Get Your Memories Out!

There is a Drawer of Shame in my home, which contains around 50 video tapes.  They are from various times of my son’s life, from birth up to probably around 4 years old.  There are hours and hours of memories that I have forgotten, friends whose names I probably can’t recall, and way more footage than even the most devoted grandparent would sit (suffer) through. So these tapes are just sitting there and I’m not saying they’re all worth watching but I’m willing to bet that there are some super cute times hiding in there, times that very much deserve a replay.   But as it is, these tapes will remain orphaned relics, victims of a mother that simply got overwhelmed by too many hours of boring tape.

Now if you are nodding your head, thinking “Hey, I have that same problem!” well friends, I’ve got an amazing hook-up for you.  In my cache of talented people I know is a woman named Aubrey.  I want to share her with you.  She owns Willow Street Films, and instead of me telling you what she can do – check this out.  Aubrey spent a few days filming my kickboxing class, and created this for me:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/15363539[/vimeo]

Awesome, am I right?  Seriously the real magic here is that I was around 3 months pregnant with twins at the time of filming, and she somehow managed to not show how fat I felt.  Love her.  She also navigated her way around classrooms of wild children who were kicking, punching, screaming, jumping and laughing and managed to not even cramp that vibe one little bit.  In fact, I caught her at one point trying on a glove…

Willow Street Films works in a few different ways.  They can collate footage you already have – remember the drawer of shame?  Take the contents to them.  With no work on your part, they can produce a montage of the best parts – something your friends/family would actually want to watch.  Or you can get them to attend an event and film and edit it for you: weddings, parties, playdates, sports, bar mitzvahs, etc.  See?  Let’s be honest – we all have the ability to film the important things in our lives.  Unfortunately most of us are not equipped with the time or ability to give our recordings style.

Another popular offering from Willow Street Films are creative photo/video montages that people like to show for entertainment at weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries and the like.  May I just say that I’ve sat through way too many of these….done poorly.  It is so very refreshing to see them come to life with panache (and absent the Air Supply soundtrack)  (Nothing against Air Supply).

Contact Willow Street Films here, and thank me later.

[Special deal for my readers - Willow Street Films will offer a 10% discount if you name drop Pistols + Popcorn.]

Settling Up. Settling In.

First, The Tornado

Thanks to those that checked in with us to make sure we were alright after the Brooklyn Tornado!  We are fine, and the city seems to be rolling along as normally as it was before – which is like a pie made of dysfunctional crust peppered with danger here and there and a creamy filling of coolness and love.  Roan and I actually ended up walking through the tornado, with my brilliant brainiac skills not quite up to speed that this weather isn’t only exciting, it’s dangerous, duh.  I remarked to him while we were on the subway that the last time I saw a green sky was in Utah, when there was a freak tornado.  How weird that the sky looked exactly the same now.  And when we got off at our stop, the rain was falling sideways, there was hail, and wind I’d like to name “We’re not in Kansas anymore” wind.  We waited for a few minutes at the bottom of the stairs of the subway station, then decided to make a run for it – only one block and a half, I reasoned.  No sweat.  So we did it, we got home, totally drenched and wound up and laughing from being out in the freaky weather.  And later that night when I read there were actually two tornadoes that touched down, I had an authentic Homer Simpson “Doh!” moment of clarity at how dumb I can really be.  So, we were totally unscathed by the storm – except for me being demoted a few degrees from being a pretty smart person to being a dumb ditty dumb ditty dumb dumb dumb.

But the real question is this: can I blame my lack of brainpower on pregnancy?  Because being pregnant is really paying off in so many ways these days….for instance….

Next, The Move

Well, this looks like fun!

The move.  It was a beautiful thing.  Who can really say that?  Me, that’s who.  It just turns out that I am surrounded by, and related to, the best people on the planet Earth.  Anson rented a U-Haul truck at 9:00 AM, and by noon, everything had been loaded, moved, and unloaded from apartment A to Apartment Dream Home.  Our brother-in-law, our friend Phil, and Anson were strong like 100 men and got it all loaded up.  One new neighbor had secured us a parking space right in front of our new home, and two other neighbors just showed up to unload.  My lady army arrived on the scene and began unpacking right away, arranging my kitchen for me while I sat in the backyard eating pizza provided by – yup – a neighbor – and watched Roan play with a gang of kids on his own turf, for the first time ever.

