Starbucks


Okay, I’m gonna get way out there on this one……. I’m crunchy. I like to look for kindness in strangers, that little ray of sunshine that can’t help but peek out… Jesus in the toothless man on the street, Buddha in the lady who hands me my metro-card that has fallen out of my back pocket… It’s a silly and idealistic way of viewing the world, but I choose to view it that way, and it sure beats thinking that everyone is out to screw you.

Okay, so it’s Saturday afternoon, I’ve finished my first show down in Miami. Can’t do anything too crazy because I need to save my strength for the evening performance, and Larry Johnson is coming to review us from the Miami Herald, and he’s a cranky little thing! So I decided to take a drive with Suzie and Justin to a mall in search of The Little Black Dress.

On a side note, Seraphic Fire has the most interesting dress code of any ensemble I’ve ever worked with. Nothing floor length, preferably no sleeves, pants are cool, skirts are better, the shorter the better, the more cleavage you show the better, bare midriffs are cool…. My contract literally says “think Katherine Zeta Jones, but mimimize the bling…..” This is fab. In the New York ensembles I sing with, we have the “New York Black” outfit, which is usually long sleeve black shirt, and black pants… pretty sex-less and definitely not individualistic… Maybe you’ve been at a Starbucks and have witnessed what I like to call the “Invasion of the Sprockets” which is where the new-york-black-clad ensemble floods the nearest Starbucks to caff up before a performance….I can imagine seeing 30 people covered head to toe in black can be intimidating coming right at you like that.

However, this blog has nothing to do with the Little Black Dress, but it does concern Starbucks, and in particular, one employee. I’m not usually a Starbucks fan- I have a love hate relationship with them. I love their coffee, and I hate that I love their coffee. I’m writing this from gate E1 of the FLL airport, where there is no Starbucks. I’m drinking coffee from a Styrofoam cup…it’s hot and brown, and that’s about it. I hate myself for wanting Starbucks right now… I’m a yuppy, I’ve been seduced by the corporate coffee bean and …I hate myself.

So, this Saturday afternoon, I get out of our rented car and approach the door. I’m already inside the store when a man in an electric wheelchair pulls up to the door, and is trying to maneuver his chair into the Bucks. He was severely deformed. I’m not sure what condition he was born with, but his legs were crooked, and his head was cocked up to the side, I’m not sure he is capable of looking someone straight on. At sight, it was hard not to stare, and I admit, I was amazed that he was coming into a Starbucks. I had to leave the store in order to hold the door for him. He wheeled himself in and I stood right behind him in line.

The Starbucks counter is intense. There are stores where the counter is about three feet off the ground, and then there are a few that are at least over four feet, where you shout your order at some poor barista over a wall…. This was definitely one of those “you have to be this tall to ride the latte” stores… I thought to myself, well, how’s this gonna go down?? Is it obvious that he’s in line? will people cut him? I felt compassion for the man; I was flooded with a sense of responsibility. I needed to see this guy through his bucks experience.

At this point in the story, my attention wandered up to the counter where two gorgeous girls were being attended to by an even more gorgeous man. This is saying a lot, as these two girls were well dressed and incredibly well groomed. I’m always more body conscious when I’m in Miami. People spend a lot of money on themselves down here. Anyways, as I shriveled in shame at my own do-it-yourself toenail polish job, I was struck in sheer amazement at the beauty of this man behind the counter.

He was gorgeous. Not Greek god gorgeous, but all done up per-ty gorgeous. Dark hair and dark eyes, an earring in the eyebrow… his teeth were platinum white, so white that they made the whites of his eyes appear yellowish.. As we got closer I realized that he was wearing eyeliner and mascara, and the most fabulous coral lip-gloss I’ve ever encountered on a man. Pretty sure he was wearing powder too….. I call him Puck. He was very “sprite”ly and had shaved his sideburns into two arrows and had a little triangular goatee on his chin.

I could not stop myself from staring at this man. Only in Miami could a Starbucks barista out-sass two bombshell blonde starlets, and I hated all of them. I just wanted my coffee…… I didn’t want a Rupaul routine, and that’s what I was getting. He called one of them sweetie, he flapped his wrists at them, smiled at the other one and brought her frappucino…. I was filled with horrible thoughts. I just wanted coffee, not a trip to Narnia with Mr. Tumnus my fawn-barista. I just couldn’t handle any more Miami today. I longed for New York where my baristas are cranky, but genuine.

