30.8.09

cheer

I’d tap dance if I thought it would make you happy. I haven’t taken a lesson since I was eight, though, and even then I was bad at it.

I could juggle, but hand-eye coordination has never been my forte, and I’d probably just add another catastrophe to your day.

I’d make you a snack, but your dinner plate is neglected in your lap. I’d make you a scarf or a hat or a tea cozy, but there’s no time for that.

So, together, we make the best thing: a plan, complete with list.

“Ted’s Birthday Dinner,” neatly across the top, we list possibilities for the family celebration. There’s research and brainstorming, and by the time you reach a decision, your forehead is smooth again and fists unclenched.

Don’t apologize. I’m your people.

~beatrix


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27.8.09

sibling bonds

While we were on vacation, my baby brother and I found some time alone to catch up on those things not meant to be heard or known by parents.

He described a party where he was yelled at by three girls and slapped by two. I can’t remember how many he kissed. And he told me about waking up one morning in a strange apartment. He couldn’t remember the name of the girl next to him, but even worse, he had to use his Blackberry to locate himself using GPS (thank Google for maps!) without waking her. He was two towns over from where he’d started the night before.

“How’d we end up like this?” I asked a mostly rhetorical question.
“I blame mom and dad.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know.”

I prescribed a sabbatical-- some time with no girls to refocus-- and he said he’d think about it.

And as our laughter waned, I realized I had nothing new to contribute. Aside from meeting a boy though blogs, my own dating drama has slowed dramatically as of late.

“What do you think mom and dad think about Ted? I mean he’s Jewish. . .”
“I think they’re just glad you’re with someone.”


~beatrix

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25.8.09

permission slips

I needed the words to replace all the I-miss-yous and I-like-yous and you’re-my-favorites. I needed the words to say what I really meant.

And I found them. And he echoed. And it was nice.

But. . . .

I didn’t want to say it too much. I shouldn’t say it every time I think it. So maybe not now.

He knows, anyway.

He dropped me off on the corner. It’s convenient that he has to drive by my work on the way to his.

Grabbing my things. Making sure the seatbelt wasn’t hanging out. About to close the door.

“What?” I shouted it back in.

“I said, I love you, ” shouted out the door.

And that was how he gave me permission to believe something I had known for weeks.

~beatrix


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20.8.09

a big thing

After our second date, Hugo kissed me on the walkway by the mailboxes and that big scraggly bush. And when I went inside and told Harper, she asked if there were fireworks.

“Mmm. Sparklers maybe?”

Sparklers were the warm-up. Fireworks weren’t ’til later.

Like Fourth of July in my grandma’s backyard: Little kids cried and covered their ears and the dog ran under the house and the main event was barely worth the anticipation. It was over before you knew it, smoky clouds and disappointment lingering. And in the morning, there was trash to clean up.


*****************

It was whispered with my head buried in his neck, the way important things seem to get said.

“What if I told you everything?”
“I’d listen”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

I thought it would be harder. But I guess it’s a thing that should never be hard to say, when you mean it.

*****************

It’s not explosive. It’s not a pot that boils over constantly, making the flame sputter. It’s not lightening, beautiful but nearly always coupled with rain.


He eats the rest of my breakfast yogurt, and he finishes my falafel sandwich as we sit on someone else’s stoop. Sitting on his sofa in a strapless dress, I’m bent over a silly cable hat I’m knitting, and he kisses my back and shoulders, softly. He knows how hard the day-to-days can be, but he knows how much it’s worth it. We find ourselves in a discussion of travel memoirs that even distracts us from making out. He rolls over in the night, wraps me up in his arms, nuzzles my neck. He believes in things. I look back at him, all chiaroscuro, in a dim movie theater. I wake up early and am ready to drag him out of bed when he, with little effort, pulls me back in. He holds my hand. I look at him.

Maybe a dusk full of fireflies:

It’s quiet. You can’t make anything happen; you just have to wait. It’s rare. It’s comforting and lovely and nearly always a surprise. And if you are patient, you can catch a piece of it in your hands.


~beatrix



So since you guys are all sort of involved, you should go wish this boy a happy birthday.

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19.8.09

My big fat Italian family

I'm amazed at how many of the people who read this blog are from overseas. I love reading their own blogs and hearing each culture come through their words. (Mr London Street just wrote a charming story about an American friend who began to adopt a distinctly British attitude about expectations.You should check it out-- after you finish reading this, of course.)

