Friday, December 31, 2010

this is not goodbye; or, three memories, two of which appropriately enough (for us) take place in a car

My dear sister,

I want to tell you about three memories I have.

The first is from when our parents were still together, because they were both in the front seats of the car. You and I were in the back – you were in your car seat, and you were new, because I was torn between watching this thing squirming beside me and watching out the window, looking for the red tipped hat of the gnome who lived outside our car (I’ll explain the gnome-world another time). There you were, squirming and squinching and quite probably getting ready to start screaming again. I wasn’t really sure what to make of you, but there you were. The baby. Our baby, as I’d been told. And I wasn’t really considering what all this would mean – I was just watching you flail around a little bit – until you did something that explained it all to me. I reached out to touch you and you grabbed my finger. You wrapped your whole hand around my pointer finger and you held on, with warmth and softness and yes, strength. And it was then that I finally realized, without searching for it, “Oh – this baby changes everything.”

The second memory is also in a car, but this time our parents are divorced because Mama isn’t there. Dad is driving, and I am in the front seat next to him, and you are once again in your car seat in the back. You are little, because you still need a special seat and you still flail around a lot, but you are older too, because now your flails have a lot more kick to them. We are driving to Syracuse, I think, to spend Christmas with Dad’s sister. Dad and I are talking – about the ice on the trees, the cars on the road, maybe the meaning of Christmas or the legend of Santa Claus (I don’t remember when I knew it wasn’t real, but you know I don’t consider that to be synonymous with ceasing to believe). You started screaming. Well, maybe just fussing, but to my untrained four year-old ears, it all fell under the category of things-the-baby-does-that-I’m-not-allowed-to-do. Dad said you wanted your bottle. It was in the back next to you, but you couldn’t reach it. Dad looked around and said I should climb in the back to give it to you. I took the opportunity to point out the obvious flaw in this plan: with my seatbelt on it was physically impossible to climb into the back seat. Dad said I should take my seatbelt off. I stared at him. He was serious. Blinking with incredulous bewilderment, I broke all the rules of driving, unbuckled my seatbelt, climbed into the back so I could give you your bottle, and realized, “Well – the divorce changes everything.”

The last memory is much farther along in our lives. I had just gotten back from my college year abroad in France and, in the midst of dealing with much culture shock and a recent heartbreak, was at Shore St with you and the family. I had never lived so far away, for so long a time, with so little contact. True, you and I had grown up traveling from one family to the other and then back again, sometimes concurrently and sometimes like ships in the night. But this was different – this was a time spent away in a world whose only strings tying it to my previous life where those I could consciously make on my own. This was before gchat and Skype, remember, and when cell phones were carried in case of emergency and otherwise ignored. You had been to visit, once (with a recovering case of mono, you trouper) and so had some of the parentals and familial others. Still, in France I had known a new sense of individual separation that caused me to grow, and to learn, and to realize things about myself and the world and myself in the world and I was all the more shocked to discover that some aspects of this isolation, for better or for worse, had come home with me to New England. I was surrounded by the family I knew and loved but had no idea of how to fit back in. We were in the kitchen – there was some kind of chaos going on – and I thought, “Well, finally. This is where I fit in: I know how to do this, to solve these problems in this way.” And while I was thinking this, you picked up the phone, called the appropriate people, and re-set the gears moving in their own clunky-but-greased kind of way. And so I realized, “Well – everything has changed, once again.”

I give you these memories not to wax nostalgic on the eve of my departure nor to transfer any amount of responsibility, burden, or sense of necessity onto your shoulders. I simply wanted to tell you that everything will be alright. First, we are joined as sisters in a way that no distance, no time, and no boys can undo. (Sorry boys, but it’s true.) Second, while it is true that for every bond that is made in this world another is broken, this is not to suggest that the things that end can cause nothing but hardship. Sometimes we learn from them. Sometimes it is the only way things can get better. (Sometimes it means we get to break some well-established safety rules.) And sometimes the things that fall apart end up drawing us closer together.

Finally, thirdly, with as much support as I’ve given you over the years and as much as I’d like to take credit for all the good aspects of your development into a unique, creative, caring, wonderful human being (I’ll leave the blame for all the other aspects to someone else, because this is our blog and I can do that here), I know that you will always be ok without me. I know this because sometimes you have shouted it with your actions, and sometimes you have whispered it with your eyes. I know this because you have, somewhat stubbornly and at times defiantly, always insisted on forging your own path. I know this because you have nonetheless always had the strength, the persistence, and the love to make sure that this path, your own path, was nevertheless never too disconnected from mine.

I am going far away. For a while now our shared memories will have to be built over the phone, over this blog, over Skype. All this new-fangled technology we never had as kids, growing up in separate households, catching glimpses of each other on the weekends, sharing secrets and stories and advice and putting our two separate worlds together to try and re-achieve that one, elusive, coherent whole. I am going now to explore a little bit more of the world, to build more of my own separate sphere, but always, and forever, to share it with you.

your more-afraid-of-flying-than-of-bears sister

Thursday, December 30, 2010

one of these pairs is not like the others

Dear sister,

your packing-now-because-i-accidentally-took-a-two-hour-nap-after-you-left-this-morning sister

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dear sister,
Getting ready for the Nutcracker this weekend has me thinking about the details. There are so many components of the holiday season that I love: music, candles, nature, warmth, food, decoration and crafts, fires (in fireplaces, of course), sweets, family …

Part of why I’ve always loved the Nutcracker is that it encapsulates so many of these elements at their prime: the lavish decorations and elegant costumes of the Act 1 party scene contrasted with the evocation of natural beauty in the Act 1 snow finale, the warmth, excitement, and colors of the candy divertissements in Act 2, and of course, that ever-present, ever-recognizable music throughout. Putting on a production of Nutcracker, like putting on another classic like Christmas Carol, is an excuse to go to the most pithy of Christmas elements, to draw on the most explicit of the symbols and ideas, to attempt to produce in the audience’s eyes, ears, and hearts the epitome of the Christmas spirit.

And with all that said, another main reason I like Nutcracker so much is because the Act 2 dances encourage my OCD tendencies with a celebration of all the things I hold dear (music, color, dancing, candy) neatly packaged into short, labeled, color-coded packages. Chocolate = Spanish = trumpet solo = red and black tutu. Coffee = Arabian = heavy on the sultry clarinet = deep, jeweled blues and greens. Tea = Chinese = flute trills and quickly plucked violin strings = bright yellow and pink. And so on.

It’s always bothered me slightly that things start to break down after those first three … Marzipan has no associated ethnicity ... Waltz of the Flowers has nothing to do with food … and what drink or candy is Russian supposed to represent, anyway? (Vodka?) And obviously, this is all begging for problematic “ethnic interpretations” by a corps of white, European ballet dancers.

But it’s Christmas, so we overlook the painted mustaches of the Chinese dancers and the see-through Arabian harem pants, and focus instead of how these details come together to paint an overall picture for us, one of imagination and mystery and adventure and, yes, a safe return to the warmth and open arms of home.

