Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Vacation

The Christmas elves are kidnapping us to Vegas for the next week, then the New Years elves will take us to Mexico. I don't imagine I'll post again until we return, so have a fantastic Chrismahanakwanzica everyone!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


As I enter the third trimester this week, I notice the Sesame Seed has become much more active. He twists and turns inside my womb, poking with sharp elbows and strong little feet, just about all day long. I imagine him examining his space like a little interior designer, If I could just knock this wall down and put a loft right here, this place would be much more spacious.

I'm glad he's so active lately, but I'm thankful he doesn't have access to Home Depot or Target because otherwise I'm sure he'd be in there hanging curtains or installing new flooring.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I've been a bit moody this week--resentful about cleaning the house, unnecessarily curt to store clerks, and feeling generally tired and unmotivated. I'm reminded by the grey skies and scattering of snow today that it's about the time of year my Seasonal Affective Disorder usually kicks in (don't you think the person who came up with "SAD" must be so pleased with himself?) . I don't have a severe case of it, but I do notice my motivation decreases, my energy drops, and my generally sunny disposition dims a bit. On days like this, I appreciate my favorite comic, Achewood, which came up with an even better acronym* than the one in current use:

*Seasonal Orientation-Sadness Affective Disorder

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

big brother

This is so completely frightening:

U.S. gov't terror ratings draw outrage
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer Sat Dec 2, 6:16 AM ET

WASHINGTON - A leader of the new Democratic Congress, business travelers and privacy advocates expressed outrage Friday over the unannounced assignment of terrorism risk assessments to American international travelers by a computerized system managed from an unmarked, two-story brick building in Northern Virginia.

Incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont pledged greater scrutiny of such government database-mining projects after reading that during the past four years millions of Americans have been evaluated without their knowledge to assess the risks that they are terrorists or criminals.

"Data banks like this are overdue for oversight," said Leahy, who will take over Judiciary in January. "That is going to change in the new Congress."

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders since 2002 have been assessed by the Homeland Security Department's computerized Automated Targeting System, or ATS.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years. Some or all data in the system can be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring, contracting and licensing decisions. Courts and even some private contractors can obtain some of the data under certain circumstances.

"It is simply incredible that the Bush administration is willing to share this sensitive information with foreign governments and even private employers, while refusing to allow U.S. citizens to see or challenge their own terror scores," Leahy said. This system "highlights the danger of government use of technology to conduct widespread surveillance of our daily lives without proper safeguards for privacy."

The concerns spread beyond Congress.

"I have never seen anything as egregious as this," said Kevin Mitchell, president of the Business Travel Coalition, which advocates for business travelers. It's "evidence of what can happen when there isn't proper oversight and accountability."

By late Friday, the government had received 22 written public comments about its after-the-fact disclosure of the program last month in the Federal Register, a fine-print compendium of federal rules. All either opposed it outright or objected to the lack of a direct means for people to correct any errors in the database about themselves.

"As a U.S. citizen who spends much time outside the U.S., I can understand the need for good security," wrote one who identified himself as Colin Edmunds. "However, just as I would not participate in a banking/credit card system where I have no recourse to correct or even view my personal data, I cannot accept the same of my government."

Privacy advocates also were alarmed.

"Never before in American history has our government gotten into the business of creating mass `risk assessment' ratings of its own citizens," said Barry Steinhardt, a lawyer for the
American Civil Liberties Union. "We are stunned" the program has been undertaken "with virtually no opportunity for the public to evaluate or comment on it."

The Homeland Security Department says the nation's ability to spot criminals and other security threats "would be critically impaired without access to this data."

And on Friday as the normal daily flow of a million or more people entered the United States by air, sea and land, the ATS program's computers continued their silent scrutiny. At that Virginia building with no sign, the managers of the National Targeting Center allowed an Associated Press photographer to briefly roam their work space.

But he couldn't reveal the building's exact location. None of the dozens of workers under the bright fluorescent lights could be named. Some could not be photographed.
The only clue he might have entered a government building was a montage of photos in the reception area of President Bush's visit to the center. But there was only one guard and a sign-in book.

Inside, red digital clocks on the walls showed the time in Istanbul, Baghdad, Islamabad, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, and Sydney. Although billboard-size video screens on the walls showed multiple cable news shows, there was little noise in the basketball-court-sized main workroom. Each desk had dual computer screens and earphones to hear the video soundtrack. Conferences were held in smaller workrooms divided by glass walls from the windowless main room.

Round the clock, the targeters from Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection agency analyze information from multiple sources, not just ATS. They compare names to terrorist watch lists and mine the Treasury Enforcement Communications System and other automated systems that bring data about cargo, travelers and commercial workers entering or leaving the 317 U.S. ports, searching for suspicious people and cargo.

Almost every person entering and leaving the United States by air, sea or land is assessed based on ATS' analysis of their travel records and other data, including items such as where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

Government officials could not say whether ATS has apprehended any terrorists. Based on all the information available to them, federal agents turn back about 45 foreign criminals a day at U.S. borders, according to Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection spokesman Bill Anthony. He could not say how many were spotted by ATS.

Officials described how the system works: applying rules learned from experience with the activities and characteristics of terrorists and criminals to the traveler data. But they would not describe in detail the format in which border agents see the results or in which the databases store the results of the ATS risk assessments.

Acting Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Paul Rosenzweig told reporters Friday they could call it scoring. "It can be reduced to a number," he said, but he clearly preferred the longer description about how the rules are used.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

busy week

Thom and I flew to Chicago this weekend on a whim and visited our good friends Ryan and Melissa. We attended their wedding just a few short months ago, and it looks they're settling into married life just fine.