The differences between Americans and everyone else (as Americans tend to categorize the world) are numerous. We tend to look at these differences on a psychological level but they go much deeper-- cellular even. If you ask a European about his heritage, he'll likely give you a single answer. If you ask an American, you'll usually hear a long list of places of ancestry. (Another sweeping stereotype for you-- Americans suck at math unless dealing with the many fractions of various nationalities that make up their heritage.)

For example, I am half German, a quarter Polish, and a quarter Italian. I may also be Scottish too depending on how deep you want to look into the questionable background of my great-grandfather. I am a typical American; a living mosaic of the those who emigrated to the states over the last few hundred years in search of a better life.

Except for one thing: Americans like simple as much as they like variety. For all of my cultural diversity, I am usually written off as 100% Italian. Granted, I have dark features and my last name ends in a vowel but I think the categorization goes further than that. Just as in eye and hair color, I believe that there are such things as dominant cultures in our genes. The resulting cultural tendencies are so forceful that they can overwhelm everything else, and try as you may, it is impossible to escape them.

I came to this great revelation during my family vacation in the middle of a day at the beach when my aunt offered me a snack from her beach bag.

"Are you hungry Harper? I made gazpacho."

Gazpacho. My aunt brought soup to the beach. And since you can't have soup alone, she also brought french bread, a variety of cheeses, and olives. To the beach.

One great thing about being Italian-- you'll never go hungry.

-Harper


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the hardest thing is colors


He was the baby of one of Ted’s mom’s friends, and I held him in my lap while they, the grownups I suppose, ate at another table. He was old enough to sit and laugh, but still baby enough to be content with bouncing and cuddling. I’m not good at babies. But the surprising heft of him and the perfect skin on his chubby arms and legs and that baby smell I’ve never quite understood before. . . . For the first time in my life this felt natural. I tried to give him some apple juice from a bottle, but he was hardly interested and it dribbled down his chin.

Later, Ted and I walked up the avenue toward my place.

“I just think there should be enough time that no one feels rushed,” he concluded his reasoning for time of day.
“I think the hardest thing is colors. Like bridesmaids’ dresses.”
“What about a dark, rich blue?”
“I like that, but it makes the flowers tricky. . . .”

*****************

These days I’m back to drinking coffee once a week, sometimes more, without risking my heart bouncing around and convincing me I’m going to die. I’m not sure, but I think this might mean I’m happy.

“I had a really creepy dream that I shouldn’t tell you,” I told him, sitting in the little park with our coffee and bagels.

“Well, now you have to tell me.”

Whether I should have or not, I did. I told him about the baby.

“But that wasn’t really the creepy part. After that, we were having a very serious discussion about bridesmaids’ dress colors.”

The dream had tangled itself with our actual walk home the night before and felt like it could have really happened. Almost. His real-life suggestion is the color of his college teams.



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18.8.09

spare me

He stays calm while I explain the panic.

While I was away, I thought lots about how perfect things are, but when it was time to see him. . . the pressure was too much. . . and what if. . . what if I am just wrong? . . .

Older than him and a girl, I might find myself under more pressure to be right. Too be right sooner.

I need him to spare me if he knows it’s not gonna work. If I’m going to have another big breakup, I need it to stay as small as possible.

And I’m telling him this and feeling like a crazy girl. I just want to make sense. I don’t want to be one of those girls.

He doesn’t pull away, says he understands.

He’s honest.

And we turn momentarily, hesitatingly, embarrassedly to the faintest glimmer of what-if. A problem? A hope?

We stop talking about it. We don’t know, won’t know. And we don’t need to know. Not now. Not tonight.


~beatrix


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17.8.09

hindsight

The problem is that I could have married Baron. Not that I should have, but that I could have. And I could have just gone on believing that being in love is being possessed and that all bad the times can be buoyed by the good.

My parents were right, it turns out. They didn’t always dislike him, but I should have listened to them those last three years or so.

I fell in love with him when I was 15, maybe 14. He told me he loved me the first time on a folded sheet of notebook paper; we’d never even kissed. We got older. We had plans. We knew what we’d name our babies.

I thought I’d marry him. I thought I knew him.

I was wrong.

These days we don’t even talk. Soon he’s going to marry one of our high school friends. Baron lived with her while we were still together.

