Budget

Deep Breath In…now hold it until you find sensible workout clothes!

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Early yesterday morning I was extolling the virtues of yoga for back care to a friend, and the conversation goosed me to do what I’ve been putting off for a year, buying new workout clothes.  Should be easy, no? Everywhere you look are women wearing yoga pants and capris, with oh so cute little bondage straps–err, sports bras.

I’m picky.  Yoga gear should be form fitting enough that you can easily check your alignment, and not have everything rolling up, rolling down, and twisting under you.  You should be able to move freely in whatever you’re wearing.   I had looked online last week.  Good grief, $100 for a pair of yoga pants?  By the time $60 began to look reasonable, I knew it was time to step away from the laptop.  And so I went to the local discount sporting goods store, where I was sucked into the vortex of fluorescent pink sports bras with perfectly coordinated checkered capris.  A mere $75 for an outfit.  No. Went home, went back online, found some things that were more reasonably priced, and purchased nothing.  Better prices aren’t really better if I can’t tell exactly how something is going to fit, if it will actually be comfortable to move in but discreet enough to throw a long t-shirt on top and run the girl to school.

Yeah, I’ve seen some of those inexpensive pieces in person, and they’re barely opaque enough to qualify as tights.  And the rest–including some of the very priciest ones–seem to be manufactured and promoted by the same sadists who came up with Spanx.  How the fuck am I supposed to execute a smooth downward facing dog if I’m busy trying to force air into my lungs?  Now I’m sure the idea is to hold in and hide all the rumply bits you’re trying to smooth away with exercise, but they seem to have forgotten one thing.  That excess of skin/cellulite/*gasp*/flab?  It doesn’t actually disappear with the bondage gear, just gets pushed up over the waistband and down under the rib band.  Thanks, I feel so attractive.

And ah, the sports bras. I get it, if your workout is high impact, you might want something with more hold. But for yoga?  With the way most of these things are structured, I expect mammogram results to pop out when I take them off.  And why is the choice that either they come with pads thick and durable enough to walk by themselves or no room in the design for nipples, let alone breasts?

When, exactly, did workout clothes become yet another haute couture arena?  This may be sacrilegious to say in 2016, but as long as it’s reasonable enough to get on and off the subway in, I don’t care what this stuff looks like.  I don’t care if the sports bra matches the t-shirt matches the shorts.  Maybe I’d feel differently if I worked out in a gym, or a class, and was being seen by others.  Actually, this likely contributes to why I prefer to stick to the privacy of my living room.  If you’re headed to an appointment, or date, or work, after you work out, go ahead and live a little by getting dressed in real clothes.  They don’t have to be fancy, just yanno, clean–something you haven’t spent an hour sweating in.

So yes, I went shopping in one of the basic discount stores yesterday, determined to be successful.  If I don’t care about the fashion statement, how hard could it be? First off, I thought it was the perfect time of year to replace my workout shorts (I like to wear shorts for yoga in the hot weather, sue me).  There were indeed two racks of shorts in the clearance racks of the “athleisure” department.  Are you freaking kidding me? Lycra microshorts.  Just right for the woman who wants her already sagging butt cheeks to fall out during child’s pose.  Fine, forget the shorts.  I grabbed every sports bra, yoga pant, and capri that I could find that looked like it might fit, didn’t feel like it was made from that magical duck tape/spandex blend, was under $20 and headed to the dressing room.

I could have skipped the early morning yoga session, because just trying all this crap on certainly counted as a workout.  Mrs Fringe is not a large woman.  That said, as a woman-of-a-certain-age, I’m not as small as I used to be.  These things are obviously all designed for the prepubescent among us.  In real clothes, I wear a size 6 or 4, depending on the cut and the “designer,” usually need a petite (except in pants, my legs are oddly long for a short woman), and I needed– needed–mediums in this stuff.  What the fuck?  What about women who are truly curvy?  Or, god forbid, a bit more than full figured?  Are they banished to the dismal plus-sized rack at the back because they wear a size 12 (which doesn’t necessarily mean more than full figured)? When I came home I saw the brouhaha online about a well endowed teacher in a dress that covered her completely but was, ahem, form fitting.  I wouldn’t wear it, but I like things that are roomy.  Not sack cloth and ashes, but what I consider breathable. Appropriate for work? I don’t know, but I know for sure that is a woman who would be hard pressed to find something off the rack that fit her without being either tight or tent like.

Wikipedia tells me the goal of yoga is moksha–liberation.  Looking at the western yogi-gear offerings, I suspect something has been lost in translation.  If you’re wondering, I did wear my new gear this morning and got on the train wearing my new (see above photo) slightly baggy olive-green capris, crayola-box purple sports bra, and big ocean-blue long sleeved t-shirt. I left the falsies behind.

Halloween decor?

Halloween decor?

Those Moments

Quintessential Guggenheim

Quintessential Guggenheim

The NYC public schools were closed this past week for the February break.  I’m cursing this break when school is still in session at the end of June, but in the moment?  Yeeees, so necessary.  For the most part, the girl and I spent the week resting and ate half-priced-post-Valentine’s Day chocolate.  But yesterday morning Husband needed to get new glasses, so Art Child and I went with him to help pick frames.  Since we were going to be on the east side anyway, I figured it was a good day to hit a museum.

The Upper East side has been (marginally) more resistant to change than most other residential neighborhoods in Manhattan, so there are still a few old gems left to wrap me in the nostalgia of remember when.  Like this one.

