February 28, 2013

24 hours in Zurich.

That was it. It felt like a muted 24 hours in the forest. Going from New York to a hushed abeyance for just a moment. I actually went for work, but got to spend time in a superb hotel and then just a skip into the city as well. Swiss cities are all impressive in their taintless form - impeccable cobblestone streets - that river, the Limmat, is crystalline: you can see the pebbles at the bottom even at midnight.

February 27, 2013

February 26, 2013

Awfully embarrassing.

My dad is what is considered a "short sleeper." He and one of his brothers (probably many of his siblings, actually). This is, apparently, a rare and lucky thing to be. He functions very well on 5 hours of sleep. Weekend mornings from childhood through teenagehood were punctuated with my dad's voice pummeling through my early morning sleep, "Get up. You're wasting your life away." I have never known him to sleep past 6am. He is one of the most voracious readers and productive people I know. I guess he has the advantage of more waking hours.

Well, he is being studied. A researcher at the University of Utah is conducting research on short sleepers and the potential genetic component of this phenomenon. The researcher not only wanted to study my dad, but a few of his children as well. Although there is no way in the whole world that I am a short sleeper (I am falling asleep by 10pm most nights, can hardly make it through a movie and function best on 9 hours of sleep), it is fruitful to study children in genetics. So, three of my siblings and I are using gadgets to chart our sleep and answering questionnaires and being interviewed by this researcher. I hope that I will pass on the short sleep gene to one of my children as remuneration for my efforts (although I hope it won't kick in until after babyhood and night wakings).

In any case, the other day I was filling in one of the questionnaires for the study. Some of the questions were puzzling - gauging things like feelings of worthlessness, indecision, punishment feelings, loss of pleasure, guilty feelings, sex drive - which I guess is all related to and wrapped up in sleep. I dutifully checked the boxes and even filled in extra commentary for the researchers to give them as much color as might be helpful in understanding my current sleeping patterns. I did this at work, where I have a few extra minutes here and there to sit down and concentrate. I scanned it. I came back to my desk and emailed it off to the researchers. Later, in communicating with a colleague at a partner bank, I sent an attachment. What I thought was the same spreadsheet I update and send daily was, in fact, a special treat for this banking friend. He now has a lot more "color" on me. I hope it improves our daily interactions. Ha! Awful.

February 24, 2013


As John described these budding leaves...this is pure magic. Can't wait to see the full outgrowth of Stephen's gift. Hundreds of bulbs. To give your sister spring - what a gift indeed.

February 23, 2013

Happy birthday to you...

Xavier. Happy birthday to you. Xavier wanted to blow out the candle on the cake with his remote controlled helicopter (a great gift from me) and also land it on the cake. That is very Xavier. He did, then flew it overhead again and attempted to fly the thing close enough to lick its skis, so we were all in peril.

February 21, 2013

11 months.

11 months old. Nothing compares to this little chick. And enjoying a baby is actually something to be learned. Spending time with her means accepting enrapture, amusement, a swarm of love and frustration and boredom all at once. So, the way I've learned to drink her in most effectively is to just to submit to the moment I am spending. Let her perilously pull herself up and sit back down 25 times in the bath (3 of those times mean a delicious "kiss" from her, with her wide open mouth), let her control the spoon she is being fed from (and not the yogurt that flies), let her turn the pages of the book and mess up the story line (Colette! the little baby should be shown sleeping after she takes the bath and gets the kisses from her papa), let her conclude that standing on her own is a legitimate reason to drop back to her knees once she realizes what she is doing (even if when distracted she can do it for 60 seconds sustained), let her decide when she needs to be close and when she wants to scoot away. One of the sweetest things she does is point out the moon - when we are outside on a walk and we ask her to find it, her little finger hovers above her body and traces the sky until it stops on the moon. I am so addicted to her.

February 20, 2013

February 18, 2013


There is something mournful about windy wintery days. Even the ones with brilliant sunshine. I was downtown with Chris and we were being gusted about in one of those New York city moments where the avenues become tunnels of wind and you get assaulted at various intersections by blasts. We looked over to the west and spied the new Whitney under construction and these white tarps acting out the invisible force of the currents of air and despite the physical pain of remaining in the cold/wind, we ventured. Really beautiful. And I am ready for spring.

February 16, 2013


Such a contrast this afternoon between the gray sky, the ashen curves of the Guggenheim (I actually like this museum best against a somber sky) and the warm spectacle inside.

It was even warmer because when Colette and I walked into the museum, we found Jordan and Meredith. The best. And a museum is, in fact, a very fitting place for little ladies like Colette. High contrast, lots of color, space to walk and romp and crawl and so many new people to wave at.

The show was Gutai: Splendid Playground.

While I didn't necessarily love all the components of the Gutai show, I appreciated the spectacle at the Guggenheim - one of my favorite spaces to see art. I always walk away just wowed. I also appreciate Meredith's analysis of the hanging pieces - that they reminded her of those frozen Otter Pops, with just a bit of the juice left. Denominating what might be art and what might not be art at museums is one of Meredith's specialties.

One of Colette's very favorite parts of the excursion was "walking" down the entire Guggeneheim cylindrical ramp - showing off her new competencies: sloppily placing one foot in front of the other - often pitched forward gazing at the ground, her shadow, or leaning back looking at the ceiling.