Finding myself immersed in all these details has been hard for me this Christmas. I’m spending just as much time sitting by the fireside knitting as I am in the basement, sorting and packing and stowing away. It’s hard to take pleasure in the little delights of the holidays when the big picture to which they add up is at best blurry and out-of-focus. (When I’m having a bad day, it feels more like someone sponge-painted over it with splotches of dark gray – or at worst, erased all together.) There is a bigger picture there, of this I am sure, but right now all I can see is the disparate, disassociated elements.

I can take some solace in lists and labels – what to pack and what to store, what to mail and what to give away. (I have another box for you to look through, by the way. I think some of it might already be yours, actually … I was just babysitting it for you for a while.)

But eventually, I have to leave the basement for the kitchen and the living room and the rehearsal studio – where things are a little more messy and often a lot more unfocused. That’s where the music and the laughter is, the chocolate and the candles, the Christmas tree and the latkes and the knitting and the firesides. And even if the bigger picture seems out of reach right now, I try to have hope in the direction that these little details point me: towards imagination and mystery and adventure and, yes, a happy return to the open arms of family and home.

your can’t-wait-to-see-you-next-week-and-oh-yeah-I-think-that's-your-blue-shirt-in-my-closet sister

Sunday, December 12, 2010

things that are gross -- this week

Dear sister,

Um, hot yoga, wow. I thought moving to you-know-where would earn me plenty of crazy points, but ... I think with hot yoga you've taken the crazy cake for the year. So, congrats on that! (And ps - I don't care how hot they are, you're not allowed to date anyone you meet in hot yoga. I mean, they take hot yoga, for heaven's sake ... they must be crazy.)

Unrelatedly, here's a little glimpse into my life. I call it "things that are gross this week."

1. a broken phone

2. packing all my stuff away ... again.

3. a grated finger. You know how we're both afraid of subway turnstiles doing that egg-cutting thing on us? Well, maybe you've always been afraid of accidentally grating your fingertips when you're supposed to be grating carrots, cheese, or, say, potatoes for latkes. You can't really tell from this picture, but GUESS WHAT I DID LAST WEEK.

your better-post-to-come-soon sister

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holy hotness batman!

Dear Sister,

Okay, so I’ve sort of failed at my revised list of priorities. To be honest, my revised revised list of priorities has basically been this, lately: Work. Sleep. Sit on my couch and zone out for a few minutes.

But, the good news, for you, is that I have only a week left in my internship. Which means, well, I’ll have a little more time to write to you. It also means I need to figure out what to do with my life this spring (and just in general) but that’s a whole other can of worms I’m not about to open right here.

Do you remember last year, when I conceded that running the Road Race may, in fact, solidify my position as the “crazy” one? Well, I think this whole moving-to-the-north-pole thing you’ve got going is definitely giving me a run for my money, but I may have one-uped you. Two words: hot yoga.

Yes, you read it right. Me, the girl who hates excessive heat, wears tank tops year round, and was the reason for the at-least-50-degrees-or-no-shorts rule. I’ve been voluntarily subjecting myself to 90 minutes in 90-something degree heat. And not just sitting there in, exercising in it. And here’s the thing: 90 degrees is HOT and 90 minutes IS A LONG TIME. Seriously, the guys (who are more flexible than me, which is depressing for me) look like they are in the shower. Not like they just got out of the shower, like they are currently in the shower. And for the first 45 minutes, I stand there thinking “What the hell have I gotten myself into?!” I'm pretty sure it would be an exceptionally effective use of torture, but supposedly it has health benefits, so maybe the CIA should look into using it. You know, get some valuable national security information and improve the health of alleged terrorists. I'm just saying...maybe it would make them appreciative.

Oh, because, that’s the other thing—you can’t leave! You’re stuck in the heat for the whole hour and a half! One girl was scurrying toward the door, and the instructor told her (in a super friendly, nice way, that makes it impossible to disobey) to go back to her mat and just sit down, and breathe, and have some water. Plus, half the people there have rockin’ bodies, which is sort of inspiration to not leave. Because in my mind, if I do the same hot yoga they do, then I will end up equally as hot (pun intended). The last 30 minutes are on the mat, lying down postures, which is when I’m think “ahhh, yes, this is excellent.” It’s still intense, and my heart still races, but it’s the part that convinces me to come back again. Which, I’m sure, is all part of their evil plan.

So anyway, I was thinking, if they have this in Alaska, you should check it out. Because it is a nice break from the cold, which I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

your off-the-deep-end sister

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dear sister,

Challenge accepted. 

your wondering-if-we-suddenly-turned-Brittish-based-on-that-last-post?-sister

gifting The Element

Hi sister,

'Twas really great to see you these last few days. PecanMama is still here (and still sleeping) and I'm thoroughly enjoying one of the few days of the month that I don't have to work by doing one of the things I love most: organizing. And whilst so doing, I started sorting out holiday gifts I've gotten together so far. And whilst doing THAT, I wanted to share with you something so completely awesomely perfect for one member of our family ... but then I realized he might possibly intercept our note-passing from time to time. So I halted, and instead, I present you with:


It's called, "what to gift to The Element." And it's composed of this: We all know he likes gadgets, specifically gadgets that make easy things more complicated. (Oh, that's not how he would describe it? Well then let me ask you this: why does it take 3 minutes and 25 different buttons to turn on PecanMama's television???)

The duel is thus: to find a most ridiculous, seemingly unnecessary gadget that he will find indispensable to his daily life. A tricky balance, methinks, but I do believe I've gotten it just right this year.

You'll have to wait til the 28th to see what I found, but in the meantime ... what can you come up with? Come on, I know you spend hours searching the internet for science-y things ... you have a built-in advantage. (At least for this year!)

your gift-giving, Nutcracker-decorating, but-not-quite-yet-listening-to-holiday-music sister

ps - Oh, and what I got was only about $5, so I'm not talking big expense-y here. Just little bits of quirk or bizarre. Bonus points if it lights up. (Not sayin' anything, just sayin' ... maybe mine does.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

oh, Wednesday

Dear sister,

I was going to write you a post about the Monday-blahs, but then Monday came and I just felt so blah-y that I never got around to writing anything down. Then Tuesday was pretty blah too. And now it's Wednesday, and guess what? Still blah.

I think living in someone else's house and teaching someone else's lesson plans and making someone else's food is starting to get a little bit ... frustrating. So I'm trying to focus on the little bits of positive that I can pull out of all this. As I told my chester-tree-hopper the other day, hey - at least I'm still wearing my own clothes.

And while I was trying to figure all this out, this happened at breakfast with StrongDad:

Me: This is turning out to be a really long week.
StrongDad: Hey, at least it's Thursday.
Me: It's Wednesday.
StrongDad: Huh. Really? Huh.
Me: Yep.
StrongDad: Well, I'm way ahead on work then. That's good.
Me: And I'm not.
StrongDad: How do you get this little butter thing open?
Me: I don't know. You pull the little tab thing.
StrongDad: Mine doesn't have a little tab thing.
Me: You can stab it with the knife.
StrongDad: You think it would be easier than that.
Me: Here, you can have my fake butter thing.
StrongDad: Do you really think they're fake butter?
Me: I don't know.
StrongDad: So it's really Wednesday, huh? How did that happen?

your at-least-I-won't-be-teaching-this-time-next-week sister

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dear Sister,

Part of my job at the internship is to troll various websites and look for "emerging science" or "cool fix for a hot planet"s. Also, part of my internship is trolling the internet pretending like I am looking for "emerging science" or "cool fixes." 