And then Puck glanced over the latte wall and saw the man in the wheelchair. In about three seconds everything that I had judged to be true about Puck was to be thrown in my face. “Hey Harvey, another ice coffee?” said Puck, in a rather corn-fed and straightforward masculine voice. Harvey said something that I couldn’t understand, but Puck could. He came out from behind the barista barricade and unvelcro-ed Harvey’s shirt where a wallet hung on a string, took out two dollars, rang him up, and then placed the change back into the wallet and fastened him back up, all the while chatting with Harvey. Harvey wheeled back outside where his dog was waiting patiently for him, and Puck brought the iced coffee out to him. It was the most intensely beautiful moment I’ve witnessed in a long time. I had dismissed Puck to be another pretty Miami boy…

This moment isn’t so much about Puck. He obviously knew Harvey, and I don’t want to give the impression that those that take care of their appearance must therefore be shallow and not capable of genuine kindness and compassion, that’s not it at all. I was just overwhelmed by how incredibly full of shit I can be sometimes, and in that instant I utterly despised myself… seriously, how little it takes to get me to go to the dark place sometimes is a struggle. (The next morning I saw Harvey at a different Starbucks! He was there with his dog, rocking out a Bluetooth headset, and I noticed a little Mac i book pocket on the side of his wheelchair. Yo, Harvey gets around, and he likes his bucks, just like you and I.)

Every once in a while we’re given these moments where you are forced to recognize how incredibly small and insignificant you are, how our own personal agendas are usually fueled by some narcissistic desire, how my own problems are so trivial, how we very rarely feel genuinely grateful for the ability to do the simple things, like walk, or order an ice coffee; and how quick we are to judge people based on their appearance… I’m not gonna say that Harvey is Jesus, or Puck is Buddha, or vice-versa, or whatever, but in one moment I had them both limited and installed in my mind as one particular person, and I was sooo off, and I’m so thankful that I was. Sometimes I need to be smacked by the proverbial 2×4.

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Miami Part Two

Okay, so you’re back for more I guess… The adventure continues…

Tuesday morning, I’m sitting at the Starbucks on Miracle Mile. My friend Reggie the countertenor (aka The Great Black Hope) works at a Bucks chain, so he’s always good for free latte’s… and we all know about the hotspot if you’re a T-Mobile customer, which I am. So anyways, I’m sipping my latte, checking my e-mail, answering facebook and myspace requests, when I remembered that I wasn’t fronted my travel voucher. Upon arriving in Miami on previous Seraphic Fire gigs I was handed a check for my voucher, which I usually cashed in two large 100’s and the other chunk in twenties and fifties…. But this time I was told that my voucher would be included with my concert fee, one big check at the end of the week. In other words, I was on my own for food. Ok, not cool, but doable….

So to Bank of America’s webpage I went. I needed to know how much I could play with, and wanted to make sure certain bills had gone through, my direct deposit had hit, etc. What greeted me on my webpage was eighty-dollars in mp3 charges. I apparently am the last person on the planet to download Limewire, a bit-torrent friendly, file-sharing community in which you can request songs at whim, and download to your little heart’s content… One particularly lonely evening in New Haven, I had a real hankering for George Michael’s (technically Wham!, but come on, we all know GM and those shorts MADE that group) Wake me up…before you go, go… yeah, judge me, I care not…

So to Limewire’s page I went, and was asked if I agreed to terms, etc. Yes, I agreed wholeheartedly and double clicked away. Next I was brought to a page that asked me if I wished to download Frostwire….hmmmm. Frostwire is not Limewire…yet, they have the same root… I clicked back on my browser. Yep, I was on Limewire, this was the only option. Frostwire must be Limewire’s new and improved and definitely cooler, hence the Frost, cousin. I accepted and double clicked away. It asked for my credit card info, .99 a month for the first 12 months. Sounded reasonable, so I gave it, and within minutes my apartment was filled with the sounds of Wham!

Eighty-nine tracks later, and here I am, staring in dismay at my laptop in Miami. Hating myself for the evening I download everything Rufus Wainright ever sang, why, oh why?!? I called Matt because he had been the one encouraging me to download Limewire. I had no memory of him ever mentioning that it cost anything, especially with the way he would reach over, grab his laptop on a whim and download six Billy Joel songs at a whack. (Whim, Whack! Wham!…..completely unintentional, I promise, but go me.)

