Internet Explorer users may need to widen their browser windows to span all three columns. Or download Firefox.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Bustle in Your Hedgerow:
a Blogher Tale


It's been nearly two weeks since I left for San Francisco. I told someone yesterday that I've been on intensive, week-long, spiritual retreats that were easier to come back from than Blogher.

"You never want to leave, and you never want to come back," Patrick said to me with a hug, a day or two after my return.

He's right. I am seen, known, loved.

It took me days to get around to unpacking, but it's done. The boarding passes have been thrown out, receipts stacked, clothes and shoes put away. The only thing I haven't gotten around to is flushing the text messages from my Blackberry. When you have three days worth of panels and parties to attend in a strange city, and the exercise of finding your friends is taken straight from a page of Where's Waldo, you accumulate a lot of text messages.

Everytime I go to delete them, I can't quite do it. They are like souvenir matchbooks pocketed from faraway and long ago places. If I could keep them in a giant brandy snifter on my dresser, I would. If I were to transcribe them, they wouldn't mean a thing to anyone, but to me each one is shorthand for a moment that was brimful of emotion: euphoria, silliness, excitement, or some other feeling turned all the way up to 11.

It's not like my life in Little Rock is a flat, empty expanse devoid of great friends and good times. I am rich in both. My coach didn't turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight Saturday. But I have to confess to you, when I heard the little chime signal alerting me to a text message for the first time in a couple of days since the conference, I nearly knocked over a chair to get to my phone and was sad beyond reason when I saw that it was just some auto-alert.

I'm much better now, thanks. Moving on. Operation Delete All happens today.

Before it does though, I want to pull one matchbook from the snifter and tell you a story that goes with it.

My last text message of Thursday night, sent from a shuttle bus to friends back at the hotel at twenty three hundred hours and change, reads as follows:

desperately teryimng to make it back from kawasawkis to the people'S party

"Kawasawkis" refers to Guy Kawasaki, tech guru and gracious co-host of the Kirtsy party, held at his lovely home in Hawaii. Actually, I'm told it was in Palo Alto, but the shuttle ride from the Westin St. Francis to Guy's was epic, like the Kon-Tiki expedition. It should have taken little under an hour to get there, which was more than most of us had bargained for, but our driver got lost, so by the time we pulled into the gate, we had eaten Doug. Tough, but savory. Like jerky.

I'm kidding of course. We didn't eat Doug. I didn't eat anything. Not since...uh...the night before, unless you count Starbucks coffee and what they serve these days for snacks/meals on airplanes. Pictures of lobster and steak dinner torn from the pages of Skymall magazine. See, sometimes when I get wound up about something, I forget to eat. When I hopped on the shuttle to Guy's, it didn't register with me that I'd been on the road for fourteen hours already that day without sustenance, or that it might be a problem. I am, afterall, a mommy blogger, and we feed on the shame of our families.

I am a moderate drinker. I enjoy a glass or two of wine about half the evenings of the week, and the occasional ladies' night out. How three or four glasses of organic, artisanal chardonnay turned my blood into 90 proof can only be explained by a combination of an empty stomach, physical exhaustion and a general state of over-stimulation. That, or Bossy slipped me a roofie. I dimly remember giving a video-recorded interview to my friend Stephanie Roberts, which was probably as intelligible as the aforementioned text message (Stephanie, any bids you get for that clip, I will top). I sort of remember seeking out Guy near the end to say my best Miss Manners thank you, before walking down the long driveway to catch the very last shuttle.

The second-to-last had just left, and there were only a few of us waiting in the dark by the gate. "It's on it way now," someone said, just about the minute I realized I had swilled three or four glasses of organic, artisanal chardonnay and had never once visited the powder room. Suddenly, I really, really needed to powder.

I evaluated the options. It was an awfully long way down the driveway, back to the house. The last shuttle would pull into the gate any minute. It was at least a forty-five minute drive back to the hotel, IF our driver could find it.

So I did what any girl raised in a place with wide open spaces learns to do.

As god and several close, personal friends are my witness, I peed in Guy Kawasaki's bushes. In my defense, it was organic, artisanal pee.

I never made it to the People's Party. By the time the shuttle dropped us back at the hotel, I was near to crying with exhaustion. I took the elevator to my room and collapsed on my bed. When I woke up, my first thought was, "OMG, I peed in Guy Kawasaki's bushes." I wondered what Miss Manners form of apology was called for.

