Thursday, October 27, 2011


Kathy is in London.  The only good thing about her going to London is that I have some rare time alone in our house.  Except that this trip, A came down with a cold right before Kathy left, and was by my side for the first two days that Kathy was gone.  Yesterday, she didn't seem all that sick, actually, considering that she did yoga, baked cookies, and went to the library.  With that, Kathy said, "Send her to school, have a day to yourself to do whatever you want."  So I gave myself permission for a day to myself, doing whatever I wanted.  And taking pictures of it.

With a love of solitude bordering on misanthropy, I could not wait to spend the day alone.  It wasn't so much what I did that was the indulgence, it was the company.  As in, none.

First, I made myself a real breakfast -- which oddly included eggs, which I ordinarily don't like much. 


A year ago, I started this blog.  I can't actually believe that I've been writing, somewhat regularly, for twelve months now.  When I started this blog, it was about the writing.  Now that I've been writing it for a year, I feel like the writing truly has been the most important part.  Some days, the words flow like water.  Some days, I sit and stare at a blank white box, then finally sigh and write something that bores even me.  But still, for a year, I write. 

Kathy was telling me recently about a study that she read about.  There has been some chirping in recent years about adolescent brain development.  It seems that the decision-making part of the brain is not fully formed in adolescence, and as a result, adolescents are more likely to take unreasonable risks, and more likely to fail to appreciate the long-term effects of their actions.  Ask any parent of a teenager, and this is called making crappy choices.  The study that Kathy read about, though, suggests that this is (no surprise here) an important evolutionary tool.  When being a teenager meant leaving home and the safety of your parents, striking out into the world, perhaps it would not be such a bad thing if you were incapable of fully appreciating all the long term consequences of your actions.

I guess it's too bad, then, that as adults, we can't at least selectively tap into this kicked-out-of-the-nest stage of brain development.  Change is inevitable, so wouldn't it be nice if we could face it with, if not always courage, at least a certain amount of irreverence, and just make the change.  Sometimes, the specific change you make is less important than just making a change, any change.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

on marriage

Almost a year ago, I wrote about my divorce.  In that post, I said that my divorce shaped my thinking on marriage.  In other posts, I've referenced the fact that Kathy and I are not married, and that one reason for this is that she is presently engaged in what very well may be the most drawn out divorce in history.  It has literally been going on for years.  And so, I find that it's not just my divorce that has shaped my thinking on marriage -- it's also hers. 

So, what does it mean to have a view of marriage that is shaped by divorce?  For one thing, I am under no illusions that divorce is the quick or easy out for a marriage that doesn't work.  When you don't have kids, divorce scrapes you so emotionally raw that it can take years to recover.  When you do have kids, it's not just you that is scraped raw -- it's also the small beings entrusted to your care.  Not to mention the fact that almost everyone I know who has gone through a messy divorce has emerged with no savings.  None.  Divorce is a lot of things.  But "quick" and "easy" it is not.

Although these experiences with divorce might have made me bitter, jaded, or cynical about marriage, nothing could be further from the truth.  I am a romantic, underneath it all.  As Kathy's divorce slowly draws to a close, there are some marriage-minded people in my life (and in my house).  So, I've decided to take this opportunity to think about my definition of marriage, and why I would want to give it another try. 

One caveat, though:  this is what marriage means to me.  It probably isn't the same as what marriage is to you.  In fact, I would be kind of freaked out if there is someone out there with the exact same definition of marriage. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

job searching

Recently, I've started the job-search process in earnest.  By recently, I suppose I mean this morning, although I have been half-heartedly searching for about the last month. 

Finding a job is possibly one of the most horrible experiences to which we subject ourselves.  You send your resume out in to the void, and wait endlessly for some kind of response.  Most online postings have some sort of disclaimer to the effect that, due to volume of responses, they only actually answer people that they intend to interview.  So you have no idea whether you are still in the running but they haven't called yet, whether they found someone else, or whether they were even considering you in the first place.  Or really, whether they even read your resume.  So, worse than rejection, you hear nothing, nothing, nothing.  Then, if you're lucky, rejection.

