Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Circle of Weird

When I reminisce about my first concert, I like to say that it was Alice in Chains, playing at First Avenue on my very first day of high school. After all, that was what I consider my first "real" concert, which is to say that it was a real band, in a real club, without a parental figure present.

But really, I could say that it was New Kids on the Block, who I saw (for the first time) when I was 12 at Target Center. My mom didn't actually enter the arena, but she did wait in the parent area for me and my BFF to return, hoarse from having screamed at the top of our lungs through every song.

Or, I suppose it would be cooler to reference the time (also in middle school), when I saw Bob Dylan play at the Minnesota State Fair with my mom and the guys in front of us smoked a joint, which I wouldn't have known, except my mom felt the need to point it out as both an educational moment and a warning, I guess.

But really...really, really...my first concert memory is of going to Valley Fair with my friend Jackie and her mom when I was seven years old to see Weird Al Yankovic. I remember it was late and we fell asleep, but Jackie's mom woke us up in time to hear the only song of his we probably knew at the time: "Eat It." We talked about that for weeks (or decades, as it turns out).

So how crazy is it that tomorrow I am bringing things full circle by taking my boys to see Weird Al, too?! (and did you know that Weird Al is 51?)

Honestly, once I got over my childhood fascination, I hadn't thought much about Weird Al, but then just the other week Owen mentioned hearing Chamillionaire's "Riding Dirty" (did I mention they discovered the radio?) and informed me that it was "trying to be like 'White and Nerdy'." And then, as fate would have it, I found out Weird Al was coming to the State Fair. And so it goes.

I have to say that I'm kind of excited to see what they think, even though, just as I once only wanted to hear "Eat It," they are mostly just waiting for "White and Nerdy." And it will be late, so they might fall asleep, but I'll be sure to wake them up for it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In the time it took me to write this blog post, I could have folded the laundry

School is approaching. Today I made the boys try on all of their long pants and discovered that Owen just barely fits into two pairs, while Aidan now has 9 pairs to himself, thanks to the 1.5 inch height difference.

It drives me crazy that all the pants still fit their skinny little waists, but they always end up too short. Even the ones that still fit Aidan probably won't make it through the winter. I think I'm going to open a store called "Beanpole" that will sell pants that are adjustable in the width and length...yes, those will be very stylish pants. My mom has suggested we take the hippie route and just add fabric onto the bottoms of the pant legs...again, very stylish. *Sigh*

Am I the only one who fantasizes every year about letting them have approximately three pairs of pants and three shirts and just letting them rotate through them until they wear out? It just feels like then we'd really be getting our money's worth.

I don't think my kids would be bothered by wearing the same thing day after day - although Aidan is a bit of a budding clothes horse - but the obstacle to this plan is really the simple fact that I don't, or more accurately, won't do laundry every two days.

Nope, apparently I'd prefer that they always own enough clothing to create equally towering piles of both dirty and clean laundry. Sometimes I think they don't even really need dressers since they are nearly always having to dig through the basket of clean laundry to find some component of their outfit. I mean really, if they didn't even have dressers, I couldn't feel bad about not getting around to folding the laundry, right?

Hmmm...three outfits, no dresser. That could be the name of my new simple living movement. It will focus on simplifying your life purely to decrease household chores and the guilt associated with not keeping up with those chores.

It's gonna be huge.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

24 Hours in Philly

I got to visit a new city this week: Philadelphia!

Unfortunately, I didn't eat any cream cheese or cheesesteaks or pretzels. Nor did I visit Constitution Hall or the Liberty Bell. To be fair, I was only there for 24 hours and it was for work, so, you know, I was working most of the time.

However, I did get to visit two Food Network-approved locales:

First, I picked up a box of brownies for the boys at Flying Monkey in Reading Terminal Market. Ok, they weren't just for the boys - I did include a couple of the Boozer brownies that were recently featured "Kid in a Candy Store." (My kids love Adam Gertler.) They are just as good as the looked on TV, but I need to give a special shout out to the orange brownies because they are so strangely delicious.

And then for dinner, my gracious coworker/tour guide/Philly resident took me to Iron Chef Jose Garces' Distrito. It was love at first sight. Not only is the entire place pink, but we got to eat in a modified VW beetle parked in the front window...it was a little like being a a piece of performance art. Oh, and the food is good, too. Spicy. Honestly, I was content with the pineapple margarita and guacamole, but the Atun ceviche was also ridiculously good. Highly recommended if you're in the area.