Matt told me that Limewire was free, and that I had been part of a scam, and I should never give out my credit card info, blah blah blah. He was right, I was an idiot. My next step was to cancel my debit card, since my credit card info was floating around in cyberspace, but being without your debit card when you’re traveling is impossible. I decided that I should go to a local BofA and write a check to myself for a couple hundred dollars, and then cancel my debit card. Have you ever tried to bank in Florida? I’m not sure if it’s because my BofA account is held in Connecticut, or because Florida is a land full of blue-haired people with 401K’s and pensions, but I would have had more luck convincing the Dali Llama to eat a Rib-Eye steak. Not so helpful…..

My next plan of action was to call BofA and at least try to get the charges reversed on my card. Except that this was Tuesday morning, and the previous day had been a holiday, President’s Day… so all financial records had not been updated, and all operators were busy, and my call was very important to them, and someone would be with me shortly, and this call may be monitored…blah blah blah…

Eventually, I was able to follow protocol off a webpage from mymusic.com, where I read many other accounts of people in my situation (as in gullible Wham! fans), and long story short, it was refunded to my account within the 24 hours I had been promised. Whew! So to a six-hour rehearsal I went, and when Patrick let us go early for dinner, I jumped into a car with three friends of mine destined for a mall. We were sick of Miracle Mile by day two, it happens when you’re down here a lot. (There’s only so much Baja Fresh I can take.)

Anywhoo, as we leave the car, I decide not to take my messenger bag into the mall (SO not Miami) and opt instead to carry my lime green Liz Claiborne wallet (Very Miami, except that I paid $12 for mine, and not $85, but whatevs) and blackberry, knowing at some point I can expect a call from both Matt and Kendra during my dinner break. I descend somewhat gracefully from our rented Toyota Highlander.

Now, a funny thing about Miami is that there are no street drains, bad city planning. It may not rain for weeks, but if it has rained at some point in the last month, chances are that puddle will sit there until it finally evaporates. You know where this is going….. I step out of the car, my wallet tucked under my arm and clutching my beloved berry in my fingers, go to close the door, drop my berry at the same moment my right foot steps aside to allow my body weight to shift from the door closing move, and I side tap my blackberry into the puddle. If I were still playing soccer, this would have been a perfect side-pass fake….There’s my berry, floating in four inches of God-only-knows-how-old water.

Buddhists talk often about being in the moment. About how sometimes our coping mechanism for dealing with moments that we can’t handle is over dramatizing them, or bringing in our own emotions as a way of building a barrier between the problem and our selves. So remaining open to any given moment, without indulging in whatever our normal coping mechanisms are, is pretty tricky. I remember reading in one of Pema Chodron’s books about the first time she experienced this type of present moment stasis. This was before she had studied Buddhism, and before she was aware of the idea of a present moment. She was sitting on her front porch having a cup of coffee or tea, and her husband drove up the driveway, got out of the car, approached her and told her that he had been having an affair and was leaving her for another woman. She said in that moment, she could feel her cup in her hand, she was aware of the cups smoothness, the smell of the coffee, the warmth of the liquid in the cup, the warmth of the sun, and the smell of the grass, the blue of the sky…. All of these things flooded her mind for one moment, and she was able to hold them until her senses got the better of her and she hurled her coffee cup at her husband.
Not that my blackberry incident even remotely compares to being told a story of infidelity, but I have experimented with this kind of letting go of the self in order to make room for what’s really there.

This summer (oddly, right before I read that chapter in Pema’s book) I received an incredibly manipulative e-mail from a former friend. Upon reading it, I was struck by how much I wasn’t in that message. It was all about what he needed and was feeling, and wasn’t so much written to me, as it was just delivered to me. It’s obvious to me now that this message was written as a way of convincing himself that these were things that he was feeling, and that he didn’t really feel that way. I’ve been there…. Anyways, after reading it once. I closed my computer. I reached for my phone, grabbed my keys, and was ready to walk to the liquor store, grab a bottle of wine, a pack of cigarettes and settle in for an evening of misery.… instead I sat in the chair in the corner of my bedroom and opened the window and listened to the street sounds. I told myself that I could cry if I wanted to, but tears never came. I told myself that I could be angry if I felt anger, but I didn’t feel anger. I felt pity, and compassion, but no anger. I didn’t call Kendra, or my sister for a few hours, because I didn’t need to. Talking to them would have drawn the drama out of me, and that was my normal way of dealing with it. That constant cycle of heightened drama followed by the processing of it all was what I had become addicted to…. I was self-medicating. It was pretty obvious that this message had nothing to do with me, and I was only the object that he was directing all his anger and frustration at, but I was still just an object. I have to admit, it was pretty crazy, but kind of amazing.