Friday, October 21, 2011

how I made a kids' art wall with only $10 and some crap I found in the attic

Near our front door, we have these cubbies for the kids.  The open cubby is for school papers that we need to look at -- school work, report cards, permission slips, notes about peanut allergies, and the like.  The colored bins are for each kid's hats, gloves, and other outerwear accessories.  The only trouble with our cubbies, as far as I can tell, is the gigantic, blank beige wall above them.  So Kathy and I decided this would be the perfect place frame and hang some of the kids' artwork.  And this project was born.  The thing was, I didn't really want to spend more than $10 on it.  End of the month, and all.

Up in our attic, we had random old pictures in random old frames.  The only problem was, none of the frames matched each other, and they also weren't the right sizes for any of the art.  Apparently, the teachers planning the projects tend to think more about the sizes that construction paper comes in, and less about the sizes of standard frames and mats.

The first issue I tackled was the fact that none of the frames matched.  I chose my favorite, this funky metallic frame, and used it as the starting point.  I then grabbed a black plastic frame and a plain wooden frame that were the right sizes -- or at least, were big enough to hold the work I wanted to use. My plan was to use the metallic frame as inspiration, and paint the other frames to coordinate.

If you don't happen to have old picture frames in your attic, you can get cool and cheap picture frames at a thrift store, and paint them to match or compliment each other to make a grouping -- just make sure you write down the measurements of the frames you need, and bring something to the thrift store to measure with, since it's unlikely they will have a sticker telling you the size. Don't forget you can buy cheesy pictures of beach landscapes just for the frame! I personally think textured frames look best.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

warm feelings

 I've always been an introspective person, but in the last year or so, I feel as if the question of what I want my life to be has been more all-consuming than is typical, even for me. The reason, I have come to understand, is sitting across the room from me now, frowning and scribbling something on her time diaries.

A few days ago (I'm a bit behind on my google reader), I read this post about getting married young. Toward the end, Robin, the author, says of being married young, "You hear people talk about 50% divorce rates and how those rates are even higher for people who get married young... [But] What about those people who focus on making themselves better as individuals because the biggest question mark in their life is already answered?"

Today, when I read a quote in which a woman said, "I remember the warm feeling of relief of knowing where my future was," I recalled what Robin said and it clicked into place.* 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

a little break

Thursday night, the whole family was sitting on the couch watching an episode of the original Star Trek on the computer (what, we're nerds, okay?), when suddenly, Captain Kirk's smiling face was frozen on the screen.  We were simultaneously plunged into darkness and silence, other than the glow of the laptop.  Our power had gone out.

"Captain Kirk smiles weird.  Why does he always try to flirt with everyone like that?" B said. 

(Look at him.  He does kind of smile weird and try to flirt with everyone.)

Last week, a gasoline truck exploded in the middle of the night, burning down a gas station and causing the first power outage in several years for our house.  As a result, when the power went out this time, there were all kinds of hypotheses about what had happened, mostly involving explosions.  And, for some random reason, police men dying. (At least the police women were spared in all of the domesday scenarios, haha.  It's about time sexism worked in our favor.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Diary of an Expat: What?

Hi everyone! As Erin introduced me, I am her sister, Joy. If Erin is taupe and lime, I am probably more like raw umber and magenta. We have many similarities, but for every similarity, there are hundreds of differences. So, maybe you will read something similar to what Erin writes and like me for that, or maybe you will read something different and appreciate that perspective. Or, maybe you will grumble to yourself every time you see one of my guest blogs and secretly wish I would be done living in London and guest blogging. Anyhow, for those of you who don't fit into the last group, I hope that I entertain you and make you think a little. Now for me to get to the point.

