Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sibling Rivalry

I read a book a few years back (chick-lit, for shame) in which the protagonist, a Philly newbie, remarked on how "Philadelphia was the type of place where the local newscasters were major celebrities." Growing up, I thought nothing of the fact that Lisa Thomas-Laury, Dave Roberts, and "the entire Action 6 news team" were household names. I vividly remember eating dinner in front of the television (a huge no-no in the Kelly home) one night, seeing my mom tear up as she watched the news about Jim O'Brien dying. I also remember going to Houlihan's by St. Joe's during college, in hopes of running into John Bolaris (who ALLEGEDLY ate lunch there.) And when our bus would take us back down City Line from a field hockey game, we would all hang out the window and screech for the weather forecaster who reported from outside the studio.

In the family of major east coast cities (with New York being the successful if rather self-important first son, Boston the cranky grandfather, and D.C. the dad who's always away on a business trip), what is Philly? Perhaps the brother who never went to college, is enormously talented at what he does, but never gives himself credit. Instead, he's content to lay around and bask in the glory days of high school.

Philadelphia is a city obsessed with its past. Rightfully so--it is oozing with rich, solid history. Yet unlike its founding fathers, who were always marching towards the future, its current citizens (and suburban denizens--because, let's face it, anyone within a 50-mile radius tends to refer to themselves as "from Philly"--including yours truly!) love, love, LOVE to wax nostalgic. We're like a collective Willy Loman; "woulda coulda shoulda" is our mantra. (Can you tell I'm teaching Death of a Salesman this week?)

Don't get me wrong--I adore Philly (and my dear old Delco). And I tend to have a silly little chip on my shoulder, having lived away for so long. But, like any good writer (as sporadic as that might be), I enjoy a love/hate relationship with my homebase.

My sister and I have a favorite pasttime of putting on bad Philly accents and concocting the typical Philly fam as follows:
Jim (but everyone calls him Jimmy) - big ol' sunburnt Irish guy, spiked blond hair, white sleeveless T-shirt, cutoff jeans, runs a "landscapin' compnee" and is a volunteer firefighter (tattoo: shamrock)
Denise - tanned to a crisp, halo of frosted blonde hair (which is always half-up in a fluorescent scrunchie), tight tank top, stretchy pants, Reeboks, extra scrunchie around the wrist (just in case), raspy voice (from the daily pack of Parliaments) tattoo: Tazmanian Devil ('cuz she's so CRAAAZY!)
Two non-descript kids with names like Tyler and Brianna (always dressed in various Disney paraphernalia--Brianna is especially partial to her bedraggled "Belle" dress)

You get the picture. (Or pitcher, as we like to say down here.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Excuse For Not Blogging...

He's a pretty freakin' cute excuse, huh?

I had grand plans of blogging all about childbirth, the blissful first few months of motherhood, the joys of nursing, all that good stuff...but truth be told, there were days it was a huge, huge triumph just to get through the day in one piece and find five minutes to shower.

Oh, and remember that pie-in-the-sky blog about moving to PA for a pastoral change of pace? Well, we did it, but boy was it a stressful trip getting here! House-hunting, job-hunting, countless trips to PA with a newborn in tow...we're finally all settled into our cute little house in blessed suburbia, and I feel like I can finally BREATHE after a year.

So "the Teege" is amazing...just the happiest little boy in the world. He truly is a Superbaby. :) All the cliches they say about parenthood are true. It's a fairytale like no other. The first three months are HARD AS HELL, full of self-doubt, loneliness, and frustration, but the payoff is incredible.

Life is good. I'm back in the classroom, where I'm happiest. Teaching at a private girls' academy, where every day I fear I'll say something to get myself fired. ;) I'm not teaching drama or directing shows, which is a bummer, but it's also a beautiful luxury to leave at a normal hour--so I can go home and hang out with my boys.

We miss New York more than we thought we would...especially when we see it on TV (where, of course, NYC is always this magical wonderland of bistros and gorgeous people and carriage rides through Central Park...instead of urine-scented subway stations, maniacal cabbies, and people slammed up against each other in every direction.) We miss our friends, students and coworkers. We miss our reputations. We miss our schools.