So, my blackberry is floating in four inches of water. Collective gasp from my friends abound. I walked over to it and picked it up. It immediately started vibrating, and in fact, did not stop vibrating until 11 pm that night. It worked for five minutes, and then the keyboard shut down. My thoughts were flooded with many emotions. I needed a phone while I was down here. I need to be able to talk certain people, I need to be reachable, and need to have e-mail access… I had also become hopelessly addicted to it. Was I being forced to give up my blackberry for lent??? GASP!

For the next few hours of rehearsal, I tried to be really zen about my stupid phone. I told myself that I didn’t NEED it, I enjoyed it, I could get something lesser and still function fine.. but my spirit was being tested, big time. The next afternoon, nearly eighteen hours after the fated incident, after many, many attempts at blow-drying the berry and all its minuscule parts, it was time to give up the ghost.

I walked to a T-Mobile store, fully expecting to pay $300 for a new berry. I couldn’t tell if I had insurance on it from the website, and I still hadn’t received the 100 rebate from my broken one, it didn’t seem fair to have to buy a new one. The question was, do I lie about what happened to it? Now, having been blow-dried, its screen was white and only displayed a sad face and a number -807. Was 807 T-Mobile code for “this moron dropped her phone in a puddle”… I had heard stories of people lying about what was wrong with their phone only to have it cracked open by an employee.. and the truth about spilling soy sauce or whatever always found them out…

In the end, and I am wrapping this up, I told the truth. I admitted that I was a human, and I dropped it. That I was unable to talk with my son for 48 hours now and was starting to twitch… and asked if there was anything they could do. They could- they knocked 100 off, for no reason, and told me I could get my old model for 300, now 200 with the good karma discount, or a new Pearl for 200 – 100 with karma… I opted for the pearl, it’s smaller, cuter, and has a camera. I also opted for the insurance, and got it in white so it looks different than Matt’s. So, I just paid 100 dollars for a phone, and when I get home I might have that 100 rebate check from my first model. They should cancel each other out, and I can chock the whole thing up to one crazy Miami experience. How can you not believe in Karma??

As a post script, yesterday as I was typing this blog, just as I got the part about being zen in the moment, my computer froze and deleted two pages worth of writing… you can ask my friend Paul, (who is going hair product free for his stay in Miami), he was sitting right next to me. I laughed hysterically for a minute, and then shared what I had just been writing about, and what had just happened. Oh, the irony…

Miami Part One

So this blog is unlike any of my other blogs in that it is completely unprovoked by an academic charge… I am not attempting to prove something, I’m merely about to rant for a few pages about my last few days in Miami. So, if you’re expecting something incredibly enlightening, you may want to skip this one, however, if you would like to be entertained, read on…..

So, Monday morning I woke up in Brooklyn, and after taking a hot shower, I kissed a sleepy Mafoo goodbye, and dragged my suitcases down to the curb at 6:45 am to be greeted by my cab ride. I’m usually a fan of being friendly and cordial, and for the first fifteen minutes talked with my driver, his name was Joe…. That got old real fast… I couldn’t tell if I was just cranky, and in desperate need for coffee, or if I was just being a bitch, but I really wanted him to be quiet! I tried to casually answer e-mails on my blackberry, and even make a phone call to my mother (who’s always awake by 6 AM) but nothing seemed to sway this gentleman from his long-winded tirade.

He dropped me off at the Delta domestic portion of the inner bowels of our lovely JFK airport amidst throngs of freezing cold passengers… It seemed that the lines inside the airport to check in were ridiculously long, and if we just waited through the cold, curbside check in would be the way to go…. Your bags checked in, and ticket in hand, you could proceed to security and be done with it. I, on my way to Miami, and thinking that I would be going from a warm cab to the airport, was only wearing a t-shirt and my fleece… I knew that I could stow the fleece in my carry-on when I got on the plane, and that I had a 2 downbeat, and my flight got in at 12:30, any surprises and I would be late, and therefore docked in pay…so I waited, and twenty minutes later dug through my suitcase to find my hat and gloves, twenty minutes from that the ONE man that Delta had assigned to work the curbside check in…. WENT ON BREAK! At this point, the line of pavement pounders had weaved itself into a pretty caterpillar shape… well, as you can imagine, mass mayhem was just around the corner.

