ("That one, there, with the orange lights on! Go!!") and the parents trailed behind, talking and laughing. Halloween Street was just as delightful as we remembered. Some houses gave out the coveted full-sized candy bars. And as we walked along in the late afternoon sun, kicking leaves, I was astounded how idyllic it was.

Later than night we hit a front-yard bonfire and told ghost stories, and then gathered at a house for delicious snacks and hot chocolate with horchata and more conversation. It was perfect!

(I have to say, though, my own personal Halloween horror was the infill housing going in in Macalester-Groveland. Each block seems to have some (often unsold), badly designed new construction that in my opinion is really harming the integrity and value of the neighborhood as a whole. I'm actually very worried about it).