A picture I took of the lovely London Eye on one of my first weekends here

I moved to London almost four weeks ago. In this time, I have tried to explore every neighbourhood that I might want to live in (I'm in temporary housing for the time being), eat new and traditionally British things and befriend everyone I could at work. I've been having fun so far, peppered with longings for my tiny Lower East Side apartment, my amazing friends in New York and stores that are actually open at hours convenient for someone who has a job.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Those who are more observant among you might have noticed some changes to the sidebar recently: specifically, that it now references a second author to this blog -- my sister, Joy.  As you might recall, I was fretting a few weeks ago about how Joy would soon be moving to the great city of London for two years.  Well, the move happened.  I've been curious about how her experiences abroad would shape and change her, and how she copes with living in a culture that seems like it should be really similar to ours, considering how they speak the same language and everything, but is actually quite different.

That is why I asked her if she might be interested in writing as a guest blogger about her experiences abroad, and to my delight, she said yes.  And so, it is my great pleasure to announce a new monthly-or-so feature over here on taupe and lime (drumroll please):

Diary of an Expat*

Joy's first post will go up sometime tomorrow (London-time, of course) so be sure to check back to read the first installment of her honest, witty, and emotional account of what will undoubtedly be one of her life's biggest adventures.

P.S.  If any readers living in London have advice for my sister, please do comment, either on this post or on her first post tomorrow.  Gracias.

*In case you're wondering, yes, expat is one word, unhyphenated.  I actually researched it.  And no, she is not the kind of expat who was involuntarily ejected from her country of origin.  Rather, she is the kind who voluntarily withdrew, albeit for a relatively short period of time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

occupy wall street

(mounted police and barricades in front of the NYSE)

A few days ago, one of my west coast friends asked me if I had been down to the protests at Wall Street.  I had not.  To be honest, I live in a nice little bubble called Westchester, and was barely aware of what was going on -- other than the fact that it was costing in the neighborhood of $2 million a day in police overtime, which the local news looooooooved to point out at every opportunity.

So I decided to go check it out.  But first, I decided to do a bit of research as to what was actually being protested.  It was disconcerting to me that I could articulate the money spent on police overtime, but not the issues at hand. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

wine, and erin

Last week, I finally went to the Thursday night wine and horseback riding lesson.  There were five riders, including me.  I was, by far, the worst one.  This is not a position I like to find myself in when I am doing something in a group, but it's something that I think is good for me.  When you're a perfectionist, nothing is better for you than sucking at something.  Also, just about nothing is harder.  Except for maybe sucking at something in front of a bunch of strangers that you want to like you. 

And of course, nothing bad happened.  It was actually fun to be riding in a group setting.  It was fine being the worst one.  At some point, you're SO FAR behind the other people that it's not even embarrassing -- you're just a beginner, and they're experienced.  I did not fall off, I did not go bolting across the ring out of control.  There was one point where I couldn't get my horse to stop, but even that wasn't too bad.  Then, after the lesson, we had wine and chatted.  Another person in my lesson was surprised to learn that horseback riding was a new hobby for me, which flattered me.  Everyone swapped stories about falling off, and my old teacher told a story about a student that she was convinced was trying to murder her (by poisoning).  I did not say much, but it was okay.  I did not drink excessive amounts of wine, which I felt was crucial considering that one e-mail exchange.  After an hour, we all went home.  All-in-all, it was fun, and nothing terrible happened. 

(I do not ride like this.  Not even close.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011


A few weeks ago, I realized that if I wanted to continue to be a lawyer, I had to actually comply with my state's continuing education requirements and keep my law license.  The compliance deadline is October 22, two years after I was first admitted to practice law.  Which gave me about a month to get 13 hours worth of continuing legal education credits.  Preferably, for free.

In New York, if you're "newly admitted" -- meaning within your first 2 years -- you can't click through the online seminars, or listen in over the phone.  You have to be a body in a chair in front of a live presenter.  I discovered I could take the classes offered by the Practicing Law Institute for free (to me) through my affiliation with my old firm. That's how I found myself at "Bridging the Gap" all day on Tuesday -- a nine hour continuing education seminar full of other newly-admitted attorneys like myself. 

(Look at the size of the book.  They are not messing around.)