Almost makes me wish I liked egg creams.

Almost makes me wish I liked egg creams.

Art Child and I said goodbye to Husband, I grabbed my camera, she grabbed her sketchbook, and off we went.  The Guggenheim isn’t one of the museums we visit regularly, it is not one of the suggested donation institutions.  Those types of museums can quickly blow a week’s budget.  Eat before we go.  No, we aren’t buying anything in the gift shop!  No, we can’t go again before the installation leaves. The saving grace is that flat admission price doesn’t exclude any of the temporary exhibitions.  If you’ve never been, the building itself is well worth a visit.  All curves, you spiral your way up a continuing ramp to see what’s on display.  Certain floors branch off to more permanent exhibits and/or smaller installments.

Every time I go I think of being there with Man Child when he was a little guy, an installation of motorcycles.  Very cool, even if I still don’t understand why they were there.  Mostly I think of it because Nerd Child was an infant.  They didn’t allow strollers/carriages along the ramps, and Nerd Child was a champion puker–one of those babies where every spit up looked like an audition for The Exorcist– so Husband and I took turns carrying him while zig-zagging around the bikes.

The current primary exhibition is a retrospective, a collaborative effort from Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss that spans over thirty years, “How to Work Better.”  Huge, the sheer number of sculptures, photographs, videos, and instillations left me overwhelmed at times.  Art Child tells me I’m supposed to be.  Some of it I really liked, some not so much.  The first thing you see is the costumes the artists wore while making their films THE POINT OF LEAST RESISTANCE and THE RIGHT WAY.  umm, ok.  I didn’t take a ton of photos, I was busy trying to understand what I was seeing, but I’m glad we went.

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Here's where I love the tourists, they remember the views over the park are part of the intended experience.

Here’s where I love the tourists, they remember the views over the park are part of the intended experience.

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In the Thannhauser Gallery there are an assortment of paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cèzanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others.  Regardless of what else is on exhibit, whether it’s something I enjoy, understand or not, I’m moved and satisfied sitting in that gallery.  I love Picasso, his paintings, his etchings, his sculptures.  Not all of his work, he starts to lose me with swaths of his Cubist period.  Does that mean I’m déclassé?  Maybe just a peasant.  That’s ok, I don’t mind.

One of my favorite paintings is there now.  Sorry, I must have knocked the dial on the camera right before I took this photo, it’s way too yellow.

 

Woman Ironing, by Pablo Picasso.  Can I say it again? I love this painting.  From his Blue Period, there’s something about it that has always drawn me in.  I don’t remember the where (pretty sure it wasn’t the Guggenheim) or when (I was a child, for certain) I first saw it, but I will never be tired of this woman.  When I hear people refer to a work of art speaking to them, this is one of the paintings that comes to the forefront of my mind.  Maybe I always knew I was destined for drudgery.  And scoliosis.  And shadows.  Take a closer look with me, the shadow along her neck is delicious, makes me shiver.

Everything you can't see in her eyes, but see in her curves and angles.

Everything you can’t see in her eyes, but see in her curves and angles.

This was the first piece of the day that Art Child chose to sit and sketch.  I can’t say what I enjoyed most, being able to sit down and enjoy the Ironing Woman, the girl sitting at the end of the bench and sketching her, or the museum visitors stopping to watch her sketch for longer than they looked at the painting in question.  Perfect moment.

After we had moved on, and were back to Fischli and Weiss, I felt my phone buzz.  A text from Nerd Child, frustrated and disappointed about a lost opportunity.  No fault of his own, one of those life-happens things. Still, I’m a mom, which means through the life experience that enables me to understand the whys, hows, and frequencies of disappointments, my heart aches for each of my kiddos, every time they’re faced with one.  In the middle of the gazillion clay sculptures I happened to be standing in front of a representation of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot.  I walked past the donkey to the inner wall of the museum and looked down.

Something had clicked for me, and the artists’  spent Rat and Bear costumes lying on the lobby platform made sense. Trying to make sense of a world that doesn’t, philosophical questions that don’t have a right answer–or any answer at all, dreaming about success.  Yeah, these are the things we need to do, to experience, the questions we need to ask.  These are the moments we need, perfect or otherwise.

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Excuse Me, Your Fly is Open

Fresh  off the dirty laundry pile!

Fresh off the dirty laundry pile!

I haven’t wanted to talk much about Trump and the upcoming election here on Mrs Fringe.  Why feed the fire and all that.  Or not, maybe if I’m honest, it’s because I was hoping to cling to my default defensive position of burying my head in the sand, thereby pretending he’ll go away.  Surely Americans will come to their senses long before an election?  Surely his blatant lies, manipulations, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and generally abysmal record as a human being will send him straight to the peanut gallery.  Apparently not, heh.  And let’s face it, you don’t come to Mrs Fringe for political analysis.  I’m not that objective.  I’m not that good with the straight facts and figures.  As I’ve said before, I’m not that smart.  If you want a blog with reasoned analysis, I recommend this guy, Benjamin Studebaker.    (I know, not completely objective, but smart, backs everything up with facts, and straightforward.)

I’m still not ready to talk big picture, address my fears re who the GOP has put forth as viable candidates overall, but.  Today I’ll talk about Donald Trump.  First, a bit of background on me.  When I was younger, I worked in social services.  My very first job in the field was with a camp that served autistic, psychotic, and what was then termed “emotionally disturbed” youth.  (I don’t know why kiddos with autism were in that grouping, it was a long time ago, autism was even less understood, and it was considered rare–well before the epidemic it is today.)  In retrospect, it was a dumping ground for kids no one knew what to do with.  I know of three who were institutionalized not long after, but I’d guess that’s what happened with the majority of them.