Awhile ago, there was a Weekend Update where Seth Meyers reported on some recent study about how linebackers in football are obese, and the joke was that it was done by researchers at "the university of my eyeballs." 

I'm sure you can see where this going...

This weeks edition of studies from the University of My Eyeballs:

Obese Adolescents at Greatest Risk of Becoming Severely Obese Adults

Home Exposure to Tobacco Carcinogens High in Children of Smokers

Company errors, complacency preceded oil spill: panel

Okay, now, really people? 

In other news, there does not appear to be any Veggie Tales long underwear or apparel. However, I have a sewing machine. So, this is not over. 

Okay, that's all I've got today. 

your sister 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

who v. how many?

Dear sister,

(This post will be interspersed with outtakes from SuperTiger brother’s senior photo shoot this past weekend, even though you’ve probably seen them all on facebook. Oh, and they have nothing to do with the content of this post. Not saying anything, just sayin’ …)

Election confession: I didn’t vote. I know, I know. When I turned 18, SuperTiger Brother wrote me a birthday card that just said, “Happy Birthday – don’t forget to register to vote!” And I did, that year. And then I’ve voted shamefully few times since then … it bothers me every time. But when you move every 9 months or so, as I seem to do these days, it’s hard to remember to change your voter registration each time … along with your license, vehicle registration, insurance garaging, cell phone, bank, and credit card addresses, and on on, and so on …

I think our country’s leaders, the ones who want us to vote, are making the same mistake I often make in teaching. They’re asking “who” instead of “how many.” Try it some time with a group of teens: ask them “who has the answer to #4?” and you’ll get the few, the proud, the courageous raising their hands. The others, the ones who know but don’t care, can’t be bothered.

For some reason, asking “how many have the answer?” generates a much larger response. Maybe because it somehow makes you feel that the response is obligatory, instead of optional, since the question is looking for a head count and not a volunteer. Or maybe because they’re not used to hearing that question and it wakes them up. Who knows. Either way, sometimes I think our voting system might want to try asking "how many" sometime, instead of the usual "who?"

Anyway. I was thinking about this, and I was watching the “Rally to Restore Sanity” (since working 7 days a week makes it hard to travel anywhere these days …). I’ve been to two different marches in Washington D.C., both to protest the war, and both times I was struck by the same impression that the point of the rally was not actually to make a statement, or send a message, or even to change anyone’s mind. The point of the march was simply to march – and the point of the rally, to rally. In other words, what was great about the experience was the feeling of community, of being surrounded by like-minded strangers coming together from across the country, of solidarity and unity and vocal, visual similar points of view. A call to answer the question "how many" instead of merely "who."

Thinking of rallys, and of solidarity, and of the fact that I owed you a post, I was watching the rally with a notepad at my side, jotting down my thoughts on a minute-by minute-basis so I could share them with you later. It started out like this:
11:55 – how do I get the TV to turn on?
11:56 -- (ring, ring) why doesn’t SuperTiger brother ever answer his phone?
12:02 – oh, there we go.
12:03 – are they having mic problems? why is every one running around behind the drum set?
12:14 – Did John Legend just take his cell phone out of his pocket as he sat down to sing?
12:16 – (ring, ring) Hi SuperTiger brother. No, I just wanted to know how to turn the television on. No, I got it. No … well, yes, I am related to StrongDad.
12:17 – is my cell phone ringing again?
12:18 – oh, no, that’s part of the song. that’s … weird.
12:44 – Hi, Bode. Oh – ok, okay, okay .. Ok, good dog. Lie down. No – no, lie down. Good boy..
12:58 – They’ve managed to make our national anthem sound amazingly like a contemporary Christmas carol.
1:05 – Huh, I really wish I could talk to Ella right now. I mean … oh, wait.
1:07 – (ring ring) Hi Ella!
And yes, that was the point at which I realized I could just call and talk to you. Which means this is the end of the blog post, because you know what happened from there.
your sister

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Allow me to introduce...

Hi sister,

Keeping with the picture theme...Meet Moxie! The kitten, not the soft drink (complete with captions, of course).

First day we brought her home. Just crawling on me, checking things out. 

Playing some stellar defense. (Notice the new air hockey table. You're jealous, admit it.)

Snuggling on the couch. 

She's pretty cute, it's true. But, the pictures are slightly biased. Mostly because generally she is moving too quickly to take a picture of her, so the only pictures are from the rare calm moments. For instance, five seconds after the above snuggling picture, she was gnawing on my arm without ever changing her general body positon. Other not-so-cute-unpictured-moments: chewing through my head phones, knocking water off my bedside table and straight onto my ipod (it's drying out, I'll keep you posted), punches to the eyeball while we sleep (she takes after me, apparently), deciding that the roommate is for snuggling while I am for biting/wrestling...

I started out trying to lure you to come visit, but I feel as though I may have just shot myself in the foot. Hm. She is super cute, I swear. And FYI, hair things are basically the best toy thing ever.

(Oh, also FYI, when I told PecanMama that "Moxie is a nut" she responded with, "We'll have to go shopping for some cat toys for her." So, you know, not for nothing, but I do have cat toys for her, the crayfishes tank is plenty big, he is making his water dirty, the water isn't makin ghim dirty, and when we have kids, she's gonna be alllll over us "helping." So, basically, you go ahread and have the first one or two so she gets it out of her system.)

All right then, one last thing. Where can I get rainbow knee socks? 

your air-hockey-champion (at least in our apartment) sister

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

the fires of fall

Hi sister,

The "little summer" has passed and fall is here for good. (Well, not for good -- for now. Until winter comes, I mean.) I meant to post this a while ago but, as seems to be our pattern, things got away from me. But since you've decided to post more frequently, I guess I can try to also. Just know that sometimes my posts will be more of pictures than words. They will, however, always be labeled. 'Cause that's how I roll.

fires from the past

fires of the present

fires for the future
your sister

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"I've been busy"

Dear Sister,

So, I've been meaning to post, but...err...I've been busy...

Okay, now, I'm sure you've realized before that the "I've been busy" excuse is pretty much my biggest pet peeve. Why you ask? It's not because I don't believe that people are busy. Or even that they are so busy that they simply just don't have time to get everything done. Believe you me, do I know that is absoutely possible. The thing is this-- no matter how busy you are, no matter how little sleep you are getting, it's just all about prioritizing. So yeah, I work every single freaking day, and often get off work at 130am and have to get up for the other job six hours later, but have I really not had time to go grocery shopping? No, I could have after work one day. It just was not high on my priority list. Speaking of lists-- here is the most current:

Ella's list of prioritizes
Work ($$)
Sleep (zzz)
Run (ahhh)

So, basically, what I really mean, and what I think everyone really means when they say "I'm busy" or "I've been busy" or some variation thereof, is "It wasn't on the top of my priority list." Now, don't get me wrong, that's totally understandable. Especially if someone is working ridiculous hours or has a lot of super important life stuff going on. It is very reasonable for some things, like communication with the people you love, to fall a little bit down on the priority list. But the thing is, in the world of communication we live in these days, "I was too busy" just doesn't fly. Texting takes approximately 20 seconds (unless, of course, we're talking about the parentals, in which case its probably more like one minute 20 seconds...). Writing a post takes a little bit longer, granted, but I'll be honest: I could have posted instead of watching Law and Order one night. 

