Crappy Stuff I Keep Picking Up Off of the Street

I read somewhere that when elephants come upon the bones of another elephant they investigate the bones and may even carry them with them, some times for miles.

I know how they feel, because I do the same thing…with crap I find on the street. I am constantly on the hunt for “good bones,” which is fancy interior design site speak for furniture that is sturdy or well made or looks like crap now but could be REALLY AMAZING IN HOUNDSTOOTH!

Whenever I see a piece of furniture or other houseware sitting on the street I am drawn to it. Like the elephants, I might even carry it with me for a while before deciding to jettison it in some new location, or (Gasp. Bedbugs?) bring it inside. When circumstances prevent me from picking it up—I’ve got a business meeting, I am going to a play in a very small black box theater, I am already carrying something else I found—I mourn its loss. I worry that someone else won’t find it, that it will just become trash, that its life will end. I once carried a beat-up kitchen stool with me for nine blocks before realizing that I already had enough beat-up kitchen stools.

This is the clever conundrum of living in New York—the amount of usable stuff on the curb is inversely proportional to the amount of room you currently have in your apartment. But things do make their way in. In no particular order, here are some things I found on the street that are in my apartment right now:

Dish drainer
Wall mounted file holder
Folding table
50s compression pole lamp
Two paintings (I carried them home on the subway! In a snowstorm!)

Don’t worry, there’s been much more in the past but the fancy interior design websites have told me that I have to “edit.”

Last night, I came home and there was a bedside table lamp sitting in the middle of the living room. My husband, let’s call him Babar, had been looking for one like this for his side of the bed—bendable neck, focused light—and there it was. It wasn’t in a bag or anything, so I asked where he got it.

Babar: “It was in the lobby of our building. I almost didn’t take it, but then I went back.”

Me: “Why didn’t you take it immediately?”

Babar: “I was worried you’d think I was just bringing more junk into the house.”

Clearly Babar needs to read this post.

Crappy Black Pants I Can’t Stop Buying

If anyone was living in Boston in the late ‘90s, you may have called them “going out pants,” or “booty pants” (if you went to BU). You wore them with some sort of “going out top” which was probably low-cut and had some sort of sparkle on it. You “finished off the look” with black high-heeled boots and a look on your face that said I may be intelligent but I am definitely available (i.e Harvard, MIT, you took the train in from Wellesley).

As the millennium dawned and fashion styles changed, these became “cute pants for work” which you “paired” with “cute tops” and “totally versatile cardigans you can wear with anything” (a little redundant, don’t you think, BC?). You wore white cross-trainers to work and switched into pointed-toed kitten heels in leopard print because you were SASSY (we get it, Emerson).

Then you stopped wearing the pants. You threw their microfiber viscose rayon spandex stretchy selves into the trash (Goodwill) and moved on. You left them so far behind that you started referring to pants as “pant.”

Well, I didn’t. By last count I have 5 pairs of these pantS. And worse, I wear them. Every time I walk into TargeMarshaMaxx I seek them out. Maybe THIS time they are cuter. Maybe THIS time they are more fashion forward. Maybe THIS time they are made of a fabric that wasn’t cooked up by a scientist in a lab. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

But they are $20. And they fit better than 99.9% of the rest of the world’s pant. So, if you see me out at night, and you are like, I bet she just came from work, 8 years ago. Or, there I am working away and you are like, um, is she going out later, to 1997? You’re both right.

The first interactive children’s museum

In the 70’s, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum became the first interactive children’s museum–actually the first interactive museum period–in the world. The guy that made it happen was Ed Schlossberg. Lots of years and interactive projects later, I am working for his company ESI Design as a writer and designer. And, to make things even cooler, I get to travel to China. I know, I am jealous of myself.

Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a

I am writing a preschool brushing curriculum for JMH Education (and Colgate). As always, I am learning new things. Did you know that plaque reacts with sugar and “plaque attacks” your teeth with acid for 20 minutes after you eat something sugary? So, don’t eat five cookies throughout the day. Eat those five cookies at once, because it’s better for your teeth.

Out of the Blue!

Awhile back, I was asked to submit an original treatment and some sample pages to Out of the Blue Enterprises, LLC (Blue’s Clues, Super Why!, general fabulousness) for a new preschool show they are developing. Well, they liked it and have hired me to work on the episode! Since I am currently in Maine, I described my excitement to someone, as follows: “I just jumped up and down and threw blueberries at a moose.” 73% of that is a true story.

Mainely working

I am heading to Maine for July and August to work at two lovely (read: not in sticky NYC, but also genuinely lovely) places. I will be performing improv at Improv Acadia (redundant?) and teaching improv and sketch comedy at Acting Manitou. If you love theater and Maine, both of theses places are for you. The blueberries aren’t too bad either.

So much to DOE, so little time….

I’ve recently started freelancing for the New York City Department of Education. They have an extensive Teacher Development Toolkit for educators to explore resources and reflect on their work. One feature of the site is helpful videos modeling best practices. I am annotating these videos to make the subjects clear, at a glance, and developing some reflection questions for teachers to consider while watching. It’s a great reminder of my time in the classroom, without the copious amounts of hand sanitizer.

Walk a Mile

I’ve been hired by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay to develop a two-hour experience for their donors and volunteers. During the Walk a Mile Experience, participants will discover what it might be like to live in poverty for a week. In collaboration with United Way experts, I will be developing multiple roles, “destinations,” and situations which will force participants to make choices as a person living in poverty. As a former AmeriCorps VISTA, I am excited to bring my storytelling abilities to this worthwhile endeavor.