One of the campers was a teen I’ll call Joey.  I don’t remember exactly how old Joey was–he wasn’t in my group– somewhere in his upper teens, already looked like a grown man, with limited verbal/comprehension skills complicated by English being his second language.  Joey had an obsession with his penis.  Every time he wasn’t actively engaged in something else (and often when he was), his fly was down, schlong out, and masturbating intensely, while shouting his catchphrase.  Between his catchphrase and obsession, I’m guessing there had been a serious injury and/or abuse in his past.  Obviously, for all the reasons, we couldn’t allow Joey to walk around masturbating all day (not least of which the injury he was causing himself with such frenzy).   So in addition to songs, chants, directions and redirections, hoots and echolalia, the command of “Joey, put that thing away!”  was a constant refrain.   We shared the campgrounds with other camps, and the other camp directors and counselors were forever threatening to get us kicked out if Joey continued whipping it out.  We smiled, nodded, made the right noises and then turned away rolling our eyes.

At the time Joey was considered harmless.  The majority of these kids, and the adults I ended up working with, were “harmless.”  I was passionate in my defense of these children, wished with all my heart I could protect them all, always.  When one of the kiddos broke my nose that summer, I argued on his behalf when the director kicked him out of the camp without a chance for me to meet with him and let him know I was ok.  I was so angry, so indignant I wanted to quit.  It hadn’t been an appropriate setting for him.  I didn’t quit because I also met my first autistic kiddo there.   I was idealistic, young enough and brash enough to romanticize what I was doing, but I was good at what I did.  The child with autism?  I was over the moon excited when I was able to get him to play one round of duck-duck-goose after weeks of trying.  I called his mother.  When she understood who was calling and why, she called to her husband, “Magic Fringe is on the phone.”  That’s what they called me, and thinking about it still warms the cockles of my heart.  There’s no magic, though.

Non violent, these children and the adults they become are a million times more likely to be the victims of predators than predatory themselves.  I just made up that “statistic,” but the intent behind it was a fact then and a fact now.  But the majority doesn’t mean all.  I did work with some people who were violent, on occasion a danger to others as well as themselves.  And as I grew more experienced, and now as I’ve gotten older, I see the nuances I didn’t see then.  It’s still heartbreaking, but not quite harmless to have a young man walking around hooting, yelling, and masturbating in public.  The potential for danger; the potential for violence caused to him, by him, or to those just too close to get out of the way was real.

When Donald Trump hoots about immigrants, about building a wall between Mexico and the US, when he calls women “bimbos,” when he trumpets that sexual assault in the military is to be expected, when he calls a woman “disgusting” for needing to take a break to pump breast milk, when he says he would eliminate gun free zones in military bases and schools, when he says the answer to our broken mental health system is to find a way to arm more of the “good guys” to take out the “sickos,” when he calls for banning Muslim immigrants from entering the US, when he brays about plans to bomb the shit out of Isis (does he know Isis isn’t a country?), when he shouts that he will force Nabisco to produce Oreos in the US, Apple to produce their products here–while at the same time his clothing line is manufactured in Mexico and China…I could go on and on.  The point is, when he spouts this nonsense, he’s whipping it out.

He has no filter.  He isn’t honest.  There’s a difference.  With all the lies he vomits, it’s shocking to me that anyone, anywhere, perceives him as anything other than a dishonest buffoon.  I’m also shocked when people talk about him as a businessman, how good that would be for America.  Umm, America isn’t a business.  It’s a country, made up of individual citizens, with varying needs and vulnerabilities.  Trump is indeed a good businessman, if good here is defined by  selfishness and the amount of money accrued.  He’s so good, he was able to declare bankruptcy multiple times–wipe his debts clean at the expense of thousands of jobs–and still make money.  He’s so shrewd, he’s got people supporting him who represent those he screwed with each and every bankruptcy.  By the way, that whole idea of businessman as politician?  We did that here in New York City, with Bloomberg.  He fired those who disagreed with him (oh, those pesky checks and balances) and when his term was up, he changed the term limit laws so he could stay.  Get ready to hand Trump a crown and scepter.  You may or may not want someone you consider a “bleeding heart” at the helm of this country, but do you want someone who is actually morally bankrupt?

The very same things that make me unqualified to be a political pundit–lack of filter, lack of understanding of the nuances in policies, inability to grasp the ramifications of decisions made today for 30 years from now (it’s true, I’m a lousy chess player), selfishness and general hotheadedness–are what make Trump unqualified to lead this country.

When people cheer him on, use him as validation to let their inner racist come out, their not so underlying faith that women are less-than, their complacence with ignorance of how the world works, when they vote for him–they aren’t just turning away from nuance and rolling their eyes, they’re handing him lube and inciting potentially dangerous situations.

Put that thing away, Mr. Trump.

Washing the Dust Off

The purpose of art is washing the daily dust off of our souls~Pablo Picasso

After the fiasco of our adventures on Friday I was more than ready for a good day.  So, on Sunday afternoon, Husband’s cousin, Miss Sweet Heart, met Man Child, Art Child and I at our apartment and we headed downtown to the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit. Yes, Art Child and I went a few months ago (the show is put on twice a year, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend) but it’s well worth revisiting. Some of the artists are the same (new work and old) and others were new to us.