Roan and I mostly helped by sitting around and looking good.

I watched as my new home came together, busy and in constant motion with my amazing friends and family doing all the work I should have been doing, and chastising me when I’d try to keep up.  So I truly did about 30 minutes worth of work over the span of the day, and somehow have a beautiful new place to show for it.  There are still a few unopened boxes and such, but this new home feels like home already.  I stood and stared out my kitchen window last night while I was doing dishes.  I was staring at…a tree! I know, it doesn’t seem life-changing but readers – this is my tree! In my back yard.

And one last thing to tell.  My sister told me that she had arranged with some of my friends to meet up at our old apartment to clean it this morning.  We all walked over together and as we entered, it dawned on me that it was exceptionally clean.  And magically, holes were already spackled in the walls.  Even Roan’s final exploding liquid experiment in the freezer was strangely not there.  As it turns out, the magic was done at the hands of my sister and her husband, who spent Sunday cleaning up for us, as a final surprise.  Of course I paid her handsomely for all of her help and support – I bought her a bagel.  Somehow my endless thank-you’s and weak breakfast payments are feeling a little impotent.  And when I try to express gratitude, my sister sends me messages like this:

I’ll do anything to be here now and not where we were last year.  This is celebration not work.  I’m grateful.  I made a deal with God that I’d clean your apartment if things could ever be better.  Just settling up.

I knew I was lucky even when I was in the darkest and hardest part of my life last year – but this year – now, I not only know it, I feel it. Immensely.

Summer Love

Brooklyn Rooftops = Summer Love

I feel good.  I feel happy, and each day I notice something different with this science experiment called my body I have to smile because it tells me that everything is going as it should be.  I’m hungry often, drinking tons (of water and juice thankyouverymuch), I have somehow found the energy I lost in the first part of this pregnancy, and I have somehow lost the pessimism that ruled me in the beginning.  As I receive gifts from friends – bags of clothes, bouncy chairs, and the like I actually have plans for them, and have even started putting my mind to work figuring out where in our close quarters these boys will go.

Roan + His Classmates Celebrating Summer Break

Roan chooses different names every day, and makes new plans for the babies every day.  He plans future outings, has decided who will play which instrument in the band they will start, and has fiercely instructed me to not give them junk food.  Of course that could very well be that he’d like to keep it all to himself.

Sprinkler Play

Summer is here, and with it has arrived genuine smiles from me, peace of mind, and an ease in this life that I have missed.  I feel good.  I don’t even mind people rubbing this magic belly – I feel so lucky and loved – to have so many celebrating this new part of our life.

[And a special Birthday wish to my sister Lori - I love you, so glad you've been with me through all the great times and bad times.  I will always try to be like you.  Can't help it.  Happy Birthday!]

Speak Up or Suck-It-Up?

So I’m just a small town girl who grew up in Colorado.  There really wasn’t all that much training in the art of speaking up.  Even in my adolescence, when I tried my hardest to start controversy, or to raise eyebrows with my bleached out spray painted jackets and blue (then red, then blonde, then silver, then shaved) hair and nose rings and army men hanging from safety pins off of my ears – even then I would get a mostly warm reception from the good people of my rural community.  Sure sure there were a few jocks who were all, “YOU’RE A FREAK!” but then they would secretly pass me notes saying they were sorry, and any chance we could hang out some time?

So my assertive voice was never really groomed.  Fast Forward to 2010, and I’m living in Brooklyn, New York.  I feel like my Old Mother-Hubbard age, combined with my experience in the world has put me in a pretty competent place to stand up for myself when I need to, but I still shrink a little when people are bugging me, and if the choice is suck-it-up and not cause a ruckus, I keep quiet.  But this weekend, I got to experience two girls born and bred somewhere in New Jersey, who were not taking *it*  from anybody.  It made me think – do I have a lot more to learn in being assertive?

