Saturday, June 16, 2012

Boston, Baby!

So….taking an almost 11-month old to Boston by oneself is … doable. But only if you have an amazing friend waiting for you there!
It was stressful, poopy, and lacking in any semblance of sleep schedule, but with the help of good friends and being a freaking spectacular kid, Jack managed to get me home again with most of my sanity in place.
It was such an adventure - so many new things and people and modes of transportation! Jack smiles at almost everyone and is talk-a-tive to the extreme sometimes, not that we have any idea what he’s gabbering on about.

He has also in the last month gotten much more confident and explorey. Of course, this made plane travel a little more challenging, but with a little nap, the joy of pulling everything out of the seatback pocket five hundred times and by the power of one. goldfish. cracker. at. a. time. for. an. hour. we made it through the first leg, touching down in New York.
Last time we were in New York Jack was just a zygote and I was refusing to believe I was pregnant. Guess what? … I was!
On our next flight, Manhattan to Boston, he fell asleep almost as soon as we took off and slept all the way to touch down. That was my last opportunity to just sit and think, to contemplate babies and quiet and calm and coastlines.

We were raring to go once we got off the plane, though, with some serious wiggles! Our friend Cassie met us at the airport and we didn’t stop going the whole week it seems. We tried to limit our sightseeing/activity to one thing a day, with some addendums along the way. It will be awhile before we can do our patented full steam-ahead approach to vacations, but at the same time it’s kinda nice. In fact, it’s very nice. And we have a ton of reasons to visit Boston again! Yea!
Miss Cassie is so smart…she brought snacks with her to the airport.  It nice to be around someone who knows me that well and still wants to be around me, someone who understands how to, um, circumvent certain individual’s tendencies to let low blood sugar alter their core personality.
And then she just kept feeding us!

We stayed in a funky, fun neighborhood that was so patentedly New England I couldn’t believe it. Everywhere I looked I was smitten with cuteness! In the early morning, I heard the bells of the church down the block ringing in the hour.
She and her roommates were incredibly accommodating - they pulled out all the toy and toy-like items they had stashed and let Jack go hog wild. Of course, he preferred to crawl around naked trying to rip up his diaper that he refused to let me put on him. That and their stacks of magazines proved irresistible.

We went for long walks around her neighborhood and Jamaica Pond and once to the Arboretum. There were so many babies and dogs at the pond there was always something fun to see. And there were still some lilacs and other flowering trees blooming, which was really beautiful.  

Friday I wanted to go on a harbor tour - Jack’s first boat ride! (which rounded out his experience with buses, trains, planes and subways!) We walked around the area briefly and stopped at Mike’s Pastry beforehand - so many gigantic cannolis and so many flavors! It’s a good thing we were in a time crunch because I could have spent way too long contemplating my options.

It was fun to see all the ladies behind the counter tie up the boxes with string from spools hooked up to the ceiling. Our lady gave us an almond sprinkle cookie for Jack. Instead of explaining that he’s too young for sugar, I graciously took it and Cass and I split it later. No good deed goes unpunished.

The harbor tour was fun, even though Jack slept for half of it. The tour guide highlighted various places with interesting anecdotes. My family went to Boston when I was about 13 or 14 and it’s was incredible how much I’d retained without realizing it. Memory is so weird.

We got a calzone the size of a pizza box from a place Cassie goes to at least once a week. We walked in there with Jack (who looks considerably more like Cass in his coloring than he looks like me) and the woman who took our order was really confused. She thought he was Cassie’s kid and she’d never brought him in, just left him at home while she ran around town. That was fun explaining….
And we got to meet Willem and Aunt Mindi! They took the bus down to Boston on Saturday. We met them at the Boston Public Library, which has beautiful murals and architecture. There was an exhibit of their print collection which I could have spent hours poring over and a history of children’s literature which I could have looked at for days, but by then we were starting to get hungry and a little cranky. We sat out by the fountain courtyard that’s in the middle of the library while Mindi changed Willem into shorts and we sat in the shade for a bit, just sort of enjoying the moment. Willem is so sweet and cuddly. Contrasting to my beast who was trying to wiggle out of my lap and make a bee line for the fountain…

