Sunday, March 27, 2016

Five Days at Memorial

This is not a newly-released book, and I have read excerpts from it before, as well as heard about it on MPR. However, I was compelled to read it in full after a holiday story this year about Christmas lights being seen in Charity Hospital, another one of central hospitals closed after the flood. When you walk through New Orleans, even today, you realize that Katrina is not a 10-year-past incident, but is now, for better or for worse, a part of the story of a remarkable city.

And so I read the book for the story, and the first part of the book told it well. It comes as close as any account I have read to actually living the experience, the agonizing pain and decisions and not-knowing. It's totally gripping.

Part 2 ("The Reckoning") loses this urgency, but gives important consideration into the investigation of the patient deaths (and at least there was an investigation). The Epilogue then gives a summary of lessons learned.

And that's the power of a book like this. Why read it now, seven years after the ProPublica article and eleven years after the flood? Because I am aft arid we still have not learned those lessons....

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

New York, New York

So what else did we do in the Big Apple? Pardon the list post:

Day 1:
-  Met Patrick's friends at the food court at Grand Central.
-  Checked out the GC ceiling (Beatrix was super-excited to see it in a movie today).
-  Took the Staten Island Ferry so we could see the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks.
-  Ate at Becco.
-  And, of course, Hamilton.

Day 2:
-  Brunch in Brooklyn with friends.
-  Checked out Dylan's Candy Bar (and a toy shop that had breathable puppy toys, Beatrix's likely favorite part of the trip.
-  Met our awesome friends Megan and Trixie for frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3.
-  Walked to Central Park for a carriage ride (our horse was named Blackie).
-  Checked out The Plaza and the Eloise store there.
-  Walked down 5th Avenue and window shopped.
-  Beatrix picked out Don't Tell Mama for dinner, and then we had to go back to Becco to get her the dessert she was craving.
-  An early night.

Day 3:
-  Free family tour at MOMA.
-  The requisite terrible, cabdriver ripped you off cab ride.
-  Real New York pizza in SOHO.
-  Rice pudding at Rice to Riches.
-  Checked out Chinatown and Canal Street shops (no watches or purses, but Beatrix bought a scarf).
-  Walked around the Battery and rode in the sea glass carousel.
-  Went to Trinity Church and found Alexander and Eliza Hamilton's graves (Phillip's was too worn to read and we could not find Angelica's).
-  Checked out the World Trade Center memorial site.
-  Dinner at the Grand Central Shake Shack (Patrick's restaurant choice).

Friday, March 25, 2016


It's taken me a week to even put coherent thoughts together on the show. For four days of that, I was on a high from seeing it. For the last three days, I have been depressed I won't see it again. In the words of the NYT review — "Yes, it really is that good."

I mean, you don't need a synopsis; the show is about Alexander Hamilton. You know it's popular; it's totally sold out, with literally no tickets available, and block-long lines nightly waiting for any chance of returns. You know I love the show, because you have put up with me listening to it and quoting it and referring to it for months. And if you have caught even the briefest snippet of it on video (because really that's all that exists), you know it's good.

So it's good, but why is it important?

And I don't know that I can put that into words.

Because sure, language is crucial in Hamilton. Crackling, fast-paced, high energy words shot across the stage like revolutionary bullets, each phrase with an entire page of backstory (just look at Genius if you don't believe me, but don't blame me when you lose the better part of a weekend going down that rabbit hole).

But so is the music. The nods to hundred different sources. The incredible voices. The (unseen) pit musicians, playing do furiously that you can't even imagine what it's like down there, but you can feel the energy coming up through the spinning floorboards.

And the staging — the corps representing a hundred different moments, always in motion (except when they need to be perfectly still), surrounding the main characters. The performances of the main characters, each one so very precise and different from each other yet fitting together so well that you can't possibly imagine the show in any other iteration than you are seeing at that very moment. You fall a a little bit in love with every one of them every minute.

The visual impact, where the entire story just maybe could be told through the lighting design. Or that set, which has its own pop-up card sold with the mercy. Or the costumes...

So when you ask me if Hamilton lived up to my expectations, I have to answer no. Because there is no way I could have imagined the magnitude of it. There is honestly no other way to describe it except life-changing. It both makes me believe in the power of theatre and simultaneously despair, because nothing else could possibly be that good.

To Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the entire cast and artistic crew, thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Left Bank

I seem to be all about coloring books featuring Paris lately. It must mean that I am excited to go there for our anniversary in June!

My latest, Paris Street Style, is a lot of fun to color. It’s beautifully bound, in a square shape, with a moleskin-like elastic binder to keep it together. The cover is slightly heavier than the pages, which are a good weight for coloring — smooth, and just heavy enough to take the color, but not too thick. My only complaint is that the binding is a little tight, so it can be a little hard to open flat to color.

The pictures inside are a nice variety — some clothing items, some details, some patterns, and even a few boutique storefronts.

Until this June, this plus a croissant and a cup of dark coffee is as close as I am getting to sitting in a sidewalk café on the Left Bank!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

and on the author:

Saturday, March 12, 2016


This morning we stopped at Poppy on the way in to circus — because it's a sale today (15% off spring stuff!), and there were muffins and orange juice, and I had won a gift certificate, and I love to see Jill.

I had seen these bracelets last year, but not bought one, and I have regretted it since. So I snapped it up today.

It's my plan for the year.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Seagull

It's been a l-o-n-g week. And yesterday was an even longer day. I wanted to just lie in bed — But it was the opening night for The Seagull at Theatre Novi Most, so off we went. And I am SO glad we did.

I'm pretty good at my Chekhov (thanks to Tufts for that), and I especially know The Seagull very well. It's a play where, though I cannot recite every line, I certainly know each one, and have a great feeling of familiarity when I hear them. With this incredible cast, to some extent it was like coming home.

But this time it was also extremely different. I came to know The Seagull when I was younger, when Konstantin and Nina seemed like the real characters to me, when the story was the creation of the new and its conflict with the old.

And now — well, now I am Arkadina, and I have a new sense of sympathy for Masha and even Medvedenko and Sorin, characters I had often almost written off before. In fact, I now found myself irritated with Nina and Konstantin (with their characters, not the actors, who were fantastic). How things change!

I had also not paid much attention to the importance of the entire cast and their relationship before, and that was very clear and important last night.

A fantastic show.

If you have not seen The Seagull before, this is the perfect version to see. If you think you know it well and don't need to see it again, this is the one that will prove you wrong. Don't miss it.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Art of Collage

My friend Nine taught me about the power of a journal when I was twelve years old. And over the years I have kept a number of them  — written, visual, a combination of both. They have been great places for me to go back to as touchstones, to see how much I have changed, and even more so, how many of my values and ideas have remained consistent.

At the same time, I have been an utter fail at "milestone books." I have a half-finished wedding album, and a half-done baby book.

I also have stacks upon stacks of images and things that speak to me pulled out of magazines, and no way to refer to them besides digging through dusty file folders. Even in the days of Pinterest, it's the real paper that strikes me

So a book like Collage This Journal is tailor-made for someone like me. It's full of ways to think about where I am now, and where I have been. and where I want to be.

Who or What do you wish was Closer to you has a pair of binoculars. I already have a picture of my mom and a beach lined up.

Create Footprints using pictures of the places you've been - is going to be chock-a-block.

Plant things would want to see Grow in your Life - is the most exciting page in the book for me.

I'm so excited to take on this book, and I hope to include excerpts of it over the year!

Here's some more info on the book:

Also, FTC compliance, I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review." (but all opinions are mine).