Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Comic Diving


This Thanksgiving holiday in order to mix things up a bit we took a trip to Rockport MA to see my cousin and his family. I think we amounted to about 30 people combined... and upon arrival my kids seemed very confused about these "new" family members that they had acquired.

"Mom, what do you mean he's your cousin?" I had to explain that this was my mom's sister who passed away's son. And then the other cousin... well, "That's the son of my mom's younger sister who passed away." Lots of thinking ensued. Their confusion was quickly forgotten with the arrival of a piƱata shaped like a turkey. (My cousin's daughter MOLLY has a boarding school roommate from Mexico who was in on the festivities.)

The entire experience initially felt a bit odd, as if we were hoping somewhere in the depths of our Pseudo WASP (a.k.a. assimilated Jewish) emotional past we could really feel some sense of family connectivity with people we rarely get together with. But when my cousin stood up and made a tear-inducing sober toast to the incredible power of love that has allowed our generation to heal the psychological scars of our ancestors– I thought I was witnessing positive genetic mutations in action. Shit. I mean, weren't we just a family known for our bitter sarcasm and our proclivity for excess? Do we not suffer from alcoholism, abusive relationships, vanity, obsessive compulsive disorder, unnecessary self-deprecation and a passion for butter and salt?

And then my 3 year old niece pipes in: "Um, who's that guy?" The room erupts in laughter.

We clink glasses, I stuff my sassy fresh vegetarian face, linger a bit and make "medium talk" with Stunning Mexican Roommate. Her eyebrows seem literally robbed from the face of a young Audrey Hepburn and I can barely pay attention to our topic, which has something to do with children being kidnapped in Guadalajara and the safety of life in America. I make a swift visit to the small half bathroom and I'm greeted by four large black and white photos of a "wacky" guy (think Fozzie Bear wearing swim trunks in Cuba circa 1937). I can barely take a pee.

Waka Waka Waka.

This man is my grandfather! Wait. What? All I knew of this human was that he liked to eat beef tongue and chopped liver. He was philanthropic towards libraries, cigars, Monaco, and Brown University– but otherwise did a great job embarrassing the hell out of his grandkids by treating his daughters and restaurant staff like slaves. (In many ways he was the worst side of that NYC Jewish stereotype.) I'm pretty sure I never got to see him with a genuine smile on his face, and and I always wondered if he thought his philanthropy would somehow buff out his cantankerous edges.

So back to Waka Waka... GRANDPOP!!! WTF was going on? He apparently excelled at this odd genre popular in his day referred to as "Comic Diving". And this made him smile. It made ME smile just looking at it 60 or so years after the act. Just when I thought the world was getting more boring than ever (a kind of boring only relieved by watching the creative genius that is Adventure Time on Cartoon Network) these photographic gems decided to give me a shake down.

Ugh. I have so much to learn about my family history it hurts. If this blog can help me, I will be doing the backstroke into the depths of my comic gene pool, with the hopes that my Lake Wobegon "above average" children will come to thank me for it when they reach the mental quagmire of middle age.

P.S. The title of this post was actually going to be "From Fatitude to Gratitude: The Truth About My Genetic Gravy".

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Facebook Kidnapped My Mojo


These watermelon radishes and chiogga beets were photographed in the height of their beauty last fall in Vermont, where finding sublime vegetables was relatively easy. I'm pretty sure I had every intention of sharing this image when I captured it, along with a few others that show you how gorgeous the roots look when you slice them open, but I lost focus. The pictures have been relegated to yet another flickr photo set, and lost in the swamp of my unorganized iphoto library. My regret here is twofold; I don't have interesting vegetables readily available to me, and facebook (for the better part of the last 4 years) has literally scooped up any of my blogging power and tucked it in its dirty back pocket.

(Before I move to the next topic, I should add that if you can get your hands on a watermelon radish and slice it up, you should. Their color is an inspiration. And just think - if I had decided to include the photo of their interior, would you more or less likely to go out and find one for yourself? The chiogga beet interior is shown in a previous post.)

Sometimes I will take a peek at a random old blog entry from years past and feel a bit uncomfortable - like that deep embarrassment one feels when reading old journal entries from middle school - but other times I have happened upon some decent posts that serve as a reminder of my hectic past, things that I'm surprised I took the time to write out, things that kept my old friends close to me even though they were far away. And then Facebook came along... and look what it fucking did!! I don't even think I need to explain how easy it made keeping in touch with my friends around the world... and how alluring it has been to spy on everybody, to stalk old boyfriends, to put my immediate world in the face of many many so-called "friends". This makes me deeply sad if I think about it too much, but if somebody could show me how many hours or minutes I have spent gazing into the light of a computer screen or sucked into the glow of my iphone in the last year alone I would probably feel sick inside. How is it that FRIEND has gone from noun to verb in such a short period of time? Why have I felt it necessary to dip into iphone candy to alert the world to my experience of apple-picking with my children? Does anybody really need to know, or is fb just my new video game (I wasted a good year of college playing computer tetris during deep bouts of depression)? In this questioning I have become much better at confronting my motivations when making a "status update", and even limiting my computer/phone time entirely.

As it goes, there is a flip side to everything, and I see that fb is a joy and delight for many of us that are too busy to stay connected (either on the phone or via snail mail) and I am not ready to give it up cold turkey... but I will say that I am far more mindful of how I use it as a tool rather than an escape. And that's just how I see my present stance on blogging. This space has become a type of tool. I'm not entirely sure what kind of tasks this tool accomplishes, but I know it does SOMETHING. Something more than just nourishing my ego.

Friday, November 04, 2011

bovine wonder


We took a field trip to the landfill and recycle center with the Pre-Kindergarten class from Penny's school last week. This was the only photo I could grab out of the bus window when we reached the top of "Trash Mountain". Our tour guide mentioned that these cows are literally "strays" from a nearby farm who seem to find it tasty to graze atop a massive stack of trash. I don't know how to feel about this really... as I wonder if the cows are getting decent nutrition, or whether I should feel confident that I'm witnessing the cycle of nature at its best.

What I did take away from the experience was how incredibly important it is to spend time at a true metropolitan landfill. It is so horrifying and intense, but ultimately such a powerful message to these little kids (and their grown up teachers) who happened to learn a lot about what it means to create less waste.

On and end note, I have to say that my last post must have generated a weird cosmic energy... the construction barrels were removed from the bridge. Now all that remains are a couple of BUMP signs (which are my favorite).