Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today - Buddha Day

Ten years ago today my husband and I were sitting in an internet cafe in Katmandu sending out some emails and planning our trek in the Himalayas. At the end of that trek we would be engaged. I will have also lost my inhaler and gotten kicked by a horse and Mr. Rosen will have thrown up more than a dozen times from altitude sickness. Pussy. But on this day we were still reeling from our three weeks in Thailand and happy to be in the cooler, dryer climate of Nepal. Here's a snippet from the email I wrote on May 31, 2001.

We took the night train back to Bangkok where we saw the golden Buddha - a huge, five ton, solid gold Buddha. Just about the shiniest thing I have ever seen. As it was our last day in the the city we attempted to see the 49 meter lounging Buddha too but when we arrived we were told it was Buddha Day and that there was a ceremony so we couldn't go in. Buddha Day? Then a guy told us that could take a tuk tuk ride and see the sitting Buddha and the lucky Buddha and the standing Buddha and then the export shop for only 20 baht. Unusually cheap. Why? Buddha Day. Good for Tourists. Buy jewelry.

We figured we were being set up for a scam and that Mr. Rosen might end up dressed as a woman in a tranny show if things got ugly. Bangkok has a scary underbelly. So we left. Then we asked another guy who also said it was Buddha Day and offered to drive us around. The export shop was having a promotion for tourists to buy things tax free. You buy, okay. You no buy, okay. So we figured what the hell and jumped in the tuk tuk.

We see one Buddha and then another and then another and then the guy takes us to this jewelry shop. We walk in looking like big sweaty shlumps having just inhaled five kilometers worth of exhaust from the vehicle in front of us exhaust while everyone else appears refined in their suits and bad toupees. They must have taken cars. It's obvious we're not going to buy anything so we find our way to the exit. The driver is annoyed and says we have to stay longer than ten minutes so that he can get his petrol coupon. Stupid foreigners. We understand. Buddha Day.

So we go to another place and Mr. Rosen and I start trying on rings like idiots and the owner is annoyed because his masterful powers of deduction have led him to believe we have no intention of buying anything and that we're just there for the coupon. But we hang out for ten minutes and the driver gets his coupon. What a funny day. Buddhas, coupons, toupees, precious stones. Time to cool down with a banana shake.

Anyone remember what you were doing ten years ago today? Celebrating Buddha Day in Thailand? Do share.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Just a quick note to let you know that Liv over at Choosing Beauty is hosting a giveaway - up to $40 for the print of your choice from my ETSY shop. You have to leave a comment with the name of your favorite print (and there are ways to be entered more than once to increase your odds). The giveaway ends tonight. Go comment! I once commented and won two beautiful prints by this lovely artist and friend.

Also, Liv has launched a terrific website called Feel Good Deal of the Day with all kinds of great deals on stuff you love anyway. I just got 40% off my order from and one of the things I ordered is stretchy enough to fit me even now! That's some stretchy-ass material!

What else? My pal Aimee is teaching in what looks to be a fantastic e-course where 21 artists share their techniques. You listen and learn at your own pace and it runs from April through August so you have plenty of time to soak it all up.

A few months ago my mom unearthed a series of emails I had sent ten years ago while Mr. Rosen and I were traveling the world. I think I will post a few in a "Ten Years Ago Today" series. Can you remember what you were doing ten years ago? I hardly remember what I did yesterday. Thank goodness for the digital paper trail.

And last, thanks to everyone for your support as we navigate this period of mondo-transition. It is enormously comforting to hear your stories too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There's no place like home

Self-portrait by my four-year old
We're working through some stuff over here. With Mr. Rosen in Israel this week and a series of back out buyers on our house, I am thinking about a lot of things. Like maybe we don't really want to sell the house right now and that's why it hasn't sold. I try not to over-analyze these things, but as I get myself mentally prepared to birth this baby in two months, I'm thinking a lot about some of the stories I read four years ago in Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. About how one woman was stalled out during labor because she wasn't mentally prepared to bring this child into the world (I think her mother-in-law was in the room or she hadn't thought of a name yet or something like that. Maybe she had just fought with her partner - who knows. My brain is mush). So her physical body just closed up. She needed to let go of her anxiety so that her body could open up and do its thing, which eventually she did and her baby was born.

