Monthly Archives: November 2007

Love and breakfast

I’m not going to write about what I had for breakfast today… but I am going to write about the evolution of my lifelong love affair with breakfast as an event and experience.

It began with the simple pleasure of a hot dish in a cold kitchen. My brother and I would sit on dinette chairs so cold the vinyl was cracking. The warmest place in the kitchen before mealtime was by my ankles, next to the forced hot air vent. Then came our prescriptive dosage of Sudafed (given to us the way other children received vitamins) and the dishes of Cream of Wheat. I’d take a dollop of applesauce on mine; my brother would drown it in milk and sugar. If we weren’t squabbling, there would be a moment of warm, homey, contentment, an occasional bright streak of applesauce that had yet to be mushed in, and then we’d be off to school in the snow.

Easter Sundays brought us the singular predictable occasion of my father making breakfast, which, as one might guess, was a major production. Eggs of all kinds, bacon, toast, all the orange juice we wanted, sometimes even a half-grapefruit which my father made quick work of with a steak knife. We’d leave the table a little distended, and a little less interested in the candy the Bunny left behind in our baskets.

But tThese are the pleasures of childhood, the little tender, determined shoots, green and going somewhere.

On my way through my teens, I’d drive my slower-metabolized friends insane with my summer breakfast habits, which consisted of rolling out of bed around 10:30 in an old t-shirt and sitting down to whatever was left of the half-gallon brick of Heavenly Hash ice cream and a spoon… and the stereo on. By then, the vinyl piping on the dinette chairs had been stripped away, lying loose, ready to take a slice out of uncovered legs. I made a point of wearing sweatpants in the summer swelter.

College brought the first of the quasi-adult breakfast pleasures – the all you can eat dining hall, where I did just that. Consequences were not immediate, but they were lasting. And while my trousers became less comfortable, I did have the joy of singing together in harmony with my girlfriends from VanMeter South – mostly selections from Squeeze’s 45’s and Under – and dishing about who did what the night before.

The second of the quasi-adult practices, the morning-after breakfast, could go either way. But these I remember fondly with the serious boyfriend I made my junior year, coinciding with an off-campus move. Saturday or Sunday morning, we’d get into his car and head off to Rooster’s or Steeplejacks, the bustle of plates and hangover remedies around us, eggs, bacon, toast, and … Coffee. Well, that made me an adult and then some.

Then he was gone to greener, faster pastures, and I began to have breakfast with friends, but also alone. Sitting at the counter, I could watch the interactions, quiet and otherwise; pine for my lost love, or not; keep my eyes peeled for friends or someone I might like to meet.

Post college, other boyfriends brought other breakfast habits and locales – Pie in the Sky in Woods Hole, Country Life in Falmouth, the best blueberry pancakes I ever had in a diner in Woburn. There was also the coffee at the table, or, if I was lucky, black coffee in bed with the newspaper.

But more often than not, breakfast became what I gave to myself as a treat. At my first startup, the one time you could not find me at my desk was Sunday morning/early afternoon. You’d likely find me at the counter of the Blue Benn, appreciating the perfect attention of the wait staff, sipping a third cup with the NYT crossword puzzle and some kind of fab veggie breakfast. Or at the Miss Adams, admiring the wood bar. I’d enjoy watching others at work, the smell of the grill, and the coziness of my seat. There’d be some pining there too – after all, spoiled romances and broken hearts don’t stop with a B.A. – but I became more accustomed and even happy with my own company, along with the casual kindness of the women checking on my cup.

I returned to Boston, and took visiting friends to the Blue Room Brunch on a regular basis. Or my father would visit, and we’d head off to the Rosebud. Or I’d find a counter seat at Carberry’s, and work my way through an apricot Copenhagen (is that foreshadowing or what?). And a chocolate croissant. And the NYT crossword, and a book, and a journal entry, and interruptions from guys on the make on a Sunday morning.

Then came HFN, which took us to Carberrys when geographically convenient. Morning afters, on the way to the airport, latte and americano; the 5-Spot (where more than one waiter referred to us as lovebirds); the full plate of eggs and potatoes delivered to me at the parker house a few hours before the wedding, with tabasco; waddling into KrispyKreme 2 weeks before Ben arrived, only to miss Dunkin’ Donuts all the more; the ritual of the Whole Foods breakfast bar, and Mommy making pancakes in the middle of the week.

