Love in Time of Corona

… between Amsterdam, New York and Milford, PA


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Beyond Miami Beach…

As Advised by Great White Dog

I find myself annoyed. Am I annoyed with Miami? After eight years of living here?

Much has happened in that time. We lived here during Obama’s his entire presidency. When we arrived there were many unspoken agreements that had shaped the local culture over the twenty preceding years, from the wild-west eighties until the crash of 2009. “As long as we are having fun” was one of them. Being serious was boring. I was called a Debbie Downer at a dinner party, when I talked about water in the streets as a result of climate change (that BTW, had made every guest late for the party). Don’t get me wrong, I like having fun, but my idea of fun is  different from dressing in skimpy but expensive designer clothes, drinking outrageous cocktails, clamoring around celebs and music so intense that the only possible interaction is taking selfies with your “friends” (while hoping for one with that star).

Yes guilty, my initial blogs were all about those parties. As an outlet for my culture shock. And, after years of working in NYC and living in Milford, PA with small children, these parties were so alien, so different and took me so far outside myself, that it felt like something I needed, in the way that getting really drunk sometimes feels like a healthy dose of vitamin C. It wore off fast, the so-called glamorous lifestyle, one that I had always walked away from, in Amsterdam, Paris, London and New York. It just isn’t me. I like to drive myself hard and if I don’t accomplish stuff I set out to do, I get depressed. I do not dream of retiring, shopping and sitting by the pool for the rest of my life. I need to be heard and seen and not for gossip and what I wear. So when the party dust settled I got to work on being relevant in Miami, no matter what it took.

It took a lot… I gave it my best… I feel depleted… I can’t say I conquered and I’m kind of over trying (… plus I’m getting shit done in other parts of the world).

And yes, I realize it’s not all about me and I’m not alone. Three months into 2017 and this worn-out feeling is a national depression. Up and down the East and West Coast we aspired to be part of a wave of hope that Obama brought with him. One that I saw as a way to change and save Miami, with talks of rising sea-levels, an ocean full of plastic, recycling and up-cycling, the right for all kids to an inspired public education such as DASH, affordable housing instead of 20% occupancy in condos and private homes worth billions on Miami Beach, air-conditioned year-around.

But if it felt like I was swimming against the stream over the past eight years,  I am now swimming into a Tsunami. Will the already lavish parties get even bigger and crazier as the 1% feels empowered, emboldened in their greed and need to flaunt it, with Miami Beach as the perfect stage for competitive one-percenting? Living less than a mile from Sunny Isles, with its six Trump Towers, and the highest concentration of Russian investments in recent years, Russia’s unabashed imperialism is palpable. And after the cuts to environmental protection, the NEA, healthcare, public transportation, education, housing and human and women’s rights, what will happen to the other group, the full-time residents and working class whose statistics show that Miami’s income disparity is one of the largest in the country?

Yet it is all about me. Also. About what I can give and do and how I will spend the next twenty years of my life optimizing who I am, what I have learned and how I can reflect this back on generations to come. In another year the twins will leave for college. I will be free from the school calendar, driving and feeding and other hands-on mothering. I look at them, and how they act and feel, and I remember being seventeen and practically jumping out of my own skin with impatience, anger even at being told what to do by teachers, parents, the system. The nervous restlessness that I now recognize for what it is in my girls – their booster engines filled with ambition for their future and need for autonomy, propelling them forward. As I see this in my daughters I recognize it in myself, four decades older than they are, but the impulse is the same, I am getting ready for another shift.

So I am annoyed at Miami. Or I am just annoyed. I am practically jumping out of my skin with irritation at the status quo, and like a very old teenager I’m going to use this urge to amp it up some and get more shit done…

(But maybe not in Miami).

 

Links to projects elsewhere:

PORTFOLIO SITE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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WOMAN – OCTOBER – 2016

milford_readers_writers_gloria_1

I am different this month. And if I am different then millions of women are different this month. I am one of many and I am never alone. I am woman and I am different this month.

I am different because two weeks ago the Milford Readers and Writers festival happened. It happened in the town I love and I was one of the organizers. I am different because I listened to Gloria Steinem, up on the stage and in front of the logo I had designed. I am different because my long-in-the-works book, Stupid Model, was published and I sold fifty copies over three days. I am different because I was doing it with all with my friends. I am different because for those few days I felt centered and within myself.

I read a passage from my book to a room full of women and they laughed and applauded. They heard me and we connected. This changed me. Then it was over, my old and new friends went home, I tidied up the house and I too went home, leaving my home behind.

I am different now from who I was then. And I am different from who I was in September.

Together with millions of others I am restless. I am anxious. I am provoked. I am angry and I want the world to be different.

Is it true that change brings up everything unlike itself?

Together with an entire generation (or two) of women I have been forced to remember things that I had forgotten. Or had marginalized. Things that became threads woven into the fabric that made me into who I am today. Those small things that grab us and make us a little less proud. A little less confident. A little less…

I always fought when they happened. After being a scared, weepy child I stood up for myself when I walked away from my youth at age seventeen. To Paris where I fought the men who groped me on the Metro, followed me in the street clucking and whistling, took me to dinner stroking my thigh under the table while talking business with colleagues above the white linen, silver, china and crystal. I fought the photographers who demeaned me over and over and, on my last day, I physically attacked the ultimate misogynist, a famous couturier who had me thrown out of Paris.

Illustration from Stupid Model in Paris and Down Under

from Stupid Model in Paris and Down Under

Perhaps I fought because my mother fought. Fought her own demons. From the German soldiers who had controlled her town and her family when she was a teenager, the ghost of my father who drove his car into a tree and left her alone with me, a two-year-old babe, to my stepfather who was controlling and abusive and after fifteen years absconded with one of her younger friends.

I fought because those were the days that we “fought back”. A clinched fist was our symbol. Don’t fuck with us. But who were we kidding? When you could not be anywhere alone without at least one man grabbing you wherever he liked, metaphorically and physically.

