My 2nd Day Tripper

Seattle and the Pacific Northwest have been having what you might call an abysmal summer. It’s been cold, windy and wet. There was this one nice day in May, and a day or two that neared 80 in July, but other than that, it’s been consistently un-summery. To make up for it, said weather decided it would give us a weekend with temperatures nearing 100 degrees.

A sweater was required for fourth of July fireworks this year.

A sweater was required for fourth of July fireworks this year.

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100 degrees is pretty rare around these parts, and we are ill-equipped to handle it. (Air-conditioning…What’s that?) However, when I saw the forecast, I was excited. I said way back at the beginning of summer that I would wait until we got a day that was too hot to handle – one of those late summer, hard-to-breathe days – and take a day trip to the ocean. Finally, that day was here.

This was going to be another impromptu trip, and when I mentioned it to my husband two days beforehand, he said he didn’t want to go. I had already promised Sonja a beach day, and I could not renege. She was much too excited. I decided I could handle the 4-hour round trip drive by myself.

Then, I decided to invite an out-of-town friend to meet us there. I was very surprised when she said yes to the short notice plan and travel. But then things started to evolve as things do, and on Saturday morning all three of us wound up headed down to her place in Vancouver, WA for a visit to the Columbia River. Where it would be 98 degrees.

Our first stop after arriving was lunch on the riverbank. We sat outside because it was such a beautiful view and it wasn’t that hot, right? We were obviously delirious from the heat. Before we made our decision, Sonja asked,  “if we sit outside, will there be shade?” I said that all of the tables had umbrellas, so yes, there would be shade. We were sat at the one table on the terrace that did not have an umbrella. By the time we left, which seemed like many hours later thanks to the slow service, we were heat weary.

The girls coloring.

The girls coloring.

Stepping into the river made a world of difference. I no longer thought I would die of heat stroke. Since Shaun isn’t fond of large bodies of water, I sent him Pokemon hunting while the rest of us alternated between wading in the river and building sand castles.


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In the Columbia River

In the Columbia River

When we got back to my friend’s place, we tested out the pool, but Sonja was getting tired and wasn’t happy that the shallow end was three-feet deep. So we returned to the air-conditioned apartment and prepared to head home.

Other than a quick stop at a non-air-conditioned pizza place, that was our trip. Unlike the previous daytrip, this was all play and no shopping. It was fun and exhausting and we all left a few shades darker than when we arrived.

None of this touches on the great conversations I had with my friend, with whom I wish to start a parenting podcast. I always leave with a new, “first show topic.” This time, it’s personal life assistants. Because you can’t be expected to take your own pictures and post them online by yourself.

Finally, I think Shaun caught several new Pokemon types, so we can all call this trip a resounding success. There’s still a little bit of summer left, and probably this is when we’ll get the bulk of our warm days. So, what’s next?

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My Library Fridays

Statistically speaking, parenting is 97% missed opportunities, lost tempers and general astonishment that someone you love so deeply could annoy you so greatly.* But, three percent of the time, something will go right and you, as a parent, will feel very accomplished, indeed.

I have been taking Sonja to several activities at the YMCA this summer to keep her entertained, but gymnastics, ballet and Tae Kwon Do add up to less than two hours a week. When she started to complain that she’d read her extensive collection of children’s literature too many times, I decided to institute regular trips to the library. Then I came up with a name for the trips – Library Friday.

I chose Fridays because I don’t work and there is a corresponding story time for preschoolers. Then, I came up with the name, because naming an idea automatically lends it credence and legitimacy. Giving it a schedule lends anticipation. Library Friday immediately became Sonja’s favorite day of the week. She gets to sing, listen to stories, and do a craft project at the story time. Afterwards, she picks several books to take home, and the next week, she returns a few of them in order to get more. We’ve found some really entertaining stories this way (as well as some not-so-entertaining ones.) One of her favorites is A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell. In this story, the main character gets upset because whoever is reading the book keeps getting it dirty. Sonja got mad at me because I picked it for her and checked it out without her permission, but now she won’t let me take it back. And she insists on reading all of the new books as soon as we get home, so we get more reading time than we would otherwise.