Man Child and Miss Sweet Heart haven’t seen each other in a couple of years, so that alone made the day beautiful.  Add in a day trip, trains that ran on time, art that is exciting and inspiring, generous artists, and it was damn near perfect.  One of the things that made it so special was that several of the artists we chatted with last time remembered Art Child.  Made her day, and mine.  I’m continually impressed by how many in the art community are willing to take and make time for a young artist, offer ideas and encouragement.

Remember the artist with the amazing tree-woman sculpture last time?  Anthony Santella was back with new work.  I didn’t think anything could be more perfect than the last bust I posted photos of, but I was mistaken. Last time we saw him at the WSAOE, he gifted Art Child with a nail-studded heart he had carved, it holds a place of honor on her desk.  Turns out he blogged about meeting her.  Hmm, for some reason the link doesn’t take you directly to the post.  From the about page, click on his blog, and then May 2015 in his archives, Sunday, May 24th, Day #144 of #MakeArt365.  (Spend time checking out his site, well worth it.)  Me, blabberfingers extraordinaire, can’t find the words for how beautiful it is to see my girl in this setting, with adult artists taking her and her work seriously, no one caring (in a good way) about academics, neurological status, sluggish reflexes, size, blah, blah, blah.

Isn't she wonderful?

Isn’t she wonderful?

 

Out of budget for us, but oh how I wish.

Out of budget for us, but oh how I wish.

Looking at the sculpture above got my mind racing, how could I write her into Wanna-Bees, change a character? add a new one?  I was about to ask Mr. Santella if he would mind if I “wrote her,” but then I didn’t.  I’m just not ready to write.

Besides the wood sculptures, he has paintings and smaller sculptures made from 3-D printing.  Art Child purchased one of his paintings from a group he had tucked away, older works.  Funny enough, she was drawn to those he made when not much older than she, and still in high school.  I bought a little 3D printed woman, maybe 2 1/2 inches with the base.  She’s looking down at me from the shelf over my desk now.

The lighting is too harsh in this photo, but it highlights the details.

The lighting is too harsh in this photo, but it highlights the details.

Tomorrow the craziness of a new school year for the girl will begin.  Thank you for letting us wash the dust off, and start fresh.

Sunrise from the terrace this morning.

Sunrise from the terrace this morning.

Not That Gal

Final installment of Mrs Fringe Takes a Vacation–I promise!

Much as I’d like to be, I’m not that gal.  You know the one; who appreciates everything she has, cleans the toilet thinking how lucky she is to be living somewhere with indoor plumbing, and is grateful to have (reasonably) working limbs and the luxury to grocery shop when the refrigerator is empty.  The one who takes a vacation and thinks, wow! I so appreciate a life where I was able to do that, what a wonderful time I had, and now I’m happy to be home.

I want to know when I can go back.  Art Child and I agreed we would start a jar of coins dedicated to our next vacation.  I thought about the jar of coins I already keep, the one that’s supposed to go towards Christmas presents, but usually ends up spent on a bill, or groceries, or some other necessity.

I’m the one who picks up the free real estate magazines whenever she goes anywhere, and imagines how it would be to live there.  The one who spends the entire thirteen hour drive home trying to figure out how many dogs she’d have to walk to buy a little beach house.  (Yah, I know, I haven’t been able to dog walk because I got all broken.) And ok, not so little, because I’m not alone.  Maybe not on the beach, because insurance.  And hurricanes.   So, walking distance to the beach.  Still in the million dollar range?  Ok, reasonable driving distance.  So maybe then I’d need to have a pool, because it’s hot hot hot there, and I wouldn’t want the girl to spend all her time off the beach locked in air conditioning. Who’s that knocking at my door–Reality?

Fuck you, Reality, I’m not ready to end my fling with Fantasy.  Talk to me next week.

Oh, the beach houses, which one would I choose?

Oh, the beach houses, which one would I choose?

Lovely, but too fancy.

Lovely, but too fancy.

This could work.

This could work.

How about this little one?

How about this little one?

We have a winner.

We have a winner.

Every day should begin like this.

Every day should begin like this.

The picture of a promise.

The picture of a promise.

View from the apartment we stayed in.

View from the apartment we stayed in.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

My toes are tingling.

My toes are tingling.

This was one of my favorite parts of the vacation. A washer and dryer IN the apartment! Mundane but true.

This was one of my favorite parts of the vacation. A washer and dryer IN the apartment! Mundane but true.

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I could spend hours looking at the patterns left in the wet sand by the waves.

I could spend hours looking at the patterns left in the wet sand by the waves.

I may print this one.

I may print this one.

Yes.

Yes.

The dark clouds felt just right for my last morning on the beach.

The dark clouds felt just right for my last morning on the beach.

Where Ya Been, Mrs Freckle Fringe?

After much agonizing and whining, I booked a vacation.  So yes, Fringeland moved south for a week, and I’m now back on the terrace.  This will be the first of several posts about, and pictures of, our trip. I didn’t post about it beforehand because of weirdness. First of all, it had been so long since we took a vacation, all I did was stress about it. Second, right after we booked it, obviously, the girl started to not do so well, so…more stress. Packing up for a road trip to a beach break is simple, right? A few bikinis, a few towels, comfy traveling clothes, and you’re done.  Not in Fringeland. We don’t go out often, and we vacation much less often, so when we’re away, I like to have some nice clothes for going out, and all the makeup I generally don’t wear, and the hair dryer and the straightening iron that I don’t end up using, and no less than four anti-frizz products to keep my hair weighed down in the humidity and breezes. Then there’s an entire small suitcase of meds for Husband and the girl. Yes, I want the comfy traveling clothes, but I also want to look decent, just in case. My version of “wear good underwear in case you get into an accident” is wear decent clothes in case the car breaks down, or someone gets sick and I end up needing to meet strange doctors in a strange hospital, or or or.  See what I mean? Stress! Sure it’s self inflicted, but I can’t help it, goes with the whole vivid imagination thing.  And maybe a dash of experience.

Man Child wasn’t able to come with us, but we were still a crowded vehicle; me, Husband, Art Child, Nerd Child, one of my godsons (Mr Goodheart), Mother-In-Law, and all our assorted crapola. We didn’t bring Little Incredibly Dumb Dog, because I didn’t book said vacation early enough, and all the affordable places within walking distance to the beach that were pet friendly were booked.  A huge, huge thank you to El Fab for taking care of my little beast, the container garden,  AND the tank. I literally took thousands of pictures while we were gone, it’s going to take a bit to sort through them all. My intention was to blog and post pics while away, but once we were there, I just didn’t want to. Sorry! So I’ll break up my pics and stories into a few posts, and put them up here as I sort them. In other words, warning: the next few Mrs Fringe posts will be photo intensive.  Maybe by the time I’ve finished I’ll have stopped sobbing because I want to go back and stay there–but I doubt it!

While on the road, we always stay in low-budget motels, whenever/wherever we are when we just have to crash. Gives us a little more leeway while we’re actually at our destination, and it seems like a waste of funds to spend more on a room you’re literally only going to sleep in. On the way down, we stayed in what must have been the worst (though not the least expensive) motel we’ve ever stayed in. The manager was friendly and chatty, though. He generously offered to give me a tea bag from his personal kitchen, asked Husband “is that a Mexican name?” (all Latino names = Mexican, right? sometimes, and sometimes Dominican, Spaniard, Puerto Rican, South American…), and while I was telling our crew to get out of the car and unload, he proceeded to tell Husband about the woman who had walked in behind us–as she was standing there–how she asked to see a room, used the bathroom while she was in said “clean” room, and was menstruating and now he had to clean up blood.  Thanks for sharing a bit of your life, buddy!

And now, pics from this too-grossly-funny to be believed motel, and the first morning on the beach.

Dinner?

Dinner?

Pets were allowed

Pets were allowed

Anyone care for a yellow, crusty washcloth? I bet no one steals their linens.

Anyone care for a yellow, crusty washcloth? I bet no one steals their linens.

Yesssss, going over the bridge to the island.

Yesssss, going over the bridge to the island.

I wouldn't mind one of these.

I wouldn’t mind one of these.

Even looks like a sigh of relief.

Even looks like a sigh of relief.

Though the island is only about 13 hours from where we live, and we planned to break it up into two days of traveling, we hit every traffic jam possible (seriously–at our first coffee and pee break, we tried to get back on the highway and it was completely shut down because of an accident) and so didn’t arrive until early evening of the second day.

I could spend all day looking at these live oaks, truly magnificent.

I could spend all day looking at these live oaks, truly magnificent.

Even in road trip stupor, it's impossible to get a bad shot of this sky.

Even in road trip stupor, it’s impossible to get a bad shot of this sky.

And now, the first sunrise. I was a bit late getting out there, but still caught some pretty shots.

And now, the first sunrise. I was a bit late getting out there, but still caught some pretty shots.

The dunes are protected and respected.

The dunes are protected and respected.

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Put your toes in, even at 6am the water is warm.

Put your toes in, even at 6am the water is warm.

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My little posing friend.

My little posing friend.

Still wondering why I’m sobbing about having to leave?

 

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Why go home when you can pass out right on the beach, errr, watch the sunrise?

Why go home when you can pass out right on the beach, errr, watch the sunrise?

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These seemed to be a beach/sand morning glory. Each morning at sunrise the buds were closed, by the time I came back out at 9am or so they were open.

These seemed to be a beach/sand morning glory. Each morning at sunrise the buds were closed, by the time I came back out at 9am or so they were open.

Thanks for the morning welcome song!

Thanks for the morning welcome song!

 

Celebrate with Mrs Fringe

Here, have a café con leche on the terrace with me.

Here, have a café con leche on the terrace with me.

Yesterday was my 3 year blogoversary.

3 years isn’t that long and my number of subscribers isn’t very large in the context of the “big” blogs, but I can say, without reservation, it all feels pretty damned fine to me.

When I began, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted Mrs Fringe to look like, or exactly what it would encompass.  I said from the beginning (and have continued to say) I wanted a space to be honest, to feel like a whole person, and a spot to prompt myself to write with just enough pressure but no actual, strict obligations.  Maybe I thought it would scratch my writing itch.  It hasn’t, in terms of fiction; instead, it’s an addition. I didn’t know how much I needed it, or how important this blog would become to me, my sense of self, or the growing number of fabulous people I’d meet through blogging.  I didn’t know I’d grow bold enough to post fiction, organized enough to create multiple pages with permanent links under the header in hopes of making navigation easier for readers. I didn’t know if it would attract any readers, let alone regular followers and commenters, but it has, and I thank every one of you for taking the time, making the effort.  A huge thank you to WordPress, for offering a platform that even a luddite like myself could navigate.