So what I'm trying to say is, I'm sorry writing to you has fallen down on my priority list some. You'll notice, though, that eating is also not on that list. Because I forgot to put it on there, and then I realize that's sort of accurate, since eating has become a bit of an after thought. I'm eating, don't worry, it just isn't very thought through. It's more like, oh, hey! I have to be at work in ten minutes, better inhale this bowl of cereal real quick. 

The other reason, though, for the lack of posts is that I really wanted to show you some pictures of my apartment but it's hard to get good angles that show what it actually looks like. So then I realized I could take a video and post that! But then I realized that I wanted to clean the apartment first, but I was really tired, and the kitten (oh, yeah, we got a kitten...more on that later) was running around like a nut and well, instead I napped and went to work. 

So here is my promise to you: I will revise my priority list. 

Ella's *new and improved* priority list:
Work ($$$)
Sleep (zzzzzz)
Run (ahhh)
Eat (numanumanum)
Post (eeeeeee!)
Stick to *new and improved* priority list

Video of the apartment to come soon. Just as soon as I clean. And sleep. get the idea. 

your reprioritizing sister 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

lists, lists, lists

Dear sister,

You're busy. I'm busy. Instead of a post in the style of a column (Op-Ed, gossip, advice), this will be a post in the form of a column. As in, a vertical list of words in short rows.

I like lists. You like lists. Here are some lists I've made lately.

The grad-school list of "Words I Really Should Know By Heart"
1. epistemological (relating to the theory of knowledge)
2. ontological (based on existence)
3. tautological (needless repetition of a word or idea)
4. hermeneutical (relating to the study of interpretation or methodology)

The ever-popular grad school list of "Words Made Up By the Field of Religious Studies" (We made a bingo card for lectures.)
1. problematize
2. liminality
3. performative
4. preunderstandings
5. situatedness
6. literacies
7. ultimacy
8. solutionatize (Ok, we made this one up after we got tired of having to "problematize" everything.)

There's the list of books I have to read for fun:

(I had a $200 gift certificate to a used bookstore, which is a long story, and also an awesome gift.)

The list of books I have to read that are less-fun-because-I-have-to-show-teenagers-why-these-should-be-more-fun:
Selected short stories from the textbook
Of Mice and Men
Ordinary People
Romeo and Juliet
(Confession: I don't think I've ever read this play all the way through. We studied it in 9th grade, but all I remember is watching the movie. And this was before the Claire Danes/Leonardo diCaprio one was made, mind you.)
(Major Confession: Okay. I can't actually think of any play I've read all the way through, unless I was working it or teaching it. Don't tell the theater police, ok?)

And finally, the reason for this post, the list of "Five Songs I Will Learn on the Guitar Before I See the Once-and-Future Boyfriend Again"
1. Froggie Went A Courtin'
2. Oh, Susannah
3. that Irish folk song the Once-and-Future tried to teach me before
4. "The Rainbow Connection" (as done by Kermit the Frog)

Well, look at that. The Once-and-Future is arriving in about 10 days, but since I had no idea when we'd see each other again, I thought I'd have more time to learn 5 songs. I'm cheating a bit by including a song I sort-of knew before. But, help! What should my 5th song be? It needs to fit in with others. Read: not too fast, not too complicated, not too "unknown by me."

Got any song suggestions? Or, a list of words that YOUR field of study has made (and no, bio major, Latin names of body parts does not count)? And perhaps your to-do list for the Fall? That will entice me to make mine. I'll give you a hint: it involves a lot of variations on "don't throw the high school children out the window."

your swore-she'd-never-return-to-her-old-high-school-and-guess-where-she's-now-teaching sister

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No, YOU are relative

(a relative, to me, that is ... nevermind)

Dear Sister,
So, I had another post planned, but because I'm sick I couldn't get it done. So here's a short, less coherent one instead.

Hey, it's almost Fall! The weather is getting snappy. Crispy? Hm. Anyway, I've put one layer of quilts on my bed. Soccer has started (though, as you're well aware, in our family it never really ends.) The CSA is sending more squash and less greens, and as a result I've started making soups and stews instead of stir frys and egg rolls. I pulled out the leggings this week, and not just because I didn't have time to shave my legs. School has started (more on that in the next post).

Let's see, what else ...


tomatoes in a box!

tomatoes in a pot!

and hey, tomatoes in a can!

Oh, and in case you didn't catch it before - I have a cold. (Bad pun, not intended.) So, it must be Fall. If you'll excuse me now, I have to go blow my nose. Again.

your thi-ter (as said with a congestion accent)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time is Relative...

Dear Sister,

            Good news: I’m alive! Okay, well, I mean, my vitality was never really in question, but I am sorry that I’ve somewhat disappeared. I just checked the date of the last time you wrote—holy smokes does time fly! Here’s the thing: if my life were a movie (which it obviously should be), I’m in the montage phase of it. It  looks a little like this (apparently I really like colons today):

            Shot of car jam packed full of stuff. Girl, parents, moving stuff into almost empty apartment. Girl sleeping on air mattress in empty living room. Girl meeting everyone at the restaurant (and being awkward and shy, because, well, girl is me). Girl wandering shyly around radio studio. Girl putting together real bed. Girl sleeping proudly on real bed! Girl and a roommate wander around Target, debating whether or not to get hand towels and deep fryer (hand towels yes, deep fryer no). Girl working at restaurant. Girl listening from sound booth to interview, then later banging her head against the wall as she stares at a screen of audio waves on her computer. Girl and roommate having wine. Girl running (for exercise, not from anyone). Girl at restaurant. Girl staring at audio waves. Girl sleeping in bed with new sheets! REPEAT last five steps.

            But, on the plus side, at the end of the montage something good usually happens right? Like girl meets boy or girl gets promoted or...actually, I guess are usually the two main things that happen in movies. I’d be happy with either!

            Oh, one last thing. Birthday Card #3! (you are supposed to be getting about one a week...not sure how good my timing has been though...)

Sorry the images are a little blurry, I used my phone because, well...I can't find my camera. says "Being one day older only matters if you're a banana." And there really is a present coming, I swear. (Although if there is something you want or need, let me know...if not, I've got some ideas of my own!)

your midst-of-a-montage sister

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

words on a page - comma - other peoples'

Dear sister,

I’m taking a break from working on my thesis to write back to your blog post. I know – look how much time that didn’t take me! It’s because:
1. I’m trying to, you know, fix my thesis. (John Green alert: split infinitive.) Which is frustrating, and thus requires frequent breaks.
2. Thanks to my daily (or, nightly) overnight baking shifts at PiTS, I keep losing feeling in three of the fingers on my right hand, mostly when I do things like hold a knitting needle or a pen too tightly. I think it’s got something to do with how I hold the rolling pin … anyway, typing on a computer seems to loosen my hand back up so I can back to whatever I was working on. Hooray for you, because it means more frequent blog posting. (Boo for me, but oh well. First I’ll figure out how to get health insurance, and then I’ll fix my hand.) (Also, don’t tell the parentals, ok?)
3. As you mentioned to me yesterday, blogging to each other seems really silly this week since we’re, you know, at the same house. But, last night I went back to Grandmother’s, and next week you move to Boston. And besides, I think it’s important to keep up the effort even when it seems counter-intuitive. As we have now learned from our new-but-late-to-the-party love affair for the vlogbrothers*, sometimes you don’t know what it is you’re doing until you’re almost done. So it can be important to keep going even when it doesn’t feel like it’s all that important at all.

