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Archive for November, 2013

My mother crocheted me a bikini.

I was maybe 4 years old. I felt uneasy as I donned my fancy, loose-looped bathing suit but I’m sure my mother will tell you that time and experience warped my memory. She’d also say the bikini was “high” fashion and could have come out of the pages of Vogue.

We went to the public pool where I eased my crochet clad self into the water.  The fancy loops of my suit got loopier.  The holes grew holier.  With a single dunk, my bikini, both the top and bottom, blew up and swished right off my body.

There I was, naked in the shallow end.

Possibly that same year, I dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween.  My mother made the costume, a big orange fabric orb and a green felt leaf hat. How to make the fabric pumpkin costume round must have been a conundrum.  But my mother is nothing if not a problem solver.

She rounded out my pumpkin suit with balloons.

My costume was stuffed with balloons and I was stuffed into the station wagon (I recall it took some maneuvering because my costume girth was greater than the door width and I was an under-coordinated 4 year-old) Once in, the downside of balloon stuffing revealed itself.  I couldn’t sit without popping the balloons and turning my pumpkin from plump to sad and saggy.  So I stood for the drive, with my arms wrapped around my father’s driver seat headrest so I wouldn’t take a tumble (and pop the balloons).

I remember a birthday party where the entertainment was making party hats.  My guests and I each colored a thin paper plate and my mom stapled a ribbon to each side so we could tie our decorated creations under our chins.  We had party plates on our heads for the afternoon.

I didn’t yet have to wear an eye patch so I got to see all of this with two eyes wide open.

The thing these memories have in common is they must, at least in part, be responsible for my grown-up sense of humor.  And all this action took place in Ohio. “O-O Way to go Ohio.”  (Extra pride points if you remember the musical reference.)

There are lots of directions this post can take now.  I can explore lessons learned (like not all yarn is good for all projects and if anyone out there decides to crochet a bikini, learn from my experience and do a bath tub test).  We can discuss creative mishaps and unintended consequences (like balloons are a great filler until they aren’t).  Today I’m most interested in memory.

I’m not sure why some images cement into my life story while others fade away.

I remember two apartments, powdered milk, the crunch of the gravel parking lot waking me up and welcoming me at the end of a car trip.  I remember our neighbor who used to swallow marbles and then gag them back up.  We made card houses. I went to dance class and got to dance on a public access television show.  I was super excited to go and buy baby wipes because the teacher said stage lights are hot and we’d want to blot.  I was a star in need of supplies.

The Ohio memories seem to group together but I have super vivid memories throughout my childhood.  Things like resting under the dining room table with the dog, carrying Nilla Wafers in my patent leather purse, sledding though my sled wouldn’t go, making ornaments out of dough we couldn’t eat and my Kindergarten School Bus driver, Mrs. Hubbard and her nursery rhyme key chain.

But while I can remember toddling into my father’s 70’s brown panted knees and laughing and getting away and doing it again, I can’t give you directions to 90% of the streets in my home town.  To this day, I seize with fear if asked how to find Walnut Street.  I often forget people’s names as soon as they say them and for all the money in the world, I can’t tell you what I ate for dinner last night.  Memory making is fascinating and I’m always impressed when people show off extraordinary memory feats.

Like when the bartender at Maysville (17 W 26th St, NYC), across time and out of context, remembered me and a friend.  A year earlier, he worked at a different restaurant and we stopped in after shopping.  Cut to current day when we pulled ourselves up to the bar at Maysville and he remembered us, the shopping and our conversation. Impressive.  And he makes a great drink.

Maysville has more than a talented bartender who may well have the best memory in the city.  The food is excellent. Go and try the Crispy Grits with Country Ham.  Believe me, you’ll forgive its artery clogging properties as you bite into one of these treats.  And you’ll order them again.  The Brussels, a menu regular, are amazing (I confess, I push the pig’s ears aside) and so far everything I’ve tried rates a “yum”!