Thom had a few meetings out there Monday morning, and since I'm not working on a show or film, it was easy enough for me to get away. It's been a long time since we've been able to be that spontaneous and I'm really glad we took the trip.

I love seeing Melissa in person. We can both get lazy about keeping up with news by phone, but even more than that, there's something about talking face to face with her that makes the conversations we have more substantial. I always walk away from those talks feeling a bit of catharsis.

After we returned home I got busy getting ready for hosting a houseful of people. After a day-long shopping adventure, a major kitchen overhaul, and a floor to ceiling clean, I finally feel ready for Thanksgiving. It seems like I've worked on a million projects these past two weeks--all of which have the added bonus of making the house baby-ready.

Thanksgiving is going to be fantastic this year with both sets of parents, my brother and niece, and my grandparents all in attendance. Kevin and Crystal will share hosting and cooking duties which should take some of the pressure off.

I'll pick up my mom tomorrow morning and the rest of the family will trickle in over the next few days.

I hope all of you out there are able to celebrate a wonderful day with family or friends!

Friday, November 10, 2006


I know it's scientifically impossible, but I think some kind of genetic transformation takes place at the very core of your cells when you get pregnant. Like all of my old "Summer" DNA has morphed into an entirely different strand of "Mother" DNA. How else to explain the near irresistible urge I have to constantly decorate, clean, and CRAFT?

exhibit A:

I made this mobile to put over the crib yesterday, deciding to forgo, you know, buying one, because it would be "too impersonal."

Okay, yes, I have way too much time on my hands these days, but at least I can feel good that I'm using this time off from work in more creative endeavors than eating bon bons and watching Montel. I may be insane, but at least I'm productive.

My new favorite place to visit is a website called NotMartha, a great how-to site dedicated to crafting, cooking, and bringing adorableness to the world. I'm getting a lot of great inspiration there and looking forward to bringing my own 3-D cookies, tiny pinatas, and spider cakes to life.

exhibit B:

If you're still skeptical about my genetic transformation, consider this: I am utterly consumed by the idea of filling my house with Holiday Decorations. This week at Kohl's I bought Halloween candy dishes and mugs on sale in anticipation of putting them out next year. Every fiber of my body wants to go out and purchase full dinnerware sets in Thanksgiving and Christmas patterns. Images of themed table runners, cloth napkins, and salt & pepper shakers dance through my head, calling to me with all of their kitschy charm.

Why?! Why, I ask you?! I used to be sensible; I used to be able to appreciate Christmas without vomiting green and red all over my house. I'm not even annoyed by the fact that we haven't come to Thanksgiving yet and the stores are full of chestnuts and cheer. In fact, I love it--I'm excited about getting a jump on my shopping!

As much as I liked the old Summer, I think the new one is here to stay. There's something about starting a family that has put an entirely new emphasis on hearth, home, ritual, and celebration.

My mother-in-law, Julie, has complete sets of decorations for every holiday (and I wouldn't exclude Flag Day or the Chinese New Year from that list). Front lawn to back, floor to ceiling, decorations fill their house nearly year round. She likes to send Thom and I themed hand-towels or little wall hangings at Valentine's Day or Halloween. I used to think she was well-intentioned but a little insane about it all (sorry mom). I never understood why someone would take the time and energy to transform their home that many times a year.

Well everything comes full-circle, doesn't it? I TOTALLY get it now. I don't just get it, I am in the thick of it. I'm sure this is just one incident of many that will have the mothers of the world smirking to themselves, thinking, "Now she knows what I went through."

So be it.

I'm okay with evolution.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


A big Happy Birthday shout out to my dad today! I love you, Pops!

post halloween recap

Perhaps he was tired after waking up for a 5:30am flight, or maybe his heart just wasn't in it, but I guess Thom decided White-Trash-Lounge-Singer-Priest was as good a Halloween costume as any. I, on the other hand was pretty psyched about my Biker Dude costume (even if it kind of freaked out my husband to kiss me).

Upon closer examination, however, this is more than just a Biker costume. Check this out:

It's like someone smooshed my parents together and dressed them as one of the Village People.

Crystal and Kevin were very cute as Hansel and Gretel in their lederhosen.

Hansel even let me put the moves on his girl:

We spent the evening watching whatever scary movies we could find on cable--Freddy vs. Jason and Jeepers Creepers--and handing out candy to the half a dozen kids that actually came to our door. Once we were good and warmed up on the blood and gore, we headed over to Brattle Square for Evil Dead II.

Along the way, Crystal gave out her spare candy to people walking on the streets in a little reverse Halloween experiment (results: men are much more likely to take candy from strangers than women--suggesting one more reason our lifespan is longer than theirs). Of course, I didn't want to ruin little Sesame Seed's first Halloween by giving away all his chocolate, so we left a stash at home.

After the final credits rolled on the movie, I was a jumble of nerves with my guts rolled into a rock hard ball. Thom insists that it's good for the Sesame Seed to experience a wide variety of emotions through me, and he certainly got a good dose of "scared" that night. Of course it's nothing a little candy can't make better...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I'm planning on finding some last minute costume, passing out candy to the kiddies, and going to a late viewing of Evil Dead II. Should be a fun night. Over the weekend Crystal, Kevin, Thom and I carved pumpkins. Here's my "Head" Cheerleader and Thom's Scary Clown:

Thursday, October 26, 2006


To any untrained eye but the mother's this will probably look like the contents of a lava lamp, but if you look closely you'll see the handsome profile of our son. Isn't he the most adorable thing in the world?

