Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today being Halloween I look fondly back on the last nearly 10 years of this journal and all the days I took my kids out trick or treating, and all the fun we had. Jess stopped hanging out with us for Halloween a few years back because her best friend's birthday is today (Happy birthday Lizzy, my other daughter who isn't my daughter...) so it was just us and Geoff for a while.

I remember rushing home from work when I worked in Andover to get makeup on my gypsy and put red hair color on my little devil, pictured here in first grade at school. God, he was so freaking cute...

Last year Geoff decided he didn't want to trick or treat anymore. I guess all kids hit this age and then maybe in late high school or college they change their tune and get back into it. He didn't want to even dress up to hand out candy. He was kind of ... meh about it. Instead, we stayed home all together, handed out candy and he was genuinely interested in the trick or treaters, the little ones, and the adults dressed in costume. Doug and Geoff were both incredibly entertained by the Smoking Banana and his Pirate Friend.

Geoff saw a lot of his friends as they came by, and they all asked him why he was home. He muttered "mghghrrhifnt too old mfongygyningg... have fun." and they went on their way.

My friend Janet and her husband and kids came here last year to trick or treat in our neighborhood. Last year we were deep in the death fears of H1N1 virus and the retirement/older people community here in town canceled their annual trick or treat event so Janet and Dave had nowhere to go. Our neighborhood is pretty cool, we are on a busy street but there are two nice side streets full of homes and candy, so we sat out front and the boys and daddy went trick or treating.

Janet brought me a bottle of wine, and we had snacks, and it was a lot of fun.

I'm hoping they come back this year. I'm moving the fire pit to the end of the driveway and we plan on having a nice little fire with "boooooooooooooooo!ze" and "Snickers and Liquors" for us grownups.

Geoff has raked all the up front leaves into one pile. He plans on hiding underneath them and jumping out and scaring children. At least he's in the spirit of it this year instead of "blargalalar mgarfr hoinnn too old meh."

I can't find my halloween witchy hat and my fake rubber rats. I'm all out of candles, and it is too windy out there anyway for them. I think the fire will be just fine and we'll have plenty of happiness in the neighborhood.

This is a picture of Jess, not from Halloween but from our friend Kyra's bat mitzvah. Jess is using this as her facebook picture right now, and I love the photo. She had no idea I was taking her picture, and she was mildly amused by the 13 year old crazed children on the dance floor. She is doing nothing for halloween in Pittsburgh. I get the feeling she is somewhat depressed, especially not being with Elizabeth for her birthday for the first time in many years. I feel awful for her -- I wish I could have brought her home for this weekend, but she'll be home in 3 weeks.

I miss her. A lot. So a nice little Mona Lisa smile makes me happy.

Hope whatever you find yourself doing for Halloween that you have fun.

Friday, October 29, 2010


So many of you know about my friend Keri. You know that for five years now she's been trying to adopt the sister of the girl she adopted. I've written a lot about her situation and how I find it frustrating and overwhelmingly wrong. In the process of bringing the old blog over here, I don't want to link to all the entries because all those entries are going to go away shortly, so I'll be back here editing as I post those so future readers can read them.

Since she was denied entry to the USA by our State Department in December of 2009, we've been trying to get the government to reverse their decision, let her come here for a visit.


Time is passing - time is wasting, and Keri feared for Anya's life. Keri packed up her daughter and went to Siberia in September to keep Anya stable and safe. She plans on staying there through the beginning of December.

I've been passionate about helping and supporting her, because I think what she is doing is lifesaving work. In addition to trying to help Anya, she has been making regular trips to the Orphanage out of which she adopted Nastia. She has been bringing them books and toys, making special 3 hour one way trips over to them to spend time. She is also teaching Shakespeare at a school near their apartment, to non-orphan "regular" town kids who are in love with her. They'll be doing scenes and monologues, not a full play. So she's giving them a great overview of Shakespeare. It's like Rebel East. All the way East.

It's hard for her being in Siberia. It's hard for Nastia because her 18th birthday AND her favorite holiday, Halloween, are both being spent there and they are clearly NOT the same as being home here.

If you're already a reader of her blog, you know the stories. If you're not -- go ahead over and follow. She's homesick, she's sad, she's filled with joy and hope and despair and frustration. Think about what it would be for you if you packed up and left to go 3/4 of the way around the planet to try and make a difference. And go over there and give her some love.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I had a job interview at a small New Hampshire College. It was the first interview I've had since April, when I got passed over for a job that I was perfectly qualified for because I don't have a Master's Degree in design, or anything else for that matter.

There were four people interviewing me. The CIO of the college, and department heads in the IT group. I felt relaxed, confident, positive that I was perfect for this job. They cracked jokes, I laughed; I made a funny, they laughed. One of the department heads seemed to really like me. The MIS director seemed unimpressed. The guy that would be my boss seemed engaged and interested in what I had to say. I felt like I owned that room. I was convinced I made a great impression.

