Holding down the fort.

Last night we finally had our Housewarming shindig and it was, if I do say so myself, an awesome party. We ended up inviting our entire company because, hey, how awkward is it to invite half? Also, we really like who we work with. Arc90 made up 80% of our guests and was, perhaps, a little overwhelming to our non-work friends, but everyone seemed to get along great and enjoy the place and Oscar's company.

Yesterday afternoon I had a bit of a meltdown about the whole 36-people-RSVP'd-YES thing. Did we have enough food?! Beer? Space? Would some kind of adult R.A. come and tell us we were being too loud? And should I have shoveled our deck? Luckily, we had plenty of space and, though the noise was higher than normal, everything was quiet by 12:30, when our last guests left. Also, after buying out Trader Joe's appetizers, I conveniently forgot to cook and serve any of them until about 10pm, when people were suddenly hungry. Thus insued a somewhat frantic cooking of the appetizers and everyone was placated. Success!

My mid-afternoon breakdown was also related to how terrible it is to spend your whole weekend cleaning and cooking, so Chris and I had a talk about how I can find more time for myself that does not involve apartment maintenance. One potential solution is Office Hours, which means that I will spend 2 hours per week alone and writing for the 5.7 billion projects that I'm inspired to pursue and yet never actually happen. Priority Uno for that is to buy myself a desk chair. I will report back if Office Hours is useful. If not, more brainstorming to come!

As I type this, Chris is out at the movies, leaving me with some rare alone time at home. I think this is one of the most significant changes when you move in with someone, the challenge to do things alone and just how you want them. Even if you live with an easygoing and awesome significant other (like I do), something causes me to "take care" of things while he's home. Let me just "take care" of these dishes, I think, or "take care" of this litter box or make a home cooked meal for tonight or a plethora of other tasks that don't, frankly, need to be taken care of that minute. I bustle around the place straightening up and moving things around out of some weird guilt or responsibility towards our living togetherness. It's weird, I know. But I have never been one that relaxes easily and that might have something to do with the fact that my Dad used to wake us up with his trumpet early on the weekends to get up and do chores. Ah, the German heritage. Guilt and hard labor are a twisted and messy mix within our DNA.

Anyone have advice about how to plan (or NOT plan) your weekends? How do you make sure you get the quiet and relaxing time you need? And, most importantly, how often do tubs and toilets really need to be scrubbed?


Keeping warm.

Sometimes I get really excited about turning 30. Not the significance of it or the heavy way it sounds (thirty years old, teenagedom half a life away), but for the actual event of it all.

The Thirtieth Birthday.

I think I would like to spend my 30th birthday somewhere very selfish, somewhere that I am aching to go and I don't give a rat's whatever if anyone wants to go with me. Like Vienna. Doesn't Vienna sound like the exact right place? Cream cakes and cobblestone streets and Mozart museums. (Somewhere, my boyfriend just fell asleep...). Vienna: the musical version of Paris, where anyone who ever became anyone in music lived and composed.

Truly, I know almost nothing about the place. But don't you love these little human daydreams, the ones that help you to get through the cold and rainy February afternoons? The quiet and unconscious ways we motivate ourselves to look ahead towards spring? I'm tired of the day to day routines of gyms and work and classes and social obligations. I hit my limit when the winter seems longest.

But little daydreams. These daydreams fuel a tiny fireplace in my heart, where the tiniest version of myself warms her toes and waits for spring.


YHS Reunion, wedding style

Adam got married on Saturday in Baltimore and I was shocked, yet again, that the dudes from High School are grown-ups. We talked more about cleaning and cooking and mortgages this weekend than ever before.

More pix on Flickr.


Vday 2010

Hello lovers. How's your Feb 14th? Doing alright? Feeling like something is missing? Maybe something that makes you feel gooshy and squishy and gooey inside?

We made you something. And this is it. It was clear that Skersh was going to be Oscar's valentine, especially after that love confession on a recent post. So we decided to blow it out into a FAN site for the little guy. Chris should get all the credit for making the site, though I cleaned up the Flickr stream a bit and snapped a few new photos for the cause. Like this one:

Chris is cooking me dinner right now (I KNOW!) and I got flowers and candles for us earlier today. We're hanging out at home tonight, enjoying our first meal on our kitchen table. In fact, here it is:

I can't tell you how nice it is to have a flat surface to eat upon, not to mention a table big enough to have a feast with friends. Tra la! Feasts! Furniture! And Funny websites about cats! Oh Valentine's Day, you ARE the best.


A love letter

Dear future,

It's the day before our second Valentine's Day together. I hope there will be so many more. But every day is not Valentine's Day and I'm not obtuse enough to imagine that there will never be fights or frustrations, eventual times when our history of habits allows us to say sentences like "you always do this" or "you never do that."

When those times come, I want to remember these days.

Some mornings, we commute to work separately. But most of the time, we greet the doorman together on the way out and walk the four blocks to the subway, where we get our books out and read, separately. I don't sit unless there's space for both of us. Usually we laugh about how many more pages I've read during the commute. I'm a bit of a speed-reader.

