Friday, September 28, 2007

The New Me

Did you ever have one of those days where you just feel completely "off"? A day where no matter what you pick out of your closet, it feels tight, or doesn't look quite as good as you remember it looking. A day where no amount of sugar or coffee fully wakes you up, where your normally clear head feels thick, and doughy. Don't even think about stepping on the scale on one of those days--no good can come of it. Inexplicable weight gain is the hallmark of O.O.T.D. And forget about your hair looking good; best to wear a cap or babushka until the day finally ends.

I've had O.O.T.D. this past week. It started with the full moon and the resulting insomnia / under eye bags, then the inexplicable five pounds that my enemy, the scale, gleefully flashed at me at 6:00 a.m., souring my day before it even got started. It followed me into my bedroom, where I experienced what can only be described as extremely critical closet anxiety. Then into the bathroom, where no amount of gel, spray, wax, or mousse was going to help my anemic locks. And, a pimple!

Of course it would have been nice to tuck back into bed with a bag of salty potato chips, and a stack of gossip magazines, hoping to avoid the inevitable personal catastrophes that those kinds of days seem to dish out so readily: spinach in tooth, bird poop on navy blazer, wad of gum on shoe, or the classic pantyhose run. But I've never been a quitter, and I wasn't going to start now. So I decided to fight back by doing something that day would never expect me to do: I headed to the hair salon to get a fresh, new look (I am sure that day expected me to be sitting around in my pajamas, feeling sorry for myself...HA!!). Three hours later, I emerged from the salon with a new hairstyle for fall, with my pants somehow feeling looser around the waistline, and with a bouncy spring in my step. And I swear--that for a fleeting second--as I turned the corner of the alleyway outside the salon, I caught a glimpse of a supremely glum looking that day sitting alone on the stoop, elbow deep into a jumbo bag of Lay's potato chips, proving to me yet again, that looking good is indeed the best revenge.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Grave Rubber

We're experiencing an early Indian Summer here in New York, with temperatures in the steamy 80's, and nary a breeze to be found. So while it looks like fall (the trees are turning orange), and sounds like fall (the acorns are falling), it actually feels more like mid-July. Of course you won't hear any complaints from me; I'm taking advantage of this Al Gore-esque heatwave by spending as much time as possible outside in the fresh air. Yesterday, inspired by the blue skies, chippering song birds, and warm, golden September sunlight, I did what every red-blooded American does when they have a free afternoon: I headed to the local graveyard. O.K., so maybe not every American chooses to spend their idle time with the dead, but I've always been intrigued by graveyards; to me they are outdoor museums where we can get a glimpse into the past and learn more about the history of both a community and an era. And it’s especially interesting to find a family plot, where you can trace the lives and losses of several generations, or, to discover a — whether intentionally or unintentionally — humorous epitaph.

So, yesterday I grabbed my butcher paper, charcoal, scissors, tape, and spray fixative, and made a beeline to the old Quaker cemetery near our home. I spent some time reading the inscriptions, and then rubbed several graves (that's rubbed, not robbed!), from the early 1800's, making sure I thanked the departed soul who's tombstone I was preserving along the way, as the last thing I need on a beautiful Indian Summer day, is an angry spirit on my case.

You'll need a roll of butcher paper, black chalk or charcoal, masking tape, and spray fixative (all available at crafts stores). And if you don't want to leave there looking like a coal miner, it's a good idea to bring along some wet naps, or, at the very least, paper towels. Make sure rubbings are permitted in the cemetery you are visiting; in some historic cemeteries, where headstones are very fragile, stone rubbing is banned.

Use common sense when choosing a headstone; do not attempt to rub any stone that is flaking, splitting, or unstable.

To get started, cut a length of butcher paper slightly longer than the area you will be rubbing, then gently secure it to the face of the stone with tape. Using the broadest part of your charcoal, rub across the face of the stone using long, sweeping strokes. When your rubbing is complete, spray the front of the paper with spray fixative (available at craft stores) to prevent smudging.

And before you leave, make sure you clean up any paper, tape, wetnaps...well, you get the idea.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ghouls, Ghosts & Graveyards

I just signed on to do a special Halloween segment called Ghouls, Ghosts & Graveyards, on the News Channel 8 (WTNH) Good Morning Connecticut Weekend show. Tune in on Saturday, October 13th at 7:40 am. for some ghoulishly good recipes + crafts!

Friday, September 21, 2007


Today is the first day of Autumn: a bittersweet day if ever there was one. I've been busy for the past two weeks with work and travel, but wanted to pop my head out as summer comes to a close to say thank you to all you Summerologists out there who purchased my book, who turned out for my signings, listened to me on the radio, watched me on TV. And special thanks to those who took time out to write, to let me know how much you love Summer (the season and the book!), and for your favorite memories, recipes, and, especially, jump rope rhymes.

I will be here all fall and winter (hopefully working on a second book...stay tuned!), so feel free to drop me a line to let me know how you spend the other three seasons. And for you diehard summer-lovers who are feeling a little bittersweet today, like me, never forget that summer is not only a season, but a state of mind as well.