Raising a son is going to pose some challenges I did not anticipate with a girl. For instance, how to help him become a self-confident, intelligent, sensitive man without turning him into a "sissy mamma's boy" (as my husband so delicately puts it)? How to quell my urge to dress anything that cute in frilly pink ruffles? And what to do when he inevitably comes home wanting to buy sports paraphernalia?

Questions for the ages, my friends.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

kiddie room

Sometimes I get on these obsessive little jags--usually when there's a project or something creative to be done around the house--and I just can't let go of it until it's finished. This is why if you had been looking for me anytime over the past week, the most likely place to find me would be the hardware store or the new nursery. Yes, I've begun decorating and I am in project heaven.

Thom and I took a trip to Ikea last weekend to find all the "versatile solutions to modern living" our baby might require, and while "giant leaf canopy" and "awesome mosquito netting curtains" weren't specifically on our list, they have found a fantastic home in the baby's room.

I'm still very much in the process of decorating--as we have no major furniture yet--but the painting is done and the room is starting to feel playful and welcoming.

I started by taping off the original lavender wall at the center to create an orange border, then once that was done, I painted the bottom aqua and the ceiling light lavender. Here's our basic color scheme:

My favorite part of the room right now are these enormous leaf canopies hanging over where the crib will be.

Since we've decided on a "happy bug" theme, I'll be incorporating ladybugs, butterflies, bees and the like into the room. I'm going to sew some fabric bugs onto the mosquito net curtains and get some felt petals to make the (hand-painted) curtain rod look like a flower.

This twirly do-dad is cool because Thom bought it for me years ago (it was one of his first presents to me, as I recall) and it happens to match the colors perfectly.

I'm going to tackle the armoire today--painting over the current wood finish with orange, lavender, aqua and green.

I'm having so much fun creating this welcoming space for our baby--making sure it's happy and playful. And though he's not able to do much of the work, I know Thom is also relishing this chance to explore life from the view of a child.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Magic Completed: Crystal and Summer are sisters

I think I've recovered enough to talk about Kevin and Crystal's wedding now. The whole weekend felt like one non-stop party.

Thursday night the ladies and gents went out for their hen and stag parties. At the start of the evening Crystal was surprised to learn she would be wearing a pink spandex outfit and bunny ears. Of course there was The List to complete: 40 tasks of bravery and embarrassment. Crystal had been in charge of planning at least four previous bridal showers, complete with embarrassing costumes and wicked challenges, so you could say a few of us were looking forward to revenge. But of course, she outmaneuvered us all and completed a surprising number of tasks (including: shaving a C into a man's chest hair, doing an Irish jig on stage with a live band, and starting a conga line) having a blast in the process.

I was designated driver for the evening (being the only pregnant lady around), and I carted around 20 women in a massive van until 4:30am. I don't know how I managed to hang in so long, but it felt great to party into the wee hours.

Friday afternoon brought the rehearsal followed by the Rehearsal/Out of Towner Dinner. The Doyle's hosted 100 people with a beautiful backyard BBQ. My dad and Thom tended bar and I do believe they had their hands full with the German and Irish crowd all night.

I, on the other hand, realized that I didn't have a copy of the poem I was to read in the wedding, and since it had been compiled by Kevin and Crystal from a 230 line Walt Whitman poem, there was no way I was recreating it on my own. Kevin and Crystal were very gracious about sitting down and working through it again, even finding some new stanzas to include, so it worked out in the end. (It's wonderful to be related to people who are also absentminded, resourceful, and not easily ruffled.)

Finally the day of the wedding arrived and I spent the morning getting ready with Crystal and her bridesmaids in her suite. I indulged myself with professional make-up and hair, and came out looking not too shabby (but I should have warned Crystal about the stray boob--those puppies hate to stay put). Crystal was relaxed and beautiful and seemed to enjoy the morning with her ladies.

Around 1pm I went to the wedding site with friend and wedding planner Ashley to help decorate and organize the reception hall before the festivities. Everyone had done such a beautiful job of picking out flowers and settings, the space looked gorgeous.

Finally, the big moment arrived and the ceremony went off without a hitch (I even remembered to bring my poem).

I loved Kevin and Crystal' vows, which they wrote together (in rhyming couplets no less!). I was not surprised to see that Crystal cleans up quite well as a girl; they look good married, don't they?

Here's their massive wedding party including bridesmaids and groomsmen, ushers, flower girls, and ring bearer.

The reception got off to a great start and after a bit of maneuvering Thom and I had seats at two tables (you know, because that's how we roll). Dinner started and when it came time for the speeches, Thom and I retreated to complete our master plan.

Thom and Kevin have a tradition of doing some sort of prank at the wedding receptions of their close friends. Usually it involves a sketch and/or singing. The male victims of these pranks have felt the need to get revenge, so every year the ante is upped a bit (at our wedding Kevin juggled chickens during his speech and Mike and Bill handcuffed Thom and tossed the key into a fountain).

With their wedding, Kevin and Crystal were closing the circle, so we wanted to go out with a bang. Thom and I prepared ourselves in the back, and when the time came, we emerged with the Bielefeld Express Extravaganza Variety Show starring "Kevin" and "Crystal."

The show featured a number of acts--The Flying Zucchini Brothers' Bunny Slippers, Handcuffs, and Chicken Act, a sketch: The Courtship of Kevin and Crystal: How it Could Have all Gone Horribly Horribly Wrong, and a love-song serenade with audience participation.

