"Our most ancient metaphor says life is a journey. Memoir is travel writing, then, notes taken along the way, telling how things looked and what thoughts occurred. . . .This is the traveler who goes on foot, living the journey, taking on mountains, enduring deserts, marveling at the lush green places...as a pilgrim, seeking, wondering." -Patricia Hampl

November 28, 2008

What's In the Oven

What's In the Oven
Originally uploaded by animox72
Working overtime has afforded little chance to blog, friends: but this picture, we thought, would amuse those of you asking to see what I look like in my eighth month.

When the show's over...life resumes! Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

September 30, 2008

Adventures in Gestation: 24 Weeks


So here (center, below the divine floral arrangement) is Baby G, just over halfway through her fetal development. I'd love to show you the ultrasound photos from our last appointment, but besides her looking way less like a baby than an alien, those pics are just oh-so-five-weeks-ago. Witness the bump at its best so far: making a public appearance under a rather non-maternity bridesmaid's dress in an appropriately autumnal (but not so subtle) red, making Momma G resemble a happy tomato.

And who, you ask, is doing all this marrying? Well, our good friends Tina and David, who had one of the most lovely outdoor weddings I have ever witnessed (and participated in). Somehow, the week prior to their nuptials, I went and sneezed wrong, therefore rendering my lower back completely useless (and so too the high-heels I'd planned on wearing with the bridesmaid's dress). So the wedding weekend was an exercise in smile-through-it pain, since any rational Ob-Gyn bans the use of painkillers and back injections for folks of the pregnant variety (at the time, I could hardly understand why). Heath did a fantastic job keeping any wine and spirits out of my desperate-for-relief reach, but somehow during the dancing portion of the weekend, the back loosened and started to actually improve. And thus, the evening ended with some dreamy slow-dancing in the gallery of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (excellent reception site, kids!). Post-script, of course: that bad backs are common towards the third trimester of pregnancy--as are other maladies I shall not utter at the moment.

Most appealing about this wedding (apart from the gorgeous bride, the stunning locale, the friends I hadn't seen since Amy Cooper's wedding in June, and oh, the lamb/fig-with-goat-cheese appetizers of which I still dream) was the phenomenon known as the Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table. (Photo courtesy of one Ms. Amy Cooper.) This appeals to a Pregnant Monica on many levels, some too deep for analysis at the moment. But imagine: all the Aunties have been preparing cookies for the wedding for weeks in advance, baking and freezing them frenetically in mass quantities, only to be scooped up and scarfed down by the cookie-crazy wedding guests. Would that this were a nationwide wedding tradition--imagine the possibilities of your cookie consumption! The prize (to my tastebuds' delight) was Mrs. Tuminella's famous koulourakia, a traditional Greek cookie that bears an egg glaze and is shaped in a twist. I savored these often during Tina's and my lodging together in Worcester, MA, throughout graduate school, and of course when I visited the Tuminella women at Christmastime. Ah, those sent me back. Delish. Baby G didn't mind them, either.

Now that my flip-flopped (rather than high-heeled) walk down the aisle has come and gone, Tina and David are happily ever after on their honeymoon, and school stuff is falling into place, I can once again focus on this little person who loves to remind me she's here by sending me little flutter-kicks around the abdomen. Heath continues to talk to my tummy with updates about the post-season playoff games and such, and we stave off the temptation to give in when people ask us what we're thinking about for names. For now, we're content watching the leaves change and feeling the refreshing chill in the air waft through our house, imagining what life will be like in only a few short months, and preparing for this quiet place to be transformed by a tiny presence. L'shanah tovah--a sweet and happy new year to all!

August 05, 2008

Old Folk (Music)'s Home: Reminiscing Club Passim

I've always fancied myself a maven of bad timing, born too late. In the early 1980's, just when I was discovering how to do the Airplane, disco's jive had left The Studio. And by the time I got my caterpillar, it was time to don the grungy, plaid button-downs and join the rock world in its state of Nirvana.