We did a little shopping, trying to find a suitable outfit for Willem. We didn’t have much luck, but it was nice to walk around and see all the shops and people and street performers out on Newbury Street on a beautiful sunny day. Also, I think this trip will be the first in recorded history in which I did not buy anything for myself. This is shocking, but facts don’t lie. Unless you consider the cute little Red Sox hat I bought Jack that he refuses to wear. I guess that’s sort of like a present for me. Also a present  - the delicious ice cream we got from Emack and Bolio’s, though I should have splurged on one their insane looking waffle cones.
We ended that day just chilling in Copley Park beneath the monolithic cathedral. Dogs ran around, jumping into the fountain, and then a hoard of one thousand zombies walked by. I think they must have been at the end of a run, since most of their make-up was sloughing off. Quote of the day: “Get down from that tree before you get arrested. Again.”

A few nights we just spent hanging out with Cassie’s roommates, boyfriend, her roomate’s boyfriend, and various other friends who stopped by “to see the baby!” We watched the sport games on tv - there was a Red Sox/Phillies game and also Sixers/Celtics game at the same time. Oooo! But it was fun doing the whole carefree-in-the-city-chillin-with-my-homies thing - watching movies, making taco salad, talking and not stressing!  How often do I get to do that in my life of go, go, go, all the time? Blissful.

Sunday was very easy going. We hung out in the morning and played and ate. That’s a good morning. In the afternoon we walked down to the Arb and past a nunnery (we challenged Cassie to take a 5-minute vow of silence…and then didn’t tell her when the time was up *evil giggle*), we tried out the ice cream at J.P. Licks. I tried a sample of the chocolate hemp sorbet, which was, well, grassy and not very appetizing. My scoop of oreo ice cream went down a whole lot easier! Mmmm! Buskers fiddled in an old-timey, hipster bluegrass outside.

We met up with Mindi and Willem on Monday for a little more shopping, and traveled to MIT to meet her husband and his colleagues for dinner at The Friendly Toast. Sam and I had eaten at another branch of this chain when we’d visited them in New Hampshire, so I was more inclined to make such a late night of it than I might otherwise be (hello 10 pm bedtime for the tyke). Cassie was a little more hesitant, but when she realized it was breakfast food she yelled at me for not saying so in the first place! And such good food (huge slice of French toasted anadema bread - cornmeal and molasses) and the kitschy d├ęcor is fun, too.
Jack was, once again, pretty much the ambassador for babies and flirted shamelessly with our server (a skinny, blond haired, bearded dude in a trucker cap) and the ladies sitting near us and just about anyone who passed our table, between demanding bites of his egg hash and toast, that is. Good thing, too, since we were relegated to the end of the table and had nearly nothing to talk to about with the rest of the party.

It was a challenge, and proved impossible, trying to keep Jack’s naps organized. He fell asleep in his stroller twice this trip - which is 200% more than he’s ever fallen asleep in his stroller in the past 6 months.

Also, he was waking up at least once a night (those pack’n’plays can’t be terribly comfortable) and, because I didn’t want him crying and waking everyone else up, I’d let him nurse in the middle of the night, even though that messed him up in the morning. On Sunday he nursed and napped for two hours in the morning; he refused to be put down (I got caught up on what Martha Stewart recommends for Christams decorations and gift giving ideas…). Then on Tuesday he woke up early, ready to play, and then napped from 9-11. We had to wake him up, which I hate doing, because we wanted to go to the Samuel Adam’s Brewery tour before we headed home.

