Monthly Archives: April 2013


anticipate v. regard as probable; expect or predict


The OED gives neither a positive or negative connotation to this word, but in my mind and life, this word takes on a negative feeling. It’s most likely due to the combination of Catholic guilt, Italian superstition and past catastrophic health events, but I don’t like to anticipate anything – good or bad. I think of anticipation as similar to those cartoonic situations where Bugs Bunny or some other character is running elatedly about, celebrating something with glee and rapture – and then suddenly steps on a rake and gets knocked to the ground. Or the ever joyous pile of leaves on the sidewalk awaiting a young jumper – who jumps only to find large boulders hidden underneath, creating hurt and harm so suddenly. I suppose you could say I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch, or, to finish off the bad cliche – put all of my eggs in one emotional basket.

Being this way takes the fun out of a lot of things. And you can bet that having a child makes it even worse. What was once just a fear of not having enough fun or perhaps something being more disappointing than expected turns into an anal retentive, overly cautious, daily, mental shit show that I silently grapple with from minute to minute. I don’t want to anticipate anything being wonderful because it could, possibly, be not so wonderful. Or I don’t want to anticipate something being awful, because life surprises me quite often (at least it goes both ways, right?) I am like some perverted fortune teller in my own life trying to predict how I can prepare to feel before I even get to the place in time where I have to feel it. I always prepare for the worst and hope for the best…which is another way of saying that the fun is never as fun as it could be or I have prolonged “the bad” by bringing it on earlier through worry and negative anticipation.

As a child I didn’t have this problem – until catastrophic things happened in my life (ie. brother with leukemia, dad with a brain tumor, etc. etc.). When I think about all of the bad that happened, I remember the sadness and questioning why, but I also remember that proverbial rake hitting me in the face because I didn’t anticipate anything. When it first happened, I was around 8 years old. I was living an idyllic 8 year old life filled with Cabbage Patch Kids and Jem & The Hologram birthday parties. My scope of pain and anguish spanned about as far as not getting dessert because I didn’t eat my peas or losing one of my best friends to the new girl at school… and then WHAM – brother sick, rake in the face, go to live with family – friends, Sundays as a healthy kid spent reading The Babysitters Club on a pediatric oncology ward while my brother gets chemo, closed doors because another child has passed away –  kinda WHAM. Sort of blows the shit out of anticipating comfy Saturday morning cartoons and trips to the Dairy Queen.

So I probably learned this fear of anticipating the good that might be coming down the road way back when I was 8. I know by the time I was around 17, I was still able to anticipate positive things without fear – until my dad got sick and I couldn’t go away to school. That was what really caused the fear of positive anticipation –  or fear of enjoying the present – I have today. I suppose it isn’t all that bad though. I have an incredible work ethic because of it. Somehow in my brain, being prepared and working really, really hard counteracts the fear with a sense of accomplishment and keeping busy keeps me in the here and now. But in the back of my mind I know that you can give it all you have for years and years, nearing your goal, seeing the finish line and in your final moment…even a split second of celebration, you can step on that rake again. As a mom, this manifests itself into worrisome thoughts about my son. If his poop is a little to soft, I worry he is getting sick. If he’s not saying a hundred words like the doctor wants him to, is he developmentally delayed. All of a sudden the rake in the yard is a physical being in my life and some days I am afraid to enjoy him because it could all go wrong at any time and this time it will hurt the worst of all.

I have found one vein of wisdom that runs through all of the religion, philosophy and self help I have sought over the years – and that is to live and be concerned with the present. From Buddha to the bible, it is the only solution the universe offers me. Do more down dogs, pray more often, breathe deeper, run farther, hug harder, laugh louder – all of the things that keep me solidly in the present and out of my mischievous, anticipating thoughts. Even if it was bad before and there is more bad headed straight for me, there is always a minute, a moment of peace before it where it isn’t so bad – perhaps a single split second of wonderful. Because even with all the bad that has happened, there are still all of those comfy Saturday mornings, trips to the Dairy Queen and warm hugs from my son. They are quieter and smaller, but they are indelibly there. I couldn’t have planned those moments or prepared for them. I can only surrender to what will be the story of me and string together the moments where I am present and happy like a charm bracelet for my brain. I can measure my fears and heartbreaks in rakes and stones if I am constantly searching backwards and forwards in anticipation. I might collect a handful or two before I die. But if I strive to be here in the present, the millions of peaceful moments and split seconds of wonderful will far outnumber them.

Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes.

People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present

– and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.

– Audrey Hepburn

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kitsch n. art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way

my salt and pepper shakers

I thought of this word a few weeks ago while dusting my collection of vintage salt and pepper shakers. I suppose if you walked around my home you would call some of the decor kitschy. But I started my collection of strange and “ironic” things a long time ago before the hipsters stole my style and turned it into an insult. Now when I think about the word “kitsch” I don’t think about my cheeky, cute salt and pepper shakers or my vintage 60’s self help books. I think about hipsters. I have a love / hate relationship with these smelly, overindulged beings. I am definitely not a hipster. I shower regularly and I tend not to take myself too seriously. However, I listen to hipster approved music, enjoy ironic art and tchochkes, and once lived in Brooklyn. It seems my life is irrevocably intertwined with them.

It all started back in Rhode Island, maybe around 2002 or so. I had my first apartment in the attic of a building on Medway Street in the Wayland Square neighborhood of Providence. I graduated with an English degree from Providence College and wanted to live on my own, but really had no money. I fancied that I would become a journalist since I had interned at the Providence Phoenix and Providence Monthly Magazine, but quickly found out that writing for a paper meant a salary of about $500 (before taxes) and no health insurance. I also had a series of bad interview experiences, one in particular where I didn’t get the job because my hand shake wasn’t firm enough. So I commuted to Boston, trained and became a mutual fund accountant – the most bland and boring job I could have ever conceived for myself – but it paid the bills. Because money was tight and my apartment was pretty small, I began decorating with cheap things I found at tag sales and thrift stores. My boyfriend (future husband) and I couldn’t afford to eat out at expensive restaurants, so we frequented a dive bar on the corner of my street called Mavericks and a little breakfast spot – Ruffuls. We would always pray that the Starbucks a block away from where I lived would screw up and give us the free drink coupon so we could get the vente frappuccino –  which counted as an entire meal. This is as close as I got to a hipster lifestyle – but I wasn’t cool and I always showered. And I respected other people. Back then this was just called “poor.”

In a few years we moved to a lovely home in Oak Hill, Pawtucket. I ended up working in Product Development for a watchband company called Speidel and found my career path. We kept our ironic sense of decor and our love for indie music. In 2004, I came home with a record player I found at Home Goods in Seekonk, Ma. My husband thought I was crazy until we went to the Salvation Army and spent a few dollars on some old records and I convinced him that it was a wonderful thing to hear the crackling and static. We also inherited a huge and wonderful collection from my aunt which makes up the basis of our growing collection. These days my husband brings home more records than I do, traveling to places on business and seeking out strange (and kitschy) vinyls. Our neighbors back in Pawtucket were also a little strange and crazy. One always smoked a pipe and let his yard grow like a jungle. The other had vines growing through her roof and played the piano all day. You could always hear various concertos wafting out of her window. We adopted a dog, the infamous Stella, from She was a rescue born in a Kentucky shelter who we picked up in the parking lot of a hotel in Connecticut. She was supposed to be 40 pounds full grown, but was 40 pounds at 5 months old when we picked her up. She, our red leather sofa, our record player and records, and my collections of various kitschy junk lived a happy life – until we made the leap to NYC. We still showered and respected people, but we were ready for a change.

Our first apartment was in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn right near Fort Hamilton Parkway. We rented it from a landlord named Forest who we found through a tank top, lip gloss, flip flop wearing lesbian who drove the biggest Mercedes I have ever seen on the hottest August day ever. It was a duplex with a yard and no sub floor. When we moved in our dog Stella used to pee because she hated the city and it would drip through the slats in the wood flooring to the downstairs. For weeks we would come home to find what seems like aerosol sprayed urine on the downstairs floor. I thought we had rats or animals, until I spilled some red wine one evening and my husband saw it dripping from the ceiling while downstairs. Nevertheless, all of our kitsch fit perfectly into our first apartment – as if made for it. We enjoyed all that Brooklyn had to offer…loved Williamsburg and it’s strange hipster people that dressed funny and wore face paint – until the hipsters moved in upstairs. Until then, hipsters were just people that liked the same things as us – just showered a lot less and didn’t have serious jobs. Suddenly, there were random cats strolling around the duplex…and beer cans in our vegetable garden. The door would slam at 5 am…repeatedly…and we were never sure exactly how many people actually lived there. One day, we went upstairs to knock to have a reasonable conversation about what was going on – and found the door open with no one home. I will confess, we walked in…just for a peak. It smelled. There were full plates of food on the floor amidst piles of clothes. A cat carrier, little to no furniture. It looks like a bad version of a homeless shelter or drug den. And apparently these people went to Cooper Union…? We took our showering, respectable selves and all of our kitsch to Carroll Gardens, where the hipsters couldn’t afford to live and the Park Slope mommies hadn’t fully discovered yet.