I've decided a living amend is in order. I feel I owe it to Guy and his family to become the best and most successful writer I can be, so that they can turn the event into a colorful anecdote for future party guests; the sort of outre behavior that you expect from celebrated authors. Something we can all spin as more Hemingway-esque, than Anna Nicole Smith-ish.

If that doesn't work, perhaps it will satisfy Guy to know that the next night, after Maggie's party (where I drank mostly water), I came down with a raging bladder infection. I swear, it went from zero to "shoot me now" in the space of 30 minutes. I've never experienced anything like it. My sainted roommate called the hotel doctor and made not one, but two, trips to the drugstore at 4:30 in the morning, and by daylight, had nursed me back to wellness. I blamed it on lack of sleep, dehydration, and Spanx, before I remembered Guy's bushes, and knew without a doubt, it was the revenge of Kawasaki's hedgerow.


this post lives all by itself here

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Hearts and Bones

Hearts and Bones
You take two bodies, and you twirl them into one;
their hearts and their bones. So they won't come undone.

Paul Simon, Hearts and Bones

The pink candies are called "chicken bones," named for the brittle cinnamon-flavored shell that encases a slender marrow of bittersweet chocolate. For over a hundred years, they've been the signature confection of Ganong's, a candy factory in the tiny milltown my mother grew up in, just over the border from Calais, Maine.

They taste like the St. Croix river sounds through the ice in winter, the crackle of my grandmother's wood stove and the gleam of her porcelain horses, the musty smell of my mother and aunt's homemade prom gowns in their old bedroom closet, a ruin of romance novels stacked near the top of the stairs, New Brunswick summer rain on the roof above, a ransom of gooseberries and piccalilli set by in the earth cellar below.

My friend and Blogher roommate JenB went to God only knows what lengths to bring them to me in San Francisco. She's that kind of person. And then some.

We had planned to drive 1,800 miles next week to a cottage on the Bay of Fundy, just up the road from my mother's hometown. Crazy, I know. But my sister is bringing her children, and it has been three years this summer since I have seen her, my nephew and niece. Various internet friends and colleagues offered us berths along the way. We were set to go.

I don't know where the month of July went. I blinked, and here we are. Our plan suddenly seems not just crazy, but borderline reckless. Gas prices are through the roof, and the van needs a timing belt. Flying five people to Canada is out of the question.

I'm hoping to persuade someone corporate to help underwrite the trip, thinking maybe the folks who make hybrid cars might like to sponsor a series testifying that the Great American Family Roadtrip is still a feasibile adventure in the 21st century. It's an awfully long shot, though I have friends who know how to broker such things on my side.

"There's Christmas," I told Mom yesterday, when I told her the trip seemed to be in the last ditch. I've been saying those particular words for twelve years and they have yet to come to pass. If my children grow up and move away as far away from me as I have from my mother, I think I will die. When my sister and I were little girls who slept with our baby dolls between us, I never dreamed I would be a virtual stranger to her children. A picture in a magazine. A shared middle name.

Hearts of my heart, bones of my bone. When my ship comes sailing in, I'll be racing it straight down the St. Croix, up the St. John and across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to see you. And it will be Christmas, whatever the day.


this post lives all by itself here

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,


jen and kyran in macys, originally uploaded by jenlemen.

I dare you to look at this photo and tell me that friendships formed on the internet aren't real.


this post lives all by itself here

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

A Memoirist is Born


The winter I was nine years old and in grade four, my parents separated, and I moved away to New Brunswick to live with my mother and six-year-old sister. Forever. Or so I thought.

In an act of emotional valiance or sheer, self-immolating recklessness (I still have trouble telling which from which), I sat down and penned a letter to the boy I'd loved with every breath in my body since my eyes beheld him on the first day of second grade. The boy —let's call him David O'Neill, because David O'Neill was his name— was a dreamboat. He had the dusky olive skin and the thickly lashed dark eyes that are so prevalent on the coast I am from, where Irish and French blood mingle like salt and fresh waters in an estuary. He was quiet. He was smart. He was nice.

I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but I'm guessing the jist of it was, "You are smart and nice. I love you."

I vividly remember the spirit, if not the words, with which I wrote, the now-or-never imperative of a moment poised on the precipice of forever.

Forever turned out to be about nine months. My parents reconciled, and I returned to my hometown to begin fifth grade at my old elementary school in September.