With love,

Friday, September 7, 2007


Inspired by my past few logs on finding—or, even better, creating—free time, yesterday I took my own advice and scheduled a personal day; a day off that was free of computers, and work, and (sorry if any of you are reading this), clients. Having just returned from a relaxing vacation, I could not in good conscience justify a spa day, and, having gained five pounds eating hotdogs and drinking margaritas for a week, I opted to not spend my free 24 hours as a lady who lunches. Instead, I crazily decided to spend my clean slate of a day traveling 1700 miles up and down the eastern seaboard to visit a panda. Not just any panda mind you, but Mei Lan, the heartstring-tugging, so-cute-your head-might-explode panda that was born exactly one year ago yesterday at the Atlanta Zoo, and who I have watched on the PandaCam—obsessively, like a parent watching every breath, step, milestone of their first born—for exactly 366 days. And so, determined to set a ‘free time’ example for my faithful readers (and selfishly wanting to see Mei Lan in the flesh—or, is that fur?) before she grew up too much, I booked a flight to Georgia. My adventure—as I had sketched out in my head for days—was to play out as follows:

-Wake up at 5:30am, clear out the sleep cobwebs with a cold and refreshing Starbucks Iced Coffee.
-Shower, get dressed, and head to the airport for an 8:05am flight.
-Arrive in Atlanta at 10:00am completely refreshed, having taken a peaceful two-hour nap en route.
-Take a quick cab ride from airport to zoo to spend several hours gazing lovingly at Mei Lan’s adorableness, snapping perfect National Geographic quality photo, upon photo.
-Tear myself away in the early afternoon for a quick visit to the Georgia Aquarium. Then, after spending quality time with jellyfish, starfish, and, well…every other fish, ocean mammal, crustacean and sea urchin imaginable, head back to the zoo for a special panda birthday event with like-minded panda enthusiasts, followed by a late flight back home, where I would plop into bed, joyously exhausted from the days activities.

Now, I am old enough, seasoned enough, and have traveled enough to know that even the most well thought-out, most carefully charted plans more times than not, do not fall into place as hoped. So, it comes as no surprise that the bullet points of my day turned out somewhat differently than what I had choreographed in my mind...

-Woke up at 5:30am, and did in fact clear out the sleep cobwebs with a cold and refreshing Starbucks Iced Coffee.
-Did get showered and dressed, and made it to the airport in time (so far so good!)
-Arrived in Atlanta with a splitting headache from the blowhard that pontificated for two hours at top volume in the seat behind me. Then, made a beeline to the ladies room in an attempt to remove the multiple pink stains that my crumbled Clinique blusher left on the front of my clean, white jeans. (note: soap + water + blusher = large, pink stain).
-Took 80mph ride from airport to zoo from psychotic, lane-weaving cabbie. Exited taxi in need of a warm ginger ale, Pepcid and Valium. Wondered what I was thinking taking a trip to Atlanta.
-Waited in line, wilting in 90 degree Georgia heat with fidgety, shrieking children, and impatient parents for two hours until we were finally allowed to shuffle like slaughterhouse cattle into the panda viewing area.
-But then, just as I had almost given up hope on my Dream Day, there she was—MEI LAN!—in all her cuddly, fluff ball glory. I snapped one, two, three photos of her, and camera flashed F-U-L-L.
-Freaked out. Didn't think it was possible to be more stressed. Or, sweaty.
-Was corralled out of panda viewing area within two minutes, my mouth still agape at inexplicable camera malfunction. Reminded of the time my mother stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon—her lifelong dream that she waited years to experience—only to discover her camera was broken.
-Depressed that I have officially turned into my mother.
-After equal parts cursing and praying, amazingly figure out how to store additional photos on my camera disk, but first must heartbreakingly delete photos I've already snapped.
-Wiped tears from eyes, got back on line.
-30 minutes later, was back in panda viewing area only to get yelled at for taking too long by the one mean person in all of Georgia.
-Tell mean person from Georgia a thing or two.
-Looked at watch, horrified to learn that I was more than two hours behind schedule. Raced to street to catch bus to Aquarium, only to see bus pulling away.
-Wait 40 minutes in baking sun for new bus. Skin looked and felt like it was coated in Crisco. Couldn't call taxi because my cell phone battery light was flashing red, despite the fact that I had charged it overnight.
-Bus finally arrived, and twenty minutes later I am at the Aquarium, which immediately lifts my ragged spirits (How could it not? The Georgia Aquarium is awe-inspiring), but am so utterly exhausted, I decide to end my day there and catch an early flight home.
-Am forced to change flight via pay phone, which I have not used since 1989. Took 25 minutes to figure out how to use credit card instead of quarters.
-No cabs available outside of aquarium. Remember that mad, speed demon driver from morning drive gave me his business card. Shocking even myself, I dialed his number.
-Sat in back seat of Taxi from Hell with eyes tightly closed, hands folded in prayer, mind alternating between making bargains with God, and vows that next day off will be spent getting facial and massage.
-2 hour delay on flight home; headed to nearest airport bar.

Now you would think that at that point I would be in a somewhat sour mood—and at moments, yes, I surely was. But when I boarded the plane back to New York with frazzled, world-weary business travelers, all of them still working on their proposals, and presentations, I realized how blessed I actually am. Because my day was not about getting to a meeting on time, or worrying about a client, or worse...a boss. Instead my day—despite planes, stains, and pains—was simply about me doing something special for me. Sure, I could have gone to the spa in town, or to lunch with a friend, or shopping at the mall, but instead I opted to spend my free day doing something completely crazy like visiting a panda. It's adventures like those that not only make for good storytelling, but for a colorful, happy life as well.