The following day, I got a call from the placement agency that arranged the job interview. He said that they thought I was a good candidate, but that I was "too casual and relaxed" and that I didn't have enough experience with the software that I'd be teaching faculty to use. I'm still in the running, but I'm not "the" candidate.

I'm really not sure what I could have differently. They set me at ease, I felt comfortable with them. Did they expect me to be stone faced and serious when they jested about their faculty? And I'm an overtly convivial person, friendly, and open. So I was me.

Sounds to me that I don't want to work there. If the me that I am isn't the me that they want.

Friday, October 15, 2010

the whirlwind jessica home trip

On Saturday morning Kimmy and Catie, two of Jess' friends still in high school, met me here at the house. We went to my sister's house on Long Island where Jess was sleeping on the couch. Friday night she'd taken the Chinese bus from Pittsburgh to NYC and then took the train out to my sister's.

The reunion was joyful.

I was happy to see Jess, but she was shocked as heck to see Kimmy and Catie. She had no idea I was bringing her friends. My sister almost blew up our spot... she asked Jess how many friends I was bringing. Jess knew we were meeting up with two friends down in Philly so she was confused. Luckily my sister caught on and didn't push it or ask other questions. We all had lunch then, and headed down to Philly to see the Quintessence Theater Group production of "Henry V."

We wanted to get there early enough to have pre-show dinner with our friend Alex. Brooklyn Traffic saw to it that plan was ruined. At 6pm we were still in New Jersey. But we made it to the show and so did the two Rebels that were joining us (Marisa and Ryan).

The performance was outstanding. Every actor except for the one playing Henry V had multiple roles, so our friend Alex was Bardolph, a french dude, a british soldier, and was outstanding as Alice. The English Lesson is always one of my favorite scenes in the play, even though I do not speak French, and Alex was lovely supporting Katherine in her lesson on body parts and Henry.

The actor playing Katherine also played the Dauphin. He was astronomically fantastic. LOVED the hell out of him. He was flamboyant and braggy and proud, pompous and obnoxious... very fantastic. And the boots. Oh, the boots! Love love love him.

All told, I cried, I always cry.

I cried without ceasing when Henry spoke after the battle of Agincourt and gave all the credit to God. That against all odds, against all logic, they somehow won... it made me think of Keri and her fight for Anya, and I had a heart full of hope sitting there thinking that with the pure heart, the honest heart, all things will work out for good.

I loved the end where they danced a reel around the stage with Henry and Katherine in the middle, and then ended with Henry's death and the summation of his reign and the loss of the kingdom by his son.

An amazing time. So glad we fought the Brooklyn traffic and went.

The little theatre (The Sedgewick in Mt. Airy) was really cool. It needs a facelift but the space in and of itself was spectacular. The production was in the round, and even when the actors were across the stage, talking with their backs to us we could hear everything perfectly.

We went out after the show and ate with Alex at a little pub. Table for nine and a lot of laughs. I think it was 1am when we got back in the car to head north.

My plan was go to central Jersey and find a hotel by the highway. I made amazing time, and no one was in my way. Jess and I scanned the radio for a Springsteen song (left my CDs at home) and finally got "Blinded by the Light" just as we got to Ft. Lee and the GW Bridge. Being able to do 95 on I-95, I was happy that we were out of NJ in 90 minutes. I thought of stopping in Elizabeth or Ft. Lee but there weren't any hotels that looked easy to get to so I thought we'd head up to New Rochelle.

Next thing I know, I'm in Bridgeport CT and it is 3 am and I'm exhausted. I saw a big glowing happy sign for a Holiday Inn, and figured we'd stop there. But getting off the interstate, I couldn't find it anywhere. Jess spied a cheesy sketchy little motel and I pulled in and got us a room for cheap.

Note to self: Go 2 more exits next time to Milford and there are about 15 hotels right at those exits. All waiting for the weary travelers.

But ... we got a room in the sketchy little dive. The floors were tile, which none of us had ever seen in a hotel before. "It makes it easier to clean up the blood after CSI clears the scene," I joked. Heh.

Probably not far from the truth.

The beds were uncomfortable. The room was hot but the AC was noisy. Someone in the next room was tapping in code on the wall and Kimmy and Catie thought it was hysterical. Some guy parked below our window and cranked up the phat beats at top volume. After 15 minutes and me being borderline homicidal it stopped. I fell asleep sometime nearing 5 and we all woke up around 9. Right before Catie got in the shower I heard someone in a neighboring room screaming her way to orgasm.

We were out of there before 10, still tired but at least with enough clarity to make it home. Strangely enough, it wasn't the worst night's stay in a hotel I've ever had.

