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Showing posts from 2019

Summer of Fun

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In past years I've had Summer of Peacocks, Summer of Gin, and Summer of Rosé. Last year, though, was Summer of Death. Since then. I've had a year of making up for the time I took off to deal with my dad to have Fall, Winter, and Spring of Too Much Work.

So I'm declaring this summer the Summer of Fun. I'm going to work on puzzles and stay up late watching movies. I'm going to lie on the hammock and read. I'm going to take the dogs for walks. I'm going to hang out in the back yard and drink wine with friends (ok, not tonight because it's raining). I'm hoping for some great cocktails. I'm going to enjoy the heck out of hanging with Beatrix before she goes into middle school and starts not wanting to spend time with me.

And actually I'm hoping to do a lot of nothing. Or at least some of that.

I'm going to start Summer of Fun Friday night with a pool party. I hope you'll be there. But if not, we  have all summer.

When Theater Lies to You

I've bene lucky enough, in the last week, to have seen Caught by Full Circle Theater Company  and Birds of the Future by Skewed Visions — two similar yet very different shows that have turned things up-side down for me.

In both, you enter the world of the piece by entering through a very visual set space; in Caught, a gallery, and in Birds, more like my dad's basement. Both then bring you abruptly into their worlds;  in Caught that is a world of evocative words as expressed by incredible performances, and in Birds, a world of very physical performance, punctuated by a few sections of very visceral language. Caught is a more linear piece, which makes the way it spins you on your head all the more surprising. In a Skewed Visions piece, you expect to be turned around, but you still at some point sit with your neck craned wondering "How did I get here?"

Both are incredible shows (and with low ticket prices), and run for one more week. I can't recommend enough the exp…

Becoming a Learner

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This morning, I attended Beatrix's LAST "Randy's Races" track and field day at Randolph Heights. It was, fittingly, just about as cold as it was for her first one in kindergarten, when Ms. Nelson broke away from her all day off-campus training to run down and whip her huge class of hellions into angelic shape, and when the entire kindergarten class ended the day by all doing the Michael Jackson "Killer" dance with Ms. Kritta. They were so tiny that many of them cried when they could not scoot their cart across the tennis court or fell out of their burlap sack as they hopped.

Today, they were much bigger. They handled the games with aplomb, as well as a lot of joy. Beatrix was chosen as one of the older kids to help with some of the younger classes. And I almost cried because the lasts are coming fast and furious now.



Immediately after, Patrick and I whipped down to a Character Recognition Luncheon by the Synergy and Leadership Exchange (the Global Executive…

Some Days

Some days you end up doing yard work over your lunch break because it's the only time you can and it's about to rain for 7 days straight. So you are in a pencil skirt and (low sensible) heels cutting down stems and raking things and thinking that there has to be a better way.

But there wasn't, really, because it was just this last weekend you got the all clear to cut down dead stems because it's been a late spring and pollinator bees were still hibernating in them. And over the weekend you worked all day Saturday and didn't want to tackle this particular yard work on mothers day, though you did do some other yard work.

So the pollinators are safe and you are cutting the stems and you have mulch in your shoe and you are thinking about this is then first year you knew not to cut the stems, and even though it's a PITA to be doing yard work on a random Wednesday afternoon it still seems like a reasonable price to pay for a pollinator or two. And you feel bad you ha…

You Betcha!

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Recently, I helped a new friend set up her Quickbooks. She has a great food subscription box company called the You Betcha! Box, and as a thank you, she sent me one!

Its delivery was actually a little anticlimactic; I came home to find the subscription box, along with a box containing some new Danskos I had ordered, placed squarely in the path of a mini-waterfall off of our porch roof. Thank you, substitute mail dude (our regular guys incredibly careful, so I know it was not him!)



I had seen some of Katie's other boxes while I was there working on Quickbooks, but know this would be the best one as soon as I opened it:



First there was some great information about the small Minnesota vendors in the box, plus a coupon for a tour of a distillery in Carver (yum):. Years ago, I worked with an arts consortium forming in Carver, so I am excited to head out there and see what they have been up to! Plus, I love the focus on music education:



Then we got to the snacks, some great, distinctive…

The Rest of New York

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My friend Laura writes amazing travel blog posts and I always aspire to be more like her in that. But now it's been almost 2 weeks since we have been home, and I had better get my thoughts about New York down right quick!

