LTYM, You Light Up My Life

ltym old south church announcement pic LTYM, You Light Up My LifeIn the midst of all the madness this month I’ve neglected a lot of things. One of them is to update all of you on the big bright spot in my life that is Listen To Your Mother Boston. We spent much of February in auditions. 4 long days were spent listening to dozens of talented people sharing some of their most personal experiences. After hours of this I felt honored and humbled and inspired and like I’d just been through a really long and cathartic therapy session.

We had overflowing riches when it came to putting a show together. I tried to cull the very best of the best but still found myself with enough pieces for three shows. I finally had to sit down with names on 3×5 cards and start lining them up on the floor to build a show. It worked, thankfully, because otherwise I would’ve been reduced to pulling names out of a hat.

And then my long-awaited day finally came. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to Show Day. (April 26th, 2 pm, Old South Church, Copley Square, Buy Your Tickets Now!!!!) But it still seems far away and not quite real, even if it’s coming fast. The day I’ve been waiting for since we started talking about doing the show months ago was our very first read through. 

I remember the first read through for Providence last year so well. I knew one person, my friend Lexi who’d auditioned with me. I sat down at a table with all these women and was beyond excited to share my piece. And then each of them started to read. There have been a few experiences like that in my life. Like the first week of law school, when I looked around and knew that I was in the right place, where I felt a sense of home that I couldn’t explain. (Yes, law school was an emotional experience for me, shut up.) But this was one of them, coming into a room of people I didn’t know and by the end of it realizing that I was among my own. 

Directing Listen To Your Mother has been about a lot of things, but it has always been a lot about recreating this experience for a new group of people. I hope we did. I know that sitting and listening to each of them tell their stories again, stories I’ve already heard and read and know well, it was still magical.

But enough about me. Listen To Your Mother Boston early bird ticket sales end on Monday. You should definitely get them now. If you’re a mother or a daughter or a writer or a student of the human condition, it will definitely be an experience you’ll treasure. Having these stories in my life has been magnificent and I want everyone to hear them.

And if you’re not in Boston, there is probably a Listen To Your Mother show near you. Or near your Mom. They are all within 2 weeks of Mother’s Day so if you’re thinking about what to get your Mom, well, let’s say this is way better than another vase of flowers. If you and your Mom are in the SAME city, then even better. (Did I just buy tickets for my Mom and Sister to go to the show in Austin? Why yes, yes I did. Mother’s Day done. BOOM.)

So go. Enjoy. You can even bring kids! And men! 

Disclaimer for the Boston show. We may make reference to the truth about Santa Claus. And a little bit of the birds and bees. So perhaps keep that in mind.

4 Weeks In

So it’s week 4 of being in the office full-time. Let’s check in, shall we?

The worst part so far is definitely dealing with sick kids and appointments. I hate having to leave as much as I’ve had to so far, even with the kids’ dad sharing a lot of the burden. It’s a rough winter and Tessa in particular is having a rough adjustment to her first winter in daycare, at least when it comes to her immune system. (Otherwise she loves daycare passionately. Or as passionately as she can muster.) There is no real getting around it, though. It just sucks and you do what you can. It does make me wonder why Boston has only one backup childcare service when we call for someone and they don’t have anyone available…

Mornings have gone surprisingly well. Before we could take our time, get up whenever we rolled out of bed. The bus came at 9 and after that Tessa and I would head out. But now I have to wake the kids up before 7 to make sure we’re out the door before 7:45. And I’ve managed it almost every day, even though it involves getting everyone dressed and fed, making Graham’s lunch, making my lunch, etc. I’m not exactly spending a lot of time on personal grooming, but I’m getting out the door. 

Evenings are busy. I don’t get home until around 6 and Tessa’s bedtime is 7:30, with Graham following close behind at 8. I rarely make it past 9. So there’s a lot to cram into that short time. 

The hardest part? All the things I’m not getting to. The things I haven’t been able to carve out time for. The things that I just can’t concentrate on after a full day. 

On the bright side, I’m sleeping okay. Having a routine is good for me. My brain has started waking me up a few minutes before my alarm, which is annoying but not so terrible. Tessa is having some rough nights, so me being able to get to sleep when I need to is extra important since I’m usually up a few times at night. 

There have been a few days where everything is just off and at the end of it I’m just done with the universe and I can’t imagine getting up the next day and starting over. Last week I was just worn out and frustrated and feeling bleak and I didn’t know how I would manage to have my long week with the kids this week. But, you know, you just go with it and it’s not so bad. This week has been pretty smooth sailing, all things considered. I’m feeling okay. I know there are a ton of things left to do, but they feel do-able even if they won’t be done immediately.

Perhaps some of my calm this week comes from knowing that I am now the proud sole owner of a new (used) car. It’ll be the first time in Boston that I’ve had one to myself. And the last couple years have been particularly rough with trying to share it. But now I can go somewhere on the weekend even without the kids, I don’t have to wait 45 minutes for the next bus, and I can go places the buses can’t take me. (For example, I’ve been averaging one visit to Target every 3 months. And I’ve been planning a trip to Savers since November that I still haven’t been able to take.)