Two Happy Mermaid Parade Fish

Let me set the stage: on Saturday, we went to The Mermaid Parade in Coney Island.  This is sort of a Brooklyn community event, a nod to the Mardi Gras Parade, complete with tons of topless women, lots of body paint and glitter, sea creatures, floats, children, adults and New York icons (this year’s King and Queen of the parade were Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, and Neil Patrick Harris was spotted getting his groove on) mixing it up on a hot summer day.  My crew arrived to the parade early, to secure a good view.  As expected, the crowd was epic.  But we were right on the front.  Soon a boisterous woman elbowed her way to right behind us, with her young daughter clutching her hand.  The woman poked me in the back and said, “My daughter wants to see”.  My response, while not confrontational, was assertive enough in my own head when I replied, “Yeh, well I think we all do!  Huge crowd, huh?  We got here early to get these seats, and my son and his cousin aren’t going to give them up just yet.”  Or something like that.

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, no?

It kept her at bay for all of 30 seconds, when she started muttering, “My daughter wants to see, my daughter wants to see” and essentially was trying to walk through to the front.  And then I got schooled by this girl to my right, sweet and slight and totally unassuming.  She had talked to my sister and me for a while, just small talk, and couldn’t have been nicer.  She turned around to the woman and said, firmly and snarkily and with no fear, “Lady, you’re getting annoying.  You need to go.”

And the woman left.

And I was all, like whoa.

Easily Roan's favorite costume of the day

Soon, people were dodging the police barricades, climbing under them to get closer to the parade to take pictures.  At first, it was just photographers with their fancy press passes.  But soon enough, teenagers with their cell phones were snapping away, right dead in front of us, blocking the view pretty effectively.  New Jersey wasn’t having it.  She called a cop over, and the police man stupidly (I mean honestly, it was stupid) said, “Those are professional photographers taking pictures for the newspaper.”  New Jersey then pointed to the teenager, with her celly, and said, “Oh really?  Her?  She’s professional?  How about him?  Her?  Him?”  She plucked each poser out of the crowd and got them put back behind the barricade, with us common folk.

And again, I was all, like whoa.  Because she did it with no discretion, not hiding from the teenagers she was calling out.  They knew who was ratting them out, and New Jersey did not care at all.

No need for costume. Naturally fabulous.

Both of the times she spoke up, I would have liked to.  But I didn’t.   I’m revisiting that now – I’m wondering now where’s the line between being assertive and aggressive, and did she cross it?  Or am I just a natural-born wuss, whose time has come to step-it-up at least a bit more?  How about you?  Do you correct strangers?  Or do you just avoid that kind of confrontation?  Where’s the line?

Construction Intervention

Jodi, Come Visit Us!

Out of nowhere, I received an email from the Discovery Channel.  Ummm….that was exciting, because I love the Discovery Channel.  I was hoping maybe Jaime Hyneman or Adam Savage from Mythbusters had intuited that my family was bingeing on episode after episode of their series and they maybe wanted to say, “Hey, thanks for the support!  Come visit us!  We’ll let you blow something up.”  And then I would put the computer down, put my helmet and Kevlar vest on, and be on my way.

Alas, it was not, but it was an invitation.  I was invited to screen an episode of “Construction Intervention“.  The episode chosen for my eyes was based in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, which I can walk to from my cute little hood of Carroll Gardens.  And though I’m a little, “uhhhh….hmmmm” because the title has the word “Construction” in it, I still think well that’s nice for Discovery Channel to care what I think so, YES.  CHOOSE ME, I WILL WATCH, AND I WILL REPORT BACK!

Construction Intervention is a new series which seems to be going for the union of ”Extreme Home Makeover” and “Hell’s Kitchen”.  But instead of mean foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsey or impossibly cute and sweet Ty Pennington, you get gravel-voiced Charlie Frattini. He’s Brooklyn through and through (Which honestly I just love.  These gruff Brooklyn dudes with hearts-of-gold?  Cute as a button.  I wanna pinch his cheeks.)  He’s backed up by a team of blue-collar loyalists, the most endearing being a guy named Beaman who says Frattini gives him “uplifting words” as you hear Frattini losing it in the background.  Classic.