We got to see my friend Dawn's lovely apartment (and she made us breakfast). I'm so thrilled as to where she is in her life!

We say the amazing White Noise by Suzan-Lori Parks at the Public (my first show at the Public!). It was a little too old, likely for Beatrix, but honestly riveting for all of us. And we ran into our neighbor, Carol, and her fantastic daughter Tiffany, a photographer who lives in New York. We were so busy chatting to them after the show that we stuck around forever — just long enough to see David Diggs come out and tell him what a mind-blowing job he had done! He was charming and gracious and very quiet. (Want to know more? Studio 360 has a new piece on it that ran tonight!)

We stopped in to Steamy Hallows, a Harry Potter pop-up coff…

There Is Power in the Union

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Living in London in 1987.

Listening to Billy Bragg.

Feeling like only someone who felt like that about that about Thatcher could understand how I felt about Reagan.

Walking up the stairs from the Tube stop and having my friend Fran say "I don't know how someone could break up with you because they thought you were 'too mainstream.'"

Being in a small club (Dingwalls? The Hackney Empire? Somewhere in Highgate? I don't know...) seeing Billy Bragg live for the first time.

Wearing out my live cassette tape of "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry" while drinking cheap wine from the corner store.

Understanding what it meant to be part of a force. Finding myself.

Feeling the importance of a union now even more that I understand it better (hat tip to SEIU).

Tonight seeing Billy Bragg at the Fine Line was part of all that, just *a few* years later.

Magic. Thank you

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Spoiler: There Was an Intermission

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I interrupt my blog travelogue to talk about the Amanda Palmer concert last night, a 4-hour epic event that reminded me that compassion and empathy are complicated, and often come from where you least expect it — and simultaneously don't come from where you might.

The scene: a packed O'Shaughnessy Auditorium. The mostly female, overwhelmingly white, audience is varied in age from goth teens to stately grandmothers. The lobby has tables from Planned Parenthood to Amanda's merchants and Patreon tables. Everyone knows they are here for something extraordinary.

And extraordinary it is. The concert is not long because Amanda *Fucking* Palmer plays thousands of songs. It's long because each song is long (6-11 minutes), and because for every song, she sets the tone by telling the story of how it came about. Each story is a nautilus of a piece that winds back around itself and leads you somewhere unexpected. It's an incredible look into how they were written and how her t…

Beaches to Broadway

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Normally, when we are in New York, we have just a short time so decide to stay in Midtown. This time, though we had an equally short time, we decided to stay with our friends Julie and Neil in Brooklyn and prioritize together time, and I'm so glad we did!

(This is where I admit I had been to Brooklyn just once before in my life, to go to Julie's, and I had generally looked down on it as Not Manhattan and also Way Too Hipster. This trip was a great chance to eliminate those stereotypes.)

When we arrived Thursday, the construction in LaGuardia was causing a huge transportation backup; you had to take a shuttle, which took well over 45 minute, just to get to the taxi stand, which was still better than a 90 minute wait and over $100 fee for Lyft. So we did not get to Julie's until about 7:30, but we got delicious Thai food and then got ice cream at Ample Hills and got a little driving tour of Brooklyn.

Friday we got kind of a later start and took the subway in to go to the Gugge…

Moon Over Miami

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Most people are surprised that I really like Miami. I'm not sure why — maybe they associate it only with the party scene, or with the seemingly endless number of famous-in-their-own-mind Instagrammers taking nonstop beach shots as they walk in the sand in a bikini and stilettos, or with a "lack of culture."

But what I see when I think of Miami is a gorgeous beach, where I can lay in a beach chair and watch Beatrix play in the waves in her mermaid tail. Where we can get a few fancy drinks and tacos and sit in a cabana by our rooftop pool. Where we can walk in the warmth along Ocean Avenue and take in the Deco buildings. Where we can eat outside in pedestrian-mall streets with glowing lanterns and where I can eat all the seafood I want, or Cuban food in a courtyard, or even just have a nutella croissant and strong Italian coffee for breakfast while still being outside in the warmth. Where even the chain stores like Lush seem somehow more interesting, and where I can walk t…

Vacation Bookends

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Today, when Beatrix was at "sharing time" at school, we were surprised that some of the things she talked about were not just the things we did on vacation, but things here at home too.