But one musical genre has survived in me since I was a young girl at a sleepaway camp. My counselors, rec staff (heck--especially the music and nature leaders), all of them survivors of the mid- to late-1960's, very passively, perhaps unknowingly, instilled in me a love for folk music. Between meals, or walking from (what I'm sure is still called) "farts and craps" (arts and crafts) to swimming, and always into the night beside a campfire, these then-young adults taught me the fundamentals of a kind of music that has probably contributed more to my being who I am perhaps as much as my parents could have. At the time--was I 9? 10?--I had no inkling about the political ideologies behind Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land or the Seegers' Ballad of the Unknown Soldier. Of course, songsters of the 70's crept into our repertoire, but we campers didn't care. Snack time would be soon, and I had my frozen Charleston Chew to look forward to, as long as I sang my heart out.

Flash forward to my early 20's, living in Western Massachusetts, a grad student with no intention to let my studies curb my wanderlust. Eager to explore New England and its coastline, I found the soundtrack of choice to my open road travels that of my youth: Dylan, Baez, Bob Marley, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY. And just when I'd mastered the rural routes between Stockridge and Boston, it was time to move on again, Master's degree in hand, to pound the proverbial pavement. I landed in Boston, eventually in Cambridge, home to the locally-famous Club 47 that had become known as Club Passim. Here, I could watch both unknown and legendary musicians, listen to their stories, and learn about the "new folk" scene in the area: all within walking distance of my humble apartment. Add to this luck my discovery of the Newport Folk Festival (a couple hours' drive from Cambridge) and the historic Somerville Theatre, where I had the fortune to hear Joan Baez play, and herein lay the makings of a devoted folkie.

It was at Club Passim that I saw some of the most memorable performances: old folk legends such as Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin' Jack Elliott (both of whom are rumored to have helped jumpstart Dylan's career), to new folksters such as Jess Klein, with whom I'd gone to high school. This tiny, often crowded, often hot, underground venue provided the backdrop to many a first date, dinner with a friend, or a night alone with my journal. During my tenure in Cambridge, it was almost a second home.

It has been six years since I've lived in the vicinity of Club Passim. On my way home from a Wegman's run the other day, NPR ran a segment heralding the 50th anniversary of the Club. I couldn't have felt farther away had I been abroad: here I am, "settled down" in Rochester, a house (rather than a dilapidated apartment), a husband, a baby on the way, groceries in the back seat. A wave of nostalgia brought me to tears--not hard these days, for the hormones surging through my body. And so, in my own tribute to Club Passim, I write this little remembrance. Thanks to the people who continue to make this magical place a staple of the music scene in Boston and for folk aficionados everywhere, and who keep alive the spirit of folk: a music by good people, for good people.

July 30, 2008

The News We've All Been Waiting For


It's official: We're going to be parents!

As of August 1, I will be in my 15th week of pregnancy. So far, I feel great, Heath is ecstatic, and all seems to be going smoothly. Apart from some first-trimester nausea and exhaustion, this has been (so far), luckily, a relatively easy pregnancy. We know what your questions are, and yes, we will be finding out the sex of this child--but may not tell! And no, we are not readying a nursery or picking out bedding and strollers: there's lots of time for that, and frankly, we're walking the thin line between cautious and superstitious. We're due on January 20th, and I plan on working for as long as I possibly can.

This is an amazing, heartening, and sometimes scary journey. One of the more fun perks of it includes the bustiness of the business, and while it's really fun to try on old tank tops and pretend I'm on Baywatch, I'm either going to have to find a lot of short-sleeve turtlenecks or a barrel to wear to school come September. It's also been really cool to watch a part of my stomach expand that I didn't know could: and since I swim every day in the summer, Heath isn't the only other spectator. (I'm sure the lifeguards at the JCC pool are wondering why such a dedicated swimmer is actually growing in girth, rather than the opposite, usual outcome.)