It’s funny how blogging has become such a part of my world.  As I go about my days in real time/space, each experience becomes a possible post, every oddity that catches my eye something that has me reaching for the camera.

The other day I took Art Child downtown, for a free workshop for teen artists, sponsored/presented by Sprite and Complex, hosted by Pen & Pixel.

While we were on line waiting to meet Art Child’s friend and her mom, I thought this is what life on the economic fringe in New York means, this is what Mrs Fringe is about.

Sprite Corner: Obey Your Thirst, yes

Sprite Corner: Obey Your Thirst, yes

Life on the fringe has its own set of stresses and stressors.  There are so many, many opportunities here in New York, often closed to those of us on strict budgets.  But sometimes you fall into something that’s cool, and free, and you actually get your shit together and register early enough to get your kiddo into this cool, free opportunity, and haul yourself on the 2 train to the N train to the J train, to a neighborhood that can’t quite decide if it’s going to gentrify or remain industrial, and it’s worth it. They’re running several events out of this pop-up storefront this summer, this one was a Photoshop/Design workshop, but they’re sponsoring others in music, comedy, cooking, and film.  It’s about supporting and enabling creativity in young people.

Tattoo while I wait?

Tattoo while I wait?

Free (good!) pizza offered for the kids before entering.

Free (good!) pizza offered for the kids before entering.

I thought there would be a spot where I could sit out of the way, or go in for coffee, while the girl was in the workshop.  Hmm, my choice seemed to be browsing industrial-sized cooking appliances or blowing a week’s budget in a chi-chi juice bar.  But then one of the execs came over to my friend and I as we were saying goodbye to the girls (I get it, parents hovering over the kids at the computers isn’t exactly the photo ops they’re looking for, plus he wanted to confirm Art Child was within the age group they’re insured for, she looks younger) and offered to buy us coffee. Nice.

By the time we were seated and our orders were taken, coffee became wine and a lovely food plate, and I had put in a plug for Mrs Fringe–I really need to get better at this, if I’m ever going to truly grow this blog–and we spent an hour talking about parenting, cyberbullying, encouraging teens and young adults, raising girls, and S&M.

Sometimes life in Fringeland leads me to some pretty interesting moments and people; thank you for sharing them with me.

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Excess

Moonflowers, finally!

Moonflowers, finally!

I get one every three days or so, but they open in the afternoon, not at night.

I get one every three days or so, but they open in the afternoon, not at night.

What’s worse than 5am yoga?  5am yoga after eating yourself into a carb coma the night before, of course.

The other morning I woke with an urge for corn chowder.  First day of a heat wave, why wouldn’t I want soup?  I went to the grocery store, and bought the ingredients.  Not as easy as it sounds, because I wasn’t thinking about the fact that it was Saturday.  In the grocery store.  By the time I got home, I needed to rest my back for a while before getting started.  Just as well, because lifehappened and I never got to start the soup.

Yesterday, day 2 of the heat wave.  I love summer, nothing makes me happier than not needing more than flip flops and shades to walk outside, but nothing holds the heat like the city.  The thought of soup was now as appealing as diving into the Hudson River. But…I already dropped $50 in the grocery store the day before, and had told Art Child she could help me.  Just in case making soup when it’s 93° with 69% humidity outside wasn’t enough, in between chopping and sautéing, I was back and forth at the laptop, had a thought provoking email conversation with a writing friend about writing and not.  This, naturally, is a conversation I feel compelled to keep having, but it’s upsetting too, leaving me to feel generally useless.  What to do when I’m stressing myself out?  I added biscuits, chicken (for the flesh eaters), and tofu (for the non flesh-eaters) to the menu.

cheddar scallion biscuits

cheddar scallion biscuits

Gin & Lemonade

Gin & Lemonade

Maybe an extra jalapeño next time.

Maybe an extra jalapeño next time.

Marinated chicken

Marinated chicken

Tofu in the same marinade.

Tofu in the same marinade.

I’m a pretty good cook, and sometimes everything works out just the way I want it to, and last night’s dinner was one of those meals.  Husband went into work early yesterday, so he was actually home at dinnertime, and the four of us sat together.  At my table, everyone sitting together means political discussions.  Last night’s topic segued from the need for campaign contribution reforms, to general American consumerism and excess.  Did it occur to me that in that moment, sucking down my organic, non-GMO corn, jalapeño, and yukon gold potato soup that I was the very picture of American excess? Yes, yes it did.  But I enjoyed it anyway.  Did the conversation stop me from thinking I had absolutely nailed those biscuits? (If, like me, you’re too heavy handed with a rolling pin, drop biscuits are the way to go.) Nope.  When I was already full from the soup and biscuit, did it prevent me from taking a big slice of tofu? Well, you see, I made the whole brick, and it’s only Art Child and I who eat the tofu, so it would be wasteful to not even eat one slice….

What a surprise that I woke up before the sun, feeling like an overstuffed sausage.  These political conversations are deadly, I tellya.

Exhaustion: It’s What’s for Dinner. and Celebration!

On the road, parenting style.

On the road, parenting style.

On Friday morning, Husband, Art Child, and I got in the car to head north for Man Child’s college graduation.  College! Graduated!  I did it!!!  Err, I mean, Man Child did it. And in all seriousness, he did it well.  Congratulations to you!  Naturally, life being what it is here on the Fringe, Nerd Child and all his stuff needed to be picked up from his school on the same day, a mere three and a half hours from where Man Child was graduating.