The other thing I did on my trip was stay at the Aloft chain of hotels. Have you been? I can't quite figure it out. It's designed as if the reason you stay in hotel is to hang out in the lobby. The lobby is really welcoming, but like a cross between a hip bar and your friend's rec room, and the staff is very casual, like "Hey, what's up?" when you check in. The rooms are very modern and sparse...a little like sleeping in a pod or a nicely decorated dorm room. The dorm room vibe is especially apparent in the middle of the night when all the people who have been hanging out in the lobby come stumbling up to their rooms (it seems like they just didn't bother soundproofing the walls that face the hallway).

I feel conflicted about Aloft. I want to like it for its appearance, but I feel like it's not very nice on the inside. I guess that makes me shallow when it comes to hotels.

So anyway, while this trip to Philly was woefully short on time and historical appreciation, it looks like I'll be back a few times in the coming months, so I feel pretty certain I'll be able to tackle the touristy stuff bit by bit. And probably stay in a different hotel.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dot to Dot

It's so fitting that today feels like fall in Minneapolis because fall always reminds me of the excitement of back-to-school and today, I helped the teenager register for college! (Can you believe he's been graduated for two entire months now?)

It's a trial run, of sorts: He'll start at community college before heading off to the big university he's decided he wants to attend. It's not the classic sending the kid off to college scenario that I once imagined, but in light of the difficulties and general waywardness of the last few years, it's the step he needs to get to that point. An important step. A major step.

The fact that the sending the kid off to college scenario is now something that I might really get to experience in the not-so-distant future is beyond exciting. He has come a tremendous way in a pretty short amount of time and I am so proud of him for that.

I'm not fooling myself into believing that there won't be more setbacks, or that he's suddenly morphed into a responsible adult (my unscientific research tells me that doesn't happen for boys until they are at least 25 and even then there's usually a responsible woman involved), but he's figuring it out. On his own. He's getting his shit together. And he's got a lot more shit than a kid his age should have, so that's a pretty big accomplishment.

Slowly but surely, he's going to find his way. Every hardship and wrong turn and close call will be like dots that are finally connected, revealing a portrait of who and what he's always been meant to be. I'm letting myself believe it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Living Simple/Traveling Complex

I have travel on the brain today. Coincidentally, I also just read this New York Times article, which backs up my long-held theory that travel is a good way to spend money. Now I just need to make some more progress on the whole spending-less-in-other-areas thing so that I can actually afford all of the travel I want to do.

Actually, the most immediate reason travel is on my mind is that I'm leaving in the morning for Denver. My first business trip since 2005. I'm feeling both excited and not so excited. I'm almost overwhelmed at the prospect of having an entire hotel room to myself for two nights...think of all the quiet! And the space! And the leaving of items in a place, only to find them still there when I return! But, of course, I always miss the good night kisses and the little boy pitter-patter (which is really now more of a stampede) in the mornings.

I'm going to be doing a bit of business travel over the next few months, which, again, is kind of exciting and kind of not. I wouldn't go so far as to say that my husband and I are doing a full-on role-reversal because my travel won't be nearly as frequent as his once was, and we'll be able to plan around it, but there is a definite sense of flip-flopping with me being the one getting dropped off at the airport. It's weird. But good. Or rather, I'm determined to make it a positive thing. (and to rack up lots of airmiles)

As for fun travel, we are plotting our next great family adventure. This time we're taking on the Big Apple...at Thanksgiving...because we are crazy. However, I will get to check off #16 on my 40 by 40 list, although I don't think it will be at Per Se unless they're running a kids-eat-free special (I believe Thomas Keller just felt a shudder down his spine).

My kids already have a running list of places they want to go in NYC (thank you, Food Network) so once we lay that over my list, subtract all the non-kid-friendly things, and add in the parade to end all parades, we should have ourselves a pretty fantastic little family vacation.

Yes, nailing this simple living business in our real lives would really help with my travel complex.

Friday, August 6, 2010


My husband is making his dreams come true! (I mean, the ones separate from our positively dreamy life together, of course.) He -- along with two partners and a whole hell of a lot of supporters -- is opening an improv theater.

People seem pretty interested so far. (Side note: Where have all the copyeditors gone?) But as you can imagine, a lot goes into such a venture. Namely, money.

Construction begins in September with the hope of opening the doors in November. Our fabulous architect friends have generously donated their design assistance, but unfortunately Home Depot does not accept pretty ideas or even blueprints in exchange for wood. Which brings us back to the money. Got some? Want to support the enrichment of the Twin Cities theater scene? Or maybe just want to help show my kids that you can do anything you set your mind to? Please donate. Or ask your rich friends/relatives/employer to donate.

Here, let this video convince you:

As if the good karma weren't enough, it's also tax deductible.

And hey, while I'm asking for things, don't forget to vote for my essay in the Bourdain contest! Winning $10k could go a long way in relieving the anxiety I feel about my husband being a starving artist. Many thanks.