We take a convoluted path through the Chrysler building and when we exit through the rotating doors, it takes about 30 seconds before one of us asks "what's your thing?" I always want to remember that we tell each other what we're most looking forward to that day. Often it's a specific meeting or the opportunity to work quietly for a long stretch. On anticipated rough days, it's takeout for dinner.

Sometimes people ask me if it's weird to work with the person you live with. I guess I don't know us any other way. We're in different offices and rarely sit near each other at weekly staff lunches, but it's nice having someone to head home with. I want to remember the elevator rides after a long day, heading towards a free evening at home.

I want to remember quiet back rubs as we fall asleep and watching our favorite TV shows and playing with Oscar. The weekend days we put on a podcast and clean up around the apartment, eating string cheese for a snack, building Ikea furniture on the hardwood floors. Shopping at the grocery store for weird things we used to like to eat as kids. This apartment before the spring, wishing it would come sooner so we could live on our deck.

One day, we might need to draw strength from these sunny days. Today it's enough to float through life in love. And while it's never perfect, I want to remember how often one of us turned to the other to say "I'm so happy" or "We're so lucky." I want to remember that, at least for a few years in my late 20s, it sort of felt like winning the lottery every day and that, even when we weren't seeing eye to eye, it was so much better than it had ever been before we were We.

So much better.

xo Jen



The other night at my writing class, we examined the beginnings of a number of stories. A beginning's job is to make you keep reading. A writer's job is to write a good beginning.

I finished a book last night and this morning I spread out a few on the bed to decide which to bring on the subway. I read their beginnings. And this one hit me in the gut:

They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. But it is never easy.

Hoo boy! I have never really loved Ian McEwan, but On Chesil Beach started out with these killer sentences. One long one filled with commas and adjectives and then a tiny little short one. Juxtaposing "impossible" with "easy." Virgins and wedding nights and sexual difficulties. Quite the beginning- I was hooked.

There's something to be said for giving a book 20 or 50 or even 100 pages to get good. Some great books warm up slowly. But those quick start beginnings... always a good indication that your subway ride is about to fly by.

Note: Sometimes when I'm reading other blogs, I want to comment and add something to the conversation, but it feels too random to just add a thought. I'm going to start adding "Fun Interactive Thing" at the end of posts from time to time to encourage you to share something relevant here. Heads up, here comes the first one...

Fun Interactive Thing
: comment with the beginning of the book you're reading!


Lessons learned while making a Lemon cake

More specifically, while making Molly Wizenberg's French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon (p.204-205).

1. If you have been imagining the fact that you own a cake pan, you can use a pie plate. Again, the pie plate to the rescue!

2. Cooking near the cook book results in lemon juice stains. This makes the cook book feel used and loved.

3. Chris is a very good cake flipper.

4. When checking to see if the cake is done, make sure you stick the toothpick in the center of the cake too. If not, it might start sinking in while cooling.

5. Do not use both syrup and icing on this cake. Molly suggests using both, but admits that you can get by with one- I would definitely recommend skipping the syrup and only using the icing.

6. Chris likes soggy cakes. I do not. Therefore, our work friends will be sampling this lemon-y goodness tomorrow.

P.S. How cute is that spoon? When we moved in together, we realized we had no silverware and hit up the Salvation Army for a random assortment of utensils at $.50 each. That spoon is one of my favorites.


PETA would love this.

Our building's Internet has been out all week (hence the lack of updates) and we've been spending more time snuggling Oscar and watching crappy TV. Last night, Oscar climbed up on the back of the couch and draped himself down my shoulder, where he proceeded to fall asleep like a fox stole.



Sweet Yearling! and a favor

My lovely new friend Kelley just launched her blog last night after we spent a fun few hours discussing our creative endeavors at Starbucks. I know it's hard to connect with people if you can't picture them, so Internet, meet Kelley:

Such shiny hair, right? I know. I asked her what she used a few weeks ago when it was looking exceptionally lustrous after the gym. I think she said Pantene. Go figure.

Anyhoo, part of our animated conversation last night was about how difficult it is to find blogs of quality that do NOT belong to the Mommyblogger dynasty category. Do you guys know how many terrible blogs are out there? Whiny ones filled with endless dribble about a horrible tomato sandwich someone ate in late 2005?

With Kelley's launch of Sweet Yearling, one more interesting voice is added to the world. Last night we talked about what she wanted her blog to be, a space of sharing stories and photos and things she found inspiring. No soppy tomato sandwiches from 2005.

Understandably so, she was a tiny bit nervous to put herself out in the world before her blog looked aesthetically perfect.

"I know it is a little scary, but you just wait until someone comments on something you wrote. It is going to feel like freaking Christmas," I told her, because that is true. Every time one of you comments on something I wrote, it is kind of like someone sprayed me with a can of Happiest Essence Ever and gave me basket of golden retriever puppies. I kid not.

So I have a favor to ask of my smart and lovely readers. Would you comment on one of her first posts? It's a little lame as far as requests go, but I get a kick out of trying to get significant groups of people to do really nice things for people who deserve it.

And if that is not too taxing, maybe comment here and link to a few blogs that you love reading that fit into the "non-mommy-blogger-but-totally-worth-reading" category. Share the wealth!