I’ll probably never quite know for sure how wrong I was.

The problem is that I could be wrong. That I can be wrong. That I might be wrong.

~beatrix

(this is a bonus happy snippet:

“So what did you do while I was away.”
“Man things. I licked a stripper, but only one.”
“Was she pretty?”
“Yes.”
“Prettier than me?”
“No.”)


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16.8.09

Pity party

I'm throwing myself a pity party, and you're invited!

The family trip was a disaster. Not in the, "My family is so weird!" kind of way. A disaster in the "Do you mind if I spend Christmas with you because I've burned bridges with every person on the planet who shares my DNA and I have no where else to go?" kind of way. I'm working on several vignettes for you all to explain in a humorous way how exactly my family unit disinegrated in a few short days, but right now I just want to feel sorry for myself. I mean, "Long December" came on the radio today and I cried.

Is there a time when you can stop trying to put your Humpty-Dumpty family back together again? If all the king's horse and all the king's men couldn't do it, where does that leave me?

-Harper

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15.8.09

one fine day

My cousin got married on a Thursday afternoon at the courthouse, and my parents decided that they should help throw a party for the newlyweds the next weekend.

It was last-minute and bit thrown-together, and I wasn’t able to go.

“It wasn’t perfect,” my mom told me.
“It wasn’t exactly what we had in mind,” my dad said.

These are my parents. They’ve been planning my wedding for 27 years. I’m sure they thought idly about the party they’d get to have one day as their only daughter, dressed in floufy dresses and ruffle socks, scattered silk petals down aisles or passed around countless rice bags, but it’s reached a new intensity in the past five years or so. These days, at every wedding they attend, they compile a list of to-dos and not-to-dos.

“At Beatrix’s wedding, I want people to walk around with the food,” my dad will say, filling a plate with appetizers from a buffet.
“Yes, but I do like the bridesmaids’ bouquets,” my mom will answer, carefully examining a centerpiece.

I’m surprised they haven’t started taking notes. On the way home, they analyze the favors before launching into the age-old band-versus-deejay debate.

Sometimes it comes completely out of the blue.

“I was thinking that at Beatrix’s wedding, we’ll have fried quail,” my mom will say over dinner (of something that is not fried quail).
“I thought about that, but it makes your hands smell funny,” says dad.
“Oh, I guess it does. . . .”
“Maybe we could have some kind of towels. . . .”

At the beach, our next-door neighbors were having a wedding, a casual weeknight party on the sand. We watched from our deck.

“Yes, you have to wear a shirt,” my mom told my brother, as she dragged a living room chair outside.
“Yeah. Is nothing sacred?” I asked, craning a bit to see the guests arriving and taking a sip of a daiquiri from a red plastic cup.
“I want y’all to have real weddings, not at the beach,” my dad told us. “I don’t look good in these kind of clothes. I look best in a suit, don’t you think?”

At least they haven’t given up hope altogether.

And one day, maybe, I hope they get to throw the wedding of their dreams.


~beatrix



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14.8.09

in betweens

I hesitate, afraid.

A whispered conversation in the dark, holding tight to one another.

I could say it, but I don’t. Probably shouldn’t.

Wait. Be sure.

He’s scared because he’s never done it before.

And I’m scared because I have.


~beatrix

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13.8.09

proceed with caution

I told my mom I was having dinner with Ted’s parents, and she told me she was jealous that we weren’t having dinner with her. I’m just surprised that I’m going to their house on purpose.

“It’s so weird. I have a real boyfriend.”

It has been very close to four months since this whole thing started. Four is the magic number, the score to beat. In college, it’s the length of a semester. It’s time enough for the weather to change. It’s a natural out.

It’s possible that I’ve declared that I’ll marry any boy who can make it past four months.

In retrospect, that seems a little drastic.

So I’m bracing myself. There’s no good reason for it, just a precedence.

If you could know the day it all would end, would you want to?


~beatrix

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11.8.09

National Lampoon's family vacation

I had promised tales of debauchery and sin but I got out-debaucherized rather quickly. Plus, I'm about to embark on a family vacation and there's nothing less sexy than forced family fun.

I shouldn't complain. While we've certainly had drama over the years (I mean, who hasn't had their own brother arrested?) my family is for the most part very nice and normal. In a way I wish we were all a bit more nasty-- it's hard for others to grasp the subltety of my family's form of warfare.

