Francine turns two

September 26, 2012 - One Response

Things spiraled from we definitely don’t need a color scheme (it’s a dog’s birthday party, for fuck’s sake) to what about yellow? (so fresh, so modern, so cheerful yet understated) to  PINK EXPLOSION in a matter of minutes.

But then again, you probably saw that coming anyway. 

 

 

 

Around the time we put her in her princess crown and Dave lifted her up and we all sang to her, I started to feel like this could possibly be the most pathetic spectacle I’ve ever orchestrated. So, um, there’s no photos of the actual party.

But suffice it to say, everyone enjoyed the pink lady cake.

God help us all if I ever have an actual daughter.

poetry

September 1, 2012 - Leave a Response

I don’t usually like poems; that is, they often don’t speak to me as sharply and haltingly as so many short stories – and, more rarely, novels – do. But I heard the brilliant David Rakoff recite this Elizabeth Bishop piece to Terry Gross on my morning walk to work yesterday, and I haven’t been able to shake its lingering mood, lingering images from my head since. Maybe I’ll try to memorize it, too, so that I can keep it close by at important times, just like he once did.

I know he’s missed by many, but after hearing his voice buzz inside my ears for the better part of this month, I have no choice but to add my silly little name to the list.

Letter to N.Y.
For Louise Crane 

By Elizabeth Bishop

In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing; 
how are the plays, and after the plays 
what other pleasures you’re pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night, 
driving as if to save your soul 
where the road goes round and round the park 
and the meter glares like a moral owl,

and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves 
and suddenly you’re in a different place 
where everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can’t catch, 
like dirty words rubbed off a slate, 
and the songs are loud but somehow dim 
and it gets so terribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house 
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street, 
one side of the buildings rises with the sun 
like a glistening field of wheat.

—Wheat, not oats, dear. I’m afraid 
if it’s wheat it’s none of your sowing, 
nevertheless I’d like to know
what you are doing and where you are going.

More David Rakoff: This American Life’s tribute (my favorites are his blistering Rent piece and his rhyming wedding toast); Fresh Air’s tribute (you, like me, might have to replay (and replay and replay and replay) that moment when Terry Gross asks him if he really feels like he’s “beloved by all but loved by none” — it took me four listenings to really understand what that “lasagna” of a sentence was saying, but I think I get it now, and I think I see myself in it too); this performance, which might make you cry.

things I do when you’re not here

August 27, 2012 - Leave a Response

Change into that huge, unflattering, washed-out blue T-shirt advertising the Vermont forestry department, stolen from my brother’s dresser years ago immediately upon coming home from work. Or a wisp of a nightgown, should I miraculously resist my afternoon chocolate croissant and not feel terribly gross. (Note: this has happened precisely once. And it was maybe because Pret was out of chocolate croissants.)

Prance in front of the living windows scantily clad. You hate it when I do this, but then again you’re currently at the hospital, which our windows face. Regretting that whole modesty campaign now, aren’t you?

Eat whatever I want.

Ok, the above is nearly always true but now my meals are bent even more to my whims, which are decidedly bipolar in their range and unquestionably manic in their intensity. A pile of roasted eggplant and sliced radishes over arugula one night; half a pan of blackberry crumb bars another. Preferably eaten while standing up at the kitchen counter.

Rock out in the living room to Robyn (Look! I really am dancing on my own!)

Linger extra long on our friends’ couch upstairs like some sad orphan they haven’t even agreed to take in, long after Franny and Madeline are collapsed in opposite corners of the room, all play-dated out.

Recklessly decide to head out to a college friend’s place on 86th after 10 p.m., because all of a sudden, the comfort or novelty (post Philadelphia friend wasteland) or nostalgia or simple pull of having someone who in 2003 lived one floor above you now less than a mile away seems too much to resist. Also, he has the next disc of West Wing that we’re missing.

Write precisely one paragraph of awful fiction, though that’s one paragraph more than I usually get out when you’re around and there’s television to watch.

Sleep diagonally across the bed, utilizing all five pillows.

Enjoy that last step very, very much but think: “It’s still totally not worth it.”

happy birthday, husband

August 20, 2012 - Leave a Response

Dave has had to work the overnight shift on his birthday for three out of the last four years.

The first year, I took peach cupcakes across the bridge to Camden and then watched as my medical student helped a very pregnant woman into a wheelchair.

“Is this your first child?” he asked her.

“First three, yes,” she said.