I have a feeling that I am mentally holding on to my home. I'm telling myself that more than anything I want to avail myself of this house so that we can move on with our lives and continue to plan for the next part. And when jerk-face backed out yesterday at the eleventh hour I just sobbed. I wanted this thing over. I want the kids to have their friends over again. And I am so sick of making the beds every morning and wiping down the bathroom and doing the dishes on the off chance that someone will want to show the house. But I know there's a part of me that's anxious about where we'll live next. And another part of me that wants to bring the new baby home to this house just like the others.

The other interesting thing is that every time I hear that someone thought the house was darling but doesn't want to live across from a school or in a neighborhood that's so "diverse" I get all mama bear over the house. Like, how dare you talk to my house that way and not value the same things that I value. It must all be part of the process of letting go. A home can be so much more than a place to live and there's obviously a lot more wrapped up in this house than I ever knew. Not to mention all of the uncertainty represented by leaving our home. I don't think we're getting cold feet but this move is forcing us to examine our own ideas about home and where it is and what it means and how do we find it again. I might try clicking my heels.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Purim Shpiel

Viola Swamp

We're celebrating Purim this week, a Jewish holiday filled with storytelling, masquerade and drunken antics. It celebrates the story of Queen Esther, a Jewish girl in Persia who was chosen to be Queen and single-handedly saved the Jews by telling King Ahashverosh that his Prime Minister, Haman, was planning to kill them all. There's a lot more to the story but it shares a similar plot to most all Jewish festivals.
  1. They tried to kill us. 
  2. We won. 
  3. Let's eat a lot of food. 
Customs include making hamantaschen - three cornered cookies to symbolize the bad prime minister's hat (or his Spock-like ears) - making a lot of noise every time his name is mentioned in the ritual reading of the story, dressing up as a character from the story or as anything you like and giving baskets of treats and goodies. And adults are commanded to get so drunk they cannot tell the difference between King Ahashverosh and Haman. That's pretty friggin drunk.

Purim was never my favorite holiday for many of the same reasons that I never liked Halloween. I was embarrassed to dress up. I worried that other kids would laugh at me. I never liked my home-made costumes. And having to do this twice a year instead of just on Halloween made it all the more painful. Mr. Rosen felt exactly the same way growing up in Israel, though he was spared the extra torture of Halloween.

And that is why I was especially proud of my son yesterday because yesterday morning, last minute and possibly against my better judgment, I signed him up to go to a Purim workshop at an Israeli woman's house in the next town over where they would hear the story of Purim, make hamantaschen and goody parcels, play games, sing songs, all while parading around in costume. And mostly with kids he doesn't know. And no parents. And all in Hebrew, which he doesn't always understand. When I told him after school that he and his friend were going to this party and that he could dress up, he was nervous. What if the other kids laugh at me? You see, he was having second thoughts about his costume, one he'd been planning since Halloween. He wanted to dress up as Miss Viola Swamp from the book Miss Nelson is Missing.

Miss Viola Swamp is the alter ego of Miss Nelson, a school teacher who can't command the respect of her students. One day she comes to school dressed as her own substitute, Miss Viola Swamp, an ugly, mean witch who is so terrifying that the kids will do anything, even behave, to get Miss Nelson back. Excellent book. The costume is a big black wig and a giant nose and black fingernails and striped tights and a black dress. Yesterday we bought all of those things, except for the dress. Instead we belted one of Mr. Rosen's black tee-shirts. My son was delighted with his costume but he was concerned (his word) about how other kids would react. He asked me what I would do if I were him.

This is where I lied because if I were him I would have just worn the lion costume from Halloween. But instead I told him straight up that I would be Miss Viola Swamp if that's who I really wanted to be and as long as I was happy with that decision, then no one else would care. And that's what he did. Amidst a sea of pirates, Iron Men, Bat Men, Skeletors and Buzz Light Years was my son, Miss Viola Swamp, dressed in yellow and black striped tights and a belted black tee-shirt. And either no one said a word or he was too happy to notice. Either way, despite a genetic predisposition for hating costume holidays, we might just have a kid who loves Purim. And himself.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Small talk


I already know why my son will stop talking to me when he's a teenager. It's because for the first twelve years of his life he will have talked to me incessantly about things I am not interested in and I will tell him numerous times, when I have reached capacity, that I don't want to talk anymore and can he please zip it. That I'm not that interested in electricity. Or the settings of my iPhone. Or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which is ironic since I'm the one that introduced him to both the book and the movie as they are my favorites. Rather were my favorites until he talked about them so much that I wanted to drown him in a river of chocolate).