For instance, she talked about how she got her hair cut the day before we left. But hey, our hair person is pretty awesome!

And hey, I eased into spring break by attending Bob Mould at the Turf Club with my awesome friend Katharine, who regularly encourages me to stretch my boundaries. It had been years since I had been to the Turf Club! But there we were. lining up as the doors opened, so we could be sure to get a table and to see the opening act — an all-female trio called Last Import that met at She Rock and who were so much fun to watch.



And then Bob Mould came on and he was fantastic! I don't think I've actually seen him play since I was technically legal to go into a bar to do so (hint: that's a long time). But he (along with his drummer and bass) were great — really energet…

Weekend Away (Here)

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Though Beatrix gets lots of long weekends from school (this one was for conferences, in which she did very well, thank you), we are always bad at planning getaways during them. There always seems to be some obligation we have here (usually my work, sigh) that keeps us from being able to go.
But this weekend, even here, we were able to do a few "bucket list" items!
The "corpse flower" at the U of M greenhouse started blooming on Thursday. It only blooms every 3-10 years (we were told the one here is on the frequent end of that cycle), but I had never made it over to see it. Patrick is very smell-sensitive, but we watched some live cam feed of it and psyched himself up, so after meetings on Friday afternoon we headed over.
The flower itself had bloomed for less time than expected, so it was somewhat deflated, even in less than 24 hours. But that was good news for Patrick, because the smell (which really was like rotting meat) was contained. It really was cool to see…

Cindy Gallea and the Iditarod

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Last year, Beatrix and I went on a mother-daughter dogsledding trip that was nothing short of life-changing (here's the blog post on it). There, we met incredible musher and nurse-practioner Cindy Gallea, who at that point had run the Iditarod 14 times. So this year, when she made the choice to run her fifteenth — and last — Iditarod, Beatrix and I became avid followers of the race.

And honestly, it's quite a decision. Cindy is 67. She works full-time. She maintains 53 dogs (or at least that's how many she had last year), and training them is another full-time job. The Iditarod is not a cheap, or an easy-to-achieve hobby. And as I said before, this was her fifteenth run. She's amazing.

I had known about the Iditarod, but not followed it actively before, and it is fascinating! Both he winner and the "Red Lantern" (final one into Nome) awards went to Bethel, Alaska natives, another place I have a deep respect for because it's where my amazing doctor friend …

(Another) Snow Day

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Yesterday was supposed to be another big snow day. Classes and events were preemptively cancelled, with the first big blast likely coming around noon. I went out to brunch with a group of girlfriends, then came home and waited. I had a big list of things to do: sledding! snowball fights! baking! movies! cocktails! family games! Beatrix's SPA essay! reading! cleaning!

And so we waited. It got grayer and grayer, but no snow.

Beatrix cloistered herself in the library and got her essay done, in one draft.

No snow, but then it started to rain. Patrick changed course and headed to the hardware store to get pet-safe salt (Winston has had it up to here with ice this winter....)

Finally, we decided to tackle the front bookcase. I've been frustrated lately, knowing I've had a ton of books I want to read and not knowing where they were. I've bought duplicate copies of things, because I have not been able to find them. It's incredibly frustrating. Plus, of all the things we…

Night of the Penguin

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I rarely talk about my previous marriage. Honestly, we're both better off. For people whose values were very similar at the beginning, something changed, and I don't know what. The year we got divorced, I left my job of 12 years, my mom was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, my cat got diabetes, and I was diagnosed with a major health issue. To some extent, the divorce seemed the least of it.

Still, we had spent ten years married (and 6 years living together before) building a life together, and the hardest part was letting go of dreams of the future.

And as much as things are just things, dividing some of those was hard too. I still miss Dancing Rabbit Blow Horn every time we put up the Christmas tree. And I've often missed the penguin ice bucket we had, reminiscent of many years of the Night of the Penguin benefit balls, and "walk like a penguin" during icy winters.

