Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Last weekend, Kathy and I were in San Francisco (more on that later).  While we were there, she got a 5 am text from Kathy's ex-husband, asking if he could go to our house for the kids' snow clothes.  Which we ignored, because it was 5 am.  The 5 am text was followed by a 7 am text, which Kathy responded to by reminding her ex-husband that he had his own set of snow clothes, so there was no need for him to go to our house to take our set.  At 8, he informed us that he had gone to our house anyway, and the kids had gone inside to get the snow clothes, because they found a door unlocked.  He assured us he would just send the kids in, not go in our house himself, since he knows -- and we have already said -- that we don't like him in our house when we aren't home.  This was irritating, since he does, in fact, have his own set of snow clothes, but was acceptable, since we want the kids to feel like the house is their home, which they can have unfettered access to. 

When we arrived home, I noticed that the kids' tracks went all around the house, to all the doors.  Because I was concerned that we had left a door unlocked, and because the kids snow clothes were still piled right by the back door where they were when we left, I asked B what door they went in and why they didn't take the snow clothes.  "The back door," B answered. 

A narrowed her eyes suspicously.  "Did Daddy go inside?" she asked, since she wasn't with the other two kids at the time. 

"Yes," B responded.  "He wanted other clothes so he said, 'I'm coming in this house!' and went up to get the long underwear and my sweatpants and some other stuff."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Diary of an Expat: The Holidays Abroad

When I made the decision to live abroad, I knew that it would mean giving up some of the things I love. I also knew it would mean missing things that my friends and family got to experience together. But I'm not sure anything could have prepared me for my first Thanksgiving out of the US.

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. It is all the warmth of seeing family, a fantastic meal and a few days off from work without the added pressure of having to buy the perfect gift for every relative, friend and acquantaince while baking copious amounts of cookies and making sure your house looks perfect. Christmas dropped way down on my list of favorite holidays (to dead last) once my brother and sister left for college and there was no one to share the anticipation with. It's begun to climb back up, but really nothing will ever compare with Thanksgiving. Last year was my first Thanksgiving without any of my family around. I thought it would be hard, but I have a fantastic network of friends in New York who celebrated not only US Thanksgiving with me, but also Canadian Thanksgiving (who knew you can have the excuse to cook a turkey and GBC - green bean casserole, in case you didn't know - in October and November?!).

Canadian Thanksgiving Spread

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Not to be a complainer or anything, but I can't believe how much my back has hurt.  I went to the chiropractor, who told me that I had a back spasm.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I had no idea all that pain could come from some muscle acting up.  I think, after some internet research (I know doctors love it when people do this) what is likely is that I strained a muscle, then proceeded to do an extremely vigorous workout, involving a lot of pushups and jumping around, which caused the strained muscle to spasm.  The result is that I could not lift anything, or sit down, or bend over, or basically participate in life, since 20 minutes out of every hour I had to lie on my stomach with a heating pad on my back. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


About two weeks ago, I did something to my back.  I have avoided mentioning it for two reasons.  First, because I have been trying to deny that it is an actual problem.  Second, because I thought it would be boring.

By ignoring the fact that my back has hurt in varying degrees of severity for two weeks, I have probably made things worse, by going running, lifting weights (!) and hauling Christmas decorations up to the attic. 

Also, this weekend, we almost killed Cutie, the hamster (this ties in, I promise).  It turns out that it was too chilly for her little body near the window.  But we had no idea what was wrong with her when she simply stopped eating and basically stopped moving.  "Don't pet her, Boo," Kathy said to a very concerned B.  "Sick animals sometimes bite." We learned that being cold makes hamsters hibernate (who knew?), and once we warmed her up, she was fine. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

why I cook

When you live in Manhattan, you exist on take out.  It's so easy to fall into a rut of pizza, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Greek, repeat.  Many of my friends (and myself included) have folders or even entire binders full of takeout menus.  It just seems simpler to have someone else make the food -- especially when every restaurant, including McDonald's (if you can call that a restaurant) delivers to the door of your apartment.  Kathy was a big NYC takeout eater too -- until her mother came to visit and a 2 year-old A yelled "FOOD!" when the doorbell rang.  It was hard to explain that Pavlovian response in a way that did not involve copious amounts of takeout.

Growing up, my busy mom's cooking style was mainly this:  (1) go to the grocery store and buy things that are on sale and that she knows we like; (2) put most of it in the freezer; (3) at dinner time, open the freezer and stare in, trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

I thought this was how everyone did it, which is why, when I went to college and "invented" my own method for planning/shopping/cooking, I felt like a genius.  Then, I discovered that my sister had also "invented" this method, and that, in fact, it was what a lot of people did.  But there is so much joy to be gleaned from good food, and really, it's not all that hard, even if broke or busy, or both.  The key, I think, to being able to cook good food at home, is the grocery shopping.  If you want to make good meals, you need to have the ingredients in the house at the time you want to start cooking.  And that is why I started writing a long, preachy post about grocery shopping, one of the most mundane of topics.  A post that was so long, and so preachy, that I deleted almost the whole thing.  Believe it or not, this masterpiece is a mere fraction of what I have to say about grocery shopping and the benefits of learning to cook, even if you just learn to cook a little.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


As I mentioned last year, I'm big on New Year's Resolutions (with a capital R).  This year it was a bit tougher than last year to come up with concrete resolutions.  I suppose this is because I am not as intensely unhappy as I was last year.  So, before we get to this year's resolutions, let's take a look back at 2011 (last year's resolution post is here).

1.  Try to see changes as beginnings rather than endings.  This was kind of vague, I now realize in retrospect, which means it's a "bad" resolution.  Did I accomplish it?  I dunno.  I have, however, become more comfortable with change, and more comfortable in my own skin, as I move through changes.  So success?  I guess so.

2.  Start a new career (or a new job).  Um, can you half-succeed at a resolution?  I did, in fact, manage to leave the law firm last year.  That was hard, and liberating, and identity-changing.  But here I sit, in my kitchen in a sweatshirt, drinking coffee at 9:30 am.  So it seems that I haven't gotten the new job off the ground yet.   That said, I made significant progress on figuring out who I am if not a Biglaw associate, and learning what I want out of my career/job.

Tuesday I met with a head-hunter in the city, who assured me that finding a job would not be the difficult thing; finding a job that I want will be the difficult thing.  But there has been huge progress on this front, as far as I am concerned.

If all else fails, I can go with C's approach.  He said to me the other day, "Why are you trying to find a job?  You already HAVE a job."  He meant that he, himself, was my job.  Point taken.