The air was still, to say we waited with baited breath is not quite the affect…at first everyone was calm and still, and then slowly, murmurings from the crowd…. The caterpillar shaped line suddenly became a mob of formless people as the realization that somehow with the Delta employee gone, we were somewhat without order… One man stepped in front of another man and the other man yelled and pushed, and security had to be called over to break them up. At that point, I decided to break free of the caterpillar and do a self-check in and risk the confiscation of my explosive eye cream and shampoo…

As you can imagine, the inside of the airport was even crazier than the outside. It was 7:55, and my flight took off at 8:40. Things were not looking good for me. I checked myself in with a swipe of my credit card, and humped it over to security, where I witnessed a woman with a cardigan set and Coach briefcase attempting to appeal to other passenger’s good senses. Her flight left at 9, and she was asking if she could get ahead of them in the security line. Well, as you can imagine that morning, people weren’t feeling too compassionate. She approached me, although I was somewhat further back in the line. At this point, I had accepted the fact that there was a very good chance that I would miss my flight, and I couldn’t do a damn things about it, so when she asked me if she could cut, I let her. I could have been angry and ripped her apart for being so obnoxious when it was obvious to everyone that we all had somewhere to be, and the situation was just a little bit out of our control….

Anyways, I got through security (exploding moisturizers and all), and with fifteen minutes left until take off, I ran from gate 1 to gate 29 and made my flight. Because of the mayhem with check in Delta delayed our take off twenty minutes…. I nestled into my window seat next to a friendly NY couple (they were Yankee fans) and popped my noise-reducing headphones on, and looked over my music for my rehearsal.

Now, I had thought that I had left myself plenty of time in the morning. If you can check yourself in the night before and print out your ticket, and carry your luggage on board, you save yourself oodles of time that you can spend having a decent cup of overpriced coffee and reading the paper…. Or if you’re a workaholic like myself, looking over music or sending e-mails, coordinating calendar, etc…. This morning left me sprinting towards my gate past not one, not two, but three Starbucks!! And oh, sweet Jesus, it smelled SOOO good, and I knew the watered down “hot and brown” they would serve me on the plane would suck, but I needed to make my flight!!!

So 45 minutes into the flight when the frazzled stewardesses were being pushed to their utter limits, I heard one summon one of the other stewardesses to the back of the plane where I overheard hushed and excited conversation… it seems that they had run out of coffee… these poor women found themselves mile high in the sky with a cabin full of cold cranky New Yorkers…. The time folks… 9:30 am….. and there was no coffee….

I landed safely, met my friend Paul at baggage, who was mourning the loss of his luggage. Paul flew into Fort Lauderdale, but it seems his luggage flew into Miami.. via Boston, Washington, Charlotte, Philly, Miami and finally Fort Lauderdale. On any other day, Paul would have rejoiced that the airline had offered to credit him the mileage that his luggage was collecting in the sky, but he was a gay man who had just had his Kiehl’s eye cream and Crew hair product removed from his suitcase, and at this point he just wasn’t having it anymore…We found lunch (and coffee) and settled in for six hours of rehearsal. But the story doesn’t end there folks…. It’s just the beginning….

Valentine’s Day

Tuesday afternoon Jack got off the bus as he would have any other day, and we went up stairs and took off our coats, and I began to unpack his backpack when I came across a piece of paper with a list of names on it. It was a class list from his teacher with a handwritten note on the top saying that if we wished to make Valentine’s Day cards these were the names to address them to.

I immediately was overwhelmed by this feeling of utter shame and disgust at how my son was embarking on the road to commercialism….. okay, that’s a little dramatic… let’s back it up a bit. There was a moment last year at one of Jack’s numerous doctor appointments with various specialists where he was subjected to a plethora of tests and was rewarded after by his choice of sticker. Which sticker did he choose? a generic sticker of a dog… Now, he could have chosen Sponge Bob, Mickey Mouse, Dora the Explorer or even Thomas the Tank Engine, but he has no relation to those characters. He hasn’t been exposed to them because I don’t own a TV, and only let him watch the one Sesame Street DVD I own as a last resort. I admit, I took great pride in that moment, my son reaching for the cute dog sticker, and with one hand rejecting what society assumed he would want. I was proud of him, and of myself… “I’m raising a free thinker”.. not that I would judge him for reaching for a sticker of some stupid sponge or some demonic looking mouse…but he genuinely likes dogs, and recognized the sticker of the dog and asked for what he wanted… in a few years the situation could be very different, I recognize that.