I fought my way to success. I was ambitious they said, like a dirty word, dirtier than pussy and grab. Subconsciously, I learned to use sexism in a game of exchange that couldn’t be won. Like fake promises it never delivered that moment of pure achievement, because in the shadows there was always a baritone boasting – you’d be nothing if it wasn’t for me, and I can undo you.

October 2016. Women. What the fuck?

Did we really think it would come easy?

Just as it seems within reach we have to conquer our past and slay our ultimate dragon and not just metaphorically. He’s real and he looms, lies, interrupts, gropes, intimidates, demeans and threatens. Bitch is only one letter away from Witch, the she-devil, burn her at the stake, whipped into a frenzy the fearful-of-change masses promise to end her, cheering…

Change brings up everything unlike itself.

(I wonder if my daughters look at my rage the same way I look at my husband when he loses his shit in the car at the guy who just cut him off.)

It may not seem like it to the next generation, and it may not feel like it to us right now, but we have come a long way. And when Hillary is president our daughters will soon take it for granted and move on. That’s what change does: it sets the stage for more change, and they have plenty to do.

And we will have some laurels to rest on. Hopefully we can finally forget what we are feeling now, in October 2016, the fear that he can undo us. But remembering and standing together and visualizing holding hands with all women everywhere, yes, also the ones who wear T-shirts that say He Can Grab This >, we will undo him and finally allow ourselves to feel that sense of pure achievement.

LINK to STUPID MODEL:

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Back and Doing the Other Miami…

I’m back.

From pastoral Pennsylvania to crazy Miami.

To the bachelor pad which is being de-bachelored by turning the “pool” room (as in shooting pool with your mates at 3 am, after getting home from the Wall without scoring)  into a third bedroom for the twins so they can do homework, hang out, bicker and sleep behind a wall (instead of the exposed upper mezzanine).

Tiesto mural in pool room will be preserved

Of course this was to be done in the ample two months that we were away and of course it was started on the Friday we returned. So now we neither have an office (pool room) nor a bedroom for the girls since everything from one room is piled in the other.

But thats OK.

They say they will be done by Wednesday.

They say.

They said they’d be done by now.

But I’m not bothered. There are bigger problems.

Like school uniforms.

Maybe one has to be genetically programmed to deal with procuring kid’s uniforms. Maybe I’m too hippy-dippy Dutch to even think about universal clothing for creative kids. See I always look to blame myself first (Have you noticed? Do you do that too? I wish I were a bit more Teaparty, and blame everyone else. Like only everyone else all the time.), still I was proud to have gathered, at Woodbury Common (Like/Love), four khaki bottoms that my trendy twins would deign to wear to school, and one pair of black pants that may get them sent home (while the color is right, the fit will be deemed too sexy, which in this city of underdressed exhibitionists is paradoxical but don’t get me started, I already wrote that blog.)

The preppy polo tops have to be bought locally since they are emblazoned with the Miami Arts Charter School logo.

lime, teal, white or black with MAC logo

Another bigger problem was getting an e-mail from TED, shortly after arrival, requesting a full run-through of my talk at 1 pm on Wednesday. This Wednesday? This Wednesday!

TED? But I was still on uniforms. Saturday was uniform day on my “what to do when we get back” list. Which also has finish homework with the girls, unpack, get food in fridge, get 2nd floor toilet and phone fixed , you know the drill.

TED!

So while I should be writing and practicing my TED talk, I’m chasing uniforms.

Yes, I’d ordered them online as the school suggested, but got a notice a few days ago that the polo’s would be ready for delivery in 5 weeks!

WTF? Right?

What are the suggesting? Homeschooling for five weeks? I mean the school is clear:

All students and parents have agreed to abide by the school uniform as described in the parent/student contract signed during registration.

Students not in uniform will be required to contact their parent and sent home.

I’m scared!
Ibiley suggests I visit any of their conveniently located Miami stores.
They lied. None of them are conveniently located. All of them are in scary shit neighborhoods that are at least  40 minutes away.

I settled on North Miami and was wise enough to call first, just to make sure they had said polos in stock, but of course got the robot who told me that August is too busy to answer the phone, and tells me to leave a message.

They’re also too busy to answer.

I find out just how busy.

But not till after getting lost in the maze of NE and NW 159th street Drive and Street and Court, at the very place where 95, the turnpike and 539 intersect in a spider-web of flyovers and underpasses and of course the exit ramp that Mapquest told me to use is Closed for Construction.

What?

You are sorry for the inconvenience?

Fuck you!

Why not just post some signs up telling how to get the fuck to Ibeley Uniforms in the industrial park (with one entrance) that I can see from the overpass which points towards the Everglades, at 70 miles an hour.

OK. So.

50 minutes later, and isn’t it amazing how proud those moments can make you (forget about a TED talk), I pull up in front of Ibiley.

Pride turns to nausea in a nano second.

Swarming around the  huge warehouse, are hundreds of people of many colors (none quite as white as the three of us), several  stainless steel quilted food trucks are randomly parked, and something that resembles a long line, made up from entire families (bring the kids, the toddlers, the babies, the grannies, aunts, uncles and don’t forget the neighbors) comes out from the front door into the 95 degree sunshine.

We “politely” battle our way inside only to find many feet of empty shelves and another line that resembles immigration at JFK before Christmas.

Determined (if nothing else) I find 8 tees (4 each), while yelling at the twins to help me. Unfortunately they’re catatonic with the otherness of it all, like in some culture-shock transition from the verdant woods to this urban jungle.

We join the immigration line.

After ten minutes we move close enough to spot a tiny sign over the counter.

We are out of the folowing logo patches. (you buy the tees and pay in line #1, they give you your school’s logo patches, you join line #2, the one outside, and they apply the patches).

Come back on the 28th and we will apply them for free,, it also read. (You’d have to bloody well pay ME to come back!).

There’s no actual list of said missing patches posted. I guess it changes by the minute.

