Blood Line

Some News

November 28, 2014

I’m typing this from sunny California as I spend my 6th Thanksgiving with Tom on the West Coast.

A quick recap because, memories!

LA, 2008. It rained the second I got off the plane. Tom lived in Korea Town and I think we saw a bunch of movies. Apparently the rain let up eventually and the weather got nice and warm and we taped this video:

Never Leaving from The Spectrum on Vimeo.

LA, 2009. We ate red velvet pancakes and took walks around Larchmont. My brother and his wife were in LA for a wedding and we drove up to Santa Barbara for the day and it was magical. We also ate at Thai Patio at least twice? Three times? Also, we saw a bunch of movies including “The Road” which terrified me for like 3 months afterwards.

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LA, 2010. This year, we cooked up our usual feast, saw the latest Harry Potter movie and then drove to San Francisco for the weekend. (This was pre-Instagram era but photo filtering apps were all the rage and clearly, I was addicted. SIGH.)

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LA, 2011. We ran the Santa Monica steps as usual, saw three movies and ate lots of Thai food.

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LA, 2012. This was a really short trip, Tom was sick and so was I, I think I actually came home early? I also wasn’t really blogging anymore so there is no evidence, photographic or otherwise, that this trip actually ever existed.

In 2013, I was newly married and it was the first time in 5 years I skipped LA and spent the holiday with my husband’s family. So this year, when it was ‘my’ turn for Thanksgiving, J asked what I wanted to do and I sheepishly suggested, “Um, go see Tom in LA?”

And lo, here some differences for 2014 that make this year a standout experience:

1 – We decided to rent a house in Palm Springs instead of stay in LA. 85 degrees and a saltwater pool! Yes, please!

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2 – My amazing husband J is with us for the first time!

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3 – I am 15 weeks pregnant.

WUT.

You heard me.

J and I decided our lives were a little too normal, we were getting a little too much sleep, things were going a little too well so we decided hey, let’s introduce a little bundle of chaos and see what happens.

The first trimester has been the roughest thing I may have ever gone through. (Is that dramatic? It sounds ridiculous. Whatever, IT STAYS.) Luckily, a few days before we left for California, my life turned around and food stopped being the most repulsive thing imaginable. I stopped throwing up and I stopped eating only bread so I feel really really lucky. I am feeling amazing and the warm weather in California is helping a lot, as is being around Tom who is just the best.

I am due towards the end of May and maybe this baby is just the thing I need to get me writing/blogging again. I would like to document this pregnancy though my personal journal up until this point basically says: ‘threw up, did not throw up, almost threw up, feel like death, tomatoes smell awful, boobs hurt like crazy, sleeping 14 hours a day, barfed, etc.” So that’s not very exciting. But hopefully things will pick up soon.

Anyway, time to go take a nap by the pool and count my blessings, of which there are several hundred. I am so grateful.

xoxo

The House On The Hill

April 3, 2014

My parents sold their house. They’d been talking about it for awhile now – property taxes too expensive, too much property for my dad to maintain, etc. They put some work into it and put it up for sale in October.

“This is going to take awhile,” I thought. It’s a beautiful house but it’s dated now and it needs work. It also sits awkwardly on a huge hill which can be a pain when the driveway is covered in snow or ice…

A young couple from the city walked into the house with their new baby a month or two ago. They wandered around for a bit, pointed out some things that needed work and then were basically like, “We’ll take it, here’s cash” and that was that.

I was four years old when my parents decided they needed more space and moved us out of Nassau County and into the big house on the hill at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in Miller Place. When we moved in, a huge peach farm hugged the main highway and new construction was popping up in empty lots, mixing in with old houses that had been standing since before the Revolutionary War. I’d meet my neighbor Sam at the bus stop every morning, we’d ride bikes after school or roller skate around her unfinished basement. We’d bounce from neighbor to neighbor all summer, to the one with central air conditioning, to the one with the pool, begging dollars from our parents when the ice cream truck rolled through, making our tongues sting with sour War Heads or too sweet sugary Pixie Sticks.