I've recently become involved with a great group called Little Hopes on Facebook, a group dedic…

There's a Place for Fun in Your Life

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Winter has beaten us down. We're badly in need of a vacation. Pictures of friends having fun at Mardi Gras are depressing me and spring break seems a lifetime away.

So today (yet another day Beatrix had off school), we decided to go the Mall of America. Despite living 10 minutes from the largest mall in the country, we rarely go there (or any other malls, really....)

But someone on a neighborhood board had given me a set of free ride wristbands, so we thought what the heck....

And as staycations go, it was a pretty good one. Despite neither Patrick nor Beatrix being much for rides, we went on several (including one where you shoot ghosts that Beatrix wanted to go on twice). We spent forever in tween heaven stores like 5 Below and Claire's. We smelled every candle at Bath and Body Works. We introduced Beatrix to the joys of Lush. We people-watched. We went on our last visit to the soon-to-be-closing American Girl store. And we had big, delicious milkshakes (the one that Patrick…

Cookies in the Snow

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There was a big debate on a  neighborhood Facebook page the other day (remember, neighborhood FB pages are microcosms of all kinds of neighborhood angst) about whether or not Girls Scouts should be selling cookies door to door. Our Girl Scout council is clear — they strongly encourage the girls to sell door to door, in fact, it's almost a requirement. Beatrix usually gets home too late from school and circus to sell, but tonight we had a little time after music (Monday is her "easy" night), so we headed out. In the dark. With a sled.


Ok, it was cold. But honestly, as it seems like we are in the Longest Winter Ever, I'm enjoying it to some extent. Even in the middle of the city, there's something about being outside in the crisp winter air that feels really great. I wish I had skis or snowshoes to do more of it.

It's also great walking around your neighborhood after people have been shut in for awhile. One neighbor was holding her investment club meeting (isn&…

On Want

So I'm apparently the worst mom in the world. Tonight Beatrix ended up in tears — many tears — because I had told her that if she wanted to do mom and daughter horse camp (which is kind of insanely priced), she had to come up with $25 in cookie credits, or of her own money, or a combination thereof.

So tonight she was looking through the prizes, but the only way she was going to end up with enough cookie credits AND the prizes she wanted was to sell something like 895 boxes of cookies (so now you know where to go for your cookies....)

Which got me thinking about want. It can be such a powerful motivator to achieve, to do your best, to  succeed. It can also be so debilitating when you don't get there. And while today it may be a bunch of girl scout prizes that have an unfortunate propensity for breaking easily, at another time it's a job, or a friendship, or a house.

Sometimes it's even just the one-of-a-kind chair at the corner antique shop that would have gone perfect…

You're Different in the Woods...

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So I love Ten Thousand Things Theater, and I even get to consult with them occasionally. But I was anxious to see their newest piece, because they've recently transitioned to new artistic director Marcela Lorca (whose work I've loved in the past, but let's face it, she has big shoes to fill...), and because Into the Woods is one of Beatrix's favorite shows, though she's only seen the movie version. So it's with no small amount of trepidation that we headed through a snowy parking lot into a senior center on University Avenue the other night.

I should not have worried.

Into the Woods is such an unusual piece — where just where you think it's going to end happily ever after, well, it DOESN'T and suddenly most of the cast is dead and you are taking a whole new position on what resiliency actually means.

Mix that with a virtuoso one-man music director (though several talented cast members did play instruments as well), incredible costumes by Sonya Berlovitz,…

1099s - No Need to Fear

I don't write much about my work in this blog, which is perhaps a mistake. Really, the only time you get a sense that I am really busy is when I don't write much, like during January when I am completely overwhelmed with getting everyone's tax forms out. Every now and then I think about starting a business-related blog, but I know I would never keep up with that, either. So, like my somewhat pathetic Pinterest feed which seems to be all about cocktails and kids birthday parties, there's not much here about what I think about what I do — ant what I spend the majority of my time on. Which means, if I'm writing about it now, it must really be on my mind.