Maysville is a bourbon bar and the under lit bottles give the place a warm bourbon glow.  They take their drink making seriously.  My margarita was delicious.  They use Milagro Silver Tequila and fresh lime.  (I can’t believe I forgot to take a marg picture!)  The drinks are balanced and worth the indulgence especially if you line your stomach with Crispy Grits.

So check it out and when you go, say hi to Andy (I really hope I got his name right). He’s super nice, he will mix you a great drink and when he says hello to you on your second visit, you’ll know he actually remembers you.

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I think work is the problem.

I’m credentialed to say this because I passed a pass/fail class called “The Philosophy of Work.” The course was required toward my undergraduate Honors Degree in Liberal Studies. For those of you thinking that an Honors Degree in Liberal Studies is useless, don’t worry, I have a BA English Literature too.

In class, we talked about what it means to have a job versus a career versus a vocation.  We talked about the value of work in our culture. Hard work is respected and applauded.  We are bootstrap pulling people.  We even have a national holiday, where we don’t work, to celebrate all the other days when we do.

We talked about work and happiness. Is work a necessary evil or the path to fulfillment?  Is it toil or enlightenment?  Maybe both?

Does the type of work matter? Is the person who digs a ditch, using muscles and will to make things happen more or less fulfilled than the person who uses a computer to diagram the ditch and makes things happen while dressed in business casual attire?

Looking back on my school days, I didn’t have a clue about what real work meant and the philosophical discussions didn’t do a thing to prepare me.  I thought I had it rough if I had a class on Friday.  I thought housekeeping chores were a burden.  I might have cut my arm off with a weed-whacker, if we’d had one, to avoid lawn maintenance.

I’ve been in the 9 – whenever working world for a while now. There are days when I look forward to getting to the office and know I make a difference.  When I work with someone on my staff and see the light of understanding flip on in their iris, my chest swells. There are also work days when no amount of compensation seems worth it.  And there are more workdays than I like to think about that end 13 hours after they begin.

Work helps me appreciate my leisure time.  And, my leisure time makes it possible for me to do my work.

My friends; my funny, smart, interested and interesting friends are a big part of my leisure time.

And we are funny.

The funny grows with group size.  Margaritas probably don’t hurt either.  And we were funny on fire the night we celebrated the birthday of a good friend (and short list candidate for margagogo’s open slot for a Brooklyn Correspondent).

Sometimes when we are together, I laugh so hard my cheeks cramp and tears run down my face.  When I get going, each peal of laughter rolls over the one before it, squeezing out the normal rhythm of my giggle until I sound like an asthmatic, wheezy bulldog.  I wish I could come up with a more attractive description than cramped cheeks, tears and wheezing. But in these moments, when I’m surrounded by friends and laughter, I know I’m exactly where I belong.

My friend’s birthday celebration at Bamonte’s in Williamsburg (32 Withers St) was the scene of one of these perfect moments.

Bamontes

Bamonte’s is old school Italian.  The lights are a little too bright, fixtures ornate, walls red and the staff supports every old school stereotype. My friends chose Bamonte’s for the celebration because their family has a relationship with the restaurant since way ‘back in the day’.  You’ll feel the history when you walk in the door.  It was the perfect setting to explain hashtags to friends who don’t and won’t ever tweet and it made total sense when “hashtag” became “hound dog”.  Thanks to this night, I will forever be “hound-doging” #hounddogisthenewhashtag  #funnyonfire

You should go to Bamonte’s and get a double order of the Eggplant Rollatini – it is insane.  Everyone had a great meal and unless you’re really, really hungry, you’ll have left overs to take home. I had spaghetti and meatballs (amazing) and my laughter turned to real tears the next day when I realized I wasn’t getting the lunch I was drooling for because my to-go never made it to my refrigerator and instead spent the night in my purse. #bummer #cryingagain

Food Styling by the Birthday Boy.

Food Styling by the Birthday Boy.

Grab a group of friends and head to Bamonte’s.  You should, under no circumstances, order a margarita.  But if you stick with wine and anything else on menu, I know you’ll have a great meal and I hope you have half the fun that we had. #funnyonfire #happybirthday #Ineedahounddogsymbol

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