We also signed up for the summer reading program, and last week when she took in the ticket to claim her first prize, the excitement was palpable. Things petered out when the prize was a small, orange carabiner, but she is still psyched to get the next prize.


Summer Reading Prize #1


Phone for scale.

While we clocked a decent amount of reading time previously, and while Sonja has always loved books, I feel that Library Fridays have simultaneously increased her understanding of how the library works (it’s not quite as painful now to take back books that she really likes) and its vast offerings, and more importantly, solidified the library as a great resource and wondrous place to go.Very accomplished, indeed.


*Not actual statistics.



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My Day Tripper

I didn’t plan any formal vacations for this summer. After the exhaustion that was our 2015 trip to Victoria, I thought a gap year between vacations was in order. I didn’t rule out another Canadian excursion, because I wasn’t sure if the begging to go back to Canada would ever stop (it subsided), but I was hoping to put our energy into house projects instead. Fast forward to the middle of July, when the Pacific Northwest has gotten a sum total of 3 days of summer, and I threw my hands up in disgust. If summer wasn’t coming, then we’d have to do something to make it feel like summer… And what, I ask you, feels more like summer than a road trip? So Sunday morning we embarked on a nearly 3 hour drive to Leavenworth, WA, a cute little tourist trap in the north Cascades decorated to look like an Alpine Bavarian village.

By chance or circumstance or happenstance, our last minute plans were crashed by a last minute friend, making the trip that much more summery. We caravanned our two Subarus up and into the mountains, flanked left and right by other Subarus.

When we arrived in the small town, we had to find parking, which was not easy to do. We lucked into an open parallel street spot, and my husband’s exact words were, “I’m glad you’re driving because I could not do this.” My husband and I are two very different people with very different skill sets, but the one thing that I can do that he can’t that surprises me the most is parallel park. I will say that I’m never happy about parallel parking, and it always makes me nervous, especially when there are cars in the street behind me, as there were Sunday. But, aided by the fact that the truck that exited the spot was the size of a tank, I quickly executed the most beautiful parallel parking job that surely has ever been seen. We didn’t even have to walk to the curb! I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture.

After a lengthy wait time on lunch and a few stops in shops along the main road, it was somehow time to go. We were trying to make our way to mini golf for the kids, but our propensity for shopping multiplied by the quantity of shops equaled a day. Or at least the part of the day that is available in the middle of two three-hour drives. Still, the day fit the summer bill. There was driving. There was a cooler. I went somewhere I’d never been before, and I got to spend time with family and friends.

On the way home, Sonja fell asleep in the car early on, but then startled awake about 20 minutes later saying she needed to go potty. She’s really good at holding it for a four-year-old, but we were in the middle of nowhere and I could hear the urgency in her request. So we made our first ever pit stop along the side of the road. I ran her down a small but steep hill into the grass and let her do her business. When we got back to the car, Shaun said, “next time, just open both car doors and let her go in between.” I, having never to my recollection had to stop and pee on the side of the road, had no idea there was a protocol. So not only was the stop educational for me, but Sonja says that, “peeing in the grass” was her favorite part of the trip. Who needs German town when you can urinate on the side of a mountain highway?

For the record, she says her other favorite parts were riding in the stroller (her friend’s, because we gave up on trying to get her into the stroller years ago), and buying a stuffed animal at one of the toy stores (the propensity for shopping lives on.) She also said, in the unique hyperbolic way she has, that it was the best day ever and she was so glad we took our vacation in Leavenworth.

When we were almost home, we stopped at Taco Time for dinner. Before entering the restaurant, Shaun and I both paused. He said he wasn’t sure it was a good idea, and I agreed. The last time we ended a vacation at a Taco Time (albeit a really bad one in Oregon), Shaun was laid off from his job and we had a terrible drive followed by several terrible months. Of course, this was Sunday night and such news was surely not coming right then, so we  bravely and without prejudice ate our tacos and mexi-fries. And I’m happy to note that on Monday morning he got a promotion, and my class, which had been teetering on the brink of cancellation due to low enrollment, was picked up. So it turned out to be the perfect way to end the vacation.