Once a week I take the kids to Chipotle or IHOP or whatever for dinner. It’s one less night to worry about making dinner, and it’s usually been the first night I get them when I’ve been car-less and thus low on groceries. If I have them on Friday nights we hit the Redbox for whatever slim pickings are left. TV watching is down, play with trains is up, and we’re all anxious for the weather to turn so we can go outside again. 

But yeah. I guess it’s going okay. Of course I’m writing that today, when I’m feeling kind of confident and comfortable. A week ago I would’ve been feeling rather dire and gloomy. But I like to think it’s not just a fluke but rather that I’m on the upswing and getting the hang of it. Let’s just go with that.

Getting a Ouidad Haircut

Time for another update in my ongoing curly hair saga. I got a cut in the fall from someone besides my normal stylist and it didn’t go great. Which got me thinking about getting a cut from a curl expert. When I started asking around I found out about Ouidad. And, whaddya know, we have a Ouidad salon here in Boston. My Mom is a big believer in doing everything you can to look your best, so she gave me a Ouidad cut as a birthday present and I finally got a chance to redeem it last month.

So what’s the difference between a Ouidad cut and a regular one? I can’t say exactly, but I can tell you that my Ouidad cut didn’t go anything like a normal one. They call it “carve and slice” and it’s a totally different approach. My stylist, Susanne, used Ouidad products from start to finish and told me exactly what she was doing every step of the way. It was also one of those rare times where I felt like I was able to get my stylist on the same page I was for what I wanted.

The Ouidad cut makes room for each curl to avoid the Christmas tree look. They also use their “rake and shake” method instead of the more common scrunching to define curls. 

I watched pretty closely because like most people, I’m terrible at reproducing a salon look at home. 

She also gave me some great advice about my curls. The top is barely curly at all and the bottom is much bouncier. She advised me to stop pulling my hair back so tightly (which I need to be better about) and when I’m styling I now use duck bill clips to boost my hair near the top of my head to give it a little more volume through the day.

Since then I’ve been wearing my hair done a LOT more, which was the main goal for the new cut. I needed my curls to be able to work on a regular basis, to get away from my default ponytail. 

 Getting a Ouidad HaircutAnd the cut itself? Pictures speak louder than words.

My ability to recreate it? Well, I’m still working on it. I can’t figure out how she was able to get those curls so perfect and defined without having them separate the way they do when I do my hair. I love the thickness of those curls, they’re what I’ve dreamed about since I went curly.

My day-to-day look is more like this next picture. But I love how the cut keeps the curls managed so I don’t have out of control crazy hair. A pin or a clip to pull it back or a quick tuck behind the ears seems to do the trick. 

 Getting a Ouidad HaircutAs for product, I went home with one shampoo, one conditioner and the conditioning spray. I only use the shampoo once a week. The conditioner is AMAZING, it’s kind of foamy and you apply it section by section, which is pretty similar to how you style in the Ouidad method.

I still have a bunch of drugstore styling cream left and I’m going through it. It seems to work out okay even if it’s a bit crunchy now and then. 

The rake and shake, which is super easy, is the only real change. I’m still using a t-shirt to dry my hair for a couple minutes before I style. I have a wide-toothed comb, no brush. And except for my one Ouidad shampoo, I’m using my normal shampoo the rest of the time.

So am I happy with it? Yup. 

The problem? It’s pricey. I’m wondering if I can afford to go back or if I can try some other options. But I’m not positive anything will work this well and being able to wear my hair down with this little effort is worth a lot to me. I feel like I have to go back at least once to ask her secret to getting those soft, big, gorgeous curls from that first day. 

Anyone else try Ouidad cuts?

 

Now We Know

I started thinking about it before she even existed. Long before she was born, I was thinking about it. When she came I was still thinking about it. And now the time has finally come to know for sure.

Tessa is on the autism spectrum. Her eval was last week and this week we got her diagnosis. 

Before she was born I was happy she was a girl, because I wanted a girl but also because girls have a lower incidence of autism. And after she was born I was happy that she was quiet and calm and looked at me.

But things changed. I started noticing things that weren’t quite right. I started making a list of them in my head. I brought in Early Intervention. I went back and forth on what to do, but I was always watching and considering.

Finally I felt like I knew what she was capable of. I just didn’t know if that meant autism or not. Her testing had virtually no surprises. I’ve seen the tests before and I knew what she’d be able to do and what she wouldn’t. I wasn’t surprised that her gross motor was a little behind but her fine motor was pretty impressive. 

So there it is. I’m already getting appointments scheduled. It looks like Tessa may be able to have one of the therapists Graham had before he aged out. I like that. I liked her, it’ll be nice to see her again. I have to figure out how we will fit therapy into our lives. It was a full-time job before, one I sat through hours of every day. That’s no longer possible. And I don’t really have anything beyond the vaguest idea of how to make it work. 

I’m not upset or angry. If anything, I’m relieved. A diagnosis means we have a path to take forward, one I’m familiar with. Without it I’d be wondering what I was supposed to do next to help her. I’m confident she’ll do well and be taken care of even if I don’t know exactly how it will happen.