So we drove.

I've always had a thing for log houses. Wonder how one will look on the beach in HI. ;)

I’ve always had a thing for log houses. Wonder how one will look on the beach in HI. 😉

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You have reached your (first) destination!

You have reached your (first) destination!

Lovely petunias in flower boxes outside our motel room–a mere one state away from where the college actually is.  Apparently the good mommies book their rooms six-nine months in advance, the fringe mamas end up 35 minutes away, across state lines, and pay a completely unreasonable amount of money for one of the most questionable motel rooms I’ve ever stayed in.  Not to fear, we shooed the five bees we found in the room back outside to the flowers, and established that one of the five lamps in the room was indeed working. Then Husband got back on the road to pick up Nerd Child while Art Child and I rested (or in my case, waited for the painkillers to kick in so I could straighten up),  got ready for the evening’s festivities, and sent panicked texts to Man Child regarding who would pick us up to take us to the school. His college puts on a lovely graduation, splitting it into two days so you’re never sitting for an unreasonable amount of time.

Man Child and Miss Music picked us up, I admired his new blazer, he admired my new (to him) cane, and we arrived in time for the dinner and speeches.

Thank you weather gods, for not being too hot or rainy.

Thank you weather gods, for not being too hot or rainy.

IMG_4181This is a small, arts focused but not arts exclusive liberal arts college.  I met several of Man Child’s friends–so full of talent, energy, and optimism.  Dancers, artists, biochemists, one I’m certain has a great future ahead of her in comedy writing, another who’s written a Japanese opera. Together this means I saw some fabulous fashion, spectacular hair colors, had plenty of vegetarian options to choose from, and *drumroll* Gloria Steinem was the featured guest speaker. Can a 40,000 year old woman squeal and fangirl? Yes, yes she can.

First the speaker from the senior class gave her speech. Clever, well timed, full of hope and witty comments about attending a not-quite traditional school that prizes individualism. This young woman is a writer, graduating from a school that has more than a few successful and prize winning writers among its alums. During her time at the school, in addition to her coursework she finished a novel and interned at a literary agency.

This is about when I started becoming very interested in the structure of the tent.  So much harder for the glassy eyes and sniffling nose to become full-on sobs when trying to determine how the cloth is joined to the poles.

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Then Ms. Steinem spoke.  I’ll be honest, she could have stood and read her grocery list and I’d have applauded and proclaimed her brilliance. C’mon, Gloria Steinem, forty feet in front of me! But she didn’t read her grocery list, and her speech was wonderful, inspiring to the young people (men and women) sitting and listening. I was thrilled to listen, but I’ll be honest again. I didn’t feel inspired. I felt smaller, further on the fringe, more frayed and broken. Plain old old. After telling everyone I hoped to meet her, when the speeches ended I walked away from the line formed immediately by those who wanted a chance to meet and take a photo with her.

After a few minutes of fresh air, Man Child encouraged me to go back and get on line. I realized there were just as many moms waiting as graduates, so I summoned my old mosh pit moves and got on line. We joked and waited, and then I was face to face with this woman who represents so much. Not only what she did do, but what she continues to do. I said hello and told her how pleased I was to meet her, and mentioned that I had told a mutual friend how much I was looking forward to this opportunity. She politely asked who the friend was and how I know her. And that’s where I metaphorically found myself on my face. Not my friend’s name, of course. But she’s someone I met through dog walking. I walked her dogs for years, she herself is a known, successful, talented journalist and feminist, and we have become friends.   Standing there, though, surrounded by all that youth and hope and talent; with this successful, brave, powerful woman in front of me, the only image in my mind was dog shit in the rain–and rejection letters oddly addressed, “Dear Fraudulent Feminist,”  I mumbled something about dog walking and fringiness, grimaced for the photo and slunk off.

When we got back to the motel, Nerd Child and Husband had arrived, and were already 2/3 asleep. I pretended for a few minutes that I’m a reasonably mature and graceful woman before Man Child and Miss Music headed back to school and I collapsed into the sleep of self-pity.

It rained all night, and was still quite cool and gray in the morning. Somehow, New England manages to be bright and beautiful even under cloud cover.

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The commencement ceremony itself was beautiful, and aptly positioned (for us) right outside the financial aid office.

Afterwards, of course, were more photos, and a celebratory lunch. Once again the deadbeat mom, it hadn’t occurred to me that in a small town, reservations would be needed way in advance when an entire senior class was there with their families, all going out to eat. We ended up back across the state border, in a restaurant not far from the motel we had stayed the night before.  While having lunch, Man Child brought it up.  Yeah, we know each other well enough that he knew all the speeches and creative youth would hit that melancholy nerve in my heart.  You can’t stay mired in self pity on such a beautiful occasion, and when you have an adult child who knows you well enough, and cares enough to acknowledge mom as a person. Said our goodbyes, then headed to yet another state to drop off Nerd Child at a friend’s–because they were going back to their school the following morning to cheer on senior friends for graduation (not theirs, thankfully, that’s next year).  With any luck the contents of his dorm room will find their way out of the car and into his bedroom before the end of the week.