A gentleman in possession of such a letter might write back, thanking the tender lady for her candour. He might rail against cursed destiny that he could not return her affections. He might make up any manner of excuse to lay a jacket of kindness over the mud puddle of her indiscretion: "I'm gay/engaged/sworn to the priesthood" are all serviceable white lies in such an instance.

I regret to tell you that David did not do with my letter as a gentleman might. He did not do as my own nine-year-old son would most likely do, which is shrug, toss it in the trash and go back to playing Star Wars. David O'Neill did the very thing you are fearing most he did, and took the letter to school and SHOWED EVERYONE.

My reputation never recovered. I am still thought of as that girl who puts it all out there. And in many ways, I guess I am.

David, if you ever read this, I hope you lost all your hair by twenty-five. Just kidding. CALL ME. No, better yet, WRITE ME.

I won't show anyone.

Labels: ,

this post lives all by itself here

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

It began like this,
if that tells you anything.

My cab pulled up to the house a little past the appointed time, at 4:30 in the morning on Thursday to take me to the airport. Patrick and I kissed goodbye in the darkness while the driver, an unusually tall white man with a hunched back and long, grey hair and beard put my my carry-on in the trunk. I got in. The driver got in. Instead of turning the key in the ignition he rested his hands on his thighs and spoke to me.

"I've got no gas," he said. "I've been two days in a homeless shelter, and they gave me a car with no gas, and a lady just ran a red light and hit it, and now the computer is all messed up. I'm broke, I smell bad, I'm hungry, and I need this job. I'm embarrassed to ask this, but can you pay for some gas? "

Crap. I don't have time for this, I thought, defaulting to the place most of us go when confronted with variation #19,775 of "down and out, need cash." I tensed. In the first place, I was annoyed. It would take another 30 minutes to get a new cab. But below that, there was fear. Maybe this guy wasn't the cab driver. Maybe this wasn't his car. Maybe he was drunk. I looked out the car window at my house. I had gotten away without the children waking up. I took a long breath, checked in with my gut.

Ten dollars isn't going to break you, it said to me. You can afford the benefit of doubt this time. Let's see where it goes.

"There's a gas station just up the street," I said. "And an ATM across from that." In for a penny, in for a pound. "Let's go."

As we pulled into the gas station, he lamented the recent closing of a secondhand bookstore around the corner. "They had great chess books," he said.

"Do you play?" I asked. "My nine year old does too."

"Oh, encourage him," he said. "It's a great way for him to learn to think mathematically."

Apprehension melted to curiosity. "Where are you from?" I asked him. What's your story?

His name was Christopher. He was from Washington, and was a Harvard educated mathematician. He met his wife on a vacation to Jamaica, an island fling. "You'll be back," she teased him. "I don't think so," he said. He came back and they were married within a week.

He was department head at a New England alternative prep school, where his wife worked as a registered nurse. Then he took a job in Washington, D.C., to work on Tomahawk missiles. His wife didn't want him to, he said, but he was thinking of their future.

"I chose the money," he said. "It was the worst mistake of my life."

In 1982, he told me, his wife was murdered. She was eight and a half months pregnant.

"And then I kind of flipped out," he said, almost apologetically. "That's a long time to be still not over something, isn't it?"

"I don't know how you ever get over something like that," I said softly, thinking his child would be twenty six now.

"I saw you and your husband kissing goodbye. It made me think of her. How long have you been married?"

"Ten years."

"Do you still love him?"

"So much."

"Man, cherish that."

Christopher drove the rest of the way telling stories about his wife, most of them sweet and funny, some of them ribald. For sure, he was still not swimming in the mainstream. There was no telling how much of his story was factual. But I took it to be true. When I gave him the fare plus an extra ten at the airport, I noticed for the first time that his eyes were rimmed below with half-circles the color of purple eggplant skin.

"I'm the richest man in the world," he said, smiling at the tip. The ride had cut deeply into what I had for my San Francisco ground transportation. I'd figure that out later. Or it would figure itself out. I had the feeling that from the time I said "let's go," this whole trip had taken the nearest exit off the straight and narrow.

"Take care, Christopher," I said, unknowingly leaving my favorite, coziest sweater on the back seat.

"Good morning, Ms. Pittman," the counter clerk said. "Anything to check today?"

Yes, I need to check my judgement. Also, fear and defensiveness—the reflex to close myself off to others because they're different or wounded somehow. While we're at it, let's jettison the urge to clamp down on curiosity because I might feel something, might lose something. Can I leave all that here? Because I'm going to a conference to be with 1,000 people who each have their own story, and I don't need any of it there.