So.

I grab an Ibiley sales girl who looks like she will get really drunk that night.

MAC is not on her list of out-of-stock patches.

I ponder if this is good news. I’m rather praying for an excuse to leave. But it sounds like we will be there for the next few hours. (Could I get into this Cuban/Caribbean/South American block-party atmosphere?).

The girl walks away.

The girl comes back.

“You are at the wrong location”, she says. “MAC uses special embroidery and is only available at our Little Havana store on SW 8th Street.”

We are on NW 167th street.

You have to be from Miami to know what that really means, but imagine flying to London instead of Sydney.

We are fucked.

We leave the line.

We are hungry and buy three sandwiches, and three Cuban drink cans ( sexy looking mixed mango. papaya, passion fruit that taste like water) from the guilted truck.

“Mom, these are the best sandwiches I’ve ever had,” the twins chime, “Yes, at least we got some really good sandwiches out of it.”

They encourage me. (Afraid that I might have a shit-fit meltdown?)

Instead I find 95 South (easy), and head towards Little Havana.

I call husband who is on the porch in PA and tells me its the first nice day in weeks.

@#$%^&* !!

He also tells me to give myself a break.

He often tells me this.

I listen. The only breaks I take are the ones he tells me to take.

He’s good to me in that way.

“You did your best,” he says. “Go home, have a swim, enjoy being back.”

He has a point.

I compromise with myself. I settle on Target, which I happen to be passing, buy the last three (a terrible number for twins) white polo’s and  HP iron-0n tee shirt transfer paper.

I feel clever.

I shall go home, get the MAC logo online and iron it on.

Which I do.

While arguing with the MAC principal in my mind that this is as good as the real thing from Little Havana and that the Ibiley store was completely out of stock (good chance of that anyway, right? Given the odds so far?)

While the trip to Little Havana still looms, since three tees between twins won’t last me the promised five weeks.

They wont even last two days.

And then there is TED.

TED needs attention.

As soon as the girls are in school TED will be my lover.

I promise TED my undivided attention….


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Hell Hath No Fury Like Mothers Scorned # 1

evidence of unruly behaviour

OK

So.

Aqua, where we live in the Dutch DJ’s bachelor pad, is a community. As in gated. As in there are rules and regulations handed down by the board and enforced by “management and security”. These rules and regulations are of course to protect us, the owners and tenants.

(From each other?)

Now, husband and I spent about 19 years of our union sneering at these kinds of communities. We’d never live in one of those !

But.

Here we are!

We chose this pad when we cruised Miami Beach two years ago with Esther Percal, the super realtor, because Iona liked the furniture (Italian decorators do candy-land bachelor style ), husband and I liked the huge pool overlooking Indian Creek, and the twins liked the three TV’s, one on each floor except for ours, after their TV-less nine-year-long life.

the pool in Indian Creek

And.

Aqua seemed safe for the kids. They could play outside, ride bikes, scooters, boards, play ball, swim, play hide and seek, walk the dog, all without much parental supervision. Just like home in Milford where they ran in and out and played on their own ten acres.

Still.

When we moved into Aqua almost two years ago it had only a 40% occupancy and was way too designer-exclusive for its own good and our first year was spent alongside three Maserati and Lambourghini owning bachelor neighbors who returned from the Wall@ the W at 4am revving their $350.000 engines, while several (as many as fit in Maserati/Lambourghini) perfect female bodies clicked twice as many Louboutin heels  on the pavement, went inside only to reappear on the deck across from our bedroom where they would either discuss or have sex until I loaded the kids into the car to go to school.

Mom, what was that noise last night?

It woke me up!

I heard girls screaming!

The bachelors frowned upon us. We frowned upon them.

As in breeders versus non-breeders.

Until last summer when the leases were up and they moved on to the next playboy hotspot.

And we left for Milford. When we came back to Aqua new leases had been signed all around us.

The low occupancy rate brought the prices down and had attracted….

… families!

Big and noisy families!

The Maserati/Lambourghini house was taken by a spivvy-looking couple with two girls  the twin’s age.

The house across the alley, aka The  Israeli house for Young Army Bachelors (yes, they flew the Israeli flag and over the year several amputees spent time in the Jacuzzi one-upping each other with tales of battle and atrocity), was taken by another young family with more twins.

Two houses on the other side contained families with only rowdy boys.

Result: A lot of biking, scootering, ball playing, running, hiding and seeking and corresponding screaming and laughing and shouting.

TERRIBLE!

Those DANGEROUS-noisy-wild kids!

So.

Two days ago this was decreed from above:

No more kids in the streets.

No playing.

Play was dangerous.

A peace-disturbing threat to the status quo.

Not to mention a liability.

No more bikes, no more scooters, no more roller-skates.

No more riding bikes to the pool.

I saw a boy being reprimanded by the security guard for riding his skate board.

Minutes later I saw his mother wagging her finger at same security guard.

Minutes after that I was in cohoots with the mother.

We agreed on the message that we heard:

Kids were best not seen and not heard. Kids were best indoors in front of the TV.

Soon after my new neighbor called me.

Had I heard?

And then followed a groundswell fueled by e-mail and Facebook.

Libya, Egypt, Syria had nothing on us.

Us.

The Mothers of Aqua.

The Happy Hooligans of Aqua in action

Did you follow the story on CNN?

About the clandestine meetings in Aqua’s back alleys, where we usually fight over parking spots for our SUV’s but are now united in our indignation against the board. Did they tell you about the demonstration outside the gym? Our manifesto with demands? The Chinese rocket launcher that’s on backorder?

rocket launchers can be fun...

While we were drawing up our demands we threw in some other stuff for good measure, like no more cutting of the mangoes, we have a right to eat the mangoes in our grove, and open up the lap pool (which has been closed for several years because tiles supposedly pop off the overhead building and oh-the-liability), and how about some fines for those dog owners who don’t scoop their poop! Huh? Why don’t you go after them instead of our kids you board/management/security bullies?