I have a fuzzy memory or two from my toddler days but really, the only home I know is the one my parents just sold. And as lucky as I am to have had them there until now and as crazy and as selfish as it sounds from a woman of thirty-one, I just thought I had more time. More summer evenings at the backyard picnic table with my mom’s macaroni salad. More walks around the property to see my dad’s new flowers or landscaping adventures. More time sitting on the stoop with a glass of wine listening to the crickets, seeing stars and the flash of the neighbor’s television from across the street.

My parents are so excited about moving. I know they’re nostalgic and sad, just like me, but they’re making an excellent choice and they’ve purchased a beautiful condo in Riverhead. I went out to see it last week and to begin the arduous process of sorting through boxes of things I’ve kept at their house. It was funnier than I thought – particularly once I hit the shoeboxes of high school keepsakes. You can see my two interests clearly – Broadway playbills and Jesus paraphernalia. Cast lists and tech rehearsal schedules, a program from my Confirmation, Jesus stickers on a youth group notebook. Then, notes passed surreptitiously in math class, referencing inside jokes I no longer understand and people I no longer remember. Love letters, artwork, report cards, yearbooks, photographs. One of my favorites: a childhood birthday card from my beloved Grandma Agnes telling me she won at bingo last night, here’s a few extra dollars, love, Grandma.

So many things sorted through, a few boxed up, so many things stacked up in a trash pile, better to let them go.

I saved my tears for the ride home and I’m not even sure what I was crying about, exactly. I know that home is really my parents and they are both still alive and I’m so grateful for that. I know that the next chapter will be full of fun, in a brand new home in a brand new town. Beers on their new patio in the summertime, Christmas in a new living room, meals around the same table taking up a different space. The same drive out to the island from the city, just a little bit longer.

I guess I cried for all the goodness. Because that’s all that really came to mind. I couldn’t for the life of me drudge up anything bad, anything sad, even though I know those experiences are there and that’s alright.

But I suppose during a transition like this, when you have to say goodbye, you remember the goodness. The sweetness. The grace.

Carving out trails in the woods behind our house. Me and Paul and cousins, staying out for hours, making up rules and games, pretending we were experts, tour guides, identifying berries and leaves, finding the best walking stick, man hunt when the sun went down.

Building igloos on snow days with Debbie, taking turns speeding down the hill on sleds, all the neighborhood kids coming inside for hot chocolate, my mom would throw our mittens and gloves in the dryer until we were ready to go back out again.

Jumping in leaf piles, pulling Jeremy in his little red wagon, walking to the Harvest Festival at the junior high school for caramel apples.

Helping my mom weave the sparkly white garland around the bannisters for Christmas. Hanging lights in the windows, securing with scotch tape, waiting inevitably for the tape to give up and for the lights to fall down. Karen Carpenter on the record player.

Falling asleep in the back of the minivan, driving back from the beach or the cousins’ house or a party late at night, waking up when the car hit the tiny bump at the edge of the driveway where the pavement is slightly uneven. Feeling the van turn slightly as it makes its way up the hill, my mom pressing the new automatic garage door opener, shifting the car into park. Paul and I sleepily unbuckling ourselves and crawling out of the car, my parents carrying in my little brother and sister, pajama-clad and snoring. One by one, we’d file up the steps and into our house, which had been standing there quietly, waiting for us to come home.

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What A Lovely Place

March 1, 2014

I wrote this over the weekend and forgot to hit publish. You’re welcome.

A few weeks ago, tired of the New York winter, I texted Tom to see if he was around for a visit.

“Any weekend!” he said, delighted. “It’s dry and 80 here!”

I picked the weekend based solely on cost of flight. ($288 round trip, be still my heart!) Then last week, the news began circulating that California was due for some rain right around the time I was set to show up.

“Don’t worry!” reassured everyone. “The forecast is always wrong!”

Welp.

The forecast this time, my friends, was correct. Great for the drought, bad for me, but I’ll take one for the team.

Knowing we were about to get rained on for almost my entire stay, Tom and I began half-jokingly talking about driving to the desert for a day just to get warm, before the storm hit. I took an early flight out of JFK Thursday morning and when I arrived, 11:15 AM LA time, Tom was waiting for me at the airport.

“Here’s some veggie sushi, a juice and a scone. Also we are driving to Palm Springs now.”

And we did. Driving straight from the airport, we booked a cheapish room at the Ace hotel due to some Orbitz rewards I had racked up and in two hours, I was sitting at a restaurant in 83 degree weather sipping a Bloody Mary. Later we sat by the pool reading, took a nap, went to dinner, a day of perfection. I could’ve gotten on a plane home that evening and felt like my trip was worth it.

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In the morning, while grabbing a quick brunch at Cheeky’s before we left for LA, the rain started and didn’t stop until Sunday afternoon. I thought I would mind because it’s not warm exactly and definitely not summery and DEAR GOD ENOUGH WITH THE PRECIPITATION, WORLD but it’s…spring. And spring, I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!!!

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The rain kept coming and I spent blissful hours alone while Tom was in rehearsal just sitting in a coffee shop reading a very long delicious novel, something I always say I’m going to do in New York but never do. I just grab a few pages here and there on the subway when I can. There’s something about the push and pull of the city that makes it hard to stop and rest and I think there’s some of that in LA, especially in the entertainment industry, but I’m blissfully not a part of it. So I read and I wrote and I napped and my best friend was always somewhere close by.

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We reenacted choreography remembered from 6th grade when we were in the children’s chorus of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, much to his roommate’s dismay. We went out for late dinners and drank fancy cocktails downtown. We spent each night in bed next to each other watching HBO on his laptop, the computer balanced on a pillow between us.

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This is my 7th time visiting Tom in LA? I think? It’s amusing to see that the first time (when hilariously, it also rained as soon as I arrived), was spent really seeing the town and doing some touristy things and cramming a lot in to a few short days. As the years have gone by, it has become less about that and more about Tom being like ‘hey I have errands to run, do you want to drive around with me for two hours?’ and we sit and do NOTHING and it doesn’t seem to matter at all. In fact, it’s quite lovely to have that kind of relationship where you’re like hi, you don’t have to entertain me or do anything special, I’ll just be here hanging out with you regardless.

He did clean his room for me, which I found quite precious.

It doesn’t take much to reboot and reset and breathe a little bit after a winter spent bracing against the chill, shoulders hunched, evenings spent feeling sad for no reason. I feel like I’ve now got gas in the tank and I can power through the rest of the cold and I’m so grateful for that.

Rainy spring.

How about you come to New York sometime soon?

Tom, also I am talking to you.

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Wedding Planning

April 19, 2013

Has been going a little like this:

My Mom: Are you getting married in the Catholic church?

Me: Probably not.

My Mom: Well. We should discuss this.

Me: Probably not.

My Mom: Are you going to have dad walk you down the aisle?

Me: Why wouldn’t he?!

My Mom: Well some people walk themselves down the aisle or choose another relative.

Me: EVERY OTHER RELATIVE WE HAVE IS OUT OF THEIR MINDS.

My Mom: This is true.

Me: PLUS HE’S MY DAD!?!?!?

My Mom: Okay, well you should ask him.

Me: OH MY GOD! I didn’t think I had to ask him.

Me: (to my dad, who has been standing next to us the entire time) Dad, can you walk me down the aisle for my wedding?

My Dad: (immediately dissolves into tears)

Me: OH NO. DAD.

My Mom: He’s gonna cry the entire time. He is. He’s crying now! Now let’s talk about getting married in the Catholic church.

Me: Mom, that’s not happening.

My Mom: YOU MIGHT WANT IT TO HAPPEN.

Me: Dad, can you walk me down the aisle?

My Dad: Yes! But only if you want me to. If you want someone else, dat’s okay.

Me: WHO ELSE IS THERE!?!?!?

My Dad: I DON’T KNOW. You won’t hurt my feelins if you pick someone else.

Me: Once again, WHO ELSE IS THERE!?!?!

My Dad: OKAY FINE I’LL WALK YOU DOWN DA AISLE.

My Mom: I know many priests who would love to marry you in the Catholic church.