The tour was really fun, and I think worth it, even though I made Cassie and Jack slog through the rain to get there. Jack kept waving and screeching at the tour guide because he was gesturing and talking, but not acknowledging Jack. I think he had a good time, though. I know I did - a quick pint and a half in the tasting room and I was feeling pretty awesome!
So many things were interesting just because they were different. Jack got his baths in a plastic tub that just barely fit him, which looked hilarious. On one of our walks we passed a church yard where a man was weed-whacking around the gravestones - and leaving all the wild flowers that were popping up across the yard.
With all the eating and disruption, though, Jack’s digestion got pretty messed up. Tell you what - you haven’t lived until you’re logging into your pediatrician’s website at four in the morning to determine if you should wake up your friend and take your baby to the ER. That was great fun.
But I decided he was fine and over the course of the next two days he got somewhat back to normal. Until the last leg of our trip, when the child exploded in poo just as we pulled away from the gangway for our two hour flight home. It was all up his back and soaking into his shirt! I corralled what I could and got into the restroom as soon as possible (30 minutes later) to clean him up. Got back to our seats, put a fresh outfit on him, and -BAM- time to head back to the lavatory for round two!!!! He was finally able to get to sleep, curled up on my shoulder after fighting it for 40 minutes and then we landed. Egads.
And there are two middle-aged men about there who helped me with my baggage and stroller. Those guys are my favorite!

Our last day in Boston was Jack’s 11-month birthday (and the incredible in-flight poo incident). I know he won’t have any memories of this trip, but I’m so glad we went for it and had such a (mostly) fun time visiting our amazing friend.  I can’t wait for our next adventure!

Monday, April 2, 2012

In a blink

I did not fulfil that promise to delve into memory, but this is National Poetry Month and this Smithsonian Mag posting fit the bill on some many levels.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Couple years later

In 2010 I got married, started writing in earnest, and hit both coasts. I found out I was pregnant. With one thing and another (and another), I stopped contributing to this blog.

In 2011 we bought a house and had a kid. Tremendous adventures, but the same adventures many people have the world over. These are detailed in a separate blog "Oh No, Not Again."

If 2012 is even as remotely exciting as the past two we'd better hold onto our hats.

I don't, however, have any travel plans in the mix. So I'm going to use this space to venture back into memory and trot out some adventures from the past.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kansas Weekend Scene

Even though I live in Kansas City MO, I don't often get to visit the state that is 1.5 miles to the west (and the birthstate of my mother).  This weekend offered quite a few opportunities. And my poor little car even made it to Lawrence and back!

I attended the dress rehearsal for The Golem performed by the Owen/Cox Dance Group at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, KS.  Here, Christopher Barksdale is teaching the Golem to dance - a brilliant and graceful expression of communication.

We ate pretty decent BBQ at McGonagle's Meat Market.  They had a board game called Mr. Bacon's Big Adventure.  I'm not gonna lie - I might be buying this for my husband for Chanukkah.  Because I am culturally sensitive.

A late summer Kansas sunflower at sunset.

The Punch Brothers at the Lied Center of Kansas.  Great show - good energy, interesting music, and Christmas lights.  They'd played a day or two before at the Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival and driven all night to get to the show - they were acting a little quirky and silly, but still musically sound. You can read my review here.

All my adventures were dispersed around work and other obligations, but I had a fun time venturing out into my neighboring state.  Can't wait to go the whole 1.5 miles back, again.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Whenever I am planning a trip, I always, always spend the most mental energy planning on what to wear.  Not the sights, not the itinerary (though that's probably second highest), not booking the hotel, or traveling from place to place.  It may come from the fact that what I pack is comepltely in my control, whereas hotel availability, cash funds, event schedules, etc. are not. It may also come from the fact that when I travel I want to be prepared for all situations, weather-wise and socially.  And also that I want to present the best version of myself.  But mostly that when you travel, you don't necessarily have to be the everday-version-of-you anymore. 

In my next trip, I'm taking on the persona of "Arts Journalist - loose in NYC."  I'll get to wear my best business/casual chic and hopefully catch the eye of fashion journalist Steve Schubert.  Unlikely, as I think he's in Paris and anyway, I'd be hard pressed to morph my pure MidWestern comfort-chic into his prefered style of tailored Euro bohemian fashion forward-ness. 

Not only that, but October is a changable month.  It could be 80 degrees or 40, rainy, snowy or wonderfully sunny.  I need to look professional and put together.  The good thing is my wardrobe is eclectic.  The bad thing is that I dress very emotionally on a typical day, pulling items from the closet based on how I feel.   With the contents of a suitcase you can't really do that.  Blerg.  I wish I were one of those variation-on-a-theme type of dressers, but unless you count the very broad theme of always-having-some-sort-of-cardigan, I don't do that. 