There!

A neighbor drew it up and sent it out.

A scary e-mail. A we-take-no-hostages-without-killing-them e-mail. A get-the-fuck-real about who you’re dealing with e-mail.

Get your priorities straight!

They caved.

Kinda.

They compromised. Yes to bikes and scooters on the sidewalks, no to bikes and scooters in the streets and alleys. Yes to opening the lap pool (soon), but no mention of the mangoes and the entitled non-scooping dog owners.

The spivvy neighbors are moving. To a house on the beach further north. A child-friendly place they say.

We’re staying.

Another year.

Soon we will be back for the summer at our non-gated, no security guarded home in Milford.

Alongside neighbors that shoot at children.

But that’s another story which one day I may be brave enough to share and will be called  Hell Hath No Fury Like a Mother Scorned # 2…..

summer home


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In my Situation Room

I’m in my situation room dealing with the terrorism of my kid’s boredom.

I have to. The year is almost over.

Yes it is!

I know its May and not December

But fuck January. January is  meaningless. The year starts when school starts and the year ends when school ends and then there are two months, say 2011-B, that feel like 12 months, unless you send your kids to camp at 3 x $6,000 = $18,000, (since we are free-lance and  lucky to get paid anything for what we do this is not an option) and are known as Summer.

Summer is supposed to be fun. For kids. And mine know it.

Our Damlander Molen in Bergen, Holland

I used to like summer. When I was a kid. My mother set us loose at our summer place (it happened to be a windmill) and I don’t remember any dull moments. Maybe I was just oblivious to the pressure on my Mom to keep summer fun or else … the weapon that my boredom would be the systematic breakdown of her summer equilibrium…

This year I am in a state of preparedness.

  1. Iona. Iona is all set. Iona is pragmatic.

Iona approached 2011-B and what I was going to do about it with the precision of a Navy Seal. She made a list that aimed high with an expensive art camp in Florence at the top. “My friend Andrew is going – so why can’t I?”, to lesser film camps in NYC.  When I proposed a groovy NYC documentary camp I found out, how could I be so dumb, that she doesn’t even like documentaries. But her tactic worked, when I reached the point of being cool with time in NYC  she proposed an internship.

” I HAVE to be in NYC , Mom, or I’ll go crazy with….BOREDOM…”

OK, OK.

So Iona will be spending six weeks with two of my  best girl-friends. Doing things I could never get her to do for me.

First she’ll do a three week internship in NYC , as the gofer for an event venue that does everything from weddings (she will be working weekends – crushing another potential boredom trap) to photo shoots. Next will be three weeks in our local coffee shop  to make some spending money.

Once these two plans were hatched she wrote another list. Of dates. With one week at either end marked as “Vacation – sleep, read, shop and hang out with friends.”

2. The twins are not pragmatic. They are contrarian.

eating candy with the elusive best friend

They say NO to everything. As in:

“No, that is not fun, summer is supposed to be fun, and that (tennis, dance, swimming, horse or photo camp) is BORING.”

The only willingness they show are for day trips that involve me (they don’t get that I have my own definition of boredom) to places like Hershey Park and the Pocono water/family-fun parks. And don’t I know that they love cheerleading? (NO, I did not know!) They insist all they really need is their only and elusive Milford friend who moved away a year ago and may (or not) be there some of the time which forebodes the perfect set-up for waiting, fighting and disappointment. And of course they love their local art teacher. Art with Valerie is the only yes they offer. But I know them – a few hours of art wont keep ennui at bay.

So I succumbed and found a cheerleading camp. Whoopee, but it’s only four days long which leaves 52 days to plan.

Then I thought fuck-it.  I’m taking charge.

And I booked them into every activity the town offers, from a weeklong diving class (a bit kitsch, like cheerleading), to nature photography camp, to tennis every other day throughout July.

I’m not even telling them. But every time the word BORED slips from their lips I will say:

“I have a great idea…”

the boring peaceful porch


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Fashion flash-back > from London to Calvin Klein NYC to Milford…

barbi and her spring 1983 collection...

Twenty-four years ago I moved from London to New York.

I moved because my (financial) partner closed my business. He closed my business because my PR, a Buddhist fashion personality called Lynne Franks, told him that I would never amount to much. That he was wasting his money. She had called a meeting with him behind my back. Two days later he broke the news.

Her motivation? She was a struggling fashion PR wanting to break into big corporate (like damage control) PR, he had just sold his corporate PR company for millions. It was just selfish politics. I lost my business, he lost his respect for her  and she closed her business a few years later, just around the time when I launched CK at Calvin Klein and, for a fashion nano-second, amounted to something in the eyes of the groovy international fashion PR.  A case of divine justice? Or karma? For what it was worth.

Anyway. After her Machiavellian move I moved to New York. A good move. I loved New York. I got a great job, then another great job. And then the super-job: Design Director at Calvin Klein as the designer hired to create a collection that would compete with DKNY and I came up with CK.

CK Jeans 1992

That first year in New York I sold my flat in London and put a deposit on a loft in the Duane Triangle, Tribeca. In 1986. Imagine! My only view, I was on the 2nd floor, was of the World Trade Center, like I was David and there, looking up, was Goliath. I thought it was cool, after all I was New York!

BUT.

Every Saturday night the building behind me had an all-night disco in the basement. The music would pulsate through the walls up and into my bed and I’d have nightmares about my heart. Like it’s beat was off and I was dying. Came June, I decided to rent a house on Shelter Island, and  after one summer of spending the weekend outside Manhattan I was hooked. I needed green. I needed space. I needed acreage. I craved the Ralph Lauren country life-style.

So. I looked in the NY Times weekend real estate section*. I noticed: “Two farm houses on 20 acres, pond, streams, pasture – $185,000.”

Do-able, I thought. Desirable, I thought. But where the hell was Milford PA?