Thom and I were beyond pleased with the outcome (Kevin and Crystal even got out of the handcuffs eventually).

Music started soon after that, and the rest of the evening is just a blur. As you can see, there were a lot of White Guy Moves happening here:

It was really a fantastic evening. Kevin and Crystal are so lucky to be surrounded by people who love them and encourage all of their kookiness. And Thom and I are so lucky to have them so close. I can't wait to see how married life settles on them; I'm sure it's going to be beautiful.

Here's the last shot of the night; a strange one that I like for its strangeness. This was taken as Thom walked away from a dance with the bride, at a moment that was somehow captured in purple:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

geekiness squared

From Weird Al's latest album, this gem: White and Nerdy. I know way too many people (including myself) who will identify with this song.

* Note: I've replaced the broken link above, but if you have problems with it, go to YouTube and look up "White and Nerdy."

Monday, September 25, 2006

well it would have been wonderful...

... if the two intense days of shooting hadn't gotten me sick. I'm struggling with a sore throat right now, hoping it doesn't get any worse.

I've got a couple days to recuperate before flying to Vegas for Kevin and Crystal's wedding. I know I'm going to need all the energy I can muster to fully enjoy the weekend's festivities, so I'm crossing my fingers.

Anyhow the shoot went very well, and I'm happy to have my house (and the Sesame Seed) featured on film for posterity.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

home movies

I have a film crew in my house this weekend to shoot the last few scenes for My Mother's Boyfriend. Of course that's meant a top to bottom scouring of the house--as good an excuse as any to get the place clean, I suppose.

The funny thing is, I think my motivation to offer our place was out of pure laziness. See, I can work on the film, but still have the whole weekend at home. Sick, isn't it? It will be easier than carting around a suitcase full of costumes and making sure to remember everything I need for hair/make-up changes. I get to use my own bathroom, change in my own bedroom, and rummage through my own fridge.... Then at the end of the day, I just kick everyone out and snuggle on the sofa with my husband. Sounds wonderful to me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

back in the swing

I've spent the last week and a half on a little personal vacation at home. It's gone something like this: wake up, stay in bed and read a sci-fi novel while the cats snuggle with me, get up for some breakfast, ignore email, phone messages, and social obligations, maybe do the dishes or empty the garbage, surf the internet, fix lunch, take a nap, maybe take a shower or a walk, cook some dinner, welcome my handsome, hard-working husband home, watch a little tv, read myself to sleep. After a first trimester filled with filming, Hamlet, house guests, traveling, more filming, doctor appointments, more traveling, not to mention intense changes in diet, overwhelming fatigue, frequent nausea, and sore boobs, it was heavenly to have a break and do absolutely nothing.

It was something I desperately needed, but I'm starting to get restless and feel the need to be productive tugging at me again. I'd like to shift my focus to getting the house ready for the baby--there are a million projects I plan to get done: decorate the nursery, organize every single closet, unpack boxes, rearrange bookshelves, organize the kitchen cabinets, and perform an industrial cleaning on the house. I'm gearing up for "nesting mode." For the first time since I became pregnant, my energy level is high enough that I can actually conceive of accomplishing these things.

So far all the hype is true: the second trimester rocks! I can see a little bulge in my belly now; not massive, but I'm definitely rounder than before. I love the little bump, and I'm constantly touching and having conversations with it. The Sesame Seed (who is actually about the size of a lemon now) and I have become great pals, discussing everything from the funny gurgle noises my belly makes to why mommy uses such strong language when she's driving. We sing to the belly at night--The Beatles and Death Cab for Cutie are favorites--and I imagine my little person floating and squirming around happily.

I bought some new clothes to accommodate my changing body, and while they flatter my small bump, I've since realized that they really highlight how ginormous my boobs have gotten. It's like two alien lumps have taken up residence on my chest, and I can't help but stare at them. From all I've read, they're only going to get bigger from here on out, and the thought terrifies me. What am I going to do with two monstrous torpedoes on my chest? I suppose my husband would have a clever answer for that...

A little detour: When I was first engaged, I was just starting an internship at a theatre in New York and in my introduction to everyone there I made it clear that I was super excited about getting married, but I didn't want to be that girl who only talked about her upcoming nuptials. Until recently I've approached pregnancy in the same way--not wanting my posts to be consumed with baby talk, not wanting to lose my self-image as a whole, complex person, not just a baby-making machine. But as much as I might fight it, this baby is on my mind all the time, so instead of posting about other things going on, I just haven't been posting at all. I've come to realize that my life revolves around the Sesame Seed right now, so if I'm being honest, my posts are going to reflect that.

I hope acknowledging that fact will make it easier for me to post more frequently again (having a bit more energy will help too).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

notes from Summer

A little update from the lazy blogger:

--Thom and I had our first appointment with my OBGYN last week, and she rocks. I'm so relieved to have someone I like to see me through the next seven months.

--Week 9 of the pregnancy and my nausea is long gone. I'm thrilled that I only have fatigue and headaches to contend with now.

--For those of you who don't know, Hamlet was fantastic. I feel very proud of what we did, and, in spite of my worries, all the parents seemed to enjoy it.

--I'm working on two short films and a play reading. Those are the last projects on the horizon, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do once I wrap them up. I have a couple months before I start showing, but the constant fatigue hasn't really been great for my productivity level.

--Thom and I took a test drive in the Toyota Highlander Highbrid. As much as I love our Mini, I don't think it's the most practical car for us now. The Highlander is the perfect hippie/yuppie highbrid as well, so it seems like a good match.