But since not much happens in my life these days (see above: 6 weekly shifts of overnight baking), I don’t have much to say about life right now. I wasn’t there when the Secret Service came in, because who comes in for a sandwich at 3am? Well, drunk people. And sometimes fishermen. But other than that, there’s not much excitement on my shifts. (Except for the occasional skunk.) So instead I’m just going to tell you a little bit about the box of books I dropped off in your room yesterday.

This book is kind of the Buddhist version of Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s The Little Prince (as much Buddhist as Little Prince is Christian, anyway). It’s a beautiful tale about friendship, childhood, and death – a clause I would also apply to The Little Prince – and it’s short. If you do read this version, just know that the names are wrong. They’re originally Italian names, to enhance the story’s sense of time-out-of-place-ness with crossed cultural references, but for some reason these editors decided that English readers would be fine with Japanese names. Having looked at both versions, I disagree with them but, also, I digress.

Here I’m biased because Dara was one of my favorite teachers from undergrad, but I do think you’d especially like her second novel, The World to Come. You can’t read her third novel yet because I’m still in the middle of it. Well, you can read it, I suppose. You just can’t have my copy.

This is a depressing book. It’s also insanely beautiful. And, you should read it instead of – or at least before – seeing the movie. McCarthy employs a rhythm and a tone for his writing that really can’t be copied for a visual medium, though I suppose it could be recreated, if the movie is made well. Or well-made. Anyway, read before watch.

I wouldn’t choose this as my top Yiddish lit novel to lend you, but the ones I think you’d like the most I only have on my computers; they’re either not-yet-published translations or out-of-print editions, and they’re a bit bootleg either way. (The world of modern Yiddish literature? Not all that big. Especially compared to what it used to be.) But this is a beautiful book – a little bit Virginia Woolf, a little bit … well, I guess just a lotta bit Virginia Woolf. It’s a good story, though, with interesting characters and again, a brilliant use of language to convey emotional development. It gives you a sense of what middle class Eastern European Judaism went through when the modern world came head to head with the traditional one. In case you were wondering, which I often am.

More “reviews” to come later. [I know, these were more like … comments. Or, verbal spewage of my thoughts. Well, not verbal … virtual-verbal. Typed. Anyway…]

your didn’t-read-all-the-books-she-had-to-buy-for-grad-school-but-here-are-some-she-did-and-liked sister

*love affair in the sense that we both like to watch their videos when we’re feeling crabby, because they make us laugh. Not love affair in any other sense, not that it would matter since we’re both technically single right now, but it would probably matter to them – and to their wives. Also, isn’t it funny how we didn’t know it but came up with a similar idea – to use internet technology to stay in communication with our adult siblings – even though they’ve been doing it longer, and with more consistency, and with a vlog instead of a blog? (And are more successful, also.) Funny-odd, I mean, not funny-ha-ha. They are funny-ha-ha, though, that’s for sure.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Dear Sister,

Thanks for the cheering! Although, I think I have to agree with Cute Younger Baker Boy (hence forth known as Baker Boy) that next year it will probably be a better idea to both train and sleep before the race.

Speaking of the bakery...

1) Let's go back to shortening it to PITS instead of Pie. First of all, I like real pies, and I don't want to forever associate them with Pie in the Sky and never be able to enjoy them again. Second of all, PITS is more fitting. Hah.

2) Tid bits from the Secret Service visit to PITS the other day:

Erik: Quick, I need a dinner platter! (runs away)
Me: What does he want?
Abby: He didn't follow up on it, he's not getting it.
five minutes later...
Erik: Can I get that dinner platter?
Abby: Here's a plate.
(FYI: we don't have "platters" of any sort at PITS, Erik. Except for one nicer plate that Mark brought Coleen dinner on once and then never took home.)

Erik: (puts the sammie slips in the thing) These are *really* for the Secret Service, so be careful!
Abby: What do you think I'm going to do, put bombs in them?

Ellie: Look at Erik, trying to impress the cool kids.
Ellie: Here is another slip that goes with them. (On the bottom it says HOLD THE BOMBS). Wait, did that actually go with the other sandwiches?!

3) Now, see, I was sort of ignoring the whole Secret Service thing in general, cuz well, they're just people, people. But the second group of them gave us a SS badge, which Erik said is "the coolest thing ever!" (direct quote, no joke). Nick's response was more accurate, I think: "Does anyone else think it's weird they just walk around with extra badges in their pockets?"
But I guess the point of kissing their butts was that they're part of the prez's posse, and then if Obama did actually stop by PITS that would be great press.

There are a number of flaws in this whole thing:
a) We don't really need great press, we have way too many customers as it is, and if we get more and people have to wait LONGER than 30 minutes for their sandwiches the bad press is going to cancel out the good press.
b) I don't think the Secret Service really talk to the prez that much. They just stand in front of bullets and all that.
c) You know who DOES talk to the prez pretty often? The cutest baby in the whole wide world. You know who knows her? Me. She comes into PITS with her parents, who I guess also probably talk to the prez a lot, what with being the campaign manager and all. But, I'm just saying, if Viv thinks the PIE SKY! scones are pretty good, I think that's got a better chance of making it to Obama's ear. Although, it might get sandwiched between other important information like the fact that her PINK sweatshirt has a P on it for Phillies, and her aqua is red and she likes to pick out her own hair bows. (It's almost worth the early shift for the chance to hang out with her for ten minutes.)

Okay, I think thats it for now. I've got some thoughts on the not-so-secret Service (they had "Secret Service" right on their shirts!) and another week means another onslaught of day shift PITS stories.

your I'm-only-here-for-3 weeks-so-I-don't-care! sister (re:PITS)

Monday, August 16, 2010

run Ella run!

Dear Sister,

You did it!

[PecanMama running in the 80s.]

[Ella running in the 010s.]

Go livers!
your super-proud sister

ps - Since you raised enough money for the ALF to cover three people's entries, I'm going to be on your team next year so I can run, ok?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

eh ... i'm still alive, i swear

Hi sister,

Ok, so the summer always turns out to be busier than expected. The film festival is over, and was a wonderful experience in that it reminded me why I got out of the business the first time around. No nostalgia on that front anymore. I saw one movie out of the 100 or so we screened that week, but it was a good one, and I'm glad I caught it because it probably won't get the kind of distribution that would bring it to our used-to-be-a-mall-and-is-now-a-couple-of-stores-and-a-Walmart. So anyway, now it's just the normal summer crazy at the bakery, instead of the summer crazy + I-take-on-an-extra-job-for-two-weeks-in-a-field-I-swore-I-wouldn't-ever-return-to crazy. This should mean I make it to the beach at least once in a while. And maybe that I hold up my end of the bargain we made to each blog once a week.