"I think I'm good to go."

(I had a YouTube clip of Aimee Mann's video for "Save Me" here, but I guess it must have been bootleg because YouTube pulled it. Sorry, I do try to respect artist's copyright and abide by fair use. I thought the song made a nice coda to the post.-k.)

Labels: ,

this post lives all by itself here

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Beautiful Blogging

Still basking in the afterglow of our panel. Here's the transcript for those you of who'd like to read it.

Were you there? Did you post about it? Take pictures? Please let me know.

Here's another perspective from Beauty Dialogues.


this post lives all by itself here

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Breaking Away


I hate leaving them. It doesn't matter how attractive the destination, in the final hours approaching departure, I always regret the decision to go, procrastinate packing, scheme to get out of it. Anything could happen, I tell myself. Life is too short to spend one precious minute away from the ones I love. Why should I go?

We all feel the undertow of impending separation. We touch more. Hug longer. I bring my face close to their hair and breathe in like its my last chance at oxygen for a thousand miles.

It gets hard to sleep at night. I wake up to find Patrick on the couch watching late night tv, and I curl up beside him, rather than return alone to our bed. I can't get close enough. We kiss the way people kiss for the very first time.

And then it is time. I force myself to push off, to remember who and how I was and would be without them, so that when it is their turn, I will still know.


this post lives all by itself here

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Mommy Drives a Porsche?

I did a live radio interview this morning with the Joan Hamburg show of WOR in New York, about the Mommy Wears Prada story. This has all been so much fun. Scheming how to pitch "Mommy Goes to a Spa" and "Mommy Does Paris" next.

The podcast is available here if you'd like to listen.


this post lives all by itself here

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Equal to the Love You Make


Telling people in the offline world that I am going to a women bloggers' conference always elicits an interesting response. I think they picture me and a half a dozen other geeky types sitting in someone's basement rec room with our laptops. I find it helps to drop a few names.

"Well, you know, Elizabeth Edwards was there last year. And I met Amy Sedaris."

It's inadequate shorthand. The names exorcise the spectre of the mildewy rec room, and communicate something about the scale of the event, but they don't really reflect what Blogher is all about. The fact is, it's hard to say what it's about: community, technology, networking, politics, art, feminism, family, business, girly-girl cocktails and dress-up clothes, on- and offline celebrities, corporate sponsors and swag up the wazoo, and yes, plenty of geekiness.

It's like trying to tell people what Canada is about (or aboot).

"Um. It's big..."

As with my country of origin, there are parts of Blogher to which I'm a complete stranger. We don't even speak the same language. And then there are sessions and groups in which I feel right at home.

Last year, I chose to attend several sessions where the base assumption was that readership numbers and/or advertising dollars are how the success of a blog is measured. People spoke very passionately and astutely about strategies for building traffic and positioning themselves to maximize ad revenue. I think the majority of attendees got a great deal of valuable information out of these sessions. But I felt a little like I imagine I might standing on a corner in Vancouver's Chinatown, or an Albertan might feel on the wharf down the bay in my hometown: I caught about every tenth word. Numbers really aren't my native tongue.

Where I did feel most at home was in two sleeper sessions that turned out to be electric: Art of Crafts and It's Your Passion, Not Size, That Matters. In both these panels, the focus was on process first, outcome later. Blogger after blogger stood up to share how this medium was rewarding to them in ways that had nothing to do with site meter statistics or market share. They were blogging for community, for creativity, for self-discovery and expression. Blogging for blog's sake.

I don't believe any of those values are incompatible with popularity or making money. When I wrote to the conference organizers this year, urging them to make space again for people who are reaping other, less quantifiable benefits from blogging, I suggested breaking away from the size question completely. Small can be beautiful, big can be beautiful. Making money can certainly be beautiful. Let's leave all that aside, and have a conversation about creativity, authenticity, process.

Elisa wrote back and said she wanted to also open up a discussion about blogs that are instruments of positive social change, people who are inspiring and activating their readers to make a difference in their offline communities. Perfect, I thought. Blogging as a vehicle for inner and outer transformation. And then a (compact flourescent) lightbulb switched on over my head. We've all become accustomed by now to thinking about our carbon footprint, and its impact on our physical environment. Let's talk about our blogging footprint, and its impact on our communities, on- and offline.