That Saturday morning I got in my GMC Jimmy, blue and white, with lift kit and oversized wheels (don’t ask – I was into being a cross between Thelma and Louise) and drove out to the Delaware Water Gap.

*Explanation: I was living in my Tribeca loft but I could not buy it. I had a mortgage lined up for months, and every few weeks I had to “renew” it and pay another $2300. My building did not have a C of O. It was owned by Meile Rockefeller and when she added the penthouse she had added 13″ over code, so fuck her, that Rockafella, the city was not giving her permission to sell. As a result I could not actually purchase my loft. In fact it felt I’d never be able to buy unless Meile decided to chop a foot off her penthouse, which, according to her, was like chopping a foot off her own body.

Those two farms on 20 acres had been renovated and had shag carpet everywhere. On the floors wall to wall, but also between the fake hand-hewn beams and on the toilet seats.

I passed.

But.

Back at the realtors office I spotted, between pictures of lake fronts and A-frame skiing cabins, this: “1790 historical farmhouse. 12 acres. Streams. Close to town. Needs TLC.”

TLC? Perfect, TLC was me!

That one, I said to Debbie the realtor.

No, she said. I’m not going there.

But it sounds perfect.

Trust me, she said.

I want it, I said.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

So. The house was rented by a drug dealer. A guy called Jo Monaco. He had a German shepard that attacked our car mirror as soon as we drove up.

Jo yelled from the porch: “Didn’t I tell you to call first!” “I did and you didn’t pick up!” Debbie yelled from the car.

Still. We looked around the place. The dealer’s gun collection was on one wall. It looked huge and scary to me, recently arrived from Maida Vale, London.

His shag carpet was old. His shower was a porta-cabin. Still. The paneled ceiling whispered that real hand-hewn beams were hidden, as well as a 200 year-old  fireplace. I couldn’t see the stream but I could hear it.

But more than anything, I heard my future.

the hidden beams and fireplace

I had, what I call, a future memory.

And based on this future memory I placed an offer with the owner of the drug dealer’s house. (Ten years later Jo was arrested for killing a cop in Staten Island,  sexual abuse and child pornography, he’d been hiding out in my house, they nabbed him a few years later, sent him to Rikers where he eventually died.)

Maybe the house had egged me on to set it free.

then and now

And I did. I loved my house. I love my house and my house loved me.

I am here now. At the old English kitchen table that I brought with me from London. Writing this Ode to my Home.

the old kitchen table

The house where I brought future husband the weekend after we met and where we made love for the first time. Where we explored and learned about each other, away from everything else.

Where I came a few weeks after Iona was born and where my mother first met her first grand child.

Where I came with Kiki and Leila as babies,when life, after 9/11, became almost unbearable.

Where husband and I decided to settle down by moving out and adding 3000 square feet that included studios for both of us and bedrooms for all four kids.

the old and the new

And, as you know, then we moved to Miami.

But I am here. Now. Inspired to write this as I hoosh for our new renters. The fridge, the pantry, the drawers,the laundry room,  I finally scraped the “Energy Guide” sticker off my ten year old dryer, and even moved the female nude (my favorite painting, which I bought at a Lambertville gallery) because it makes me feel exposed somehow.

tits and toy soldiers

It is here I want to return, eventually, maybe just husband and I, older, wiser, calmer, to write and paint and design and Skype with our kids all over the world.

It is here that I still see many, many more future memories…

overlooking the stream

dinner party room

new living room

all photos of the house by Erik Freeland

Architects of the new addition: Smith and Thompson Architects


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Barbi does Miami, alone…

Ok

So

Here I am, in (on? I always wondered about this) Miami Beach.

One year later…one year after the TB scare and the rashes from the fiberglass chairs.

Like one year ago is when we came down for our nine-month get away…

As in, lets try a school-year away from Milford with its six-feet-of-snow winters when I need a focus-group to determine how to best get from the front door to the car to pick up the kids, where we have crazy neighbors who shoot at eight-year-old twins (or at least try to hit a target that stands about ten feet in front of their neighboring twins) and then try to get the mother (moi) arrested for shoving the neighbor for almost shooting my twins (one day I’ll be ready to blog you that whole story), getting away from having Obama signs stolen five times from my yard, being called a commie for trying to have a library built in town and having to spend at least 1/3 of my life in the car driving for every little  brain fart.

Anyone would agree that these are plenty good reasons to try something else for a while. And as you know, from 12 months of blogging, we did.

WE. I said.

We, as in husband and me and our children, Kiki, Leila and Iona.

So, if you’ve been a faithful follower of this Gordon de Vries adventure, you know that, based on mainly but not solely, Iona’s acceptance into DASH, we went for the second year. A second year in DJ Tiesto’s bachelor pad. Tiesto loves us, despite the fact, or because of the fact, that we’re not bachelors, we dont wreck the place every Saturday night, but instead the “Dutch Cleanser” has moved in, one who occasionally slips into heels and a mini, but still reports every toilet blockage.

Anyway.

I’m here. Kiki is here, very popular in her grade. Leila is here, very popular too, Iona is here, loving DASH.

But where is husband? I’ve been looking everywhere! The closets, under the bed, the garage, by the pool, in the car (maybe he locked himself in?), the fridge, the gym, the jacuzzi?

He’s not here.

He’s in Milford!

Yep, believe it or not, he’s there.

Next to the crazy neighbors, who reportedly are building a moat between them and us, like they’re the bridge and we’re the water  (one day I’ll tell all…)

And I miss him. Husband, not the neighbor.

He’s there because of work. Like suddenly, isn’t it always like that, like you think you’re in the shitty check-out line and you move and then the register in yours breaks and the other, previous, line turns out to have an additional bagger, well this year he, husband, happens to have loads and loads of work in New York. He HAS to be there. Meetings every week. New editors, new jobs, new websites who want him, launches and openings and suddenly New York is where its at.

FUCK!

Like now I’m a single parent without benefits.