On the road though, a warm meal in the morning and the reliability of my own company became a treasured prize. Croissants or japanese seaweeds and pickle, bread and cheese; the delicious plum tomato and spinach omelet with grilled turkish bread, and always, the kind server, usually a woman, making sure that I could have a perfect moment with a coffee and myself.

But now there is a new bloom to the rose of my breakfasttime love. Sometimes, with pancakes at home. Sometimes, sitting side by side in a vinyl booth, Ben and I talk about eggs, and a kookaburra bird in the old gum tree. He tells me that he’d like me to cut up his pancakes, and he’d like some blueberries too. He tries things out, he follows my lead. He thanks the woman who checks on his milk and mommy’s coffee. A new love is born.

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Filed under black coffee in bed, breakfast, children, coffee, dating, eating, Food, hot meal, Love, meals, men, morning, pleasure, tradition, women

blue beanie day

Today, you have a special way to show your support for Web Standards. Wear a blue beanie, strike a pose, and let the world know you’re a gorgeous, smart standardista, day or night, with style and SPARQL. Check out the flickr stream for my day and night beanies.

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Filed under bluebeanieday, fun, standardista, w3c, webstandards

Ben speaks

He’s had a lot to say since I returned from my trip.

Let’s start with my welcome home:

“I’m so happy you’re home, Mommy. I missed you so much.” – whispered in my ear, nestling in my small curve of my neck and shoulder. I tried not to cry.

On what he’ll be when he grows up:

“When I grow up, I’m going to be a mommy. I’m going to have earrings and coffee with cowmilk in it.””What else does a mommy do?” I asked.

“She has more coffee.”

On what I need to do, and why:

 “I’m wearing my pajamas, so you’ll need to carry me from now on.”

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Filed under boys, children, expression, funny, kids say the darndest things, kids say the durndest things, language, Love, mommy, parents, son, sons, toddlers

is it hot in here, or is it just you?

The urban legend of men thinking of sex every three seconds or some other frequency akin to breathing is bad enough, but when you’re in a career where people happily work for 16 hours a day and you do the math, it can stop you in your tracks.

I’ve chosen the sophisticated coping mechanism of putting my fingers in my ears and singing “LA LA LA LA NO NO NO NO” in an effort to not spend anytime contemplating the inner thoughts of my straight male colleagues wrt me, though admittedly with some more human compassion than I might have had 15 years ago. (I know, get over myself already. But if I was, I wouldn’t be blogging. Or at least writing this blog.)

For example, now I can even joke about being seen by some as first prize in the Nerd Derby, seniors division. (If you want to know who “won”, it’s as simple as HTTP – Henrik Takes Total Power. ;)

Back to the dudes. Maybe the thoughts cross their minds about me and others, and the closest I can get in terms of a confession is from a couple of sympathetic double-agents who assure me it’s nothing personal, just biology. I’m beginning to believe them.

Still, it’s hard not to take it personally when it’s your person being, uh, thought about. I doubt there isn’t a woman who hasn’t looked a colleague in the eye and was startled to feel the shirt and straps slip from her shoulders, then had to cross her arms to keep from the draft. Is that why shawls, wraps and pashminas are so appealing? Easy cover?

For the record, I’m not saying that women don’t “think” about “it”, but it’s not omnipresent. We’re too busy working. (Oh snap!)

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Filed under biology, biology is not destiny, denial, don't go there, hot in here, men, modern love, penny for your thoughts?, sex, thoughts, wishing you could unthink it, women, work

maybe I’m not that brave

I put up some fun pictures in flickr of me and Marie. She looks fabulous, blonde and french – as she is – and I look like a doofus, as I am when I am most happy. The pics brought some chuckles to my friends and colleagues.

Then something weird happened.

The pageviews for one of the pictures started exploding. It wasn’t even the better of the two pictures of me alone; but suddenly, the imageview rate is at 200+ per day. (By comparison, I usually don’t get more than a view a day on even my most interesting pictures.)

Since you can’t get referrals from Flickr, and as google revealed nothing I didn’t already know about links to the photo, I put a request in my photo description asking viewers to let me know where they came from. Nothing.