Me: Mom.

My Sister: What should I wear to your wedding? How hot is it going to be? Like really hot? Or kind of hot? Or not really hot?

My Little Brother: What kind of food are we eating at your wedding? There better be some good shit.

My Dad: (crying in a corner)

My Mom: Father Tom? Father Charlie? The new Latino Pope?

Me: *jumps out window*

Fin.

Apartment Tour

January 28, 2013

Tom wanted a tour of my new apartment. I picked all my favorite things to show him.

DSCN0080 from The Spectrum on Vimeo.

Tom Is In Town

December 20, 2012

OVER LUNCH, THAI FOOD

Tom: I’m reading this book about food and how this anthropologist/dentist did research in the 1900’s studying indigenous people and their diets.

Laura: How can you be an anthropologist/dentist?

Tom: He found that people in certain parts of the world had PERFECTLY STRAIGHT TEETH and NO cavities.

Laura: Like, that is the craziest double major.

Tom: ANYWAY. You probably had cavities and crooked teeth because you ate white sugar and flour growing up.

Laura: I definitely did that.

Tom: Well, people that never ate those things had PERFECT TEETH and they lived to be like 130 years old.

Laura: What did they eat? Vegetables?

Tom: Yes! A little meat but if they did, they ate it rarely and they’d eat the ENTIRE ANIMAL.

Laura: Ick.

Tom: Also, fish is good for you.

Laura: For my cavities?

Tom: Right. Well. That’s more to do with sugar.

Laura: But sugar is so delicious.

Tom: But if you don’t eat it you’ll live to be 130.

Laura: I’m never eating it again because I feel myself rapidly decaying as we speak.

Tom: RIGHT???

TWENTY MINUTES LATER, WALKING

Tom: I really feel like a cupcake.

Laura: As do I.

TEN MINUTES LATER, IN THE BAKERY

Laura: MINI CUPCAKES! I’ll have three.

Tom: ME TOO!

*pause*

Tom: Um. No. I’ll have six.

Grocery Store Bouncer

October 9, 2012

The sun rises earlier in the country, or so it seems, which is why I found myself trying to figure out the coffee machine with my sister in the kitchen on a Saturday morning at 7:45. (Let’s just say I don’t usually wake up before 12 10 on a weekend if I can help it.)

Our beloved Brooklyn father was already long gone to the local grocery store, on a mission to pick up olive oil for cooking and a few rolls for breakfast, the two things we forgot to purchase the night before. The farm house we rented for the weekend had a very open layout and the beautiful hardwood floors and lack of walls made it easy for sound to travel.

My father has a loud booming voice and when told to try to keep it down, the best he can manage is a loud stage whisper that can still be heard a mile away. (Which is why when I write about him using dialogue, he’s always screaming in capital letters regardless of location or subject matter.)

A few minutes into hanging out with my sister, my father walked in the back door into the kitchen. I made a frantic hand gesture, a weird kind of mimed shush-ing maneuver, a gentle reminder to lower his voice because everyone else was sleeping but my dad, it turns out, already had quite an adventure and he was eager to tell us all about it.

“SO,” he said, setting the groceries down on the counter. “I BROKE UP A FIGHT AT THE SHOP RITE THIS MAWNIN’.”

“What?”

“I BROKE UP A FIGHT AT SHOP RITE THIS MAWNIN’.”

“Explain yourself,” I whispered. “And can you speak softer?”

“WELL,” he said, speaking even louder, “I GOT INTO THE EXPRESS LANE WHICH HAD A MAXIMUM OF SIX ITEMS. I WAS A LITTLE NERVOUS BECAWZ I ACKCHEWALLY HAD SIX ROLLS IN A BAG *PLUS* THE OLIVE OIL WHICH TECKNICKALLY MAKES SEVEN ITEMS BUT IT TURNS OUT, DA WOMAN AHEAD OF ME HAD LIKE, A MILLION ITEMS AND SHE WAS TAKIN’ FOREVA TO BUY HER STUFF.”

“Right.”