We now live in Maplewood, NJ and it’s hard some days to live in such a distilled environment. I confess that there are days where I miss the crazy hipsters and their artwork and kitschy ways. We have a child now and Stella will be turning 10 soon. We now have a whole house to house our collections of music and kitschy decor. We have a hipster in the family now…my brother in law is an artist in Bed Sty – so if we ever feel like we are losing our edge, we have him over to do a spot check. I guess you could say we are kitschy suburbanites – “kitschanites.” But it isn’t about being ironic or cool for us. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s just a vein that runs through a lot of the stuff we like. We don’t even curate it on purpose. It just happens. We sort of resent that the hipsters turned the things we like into a “thing” that a lot of people despise. If they would just shower, we could try to be friends…swap Instagram photos, make ironic Itunes playlists…

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personality n. the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individuals distinctive character

I’ve been home for some time as a full time mom raising a young child, as you already know from reading this very blog. I have too much time to think about things. My brain seems to run all day. While I was driving to our morning coffee and munchkin ritual today, I got to thinking about personality and the role it plays in our lives. It’s such an odd thing – this term personality that we choose to signify all of the good, bad and ugly things we tend to do regularly. It becomes really important in our day to day lives and interactions. I think this scene from Pulp Fiction best sums it up.

In certain situations, I have been described as somewhat quiet. Growing up I was rather shy and would frequently not know what to say. Yet when you get to know me, whether through my writing or by just hanging out with me, you soon come to find out my quirky, goofy personality – my collection of characteristics that make me Kim. I’ve never actually sat down and thought about what these characteristics are. I suppose I can be a pessimist at times, but I always hold onto hope – so I’m not super negative or anything. I’d describe it as having a firm grip on reality. I can be stubborn – I’d rather say “determined” and that has led me to achieving goals I set in my little life. I love to laugh. Whenever I reconnect with people from my past they always mention how much I used to laugh…even if something wasn’t THAT funny. I think I’ve made quite a few people think they are actually a lot funnier than they are. I am terrified of bugs…and I mean terrified. I once called my husband crying on a business trip because there was a bee in house…in the room upstairs, with the door closed…completely distraught because I was terrified of going near it. I frequently make my dog Stella eat spiders and other insects I find around the house. She’s like a 60 pound furry aardvark. I would also say that I am somewhat of an idealist. I expect a lot from people. I assume that most will do the right and honorable thing all of the time and get really disappointed when they don’t. But I am forgiving. I love a genuine apology. I adore honesty even more.

So that’s sort of a summary of my personality. Just a blurb. I guess I can add that I love hip hop and gangster rap. Being a 5’2 very caucasian female adds some humor to that characteristic when you drive a large orange Honda Element with the whitest baby in the world sitting (and dancing) in the back seat.

I haven’t really cultivated this personality of mine. It’s taken me quite some time just to admit to some of the characteristics that comprise “me.” I feel it would be inauthentic – which is another characteristic for my collection. I like things as they are – unforced and natural – like my son. It’s somewhat refreshing to be around a toddler for this reason. He can’t help but show his true colors all of the time – especially when you don’t want him to. He  is the most authentic person I know. Perhaps sometimes a little too authentic. He’s terribly stubborn and outspoken at times. He can be a bit shy with new people at first but warms up pretty quickly. He loves to dance and be the center of attention. He is in fact very much a ham. He generally doesn’t want his mom to be doing anything but paying attention to him – including running with the jogging stroller. His personality was so strong today that he screamed the entire 2 miles drawing several looks of pity from everyone that passed us along the trail…including the wild turkeys and dogs.

I can already see how my own personality is starting to rub off on him…in not such pretty ways. I suppose it’s a good thing he spends so much time with the dog. She’s very calm and zen…and protects me from all of the spiders and bugs. Having a second insect killer in this household is definitely a good thing.

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