I waved goodbye to the newly 24 year old with the terrified look on his face as he scurried off to handle the forthcoming triplets.

Last year, he was just switching to overnights. This meant that if I took the day off from work we could spend it together, because he hadn’t yet fallen into the nocturnal rhythm of the rotation.

Last year, we had just moved to New York. This meant that we were itching to try new things in the city; and also, that nearly everything in the city was new to us.

Last year, we had just started getting adjusted to his residency schedule. This meant that a day together felt like fucking Christmas. (But not residency Christmas, because you work then. And not Jewish Christmas, because that doesn’t involve presents or Jesus. So, ok, that was officially the worst simile ever.)

Anyway, the point is, all of these circumstances led to us celebrating Dave’s birthday by swinging on a trapeze on the roof of a building overlooking the Hudson River. It was kind of gorgeous but mostly terrifying (“Check out that girl shaking,” people would say when I was up on the platform, knees banging together, refusing to jump.) Our post-class Shake Shack cheese fries were arguably the best part of the day. No, the best part of the day was triumphantly somersaulting down from the net after I landed the first catch of the class (the shaking girl pulled it off!) or maybe walking along the river in the sun or probably just being together, but still. No need to face your greatest fear just to commemorate your significant others’ birthday, you know?

So this year, I wised up. I took the day off but we made plans only to sleep in, laze about in bed and walk to midtown for a nice little lunch.

I think it was our best celebration yet.

So happy 27th to that guy who’s been my greatest happiness for the last six August 20ths. I love you, day and night.

and again with the honesty

August 18, 2012 - Leave a Response

I’ve been feeling a little bit down recently.

I’m confident it will pass soon.

Occasionally, I get these moments – zooming home in a cab through the lights of the city, laughing at a great joke over dinner in Brooklyn, lapsing into gossip with Meg, feeling Dave’s hand on my back after a few glasses of wine – where it feels like I’m coming up for air.

I’m confident you’d rather hear about those than the ones where I feel like I’m drowning. (From what I gather from Dave and my mother, I get kind of annoying when I’m sad.)

Fortunately, I have some photographic proof from today’s traipse through Central Park, which fell squarely into the Very Happy To Be Here category.

 

Life really can’t be that awful with that blonde around.

beach day

August 15, 2012 - Leave a Response

It’s gotten to that point in August where it feels like each and every New Yorker is dashing off to the Hamptons or Newport or, for the ambitious, the few, the Red Sox fans among us, the Cape, leaving only hot stretches of pavement and dripping air conditioners and me behind. After weeks of crying over the parade of beach shots popping up on my Newsfeed, Dave and I finally got our act together and took a day trip to Sandy Hook.

We gathered up two New Yorkers’ idea of provisions (two everything bagels with lox spread) and headed downtown on the 6.

It’s a fun little walk from the subway to the ferry dock, especially if you don’t get down to Wall Street much. Dave, for example, had trouble identifying the stock exchange and mistook the crowds of Asian tourists photographing it for Occupy Wall Street protestors. There’s a chance he hasn’t left the hospital, or at least read a newspaper, since November. Getting him far away from York Avenue suddenly seemed crucial, though I admit fleeing to Jersey did strike me as a bit ironic and disturbing.

I chose to ignore that feeling and board the ferry, which proved surprisingly nice and super convenient (although for $45 for a little chug down the coast, it better be.) In about a half hour we were pulling up to that slightly sunnier, slightly tackier state to the south.

We packed onto a school bus that chugged down a little coastal road. A scenic bike path weaved in between the street and the ocean. Next time, I’d definitely rent bikes…but then again, I would have missed bus conversations like this gem:

“Is this bus going to Gunnison Beach?” – guy who would in five minutes prove himself to be a major creeper

Crucial background info: Gunnison Beach is the “clothing optional” beach at Sandy Hook.

Five minutes later:

“I was told this bus was going to Gunnison Beach.”

“You have to stop at Gunnison Beach.”

“Gunnison Beach is the best beach.”

Fellow, less creepy looking patron: “Why is it so good?”

“It’s just the best,” the creeper said.

I think by “the best,” he means “has lots of tits.”

Sadly, this pair did not make an appearance, as we hopped off at the island’s South beach. It was beautiful and packed and man was I happy clothing was required.

We napped on our towels (which are super gender normative, I know, but whatever) and floated in the cool water and I felt more relaxed than I have in a long time.

