Archive for the 'My Favorite Things' Category

07
Aug
14

‘Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi’

The album cover of Klaus Nomi’s 1981 self-titled debut album.

Last week, a colleague posted the following to Facebook:

Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi by sharing this video.

She says “(the real) Klaus Nomi” because her cat is named Klaus Nomi. (Not, I quickly regretted asking, “Claws Nomi”?)

But that Facebook post is amazing for two reasons. First, Terry Gross has interviewed so many people, it seems impossible that, in all that studio time, not even a passing reference to Klaus Nomi came up. Not only that, but she’s from New York City, and she was like 30 years old when Klaus Nomi was at his peak.

Second — Klaus Nomi. I mean look at him. This is the video my colleague Christine shared:

Continue reading ‘‘Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi’’

29
Jul
14

The internet doesn’t need to be so overwhelming

The thing about the internet is everyone is an expert, and everyone has great advice, and almost all of it is mostly “helpful.” But it can be hard to know just how (or who) you have to be to succeed.

Everyone knows we’re not naturally endowed to survive. We’re not good enough on our own. Are you kidding me? We need Lifehacker and that list of 10 places we must poop before we die, and … well, you won’t believe what this rapist said to his victim, and her response was so perfect, if this 10-second video doesn’t make you cry you have no pulse.

Before the internet, we were practically painting our cave walls with our own shit.

But the only way to keep one’s head from exploding from the choices is to make a few decisions every day. Take what works and forget about the rest. (Do you see how I’m giving you advice about advice? Stop me before I hurt myself.) Continue reading ‘The internet doesn’t need to be so overwhelming’

25
Nov
12

It’s not delivery

The importance of fixing our oven lay not just in the Thanksgiving dinner we had to host, but also in the unbaked DiGiorno pepperoni pizza and the box of Mrs. T’s jumbo fish sticks in the freezer just waiting to be consumed.

During a visit in the spring, my mom treated me and Jeff and a couple of our friends to some serious Polish-lady cooking: golabki, chicken stew and biscuits. The huge baking dish full of stuffed cabbage boiled over. We had a baking sheet on the lower rack, but it wasn’t placed well, and tomato soup spilled right on through to the gas valve and shorted out the electronic controls. If you’re going to go out, go with a bang, I guess—and a sizzle and a pop.

We had to bake the biscuits for the chicken stew at our neighbors’ house. They were repaid the next day with my mom’s home cooking. Continue reading ‘It’s not delivery’

26
Sep
12

Jeff and Eric’s wedding sermon; 9/18/04

Jeff and Eric's wedding, 09/18/04

Jeff and Eric contemplate love, their future together, and the color of water, surrounded by friends and family in Minneapolis on Sept. 18, 2004.

Jeff and I recently celebrated the 8th anniversary of our commitment ceremony — let’s just say it: our 8th wedding anniversary — on Sept. 18. Sandwiched this year as it was between the unions of four dear friends, Mark Galante and Erik Sisco (Sept. 15), and Brian Dillard and Charlie Smith (Sept. 23, also my birthday), the anniversary was made even more special. September is getting to be quite a month!
It seems appropriate to revisit the sermon Jeff’s dear high school friend Mark Havel wrote for the occasion, on that bright and cloudless September afternoon, in Deming Heights Park, on the tallest hill in Minneapolis, the City of Lakes.

Sept. 18, 2004, is with me every day, and this sermon still makes me cry.

When Jeff and I began planning things for today—most of which happened over the telephone and by e-mail—he joked that somehow water was becoming a recurring theme for the occasion. The “flowing water of life” we just heard about in the poem by Rumi, and the “Wood Song” and “Water is Wide,” which we’ll hear in a moment, carry the theme pretty clearly. Jeff seemed to think it an appropriate motif to latch onto somehow, being in the land of 10,000 lakes and all. (Now I’m wondering if it had something to do with the shower at The Saloon …) I’m not going there, but I did decide to run with it, anyway.

And, the first thing that popped into my mind was the title of a book by James McBride called The Color of Water. It’s a book about a biracial boy growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, in New York and Delaware. He was raised by his eccentric, white, Jewish mother who converted to Christianity when she married his African-American, Christian father. Because of the time in and circumstances under which they lived, you can imagine that race and religion were very much a part of his coming of age and self-understanding.

And as he came of age, as he struggled with his identity, as he wondered about how and where he fit into the world around him, the boy asked his mother one day about what God’s spirit looked like. For me and for all the theology I’ve studied, his mother’s answer was as strange and as simple as it was profound. She said simply, “God’s spirit doesn’t have a color. God is the color of water.” Continue reading ‘Jeff and Eric’s wedding sermon; 9/18/04′

19
Jan
12

The last day of car acquaintance

We were just going for a test drive.

