Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Bug, Dear Bunny,

My dear, sweet, sleeping little things.  We're going to be attending two weddings this week - not just Daddy and me, but you, too.  So even though you don't yet know what that means, I have already thought about what I want to tell you.  And here is part of it.

Dear girls, I hope that one day you marry.  If you want to.  And if you find someone you love, and who loves you, and who will be your teammate.  And if you don't marry, that's OK.  But you need to be true to yourself.  Find someone who believes what you believe, values what you value, knows your incredible worth.  Don't compromise.

I know that before that day, your heart will be broken.  You'll think that your life can't go on, that you'll never feel whole again.  You'll wish you hadn't fallen in love.  And your heartbreak will break my heart.  But I will know, before you will, that your first heartbreak will make you stronger, and will make you love more deeply.  And it will get better.  The sun will come back out.

And before that day, I want your life to be easy.  But it might not always be.  And when it's not, I hope that you will come to me with the hard questions.  If you have questions about love, or sex, or sexuality, or freaking zombies... I am here.  I might not know the answers, but I will help you find them.  I'm not the strongest person you know, but I will always strive to be a pillar for you.  I may not always succeed, but I will try my hardest.

Know yourself.  This is harder than you think.  But the more comfortable - and confidant - you are about who you are, the better you will be able to give yourself in love... and to know when it's not really love, but something else in disguise.  When you marry, or you don't, remember that the only person you will always be with is YOU.  And you are wonderful, and fun, and smart, and worth it. 

More than anything, I want you to be strong, self-sufficient, smart women.  I want to help you achieve that.  And I want you, my amazing little girls, to be happy. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Everything is Illuminated

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this freshman novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.  Everything is Illuminated has both an interesting plot and a creative writing style that I enjoyed.  But I cannot call it a great book, and I felt that it just didn't live up to the potential that the best parts of the book promised.

First, the writing style, which requires a little background information on the protagonists.  The story is of a young Jewish American, also named Jonathan Safran Foer, who travels to the Ukraine to find Augustine, the Ukrainian woman who saved his grandfather when the town of Trachimbrod was destroyed in the Holocaust.  To assist with this search he enlists Alex Perchov, a young man about the same age as himself, as his translator.  Since Alex is not able to drive, his "blind" grandfather along with his "seeing-eye bitch" Sammy Davis Junior Junior come along, too.

The story is told in two parts.  First is the magical-realism novel-within-a-novel, telling of the history of Trachimbrod, through the story of character-Jonathan's ancestors.  These sections are written in a highly literary English style, interspersed with letters from Alex that accompany his own novel-within-a-novel.  Alex's style is that of someone who took first-year English, then read a thesaurus.  He tells the actual story of their search for Augustine, and these sections are a pleasure to read.  His misuse and abuse of the English language - trying "rigidly" instead of "hard" to do something, "roosting" instead of "sitting" on a chair... Excerpts can't do it justice, but it's well done.

As for the plot, well, I like the story of character-Jonathan's ancestors.  It is tragic and beautiful and his exploration of love is thought-provoking.  The magic, however, is less well done.  I enjoy magical realism, and wish this novel had not attempted it.  Alex's story of the search for Augustine has some very funny parts mixed in with cliche joke attempts, and then it brings the reader to the precipice of heart-breaking.  But it doesn't take you all the way there.  I was left wishing I could send the last chapters back for a re-write.

So like I said, I enjoyed the book.  I just thought it had the potential to be better. 

Next up: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren.  A Pulitzer Prize winner that many consider to be the best book written about American politics.  It's election season; call me timely.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Trade Towers

I know that today is the day when we remember the firefighters and others who lost their lives in the madness of September 11.  I've seen the photos of heroes and lights and towers, and it all reminds me of how proud I was to have been a New Yorker, an American, a citizen of the world.

I've recounted that day and the days that followed on this blog before.  So today I thought I would share other memories of the Twin Towers - those incredible beacons of lower Manhattan.

There was the time a friend was visiting from Colorado.  We'd planned to go to the top of the towers so that she could see the view.  What we had not planned on, however, was the weather.  According to the sign in the lobby, visibility was 0 - that's right, ZERO - miles.  Nothing.  We went up anyway, and learned that when they say you can see nothing, that's exactly what you can see.  We couldn't even see the ground below.  Thank goodness my flirty friend was pretty enough to get us our money back.

There was the summer of 2000 when the Cow Parade was on display around the five boroughs and beyond.  I was obsessed - every day I'd bring my camera to work, drag my colleagues around midtown, and find and photograph cows.  One of the days I went to lower Manhattan to see what kind of cows they had to offer.  Imagine my delight when I found the Twin Cowers - possibly my favorite of the entire parade.  (Except maybe for A Starry Starry Night Cow, but that's another story altogether.)

I brought visitors from across the country to see the view from the World Trade Center.  We'd check out Battery Park, head over to the Brooklyn Bridge, drink giant beers at Jeremy's Ale House.  This was the part of New York City I never failed to show off.  Yes, I remember the tragedy.  I never will forget - I never could.  But I also remember the sheer pleasure that a couple of buildings brought to me. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Glen Echo, MD

A couple of weeks ago, Mima and Boppie zipped out to Maryland for a quick visit with the baby year-old cousins Caleb and Wyatt and Uncle Shane and Aunt Ali.  In the middle of their kiddo play and their crab feasting they visited the historic town of Glen Echo, MD.  This carousel was installed in 1921 - 92 years ago - and the boys loved it.  Or, at least they tolerated it.  Next time, they'll love it for sure. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bergen Peak

With the girls at my parents' house for the weekend (more on that later!), Joker and I took advantage of the opportunity to hike Bergen Peak.  It's a lovely 4.7 mile hike to the summit through the Elk Meadow Open Space Park right across the road from our house.  It's not as hard as Hallett Peak or Mount Ida, but it was a lot of fun - and literally in our back yard.  All of the trails are well marked and well maintained, and get heavy use by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers.

The summit offers beautiful views of Mount Evans, Pikes Peak and the Continental Divide.  To the east you can see downtown Denver and beyond, all the way to Denver International Airport. 

I can't believe it's taken us over a year to do it, but I am sure this will be a great hike for us - and the kids, soon! - for years.