And lo, a panel was born:

I am so thrilled to be moderating Beautiful Blogging/Positive Posting this Saturday in San Francisco. I had a conference call with the panelists a few weeks ago, and if the duration and intensity of my goosebumps are a reliable indicator, it is going to be an amazing session.

It will be fabulous to see some of you there in person. Others, I hope, will visit the panelist's blogs and see for yourselves the seeds they are sowing:


this post lives all by itself here

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Enthusiasm Uncurbed


A couple of weeks ago, we caught a really funny episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Larry attends the opening of an eponymous hospital wing for which he donated funds, only to feel like a heel when he sees that a second wing was donated by "Anonymous." "Anonymous" turns out to be Ted Danson, Larry's nemesis, and Ted has made sure to graft the details of his gift to a few strategic points on the grapevine, so that everyone knows who Anonymous is, and can not only praise his generousity, but his modesty and class as well.

Needless to say, it makes Larry crazy.

Since the mail came yesterday, I've been wondering if I could ever be "Anonymous," one of the cool cats who rely on others to spread the word, smile demurely and murmur, "It's nothing, sort of embarassing really" when people take notice, act as if good fortune were simply the order of the day.

The short answer turns out to be "no."


I am too excited and too grateful to too many people to play this one cool. Seven and a half pages in the fifth biggest magazine in the world. I am about as proud of this story as anything I have ever written and I hope you will read it and let me know when you do.

At the risk of causing a few eyes to roll, I need to thank some very important people without whom I couldn't have pulled it off.

First, the amazing people at Good Housekeeping magazine, the gracious and fabulous Editor-in-Chief, Rosemary Ellis and her phenomenal staff: Bill, Aretha, Yingjia, Brian, Laura H., Richard and every single person who smiled, pointed me to the restrooms, brought me coffee, said how excited they were about the story. There was a lot about the experience that was straight out of Devil Wears Prada, but the personalities were not. I could not have been treated with more warmth and respect.

(And thanks, GH, for giving parent bloggers respect in general. Every month, people, a mom or dad blogger is featured on a whole page in the magazine's Good Reads section. And is paid a professional wage for it.)

In particular I want to thank Laura, my editor, for discovering Notes in the first place, and for continuing to see something here that exceeds anything I've dared to dream. I've always been pleased with how Laura edits the blog essays that have appeared in her Good Reads section, but she was in many ways the midwife of this piece. As I sweated and labored to bring it to birth, hers was the voice of calm on the other end of the line, assuring me I had it all in me.

Laura, it is always a pleasure, and someday I will learn to express a complete thought in less than three emails.

Reuben, my driver and New York husband; the lovely and kind Christina M. from Prada; the incredible photographer Daniella Stallinger and her very cool assistants; and sweet, blue-eyed Sophie, who did my makeup: thanks to all for making it fun, even as my feet were cramping.

To Isabel, for the guest room and rich conversation, thank you. Both were so calming and comforting on the night before I had to show up for my assignment. And special thanks to fashion writer Susan Wagner, who text-talked me down out of several near panic attacks, and helped me not freak out too badly over the prospect of buying a handbag that cost more than my monthly mortgage payment. If only Susan came in purse-sized Susan, I could take her everywhere.

Imagine you just found out you are going on a fantasy shopping trip to New York city. Now, imagine you can't tell ANYONE. Because after the shopping trip, you have to report on what it feels like to wear fabulous designer clothes in your usual context, and that context won't be usual if the word gets out. So you can't take a chance. Not even with your own sister, 3,000 miles away, because it's the kind of thing she fears she might have to tell somebody, and that somebody might tell somebody, and that somebody might post you a message about it on Facebook or your blog and there will be no getting the cat back in the bag. Imagine walking around with a huge handbag that screams extravagance, after the year of living at the edge of bankruptcy, and knowing that people are wondering if you've lost your mind or are just plain tacky.

Imagine discovering that not everyone will assume the best, or extend you the benefit of doubt.

To my family and friends who hung in there through the mystery and secrecy and whose curiousity was patient and kind, who made up their minds to believe there was a perfectly good reason I had to up and go to New York for a week and couldn't be specific about why, and didn't throttle me when I had to be vague when big things were obviously afoot, I love you. You are good sports, good friends, and good people.

To Linda, Mara, Joyce, Helen, Susan S., Susan B., Tom, David T., Lindsay & John, and all the rest of this family's fairy godmothers. Any one of you alone would be a gift. I can't believe we have all of you.