“AND I MEAN FOREVA. SO I’M WAITIN’ THERE AND OF CAWSE I’M GETTIN’ ANNOYED BUT NOT AS ANNOYED AS THE GUY BEHIND ME BECAWZ AFTER 15 MINUTES HE YELLS AT HER AND SAYS SHE BETTA MOVE HER FAT F***ING ASS.”

“WHAT???????????” exclaimed me and my sister. (It must be said that we were shocked at the story of the dude in the store but even more shocked that my dad actually said fuck out loud, a word I’ve heard him say maybe twice before in my entire life.)

“YEAH. SO SHE TELLS HIM TO SHUT UP AND THEN HE SAYS TO HER, ‘I’M GONNA KICK YOUR F***ING ASS!”

“What a jerk,” I said.

“YEAH. HE WAS A JERK. BUT ALSO SHE HAD LIKE A MILLION ITEMS IN THE EXPRESS LANE WHICH I DON’T THINK IS RIGHT.”

“It happens.”

“YEAH BUT I MEAN SOMEONE SHOULDA SAID SOMETHIN’. THE SIGN SAYS SIX ITEMS.”

“Okay, yes. Then what?”

“YEAH. SO THEN I BROKE UP THE FIGHT.”

“Wait. What?”

“WELL HE SAID HE WAS GONNA KICK HER ASS SO THEN HE TRIED TO DO IT.”

“He actually moved towards her like he was going to punch her?”

“YES.”

“So what did you do!?”

“OH I JUST DID WHAT I USUALLY DID WIT THE 8th GRADERS IN DA SCHOOL I USEDTA TEACH AT WHEN THEY WOULD FIGHT. I JUST WRAPPED MY ARMS AROUND HIM AND HUGGED HIM REAL TIGHT TIL HE CALMED DOWN.”

“You bear-hugged a stranger in the grocery store at 7:30 in the morning?”

“YEAH. IT’S A GOOD WAY TO STOP A FIGHT.”

“Dad, that is seriously the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“WELL IT WORKED. JUST PUT MY ARMS AROUND HIM. NOT A PROBLEM.”

“You’re saying that like it’s a normal thing to do to an aggressive stranger in a supermarket.”

“YEAH. HE WAS AGGRESSIVE. HE HAD HIS CAMOUFLAGE ON.”

“Deer hunter?”

“PROBABLY. SO ANYWAY I AM A HERO.”

“This is true.”

“SO I BAWT THESE ROLLS, I BAWT SIX WHICH MADE ME NERVOUS BECAWZ WIT THE OLIVE OIL THAT MADE SEVEN ITEMS.”

“Yes. You told me.”

“OKAY SO I’M GONNA TAKE A ROLL PUT SOME BUTTA ON IT AND GO DRINK SOME CAWFFEE ON THE PORCH.”

And that, my friends, is exactly what he did.

Road Trip

October 5, 2012

Just in case you thought I could spend the holiday weekend packing…

I CANNOT!

Because the Dlugs are going on a much anticipated family vacation beginning this evening.

I cannot tell you the last time all six of us went on vacation. (There was a family wedding in Boston we all went to a few years ago but aside from that…mid-1990’s?)

Last year, my mother, possibly feeling the sadness that was all four of her babies out of the house forever, decided that we should possibly skip Christmas presents and plan a trip instead. We were instructed to just buy each other one small gift for Christmas and then, VACATION HERE WE COME!

What happened was that everyone got one gift.

And we never planned a vacation.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, CRATCHIT FAMILY! (No presents but lots of love! And God Bless Us Everyone!)

Big families = lots of opinions and busy schedules! We couldn’t decide where to go, when to go, what to do, sister in grad school, older brother running marathons, younger brother doing…whatever it is 22 year olds do…

Finally this past summer, I was all ENOUGH ALREADY YOU GUYS and rented a farm house upstate for us.

We had grand plans for apple picking and leaf peeping and oh what a magical Columbus Day weekend it will be!

Welp. Now it’s supposed to rain all weekend so I guess it will be more like…baking pumpkin brownies and drinking wine.

And that sounds…perfect?

Oh, I am so, so excited! Basically because: SO MUCH BLOG FODDER! (My dad, amirite!?!?)