--I'm flying to Vegas tomorrow night. My mom and I will drive to Cedar City for the Utah Shakespearean Festival, where I'm sure we'll see a bunch of great theatre. It's been years since I've been there, so I'm excited for that and the mother-daughter road trip.

--Once we drive back to Vegas, I'll be attending Crystal's bridal shower. I will be thoroughly disappointed if there isn't a nacho cheese fountain. You hear that, Crystal? I want flowing cheese!

--Snakes on a Plane was all I expected and more: gratuitous sex and violence, cheesy dialogue, scary snakes... what more could you ask for in a movie? Samuel L. Jackson may not have been challenged by the role, but he sure looks like he's having fun.

--Oh yeah, did I mention I have to get on a plane tomorrow? What was I thinking?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

my hero

Part of me feels guilty for not posting for two weeks, but another--saner--part of me that was hosting family while dealing with morning sickness and fatigue doesn't really care.

The family has all flown safely home (I sounded like a rough flight for the Doyles last night), and while I still have occasional bouts of nausea and require lots of naps, it's getting more manageable.

Thom has reacted to my queasy tummy by becoming the Official Provider. I've found my stomach stays settled if I have a little healthy, high-protein snack every couple hours. So, whenever we're away from home, in a situation where I can't easily control my dietary choices, Thom turns into the Twenty-First Century Hunter/Gatherer and forages for me.

Last weekend we went on a Whale Watch. I'm not sure what made me think I could handle a three hour boat ride--pregnancy hormones, a desire to please my family, general lunacy. I'm the girl who has never ridden a boat without feeling sick, and I thought it would be super-fun to ride out to the middle of the ocean to look at whales.

I decided to ignore the boat-induced queasiness, but thankfully Thom did not ignore my pregancy-induced queasiness. Before we boarded the giant catamaran he investigated what food they might have to offer. Turns out "hot dogs and maybe sandwiches" wasn't a satisfactory answer when thinking of his pregnant, vegetarian wife. So he found little booth nearby that made a veggie-hummus wrap, fulfilling his need to provide for me. It was very sweet, and I think that food got me through the first hour of the trip. The second hour was a very different story, and I've decided that if the Sesame Seed ever wants to take a boat trip, they'll have to do it with their daddy cause I'm done.

A couple nights ago we made trip up to Gloucester to visit some friends and their parents for dinner. Once again Thom did some investigating and found out that salmon and pork would be the centerpieces of the menu. Even though I could have been perfectly happy with side dishes (what I usually eat when dining with friends) Thom insisted we get some vegetarian protein to supplement the meal. So we brought some tofu along. Was that terribly rude? I don't care--it feels so wonderful to have my husband looking after me I'd risk making all kinds of social faux pas to keep him happy.

I knew pregnancy would change things, but I had no idea how much I'd enjoy being shown this kind of masculine, protective attention. It almost makes me feel delicate.


Friday, July 28, 2006


If I wasn’t having a baby I’d probably be talking about Hamlet non-stop. As it is, it’s hard to think about anything besides the Sesame Seed. Here’s my attempt to write a non-baby-related post.

The in-laws flew into Boston yesterday, my mom arrives this morning, and her friend and my dad fly in tomorrow. It’s a gaggle of people, and a major part of their agenda is to see Hamlet.

I love my mother’s enthusiasm for my career—I’m fairly certain she feels earth-shattering regret every time she misses one of my performances, whether it’s some silly staged-reading or me sneezing on camera. But that’s what moms are for, right? My dad’s very supportive too, but he doesn’t have the ovaries tugging on him like my mother. Thom’s parents also great about my career and made it out two years ago to see my first Boston play.

I know it’s not the only reason they’re here, but it does add a bit of pressure to know that the catalyst for their visit was my play. What if they hate it? What if they walk away thinking, “I flew 5,000 miles for that?” I know that’s a bit extreme, but I do have some anxiety around this performance. First of all, this production can really only barely be called Hamlet. We use some of the text, but that’s about the limit of our faithfulness to the play.

I really had no idea what I was walking into when I agreed to do this show. My friend Shawn, the director of Hal Harry Henry, asked me to be a part of a small workshop production of Hamlet some months ago. He said he had tweaked the text a bit—which I expected based on my last experience with him. I was willing to try something different with Shakespeare, especially if it meant playing Ophelia (a role I’m always disappointed to see portrayed as a weepy, wimpy, cuckoo waif). Shawn wouldn’t be directing this time, instead enlisting the help of a founding member of Shakespeare and Company, John Hadden. Sounded great.

Well, a week before rehearsals we didn’t have a script (which usually wouldn’t be a problem with Shakespeare—you can just count on learning certain lines—but not so for this production). Then a few days before we were to start working Shawn said his script had been thrown out and John was talking about something called Hamlet: A Dream Play. Here’s where I got nervous. What does that mean? Don’t dreams inherently mean low stakes? What audience is going to sit through someone else’s dream?

But I showed up to rehearsal with an open mind. I trusted Shawn and his faith in John, I knew—and loved—the rest of the cast, and I was willing to try something outside my comfort zone. The rehearsal process was rocky for me. It was exciting to see that we were doing things no one else does with Shakespeare (inserting our own text into the play, giving Hamlet’s lines to everyone besides Hamlet, completely disregarding plot or story), but a nagging part of me kept thinking, There’s a reason no one else does this with Shakespeare. Eventually, I just let that nagging part of me go and made up my mind to do the best damn Hamlet Dream Play I could do.

The result of our whirlwind rehearsal period is something I’m very proud of. It’s more experimental and challenging than anything I’ve ever done, and if you come to it with an open mind, I think you can see a really beautiful, unexpected piece of art. If you’re a more conventional theatre-goer, it might just drive you nuts.