Sooner or later you reach a point where you have to sink so much money into your car to make it sellable that it’s worth just as much or more as a trade-in. And even if that’s not precisely true, it’s worth something to have someone else take it off your hands.

So Jeff and I drove to a suburban car dealer in a 1997 Jeep Wrangler, and we drove home in a 2011 Honda CR-V.

When Jeff bought that Jeep in 2002 he joked, “It makes me look 30% sexier.” And he was right. It was true for anyone. It was a hot little number. Now we’re lulled into a need for reliability and comfort, room for groceries and, one day, room for a kid. Sturdy. Sensible. Soccer mom.

The new car is lovely. But it sure is hard to say good bye to the old friend who saw us through three moves and three cities. Continue reading ‘The last day of car acquaintance’

11
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: midnight mass

[Part 11]

Mom and Dad had some presents under the tree early, the ones from them and Grandma and Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kay, but they were off limits until Christmas. The ones from Santa, of course, came later. I didn’t have to worry about those, but these were there to taunt me.

Most of them were clothes. Who cared, right? But some of them, the smaller ones, probably—the strangely shaped ones, right?—those were toys.

If I was good enough (if I begged and pestered my parents enough, nicely, gently), they would let me open one present—just one—before we left for midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I don’t think they for one second expected me to not beg. I don’t think I ever convinced them of anything. I think they always had one intended for Christmas Eve. But it was one of those child-and-parent games we played. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: midnight mass’

10
Jan
12

The 12 ways of Christmas: dinner

[Part 10]

Grandma's cake looked a little something like this.

Whereas turkey was the center of Thanksgiving a month prior, Christmas Eve dinner revolved around a turkey and a ham! Those were from Dad. It was a food orgy—like Thanksgiving plus Easter … plus a birthday party.

My uncle Dennis always brought a cold tuna-noodle salad that the food of the gods as far as I was concerned.

Aunt Kay always brought dinner rolls and home-made chocolate candies. Starch, salt, sweet and fat, the chocolate-covered pretzels were irresistible.

Grandma spent a day stewing probably the best baked beans in the world—with bacon and molasses and brown sugar … and bacon. It may one day just save the world.

Mom made her potato salad, unequalled on seven continents, with the sliced hard-boiled eggs on top and drifts of sprinkled paprika.

Continue reading ‘The 12 ways of Christmas: dinner’

05
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: the lights

[Part 8]

This is disgusting to me now, but it would have delighted me as a kid.

It wasn’t December if my family and I were not driving around looking at other people’s Christmas lights.

We started in our own neighborhood, admiring the wild and colorful houses, and the simple monochromatic houses in white, gold, red, blue. In my little kid’s logic, I always assumed the blue houses must be Jewish. Or something. Just a feeling. I wanted to say so, but it seemed rude. I never knew any Jews growing up—at least none that I knew of.

My mom and I especially loved the ones that looked like gingerbread houses with sidewalks lined, every angle of the roof highlighted, doorways and windows lit. Our house should be like that. I studied them carefully as we slowly passed, making mental notes between audible gasps every time a new extreme came into view.

I really appreciated the people who did their trees. Those were the ones who really cared. Random placements among the branches were popular one year. Then our neighbors began to include the trunks, too. A few years later, a tightly wrapped cluster of lights on the trunk with a contrasting color densely filling up the branches was en vogue. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: the lights’

04
Jan
12

O’er the fields we go, packing all away

We just finished un-Christmasing the house. I have never before seen so many dead pine needles all at once. It’s weird to have things back to normal, but I’m getting used to it.

I came home to find Jeff pulling ornaments off the tree. He was putting them in the wrong boxes, but I didn’t say anything. It may seem like it does’t matter, but I have a system. They should go back in the boxes they came from. Different colors should be distributed evenly to ensure equally even distribution next year when we hang them on the next tree. But at least they’re all put away. We can deal with it next year. Continue reading ‘O’er the fields we go, packing all away’

02
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: the cookies

[Part 7]

Santa's givin' you some sugar this year!

There was nothing in particular that linked my mom’s cookies with Christmas, except that we never made them at any other time of the year. You can have eggnog in the summer, but why? Grandma could make her baked beans for Easter, but why? No, these things were for Christmas only.

I always looked forward to those rare and special nights when my mom dragged out her big electric mixer and the glass and metal bowls and wooden spoons. Soon the kitchen countertop would be covered with bags of flour and sugars, syrups, shortening, butter (it was always margarine, but we called it “butter”), eggs, nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, vials of food colorings and flavorings, shredded coconut, candied cherries. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: the cookies’




the untallied hours