I've just spent an especially rocky January arguing with people about 1099 vs. W2 payments (that is, contractors vs. employees). So, based on that, and with hopes of a less rocky future, here are a few thoughts:

1) 1099 is not simply an alternative kind of payment — it's an alternate kind of work. I say this v…

We're Not Gonna Pay Rent

Rent is an ingrained part of me. I remember when it opened, when there was all kinds of buzz about "WHAT is this show?" I saw the original cast, with my friend Kristen in it, even before she moved up to play Maureen. I've probably seen it, including the live and movie versions, over 20 times, and the lyrics have blocked out enough of my brain space that I'll probably never perfectly do the journal entry to release TRNA correctly the first time, but I can spout every word of La Vie Boheme.

And I've brought up a daughter who feels the same way, and who has seen the movie and a live production. And who puts up with me every time I explain to her what the AIDS epidemic was like, or how much it meant to have a trans character like Angel as a lead, or even what it means to have a cast of a musical that were POC and just people, nor in specific roles like Porgy and Bess. She's been to New York a few times, but trying to describe NYC in the 1990s is probably still so…

Weave

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Photo by Imranda Ward. Image by Rosy Simas. McKnight Fellowships/MANCC Residency 2018. From the Weave website (referenced below).

This is not a "review" per se, because unless you are heading to Alabama, or Hawaii, or Philadelphia, or DC soon, you had one chance to see Weave here, and that was on January 12 (but, judging by the number of people I knew that I saw there, you might indeed have been there.)

It's much more a commentary. I've known Rosy for a long time, and every now and then I'm lucky enough to be able to help her out by reading over a grant or running some financials for her, which makes me feel like I am doing the tiniest bit to help her have time and space to create. But I have to admit that it gave me a real chill along my spine to stand in the back of the Ordway lobby and have one of the panelists in the pre-show discussion talk about "Rosy's style" and "body of work." Because she's gotten to the place where both of th…

Guest Post Link - On Enrollment on the Randolph Heights Page

I've been busy blogging today. This is what I put on my daughter's school's page about why enrollment is important, even if you think class sizes are too big

Bear Necessities

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When my father was dying, I worked hard to get him into Our Lady of Peace Hospice, because I knew it would be the right final place for him to be. That's been the right choice for so many reasons, including the fact that they check in with you in the months after your loved one's death to see how you're doing. Today, Beatrix and I attending a teddy bear workshop, where we were able to make a bear from my dad's old shirts.

The whole experience was great. Kathy and Diane, the volunteer seamstresses that were assigned to us, were very sweet (and also fast!) They guided the work, but we were able to add our own touches, like writing a note on a  little wooden heart we enclosed inside the bear. We picked a few of my dad's favorite shirts, so we have greta memories of him wearing them.

Thanks to our speedy seamstresses, the workshop took about half the time scheduled, and gave us a really good chance to talk about my dad and why we were making the bear in his memory. It&#…

Sleep

When Beatrix was a baby she simply Would.Not.Sleep. We're not talking the run-of-the-mill waking up at night; I mean she would wake up 8-12 times a night. She was so tiny and grew so slowly that the doctors advised us that we really had to get up and feed her and not just let her cry it out, or it could be extremely dangerous for her. I remember nights when I dreaded going to bed, because I knew I would just be waking up soon again and didn't think I could bear it.

She did grow out of that by first grade or so....

Lately, I've not been sleeping. Not to that point, but since my dad was sick this summer I've been having a hard time sleeping through the night. I wake up consumed with worry and dread about things I've forgotten, the future of our country, client needs, my family, the cat's snoring.

I don't know how to start to sleep again, but I feel like I am losing brain cells at an extremely rapid pace.

Resolutions

I had all kinds of great resolution ideas for 2019.

For instance — use more spices! We have a great drawer full of delicious spices; it would be great to make more interesting meals with them. Patrick has a resolution to go back to some of our favorite recipes and look through cookbooks for new ones, and we both want to resolve to go back to having monthly dinner parties, so this was a great one.

I had also wanted to learn to make a couple of standard but excellent cocktails.

A couple years back we had a resolution to use gift cards, which was an excellent one. the problem is they have multiplied again, so that was another thing on my mind. That will avoid bad situations like having $150 in gift cards to Heydey that were lost when the place never re-opened....

Then there's my new motto: "Always take the selfie!" When going through pictures for my dad's memorial, I realized there were few pictures of him, mainly of other things. So I've been trying to memorialize …