I think that’s the part that reeeeeeeeallllllly creeps me out. How did they get there? Why won’t they say? After all this time, I was thinking that it’s ok for me to be out there, face to faces in the Web. But where are those other faces? Could it be they’re even less brave than I?

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Filed under anonymity, creepy, flickr referral, hostile environment, men, online bravery, online cowardice, photos, safety, transparency, voyeur, web, web of trust, women

my iPod: the jury duty soundtrack

I’ve just started using my iPod for music instead of audio books, and I am completely hooked. And since I was in a particularly good frame of mind when I made my first purchases, the music is in major keys, relentless in its rhythm, easy to sing. It is also impossible for me to sit still, or not to view my surroundings in relationship to the music. So here are some of the juxtapositions:

“Bibo no Aozora”

I’ve written about this as best I can a few days ago. It’s how I start my walk to the bus stop. A open, contemplative moment, feeling my way, eyes and heart first, to where I need to go, who needs attention and compassion, what needs to get done. And of course, the dreams of where I have been, what I’m grateful for.

I shared the song with someone in the pool who arrived toting an Ann Coulter book, and he softened, talking about his children. Anything is possible.

“Boogie Wonderland”

It’s a formidable challenge – listen to this, try not to dance on the bus. Perhaps if I had some sense of personal dignity it would be easier, but my feet and shoulders will have none of that. They feel free to move around, tap and figure 8 on the downbeat, and shake everything inbetween. It’s possible I will get the award for kookiest potential juror if any court officials bear witness to my battle with self-restraint and Boogie Wonderland.

“I’m Every Woman”

Armed with encouragement from Chaka, I make my way, in time, from the bus to the stone steps of the King County Administration Building. I manage a pivot ball-change in the entry, without missing a beat. Maybe I’m not everywoman, but it feels like it could be a good thing to be.

“It’s Raining Men”

I enter the dark elevator in the King County Admin building, filled with 50+ men in Eddie Bauer shirts, implicitly saying “Yer starin’ at my gut, aren’t you?” And that’s when the thunder starts, and Martha Wash tells me the humidity is rising, and the barometer is getting low. God help me, yes, I need to get into the street – it’s clearly the place to go – or at the very least, out of this elevator.

“Try a Little Tenderness”

I’m fifteen minutes from home, on foot. The driver asks me if I need a transfer, and I say no thank you, I’m good.

The way home involves ever darkening pathways – inky at 4:45pm – and a pedestrian overpass. I remember I’m not going home by foot so much as I am going home by boot. Low heeled, high-calfed, genuine naugahyde boot. A boot made for big haired, big piped back-up singers in a R&B band. They’re singing a song that I’m trying to rewrite in my head as “Try a Little Post and Get” in tribute to HTTP, and how to make a young geek happy. The pedestrian overpass becomes a suspended runway, suitable only for strutting over traffic. Wish you were there to join me.

“You Are In My System”

Before Robert Palmer started “performing” with mannequins, he was pretty soulful and understood the beat. In the slick, leafy dark of the walking path home, I comply, moving in sync, snapping, swaying with purpose, grapevining on the wet asphalt. It’s probably not congruous with the studied reserve of the moneyed northwest, but it is entirely consistent with the world inside me. In my system – you bet, and I have no intention of repaving it out… it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

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Filed under communication, connectedness, dancing in public, happiness, iPod, jury duty, music, people, soundtracks, transformation, transformative

the way out might be the way you came in

*from about 2-3 months ago, untitled in my drafts folder*

I spent much of the last week in a time tunnel, about 20+ years from here. At points, I’d make it as far as 1993 or so, when walking through an art supplies store and buying the first new drawing pencils I’ve had in at least 14 years.

To time-travel, I had registered with a Web site that links alumni from high schools and colleges around the globe. I made a page, put up pictures of me and my little family, and answered some questions. It was startling to see the ads – nearly all talked about realizing romantic longings from long ago. I did find an old classmate and friend, one I had missed at our last reunion, and wanted to hear how he was doing.

But the real reason I decided to pay closer attention to this long gone place? I wasn’t losing sleep over not knowing about my friend, but I was feeling stuck. Stuck where I was, stuck in my environment, stuck with so many of my choices. I think I needed someone to remind me where I had been, to remind me of where they saw and heard me going.

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Filed under direction, entropy, inertia, lost, nostalgia, past, sadness, stuck, the way out