I need quiet. I need long periods of time during my day when no one is talking to me. Which is why I thank god every day for my mornings when I'm at home working or writing or whatever I'm doing. And I have these mornings so that by the afternoon I can pay attention to what he's saying and respond and engage and try my best to encourage his curiosity. I want him to ask questions. To think about how it all works and make his own sense of the world.  I just don't want to always answer him. Sometimes I can't answer him.  And why is it that I don't know how the scanner communicates to the printer. I mean I use these two things everyday. Why am I not interested? Because I just want it to work. I don't care how.

But he cares. He cares so much that he makes up stories about it. How the scanner speaks only in English to the computer and the computer has to translate the message into Hebrew because the printer only speaks Hebrew. And the scanner needs the computer to pass along his message to make the image print. I mean it's effing brilliant if you ask me, but hearing about it everyday makes me insane. He once told me about how there's someone else at school who likes to talk even more than he does and he told me about that person for forty-five minutes.

But I know a time will come when the roles will be reversed and I will desperately try to elicit conversation, even just information, from his eye-rolling, pimply head. And when he's silent I'll fill the silence with endless questions and stories and ramblings. But that will make him shrink away further. And there I'll be with no one to help me with my phone settings or my printer. And it will be my own damn fault.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Family heirloom coin bank now belonging to my son who is saving up for his own laminator.

To honor the person who invented e-filing and Uncle Sam himself for giving us back our money, I offer a poem by Dana Gioia, Poet Laureate and former Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts (and MBA from Stanford - way to use both sides of your brain Dana!) I especially like the last stanza.

by Dana Gioia

Money, the long green,
cash, stash, rhino, jack
or just plain dough.

Chock it up, fork it over,
shell it out. Watch it
burn holds through pockets.

To be made of it! To have it
to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles,
megabucks and Ginnie Maes.

It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
holds heads above water,
makes both ends meet.

Money breeds money.
Gathering interest, compounding daily.
Always in circulation.

Money. You don't know where it's been,
but you put it where your mouth is.
And it talks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bad Dreams


This is my psyche self-portrait. Because based on the dreams I've been having lately, I am loony tunes. On the outside I am trying to hold together a crazy amount of stress and chaos, despite my Martha Stewart home interior. This past weekend was our first open house and while we had plenty of traffic and a few folks who showed up multiple times, we don't have any offers yet. Mind you, we've been on the market for four days so my discouragement is very premature. And our awesome super agent is not concerned at all. Nonetheless my anxiety about the sale of our house and my ability to keep it immaculate and show it with an hour's notice, is clearly starting to have an effect on the ole subconscious.

Two nights ago I dreamed that someone broke into our house. A large man with unusually short arms. More like flippers actually. Mr. Rosen beat the crap out of him with a filled water bottle. But we were still devastated by the damage this might cause to our property value.

And last night, I was meant to perform in front of a giant audience. Sing, to be precise. Something I have actually done before, though not for quite a while. There was a particular theme to the performance which I can't recall right now but I wasn't to go on until maybe fourth or fifth and everyone before me was Broadway quality theatricality with costumes, make-up and a chorus of back-up talent. It was so obvious I was the impostor. And I hadn't even decided on the song, though I was pretty sure it would be the Bonnie Raitt song I Can't Make You Love Me, except I couldn't remember the second half of the chorus.

Turn down the lights.
Turn down the bed.
Turn down these voices,
Inside my head. 

That's about right. 
I need a drink, and the pregnancy tea is not doing it for me.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Growing Pains

growth chart

In between our many visits to doctor last week I had a moment of clarity and asked Mr. Rosen to take this picture before the painters wiped away the last five years of our family's growth. This is a little column wall that separates our kitchen, living and dining rooms. The prefect size to stand and be measured. This process of clearing out the house and getting it and ourselves ready for the next era has been an exciting and worthwhile process. Everything about it feels right. And yet, when I stopped to think about this wall and how much we've grown, the kids mostly taller and me, on and off more rotund, I almost start to weep. When we moved in here I was four months pregnant with our eldest. And seven years later I am six months pregnant with our third. This is the house where we grew a family. Where Mr. Rosen and I grew into parents. Where we grew professionally and spiritually and personally. And the kids grew to be able to reach the counter, the sink, the light switch, the cookie jar. And still growing. All of us.

ps. If anyone knows of any cute measurement posters, send a link. Mr. Rosen copied down all of the measurements for transfer to something we can actually take with us.