The only strong emotion I fell was the giant exhale of finally knowing. It’s been in my head so long, causing me turmoil and worry and stress for so long, I’d already felt all that sadness. Now I’m happy to let it go and start moving forward.

Big Apple Circus Ticket Giveaway

event Big Apple Circus Ticket GiveawayI love having kids who are old enough to DO stuff and ENJOY stuff. We’re at kind of a sweet spot that way. And next week I’ll be taking them to the Big Apple Circus, which is coming to Boston from March 25 to May 11. 

Graham doesn’t know what a circus *is* yet, so I’m looking forward to finding some circus books and Youtube videos to watch with him to get him all pumped up. Honestly, I haven’t been to a circus since I was around 12, so it’ll be a great event for me, too.

Luminocity Ad BOS 9 5x11 Big Apple Circus Ticket Giveaway

Big Apple Circus has horses and dogs in their show, but no exotic animals and is a cruelty-free show. It’s handicap accessible and climate controlled, too. (Good thing, since we seem to still be due for a few more cold snaps.) 

Opening weekend starts on Friday the 28th and runs through Sunday the 30th. At these shows there will be performers out in the lobby for an hour before showtime if your kids want to get up close and personal. 

And I’m giving away 2 tickets to the Friday 6:30 pm performance right here. Just enter in the widget below. And if you’d like to get some tickets for your family, you can use the promo code BIGAPPLE to save $10 off EACH ticket. (Limited availability, conditions apply, etc.) Oh, and it’s also a littles-friendly show, you can bring kids under 3 in and hold them on your lap instead of having to buy another seat. LOVE that.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Thanks to Big Apple Circus for inviting me and the kids to their opening weekend and providing tickets for the giveaway.

My Favorite March Books

I’m just going to level with you: there is no theme uniting these books. They really couldn’t be more different. The only thing they have in common is they’re all out this month and all worth a read. I’d be surprised to find a reader who wouldn’t find at least one or two of these interesting. So here we go, alphabetically by author.

 My Favorite March Books My Favorite March BooksThe Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell is appropriately named. It is, above all things, weird. It is also on the short list to be my favorite book of 2014. This is a book about an aspiring sadsack writer who lives in Brooklyn. This alone would’ve been reason for me to avoid this book like the plague. But I gave it a shot because I started it not knowing it was about a sadsack writer who lives in Brooklyn and by the time I was aware of it, the Devil had already showed up in the writer’s living room with coffee and I was sucked in for good. The Weirdness is not magical realism per se because there is SO much magic that it usually outweighs the realism. But it also works as a hilarious satire of the literary scene. And none of the big ambition and craziness of this book ever feels strange or forced or indulgent. It’s just a great roller-coaster where you never know what’s going to happen next. I adored it unabashedly.

 My Favorite March Books My Favorite March BooksI was excited for Every Day Is For the Thief by Teju Cole mostly because I have heard great things about Cole’s previous book, Open City. And I was very much up for a book about Nigeria because of my wonderful experience last year with Americanah. While both books are about a Nigerian who’s gone to the United States and then returns home, they have little else in common. EDIFTT is about the country itself more than the characters. It’s about going home and seeing it with new eyes. It’s about taking in every little detail. The narrator is a doctor and a writer who’s deciding whether to return to his homeland after training in the US. The book is made up of mostly small vignettes of his arrival and stay in Lagos and while I’ve read several books by Nigerians and about Nigeria, this one really made me feel like I gained an understanding of the country and the way people live there. That’s a high compliment. It’s a short book and a good one to read in small bursts because each scene is so vivid.

 My Favorite March Books My Favorite March BooksThe ExPats  was a 2013 book I really enjoyed and have recommended to a bunch of people. It had a tight plot and a great mix of the mundane of motherhood with the intrigue of the intelligence world. Author Chris Pavone is back this year with The Accident, and this time the intrigue takes place mostly in the world of book publishing. Now publishing is a weird mix of oddly old school and sleepy with some serious wheeling and dealing, and it’s not the first place I would’ve thought to set a fast-paced outrun-the-assassin book, but it works really well. A great thriller with a strong and unique woman at its center, it gets a thumbs up from me.

 My Favorite March Books My Favorite March BooksLast but not least, The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger is a high concept book that works a lot better than you think it will when you start. It’s one of those novels in letters, except here it’s mostly emails, memos, court filings and such. The story follows legal associate Sophie, who normally does criminal cases but gets roped into a divorce at her law firm. And it’s not just any divorce, it’s for the daughter of the one of the firm’s most high profile clients. For Sophie, whose love life has been mellow and uneventful, the vitriol and battle of a divorce takes her by surprise and has her reassessing a lot of her own life. Now, full disclosure, as a criminal defense lawyer who’s going through a divorce I was probably an easy win for this book. But my experience also meant I was was in a position to be its harshest critic and I found it charming and enjoyable. The legal stuff is there but except for a few statutes thrown in there it doesn’t get too complicated for a layman. If you like your reads on the smart side of chick lit, this is a good pick.