Which brings me back to my guests. I know that my family loves me and they’re always going to be supportive of what I do. But I don’t know how they’ll feel about this play. Often I walk off stage and I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s still very challenging for me and so strange that I don’t know if what I’ve just done was any good or not.

I guess when it comes to my parents I’ll always be a little girl—waving at them from the stage, bursting with hope that they’ll be proud of me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

playing possum

I almost ran over an opossum tonight on my way home from rehearsal. I saw the glare of his eyeballs as I rounded the curve of the freeway on ramp, and I slowed for him to get off the road. He stood frozen, right in line with my car, so I swerved gently out of his way. From the passenger seat Crystal watched him as we passed and said, "That little bastard just fell down and played dead."

Sunday, July 16, 2006


If you notice the time code on this post you'll see that it's 7am on a Sunday. Why oh why am I awake at this ridiculous hour, you ask? Apparently, the baby thinks 7am is the perfect time to wake--regardless of what time I went to bed, or whether it's a weekend (where sleeping in is demanded by law, I believe), or if I have anything to do but stare at my computer while the rest of the world snoozes on. This is day number four of finding myself jumping-out-of-bed-wide-awake at, what is for me, an absurd hour. And here I was thinking pregnancy would be an excellent excuse to sleep in an enormous amount.

I also thought that whole "eating for two" thing would kick in right away, but I have a more moderate appetite than ever. We went to Dom's in the North End last night, which serves some insanely delicious food, and at the end of it all--surrounded by plates of chocolate mousse and cannoli--I turned down dessert! Do you understand what I'm saying? I was raised by a woman who believes dessert is not only a necessity but our God Given Right. I was brought up in a home where peach cobbler, ice cream, cookies, or cake were regularly on the post-dinner menu; and if they were not readily available, the ingredients to make them were just a cupboard away. And here I had the opportunity to eat a decadent, delicious, guilt-free sweet, and I just didn't feel like it.

I don't know about this baby. At the rate we're going, Sesame Seed could be some early-rising, dessert-hating freak. What's next, no cartoons? Not a big fan of playing?

I just don't understand kids these days.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

This will be me in a few months...

Maybe I'm insane for saying anything so early, but my pregnancy test came back positive yesterday!

(And no, I don't look like this yet; Jenn and I took this picture at a maternity store using a fake "bump" the day I decided to start trying for kids. What a goofy grin I have on.)

The whole event was not as I imagined it...

First, I was not expecting this to be the month. I don't have any horrible pregnancy symptoms yet, and I kept telling myself it was going to take a while and not to get my hopes up.

So I took the test (do you know how hard it is to aim your pee at a stick and not get it all over your hand? ew.) and killed two minutes before I read it. Hands washed, teeth brushed, Get Fuzzy calendar read... guess I should look at the test. As soon as I spotted that faint little plus sign I freaked out and tossed it onto the counter like it was a poisonous spider. I immediately picked it up and looked again, and proceeded to toss it away. When I could finally hold the damn test, I asked Thom to read it for me.

"What does this say? Is that a plus? Is this for real? I have to talk to Crystal."

Thom barely got a, "It looks like a plus sign to me," out before I started flinging clothes on. I dressed faster than ever before and ran--RAN--to Crystal and Kevin's place. Luckily they were up and one ring on the bell brought the buzzer singing back to me. Before I was even through the threshold, I shoved my pee stick in the poor girl's face and screeched, "What does this say?!"
We determined that the sign was just too faint to reliably start sharing the news (which was my whole intent: get positive evidence and immediately start telling people).

So, back home, where I asked Thom to come to the drugstore with me to pick up a second test. In the fifteen minutes it took to walk to the store, buy the test, return home, and squeeze out my last drops of pee, I contemplated the idea of motherhood.

I didn't have any brilliant flashes, if that's what you're waiting for. I had just spent an insane amount of energy focused on one stupid little plus sign--my brain wasn't exactly in a philosophical mode.

When the test came out positive--"I see a plus, that's definitely a plus!"--we were ecstatic. And confused. And stunned.

"I don't feel pregnant. Shouldn't I feel pregnant?"

"What did you expect? A big belly?"

"No I just don't feel like a mom."

"Well, you've got nine months to work on it."

In spite of some reservation about telling people too soon, I decided this was just too good to wait. We made a round of calls and I tried to feel more pregnant. I felt like a fraud as I was sharing the news, a little voice in the back of my head saying, "You shouldn't be acting all pregnant. What if the test is wrong? Then what will people think?"

Rationally I know that most women must go through some version of this. Unless you have horrible morning sickness or a blood test from a doctor, it's hard to believe you're actually creating life right this minute. It's too huge. It's the biggest thing I've ever tried to do and way beyond my capacity to comprehend.

Still, I'm getting more and more used to the idea. I looked up my progress and the embryo is the size of a sesame seed right now. It's become Our Little Sesame Seed.

The anxiety has already begun--protective maternal instincts and fear that something will go wrong--but I'm trying to not let that rule me. Right now I just want to channel all the love I can muster into this little growing life, and that seems like just what My Little Sesame Seed needs.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

weekend, interrupted

I was going to give a long description of my Fourth of July weekend, but this has been a hectic week and I want to enjoy my Sunday. So here's an abridged version with pictures:

Here are the Doyles in front of Ma Doyle's childhood home in Oak Park Chicago. We've flown up (along with Crystal, not pictured) for a family reunion. Chicago is fantastic--I wish I had more than a morning to explore it.