There are still no plans for any formal vacations this year, but I think it would be nice, possibly even preferable, to do another day trip or two before fall sets in. The sheer amount of planning I do for, let’s say a two-night stay in Victoria, and the ensuing disappointment when said plans are not fully realized, is enough stress for an entire summer. This trip required virtually no planning, was unencumbered by preconceived notions of how it should go, and was still fun. Yes indeed, let’s do that several more times and call it a perfect summer.

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It’s good we had someone along to take a family portrait, because when I had to dredge one up for Sonja’s preschool, it was from two years ago, and incidentally, taken by the same person who took this photo!

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Friends. These two were so well-behaved for such a long and tiring day that was not geared towards children.


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The city streets of Leavenworth

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Portraits of moms and daughters, sort of a tradition for the four of us.

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Stroller break

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Heading home.

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My Done List

I’ve heard that keeping a done list is as motivating or more so than keeping a to-do list. It is naturally rewarding to your brain to see all the things that you have accomplished, squished together on a single piece of paper. So I thought I should take this opportunity, the weekend before I have to go back to work, to check off all that I accomplished with my two-and-a-half weeks off.

Here’s the original list, with notes:

3-week meal plan
Eh, I didn’t do three weeks in advance, but I did cook a lot and tried several new recipes, so I’ll say that’s a check.

Write quarterly Sonja update

Take Sonja to the doctor for quarterly height-weight check; take myself for triptan reup.
Sonja: 28.8 lbs, 38 in; Me: 6 triptans in hand.

Read, read, read. Also, binge-watch, binge-watch, binge-watch.
Nope, nope, nope. Also, nope, nope, nope. I started on The Americans, which is good but very dark and I wanted a little lighter fare. I’ve just started Mr. Robot, which is still dark but has occasional moments of humor and no body count (so far). I’ll see what the rest of season 1 has to offer.

Writing other than for this blog.
Sadly, no.

Declutter clothes, books and, if time, the miscellaneous category as described by Kondo.
Yes! I made tons and tons of progress with this.

Clean the garage on a weekend with Shaun. (This doesn’t fit the KonMari method in that it’s cleaning by room, but it really can’t be ignored any longer.)
Check. It’s still messy, but it’s not as messy.

Organize all digital photos by year and make new back-up discs.
No, but it will be easy to transition to this when I finally get all the decluttering done.

Declutter computer work files.
No, but I still have to start lesson planning (eek), and some of that will go hand in hand.

Trip to Goodwill.

Trip to county dump.
Goodbye console TV!

So there you have it. Not bad, if I do say so myself. Perhaps you notice, as I have, that the more specific things on the list (declutter clothes) were the things that actually got accomplished. It’s the vague items (read, write) that are left to languish in the summer heat. I’m still in the process of actually getting the actual stuff that I decluttered actually out of my actual house. This is going to take far longer than the tidying did. My plan is to continue with the decluttering throughout the summer quarter, and transition from that into decluttering the computer. Then I can make a whole new to-do/done list for the second, longer summer break. If that doesn’t spell summer fun, I don’t know what does!

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My Bingeing on Purging

I am reminded of a question posed in one of my grad school classes: If you had access to all of your music and DVDs online, would you actually need to physically possess them? This was back in ’08 when things were digital but not as digital as they are now. A lot of students protested. “Well, the internet can be flaky.” The response was, “Imagine that it’s not.” “Well, sometimes providers take away access.” “Imagine that they wouldn’t.” “Well, I just like having my things.” “Why?” I don’t think everyone was convinced at that point that they didn’t need their possessions, but I’ve continued to ponder that question ever since.

Marie Kondo poses similar kinds of questions in her organizational advice book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” about why we keep the things we do. She wants to know why we’re really hanging onto that thing from 5 years ago that we thought we might need but never look at or think about. And why on earth do we keep the box that the cell phone came in?

I had to admit after reading her book that I didn’t have answers for those questions, and thus began my decluttering journey. The real revelation of this book is to clean by category, not by room. Get all your shit that belongs in category A together, from all different parts of the house, then realize that you have way too much and start paring down. Thus, I awoke early last Saturday (okay, was awoken) and started on what Kondo suggests as the first category for tidying: clothes. This took me all day. Literally. About 9 hours total. I was surprised, but I got through it and filled up a medium-sized moving box plus a smaller box of clothes for donating.