Since I'm just now resurfacing from not having slept for a week, I'm just going to give you a rundown of a conversation that happened last month when I attempted to change my oil, with the help of SuperTiger brother. (Well, not MY oil, since I'm a human, obvi, but the oil within my vehicle.)

So. After several false starts (ST brother: Hey Aila, can you teach me how to drive stick today? me: No, because I shouldn't be driving it at all until I change the oil. ST brother: Oh, ok. Maybe we can do that tomorrow? - a day or two passes - ST brother: Hey, can we drive the truck today? Aila: No. Oil change. ST brother: oh, yeah. - a day or two later - ST brother: Hey ... are you free? Can you teach me to drive the truck?) I got off work and camped out at the house until ST brother himself got off work. He'd forgotten we'd made plans to do the oil that day, which I'd accounted for and added time into the schedule accordingly. He canceled on his friends ("planning fail, guys, my bad") and I waited while he changed his clothes. And talked with StrongDad about (what else?) soccer. And decided that he needed to speak only French with me this summer, because that way he'd learn French better, and he'd be able to communicate with the Haitian guys on his soccer team. Whatever.

After a reasonable amount of time has passed, SuperTiger brother and I arrive at Autozone. (Actually, first I had to explain to him that we needed to leave the house. ST brother: Why? Aila: Because we're changing the oil. ST brother: (blank stare) Aila: And I don't carry around 4 quarts of fresh oil with me at all times. ST brother: Oh, right.)

Aila: Ok, ST brother, we need to figure out which oil filter to get. I never remember.
ST brother: Right. Whoa ... are those all steering wheel covers?
Aila: Um, yes. So, we look in this catalogue/book/thingy to find the make of the ...
ST brother: Whoa! A Tweety bird steering wheel cover!
Aila: ... vehicle ...
ST brother: Check it out -- Tazmanian devil steering wheel cover?!?
Aila: Super Tiger brother! Over here! Help me figure this out!
ST brother: Right.
Aila: I think this is the number we want ... can you find it?
ST brother: Sure. Where?
Aila: Over there.
ST brother: Whoa! Seat covers! With Tinkerbell on them!
Aila: Hello - filter number -
ST brother: Yeah. But seriously, I should buy this.
Aila: No, you shouldn't.
ST brother: Yeah, I'm totally going to buy this. I'm going to put it in Beachmom's car. Don't you think she'd find that funny?
Aila: I think you'd find it funny.
ST brother: Yeah, she probably wouldn't get it. What if I put it in StrongDad's car?
Aila: I don't think he'd notice.
ST brother: Hm. I'll just buy it for (male friend's) birthday, then.
Aila: Ok. So we can come back then. In the meantime, help me find the ...
ST brother: Whoa! Look at this!

(At this point, I abandon him for several minutes while I get the filter and the right kind of oil. Then ... )

Aila: Super Tiger Brother! Leave that alone and come help me carry these oil quarts.
ST brother: But it's like a sled, with wheels!
Aila: It's for people to get under their cars.
ST brother: Do you have one of these?
Aila: No. I use cardboard.
ST brother: Huh. If I had one of these, I'd use it to go down steep hills.
Aila: Well, lucky for all of us you don't have one.
ST brother: ... I could get one ... (mostly to himself)
Aila: No, you can't. Help me carry these.
ST brother: Okay. Whoa! Look at that! It's shiny!

(Seriously. He actually said that. Five minutes later ...)

Aila: Super Tiger Brother, I'm leaving the store now. You can walk home, or you can come with me now.
ST brother: I'm coming ... Aila, how did I not know about this store before? Autozone is the coolest place ever. Whoa! What is that?!?

(I drag him past the display by the door, whatever it was, and get him home. Many minutes later, he has dug up some cardboard from the garage and we are under the car, trying to loosen the bolt on the oil container. By this point, he has remembered his original plan to only speak French with me.)

ST Brother: Et, qu'est-ce que tu fais maintenant?
Aila: ST brother, I don't know French auto mechanic vocabulary.
ST Brother: Je sais. Je souviens ... le mot pour "oil" ... parce que je faisais un projet sur le "oil spill" pour l'ecole ...
[Editor's note: I'm not going to try to figure out how to do accents on here. Also, I'm trying to capture the French of an 11th grader, so bear with the grammar of these sentences.)
Aila: Ok.

(Eventually, we head inside because I'm having trouble loosening the oil filter and need to give the truck a minute to cool down. StrongDad is in the kitchen with us.)
StrongDad: I know how to speak French.
Aila: Oh, heavens.
StrongDad: No, really. Je cogitare, je suis.
ST brother: What does that mean?
Aila: Cogitare is Latin for "to think." Strong Dad is trying to say "je pense."
ST brother: But what does the whole thing mean?
Aila: StrongDad's trying to say "I think, therefore I am."
StrongDad: Only I don't know the word for "therefore" ... so I only said "I think, I am." Ha! I think I am!
ST brother: Oh.
StrongDad: Je cogitare, ergo je suis!
Aila: I'm going back outside now.

(Fast forward far too many minutes ... I am back under the truck, trying again to loosen the bolt. ST brother is with me.)

StrongDad: Hey ST brother, did you feed the pets?
Aila: ST brother, StrongDad's talking to you.
ST brother: Quoi?
StrongDad: Did you feed the dog?
ST brother: Oui!
StrongDad: Did you give him his medicines?
ST brother: Oui!
StrongDad: All three of them?
ST brother: Trois?
StrongDad: Deux?
ST brother: Un?
StrongDad: Un?
ST brother: Un!

It was at this point that I more or less gave up. The twenty minute oil change took about an hour and a half ... and created this incredibly long blog post.

Welcome home!

Your sister

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dear Sister,

First things first-- thanks for helping me move, sorry it was the road trip from hell. I owe you?

Now that that's out of the way...

I went out to the most amazingly delicious dinner last night, so I took pictures so I could share it with you! See, I've been saying goodbye to NYC one favorite food place at a time, so I've had everything bagels with olive cream cheese, sushi, subs salads, coffee from my coffee man, etc. Last night was not one of these staples of my college years that I'm enjoying for the last time in awhile. It was quite the opposite-- probably the fanciest dinner I will ever experience, unless, of course, I do become famous. In which case it will just be par for the course. And don't worry, we were super subtle about taking pictures of every course, I highly doubt we looked at of place at all. I bet everyone thought we go there all the time.

Here it is, for you to enjoy vicariously, my dinner at Jean George's (which, for the record is pronounced with a French accent, not an American one):

Appetizer (which we didn't order, they just brought!):

As our waiter (who was dressed nicer than I was) informed us, this was fresh mozzerella with some kind of little flower thing on it (he knew the name, obvi), a cube of watermellon with, I think, a dash of pepper on it and chicken soup with chamomile in it. Fortunately, they gave us the fork you use with it AND someone near by was eating it-- so we just copied their technique. And I did not drink the chicken soup chamomile thing like a shot, although I was tempted because come on, thats in a shot glass!