This section of Oak Park boasts a number of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I take lots of pics, but this is my favorite.

We gorge ourselves at Peterens Ice Cream Shop. I swear it is the best ice cream I've ever had. They have to drag me away.

We drive to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where the reunion is being held. An old family friend hosts a BBQ at her lake house. We jump into the beautiful water while little kids light fireworks on the shore. We have officially gone back in time.

Thom spends the night struggling with a stomach ache. After 12 hours and no relief I take him to the hospital to have it checked out.

Turns out his appendix doesn't feel like hanging around anymore. They do surgery to let it out and run free.

My husband can't even recover without multi-tasking. Here, he has his temp and blood pressure taken while kicking our ass at cards--1 hour after his appendectomy.

The hospital releases him the next day, and we actually get to attend one family event. Woo hoo! The next morning, Tuesday 4th, I get Thom onto a plane home where he is now recovering quite nicely.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

roller coaster

I'm starting to feel that vice of anxiety that comes from anticipating a very busy time ahead. Within a week's time I will have wrapped If Not Now (a film I'm working on), flown to the midwest for a family reunion, returned to Boston hours before my first Hamlet rehearsal, welcomed Hamlet director and house-guest, John Hadden, and his dog, Leo, to my home, and faced yet another period OR the dawning excitement of motherhood. In an ideal world the house will be cleaned, lines will be learned, and I will somehow magically transform into an ideal vessel for human life by Friday.

check. check. and check.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up about getting pregnant, but of course it's looming very large in my mind. After Thom and I decided to start trying I went through a two week span where I just knew I was pregnant. I felt different somehow; I was aware of my body in a way I hadn't ever been. I had an urge to eat healthy and no desire to drink. I felt tired and experienced what seemed like implantation bleeding--right on schedule. Finally, I spent a morning feeling nauseous and dry heaving for no explicable reason (I was the happiest I've ever been staring into the face of the porcelain gods).

And the next morning my hopes were crushed when I got up to pee and discovered an unwelcome monthly visitor. I don't know if I experienced an early miscarriage (which happens in about 40% of pregnancies) or if my "pregnancy symptoms" were all psychosomatic. Either way I was devastated. I felt robbed and cheated. And I knew it was my own fault for letting myself getting carried away with the idea that I was pregnant before there was any real evidence.

So as I face the week ahead I suppose it's good that I have something to distract me from phantom symptoms and minus lines on pregnancy tests. I'm a little sad that I feel the need to set up emotional barriers to protect myself from disappointment, but I know that it's the only way to retain my sanity in what could otherwise be a heartbreaking process.

I keep thinking how magical it would have been for us to get pregnant on our first try. I just have to accept that it's going to be magical however it happens.

Monday, June 19, 2006

primary colors

The hippies were out in full force this Saturday at Cambridge Riverfest. Thom and I wandered around the food stands and arts and crafts booths for a couple hours, getting toasty under the clear skies and bright sun. The best find of the day was the photography of Patrick Zephyr, a very sweet man with an amazing eye. Thom bought a few prints for his office:

The pixelated quality of the computer screen and the small size really don't do them justice.

It was wonderful to be able to walk just a few paces from our house and share in the great art, music, and food of our community.

I really love Cambridge; more and more I'm coming to think of it as a place I belong rather than just the place that I live.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

my cats: a photographic movement in three parts

The Cat Relaxing

The Cat Observed

The Cat Trampled

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

secrets revealed

We've spoken to the parents and the siblings. We've told the best friends. The next logical conclusion when you have a life-changing whopper bit of news is to tell the Internet, right? So here goes:

Thom and I are trying to have a baby.

You just need to ask any family member, friend, colleague, or local grocery store clerk to know how difficult it is for me to keep a secret. When I have any kind of significant news I cannot be trusted to hold my tongue. Now, I've been holding onto this bit of information for, oh, 20 days 18 hours and 25 minutes (since Jenn and I took that walk on the beach in California and I realized-WHAM!-there is no reason to wait), so it feels really good to get it out.

Once I made the decision, I wanted to start, like, that minute which was excruciating since Thom was in Boston and I figured the chance of getting pregnant from 5,000 miles away was kinda slim. I knew he would be excited; he's always said he's ready for kids when I am. And I wanted to tell him so badly, but that's definitely the kind of conversation that needs to be punctuated with a kiss, not the click of a long-distance phone call.

For the next three days Jenn and I filled the hours with an unbelievable amount of conversation about babies. It was essentially ridiculously giddy girl-time interspersed with torturously secretive conversations with my husband. Finally, three days (and visits to 6 maternity stores) later I was on my way home. Of course I flew in the weekend we were hosting a friend from out of town, so we went directly from baggage claim to the T station where Ben was waiting, with no appropriately private interval.

Once home I played the perfect hostess and tossed Ben's bags into his room, muttering something about making himself comfortable, and dragged Thom to our bedroom. There, I let him know I had come to an important decision and I presented him with a gift: Pickles and Ice Cream: A Father's Guide to Pregnancy. He got the cutest, slightly confused look on his face until I spelled it out for him: "I'm ready to have babies!" Upon which he smiled a ginormous goofy grin and said, "Really!?"

So that’s our news, Internet. I expect you to be happy for us when our own little Apple or Pilot Inspektor comes into the world.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Two bits of intarwub goodness for you:

First, my amazing, handsome, extraordinary husband has started a blog of his own. I'm sure it'll be much more coherent and enlightening than this one.