C'mon, I dare youse. Pinch my cheeks.

The premise of the show brings a dream-team of construction workers, contractors, designers, expeditors, architects and whoever else works in the industry (have I mentioned I know nothing of construction?  Can you believe I know what an “expeditor” is?) together to swoop in and save a small businesses who are trapped in construction nightmares.  The Red Hook business to be saved was a wine store called Botta Di Vino.  The plot is summarised thusly:

Charlie helps newlyweds Jeff and Triciann who are broke and frustrated after spending this past year and their life savings trying to open dream wine shop in Red Hook Brooklyn New York.

So I can get behind that.  I’ve been a small business owner, I’ve been a newlywed, I’ve been broke, and I’ve been frustrated.  But the result – newlyweds Jeff and Triciann just do not do a thing for my heartstrings which are seriously dying to be plucked.  I want to care about them and be happy for this big rescue, but what comes across is a couple who has wasted the past year and over $30,000 on essentially arguing with each other, and putting their contractor in the middle of things.  Jeff and Triciann kind of make me a little cuckoo.

Still – Construction Intervention has actually very little to do with the story of Jeff and Triciann, and gets its momentum from Frattini.  He is overbearing (at one point demanding that a vendor look him in the eyes, actually pulling his face towards him.  Awkward.) and he is dramatic but if I had a need to be saved from a construction k-hole, I’d totally want to have Team Frattini behind me.  He seems to have an answer to every set back, and does absolutely know what a deadline is.  How often does that actually happen in construction?

Construction Intervention: Botta Di Vino will air Friday night, May 07, at 10:00 EST pm, on the Discovery Channel.  I’ve seen signs around the corner from my house where they’re filming a new episode taking place in this pharmacy that has been closed for years and years.  I’d say it’s safe to say I may be hooked on this show because I’m sort of stalking the scene – we’ll see if they invite me back to screen another one.  Let me know what you think of the series, and if you get a chance to watch this episode, let me know if you take it in the same way I did.

[In other "Huh?  Really?  Why you?" news - I've been invited to interview Musician and Actor and all around awesomeness Common next week.  I'm planning on asking him if he'll run away with me.  Check back for the results.]

Poetry in the Park

Poets

Another field trip under my belt with Roan’s class.  Today we headed to amazing Prospect Park (via school bus and I’m wondering, do they only hire stunt drivers?  I mean, I’m not saying, I’m just saying, and that’s all I’m saying.)  The trip was to get the kids outside, so they could write poems about what their senses were taking in.  Amazingly, Roan’s magical teacher produced a perfectly gorgeous day, and a super-cool rainbow in the sky.

It was a great morning for me.  A sort of break in a lot of mental chatter that’s happening in my head.  There are great big cool and scary and fun and challenging things in store for me in the next little while which I’m under oath not to write about….yet.  But I really do find that being surrounded by these six and seven-year olds, with their mischievous natures and testing boundaries and adoration and love really always just sets my head right.  And hanging with them in the park on this gorgeous day?  Perfection.  To me, this is what perfection looks like:

Sharing poems about rainbows

Writing about a worm he saw, which was cut in half. Still, it's poetry.

Taking it in.

Trapped

I think you can learn a lot about a person when you go through something with them.  It doesn’t have to be tragic or traumatic.  It can just be an event that is surprising and unusual.  Something that takes a minute to understand.  Like, for instance, getting stuck in an elevator.  Which is exactly what happened to Anson, Roan and me on Sunday.

We were headed to the sixth floor of a condo building for brunch with our friends, when the elevator lurched and stopped.  Roan started laughing like we were on a ride at an amusement park.  Anson’s face went into its serious expression (he has a special face for serious occasions), and I rolled my eyes into the back of my head, thinking, “Why didn’t I use the bathroom before we got into the elevator?”