Apart from the baby tricks, we were all pretty charmed by Zarina: Paper Like Skin. This one is called Crawling House (1994) - made of hand-cut and molded tin. Her materials and pieces were my favorite.

A lot of waving and charming à la Colette J-J.

February 15, 2013

Papers. 1946-1959

Xavier had a brilliant idea for a Friday night activity with little lady Colette. Times Square. No not really, although we walked through it and Colette's eyes were exploding with all the lights (her head probably too). We really headed to Kinokuniya Bookstore near Bryant Park (on Avenue of the Americas between 40th and 41st Streets) and if you live in NYC or ever come here, this is definitely a place to go. One of my favorite co-workers once told me about it when I was searching for a special gift. It is a true Japanese bookshop. Some of the women who work there don't speak English. Think 1,300 different types of pens. Tiny notebooks, hoards of stickers and Totoro paraphernalia everywhere (you can guess who got enthusiastic about that. And her dad). Colette was in heaven. It was the perfect mixture of calm and allure for her - she was surrounded by hundreds of items she wanted to wave to - she got sort of frantic - darting her eyes around to make sure there weren't other smiling heads about to blow kisses at. Paper goods are my favorite at Japanese stores like this. I found a book of paper - wall paper, I guess, - the pages were filled with this sort of thing (illustrations all from 1946-1959, apparently):

The book looks like this. Check it out here.

February 12, 2013


This Story Corps story made me cry on my way to work today. Listen to it. I am such a public radio fan.

February 11, 2013

Eating snow.

Xavier was in France this weekend with Mademoiselle Marguerite, so Colette and I hunkered down in New York for the mega snow storm (it was kind of anticlimactic, I mean, it was snow). The result was beauty out of every window though.

When we saw this scene of the hill and the kids out the front window, Colette leaned and pressed her nose up against the glass, emitting little shrieks. We ran outside to go join them - or at least just watch them. Colette kept kicking her legs in the carrier and squealing and, of course, waving frantically at all of them. They were big kids, though, and they didn't notice her. Poor baby. She even tried blowing kisses at some point (her newest trick). We moved on to eating snow, which hypnotized her. She could not get enough. (Am I poisoning her with big city acid rain snow? I kept wondering to myself and trying to recall more from my 6th grade primer on saving the planet and the dangers of acid rain and then multiplying the dangers of what I did recall by ten because of surefire augmented levels of pollution. But I still kept feeding her the snow).

When we went back inside, Colette decided to empty the contents of all drawers at her level.

...and then she took simulated sleep breaks (eyes wide open) on the piles of removed clothing. Pretty exciting day.

February 9, 2013

Snow. And this is the church across the street where they are shooting a movie at the moment. Black Nativity. With Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson (based on Langston Hughes' gospel musical) about the Baltimore boy who is sent to Harlem to spend Christmas with the grandparents he doesn't know. Harlem it really is. In the beat-up church across the street. They asked if they could hang Christmas lights in our windows for the film. Sounds good to us.

This is one all-purpose church - actively used every Sunday for services, but it is also rented out most other nights of the week and late into Saturday night for dance parties, Quincenaeras (think lots of colored balloons and bright colored streamers). Most nights the florescent/neon lights flashing from the windows and the beats make me think we live next to a discotheque. The church garden is the site of the neighborhood easter egg hunt and spring/summer community garden. And now a film set! Everything here.

February 6, 2013

Debut at Carnegie Hall.

A recital debut at Carnegie Hall? A huge achievement in a musician's life. A 21-year old musician, no less? His name is Daniil Trifonov - a young Russian who brought down the house last night. Xavier's dad was raving about this young pianist a bit ago and the imprint he was making in France. Xavier was intrigued (mostly because Trifonov performs Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 almost like Van Cliburn - and if that means anything, it means a lot to you). He did a little research and found that the young man would soon be making his debut at Carnegie Hall. So he got us tickets. Delighted.

There he was up there on that big stage. He looked 15. His long hair, his gangly form. His emotion. He is an emotional pianist (watch him a bit on YouTube, worth watching his face as he plays) and it was such a pleasure to hear him play Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor and Chopin’s 24 Preludes. Those preludes are so simple – almost guileless – and many so recognizable. I play a few of them and so really connected to the program, but to hear him play the more technical and dramatic of the 24 – No. 3 in G Major, 8 in F-sharp, 15 in D-flat Major and 24 in D. Minor - transported all of us out of that hall. (His encore pieces included BACH’s Gavotte from Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006 (arr. Rachmaninoff) and Chopin's Scherzo for Piano No. 3 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 39, CT. 199 – both were such a treat after an already affecting performance).

There I was, so delighted (and happily surrounded by 80-year olds). Thanks, Xavier.

February 5, 2013

Colette in double.

Her mirror selves are so comical. I can't figure out if she recognizes herself yet. She is always grabbing at her hair when she sees a mirror - maybe she thinks the baby contained in the glass needs a bit of coiffing at least.

The cankles appear to have some staying power.

For a baby who has never liked to cuddle, she has been doing this lately. She will be excitable and wild - baby limbs all over and then will suddenly lay her head down on my thigh for 20 seconds. She pretends to go to sleep. Cracks me up.
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