Catie had to go to work, which was why we even left Philly in the first place, so we got her home sort of in time.

We then went to the Zombie March down in Salem. This was the third one I've attended and I was happy Jess was with us because it wouldn't be the same without her. She and Kimmy made "protest" signs.

In years past there were a lot of protesters but this year they were alone. Sadly. They were still funny with their signs and got Kudos afterwards from Stevie the Zombie King. Geoff got his brains eaten by Billy Mays, and all told everyone had a blast. We got home and built a bonfire. I expected 10 kids to show up but no one came, just Kimmy.

Jess and I slept in on Monday, Doug eventually got us up so we could go leaf peep. Jess just wanted to sleep after the whirlwind weekend to that point, but Dad got his way and we made our way to NH, found ourselves at the Black Forest Bakery Cafe, ate a huge and delicious lunch, and didn't see much foliage.

A second bonfire was had because my friend Doug was visiting from Kiev Ukraine where he is working with orphans. We shared a beer and some carrot cake and some great stories about the adventures of his son who is hitchhiking and hopping trains all across the country.

Jess' plane was at 7am on Tuesday, so I had to drive her to Manchester at 5:15am. We both bemoaned that, but we got her there by 6 and she was back at Pitt by 11am.

Whirlwind tour, success!

We're now figuring out what to do with Thanksgiving, if we're going to have her get the Chinese bus to NYC and then another one up to Boston. She seems to want to come home, but hasn't expressed a burning desire either way. I hope she does come home. I miss her.

Anyway -- that's the update on those shenanigans.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chilean Miners

Everyone on earth it seems is watching the person by person rescue of the 33 Chilean miners on TV. 70 days they've been trapped, and thanks to technology and some very dedicated planners above they were kept safe and sane while the rescue evolved. Last night, the first of the miners was brought to the surface. By Midnight tonight they should be all done bringing them to the surface.

It has been a wonder to behold.

I have sat here, watching the joy unfold as wives and the president of Chile and the witnessing crowd are all hugging and cheering and giving thanks and praise. In the back of my mind, I pondered what it would be like to be down there with the others, and what the discussions would have been about who goes first? Who goes last? Did they draw straws? Did they get told by the rescue team what the order would be?

Were you to be down there, and it was left to you and the others what the order would be, would you want to go first or would you be happy to wait? What are your thoughts?

I think that I would let those who would be going up to the pregnant wife, the ones with the little wee babies who were missing them, go first. I'd let the ones who were sick (if I weren't sick myself) go before me. I think I would even offer to go absolutely last. And I would trust fully that nothing would go wrong between rescue one and rescue 29 or something... which would result in my not being rescued.

These things are easy to say from my fat butt on my couch. But I would like to think of myself as one who would insist that others go first. I think I've always been that way.

What about you? Would your desire to be free yourself outweigh your concern for your comrades? What do you think you would do?

Friday, October 08, 2010


by the way, if you're reading this, can you just leave a comment? the thing that i haven't yet figured out is how to get notified who is reading/hit counts/whatever. i kind of miss that in the old journal. i feel like i'm talking to myself here.

Weekend Plans

I am so excited. This weekend is the first time I get my daughter back from college. It is the longest I've been without her. Getting used to her being so far away has been hard on my heart, and on our dishes because like, no one likes doing the dishes.

Jess is taking the Chinese Bus from Pittsburgh to NYC, leaving from right in front of her dorm (no lie, that's where the Chinese bus leaves from) at 12:30am. She arrives in Chinatown in Manhattan at 6:30am. She then will take the train to my sister's house. I'm meeting here there on Saturday Morning, planning on leaving here myself at 7am... and we're going down to Philly to see 'Henry V' with our friend Alex Harvey on cast. Alex directed Jess in Rebel in "Midsummer" and "Lear" and is just a wildly amazing stupendous guy.

If you live in or around Philly, please go see Henry V at the Sedgwick, done by the Quintessence Theatre Group. I can't wait to see Alex acting, and I'm psyched to share this with her.

We head home Sunday, which is 10-10-10. Longtime readers of this blog know I'm a big fan of the annual Salem Massachusetts Zombie Walk. Which will take place 10-10-10.... and we'll be there for that.

Lurching begins at 5pm at Collins Cove, if you're local.

We'll then come back here for 8pm and a bonfire with Jess' friends. Their heads are exploding, they miss her so much. I know how they feel.

Monday we have no plans, we're going to hang out as a family, and I hope go out to dinner somewhere that makes everyone happy.

I bought Jess a plane ticket for Tuesday morning, and by noon she'll be back on campus.

I'm looking forward to this in the biggest way humanly possible. It'll be busy, and a lot of driving. And I need to get past this weekend and figure out what we're doing with Thanksgiving and her life for Winter break. But for right now, wow. It's going to be a blast of a weekend.