Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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ROUTINE

I am woken up at 6.30 by my fifteen year old daughter. Depending on her teenage mood she either wiggles my toe or mumbles a sullen “wake up Mom”. Sometimes I’m already awake and, waiting for her to open the door, I’ll call “I’m up” before she enters the room. Occasionally she has to search and finds me on the sofa because there are times when a queen is just not big enough for her fretful viking parents.

After sliding my contacts sideways into sleepy eyes I pull an outfit from the closet that could attract the attention of  roadside assistance on the Alice Tuttle Parkway. I  don’t brush my teeth until after my first cup of tea, two bags of English PG Tips, super strong, lots of sugar and milk, and sipped as I make the next three lunch boxes out of the 4982 lunch boxes made thus far and the 2400 or so left to go. I like making lunch boxes. I refuse to iron, I hate washing pots, I’m not strong at patiently explaining home work but I do get into assembling lunch boxes. First the sandwich and its variations: white bread, whole wheat bread, cesar rolls, ciabatta rolls, bagels and wraps, turkey and cheese, ham and cheese, tuna, cream cheese, egg salad, hummus tomato lettuce, and occasionally for the unexpected and I’m out of everything, peanut butter. An apple or satsuma or grapes or melon. A large chocolate chip cookie from the Fresh Market and finally the salty element; chips or pretzels, crackers or Pirate Booty. Iced tea in the three canteens. Its the first creative act of my day.

    

By 7.15 Iona and I are in the car. By 7.30 I drop her off at the railroad tracks that run along DASH – her high school. We talk along the way. We catch up. There’s always something. A teacher. A test. A pesky text from an ex-boyfriend demanding back some gift bestowed in the early days of his mad passion. I curse and scream at the Miami drivers, justified in my agro by a recent report that Miami drivers  REALLY are the worst in the country. Its not me. It’s been proven and  I attest: They  don’t move at a green light, they slow down for orange so they can check messages, but do run every red light, they change lanes randomly, pull out of parking spots without looking, never use a blinker, speed in a slow zone and do 25 miles in the outer lane of the highway. They drive around speed humps as if that’s actually an option and mothers make u-turns on the school crossing almost running over the carpool of kids they just unloaded, all while texting.

Once I’ve dropped off Iona I have 12 minutes to make it back home. 7.42. The school bus for the twins arrives around 7.50. They are never ready and always in a wardrobe-induced flap. Amber hops impatiently through the hall, hyper at the knowledge that she’s next on my roster. The three of us run to the light, press the may-pedestrians-cross-soon button, ensure we don’t get run over by a red-light jumper and wait on the opposite corner.  Alton Road rush-hour traffic zooms by. The same thousand cars every morning. The same yellow Fiat with the redhead, the same black mini Cooper with the fat woman, the same tan man on his bicycle, the same white Range Rover turning onto Allison Island. I wait with my girls until they get on. Ever since a black Cherokee almost slammed into the back of their school bus I make sure they do not enter until all cars behind have stopped. I wave at the driver, a friendly grey haired woman, the girls hiss back at me “she only speaks Spanish, Mom!” as if I waved in English.

I press the pedestrian light again, check the traffic exiting from our community gates for the black Porsche Cayenne that came so close to hitting me a month ago that I actually screamed FUCK and saw my life flashing while the driver, her face a few feet from mine, remained unimpressed and did not even mouth “sorry”, something I would definitely have done had I almost run her over, just in case I’d meet her by the pool later.

By eight I’m home. I thank God for sparing me and my family yet again, clip the leash on Amber, grab a poopie bag and am dragged around Aqua for the next ten minutes, fresh on the trail of  the Airedale terrier – Zoe from Zoe Way (coincidental or intentional one wonders.) Amber, who ignores all dogs, has decided Zoe is da meanest bitch of Miami Beach and needs to be taken out. We pee, we shit, we pick up the shit because cameras are trained everywhere (in the last condo meeting there was even talk of D & A testing un-bagged left-behind turds in order for appropriate fines to be imposed.) Not I.  I am proud of my own goodness every time I pick up, and when the security guard passes in his golf cart moments after a shit has been taken I hold up my baggie and call out “I got it” as if he’s driving by just to check on me, which is not altogether unlikely.

studio aka garage

I return a disappointed Amber home and grab my swimsuit that hangs from the doorknob in my studio, also known as the garage. I change, wrap the mandatory Aqua towel around my waist and ride my bike  along Indian Creek to our pool. It’s invariably a gorgeous morning. We’ve been in Miami two years and four months and I still notice the luxury of the weather. It is sunny, warm and the air has a hint of salt from the ocean two blocks away. I look for dolphins or manatee in the creek. A heron flies close to me, checking for fish. I admire the tall palm trees on the other side of the water and the mansions with their tropical gardens and jetties with million dollar yachts. There is no one at the pool except for the Aqua grounds keeper preening for the day ahead. I wade into the Olympic sized body of turquoise water and start my  thirty laps.  The water is warm. Too warm. A ridiculous waste I think every morning as I pull a bunch of  bougainvilla flowers from the filter. I start to think as I swim through more  fuchsia bougainvilla. The sun is just coming around the tall apartment blocks of  Millionaire Row along Collins, the avenue that separates the creek from the beach. I think of the day ahead. I lay it out like the lane I’m lapping up, with each stroke I run my list: Finish taxes, call Blue Cross Blue Shield, balance my check book, mark up the next BHS folder, send e-mail to John about the wine sponsorship, order 200 tee shirts, did the Botanical gardens respond yet? And why not?  I think of the BIG list. The list of things to do with the rest of my life. My ambition list. I think of how I felt those first few months I was doing laps here. How I was unsure, insecure and off-kilter. How in the second year so much turned around, how doors opened and how I passed through them. I imagine I am exactly in the middle of my entire life. Its been eventful so far and I look forward to what’s coming. I think of the 120 or so pieces I have to make for my new collection. I anticipate what it will be like when my routine goes upside down and inside out when I’m leaving all this behind for three whole weeks.