I'm sorry to report that I've had no cravings, apart from nectarines, peaches, and bananas, much to my ice-cream-loving husband's dismay. So every once in a while, we walk to Abbott's just to make sure Heath's pseudo-sympathy cravings are fulfilled. It's usually on these walks that we remind ourselves just how much our lives are about to change. And we can't wait!

June 29, 2008

I haven't blogged in months? Well, we've been busy.


The alternative title here is "Brides, Beaches, Brises, and Buddies,"--and while that's too much alliteration even for me, it sums up what's been going on since March. Seems like every weekend we were galavanting here or there for the next celebration, save for the month of June. So: in quick summation, Amy's wedding in Plymouth, Liz's wedding here, Danielle's & Larry's Rochester-based wedding celebration all marked the last four events in a ten-day span (thank goodness for durable dresses) amidst the end of classes and duration of final exams. The long and short of all that is that I saw oodles of friends I hadn't seen all winter, including Ms. Tina and her fiancee David, whose wedding happens in September, old roomate Karen and her Jesse, John and his Carina, Susan and Nick, and Boston-based friends whose faces I hadn't seen in years.

Now that school is over, Heath and I are bound for the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Stay tuned for fun pics--and fun announcements--to come!

March 08, 2008

The Boss Returns to Rochester

IMG_9535-2March 6 / Rochester, NY / Blue Cross Arena

There's simply nothing like a Springsteen concert: not even my beloved Dylan can move me toward the frenzy we all experienced the other night, downtown. I was first turned on to the magic (pun intented, Boss fans) of an E-Street Band show a few years ago, when the tour came to Fenway Park. Heath and I were lucky to catch a show in the first leg of the "Magic" tour in Cleveland in November, when Patti was with the band (she's now at home with the kids) and Danny Federici was still well enough to tour. The following reviews are from backstreets.com and our local paper, respectively:

Notes: Last time the E Street Band played here, five years ago this month, they tour-debuted "Fire." This time, it was "come sit by my fire," as an impromptu "Rosalita" came out in Rochester, purely by request. In the encore, after a young girl held up a "Rosalita, Please" sign for much of the show, Bruce finally said "Gimme that sign," slowly revealed it to a losing-their-shit crowd, and launched into a rough-and-tumble version of the Wild & Innocent classic with the sign propped against the mic stand the entire time. And that that was just the icing on the cake of an intensely high energy show, a perfect synergy of performer, audience, setlist, and setting.

"Is this a new building or an old building?" Bruce asked the crowd. "Old building!" "Yeah, I thought so... old buildings are still the best buildings." And he rocked it by packing the main set solid: "Night" to open; "Jackson Cage" added between "Lonesome Day" and "Gypsy Biker"; two barnburners -- "Because the Night" and an audibled "Loose Ends" -- sandwiched between "Reason" and "She's the One." It's worth starting a new sentence for another of tonight's Moments, "Racing in the Street." And a crowd truly deserving of the "Rosie" boon completed the energy feedback loop. Still no red headed woman -- Patti remains absent from this leg so far -- but damn if they're not getting the dirty job done.

"Rochester number one!" Bruce hollered at the end of the night -- and he's right, this is a contender for best show of the tour so far. "Don't let them tear this building down!"
-Photographs by A.M. Saddler

From the Democrat and Chronicle:

Remember when Mick and Keith and the rest of the Stones were creeping up on 60, and everyone was grousing about how they were too old to rock? Why is it no one ever says that about Bruce Springsteen?

Because they can't. bilde

Thursday's sold-out show at the Blue Cross Arena was only the fourth stop on Springsteen and the E Street Band's 28-city tour, but already these guys are playing like they've been together for 35 years. And most of them have been.

The 58-year-old Springsteen is aging well, and by that I don't mean he's acting like Donovan, a flowered relic from a gone, daddy, gone age. As he's matured, Springsteen has carried his audience — 11,500 on this night — with him.