Second, these nerds have way too much time on their hands.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

california dreamin' pt. 2

After the wedding, Thom flew home and I flew to L.A. to visit Jennifer, my long-time best friend. She lives there with her husband, Seth, and both are pursuing acting careers.

We spent the first night looking through old high school photos and as we dug deeper, we noticed a particular trend in the way we posed ourselves in almost every picture. Jennifer will now demonstrate our patented stance:

The next day, Tuesday 23rd, Jenn and I headed to Venice beach for some shopping and time in the sun. We walked from Venice to Santa Monica beach and back, talking and reminiscing. During that walk, we came to major life decisions, ended world hunger, and became one with the universe (as girls often do when given enough sand and shopping).

We also made time for lunch and silly pink drinks.

On Wednesday, we took a road trip up to Solvang, just outside Santa Barbara in wine country (where Sideways was filmed). Jenn got us an evening in her in-laws' time-share in this beautiful little Danish town. The buildings were all designed in a rustic, Scandinavian style and looked like this:

The first order of business, of course, was to go wine-tasting. We drove up to Los Olivos, where the Main Street is lined with tasting rooms. It was fun to see the different personalities of the wine-makers and how that was reflected in the design of their stores and labels. Tinsley was one of our favorites, simply because it sounded like an English boarding school. Another was Concilience for their snarky attitude.

We drove back to Solvang in time to catch the farmer's market, where we bought cheese and bread to munch on, then we went window shopping around all the cute little Danish stores. My grandmother would have been happy to see such a plethora of restaurants offering aebleskiver, a staple from my Swedish upbringing. They're tiny spherical pancakes made in special cast iron pans. I don't have much daily connection to my ancestry, so it was nice to be in a place full of Scandinaviann history and appreciation.

We rounded out the long day with a great dinner of Italian food and the season finale of Lost. Man, can you believe that stuff with Desmond?!

The next morning, we had a leisurely breakfast and walked over to the Santa Inez mission. It's a beautiful old church established by Franciscan priests in the 18th century. Damaged by earthquakes, much of the building was destroyed, yet a number of original arches still stood. In the back they had... I'm not even sure what you would call it... a memorial? stations of the cross? It was a beautiful garden, but a little excessively morbid. Check the red paint on the nails:

Finally we walked back to Solvang and packed up. Along the way we passed the Solvang Bakery, famous for its hand-painted line of Danish Monarchs.

I was particularly thrilled to see the early reigns of Harold Bluetooth, Sweyn Forkbeard, and Erik the Lame (unfortunately not pictured here).

We spent the afternoon in Santa Barbara, checking out cute boutiques. Jenn and I both bought a pair of jeans from the Blue Bee Company. That store has a brilliant business model: sell only women's jeans, hire only hot men. There is nothing like a cute boy telling you your "ass looks good in those" to make you drop a wad of cash on a pair of jeans.

That evening, we were back in L.A. and even managed to spend some time with Seth. The poor guy worked the whole week we were out gallivanting around, but he's such a sweetie he didn't complain. Jenn's new step-sister, Dawnya, came over with her boyfriend Chris after dinner. It was great to see her since Dawnya and I had been friends in Jr. High (it is a small freaking world).

I was on a plane home the next day, pockets lighter, belly heavier, smile big and bright.

california dreamin' pt. 1

I've had two nightmares in less than twenty-four hours. The first about a man breaking into my home while I was standing right there on my porch. The second about a fundamentalist church dressing me up as Dolly Parton, making me sing, and disabling my car (and escape). What the hell?

I'm usually good at interpreting dreams, but I just don't know. I'm being violated? Forced to do something I don't want? The Religious Right is after me (and upset I'm not blonde)?!

Bluh. I hate that post-nightmare feeling.

Moving on to more comforting things, I've been away so long because I took a weeks vacation in California. It was absolutely wonderful! Let's do a pictorial review...

Thom and I flew to San Francisco for Ryan and Melissa's wedding on Thursday 18th. Melissa is a great friend of mine from the British American Drama Academy, which we attended our junior year of college. She met Ryan in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, and they're both really beautiful human beings.

There were a slew of pre-wedding activities... a welcome barbecue, mani/pedis for the girls, wedding rehearsal, and the rehearsal dinner. The actual wedding was in Sonoma Valley, so Thom took advantage of all the vineyards while I was off doing girly things. We clean up okay, don't we?

I stayed in Melissa's room the night before the ceremony to keep her company, and the next morning she had her bridesmaids (all six of us) over to get preened and pampered.

The day before there had been some worry that the outdoor ceremony would have to be moved indoors because of rain. The morning was cloudy and not looking good, but by noon, the skies had cleared and Melissa had her perfect sunny day. Here are the bridesmaids during the ceremony; Mel did a good job picking out the dresses don't you think?

The ceremony was really beautiful--it was presided over by an Irish former-Catholic priest (he's married now, so I have no idea what that makes him) with a great sense of humor and appreciation for ritual. I read a Walt Whitman poem and the officiant had the wedding party and parents bless the rings. I'll admit, I teared up a bit.

The reception was fantastic. Great music (standards and Jamaican), fantastic food, beautiful table settings and decor, and lots of great moments.

At the end of the evening everyone stood in a circle and sang a traditional Jamaican song (lyrics were provided for those of us who weren't in the Peace Corps) and bid the couple farewell. A few members of the wedding party were to accompany them in the limo back to the hotel, but everyone else had rides, so it just ended up being Thom and I.

The afterparty went on for hours--from a dance club, to a dive bar, to Denny's. I was barely human the next morning at the gift-opening/brunch, so I'll leave you with this: