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Dear Dad,

On this, your thirty-ninth Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking about the ways you’ve been a father to me every day of my life. I love you, you love me: these are the plain facts that hold such more intricate truths and stories.

Some stories of our days together I only know because you’ve told me. Us watching Watergate together, the first summer of my life. You and me, hogging the baby pool in the back yard. Me, leaping into your arms for a dance whenever “Kodachrome” would play on your hi-fi. Other stories I remember myself. Waving good-bye to you from the kitchen window in my footie pajamas, as you zoomed off to work on your motorcycle with a beep. Telling me a wonderfully endless story about a girl trapped in a green world who discovers a red arrow and is forever changed. Taking me out for a hotdog and a cream soda (just you and me!), taking me to my first Mets game, my first concert, and to a pared-down overnight camping trip (everything had to fit on your motorcycle).

Remember what a moody, stubborn grudge-holder of a teenager I was? Well what I remember is how you’d face my scowl with jokes and laughter until I relented.

You’ve made me apologize when I treated others poorly, you have always been my greatest defender when others treated me poorly. You coached three sports and worked summers mowing  lawns so that Mom could go back to school, and we could still take a summer vacation as a family. You welcomed my friends into our family, you hazed my boyfriends just enough (then you would help them too).

I admire you. You were a champion soccer player and baseball player in college; you have always been a natural leader. You served your country in the Army, you make friends everywhere you go, you master the hobbies you take up. You loved Mom since the first moment you met her, and you still flirt with her, more than five decades after you first clapped eyes on her. You speak with pride, love and delight about your son, and your grandchildren. The example of the way you love us is one of your greatest gifts to me.

Most recently, though, I think back to the night nearly two years ago when you picked me up at the train station and drove me to see a lawyer. You waited in the car as I learned the steps I’d have to take to rend my life apart, and what awaited me on my journey away from what I’d thought was my future as an until-death-do-us-part wife. Afterwards, you took me to a pizzeria for dinner, and kept up a congenial, gentle and one-sided stream of conversation about the Mets, your woodturning, the rest of the family. You handed me your handkerchief and didn’t fuss further about my ceaseless crying. When the waiter showed up and I was still crying, you acted as natural as could be. There was no pity, no drama. You just sat with me, steady in your belief that I would be fine, that I was fine. You even told me so. When I am counting my blessings, when I am cowed in gratitude for all that God has given me, this moment is one of the standouts.

When I was a little girl, you were my hero. You hugged away the mean words of the kids who teased me, you assured me I was smart and beautiful. Now, as a grown woman, you are still my hero. I have learned a little bit about what it takes to be a grown-up, and a person of integrity. I’ve seen how hard it is to give yourself over to love (and all the attendant worry). You are my hero because you have shared your humanity with me, and have shown me that being a hero sometimes means showing support when you can’t actually save the day. You’ve shown me the value of saying yes when people ask for help, and the rewards that come when we let our guard down and ask for help in return. Thank you.

I love you, Dad.

Always,

Your daughter

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Outward Bound

Saturday evening, at 9:30 pm, I will be sitting on a plane that will take off for Rome.

Rome, ITALY.

Right now, this very second, I have 100 euros burning a hole in my wallet.

I’ve invested money in brushing up my Italian, and in fashionable clothes.

Tomorrow, I’m going to dig out my converter, and have my mail held for 2 weeks.

(TWO WEEKS!!)

I feel so jetsettery.

Q: How did you learn to speak Italian, TK?

A: In bed.

Earlier this evening, a cousin-in-law (who knows how some of these people are related! I just hug everyone at wakes) spoke to me in Italian because he knows my scholarly background. I responded, and in fact it turned out I had a lot to say. Boy did it feel good to push those words out, their singsongy rhythm making me feel like some sort of open-mike performer.

Also, did I tell you that I’ve rented a damn castle in Umbria with some friends for the first week of my vacation? Technically, we’ll be staying in Villa Pianesante on the Todi Castle estate. I just legitimately used the words “estate” and “castle.” Cool.

Also, did I tell you that I’ve rented a flat in the centro storico of Bologna for the second week of my trip? Bologna is in Emilia-Romagna, the region of the country considered to offer the finest examples of Italian cuisine.

Q: Did I pack stretchy pants?

A: NO.

Who’s more excited for me than I am? NO ONE.

Who thinks I’m going to meet a rich Italian bachelor and finally attain my dream of living in Italy and training for marathons on the hills of Le Marche? NO ONE.

It’s good we’re all on the same page.

Also: no work for TWO WHOLE ENTIRE WEEKS. I will be WITHOUT BLACKBERRY. I’m a little dizzy.

I know I’m having a cheese-tasting lunch at a cheese makery (farm? factory? um?) on Monday. Saturday I have to catch a train to Bologna from Orvieto. But beyond that? NO PLANS.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I have plans. I plan to layabout. I plan to read. I plan to gaze at the hills and the cypress trees. I plan to somehow talk to strangers, so I can practice my Italian. I plan to not give into this fear that’s poking a bony finger into the timid part of my soul. I’ll write postcards, use Maria’s iPad, sit in the sun, wander along cobbblestone streets, and reabsorb Italy into my psyche.

Who wants a postcard?

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FreshDirect is not:

  • a 1-800 hotline where masochists can call to be berated by sassy operators
  • a CSA in which you have to buy a share ain order to get seven pounds of chard every other week
  • an ovepriced, overcrowded national supermarket chain

I like to think I was chosen to host a FreshDirect House Party because I am such a loyal, admiring customer. (Also, because I am smart, funny, beautiful and humble. Yeah. Humble!) I’m a Chef’s Table member (membership is granted based on frequency of purchase, ha!) and am known amongst my friends and on Twitter as a FreshDirect fangirl, if you could imagine such a thing. (Imagine: me.)

FACT: FreshDirect is the best grocery delivery service on the planet, and even in outer space. My fandom is completely reasonable. No one would call me crazy. At least, not for this.

So, FreshDirect sent me enough swag for 14 goody bags, and gave me a gift certificate that covered my food expenses for the party! [Insert extra exclamation points here if you wish.] If I didn’t already have two cases of red wine left over from my housewarming party, I would have also gotten the wine for the party from FD, too.

Before and during the meal, I shared my favorite things and funny stories about FreshDirect.

  • Favorite thing: ready-to-eat avocados! No waiting four days for them to ripen, nope! I can have guacamole immediately.This is a game changer, people!
  • Another favorite thing: the customer service people are so kind and friendly. And helpful! And the delivery dudes are so respectful. And strong!
  • Funny story: One time I was a little tipsy (okay, drunk) when I shopped FreshDirect. I guess I decided to browse the Brand-Name Deals. So two days later I opened my boxes to discover surprises like Teddy
  • Prepared just for my order, this platter of rotisserie chicken said "serves six" but I had 12 guest and we ate half the platter. Abundance!

    Grahams, Top Ramen and broccolini. This story is still cited by some of my Twitter followers as a classic@pigtailsflying tweeting moment.

The House Party people sent us quiz questions to ask but (no offense) they were really boring so I wrote my own. I also gave out cookbooks (thank you, employer) as prizes to whomever got the right answer. The right answer being of course highly subjective. Here is a sample question: Q. What is the best thing about FreshDirect?

  1. Fresh, organic, locally grown produce
  2. Cut-to-order meats and cheeses
  3. Superfriendly delivery dudes
  4. It keeps TK out of the grocery store

A: #4, of course! The only time I feel homicidal is when I’m in the grocery store. Shuffling old ladies squinting at labels on cans of creamed corn, snotty toddlers begging for Iced Cream-filled Extra Sugary Pop-Tarts, stoned frat boys buying beer and microwave burritos, moms in velour track suits texting their husbands, hipster couples discussing which French region produces better goat cheese. Shotgun, anyone?

Rotisserie Chicken (thx FD!), Baby Kale Salad, Guacamole, dipping veggies & tortilla. Not show: Onion & Anchovy Tart using FD's homemade puff pastry.

I also asked some icebreaker questions, which confirmed two things.

  1. My mom still confuses Africa and Asia. Understandable, really.
  2. Most of my friends are runners. WTF??

All joking aside, the absolute best thing about FreshDirect is that it makes it so insanely easy for me to gather up my friends and family and bring them together for libation and laughter. I love living alone (I fucking LOVE it), but my apartment feels most like a home when it’s full of people I love. The circularity of that formula is beautiful. There’s a reason that memories of taste, of dishes, and of meals are so resonant with us humans: we show our love for people by sharing our sustenance. FreshDirect allows me to love.

Thanks for the party, FD! xoxo, mwah! Ever yours, TK

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Today I completed my thirth-ninth* year. For those of you who are bad at math, that means I’m 39, not 40. Please. What’s the rush?

(Did I really just admit I’m thirty fucking nine years old?)

Over the past several months, some have called me brave. Maybe I’m just honest.

Imagine that. Me, honest. I kinda like it. Although, brave is good too. Let’s go with both.