Yet he still inspires rock euphoria. Who was it that decided that last year's album, Magic, should produce a euphoric, arena-blaster like "Radio Nowhere?" Certainly not radio. Yet two songs into the show, after the opening "Night," the crowd was roaring to lines like "I want a thousand guitars, I want pounding drums."

But the best of Magic is "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," a sublime '60s-style harmony-and-guitar pop song like a forgotten gem from the Left Banke. If this spring we're not hearing that one on the radio. ... Well, nevermind.

Keyboardist Danny Federici, being treated for melanoma, is missing this tour, with Charles Giordano from Springsteen's Seeger Sessions recording and filling in on tour. And Mrs. Springsteen, back-up singer Patti Sciafla, is at home with the three kids. But everything else was in place with the E Street Band: Springsteen, Little Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren on the triple-guitar attack, drummer Max Weinberg, bassist Garry Tallent, pianist Roy Bittan and saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

Springsteen paid tribute to those old days when he reached a few rows deep into the crowd to retrieve a sign that a woman had been waving all night: ROSALITA PLEASE. And play "Rosalita" he did, with the sign propped against his microphone stand before segueing into "Born to Run."

Springsteen could have loaded the set list with such knockout nostalgia. But he didn't. His biggest album, Born in the USA, wasn't even represented. Instead, only nine of the 28 songs during the two-hour, 15-minute set were pre-USA, if you count "Because the Night," which Springsteen wrote but Patti Smith first released. This evening was about what the musician has been up to for the last decade or so, work far more vibrant than the old fans might realize.

There were some cynical songs, like the anti-Iraq war "Last to Die" and "Magic," which Springsteen dedicated to an end to seven years of illusion by the Bush administration. But a shining, upbeat quality prevailed with "The Promised Land," "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" and Springsteen introducing "Livin' in the Future" with a nod to Barack Obama: "I feel a new wind out there."

Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Jackson Cage
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
Loose Ends
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Racing in the Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
American Land

March 03, 2008

36 Hours in Colorado


The last time I visited Dani, neither of us were propertied and both of us were single, there were no security measures at the airport (aside from the luggage x-ray), and neither of us had held the same job and lived in the same place simultaneously for more than one year.

Here we are: I, married, Dani, engaged (to be married in one month), I'm up for tenure (a sign of steady employment) and Dani's the head of Human Resources for several stores under one company. I'd conjecture that we're old, but since neither of us are grey yet, and we're as goofy as we were in 6th grade, I'll save that theory for another date.

As her Most Honorable Attendant (does anyone like "matron of honor"?), it was my duty and pleasure to visit and, beyond making sure that my Most Outdoorsy Friend actually bought proper shoes for her wedding dress (the truth to be disclosed later), was present to help her put on the frock, practice lacing it up, and of course, celebrate the upcoming nuptials. And to celebrate my first visit in nearly a decade, Dani made sure I was outfitted for a hike through the Rockies. 100_2368 And snowshoeing, to boot (ha ha)!--a first for me, and I'm totally hooked. See for yourself: surrounded snowy peaks, snowy groundcover, and we're bundled up to our ears: imagine our shock to descend from our 10,000 ft. altitude to the parking lot, where it was 75 degrees. Had I layered properly, I'd have stripped to nearly nothing, desperate for the warmth that only sunlight can bestow. But alas, over grilled-cheese sandwiches, I could only roll up my yoga pants, hoping to absorb as much vitamin D as my body could take in. 100_2376

After a brief, fruitless search for some rehearsal dinner threads, we joined Dani's and Larry's friends at Sherpa's restaurant (in Boulder) for some Indian-inspired Tibetan food (I enjoyed a spicy samosa and a Sherpa lamb-stew). Good times, but sadly, not enough time. The following day, my departure day, it snowed enough to rival Rochester: and while I wished I could have stayed, I was lucky to get out of the airport at all. Looking forward to visiting again in a few weeks, for the wedding, with Heath. But I shall have to find us some snowshoes, most definitely.