Anson sprung into action, and pressed the “Call” button.  He actually pressed about six buttons before that one, but that seemed to be the one to get action.  A voice came over the speaker and said they’d call the elevator repair company.  I got a bit of AT&T reception (a miracle because I can’t really get decent reception even under the best of circumstances) and told my friends that we were almost there, but you know, would be a little late.  The good news?  We were bringing bagels for brunch so even if we were stuck for days, we would survive.

Pretend Praying. Very Dramatic.

Roan wasn’t freaked out at all.  He thought it was great fun, sat down, and started pretending to pray for rescue.  He quickly grew tired of those dramatics, however, and defaulted to playing on the iPhone.  I joined him and soon we were in a heated battle of Doodle Jump.  About 45 minutes later, the superintendent of the building opened the doors above us and below us, and decided it would maybe be safe enough for us to crawl out of the elevator, kind of muttering that he hoped it wouldn’t start moving while we were exiting.  He also mentioned that we should mind the gap that would plummet us to our death via the elevator shaft.

Bagels + iPhone. Survival Kit for being Trapped.

Roan went first because he’s the most brave of the three of us.  He made it no problem, and was all smiles, actually hoping to traverse the obstacle course again.  I went next, but they got the ladder for me.  I guess they trusted themselves to catch a young boy but not a big old full-grown lady.  Anson and his serious face went last, as the women and children were safe.  He brought the bagels.  It was over.

So what did I learn about my people in these dire circumstances?  That an iPhone can make being trapped fun.  That my husband is an action man (at one point I noticed him surveying the exposed shaft mechanics and was a wee bit worried that he was going to get all MacGyver on us).  And my lesson about myself?  That if there is ever not a bathroom present, I will convince myself that I really really need to go.

Another profound one from P + P.

My Kid Would NEVER…

I just got home from being a parent chaperone for Roan’s school field trip to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.  What can I say?  I love doing these things because of course I love to be involved in my son’s life, but it’s also a lot of voyeurism on my part.  Most parents think of other people’s kids as potential bad influences or wonder how their little angel is going to withstand the peer pressure on them to misbehave.  I’m no different.  I fall into the trap of thinking that there’s no way my kid would be the one to behave mischievously or encourage others to do so because well, he’s a rule follower, and that’s that.

Rule Follower.

But it’s not actually that simple.  I’m beginning to learn that the kids we write off as “bad” are actually just the ones who unabashedly put themselves out there.  And the kids who have their parents convinced of their impending sainthood are maybe just a wee bit more skillful at hiding their dark side.

I have a friend who recently said to me about one of her daughter’s friends, “I just have to remind myself that she’s a little girl”.  No doubt.  These are kids, learning to read social cues, learning that things have consequences, and not pre-made with filters.  Children are, in short – imperfect.

While we were riding the bus home from the field trip, I was sitting across the aisle from Roan and a few friends, who were laughing hysterically at each other.  They were all having fun, all playing their part in some game.  I thought it was so insanely cute that I got out my camera and started video taping it.  The wild laughter and knee slapping and high fiving was more cuteness than I could almost take.  I was thinking that I’d have to send this cute little video to Roan’s grandparents and friends.

That is.  Until.  I got home and reviewed the video, without the distraction of a wild bus driver and city noise, and found out that this cute song they were singing and laughing at was not actually called, “Mr. Peanut”.  No.  It was not.  Indeed.  Surprisingly, they were laughing at an entirely different thing, which I will not spell out here but if you’ve ever been a six-year-old and thought the word “Penis” was a pretty awesome punchline for pretty much everything….well, hells bells I just spelled it out for you.

So my kid – turns out he can be inappropriate with the best of them.  Not only that – he will do it in front of me, and thinks that I’m deeming it worthy of video taping.  I think we’re going to need to have a little talk tonight.  My biggest challenge will be to not crack up – because while it is totally inappropriate, it is also funny as hell.

How To New York, With or Without Me

Yes, that's chocolate outlining my boy's mouth. Dylan's Chocolate Fountain chocolate.