So we’ve arrived at three facts:

  1. I am 39 years old.
  2. I am brave.
  3. I am honest.

I said to a new old friend tonight, The older we get, the greater our capacity for joy, and the greater our capacity for sorrow. I will add to that: the greater our capacity for gratitude. Thanks to plantar fasciitis, I haven’t run in over two months, and yeah if I could wave a magic wand and redesign the world it would include me running. But I’ll never have that wand, so I accept that I can’t run. Part of being a runner is the injury, the rehab, and the rebuilding of fitness. This cycle applies not just to my running. I’ve seen it unfurl in all facets of my life. I am grateful for that cycle, because without it I would never learn enough to get better.**

It’s been 20 months since I asked my ex-husband for a divorce. But those first eight months went by in a fog of panic, numbness, anger and grief (so they don’t count). I’m still not quite sure how I made it through without falling apart completely. Today feels like the anniversary of when I first woke up to my new life. As I was walking out the door to take myself to my birthday present (24 hours in a hotel on the ocean–I love hotels and I love the beach) I realized all the things I had done for myself in the past 12 months that I had either been afraid to do by myself or had believed I was entitled to receive as a gift from someone else. I bought myself big things (an apartment) and little things (a French press). I tackled serious projects (a kitchen renovation) and learned how to play (I give myself time to putter). I saw my own beauty (even at an awkward age–check out this photo from middle school) and I admitted when I was wrong. I taught myself how to negotiate, and how to live peacefully with a bad decision. I went 13 months without coloring my hair and mostly abandoned make-up, not because I didn’t care about keeping up appearances but because I so desperately wanted to see exactly who I was. I got reacquainted with neglected parts of myself. TK, meet TK. She loves speaking Italian, making corny jokes, helping others, and spending time with her family.

Either I trust you, or I’m just feeling especially open tonight. Whichever it is, I know that my capacity for gratitude has exponentially grown over the past twelve months. I’m even grateful for the injuries, both literal and metaphorical, because the rehab that follows only makes me a better runner (and a better human).

Happy birthday, Sunshine. It only gets better from here.

*Don’t you always think that “ninth” should have an “e” in there? Nineth? It looks wrong both ways.
**”Get better” in both senses of the expression–to improve, and to recover.

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1. A few weeks ago I wished I could run along my routes in the Poconos. Then, this week, I wished I could run new routes in Seattle (where I am for work).

2. If I could run in Seattle, I would do hill repeats. This is a hilly city, and repeats are rewarded by amazing sculpture at the top of the hill.

3. I thought it would feel good to have an old lover make renewed moves on me (after more than 6 years). So, it happened tonight, and it turns out it doesn’t. I’m angry at him, and I also feel a little pity for him. End of story.

4. I have gained at least 12 pounds since I stopped running in mid-January. My scale gives me at best 5 pounds of “wiggle” room.

5. Just because “wiggle” rhymes with “jiggle” does not mean they can swap places in a sentence.

6. I think I have issues with food. How else do I explain gaining 12 pounds in 6 weeks? That numerical fact is frightening well beyond the visual level.

7. Turns out not many people in my company knew I got divorced. Just like, a few people. How pathetic and also, how relieving: I believed myself to be much more gossip-worthy than I actually am. For once, I am grateful to be boring.

8. Something I wish for: to run. To feel to wind at my face, the sun on my skin, and my competitors staring at my back.

9. A woman who is slightly younger than I am admitted she missed her BQ time (which is the same as mine) by 5 minutes. She is skinnier and more beautiful than I am (GD redheads!!), but yet: I missed the BQ time by only 4 minutes. Vanity is precise.

10. Even though I know he’s biased, a compliment from my dad still makes my day.

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After the initial quick-change of the demolition part of my kitchen renovation, there was a lot of slow, seemingly invisible work that happened before my contractors finally painted the kitchen, dining room and living room last week. Here are some more photos to demonstrate progress, jumping off of what you first saw here.

Looking straight into the kitchen from the entry hallway, this has been the transition, in order:

How it looked when I bought the apartment

With everything ripped out.

Once they cut the entry and window thru to the dining room.

Preparation to put in a new hardwood floor.

Walls are spackled, and the new green paint's half up...but I hate it! Will have to repaint the kitchen.

Earlier this week I took a field trip to my cabinetmaker’s workshop to see my kitchen cabinets mostly constructed and arranged exactly how they would be in my home. That was a lot of fun; seeing my cabinets up close like that made the end of the process seem real, and if everything goes smoothly from here on out I will have my apartment completely renovated, free of dust, and ready for guests before Christmas!

 

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You might have heard I’m doing a serious renovation on my kitchen and apartment? Today is Day 2, but already there have been huge changes. Here are some before and “in progress” photos. Don’t forget to put your mouse over the photos, sometimes my embedded text is funny.

BEFORE view A

PROGRESS view A

BEFORE view B

PROGRESS view B

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