The next day, I started on the next category: books. This didn’t take too long as I’d recently donated several things, but I still came up with another small box to take to the library. Then it was time for papers, which I started on Sunday evening. I was dreading this because I knew it was going to be a slog. Unlike the clothing and books, I didn’t have to decide if papers “sparked joy,” but I did have to go through them one by one and keep only what was necessary.

Oh, the treasures I found! Receipts from just about every cell phone Shaun or I ever bought – including one receipt from that brief period where AT&T went insane and called itself Cingular!

Cingular Wireless

Cingular Wireless

I also found receipts from Circuit City…

Circuit City. Where dat?

Circuit City. Where dat?

And that time we got married and then bought a bunch of stuff from our registry ourselves…

Wedding Registry Receipt

Wedding Registry Receipt (Little did I know how much of this stuff would eventually be clutter. Not the lamps. Those still spark joy. And electricity.)

And from that time we adopted a cat and immediately changed his name…


…because Maxie? Yuck. Sid should really be nicer to me just for giving him a proper name.

And from the first piece of furniture we bought for our apartment…


I also still have the papasan chair, but after last year’s new couch purchase, it resides in my office.

And from the halogen lamp I requested and my grandfather bought me when I was in college…


I still have this but it was living in the garage and got mysteriously dented. I think somehow the cat knocked it over.

I also found instructions from the lava lamp that I bought and still have…



I had no idea there were so many rules and regulations concerning lava operation.

By Tuesday, I was clearing out a second filing cabinet and having the time of my life. This was exactly the project I needed at exactly the right time. I hadn’t realized how long some of this stuff went unattended. We’ve been in this house for nearly 10 years now, when we expected to be here for a maximum of five. George Carlin said when you get too much stuff, you gotta get a new house, but we bought in 2007, so you do the math on that. With nowhere for us to go, it was time to say sayonara to some of the belongings.

After reading all those instructions, I decided to see if the lamp still worked. Here it is after turning it on for the first time in who knows how many years.

After reading all those instructions, I decided to see if the lamp still worked. Here it is after turning it on for the first time in who knows how many years.

And here it is after being on all day long. Sorry, lava lamp, no worky, no stay-y. (Sniff.)

And here it is after being on all day long. Sorry, lava lamp, no worky, no stay-y. (Sniff.)

Some decisions have been harder than others, but I am so very happy to unburden myself. One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about this process is the concentration I have applied to it. Rather than worry about making the house clean or presentable, I have allowed certain messes to stagnate and sometimes grow so that I can completely finish what I’m doing, knowing that that will help to keep the house cleaner in the long run. This is not a new or radical concept to me, it’s just been dormant the last five years as I’ve struggled to finish so much as a thought. I have to say that Sonja has been great this past week, allowing me to get more done than I ever thought possible. She also started making her own “keep” pile out of stuff I was trying to get rid of, but that was inevitable. Some of the things like old stickers and stamps and paper I gave her willingly. I’m sure I didn’t think when I bought that Pinky and the Brain eraser as a teenager that I’d one day give it to my daughter (I’m sure I didn’t think any future children would even know what Pinky and the Brain was) but clearly, that is why I kept it all these years.

Floppy Disks. Somewhere, somebody has the technology to read these.

Floppy Disks. Somewhere, somebody has the technology to read these.

Though I consider myself very organized, I was flabbergasted to find how many of the same type of thing (e.g. DVDs) were scattered in different places. I consider this the real value in Kondo’s suggestion to hold everything you own to see if it sparks joy. If you actually go through all of your things, then you know where all of your things are. The joy thing is secondary, really, and to me just means don’t keep anything for the sake of keeping it. Only keep it if you want it.

I wish I could say that the house looks ship shape. I am nearly through the third category, which is the large and nearly all-encompassing miscellaneous items (komono). However, I haven’t decided how I am going to store everything that I am keeping, and have piles scattered around the house. I am waiting to get everything done before making the final decisions. Still, even though things appear messy, everything just feels lighter. Boxes are lighter, drawers slide easier, there’s more space surrounding things and more sunlight coming in the windows – it’s wonderful.