Like I go out with my single and divorced girl friends but I don’t get to flirt, exchange numbers, and pretend to be BAD.

I’m GOOD.

I’m so good I bore myself.

Sometimes, when husband calls at midnight on a Saturday night, just when I’ve come home and read his e-mail saying “call me when you get home”, I pretend that I was bad. But, to be honest, I don’t even know how to do this…

So between now and Halloween Barbi does Miami, alone.

waiting...like a good girl...

; )

Do you have my number?


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betwixt and between…

barbi?

Barbi is back in Miami

Only I’m not quite back to being Barbi, and I wonder, was Barbi a character I created for living in Miami last year? Do I want to be Barbi forever? Do I want to do Miami forever?

Am I lost between Milford and Miami and me and Barbi?

me

I am lost between Milford and Miami and me and Barbi.

So, since I’m not Barbi, its kind of hard to blog  Miami style.

I’ll start with the kids, to keep the focus off me.

Iona is at DASH with lots of homework, fun homework like do ten art works using soy sauce, soap and candle wax and there are lots of cute boys so she’s tired but inspired.

Kiki and Leila? They’re fine too. Oblivious to the drama that goes on at their school.  That screwed-up underfunded, overpopulated public elementary school. And Miami Beach has many entitled super-moms running around (I admit to being guilty myself), who are all confused about wanting and trying to get “the best for their child” in this – classes too big, teachers too stressed, Gifted/not Gifted principals too scared, no budget for nothing, job insecurity, not good enough UNIVERSE. We’re all in it and we all feel lost in it, like there is no there, there, no truth, no path, no mentor or inspiration, its just a get-through-it-in-one-piece processing plant. BUT. The girls like their teacher, She’s funny, they say. Funny is good! They come home and do their homework, so they want to please her….

But me, I’m betwixt and between…

Husband was here for five days. We had a big meeting with a potential client (fingers crossed). Then he stayed for our early anniversary. We first met on September 2nd 1990 and got married on September 4th eight years later. Twenty years! But thats another blog, the love blog, the relationship blog. The pink lava lamp blog. Still I don’t mind telling you that being betwixt and between on your anniversary is very romantic. I can recommend the uncertainty, as if nothing can be taken for granted. There is no need for fancy hotel rooms with scattered rose petals, or a million candles around the tub, or a ring studded with meaningful diamonds. I take the flutter of betwixt anytime over all that. And the shiver of between…

But  he’s gone back for work in NYC. And my car broke down. It rains and its grey like Holland. So I rearranged the furniture. The designer couches and rugs and Arad chairs of our Tiesto bachelor pad are all muddled up.  We now have a TV corner, how bourgeois, and can, for the first time in a year change the channels lying down instead of  walking around the corner of the hidden designer shelving system. Much better. Its cozier  but also more photogenic  in a World of Interiors kinda way.

But I wonder, where do I start picking up on me? Am I working or caretaking? Am I facilitating or building an awesome third career?  Am I a writer, a fashion designer, a book designer, an environmentalist, a mother, a wife, a bill payer, check chasing, budget balancer (yes I’m definitely that ) ? Am I at home or am I lost in Miami?

Where is home?

Milford is home, because that’s where my heart is the fullest.

favorite spot, over the stream...

But the rest of my family disagrees. The girls think its boring and husband thinks its HillBilly… (my husband is so not HillBilly but I have an inner HB)

This kind of family division causes betwixt.

I be twixt. I be twixt in a who the fuck am I? where the fuck am I? kinda way.

Oddly I don’t seem to mind it. I may even like it. Its nothing like being bored or the feeling that I should be somehwhere else because I’m already somewhere else.

Maybe I don’t quite mind it because – did I tell you this already? – I got an order for 900 t shirts to be embellished with Plastic is Forever from Barneys!

Barneys New York!

Loomstate Tee with Plastic is Forever

For Spring 2011!

Thats a lot of beach plastic. Thats a lot of harvesting and cleaning beaches and I will post my progress on my Its a Man Made World blog.

So that is one person I WILL be: a beach-plastic comber, during September, October, November, I shall be crouched over the coral-pink sand of the Bahamas filling my bags with plastic garbage…

I look forward to it. Its just when I add all the other stuff I also have to do to that order. Thats when I start to be twixt. Like can I do it all? Be it all? Be here and there and there as well.

But maybe we all feel like that all the time now? Like what we do is never enough and at the same time too much. Too much choice of stuff like options for anti-aging, to name an example, so many ways, creams and pills and remedies that I may need but will never get around to trying.  Or all those causes, like at the check-out of Publix for helping poor hungry kids and at Walgreens for helping Haiti, and on FB posting pink ribbons for breast cancer, and an Inbox full of ways to help out in the Gulf, and then there are those PTA meetings I should attend. I want to do them all, end up doing none and then I feel guilty.

And what’s with making money all of a sudden? Someone has turned off the middle-class money faucet, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Obama.

Then I worry about Obama.

I can’t watch TV because I get too upset. About what those mad hatter tea-partiers are doing and getting away with. The bile they stir into their BP logo tea cups. The general ignorance of who funds and fuels (oil) their fire of hatred. And why? When I get on that train of thought I get so betwixt that between is not even an issue.

But I wonder, Milford versus Miami aside, do we all feel this way?  Like where the hell are we headed and how do we turn this around?

Are we lost because so much of our lives are no longer familiar?

Maybe familiar is out and betwixt is in…

Iona's eye by Iona


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Barbi does Port Jervis

annual soap box derby Port Jervis

Port Jervis is not Miami. Port Jervis is not the Hamptons. Port Jervis is in New York State but its so not the Hamptons.

In fact its probably the most un-Hampton place in NY State.