I will be back next week with much to report! Huzzah, fall! family! brownies!

Yoga Teacher Training/Also Whitney Houston

September 18, 2012

As part of my ‘work hard/do things I love’ thing that is my life, I finally admitted how much I love doing yoga and also how I think I would rock if I TAUGHT yoga. This is based on the fact that when I’m in class, I am easily distracted by people doing things incorrectly and I want to tell them how to fix it but that would make me a jerk. BUT A SMART JERK?

My problem with yoga teacher training up until this point is that I don’t have a specific kind of yoga I love enough to dedicate that much time to it. I loooooooooove Bikram yoga but I dislike Bikram as a person and I don’t think that doing his sequence every day is in fact all the work out you need to like, cure all your diseases/problems (SORRY.) I also don’t think a yoga studio should charge you for water and my current Bikram yoga studio does and…JUST STOP WITH THAT. IS THIS RUSSIA!?

I like vinyasa a lot but then I tend miss the heat so then I combined the two and took hot vinyasa and achieved perfection pretty much but then thought I might also love a calmer class that’s not so hot/death defying/it just depends on my mood which shifts minute to minute and WHAT ON EARTH DO I DO?

I’ll tell you.

I signed up for a 200 hr yoga teacher training at my old amazing yoga studio which is being led by five different teachers who specialize in different things:

1. A student of Dharma Mittra. (This dude can stand on his head without his hands. Is that a good idea? I DON’T KNOW.)

2. A dude who just came back from India where he studied with B K S Iyengar himself. I cannot even with this.

3. One of Jimmy Barkan’s students AKA hot yoga hot yoga hot hot hot yoga!

4. A woman who has been around forever and specializes in prenatal/postnatal yoga. FASCINATING TO ME.

5. This other guy who teaches the hardest class I have ever taken and I’m just completely obsessed. Also he taught me how to jump forward from down dog to the top of my mat without making a sound and have you heard me walk down stairs ever? My mother used to liken it to an elephant clomping its way through the safari. So…noiseless jumping? A MODERN DAY MIRACLE.

So, anyway.

As of October, I’ll be participating in training two weekends a month until February and taking class a zillion times a week and learning about anatomy and alignment and how to lead a yoga class. (I’m guessing I shouldn’t walk in and just scream HEYYYYYYYYYYY YOU GUYS which is what I do most other places.)

I’m not viewing this necessarily as a career move but a possible thing I might like to do some day once in awhile and a way to deepen my practice and stop being afraid of the wall. (I hate going upside down against the wall. Don’t ask me why, it causes panic. CHILDHOOD TRAUMA? PROBABLY.)

I was explaining all this yoga teacher training stuff to my cousin Tom on the phone yesterday.

TOM: That is so great! You’ll learn how to teach all different kinds of class!

LAURA: Yeah. Pretty excited.

TOM: Like, you could put on some crazy music and teach a really hard sweaty class! AND I’LL BE THERE.

LAURA: Great!

TOM: Or you can put on like slow jazz and lead a smooth low-key class AND I WILL SHOW UP.

LAURA: Great. I’m not sure slow jazz and yoga are a thing…

TOM: Or you could teach a class where all we listen to is Whitney Houston and I will come and just cry on my mat the whole time because she’s dead.

LAURA: Stop talking. But thanks for your support.

Good Parenting

August 31, 2012

A couple weeks ago my family came into the city to have brunch and at one point I got up to talk to my parents who were sitting at the opposite end of the table. I was telling them something funny (OBVIOUSLY) (no, actually I think we were talking about Geico commercials) and talking with my hands, etc. (Please note my brother and sister’s boyfriend having a VERY SERIOUS CONVERSATION at the same time.)

I love this picture because this is pretty much how my parents look at me all the time, especially when I’m telling stories or poking fun. They just stare at me lovingly and laugh like, Laura, you are hilarious and awesome and you can do no wrong.

I love that kind of unwavering support. It makes me feel like I can do anything but also makes feel that even if I did nothing at all, they would still be proud of me.

Also I was having a great hair day.