It wasn’t East Hampton, exactly. But it was just fine by me.

what happened to all those cake stands

August 9, 2012 - One Response

You may recall the tale of my mom, the anti-mother-of-the-bride turned rabid cake stand collector.

By the end of the search, the wedding day seemed to be besides the point. But we still had a party to throw, so out came all the glass.

At the day after brunch, we gave some cake stands away to the most special women in my life (though, admittedly, we did not give them the most special cake stands.)

We lost a few to a tragic rolling cart accident while loading up the car.

One of the tiniest cake stands – the one that sat on the sweetheart table where Dave and I had our first meal as husband and wife – is now in our tiniest of New York City kitchens. Its pattern is called “Good Luck” and it was typically given to newlyweds in an effort to send them off into their life together with just that.

In recent weeks, Mom’s managed to carve out a few more from the collection; they’re currently sitting on the dining room buffet, labeled and catalogued, waiting to be distributed to more ladies we love.

But of course, at least 15 remain in her kitchen cabinets, displacing china and stemware that I don’t foresee ever regaining their spot in the limelight. We are, very firmly, cake stand people now.

say cheese

August 8, 2012 - One Response

We had a photo booth at the wedding.

Everyone seemed to like it — it kept the children busy, it produced some adorable photos of Dave’s grandfather wearing a king’s crown and a huge grin, it nearly got Amruta a date with the hipster operator, A.J. A lot of good things came of it.

But this, by far, is the best.

the aftermath

August 7, 2012 - Leave a Response

I was going to tell you all about the day after the wedding, in which I woke up before Dave (unheard of!) and bounded up to my parents’ room clutching a copy of the New York Times to find my dad with his hair sticking straight up and my mother still in bed at 8:30 at the morning (unheard of!) and how I sat on the corner of their bed and we talked about the evening and kept saying things like “just perfect” and “wonderful” and “lucky, lucky, lucky.”

But dude, even I am getting a little bit tired of these 1,000 word-plus wedding-related blabs.

So instead I will just give you the highlights. I will tell you that I did not get that cheeseburger, sadly, but I did eat an entire plateful of bacon at our post-wedding brunch.

A few pieces ended up on this dress and left distinct grease stains but I didn’t really care.

At the brunch, I flitted from table to table, taking in all these people who had come so far to see us get married, now in the rosy daylight.

Neither the boy who vomited on the bus nor his entourage made it to the brunch. Evan made it, but only after enduring a car ride with my aunt and uncle (both in their 70s) yelling at their GPS. Sometimes watching your worlds collide is poignant and stirring and sometimes it’s just hilarious.

Dave and I took the train back to New York, lugging with all those outfits I had insisted on bringing for no apparent reason, and ran into Tracey and Aaron and Evan too.

We got back to the apartment and ate the same sushi I’d been eating nearly every night pre-wedding and sat in our same living room, but everything felt different. We read the wishes and congratulations everyone wrote on their cards and I cried.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the post-wedding buzz or the promise of Hawaii the next morning. But man, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as happy as I did that next day, when it all started sinking in.

Previously: the pre-wedded state, Dave & Rach Get Married, Part 1; Dave & Rach Get Married, Part 2; Dave & Rach Get Married, Part 3

Next: the honeymoon, duh.

Rach & Dave get married, part 3

August 6, 2012 - One Response

First on the agenda after all those Mediterranean appetizers: a teeth check.

Once we affirm we don’t have strands of roasted red pepper stuck in our bicuspids, we’re ready to hit cocktail hour.

We’ve rejected the idea of a receiving line and will end up spending the dinner hour downing our beef wellington and then sneaking out to the terrace alone when we probably should be rotating amongst the tables, but for now, we’re really working it. The tartar station and passed slices of filet I was planning on focusing on are now a distant memory; my new cocktail hour goal seems to involve flinging my arms around as many people as possible. I am a hugging machine. (The massive wine glass filled with champagne that a family friend hands me seems to help with this pursuit.)

One of the many modern American wedding expectations I have a problem with is the Grand Entrance Of The Newly Betrothed Mr. And His Missus. First off, I’m not taking Dave’s name in any way, shape or form, so what is there to really announce anyway? I fret about the bridal party not wanting to boogie in to the Black Eyed Peas, about Dave and I being embarrassed of the spotlight too.

And then I come up with a solution.

Only Dave and I will do the entrance. They’ll call us “Dave and Rach” – duh, those are our names. And Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize will be blaring in the background.

It is absolutely the right call.