We couldn’t be more proud of Man Child.  It isn’t easy to be a kiddo raised on the fringe.  For whatever opportunities he’s had, help and sacrifices offered and acknowledged, it sucked to be the one listening to classmates talk about fabulous vacations, watch others go off on school year abroad while he plowed through. He’s worked hard, not just in the classrooms but outside; connecting with others, joined the greater community and created opportunities for himself.  I’m hoping he enjoys this summer in New England, continuing to work in the restaurant he’s worked in for the past three years, now as a new graduate. He’s heading to Italy in the fall, so exciting!  Bottom line, he’s doing what I wish for all three of my children; not living by “I will,” all too quickly followed by “I would’ve/should’ve,” but living by “I am.”  May your future blogs never include the tag “downward mobility,” in any language. All the best and all my heart, Man Child, not just on ceremonial days, but every day.

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It’s Okay To Suck

Sometimes.

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I first began to get into photography when I got into reefing. Any coral reef hobbyist will tell you the two go hand in hand.  Reefs are beautiful, always changing, photography documents those.  More than anything, photos are necessary when you need help. Regardless of how broad your vocabulary might be, when you’re on a forum and trying to get an ID of a specific coral, coral disease, or algae, you need the visuals. I was a lousy photographer, but kind of liked it.  Every so often I’d get it right, such a good feeling.

Then I began blogging. I like blogs that include photos or artwork.  Makes it easier to read than a wall of text, and often adds a little something.  At first, I mostly used stock photos, embarrassed when I posted my own lousy pics. But then I began bringing the camera with me more frequently, making sure it was always charged, shooting photos of what was interesting to me, and/or what I thought would work well with specific posts.  Still lousy photos, but it was fun, and I got less embarrassed about posting them. Yet another aspect to blogging that I’m grateful for.

I like to try different things (as long as they don’t involve heights!) but alas, I’m not one of those people who are magically gifted at everything they try. I’ve always had a few things I was good at, and would quickly drop–certainly not publicize–what I wasn’t.  But yanno, there are advantages to getting older. Sure I’m more self conscious about my body, but I’m going to the beach anyway.  And not everything I do has to have the potential to be something I’m great at.  I learned to crochet. Sort of. I’m a truly horrendous crocheter, but sometimes I find it just the right type of mental masturbation, and I don’t care if I’m never going to crochet a fabulous whatever.

First zucchini flower of the season.

First zucchini flower of the season.

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This year I’m trying container gardening on the terrace again. I accept that some things will grow, and hopefully flower/bear fruit, and some won’t work out, because I don’t actually know what I’m doing.  That’s ok, I’m enjoying watching what happens.  Not so fond of the little bug thingies on my lilies, but I got an organic spray that is (slowly) killing them off.

In many ways gardening is similar to reefing, except I don’t feel the same pressure, the same sinking in my gut when I see something go wrong.  And things do go wrong in the reef, regardless of how long I’ve been reefing, how much I pay attention.  Just the past couple of weeks, something went awry and all but one of my SPS (small polyp stony corals) died. RTN, rapid tissue necrosis.  I want to cry thinking of those bare, white boney skeletons, but that’s another post unto itself.

I don’t have to be “gifted” at everything I do or share with others. Hell, I think I’m a kick-ass writer, and I’ve got a good number of people who agree, but still none who are in a position to offer me a dollar for my words.  Yeah, that hurts, and it’s always going to hurt. I want to be recognized as a writer, acknowledged as someone who can offer words of value, even if it’s a weirdo story about a smoking rat. I don’t want to be a chef, but I want guests who come over for dinner to enjoy my food, and leave feeling the dinner was part of a great evening. I want them to look at my tank and ooh and ahh about the beauty and vibrancy of the reef. If they see a stray crooked square of crochet work next to the couch?  It’s ok.

I keep taking pictures of everything. Digital photography offers an opportunity film didn’t, if only because of cost. I can snap a hundred pics to get 8 decent ones, and not stress about the money wasted on film and development. Much to my surprise, taking pictures has become more enjoyable as time goes on, and I’ve gotten better at it.  Try to take pictures of moving critters underwater, through glass, under led lights, you have to learn. Not great, and I’m still lousy when it comes to people, but better.  I can and do recognize the difference between the pictures I take, and the ones from people who are actual photography artists. I’m proud of many of my photos now, anyway.  And if some of the photos still suck, but I wanted to post them anyway because of the subject? That’s ok, too.

Tomatoes! I've never been successful with them, maybe this will be the year.

Tomatoes! I’ve never been successful with them, maybe this will be the year.

First tomato flowers.

First tomato flowers.

Sweet peppers

Sweet peppers

Carrots and beets

Carrots and beets

Love the leaves of the beets, so pretty.

Love the leaves of the beets, so pretty.

Lilies, will I ever get a flower?

Lilies, will I ever get a flower?

This was supposed to be a box of ranunculi, but I had a few extra blazing star bulbs so I put them in and they're choking out the ones I wanted.

This was supposed to be a box of ranunculi, but I had a few extra blazing star bulbs so I put them in and they’re choking out the ones I wanted. No clue what the shorter grass looking stuff to the front is.

Peas. I should have used a larger container. Live and learn.

Peas. I should have used a larger container, it’s choking itself. Live and learn.

Blazing stars.  These things must be freaking weeds! But apparently there were morning glory spores (?) still in the container from a couple of years ago, because I'm seeing a couple of definite morning glory vines push through.

Blazing stars. These things must be freaking weeds! But apparently there were morning glory spores (?) still in the container from a couple of years ago, because I’m seeing a couple of definite morning glory vines push through.