First Course:

Madai sashimi in a zesty strawberry sauce. SO good. I ate a bite before I remembered to take a picture! And, I managed to eat it without spilling it everywhere.

Second Course:

Atlantic Char with couscous and clams. If you were cultured like me you would know that char is like salmon, but lighter. And that gray square is the skin. And the clams are mixed in with the couscous. And no, of course I did not have to ask our waiter all of these questions. I just knew the answers, because I'm cultured.
Next up: The wine!
All I have to tell you about the wine is summed up by this conversation:
The Waiter: Do you like a fuller bodied cabernet?
Ella: Uh, sure?
The Waiter: (laughs) Okay, then. (Shakes his head knowingly).

Third Course:
Beef Tenderloin and squashey things. I did not eat the squash, and I barely had room for the beef. I ended up sharing it with JT, but I did not eat any of his, because he got lamb. And I always think of the bottle lambs from when we were little. Also, even though I made him promise not to order liver, I heard the waiter say foie gras at some point with J, and well, ew.

I have no idea WHAT most of this was, but it was DELICIOUS. Oh man, so you could choose between strawberry, garden, cherry or chocolate themes for desert. Um, duh, that was a no brainer. That white stuff is frozen white chocolate-- seriously, I thought it was dry ice at first, but then I thought, why would a possum answer the phone? (No idea why that just popped into my head as I was writing...but I'm leaving it because, well, totnn). The chocolate in the bottom right hand corner was fan-freaking-tastic. It ooozed even more chocolate when I cut into it! And the vanilla ice cream went with it.
Oh, and the best part, which I forgot to take a picture of, at the end of the meal the waiter brought the check and handed it to JT and a little bag with a box of chocolates in it for me!
So, all in all, if you ever want to go here with me I'm down, but we'd probably have to choose between rent and a single dinner there. No, really. How did I weasle my way into this fantastic dinner, you ask? Well, as you may have caught on I went with JT. His parents gave him gift certificates there, and he offered to use them with me. Seriously, he offered, I didn't even pressure. In fact, I suggested he use them on a real date but he thinks that would set the standard absurdly high. And I'm not really going to argue, because, well, it was delicious. I could barely move after, and I've barely eaten today. Also, I think the waiter was trying to get me drunk because he kept refilling my wine glass more than J's, which made JT decide he should try to fist bump the waiter on the way out as a thanks. Not sure if that went down, I was too full to do anything but waddle out in 4 inch heels.
Stay tuned, I've got some thoughts on Cambridge and parking, and eventually an update on my move and such.
your eternally-greatful-for-helping-her-move-and-oh-so-classy-and-cultured sister

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Happy belated country-versary!

Dear sister,

Good luck with all that. I have a pretty long list of to-do myself, mostly all left over from my move last month, but it's sitting idly by. I worked like crazy for all of the 4th weekend; we pretty much doubled production at the bakery, which meant upwards of 750 pastries per overnight shift. I have in fact been dreaming about butter. Anyway, I took off this past weekend instead, heading up to Bard to visit with Slonim and celebrate, belatedly, our nation's birth.

We had a lot of fun - did a lot of talking - a lot of laughing - ate A LOT of food - and even did some walking and other outdoors-y activities. I'll let you see it all on facebook. Here I'll just give you two things that came up for me while thinking about the 4th, independence, freedom, and America in general.

I don't know how to embed video, so I'm linking you to the PFAW (People for the American Way) video of a 1982 re-enactment of the Continental Congress. Let me just say that it involves the Muppets.

And secondly, here's a poem by Wendell Berry. It's from a book of his selected poems, given to me by The Element when I graduated last month. No moralizing intended; I just wanted to share it with you since I liked it myself.It's titled "We Who Prayed and Wept."

We who prayed and wept
for liberty from kings
and the yoke of liberty
accept the tryanny of things
we do not need.
In plenitude too free,
we have become adept
beneath the yoke of greed.

Those who will not learn
in plenty to keep their place
must learn it by their need
when they have had their way
and the fields spurn their seed.
We have failed Thy grace.
Lord, I flinch and pray,
send Thy necessity.

your sister

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My State of Mind, FWIW

Dear list-making-sister,

I sadly do not have anything nearly as exciting as your recent picture essay to share, but as I *just* got an air conditioner installed (HOORAY!) and can now type without dripping sweat all over my computer, I thought I'd write to you. And, since you like making lists and so do I, here is a glimpse into my brain these days, in list form (which is how it would look if you could see into my brain. Well, into my mind. My brain would just be all mushy and bloody and such. Want to see a brain? I've got some at work. Rat brains, fyi, are really tiny compared to their bodies, but supposedly they're really smart. But I digress...):

To do before/during/immediately after moving:

  • find an apartment
  • pay off my car
  • cry about my bank account after paying off my car
  • register my car/get a parking permit
  • figure out what state I am currently a resident of, and then promptly get MA residency
  • find some health insurance
  • pack
  • find a job in Cambridge/Somerville so I don’t get evicted (assuming I find an apartment)

To do at work:

  • look busy
  • enjoy the AC
  • vending machine runs for candy
  • replicate some DNA PCR style (see, I do real work too...)

“Need” but shouldn’t buy (interestingly, also usually a list of things I’ve recently broken):

  • a new ipod
  • AC in my car
  • a phone
  • a hair appointment (no, I didn’t break my hair)

Suggestions for not melting in the heat wave:

  • Freeze a bunch of icey pops, put them in a garbage bag, and sleep on it. (The garbage bag, I’ve been informed, is necessary because one time a purple one popped and purple stuff got all over a certain someone’s bed.)
  • Stick an ice cube on my head and let it melt
  • Naked parties

(Editors note: only one of those was PecanMama.)

Acronyms TSNBU (because I couldn’t immediately guess them):

  • FWIW
  • OTPHJ (don’t look this one up)

Acronyms TSBU (because I like them):

  • BYOC (couch...for housewarming parties that get thrown a little too early)
  • TOTNN (duh)


  • Why am I not immune to measles?
  • Did StrongDad “misplace” my spare keys?
  • Why do constipated fish float?
  • Why did Lindsay Lohan write "F*ck you" on her middle finger nail before her court date and then claim she "respects" the court?
  • Why does Lindsay Lohan look like a 60 year old already?

And there you have it, Sister, a (probably frightening) snap shot of my mind at the moment. Notice, if you will, the ratio of crossed off to not crossed off on the “To Do” lists. It’s a ratio that is inversely proportional to my stressed out level. There is, of course, also a running tally that should generally resemble my bank account going in my mind at all times, but its in so much flux that I can’t even express it in any tangible way. Oh, wait, yes I can: ^$%^#$&*%^@. Yup, that about sums it up.


your possibly-gone-off-the-deep-end sister

Friday, July 2, 2010

month in review: June

Hi about-to-move sister,
I know how hard moving is. I just did it, remember? I thought you might need a pick-me-up while you're in the midst of being moving-crazy, so here's a little photo essay on your most favorite subject: me. It's my month-a-versary of living at Grandmother's!

First, the reason for my seeming productivity: an unintentional quasi-daVinci sleep cycle.