To my Mom, who agreed to take a long detour from the return leg of her birthday trip to New York, and came to Little Rock for a week to help Patrick with the kids, sleeping in a messy and crowded two-bedroom condo while I was living it up in Midtown Manhattan, thank you just doesn't cover it. Whether it's over a copied out Mother's Day poem from school, or the cover of Time, mother's pride is like miracle-Gro. More than that, you have never, ever, said "don't" or "you can't" or "you shouldn't" when it comes to my writing. Having done a creativity workshop with adults in their fifties who were still trying to get over their parent's admonition to "never write anything down," I never take for granted what a gift that freedom is.

To my baby sister, who screams over the phone just the way you'd want someone who loves you to scream whenever you call with crazy good news. I have a little bling for you when I see you on vacation.

My boys, for making it easy on everyone when Mommy has to be away, and for keeping me firmly grounded in reality every day. It's hard to get too carried away with your own fifteen minutes of fame when you have to put the magazine down to go wipe a bum that is not your own.

When I teasingly asked Patrick yesterday if he ever thought I would be on the pages of a big magazine someday, he didn't bat an eyelash.

"Yes," he said. "I've always believed."

I knew it then. I know it today. Thank you.

Finally and ultimately, to all my readers here. For years, I struggled to write alone and in silence as so many others seem to be able to do, and wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn't take any pleasure in it. I didn't know what was missing until you found me. Having someone to write to has made all the difference.

The eyerollers hold this medium in contempt because who is anyone to think their life is so interesting, especially ordinary women. Especially ordinary mothers.

It's not that my life is so interesting. It's that LIFE is so interesting. Mine, and yours. If I can find stories in my very ordinary, soccer-mom life, they are there in anyone and everyone's, as you show me time and time again. You are the reason I have the audacity at all to bother important and busy people in publishing with my crazy ideas.

If you've made it this far, thank you for that. And thanks for being here.

The August issue of Good Housekeeping should be on the stands and in mailboxes this week; perhaps next week in some places (I'm told Meryl Streep is the cover photo in parts of the country). In the meantime, you can browse my behind the scenes photo album on flickr.


this post lives all by itself here

Monday, July 07, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Yes, We are Very Fancy


After writing yesterday about a few of the things I consider to be decorative triumphs of my preschooler's room, I felt it only fair to publish this review, submitted this morning by a four-year-old visitor:

"WOW! Your room is AWESOME! You have a BOX!"

Thanks. Got it at amazon.

Labels: ,

this post lives all by itself here

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

The Young Raj


My youngest son has a common preschoolers' obsession with animals, and an uncommon bond with elephants in particular. He was drawn to them from as early as we can recall, and has never wavered in his preference for them above all creatures. We sometimes call him Ganesh, the elephant boy.

These two torans, traditional Indian doorway tapestries, hang above the windows of his room. I love how they look with the chandelier. Sort of aristocratic hippie. Apt for a child named for a Joni Mitchell song.


Speaking of beach tar, his Daddy snapped this the other day (clearly with the eye of his heart). It was at a lake in the country, but I think you can tell his real home is a beach in Goa.


I found the camel toran on ebay, and the elephant one in a street market in Greenwich Village in April.

Labels: ,

this post lives all by itself here

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

The Eye of the Heart


Last week I took the kids down to our new city playground along the riverfront, where there is a water play area. As soon as we walked up to the fountains, I spotted two children belonging to a friend of mine who passed away last year. I sent mine on their merry way, pulled out my camera, and shot and shot (those are my own sons above—I wouldn't post photos of other people's children without permission). My friend's kids are beautiful and spirited subjects, but it wasn't just about taking pretty pictures. I shot them with my mothering eye, that invisible lens attachment I shoot my own children with, the lens my friend saw her children through every day of their lives, the way children need to be seen. Photography is as intimate as touch for me.

I get frustrated when I hand the camera to Patrick. He knows better than me what an f-stop is, but he doesn't use the same viewfinder. "You have to look through the eye of your heart," I tell him.

When Tracey invited me to guest post on ShutterSisters today, I told her I hoped she had a label category for rank amateurs who can barely focus their point-and-shoots. I am far and away the least knowledgeable contributor they've ever had. I just recently upgraded from my fully automated "Mom jeans" camera to one that has a few manual features, and I rarely shift the dial off "P."

But I wrote what little I knew, about the eye of the heart and what it beholds. I hope you'll go read it, and check out and comment upon the many wonderful photos that others are sharing in response.


this post lives all by itself here