Then it’s time for the traditional Jewish dance/brush with death: the hora.

I watch in horror as some of Dave’s scrawny, non-Jewish friends are recruited in the heat of the moment to hold the chairs. The result is a bumpy, petrifying ride meant to…brace us for what marriage feels like? I’m not sure, but I know I’m much happier when we’re finally on the ground again.

Of course, as soon as it’s my parents’ turn to test the limits of their mortality, I’m all for it, clapping away.

There are some more dances, but there’s nothing really hilarious about them to share, except for maybe how terrible Dave and I are at dancing. It never even crossed our minds to take a class; we know we’re beyond help.

My dance with my Dad is no better choreographed – the coordination challenges I face span generations – but it is very special to me, if only because both my parents, never the biggest supporters of all this traditional wedding crap, are somehow now beaming.

The toasts range from Poignant (my best friends) to Not At All Focused On Us (my mother, classically trying to prevent her daughter from being the center of attention on her freaking wedding day) to Very Painful To Listen To (An Unidentified Drunk Brother.)

Not because the Unidentified Drunk Brother doesn’t love us of course, but maybe because he put too much faith in his improv skills and his ability to handle an open bar. His final line – wishing us the 3 C’s in our marriage: compassion, communication and sex – gets a big laugh from me, both because it’s funny and because, thank god, it seems like he’s finally going to hand over the mic to someone else.

Dave’s 15-year-old brother – he of bar mitzvah and embarrassing Facebook debacle fame – makes the best speech, in Dave’s and my opinion. He cuts right to the chase, wishes us well, and is done in 15 seconds flat. The whole crowd is so grateful we all ignore the glass of champagne he’s holding.

I know you’re supposed to have some big moving moment at your wedding, probably at your ceremony, as you devote the remainder of your days on earth to your husband, or maybe right before you walk down the aisle, as you contemplate your girlhood  with your parents and begin to see the step you’re taking as a distinct, new chapter in your life. But my moment, if I had one, probably came on the dance floor.

We’re surrounded by a swaying crowd of family and friends, and, this is far from poetic, I know, but everyone just appears to be having a wonderful time at this silly little event. Everyone we love seems to love us right back.

Honestly, Dave and I are kind of shocked that we are capable of throwing this kind of party, capable of somehow convincing people to rally around us like that. We’re moderately sure the constant flow of champagne has something to do with it, but still. It makes me very happy.

The dance floor festivities continue to rage and Dave and I momentarily sneak out for a private cake cutting.

By this point, I’m pretty sure the night has officially reached Your Wedding Isn’t A Failure status (see above dance floor moment), but we’re not taking any chances. Our back-up plan was to buy our guests’ love calorically, with 10 different flavors of cake, and we’re sticking to it.

So that’s my wedding success tip: excessive desserts. Heaping plates of cakes slices, lemon bars, cream puffs and meringues seem to do the trick for us.

After all the cake has been eaten, the champagne drunk, the two encores played by the band, who promises to perform at our anniversary party, it’s time to peace out.

We board the buses. I’m next to Dave near the back, head on his shoulder, soaking everything in, when suddenly I catch a snippet of conversation from the seat ahead of me.

“Get it together, man,” the voice whispers. “We’re almost there.”

And then, there’s a lot of vomit.

I’m so high on bliss, so bossy on bridal status and so fucking intent on throwing a rager that I simply gather up my dress and make a beeline for the exit, no worse for the wear.

Then we all pile into the bar in the lobby of our hotel. My cousins are situated on bar stools, our friends are sprawled out on the lounge furniture, my aunts and uncles are congregating near the entrance. Jon is pouring glasses of champagne for my parents, someone’s ordering wine by the bottle. My college newspaper co-editor is sitting next to my high school biology classmate who’s  laughing at something my office husband is saying as he slowly drains a glass of whiskey. The bar is starting to feel like an episode of “This is Your Life,” and it’s awesome.

Of course, the happy couple can’t outstay their welcome. We leave the partygoers to their revelry and head upstairs to our room, consider the bottle of champagne on ice, the note addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. B.” (never heard of them), the cute little nightgowns I stocked up on for our honeymoon.

“How would you feel about getting a cheeseburger?” I ask.

And my new husband just laughs at me.

Next up: The day after, and a few bonus features.

Previously: the pre-wedded state; Rach & Dave get married, part 1; Rach & Dave get married, part 2

All photographs by Elisabeth Millay.