I'm excited, though, to present the very best version of my professional self and I'll let the fashion cards lay where they may.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Snailr Project: participating in a meta journey

I'm incredibly envious of the brain that concocted this massive and BRILLIANT plan: for two weeks blogger/writer Anna and her Beloved took a train journey circling over half the United States.  British (or English, I'm going to get it wrong one way of the other), but residents of San Francisco, they took the opportunity to see A LOT of this country in a fairly short amount of time.  The brilliant part, though, was to break away from the immediacy of techno-dependancy and instead document the trip old-school with a modern twist.  Whatever may have been twittered or blogged or emailed got written on postcards and mailed to the individuals who signed up to recieve them.  We, in turn, get a taste of the journey's variable emotional quality; reading some of the other cards that have been posted on the internets there's an interesting mix of adventure, insight, excitement, overwhelmedness, mundacity, confusion and trial.  Which is generally typical of any trip.  Anna's documentation, however, takes the journey beyond the train tracks and into the lives of friends and strangers alike. 

"After being struck down by food poisoning for the entire third day of the trip, I swear of eating anything, ANYTHING, even coffee, that has passed through the bowels of an Amtrak dining car kitchen (a horrible turn of phrase, sorry), instead relying on trail mix and energy bars picked up at our city stops along the way.  And when I discoverd horrendously overpriced cup-o-noodles from the lounge car cafe, those became a staple.  You'd think, then, I might come back from this trip thinner.  But the amount of fried chicken + bbq, montana steak and [other] regional specialties I stuff in my face everytime we 'detrain' says not so."

(Maybe a little product placement to rake in the advertisting shekels?)

This came at the very tail end of the trip all the way from Portland OR!  It's too bad we can't undergo a trip with a prescient knowledge of unpleasant food poisoning, often the bane of traveler, and then avoid the perilous bacteria....that's a certain type of adventure I think we could all do without.  But this sort of experience is EXACTLY what this project details...taking the moment, the thought, the experience and sending it out. By way of the venues throughout the blog community, then, the trip gets reassembled, reassessed, reevaluated not just from the memory and perception of the travelers, but by the receivers, who in turn have the opportunity to report and consider the message sent. 

I know that when I've been on a trip I always am most homesick on the way back; at some point your mind is just finished with the constant new stimuli and ready to be on familiar turf. 

Welcome home, Anna!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer 2010: Some journeys

The first, most important, most magical, memoriable and treasurable journey was May 8, 2010. That day I married my partner in crime. Every single schlocky sentiment about him pertains and every single sublime aspect of my life stems from him being in it. Walking down the aisle to him was the best journey I've ever taken.

California, May 2010.

Call it a honeymoon, a vacation, whatever. My husband and I went to California just a week and a day after we were married. Chillier than we anticipated, but beautiful. I can see why people love living there. Explored LA, the PCH, and San Francisco. Our experiences in California keep cropping up in our "real" lives and have added dimension to articles, tv shows, and stories. We left our story there unfinished and will go back.

Indiana, July and August.

The catalyst was weddings, but they were very different events. In July I partially packed up my bedroom. I've written about that elsewhere. August had a whirlwind series on events, with family outings to the Indianapolis Art Museum, the Indiana State Fair, the wedding, and explored the area southeast of Indianapolis called Shelby. In all my years growing up north of the city, I'd never found this interesting little pocket.

Missouri, Sept.

Last Thursday we went on an excursion to KCK to explore pawnshops. One of our travleing companions was a native son and regaled us with a nostaglic narrative of the places and events from his childhood and formative years. This, along with the grey and spitfully rainy weather, made it a sentimental journey. Friday the rain and damp had been blown away leaving a fresh cool breeze and sunny skies. My husband, dog and I went up to Weston to hike. We got bogged down a bit since two of the trails had flooded over during the rains and left a sheen of mud across the forest floor. But the afternoon was spent on the patio of an old Irish pub sampling the wares and passed smoothly.
That's the short and sweet of it - a breif synopsis of our past whereabouts. More adventures to come.