Let's take last Christmas, for example. My father's wife Karen (which, any child with a remarried parent will tell you is different from a step-parent) gave me some extra-special gifts.

Karen: Harper, this is for you.

Harper: Karen, thank you- it's the Van Morrison CD I wanted... But, what is this post-it note on it?

Karen: The post-it was to let you know that it's regifted. I already had the CD so I thought I'd give it to you. Open this one next!

Harper: Oh look, it's a book with another post-it reading "This has been regifted."

Karen: The cover may be a litte warped because I read it in the bathtub.

I admit that from time to time we take some creative license with this blog. I wish I could say that I had invented this scene, mostly because I wish I had never held a book that my father's wife had perused while soaking in the bathtub. But it's all true, down to the post-it notes.

Wish me luck during my family vacation. Anyone out there have equally horrifying family tales they'd like to share?

-Harper


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accidents


There was a whole mess of traffic in Brooklyn and no left turns and it took forever to get on the bridge, and I should have been more terrified by what he said.

“They should just kick out everyone who isn’t from here,” he declared, before realizing that that would mean I’d have to go. “Except you,” he corrects.

“What if I got deported?”

“I might have to marry you.”

“Really?”

“I’d think about it.”

Another day in the same car but on a different bridge, I claimed to have not kissed that many boys before him.

“It doesn’t matter,” he tells me, “ . . . as long as I’m the last one.”

He hears it the way it sounds to me, not quite how he meant.

These things come out as accidents, I know. He’s as cautious with this thing as I am, maybe more so. But the scariest thing of all is that these things he accidentally says, they don’t scare me so much at all.

~beatrix

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9.8.09

let's get together (yeah yeah yeah)

Sam was giggling when he pulled me aside and stage whispered, “Jonah likes Sara!”

And of course he does; it all suddenly made sense. Our curmudgeony co-worker Jonah had practically been pulling our intern Sara’s pigtails on the playground for weeks. And he’s been sharing snacks with her.

Even though we’d never mention it to either of them, Sam and I both support it. Sara’s internship is over soon, so it wouldn’t effect work. And the last time Jonah hooked up, he was so happy he bought us donuts, so that’s a bonus for everyone.

It seems such a good idea to everyone but them, and we have yet to think of a good way to nudge them toward each other. We thought about locking them on the roof together and alone, but that seems a little drastic. And I had an idea that I should cut my hair exactly like Sam’s so that people couldn’t tells us apart, Parent Trap-style, but, well, that didn’t make any sense.

Matchmaking is hard.

~beatrix

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7.8.09

another puke-tastic installment of the adventures of trix and ted

i wrote this, but wasn't going to post it because it even made me a bit queasy. but i'd hate for harper to run out of those vomit marshmallows. so here goes.


I wiped an eyelash off his cheek and told him to make a wish.

“It’s your turn.”

I can’t tell you what I wished before I blew it off my finger, because then it might not come true.

And I want it to come true.


i could make rice krispie treats myself, but i think i've eaten all the cereal.

~beatrix


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6.8.09

a case of the domestics





I’ve been reading cookbooks. It’s not really a new thing. I started checking them out of the library when I was 8 or 9.

On the train, wondered what color winter hat he’d like as I’ll probably do some knitting while I’m away on vacation. Probably blue, but maybe black. I think his winter coat is black.

At the grocery store, wondered if he likes banana bread. Probably. I can’t think of anything he doesn’t like. I’ll have to ask him so I’ll know when I’m reading my cookbooks.

~beatrix


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5.8.09

An open response to an open letter

Trix,

I hope you two completely ruined the rooftop dinner party going on two floors below.

Brava,
Harper

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an open letter

Dear Harper,

Last night Ted and I picked up some Vietnamese coffee and bahn mi for dinner. For a little excitement, we decided to eat on his roof. The sandwiches weren’t quite as good as the ones I get at this sketchy place in Chinatown, but the weather was nice since it had finally cooled off and I could see at least one star. We decided that were are sort of boring, but that we’re learning to live with it.

But then, six stories above the growl of traffic and two above the chatter of a roof-top dinner party, in view of a window-silhouetted girl at a desk and the Empire State building, we had upright, clinging-to-each-other, shouting-into-his shoulder roof sex. And we decided we’re not really that boring after all.

love

~beatrix




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3.8.09

The return of Harper

Trix is very happy. She and Ted spend weekends going to Ikea and eating pie in bed and they even have a cookie ritual. I bet when she and Ted tell these stories in person, they finish each other's sentences and break into synchronized laughter at the particularly charming moments. If they were any sweeter I'd be vomiting tiny marshmallows all over my keyboard.