So. You may ask yourself. why is Barbi in Port Jervis? ( called PJ for short, which some locals take literally and wear their Walmart PJ’s to the supermarket, liquor store, gas station, gun and ammo shop or  while lounging on their porch). Port Jervis lies on the Delaware river  in a forgotten corner of NY, about 90 minutes from NYC. It became a destination when the D&H canal which ran down the Delaware river and transported coal, lumber and other raw materials and the railroad were built. But now Port Jervis, like so many industrial US towns, is a shadow of its former self with hopes to become the next Hudson creating artists lofts, galleries and coffeeshops, a dream that diminished as soon as the recession hit two years ago.

It’s the car.

PJ has the only dealership close-ish to Milford which will fix specific GMC related issues, like that stupid back handle coming off the stupid hatch door.

So.

This car, which husband calls HIS car, instantly becomes OUR car when one chump is needed to sit waiting at PJ GMC … for an hour which becomes two  or more….

And so here I sit, my MAC  secretly plugged into an outlet under the seventies oil stained nylon couch (my battery is lazy nowadays)  wearing my Marc Jacobs skirt, Loomstate Tee,  orange espadrilles in a casual isn’t this just the perfect place to blog, kinda way.

I could go across the street to Homers, the oldest diner in Port Jervis, which was established 1807 or thereabouts, and has not been renovated since. The old geezers sitting at the bar, morning after morning, are the kind for which David Lynch writes entire movie scripts. I usually sit on the other side in a sickly green booth with vinyl seats that are held together by ducktape that’s held together by duck tape that’s held together by duck tape that sticks to my legs. Faded, no not sepia, pictures on the walls show them good ole days when PJ was booming, with proud men standing by a steam engine or a canal boat full of huge logs. They look independent, strong and ever so American. White haired relatives of those strong souls now carefully count their nickels and dimes as they pay for their eggs, bacon and white toast all for $2.99. I had breakfast at Homers last week, when I brought the car  in for its “evaluation”. I cant do Homers again, not twice in one summer.

Over the last eight years, between driving the kids to school in Glen Spey NY and keeping my horse at New Hope Farms, I used to pass through Port Jervis several times a week.

New Hope Farms is the best horse boarding deal in New York State (if you don’t mind traces of cultishness). Its an Olympic sized complex, built in the seventies by the Reverend Moon. Yes him, Sun Myung Moon of the Moonies. Turns out one of his 16 children, a daughter, was an equestrienne on the Korean national team. Moon was sure  she’d do better if she trained on American soil and so he built her a complex all to herself.  No expense spared. New Hope Farms is probably the only thing in PJ that can hold its own against the Hampton.  One wonders why he picked this spot. Was it cheap acreage? Was it inconspicuous? Was it complete ignorance about USA horseyness? (I mean Kentucky or Virginia come to mind)  It’s a mysterty but there it sits. 3000 acres with an Olympic sized arena surrounded by three long barns with about 150 sparsely occupied 100 sq ft stalls.

The place is run by a Moonie, now officially called a member of the Unification Church (which may make her a Unifier?) a bi-polar woman who one day acted like she loved me and my horse at New Hope and the next threatened to evict me for leaving the tack room light on while  grooming.

One very cold winter the local pony club moved in so the kids could ride in our arena. The huge, big enough for Olympic trials, arena. Unfortunate;y the young riders knew no arena protocol. They just rode like crazy little Disney ponyclubbers wherever their ponies fancied trotting. These crisscrossing little ghostly creatures (why were they all white?) made my large black Oldenburg very nervous.

I was doing an extended trot on the diagonal and suddenly there, right in front of us, crossed one such white pony. Lubek (my horse) jumped to the left while I headed on the diagonal as planned, causing us to part, me flying to the ground, and landing hard on my lower back.

FUCK!

Echoed across the cavernous arena bouncing of the 4500 aluminum spectator benches. Flags of every country in the world, which hang dustily in the rafters, fluttered in shame.

F U C K !

I shouted again. Adding:

FUCKING PONIES EVERYWHERE!

I got up but my back was not cooperating. Instead I stood bent in a downward-facing-doggish pose waiting for help.

(Little did I know that saying FUCK within Unification-Church grounds was a crime punishable by death)

A dozen (mothers of those out-of-control pony clubbing girls) mouth’s hung open. Their riding instructor passed the reigns of my horse to me as if she just handed me the gun with which I’d shot one of her white ponies.

The energy turned to shun, and quite possibly stoning to follow.

I stumbled out of the arena, handed my horse to one sympathetic friend, grabbed a handful of snow, shoved it in a plastic bag, shoved the snow bag into my breeches and drove myself to the emergency room.

I was flat in bed on a cocktail of muscle relaxers and Vicodin, a lovely vacation-like combination, for a week.

As soon as I returned to New Hope I was summoned into “the office”.

A lecture followed. A lecture about using “that word”. A week later I was called into the office again and got a second lecture about using  “that word”.  A week after that I got my third lecture about using  “that word” (you get the picture). Was she giving me the Moony brainwash and repeat after me, again and again – bad word – bad word – bad word – treatment?

But.

It didn’t work. FUCK is still my favorite word. So there Mister Moon, Mister Moon…

Anyway I’ve digressed. But as you can gather, my car is still not fixed, so I wandered down my Port Jervis memory lane.

Now, if you don’t mind, I wander back to the Hamptons for a minute, while I’m still waiting.

Because I’m pretty sure that you can’t say FUCK in Hampton boarding stables and arenas either. I’m sure Kelly Klein never says FUCK  when she falls off her horse (she may mumble it and then claim she said muck).

However.

I know.

For a fact.

That:

In the Hamptons you can say FUCK-OFF when some asshole in a vintage convertible Mercedes (red) steals a long awaited parking spot at the Citerellas parking lot. I’ve heard mothers say  FUCK YOU ASSHOLE when a Porsche going 50 miles an hour  brushes her Peg Perego stroller in the middle of  the Newtown Lane zebra crossing, gay guys say SHUT THE FUCK UP when someone dares to speak in the movie theater. I’ve heard a fat new member say WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN MY SPOT  at the Devon Yacht club, and anyone will tell you that it was FUCKING awesome to run into Naomi Campbell at Scoop who was on  her cell saying what a FUCKING asshole her driver turned out to be.  Retailers will complain that their rents are  through the FUCKING roof and realtors say that the market is FUCKED compared to three years ago. Not to mention that the traffic is always FUCKING awful and the local corn the best FUCKING corn in the entire world, make that universe…

Anyway

The car is  fixed, and I’ve somehow forged a blog about FUCK, Port Jervis and the Hamptons

So. I’m done.