I, however, am exhausted. I’ve barely slept all week. I’ve stayed up late tidying, then been unable to fall asleep. This weekend we’ll tackle the garage, and for the first time, I feel that I have a real handle on how to do that. Maybe then I’ll be able to get some sleep.

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My Four-and-Three-Quarters Year Old

Just how many years can a child go to preschool? This four-and-three-quarters year old just finished up her third year, and thanks to the strict no-testing policy of our school district, she will have to return for one more year before she ages into kindergarten. She loves her teacher and her friends, and already has a litany of items lined up for next year’s show-and-tell, so at least she’s excited to go back.

2016 PVCP Spring Sonja

Sonja’s preschool picture

Just how many height-weight checks can a child have? This year, I’ve taken Sonja in quarterly for this ritual, by request of her doctor. The office has vastly improved the print outs for the growth chart, but the numbers are still the same. 1% in height and weight. I’d like to say now that this has taken a greater toll on my psyche than I originally realized. There is literally nothing I can do to influence her size. I mean, look at me, I’m a tiny speck of a human being, and she is my offspring. But logic simply cannot refute the most basic instinct to feel like it’s all my fault.

Just how many episodes of The Odd Squad can a preschooler binge-watch? I actually think this show is pretty cute. They had me at “Symmetric Al.” It’s all about math and she’s actually learning something. When we were at the grocery store yesterday and I bought two avocados, she said, very enthusiastically, that if I bought two more, I’d have four. The guy standing next to us chuckled.

Just how many times can one read through the entirety of Where the Sidewalk Ends? Apparently, after at least four months of nightly readings, we hit our limit. Now, she’s complaining that she’s read all of her books too many times. I forsee many trips to the library in our future.

Just how late can someone under five stay up? Lately the stalling tactics include begging for food, which reminds me that I need to reinstate the hard line on the 8:00 snack time, and asking for more stories (even though she’s read them all) so that she can spend more time with me. I know that I worked more these past two months than I have the rest of the year, but it’s still a part-time job, and she gets to spend plenty of time with me. I’ve gotta hand it to her, though, it’s expert manipulation. She hits upon my weak points – my fear that she’s not getting enough to eat and my guilt about being a working parent.

She sleeps in weird positions

She sleeps in weird positions

Just how quickly can an almost five-year-old mess up a newly painted and reorganized room? Really, really quickly. In late March, I painted her room green (by request) and we finally got her a big girl bed, which she loves. I toyed with the idea of taking a picture of the way the room looks now, but better to remember this brief moment of cleanliness.

Sonja's preschool pictute

The newly renovated room

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New headboard and nightstand

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Closet full o’ stuffed animals

And just how many adventures can a four-and-three-quarters year old have? Never enough!

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Face painting at the spring fair

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Driving a car at the spring fair

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Helping mom cook

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Playing at the park on an unseasonably warm May day


Having a picnic in the shade.


Picture with a mermaid at the preschool spring festival


Sonja dressed up as Elsa and thoroughly enjoying her special day at preschool


Playing with the parachute


She really wanted a picture with Geoffrey the Giraffe. Just not any closer than that.


So excited about her brand new bicycle


Neon/fluorescent kid paradise


At a fun park on an unseasonably cool June day

Drawing by Sonja

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My To Do List

One of the perks of teaching is the break between quarters. In about a week, I’ll get some much needed time off. However, I am determined not to completely waste this time, as I did the last break, and the break before that. I realized that the problem with the last two breaks was not having a plan. As a teacher, I have to plan and plan and plan, and when I’m done planning, I like to sit on the couch and binge-watch something. While I still plan to do that during this break, it’s not the only thing I want to do.

There are a million things I can think of to do, and I have a tendency to want to do them all at one time. Anything less would be a failure. I get really psyched about a project, like cleaning out the garage, only to find myself in a state of despair an hour after I start, looking at the virtually unchanged mess in front of me, wondering why I even bothered. I decide to start on another project and in no time at all, I’ve got exactly squat accomplished.

So heading into the break, I know two things. First, I need a list. I need to select a few of the things I want to do and that have a reasonable chance of being accomplished in the time that I have, write them down, and stick with them. Second, this house has hit critical mass. I’m a little torn about this. I think with a little more space, everything would be fine. We’re not exactly hoarders. (Well, I’m not. I’m not sure about the other two residents.) However, this house with its three bedrooms, two-and-a-quarter baths, two living areas and dining room, isn’t that small either. In any event, none of the little projects or updates or even deep cleaning I’m always thinking about can get done without first freeing up some space. I stacked some Goodwill-bound boxes in the hall so long ago that they think they’re furniture, but I know that there’s much more that needs to go and I really only want to go once.

Two weeks ago, I decided I would need to make a list of cleaning projects and set a date to donate. Of course, I couldn’t just sit down and write a list, so as the idea marinated in my brain, I wound up at the library borrowing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese self-help manual that encourages people to de-hoarde by holding all their possessions to see if they “spark joy.”

The idea that possessions can spark joy certainly sounds looney tunes, but when something like this plants itself so firmly in pop culture that my favorite shows and comedians are joking about it, curiosity kills the cat. In that vein, I’m sort-of enjoying this book. Kondo has some cogent ideas. Her insistence to clean by category and not room, and all at once, are ideas I can support. Unfortunately, the advice to thank your possessions for their service to you is just bizarre enough for me to understand. I’m sure that my spatula doesn’t need to be thanked, but I get the idea of me needing to thank it. It’s part of the thought process that one has to go through to get rid of things, and the idea of letting yourself have those thoughts, whether in your head or, if absolutely necessary, out loud, in order to let go of them seems perfectly reasonable to me.

I don’t know that I can completely declutter in the time I have. She doesn’t recommend that. But the goals of the book add some direction to my burgeoning list, and more importantly, have me excited to get to work. I’m also a little nervous, but anytime I have been really brutal with a particular space, keeping only what I need, I’ve been happier and the order has lasted longer.

Below is the aforementioned list of things I want to do, in addition to the stuff I have to do, like watch my kid, and the stuff I want to do, like cooking and exercising. This  list is still in beta. I still have to teach one day next week and turn in grades, so the quarter isn’t done yet and my break hasn’t officially started.  In other words, there’s still time.

To-Do List

3-week meal plan

Write quarterly Sonja update

Take Sonja to the doctor for quarterly height-weight check; take myself for triptan reup.

Read, read, read. Also, binge-watch, binge-watch, binge-watch.

Writing other than for this blog.

Declutter clothes, books and, if time, the miscellaneous category as described by Kondo.

Clean the garage on a weekend with Shaun. (This doesn’t fit the KonMari method in that it’s cleaning by room, but it really can’t be ignored any longer.)

Organize all digital photos by year and make new back-up discs.

Declutter computer work files.

Trip to Goodwill.

Trip to county dump.




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My Tour Merch

Five years ago, while on vacation in San Francisco, I picked up a tank top in one of those little tourist traps on the pier. It was blue, said, “San Francisco” on the front, and retailed for about $2. As you might expect of a $2 shirt, I found that it wasn’t exactly perfect. It seemed to be sewed a little crooked. I put it in my pajama drawer where it still lives today. It still lives there because I still wear it. All the time.

It is in this way that I find tank tops to be ever-so-versatile. It is why I wish and wish that when I went merchandise shopping at a concert, they would have at least one tank top for sale. That has never happened.

After years of accumulating concert t-shirts that are now living a life of solitude in an extra drawer, I decided a few years ago that I should stop buying them. But, without sounding too consumerist, I knew I had to buy something at the show to add to my Paul Simon collection. I mean, it’s Paul Simon. Things bought at shows and on vacations are the best things, because they have sentimental value and they live our lives with us, instead of being whisked off to Goodwill with the season’s change. So, with no tank tops available, I went with an overpriced hoodie, because next to the tank top, a hoodie is probably the most useful thing in my wardrobe. Do I wish the design was a little more intricate? Yes. Do I wish it was a slightly less drab color? Yes. Do I wish that when the hood was down, it didn’t cover the little design that the shirt actually has? A thousand times yes. But it’s soft and warm and come fall I will wear it, so it’s much better than having to add to that overstuffed drawer.

The Back

The Back

The Front

The Front

I also bought a key chain, because those are also quite useful, provided one uses them and doesn’t put them in a drawer or box as a memento. The older I get, the more I see the wisdom in using and loving the precious things you buy, instead of trying to preserve them forever. Does that sound like the plot to Toy Story 2 to you?

The Front or The Back (Depends on your perspective)

The Front or The Back (Depends on your perspective)

The Back or The Front (Depends on your perspective)

The Back or The Front (Depends on your perspective)

On the previous tour, I bought a poster, which hangs next to my desk in my office.


I have found a few things more useful than a t-shirt at some of my shows, and the absolute best has to be the bag I bought at the Steely Dan show. I used this bag to carry (sheet) music, which makes sense for a bag bought at a concert. Plus, I love bags almost as much as I love tank tops, so it’s useful to me, even though I haven’t used it for a long time. I also got a free travel mug after signing up for a credit card. I still have the mug; I have no idea what happened to the credit card.

The Bag

The Bag

The Mug

The Mug

At a Pomplamoose show, my husband bought a hat, which he displays proudly but does not wear. We also bought a CD that is entitled, “the CD you bought at our show,” which is super handy for remembering that’s where it came from.


At the last Caspar Babypants show, I bought these adorable magnets that were designed by his wife. They are sturdy and strong and are great for hanging kid art on the ‘fridge. (Although they simply would not get any closer to each other than this for their picture.)


We bought a CD at the same show.

Signed by Caspar himself.

Signed by Caspar himself.

And then there are all the t-shirts. I wore the white Paul Simon one to the show last week, because I wanted to give it some love. It’s nearly old enough to vote. Of the four I have, it’s definitely my favorite design, and it probably fits slightly better than the gray and black ones, whose boxy fit and high-collars scream, “this shirt was made for a man!” The one that was actually made for a woman barely covers my belly button, which leads me to believe I bought it back when jeans were made NOT to show your ass crack every time you bent over.

The Fronts

The Fronts

The Backs

The Backs

So all of the shirts got trotted out for a little photo shoot, and are now back to hibernating in their drawer. I’ll keep them, because of the sentimental value, and who knows, maybe super giant boxy shirts will be back in fashion some day. One thing is for certain; Tank tops will never go out of style.

One of these is too big, one is too small.

One of these is too big, one is too small.

I actually wore the purple one out .

I actually wore the purple one out .


Bob Dylan and Paul Simon were touring together in 1999. The white Paul Simon shirt is from that tour. This shirt is from a Bob Dylan solo show.

The Front

The Front

The Back

The Back

The Tank

The Tank

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My Recurring Dream

If you know me, you know I am Paul Simon’s #1 fan. Not in a Kathy Bates Misery kind of way, but definitely in a Nick Hornby High Fidelity crazy obsessive kind of way. Tomorrow night, I will see him live in concert for the fifth time. Fifth!* According to my records, I’ve been attending his shows since 1999. I think the only show I missed that took place within a few hundred miles of my home was the Simon & Garfunkel tour, and yes…yes I do regret that. #whatthehellwasIthinking?

I’ve also spent an extensive amount of time writing about seeing Paul Simon live. Again, after checking my records, I found I have two complete stories about seeing Paul live the first two times, and one incomplete and unsure-of-itself story about the third time. Re-reading the third story reminded me that I was in France when the tickets went on sale, and had to call home to get my parents to purchase the tickets for me. I apparently did so from a pay phone. My oh my, how times change. Continue reading

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My System for Pictures

I remember, very clearly, my French teacher in college commending me on my organizational skills. She said that it must take a lot of time to stay so organized, and I said no, actually, it didn’t take much time at all. Then, I conceded that it may have taken some time to set up initially, but that the upkeep was easy.

I remember this because I have always been an extremely organized person, and extremely proud of it. After I became a mother, I sensed that my organizational skills were slipping. However, the dent in my otherwise pristine skills that motherhood made has nothing on the massive system failure that occurred after I started teaching. As I said, I am a very organized person, so when I found myself drowning in papers, I started to wonder how people, not as organized as I, can even survive as teachers.

I have finally gotten my head above water, but I’m still working out the kinks in what is a large and, from what I can tell, ever-changing system. As such, I can’t share any words of teacher’s organizational wisdom with you just yet, but I did notice, during one of my cleaning sessions, a major flaw with my system for organizing pictures on my computer.

I don’t actually take all that many pictures, given how ridiculously easy it is to do now. Some people take thousands of pictures a year. I’d say I’m somewhere in the hundreds. But I do have thousands stored on my computer, and I had been storing them in folders that were grouped by subject and sometimes year, like Hawaii, Jun ’06. Pictures that were not as easily categorized just resided in the parent folder, pictures. And so it was that when Sonja was born, she got her own folder for her pictures on the computer. A folder which grew and grew and grew, with more pictures than I had ever taken before. When I needed to organize the folder, I grouped the pictures by year. Not the calendar year, but her age. So within ages 3-4, the pictures were named A_Sep 2014, all the way to K_Aug 2015. Pictures that didn’t include Sonja lived in the parent folder.

A few days ago, when I was searching for a picture and I couldn’t find it because I was looking in the Sonja folder and not the parent pictures folder, I realized that my daughter is not a category! Why, I wondered, did that take so long to figure out? Maybe because the cat and the dog each have their own folders. Maybe because she’s a category in my filing cabinet. (That file, by the way, is named baby, because the folder was started before she was born, and before she had a name. The file contains hospital information, ultrasounds, her birth certificate and various information from her check-ups. I haven’t bothered to change the file name because I suspect the whole idea of a filing cabinet is on the brink of becoming an anachronism.)

Sonja also has her own baby book, with pictures and stories all about her. I have a baby book and so does my husband, and that’s all that we have to refer to if we want to take a trip down memory lane. Sonja’s book doesn’t contain a fraction of the information available on this blog, nor a fraction of the pictures on my hard drive, and it probably will be accessed a fraction as much as this blog when I want to take that memory lane drive.

Somehow the crystal clear digital age has made so many things so very blurry. And that, I think, was why I didn’t see the obvious – pictures should simply be grouped by year. Calendar year. If I want to see a picture from her birth, I know what year to look in. It may be harder to remember just exactly when that decade old Hawaiian vacation occurred, but now I can tag the pictures for easy searching should my memory fail me on the dates.

I’ve also realized that this new system, which I am currently finalizing, will make it easier to back up my pictures. I always back up my pictures, but it gets really messy trying to figure out what I’ve backed up and what I haven’t. Yes, Hawaii Jun ’06 has been backed up, but how many pictures in the Sonja folder have been archived, and how many need to be? Same with the Sid folder. You get the idea. It’ll be much easier just to have one back up disc per year (providing all the pics from one year can fit on one disc – fingers crossed.)

This new system also saves me the hassle of separating where the pictures came from. I used to separate cell phone pics because the quality was so much lower, and I had some unfounded fear that I might actually try to print them. It’s really a moot point now. Even though the cell phone pic might not be as good as a camera pic, the print would still be fine, or if it wasn’t, I’d only be out like 19 cents. That is much better than not being able to find a picture I’m looking for because I don’t remember that I took it on my cell phone.

This system makes absolute logical sense, which I like and which appeals to my organizational side. But I hate undoing work that I have done, because, even though the system isn’t working, it’s an old and tested system, and I’d hate to forget something that turned out to be a really good idea. This fear is what separates college me from current me (well, one of many things.) I know now that organization in college did take time, I just didn’t notice it because I enjoyed doing it so much. I organized and reorganized all the time. Now I worry about embarking on any projects because I’m going to get interrupted, and half-done organization is no organization at all, so why bother? Current me just wants to stick with the broken system because it’s in place, but old, organizational me won’t go for that. She’ll slap me silly until I get everything in the right place.

So what do you think? How do you organize your digital photos, or do you?

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