Saturday, December 31, 2011

From hermys to clownface

I've changed the address of my blog from to


  • Clownface3 is my nom de Twitter (aka to some as my "brand"). Three years (four?) into my blogging adventure I've decided to consolidate my brands.
  • Hermy, the hamster I named my blog after, died and was replaced by a hamster named "Steven." The Collected Works of Steven is just a stupid name for a blog.

I invite my two followers to change their bookmarks to the new address....NOW!

Friday, December 30, 2011


Would it be considered ironic to say, "Now that my car was wrecked by a bus I have NO WAY to get to work," if, in fact, the only way to get to work is on a bus?

I don't think it is ironic. It just sucks.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011: The year in review

Let's take a look at the milestones of 2011, at least in my personal universe:

January is neutral:
Same old, same old

February is not so great:
Travel to beautiful Sanibel Island, FL to visit my "MIL" and "FIL." "FIL" is dying, so this visit is, in many ways, about saying good-bye to him in a place he loves. Tear ducts - and heart - are preparing for the inevitable.

March is neutral:
The pallor of death casts over everything, making the same old, same old feel hard.

April sucks:
"FIL" dies - devastated beyond belief.

May is high and low:
Prearranged, week-long trip to the Happiest Place on Earth with BMG, my mother, youngest sister and her family. Contrary to all expectations, we have a great time.

The day we get back from Disney World, my favorite cat (sorry Ducky) is struck by a car and killed. Devastation again.

June is steely:
Inspired by a friend who quotes Goethe in Panera, I decide it is really time to look for a new job.

I celebrate my birthday by buying a kayak. Summer fun here I come!

July is neutral:
Same old, same old. Knowing I'll be leaving my job soon (can you say confident?) I don't take a vacation.

August is great:
Bad economy be damned! I have a new job! Quitting the old job is tough, but 100% the right thing to do. I run the Warrior Dash with my friend Sarah and my sister E.

September is great:
Start the new job - transitions are hard and I find them energizing.

October has ups & downs:
Funeral for friend Ellen's mom early in the month, grand opening of Massachusetts' firstWegman's store, and a late month trip to Baltimore to visit with my sister and her kids make this an active and emotionally neutral month.

November is a mixed bag:
Another trip to Florida (that's three this year) for Thanksgiving with BMG and his family; celebrating without the "FIL" is emotionally difficult. I'm glad I'm only there for 3 days.

On the plus side, we are approved for a mortgage to buy our house, and meet with our architect to discuss extensive renovations.

December is a mixed bag:
Happy about Christmas (participate in a sing-a-long in downtown Boston, have a great party at Brasserie JO with BMG and our friend Ellen). We close on the house.

Having my car decommissioned by an MBTA bus puts a damper on the celebratory spirit. A funeral for Lardito's dad was beautiful, and reopened some wounds.


How would I characterize 2011? A year with an enormous amount of major changes. Two deaths, new house AND new job? That is a lot of change for one year. And it will only continue as BMG and I prepare to turn our lives upside down with a major home renovation in 2012.

Looking back on 2011 a toast starts to rattle around in my brain. On new year's eve I will life my winestein high and say,

"Here's to coming out on the other side of 2011 stronger because of all the changes - stronger in attitude and spirit. May 2012 bring more quiet moments to enjoy the blessing of my life from the vantage point of my bike, my kayak or my skis."

Happy end to 2011 and happy 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Electric Company

Yesterday I happened upon a Twitter chat instigated by the White House. They asked Tweeple (that's Twitter lingo for Twitter users) to post, in 140 characters or less, what $40 dollars means to them.

Assuming the White House is ostensibly collecting posts to use in their fight with Congress over the passage of economic relief bills, I post this in reply:

One of the ways Twitter works is people follow hashtags to track global conversations. So, apparently at least 30 people tracking the #40dollars conversation saw my post. And they responded in one of three ways:
  • So jealous of your low electricity bill
  • You must be lying about your low electricity bill
  • Vote Republication to keep your electricity bill low.
This morning I sent the following tweet to 29 people:

And STILL I got what my youngest sister calls "guff." The gestalt? More "You must be lying about your electric bill" or I obviously live in a developing nation.

Neither is true. Here's proof:

Our electric bill hovers around $40-$65 per month. Why?
  • We use compact fluorescent bulbs
  • We have a new fridge and dryer - both of which are energy star rated
  • We are a tiny family of two (+ a cat, who doesn't use any electricity to speak of)
  • We turn off lights we aren't using
  • We have (expensive) oil heat
  • Our town manages our electric company; we aren't dependent on National Grid, NYMo, insert evil electric company name here.
I'm sure there are other reasons why our electric bill is so low. And I'm tired of justifying it to strangers.

Here's my takeaway:
  • I'm grateful my electric bill is low. It makes high bills (like my student loan payments) more bearable.
  • Municipally-managed electricity is probably better than for-profit concerns.
  • If (or when) you can afford to upgrade, buy energy efficient appliances. It makes a difference.
I hope this is sufficient to stem the tide of cranky Tweets swimming in my stream.

Now go out there cranky people. Conserve energy, be frugal, and stop berating me (and anyone else) for lying just because you don't believe something someone said.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Sugar just isn't good for me."

I like to make and give Christmas cookies to people during the holidays. I give them to the mailman, the trash guy, the lady across the street, and my pharmacist. (I have the BEST pharmacist ever - seriously - Jodi and Ted at Stop & Shop in Hingham rock my medication world.)

I also like to surprise people with cookies. Last year it was my barista at Starbucks. She was so surprised when I walked in with the baked goods wrapped in cellophane she came out from behind the counter and hugged me.

This year I decided to bring cookies to the homeless guy I chat with every morning on my way to work. I never give him cash. But I always give him a smile. And this year I thought I would bring him cookies.

So, on Friday morning, with my cookies in tow, I approached the guy with a "Hello! You're not diabetic, are you?"

"Uhm, no. Why?" he replied suspiciously.

"I've.." I started.

He continued. "But I try not to eat a lot of sugar. I've never liked it, and it just isn't good for me."

Dejected pause.

"Well, I have a bag of cookies I was GOING to give to you. But, I guess I won't. Please know I was trying to spread some Christmas cheer. I feel bad that I never give money, because I look forward to seeing you in the morning."

"You always bring me cheer with your smile," he said kindly.

"Merry Christmas," I replied as I turned the corner towards my office.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Meaning of Gift Giving

"You deserve to get EXACTLY what you want. Always."
-Robbie Cutler

In one of my favorite stories about BMG's dad, who we lost to cancer earlier this year, Robbie brought his own glass of Scotch to a restaurant. When it was empty he asked our waiter to heat his glass in a microwave for 20 seconds before pouring the Scotch.

My jaw dropped. "It never would have occurred to me to ask for that," I said in amazement.

"Why not?" replied BMG's dad.

"Well, it just wouldn't occur to me to ask for a drink - for anything - in any form other than what is described on a menu or expected in a reasonable situation."

"Oh, you should always ask for exactly what you want. Because you deserve to get exactly what you want. Always."


I had a virtual discussion with a friend today about our different perceptions of gift giving at Christmas. The discussion itself is boring, but the upshot is that, in my personal universe, Christmas offers me the opportunity to give the people in my life exactly what they want. Because they deserve it. I take this very seriously.

I also hate wasting money. So, the idea of spending money - any amount - on a gift that isn't perfect almost hurts me. The higher the price point, the more perfect the gift has to be for th recipient.

As a result of these two factors, it is helpful to me to either have options to consider when choosing what to buy for the people I love. I can certainly develop a list of potential gifts for someone, but I am more satisfied if the list can be informed by a (a) very close relationship, (b) direct conversation with the recipient about what s/he wants, or (c) a list from which to choose.

In the absence of an informed list I feel uninspired. My gift giving is a chore, instead of a joyful opportunity to give someone exactly what they want.


How do you approach gift giving? What makes it joyful for you? When is it a chore?