I’m outta here.

So long PJ…

In case you think I’m just bitching here a few  links to the most desirable places in PJ:

Samaki, for the best smoked fish in the north east.

The Blue Parrot, the coolest restaurant at 17 Front Street

The Creamery, a real old style dairy bar on the river

Bowling in one of the most authentic alleys still around

and of course the antique shops on Front Street.


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Barbi does Milford

or home sweet home….

There is, I realize, no place like home, and our house in Milford feels a lot like home, even while I’m still into de-renterfying mode, like why is our wireless network suddenly called Casa Cielo? Why is there no longer a phone in my office and where the hell is the egg tray from the fridge? I ask myself are these my pots and pans underneath this black crust? was that really a mouse running out of the fridge? And wasn’t my shower curtain  white and not ombre´ brown…? Every day holds another renter trail surprise and all lead to the inevitable conclusion that renting and owning are two different states of mind and thats putting it nicely…

Still, I have a gorgeous home. My home is me. My home is us. Alastair, Iona, Iain, Kiki and Leila. I wish I could carry my house, like a turtle or a snail, to Miami Beach and to Eleuthera, and everywhere else I fancy living.

You have a question? About the town of Milford? What is it like? Actually, its pretty cute but culturally a bit disappointing. I’ve been here 22 years and given the chance the good ‘ole boys still call me a newcomer. An accent (the UK Queens English), a past in New York City (and beyond), and a wardrobe that may include a few designer labels, will earn anyone here that title. Newcomer. Like immigrant. Someone who  does not belong. (A strange phenomena on this New Conservative American landscape, like really, which generation earns the righteous right to say they belong? First? Second? Third?)

The big disappointment came in the guise of Dunkin Donuts. On main street. Right next to the lot that had been bought and earmarked for our airy, lightfilled and green new library, designed by Fred Schwartz , the super fabulous architect from New York, who won the competition for this new building. Unfortunately to us, Milford’s new generation, the entire venture was perceived to be organized by so-called Newcomers. The ones that had lives in New York. Those terrible uppity outsiders who think they are better than everyone else. Thus the new library  split the town in two. The good ole boys did not want this library and riled their troops as if a nuclear power plant was taking root right in the center of their town. While we were in Miami a referendum was held in Milford Borough, population 3500, which sealed the fate for the county (population 40,000). Result: No modern-architect-designed-green-library would disgrace their cute “historic” town.

However. After citing that no chains like Dunkin Doughnuts, Home Depot or flat-roofed modern structures would find their way into the Borough center (“over our dead body “) the town officials somehow  thought that, instead of expanding the Milford mind,  Milford waistlines could benefit from some expansion. Dunkins opened and, insult to injury, it borders the proposed, and purchased, library site, overlooking the stream, the Knob and the Victorian walk along the Sawkill Creek, which no DD consumer will ever appreciate.

And while I’m at it, can anyone tell me what’s with that third new fireworks store, the first thing one sees when arriving – Welcome to Milford – Historic town?  For some obscure reason, this fireworks store is the only business in town, (who are they related to?) that doesn’t  have to adhere to the strict signage ordnance (cute, small and historic) and has its own patriotic (tell me what’s so patriotic about fireworks, their sound of gunfire?) huge banners and flags and other in-your face-paraphenalia that tells the newly arrived visitor, NOT, “welcome we are a cute historic town”, BUT, “howdy we are a loudmouth, keep small children indoors, gun touting, heavy-drinking, devil-may-care kind of place where Bikers are Welcome, liberals and librarians – Keep Out.”

So. I love my house. It is perfect. It fits me like a glove. But Milford, after showing years of improvement, the Fauchere, the Black Bear Film Festival, the annual Music Festival, the efforts of Dick Snyder, Sean Strub, Peter and Reggie, Hilary, Nancy and Darryl, Donna Hamilton, Alan Greenbaum, Jerry Beaver and Nancy Pitcher, and many others, seems to be slipping towards the appeal of the mass dumb-down culture, like the Dunkin Donuts and fireworks stores, Turkey Hill gas stations, smoke and lottery shops and tight Park Service regulations instead of organic farmer’s markets, funky independent boutiques and many good, cool bars, music/poetry cafes and restaurants.

But I know Milford won’t give up. We still have the Patisserie, the Waterwheel Cafe, the movement to renovate the old movie theatre, the Indigo Arts building with 7th Street Coffee, and all power to them. Yes to those who may have lived in New York, and who know the cultural trends and  call for originality, creativity and independence…

Speaking of which, Iona’s birthday, fourteen this time, was yesterday, July Fourth, and her adoring, adorable Dad, bought her a MACBook. She is in heaven while the rest of us are envious. Jealous of the speed with which she goes online, the perfectly white key board, the options and features that come with it.

Of course Iona had it all, call it fall-out from my omnipotent “singing telegram mother”. Birthdays have to  be the perfect balance between gifts and wrapping, appearance and content, guests, friends, family, cake, singing, food and love. I think I scored 80 out of a 100. A brief but loud spat with husband knocked 20 points out of Iona’s otherwise perfect birthday chart… but who knows, maybe, in the end, that’s the best gift of all – the lesson that perfection is a mere rainbow which stretches from one unreachable yard to another and that in reality God is found in the details, including the small imperfect details like fights and conflict, which complete the whole circle of our existence….

Celebration fireworks and dinner-theatre at J Morgans Puett’s  on Saturday night…

…the Mildred’s Lane saturday night events, our other home away from home sweet home.