This whole free-thinking non-conformist world I was painting for him was intruded upon in December when he came home from school multiple times with presents… and little notes in his backpack explaining to me that Santa had come to visit the classroom, and later on in January, ANOTHER bag of presents in honor of Three King’s day! Not sure the average American knows what Three King’s Day is, and how did they explain this to Jackson?? I would love to hear that story… And let me clarify, we’re not talking about some ten dollar gift …. In December he came home with a yellow Tonka truck, a red striped turtleneck (??) and a playschool little people farm set. In January, Jack greeted me at the bus stop clutching a Matchbox car-wash station… one of those activity sets that came with hundreds of tiny stickers and required me to find a screwdriver in order to assemble the darn thing.

I couldn’t tell what I was more upset about, that he had come home with presents, or that there was a Santa and Jesus presence in his classroom. It’s one thing to color pictures of snowmen and snowflakes, or give presents to each other in the spirit of giving, it’s quite another when the school hires a large man to parade around in a red suit and hands out presents -it’s the difference between the acknowledgment of a tradition and condoning one. In previous years, I had a tradition of buying Jack one new book, and one new toy for Christmas. This may sound really small, but believe me, he gets plenty of toys and books and clothes from his relatives. We also have a tradition in the New Year of going through all the toys and setting the ones aside that he no longer plays with. To those of you out there who think that there may be a time in your life when you have children, I highly recommend a clean-house approach once a year, if not more frequently.

I digress, I, as the crunchy, compassionate, non-material and highly idealistic Mommy have made an active choice not to saturate him with the smells and bells of Christmas holidays… We have no tree, no lights, not a snowflake or snowman in sight. Part of this is because I’m so busy singing a Messiah every freaking five minutes that the thought of erecting a Christmas tree bedecked with lights and tinsel makes me want to wretch… the greater reason is that I don’t want him to think that those things, while they are wholesome and nice, are essential to the spirit of Christmas and more importantly, the spirit of giving. Can we give and care and love without a tinsel-draped blinking tree, hell yeah, and we will.

Back to my point, at the moment that I looked down at those names, I thought to myself, crap, we have to make valentines. The note didn’t say that we HAD to make them, but I didn’t want Jack to be the only kid in class who didn’t send in valentines.. (not that he is capable of making valentines at the age of three, but whatever., it’s really a coolest Mommy contest, and the game was ON!) I admit, there were three seconds where I thought to myself, wow, oh to have a car! oh to have the ability to drive to Rite-Aid and buy some cheap box of pre-perforated Sesame Street valentines, and we could take 30 minutes filling out the To and From, and be done with the whole thing.

But, No! This was a teaching moment, not just for Jack, but for me, and I knew that how we dealt with this minor crisis (which I admit didn’t phase him in the least) was going to be huge. I didn’t want to toss off Valentine’s Day, just like I don’t want to toss off Christmas. They are both days where we remind people that we care, and we can do that in a completely non-commercial way. So, to the table we went! and for the next few hours I cut out paper hearts, and more paper hearts, and then some more paper hearts, and Jackson told me which of the names were girl names and which were boy names, and then we stenciled their names, stamped Jack’s name on the back and he glued little hearts onto the larger hearts for about an hour. The finishing touch on our project was stringing yarn through the sides and tying the slack into a bow. These weren’t just valentines, they were handmade name-cards, which could be worn around your neck or hung on a doorknob, whatever. My point is we spent about four hours working on them together, and it was awesome.

On a side note, my point is not that I am actively trying to deny Jack access to Sponge Bob or Dora or Thomas, or that those families that sent in store bought valentine’s were somewhat inferior. I recognize that his exposure to Dora and Thomas is for the most part, out of my hands, but by not actively buying into the commercialism I am hoping to encourage him to keep enjoying the things that he likes. I do ask myself at what point my aversion to commercialism begins to infringe upon his right to live a “normal” childhood. My favorite answer to this predicament so far has been “next year.” (thanks Kendra)… Well, I’ve been thinking about getting a tree next year, they’re real pretty, and I think decorating a tree with the popcorn and Christmas carols (which I really despise ) is something that he’s entitled to, and part of the act of loving is compromising and sacrificing, and I want my actions to be reflective of the qualities that I would like to see in him.

The funniest part of all the Valentine’s Day crisis was that we were hit with three inches of ice during the night and his school was cancelled. Not only had it stormed, but it was sleeting rain for the entire day-Jack and I were housebound. This is only interesting because I, indulging in my own materialistic demons, had ordered a Quentin Tarantino book to give to MY Valentine, and couldn’t get to the store to pick it up…. So what did I do? Well, the glue stick and construction paper were already out. I made a Valentine, and he loved it, probably more than if Tarantino had given it to him.