It’s just that I’ve been up to my eyeballs in fun.  That’s why I haven’t been here.  Well, let’s be honest – fun and also a little fatigue.  When I have visitors in from out-of-town, I feel really motivated to show off my NYC.  I want them to join my cult of NYC fan-girl love.  But there’s never enough time to get to everything.  And by the end of the day yesterday, day seven of showing off the NYC my boy was all, “I just reeeeeeely.  Neeeeeeeed.  To reeeeeeeelax.”  And after washing all the Brooklyn off of him, we did that, finally.  I fell asleep on the couch next to him within about 30 seconds while he played Super Mario Bros. Every 2 minutes he would whisper in my ear that we’ve got to do this more.  Sit on the couch more.  Agreed.

But the times, they were good.  In the period of a week, we got our tourist on in these places:

  • Rockefeller Center
  • 5th Avenue
  • FAO Schwartz
  • Central Park
  • Dylan’s Candy Bar
  • Thai Food!
  • Coney Island
  • Wonder Wheel
  • Nathan’s Hot Dogs
  • Shopping at H&M
  • Times Square
  • Prospect Park
  • Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
  • Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
  • New Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
  • Carousel in Prospect Park

The activities they went on and did without me?  Because I was cuckoo tired?

Cousins.

  • Brooklyn Bridge Walk
  • MoMA
  • Staten Island Ferry (to get an eyeful of the Statue of Liberty for free)

And now in the spirit of two birds one stone-ing it, I would just like to submit this list as my official guide to going places when you come visit me.  But I will be giving you an MTA card and a map because Roan and I are newly committed to sitting on the couch.

And How Dirty Are You?

Last Friday, I let Roan skip school to go to a casting call my friends over at Planet Awesome Kid hooked up for a Benetton Ad photo shoot.  Roan’s friend Sachin went with us, and I just have to admit one thing.  The weather was much too nice to let them go back to school, even though there was plenty of time.  After such a mean winter, this day with its sun and its flowers blooming and its two boys of summer practically exploding with electricity was too too much to deny.

Breaking the Law

After a quick session with the Benetton folks, we went to Chelsea Market and got a few snacks, then headed over to a park near Chelsea Piers.  Sachin and Roan couldn’t have more excited.  There’s something extra magical that makes everything extra fun when you know you’re getting away with something, no?  Missing school to be at a park = heaven for a six-year-old.  Anson was working just a few blocks away so he snuck off for lunch and joined us at the park which totally made Roan’s day.

We headed back home in time to go teach our kickboxing class (per our verbal contract, Roan is not a student, but an assistant).  We walked Sachin home, and Boone (who also happens to be an assistant in the class) managed to convince us to go to Target and then host a sleepover.  That kid is like a ninja with getting me to say yes to things.  Because I would really never go to Target voluntarily.  He’s dangerous with persuasion.

The following day was a the Planet Awesome Kid event at Milk Studios.  This is where I had my run-in with Brooke Shields that I couldn’t help but write about.  I know, I’m pathetic.  But you know what redeems me?  The fact that I didn’t mention that Beastie Boy Mike D was there, and didn’t even hint that super duper coolness ultrahipstess Agyness Deyn was also making the rounds.  So you know, I’m cool like that, unaffected etc.

Whatever.  I’m lame I can’t help it I love to star spot and tell.  That’s my weakness.  The only one.

And the grand finale was Boone’s Birthday party at the park – with beautiful weather and good friends and three-legged races, (which Emmie figured out how to win), and my favorite thing, frisbee playing with my kidney-challenged nephew, Dallas.

Three-Legged-Race

That's Not Cheating, Right?

The weekend took one shower and three baths to finally get all the dirt off of my son’s body, but that to me is a badge of honor.  I believe the amount of dirt on a person is directionally proportionate to how much fun was had.  And makes no mistake, this was one filthy child.

[P.S. Momversation is running my City Kids vs. Suburban Kids piece.  Go see me at the big time!

P.P.S. The Stir is also linking to the piece.  Checkitout here!]