Alone.

I’ll be alone for the first time in 16 years. Alone in a house. No actually, a castle. I shall make dinners just for me and 45 less lunch boxes in the big scheme of things on my to do list.

beginning of a new collection


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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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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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Repurposed in Miami

Last year was a transitional year.

I realize now that, for me, last year was still transitional. From  reading my blog you’d probably  already figured this out, but I was oblivious.

I thought the previous year had been transitional and that I was out of transition and in destination. But, just because I’d moved to Miami didn’t mean that I had arrived. I know what you’re thinking, moving to a new city is always a transition, and that is exactly what I would answer, if anyone asked.

But I’d already been in a real full-blown transition since early 2008. And it felt like being stuck. Like I couldn’t go back, and couldn’t move forward. I no longer knew who I was nor who I wanted to be. My identity had always been so wrapped up in what I created and I didn’t want to go back to designing “more stuff “. My last gig had been with Pantone as the Creative Director of every licensed product that carried its logo and name. Plates, stationery, shoes, a home collection, clothes, bags, you name it. A lot of stuff… So I helped Alastair with the design of Spaced Out and started  collecting waste beach plastic. I worked it,  made jewelry from it and educated myself in the causes and effects of plastic pollution. I did a website called Its a Man made World.

And I wrote. I wrote an entire novel about a woman in transition. A woman like me, who from one moment to the next realizes that her perfectly crafted life has fallen apart, and that nothing will ever be what she thought again.

I did both in a bubble. Not a pretty, floating-on-air Californian bubble, but more like a soundproof one-way-mirror bubble, feeling unheard and unseen. Lost even.

Moving to Miami had everything to do with breaking out of whatever it was that I was in. Husband knew it, like he was aware that a change would do me, and us, good.

And it did, almost right away. (SO, for anyone who feels stuck: Move! A different city, a different country, a different job, a new house, a whole new slice of of life to explore).

But then I thought Miami Beach was just playtime, and that’s hard for me because I was brought up with a huge sense of purpose and responsibility, and here I was having lunch on the beach!

Some days it felt like I was doing the same as I did before, writing and recycling beach plastic, only in better weather, in DJ Tiesto’s bachelor pad, away from the knick-knacks of my old life… and maybe I still wasn’t getting anywhere…

The only difference I felt was a sense of patience and maybe this comes with age. Maybe  the ambition endorphins turn into patience endorphins, and for the first time ever I enjoyed the process of what I was doing, instead of being anxious about getting to the pay-off: money, attention, a good review…

I added some beach plastic clothes and called the collection Plastic is Forever. I got a small order for scarves from Base at the Delano, which lead to picking, cutting and drilling the beach plastic and finding the local women who would sew it on silk georgette for me. I enjoyed meeting them, Lucia and her mother, at Normandy on Saturday mornings and buying organic vegetables and flowers at the market afterwards.

I enjoyed doing the Barbi does Miami blog, not only did writing about being here help me redefine who I was , but I also connected to my readers for the first time. I made friends with people I’ll never meet. This, for me, is the joy of writing. Not the sitting alone at a desk for hours on end, losing all sense of time, like passing through CS Lewis’ closet, entire days disappearing into what feels like an hour. I don’t like that aspect of writing. But I love the dialog. The ability to create a connection, a shared experience, a feeling that we’re never alone in what we go through and how it makes us feel…

But this year is different. I’m working manual labor in Miami. I have to produce 900 tee shirts for Barneys New York, using organic blanks from Loomstate. And 900 tees is about 35,000 pieces of  beach plastic, and about 50,000 drilled holes! Its a group of women beaders who need 50 kits every week between now and end january, and I’ll have to provide those. I’ll be working hard and I love it.

In fact. I think that…

I’m a bit like my beach plastic.

All that plastic I collect had purpose in a previous life, be it a bottle top, a crate, toothbrush, hair clip, spoon, detergent container, cup, plate, comb,  or any one of a million other things. Then it was useless. Discarded. It tossed around for a bit. Sand, sea, sun, salt even coral. Then it started to look good again. And now this patina-ed beach plastic has a whole new life as fabulous adornment on Barneys tees that’ll sell to green fashionistas for one hundred and thirty five dollars.

So.

I too feel repurposed and it feels good…

and there will be black and white...


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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 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.