But we don't miss the commute, the noise, our crappy neighborhood, and throwing tons of money away on rent. That's for damn sure.

Almost every morning (as I DRIVE to work now, passing horse surreal), I cue up "One Thing" by Finger Eleven on my iPod. It's really become my anthem for this year, ever since the Teege entered our lives:

Restless tonight
Cause I wasted the light
Between both these times
I drew a really thin line
It’s nothing I planned
And not that I can
But you should be mine
Across that line

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldn’t that be something

I promise I might
Not walk on by
Maybe next time
But not this time
Even though I know
I don’t want to know
Yeah I guess I know
I just hate how it sounds

My Teege. He's "this one thing."

Sometimes I'll stop for a minute and think, "What am I forgetting? I feel like I'm missing something." And then I check in with myself and realize, "Oh wait...this is what peace feels like." It's such a new feeling...but one I think I can get used to. :)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Blaming Dr. Seuss

So, it's my first day of maternity leave. Friday was an emotional roller coaster of a day, saying goodbye to my students and colleagues. I'm just so afraid that I'll never find another job that gives me such satisfaction and affirmation.

It also doesn't help that I haven't really had any nibbles with the job search. People are like, "Well, that's okay! You can stay home with the baby for a year!" Yeah, it's not that easy's not the 70's when that wasn't such a financial strain.

It stinks. We don't want a lot--just a house, a bambino, and jobs we love. (Is that a lot?)

So NR and I are a bit stressed about the move. Luckily, he has some nice prospects, but we just want everything SETTLED before baby comes. An idealistic scenario, perhaps, but we would feel a lot better.

I just finished a book (see above) called "It's a Wonderful Lie: Truths About Life In Your Twenties." Parts of it I totally related to (crappy first apartments, starting your marriage someplace unfamiliar, seeking solace in grad school, constant second-guessing); others I very happily could not (specifically the serial dating or lack of romantic prospects.) Hot damn, I am so lucky I met The One when I was 21! God only knows what rocks I would have dug up trying to find him.
Anyway, the recurring theme through all 26 essays in this book was the overwhelming buffet of choices we're treated to in this generation. On the one hand, it gives us amazing freedom; on the other, it's terrifying. So we rack up debt, financial and emotional, trying to find our one true path, only to long for simplicity and direction. Freshly out of my twenties, I'm ready to settle down and enjoy some quiet, and I can't help feeling a TINY bit guilty about that just because of the messages we receive to knock down doors and kick some ass.
I blame it on a simple gift that most of us probably received for college graduation: Dr. Seuss' "Oh! The Places You'll Go!" Harmless enough, right? A furry little Seussian creature bounces through fuzzy trees and stalactites, chirping about the fantastic adventures you're about to embark on. So we dive feet-first into the world, clinging to life boats along the way (friends, jobs, traveling, etc.), discarding some along the way when we find something better. Then we think we've reached the luxury liner--the dream job, the stable relationship--only to look back nostalgically at those crappy rafts that got us to where we are.
I wouldn't say NR and I have reached the luxury liner just yet. And maybe we won't. (Hard to afford on a teacher's salary.) But thank God I have a terrific first mate and lots of support along the way.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pimp My Nursery

Very productive weekend on Baldwin Avenue! My parents brought up the crib, we went on a crazy shopping spree at Babies "R" Us, and the nursery is now pretty much ready to roll--all we need is a baby to put it in. :0

The mural was done by two of Nick's former students. We paid them in Chinese food and art supplies; they were happy as clams. Hmm, maybe we'll try that tactic when we finally have a house of our own one day..."Thanks, Mr. Plumber, for putting in those fabulous granite side-by-side sinks. How about some McDonald's and a couple of pipes and washers? Deal?"

I'm home sick today. One of the lovely perks of being a teacher is the many gifts your students give you: gratitude, inspiration, the occasional Barnes & Noble gift card, and the common cold in all sorts of lovely variations. Of course, being preggers, I'm relegated to saline spray and Kleenex as my drugs of it's Couch City with Rocco today, accompanied by "E!"