As you can see, since I'm working overnights (they're euphemistically called "opening shifts") I get up around 1am, and then sleep again when I come home, or at the beach, or various other points of the day. This leaves me with a lot of daylight time, for:

Sitting on the porch, watching these little ones:

(Chickadee on the top wire, female baby woodpecker in the bottom feeder - hiding from omni-hungry brothers, I think.)

Whilst working on this:

Making lots of food out of a CSA share:

Making lots of other things:

(By the way, that is what I meant when I said I had knit a chicken.)

And keeping the already-made (and some already-bought) things clean:

Those are the things on my list. Grandmother's list has included fixing the outdoor shower, several attempts at fixing the fridge, planting tomato plants, planting bee balm, chamomile, basil, and chive seeds, trying to keep the squirrels from digging up afore-mentioned seeds ... oh, and cleaning up various things in the basement, like the wooden cabinet sharing drying space with the laundry in the picture above.

And throughout it all, piles of reading:

Left = to read, right = read. ("Read" the past participle, not the second singular imperative. As in, "having read" and not "Read!") The middle are in media res. Yes, that is a history of Weeki Wachee and yes, I read it cover to cover. And yes, this is the first time in my life that the "to read" pile is smaller than any other. Though of course, that's not counting the two boxes of books in the basement, but since I can't find them, they can't count anyway.

I know moving is horrible and frustrating and horribly frustrating right now, but look at what awaits you! Fun things - well, I know these are only fun to me. You can pick and choose your own productivity and funtimes. Though, somewhere in the basement I have a box of books for you, too ...

your one-month-home sister

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dear Sister,

Sorry it's taken me so long to write-- It's been too hot. Seriously. All I can do these days is sit in front of my fan, stay perfectly still to avoid any unnecessary forays through the hot sticky air my limbs...well, lets go with unpleasant, and hallucinate that I have AC. So, in case you're keeping track, -2 Summer in NYC. Both the ridiculous heat and the lack of AC deserve minuses. Weather like this sans AC is why I chopped my hair off freshman year of college. Ughh.

I've been thinking about your last train of thought, and well:

1) Pluto hasn't been a planet for awhile...Where were you when there was a Facebook outrage/movement about it?
2) There is a reason adult supervision is required for children at museums. It's so that they don't come out thinking things like birds are dinosaurs and reptiles don't exist. 'Cause just to warn you, crocodiles do most certainly still exist. And dinosaurs do NOT.

Okay, seriously. I'm working up a sweat just typing this to you. And my computer is burning up too. So, its time for me to go grocery shopping! Yay! (The excitement comes from the fact that the grocery store has AC...see, summer in NYC makes even errands seem better in comparison!)

your bubble-bursting sister

Monday, June 7, 2010

the "museum of things that have changed since you were in elementary school"

Hi NYC sister,

I was in your fair city a few weekends ago and went to the Natural History Museum for a birthday party. Now, as you know, this is not always the safest place for you and me to be. Blessedly, our group was meeting at the T-Rex skeleton, which was far away from all the creepy things-behind-glass (floors 2 and 3).

Full disclosure: all the other groups there had small children. We did not. However, we did have blow-up dinosaurs which (incredibly) the guards did not take away from us and which we then gave to the small children. Also, we learned a lot.

It turns out science is not what it was when we were kids - not even science for the little ones. (I know you're a biology major, but bear with me as I fumble my way through this explanation of what I have recently learned about science.) Apparently, so many things have been disproved and/or contested that they have these stickered disclaimers everywhere, reminding us that some things are just theories or educated guesses or conventional assumptions ... In case you were wondering, here's some of the things that make the saying "Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten" just flat out wrong:

One - Pluto is no longer a planet.

Two - Birds are dinosaurs (and thus, dinosaurs are not extinct).

Three - "Reptiles" is no longer a word used in the scientific community.

So, to sum up what has happened to the world since we were children: we lost Pluto, gained dinosaurs, and reptiles no longer exist. I'm sad for Pluto, but otherwise I think it's a pretty fair deal.

your just-left-Boston sister

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hellloo Summer in NYC

Dear Morning Sister,

There is something I’ve been meaning to tell you. When you text me at 7am on weekends I AM NOT AWAKE. And if I am awake, it’s because my phone vibrated, woke me up, and I’m silently wishing death upon you. (Temporarily…I’ll stop once I go back to sleep until 11am).

In other important morning related news: the coffee stand man is back. I repeat, the coffee stand man IS BACK. This is, quite possibly, the best news I have received all summer, which has most definitely started in NYC and which is most definitely as miserable as I remember it being. But, he was there yesterday, and today, so I'm pretty sure it's not a fluke. I don't know why he left, and I don't care, so long as he is back. There is something about having my coffee perfectly prepared (medium, milk, no sugar) without me having to ask AND being called beautiful that really just starts the morning off right. I'm telling you, if I woke up that way every morning, I'm pretty sure I'd be- well, not a morning person, but not so anti-mornings either. We should invent an alarm clock that wakes you up by saying "Good morning beautiful" and bringing you your coff-- oh, wait. I think that's called a boyfriend. Hhmm. (Note to self: look into getting one of those.)

The return of the coffee man is definitely a point for summer in NYC, and it got me thinking about other things to make the summer bearable. For instance, running. As I discovered on Monday, running at 4pm in the summer is, well, totally insane. It's crossing an insane line I'm not willing to cross yet. Also, it's crossing a dehydration line that is dangerously close to the passing out line, which I'd like to avoid. SO, despite the fact that waking up at 7am makes me want to catapult myself out a window, I set the alarm for 6am this morning. Turns out, 6am, 7am they're all awful. Not a big difference. Also, it turns out if I get up at 6am I can leave by 6:30am, whereas when I get up at 7am I can't seem to leave until 8am. Okay, fine, that maaay be related to my refusal to actually get out of bed until 7:15 or 7:20. (Second note to self: fix snooze so that it goes off every 10 minutes instead of every 5. Hitting the snooze 4 times is a pain in the butt. Or, again, get a boyfriend. One that wakes up early.) Back to the point: I got up at 6am, got up to campus by 7:40 and WENT RUNNING. At 7:50!

Things I learned:

· There are way less baby strollers and small children in Riverside Park at 8am compared to 5pm.

· That’s because they are on their way to school. Which is on 95th street. Right before the GIANT hill, and when they all wait outside the school building there, it’s a little hard to navigate the sidewalk.

· It is not as hot or humid at 8am, but it is still hot. So drinking water first was a good idea.

· BEFORE running 5 miles an hour from your apartment right before work, you should really double check and make sure the locker room/showers on campus are open.

· Having friends that live right near work is very handy when you realize the showers are in fact NOT open and you are soaked in sweat ten minutes before work starts.

So, let’s recap.

Return of the coffee stand man: +1 summer in NYC

Not being able to run after work: -1 summer in NYC

6am wake up not being worse than 7am: +1 summer in NYC

Having to wake up at 6 OR 7am: -1 summer in NYC/real life in general

No AC in a 4th floor apartment: -1 summer in NYC

Steady paycheck: +1 summer in NYC

So far it’s breaking even. But stay tuned, this is far from over. Although, if the coffee stand man continues to call me beautiful every morning, I may just never leave NYC. (Finding a boyfriend is a lot of work, what do you want from me?!).


Your naturally night owl sister