I'm sorry, I'm being hateful. I really am very happy for her. She's one of my most favorite people in the world and she deserves to be with a guy who understands the importance of dessert, particularly for breakfast. But I do sort of miss the stories of her stuffing underwear in her purse and staggering home in the morning from somewhere she shouldn't have been.

I am a terrible blogger. I have abandoned my responsibilities and left it to Trix to entertain the masses. And look what happened-- stories of kittens and babies and sunshine and pppttthhh. So I have returned to bring you tales of poor judgement, alcohol abuse, and, yes, missing underwear.

Kisses,
Harper


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yuppie food weekend, or why you'll stop reading this blog

let's pick up where we left off, shall we?


I had a story to tell you about my weekend.

I was going to tell you how I met Ted after work on Friday to work on our summer fun to-do list. We took the train to Brooklyn to eat pizza at Grimaldi’s, which I think at least rivals Lombardi’s. It was early, so there wasn’t much of a line. We walked over to the water, where there’s an amazing view of Manhattan. Ted took prom photos there, and we saw a wedding party with the same idea.

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, into Manhattan. I’d never done it, and we were able to check that off the list. I feel a little sorry for Ted that he’ll never be able to see the city as a tourist. But, as he’s from around here, we did walk over so he could show me his high school. We walked a little more, and at Bleecker Street, I asked if he’d ever been to Cones for gelato. And he decided we should go right then, even though we were on our way to pick up pie. So I got to show him something, and we split a cone.

Up to 13th Street to pick up (but not eat) pie (not our usual yummy-delicious cookies) at Milk Bar, and we crossed another thing off our list. We’d had an entire pizza plus that gelato, so it went straight in the fridge. We stretched, Ted made a Google map of our adventure (about 7 miles of walking), we cuddled, and we fell asleep exhausted.

I was going to tell you how we woke up late on Saturday, and ate our Crack Pie before we (officially) got out of bed. I’ve never eaten crack, but I think this was probably even more delicious. We had coffee around the corner from Ted’s place while we waited the hour and a half for a table at Clinton Street Bakery. I decided that I want to be friends with the cafĂ©’s French proprietress and that sometime soon we’ll have our breakfast there. I’m not sure yet if I’ll have an almond croissant or a pain au chocolat. Maybe I’ll just have une tartine.

While we continued to wait for brunch outside the restaurant, and the host called lots of parties of threes and fours who’d given up, we (jokingly?) tried to convince a couple to sit with us so we could have the table. Once we’d finally gotten inside and ordered, Ted mentioned them again. We both admitted that we were pretty sure if we’d sat with them we would have been best friends by the end of the meal. We were both a little disappointed at the missed opportunity (evidenced by regular checking to see if they were still there), but wholly satisfied with our meal. Ted had the blueberry pancakes, I had the banana-walnut ones (which are better), and he managed to clean both plates.

I was going to tell you how, as we pulled into the Ikea parking lot, Ted commented on the yuppie-ness of our afternoon in Red Hook. We browsed shelving and plates and those fun little fake apartments they set up. Then we went to Fairway, which is even better than the one on the Upper West Side, and it was pretty adorable to see Ted picking out plums and buying swordfish steaks and comparing organic cleaning supplies. I was going to tell you about a comical (and still quite unexplained) grocery cart mix-up.

We got home and played gender roles. Ted put together furniture while I made dinner, and it felt sort-of right. On Sunday morning, he finished the previous night’s salad while I ate cookies and watermelon and chocolate. And it was a good thing I had to pop into work for a while, or he might never have gotten rid of me.

Those were the stories I was going to tell. Then I realized that that’s not why you are here. There are no more weeks of making out with five different boys or skipping work because of date hangovers or surprise late-night visitors. The kissing is great, but it’s not shocking or controversial. I’m not even fighting this serious relationship thing anymore.

Happy is boring. This blog is boring.

You’ll probably quit reading, but when you check in, the blog will be all pictures of what we had for dinner and very serious discussions of dvd storage solutions. I should just quit writing and buy some cute aprons from Anthropologie.

~beatrix

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