I have less than a month left with my students. I'm trying to just focus on the positive--we're moving for a good reason, everything will (somehow) work out--but it's still incredibly sad to say goodbye to a job I adore. But the way I see it, my life is going to change in ways I can't possibly fathom. So best to just keep an open mind, take a deep breath, and (try!) to relax.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Philadelphia Freedom?

So, the hub and I have made a pretty huge decision...we're moving to PA this summer. Back to the land of cheesesteaks and scrappy Eagles fans, of terrible accents and tourists running up the Art Museum steps.

Well, we're not actually moving to the City of Brotherly Love, but probably my old hood of Delaware County. Back to the land of barrel-chested women with buzz cuts, dark lipliner with frosted lipstick, men built like trucks who call their sons "Pal," and beef 'n beers at the local parish center.

The reason, of course, is the lil' bambino on the way. Nick and I both grew up close to our grandparents, and can't imagine our childhoods any other way. Being a "mixed-coast" couple, we know that's just not possible, so PA has won for its affordability and proximity to my fam.

Not to's just a different way of life down there. Everything's just a little bit slower, cheaper, and not so hectic. Every morning when I get off the subway at 86th & Lex, I literally have to take a deep breath and fight my way through the crowds. My heart starts racing, my body tenses up, and I can just feel the blood pressure rising. Even when it's a beautiful day out, I barely notice because of the massive buildings, construction, and nonstop jitteriness that pervades the streets. I swear I can imagine B.R. inside me, waking up and saying "Mom, what the hell? It's too damn loud out there!"

And it wasn't always like this. When I first moved up here, I loved just diving into the crowd and being shuttled along like a sardine. You know, that whole "Oh, I'm in the pulse of the urban wonderland!" I would imagine the camera focusing on me and switching into slo-mo as I bounced along, just a silly little twentysomething in the mix. I remember when I was doing a show at the Producers' Club, and I absolutely loved walking down 46th Street past the theaters with my costume and make-up tucked away in my backpack, feeling so smug that I was one of the hundreds of Times Square actors scurrying off to work. (Never mind the fact that the show was a steaming pile!)

Now, I'd rather just take Rocco for a walk down a quiet, tree-lined street, then sit on a porch and read for a while.

I guess it's better to feel this way at 30, rather than wake up one morning and say "Dammit! Where did my twenties go? I missed out on so much!" I remember the panic I felt my senior year of college, when I realized graduation (and the real world) was looming, and I really hadn't done squat. I DEFINITELY think I worked that bug out of my system, and now this is God's way of telling me, "Look, you've done a helluva lot, and now it's time to slow down."

Well, maybe he wouldn't say hell. ;)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Well! Look what happens when you don't update your blog for a while--you get knocked up!
Actually, I found out I was expecting back in July, but we didn't "go public" with the news until September. Since then, time has been tripping merrily along, my blog has gone blissfully ignored, and yours truly is getting bigger by the day!
Here's a pic of the hubby and myself receiving our very own "Charlotte York McDougal Goldblatt" diaper cake (that's for all the SATC fans) at our shower on Saturday. Clearly I was suprised, as you can see from my frump-a-dump hair and lack of make-up!
I'm definitely excited to meet the little guy--partially because I'm hoping the maternal instincts will finally kick in. So far, all things Elmo and Dora are pretty foreign and bizarre to me. They were giving away "Wiggles" tickets on the radio the other morning, and Hubs was like, "Yikes, we're going to have to take our kid to see this crap, right?" Oy...well, my parents were never ones to give in to the latest kid trends--instead, we were museum vets and musical theater geeks by the age of 5. I actually remember Rosie all dressed up, prancing around the living room, pretending to be Josephine from "H.M.S. Pinafore." One little girl's Disney Princess fantasy is another's Gilbert & Sullivan heroine, I guess!
In any event, I promise to be better about updating this, especially with the exciting events coming up in the months to come...