The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Ring

A little over 5 years ago I lost a ring.

It was a special ring. It had significance far beyond what I had first thought, the same held true for the person who gave it to me. I had no idea at the time- about the person or the ring. I hope I am getting smarter. It scares me that every five years you look back and think, "Man, I was just stupid."

These days I try not to hold things in that I think need to be said, and I try not to say the things that I shouldn't. As our friend Keith would say, "I cuss and discuss as is necessary." It's hard because there is definitely a tendency to revert to old behavior or to duck and hide to avoid unchartered terrain. Most of the time I am aware that this is what holds the sweetest reward. So I push myself and try to keep working. Sean and I have always worked hard at us. Sometimes we're like a well oiled machine, other times it feels like there may be some water in the gas tank...or some other saying that represents the opposite of a well oiled machine. The point is, we continue to work on us.

A couple of weeks ago we went on a date. We were going for dinner to a little place called One Caroline Street Bistro, which has special significance for us (and also happens to be incredibly romantic and consistently amazing with their food and service!) We were both giddy with the intoxication of a night free of distractions. Just some us time. I should note for the record that is was our first date since before our first daughter was born in the fall of 2004. Sure, we've had lunch or gone to after hours events for work, but never a date just for the sake of a date. Who could blame us for being an hour early for our reservation? To kill time we popped into a store called Speck. We were drawn in by the name, seemed fun and maybe a little different. Not four steps into the shop we noticed that they had Ed Levin rings, and in fact had the ability to order a replica of the Ed Levin ring I lost years before. We made the order, paid in full and waited a couple of weeks for the call announcing its arrival.

I used to wear the ring on my left ring finger. Sean was in Rochester and I was in Yakima. The ring was a way of hoping out loud and in plain view that things would work out. It didn't matter that the ring hadn't been intended for the super symbolic ring finger. Didn't matter that Sean didn't know I wore it that way. He had given me a ring, not a promise. I was making a commitment. I'd never committed to anyone before.

But Yakima and Rochester are very far away. Time zones and miles. Lifestyles and responsibilities. The ring was lost at a time when it seemed that maybe we weren't meant to be, slipping off my finger and clinking across the pavement of a dark parking lot. I searched and searched to no avail. I felt the loss of the ring, its absence from my finger, like the departure of a friend.

Tonight I am wearing our new Ed Levin ring on my finger. My right finger. On my left I wear an engagement ring with a stone from Sean's family and a simple band we chose together 3 and a half years ago, not far from where Speck now sits. We are married and the parents of 2 wonderful girls. We are working every day at surviving the terrible twos, reveling in Avery's first year, and finding a rhythm for us. The ring reminds me of a cafe in New York City, two young people trying to decide if they could make it work. It reminds me that we have earned our joy and that there is more in store for us if we only keep working.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Neighbors:
The good, the bad and the humiliating

Good Morning, Chamber of Commerce, how may I help you?

Amanda? Amanda, this is Marie, Marie your neighbor.

Hi Marie. How are you?

Oh, I am fine Amanda. I just wanted to make sure everything was ok.

Yes, I think everything is fine. What can I do for you?

Well, I just needed to make sure everything was ok.I don't mean to be a nosy neighbor you know. It's just that my windows look out on your driveway, so when I look out I just see your house. I have been worried because Sean's car has been running for two hours.

Oh. Oh my god.

I looked through the window, not being nosy, but you know, the smoke and I thought it was strange to have a car running for two hours.

Oh, Marie, I haven't been getting much sleep. I can't believe I did that. We had to jockey the cars around. Ugh.

Dave is home with a headache, so he is sleeping on the couch. I had him run and knock and no one answered.

Ya, I was in such a hurry to get to the other car I must have just left it. How stupid. Geez.

Well, I felt like I should say something. And of course the car kept running. Now I really am not trying to be nosy, it's just the view through my window, you know? And it went on for two hours.

Oh, no no, of course. I am so grateful.

I had Dave turn it off. It was just so strange. Do you mind? I just thought you couldn't have meant to leave it running for 2 hours.

No, not at all. Thank you.

Well, I told Dave I couldn't imagine why you'd leave the car running. And for two hours it's been running.

Thank you. So you have the keys?

No, they're in the car.

Oh.

Do you want me to get them?

Yes, if you could.

Sure, I just didn't want to be nosy, but with the car running for two hours...

I can't tell you how grateful I am, thanks Marie.

No problem Amanda, when I saw that car running I just knew it was strange and I really didn't want to be nosy, but I kept seeing it out the window. Two hours.

Thank you again Marie.


Clearly I am feeling the combined effects of ramping up my exercise routine and scaling back my sleeping time. I am mortified that I left the car running. I mean serisously, how daft do you have to be? Thank god it wasn't in drive. And you know I have to go tonight to get the keys and it's going to be more about the 2 hours and not being nosy. God bless my neighbors, who's names have been changed to protect my existence, they are as precious as they are maddening. Next summer I'll be out weeding and Dave will call over from his stoop, can of beer in a cozy, feet up on the railing, with the usual suspects beside him, "Remember that time you left the car running for 2 hours...?"

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Monday, November 27, 2006

"I have a casting update," he tells me.

I clearly remember saying in no uncertain terms in the Who Would You Cast entry that I had/have no interest whatsoever in ever hearing about celebrity crushes or fantasies that my HunkWink might have.
So tonight he says, as we are watching Studio 60, with my not really a celebrity crush or fantasy Bradley Whitford aka Josh Lyman aka Danny Tripp, that he has a bit of a recast in the movie of me and that I should do an update.

"What's the update?" I asked innocently.

"I think,"he said with a puffy chest and the little ball of his toes cocky walk he gets sometimes, "that I would recast the role of you with Amanda Peet because she is hotter than Jennifer Garner and I enjoyed her topless in The Whole Nine Yards."

Ok, I am not writing this because it seems called for or comedic, but I literally shook my head as if I had water in my ears, "You what?"

"I think you should do another entry and update the blog to say that I would cast Amanda Peet as you because she's hot and looked great topless in The Whole Nine Yards."

Huuvlunawah<----that's the sound I make when I try to shake my head, bite back vile things threatening to spurt from my mouth and say 'what' all at the same time.

"Sean! Don't. Please, I seriously don't want to know that stuff."

"Man, aren't you happy. You're hot, she's hotter than...

"Ah, please. Do you want to hear me talk about liking how great some guy looked in a movie naked?"

Silence. More silence. Sean thinks quietly.

"It would depend," he said.

I took a moment trying to determine if it was worth suggesting an actor, but realized that it would start us down a slippery slope I had no interest stranding myself on, so I instead said,
"Honey, when did you see that movie?"

"The Whole Nine Yards?"

"No, The Maltese Falcon."

"Oh, geez, that would have had to have been back when I was in Rochester. Alone."

"So that's what, like 6 years?"

"Ya, that's about right," he said.

"Ok, so what you have done by suggesting I write and update is let me know that you have been thinking about Amanda Peet's rack for 6 years. Right?"

He started putting popcorn in his mouth. Lots and lots of popcorn.

I have to admit, I still don't like talking about this sort of thing, but I guess I am pretty lucky if I get to blatantly worship every little tic performed by Bradley Whitford while my husband casts a parade of awesome girl-next door gorgeous actors as me.

And for the record, I still say there is no one quite right to play him, but I won't be afraid to update if inspiration strikes,so stay tuned.

Up, Up and Away



A few weeks back we went up to Lake Placid to tour the Olympic Complex for an article I was writing for Resortsandlodges.com. Not sure if I was most excited about the All Access Media Passes we had or the prospect of an overnight at a bed and breakfast in Lake Saranac...

(Hindsight being 20-20 and toddlers being toddlers, the overnight was not quite the stuff that dreams are made of.)

We had planned to leave around dawn to ensure a quiet ride, but our plan was foiled by a night of challenging bedtime drama that went something like,

"No want it. No want it. No want it bedtime now!"for much longer than is really fair. To anyone. Seriously. You can get to a point when the staying up, or the getting up, seems a physical impossibility. Shards of glass in my eye lids and being strung up by my toenails would feel better. That said, I am no less proud of having left town by 10 than I would have been leaving at 5. We made our first stop before noon with only one tantrum and I think that might have been mine. We spent the afternoon visiting the sites, touring everything but Whiteface and Gore

(Toddler & nursing infant + long car trip = misery for all).

What we did visit was phenomenal.
Standing at the top of the ski jump.
Standing close enough to touch athletes as they shoot down track.
Seeing the ice rink of 'Miracle' fame...it's a kind of hallowed ground and you can't help but be moved by the weight of its history.

We had a fantastic time and the girls were very cooperative. I had a moment of borderline terror as we waited to go up ski jump tower via a "glass encased" elevator. I couldn't decide if the panic of seeing outside of the space that would make me hyperventilate was preferable to the usual anxiety of a windowless enclosed space that would make me hyperventilate.

As luck would have it my worries were somewhat diminished by the, pardon me here, gentle giant operating the machine. I kid you not, this guy looked like one of those 7' tall guys they get in Disney movies, and who everyone is afraid of until the end when you realize that they live in a sun dappled meadow with woodland creatures and craft small baskets for orphans to sleep in.
I asked him how often people have terrified breakdowns, he shrugged his head unimpressed and told me not many and turned away from me. I awkwardly turned to pretend to look out the window, while squinting my eyes shut and patting my 2 year old's head like I was soothing her.
About 20 seconds later a soft deep voice said, "Some people pee, though," and then looked up at me (I know I said he was giant-like, he was sitting) and gave me a huge smile. Lit up like that he didn't seem like the early part of the movie scary giant, but more like happy giant during the closing credits with a new found freedom to walk through the village without scaring the villagers.
I smiled back.

Then I remembered I was in a damn glass encased elevator and tried not to wet myself.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Just One More Page

Come on Glens Falls

Can we please get a book store?

Seriously. I can go and see Rembrandts and Picassos.
I can ride a roller coaster.
I can buy a Coach bag (well, I can't, but I could if, you know, if I *could*)
I can get sushi or Thai food.

But can I walk into a bookstore and look around?

No, the closest I can get is the book and magazine aisle at the grocery store with the latest romance and thrillers along with an exhaustive selection of paperback, newsprint astrology books. Or I can brave the mall and duck into Target and try and fight my way past the goons hanging out in the electronics section to get to the books where it seems to be nothing but books about pop stars, "co-authored" by the dazed looking, pouty lipped, cleavage baring teen idols.

I just want to walk into a bookstore and get lost. Sit down in the an aisle with a heap of books beside me, leafing through the pages, waiting for something to jump out at me. At the bookstore the books almost pick you. Colors leap out at you like wet noses at the pound. The texture of a cover taunts you until you run your fingertips across it and realize that you must have it.

Steinbeck,
King.
Steele.
Hemingway.
Higgins Clark...

...in a real bookstore they are all equals. You don't mind carrying three "trashy" books, 2 classics, and a non-fiction that you probably won't ever read, but you feel righteous picking out and paying for all the same.

When Sean and I go to Saratoga we split up and scatter to opposite sides of the store. We always meet up in music, where he inevitably has me listen to bits of cds he has picked out. He wants me to want them as much as he does. I wish I was as passionate about music as he is. I enjoy it. And I am always grateful when he makes sure we have music playing for home improvement projects or when he has put together a special selection for a get together, or for my belly. But what I love the most is the excitement in his eyes at the store. I am walking on air from being around so many books, the anticipation of completely disappearing into a story, into the life of new friends within the pages of the books I clutch to my chest, and as I look at Sean holding the headphones out to me, his arms laden with books and cds, I can taste how perfect life is. He beams at the look of delight on my face.
We don't go often, but these trips to the book store allow us escape and indulgence. It means we have free time ahead of us, or at least had the free time to get down to the bookstore. Sean knows how much I love to read and I understand how much he loves music. At home we'll read to each other and share the music. We'll make new memories working ang playing with Briar as the new music plays, we'll savor chapters here and there before bed. We'll laugh.
Sean says that I have an amazing knack for waiting until he is about 20 pages from the end of a book and then suddenly wanting his attention. I'll have finished my book, or decided to go to sleep, but I'll rest my head on his shoulder and be so loudly quiet that he can't concentrate.

"It's amazing! 357 pages and nothing. You haven't tried to talk to me, haven't budged me or sniffled. Now, a mere 20 pages from this book's end and you are relentless!"

"What? What am I doing? I was just cuddling."

"Sure. Right. HAH. Cuddling." He'll set the book down.

"No, no. Keep reading. I'm sorry."

Long look. He goes back to reading.

Pause. And I swear to you, I cannot help myself, my chin is back on his shoulder. Waiting.

"I'm helping it last longer." I try to say without snorting.

He's a good sport. He laughs with me. Sometimes he puts the book away, other times he keeps reading.

I got off track, but my point was, we have to go to Saratoga to get to a bookstore. I hate that. I wish we had a bookstore here.

Ya hear that Northshire?

Well, I'm off to either skim Good Night Moon for the 11 billionth time or to page through Pottery Barn Kids...

Psst...we finally have not one, but two bookstores.

Dog Ate My Homework and Red Fox Books

And the Rembrandts and Picassos can be seen at The Hyde Collection.

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When is Cinco de Mayo?

When is Cinco de Mayo?

That's a little nugget from my day. How was yours?

Seriously, I'm in a room, a discussion is taking place about an event due to happen in March, and someone says:

Well, so when is sinko duh my-yo?

Now I know not everyone speaks Spanish.
But I think it's fair to say that most people know "cerveza" means beer thanks to Homer Simpson and more people can say "for Spanish touch the number one" than realize it thanks to the automated hell that is 1-800 customer service.

Cinco de Mayo falls right in there. Grocery stores in middle America without a migrant population have adopted this holiday to add another money maker in May. Furthermore, the woman who posed this question, well let's just say I think she probably knows her way around a margarita. I am sure she has had occasion to hear and see "Cinco de May" used in such a fashion that figuring out it's the 5th of May wouldn't be too great a stretch.

¡Jesús Cristo!

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Please Let Me Remember

Dear Diary

Please don't ever let me forget the feel of Briar's tiny hand in mine.

Let me always hold onto the smell of Avery's hair. The sensation of her cheek pressing into mine. The way her chin is always so cool against my face.

I want to remember the feel of holding them close to my chest. Little hands clutching and stroking my side and breast as they pressed their faces to me to nurse. The delicious twinge of pain washing over me as my body let go of the milk it created to nourish them.

Help me to capture the sound of their sighs as they shift beneath the covers as I tuck them in at night.

Don't allow the quirks of their early language to slip through the cracks in my memory. Save the 'wenaks' and 'hollyghosts' for the nights when they no longer sleep down the hall. Let me use a can opener and hear the echo of Briar's little voice saying, "mommy drive it."


Freeze the images of Avery attacking each developmental stage in pursuit of Briar. I want to remember that Briar fought the introduction of cereal and baby food, while Avery met the challenge with such zeal.

Don't let the memories bleed so that we forget the miracle of the two deliveries. The nurse who took my hand and said, "You are going to feel the need to push and then we are going to deliver this baby," followed by 20 minutes of hard, diligent pushing and then cheering. And the nurse who said, "You just breath it away each time you contract," followed by much more than 20 minutes and many more 'just breath it aways," and a look of disappointment when I whispered I needed help. And how having each girl handed to me felt like catching a shooting star.


I beg you to help me hold onto this enchanting and fleeting time in our lives.

Let us remember these days of love and learning, before the cruelties of life intervene and allow for bullying, broken hearts and different time zones.

Help us to remember how close to the surface these two creatures brought our deepest emotions. How alive each moment feels.

And please, help me to spend each of the rest of my days living up to the honor of being their Mom.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Who Would You Cast?

There are moments in a relationship when one can know with absolute certainty that life has inexplicably shifted. This may come without warning or it just might be preceded by a scenario steeped in that "too late to turn back now" futility.

You generally have the presence of mind to think:

"Ah, excuse me world, when did I step onto stage 23?

I know I didn't wake up in a sitcom or romantic comedy this morning.
Yet, at this very moment, I know that I must be existing in lines born from the mind of screenwriter. People don't really have these conversations, we just laugh at them in theatres. Right?"

This happened to me the other night. It was strange because Sean and I don't generally play these sort of "what if" games.

Whoops, I can hear Sean begging to argue that point.

Ok, so I may, on occasion, pose a question to Sean that is pretty out there. Call it entertainment on a budget. But, we don't talk about celebrities that we are attracted to - that has always been so bizarre to me.

"Oh man, Jim is so hot for Angelina Jolie. She is his dream lay."

Ok. No. NO. I don't want to know that. I have absolutely no desire- zero, zip, nada whatever to know who Sean may classify as his "dream lay." I trust that he is a guy and finds people attractive, but really, this is just not something I want to know anything about. He knows that I find Josh Lyman/Bradley Whitford/Danny Tripp incredible, but we have come to the conclusion that I just have a mad crush on Aaron Sorkin's writing when personified by BW.

Back to the story, I've replayed it in my head, we just don't do what we did. Ever.

I don't remember how it started, but isn't that the way it goes when you enter the Twilight Zone? No one thinks, hey, wait a minute, I'm entering the Twilight Zone. They just turn down a street or close the refrigerator door and POOF -

You in the Twilight Zone now, fool!

So, there we were, doing whatever we were doing and Sean says:

"You know in college we used to cast actors to play us in a movie."

He proceeded to share with me the various actors that they had "cast" as the parts of his close group of rowing buddies. Knowing the friends I was able to sort of nod my head on a few of the casting selections, others I thought were maybe not so right on and I shared as much.

Then he said:

"You know who they thought should play me?"

Now, you, as the objective reader of this scenario are probably talking to the screen:

No! Amanda, don't go there! You are heading into the-

Too late, I bit.

"No, who?" I asked.

"Matthew Perry."



"Hmmm, I don't think that fits."

Then we talked a bit about how he's changed since college. Maybe he was a bit cockier, carried himself differently back then.

Maybe, I agreed.

"Ok, then. Who do you think could play me?"

If you haven't figured it out, let me tell you, I have discovered that while most men do not ask if something makes them look fat, it should be explicitly understood that the "who would you cast as me in a movie" question is the male equivalent of the fat question.

"I don't know."

"I know who would play you." And he said this as if I had failed by not having thought this through before - you know, he remembered my birthday, complimented my hair cut, and oh yeah, he took the time to figure out who he'd cast in the life story of Amanda.

"Jennifer Garner" he said triumphantly and with more than a little smugness.



"Hah! You said she was manly and unattractive the last time we saw her in something. Are you saying I am manly and unattractive?"

"No way. I only said that because you looked like you were going to make a snide comment about how she and her chest were costars in the movie. She's definitely attractive. And you guys both have the strong, defiant chin."

I was quiet. He was right. About the chin and the chest.

Sometimes in movies you really do have to sort of endure long stretches of film devoted to something that, let's be honest, doesn't have a whole hell of a lot to do with the plot. And, frankly, as you are sitting in a dirt and baby food stained tank top, with your hair in a messy topknot, you don't want to watch with your husband. Or watch your husband watch. Even the most secure people can be brought to squirm in their seat by this stuff regardless of the level of interest in it by their partner.

He watched me. Literally, over the next hour as we watched tv and ate dinner he looked over periodically, his eyes boring into me as if he could penetrate my thoughts and figure out who I would cast.

"I really don't know." I said. He looked at me in a forlorn way and I wracked my brain.

"Ok, this may seem odd, but here's someone who I think is attractive, appealing and very like you. He has a very affable way, great comedic timing and all American good looks.
Jason Bateman."





"Jason Bateman?!"

"Ya. Jason Bateman." I was pretty proud of myself. It was a good casting choice!

"Jason Bateman, he's like what, some 80's TV dork. Claim to fame, brother of Justine? What show was he even on?"

"I don't know, but he has a great show on the air now, he's handsome and funny." I honestly thought is was a compliment. I like Jason Batemen.

"Sheesh, I don't even rate an a-lister."

"Sean, he is a-list. His show is great, they have the series on DVD."

"He doesn't do movies."

"So?"

"So I'm a mini-series? I'm not a movie. I am just some TV actor?"

"No! You are my wonderful husband who is too complex and too incredible to be played by one Hollywood person. Besides, Matthew Perry is a TV actor too!"

"I cast a movie star for you."

"No you didn't. Jennifer Garner is most definitely a TV actress. Daredevil and Electra weren't exactly blockbusters."

"Ya, but she got great reviews in 13 Going on 30." he said with an amazingly straight face and sincere look.

"13 Going on 30? Are you serious? Do you hear yourself? We haven't even seen that movie. I think we flew on a plane that showed that and you didn't even take the complimentary earphones."

After that, even Sean had to laugh. The subject dropped. But much like the one time a man says, "As a matter of fact those pants do make your ass look fat" it came back to haunt me.

A few hours later we were in bed reading. Briar was asleep and we were side by side in bed sharing the same schedule for the first night in many weeks. It was nice. His arm was beside mine, every so often I would shift my body and just enjoy the sensation of being together, the little chills as the hairs on his arm tickled me.

"You just couldn't think of a single famous person to play me!"

"Honey, Jason Bateman is famous."

"You couldn't have picked John Cusak?



Or Zach Braff?"




"Sean, John Cusack is like 40 something, he's way too old to play you! And Zach Braff? He's too quirky. And not nearly attractive enough!"

"Well?"

"Sean, there aren't any men the right age to play you."

Silence.

"C'mon, name some. Name two. Give me two actors the right age to play you."

Silence, but with a grin.

"Ok Sean. Ed Burns."



"The Brothers McMullen guy? Ok. I like that. I could see that one."

"Actually, babe he's too old." I thought some more.

He went back to his book and his words about not rating an a-list actor hung in the air. And then, inspiration struck.

"Aha! Ok, I got one."

His book dropped to his side and he looked at me, daring me to come at him with another lame candidate.

"Jake Gylenhall. He's handsome in a very real way. Gentle, intelligent, appealing demeanor. Playful. Nice build. Yup, Jake Gylenhall."



"All Right! Now you're talking."

And with that, we closed the door to Magee Central Casting.

Phew.