Friday, May 29, 2009


I think we should buy stock in the Fung Wah bus company. It's becoming our modus operandi. Thirty bucks round trip and we are off to explore another great city. Sure, sure - it leaves a little something to be desired on the cleanliness scale, but when the bus is moving you can't smell the bathrooms quite so strongly and the teenage boys sitting behind us broadened my vocabularly significantly.

This three-day weekend's destination: Boston. We rolled into town after midnight and quickly pounded a McDonald's chocolate shake so as not to kill Cutlers with our canteloupe for dinner and four-hour bus ride breath.

It must have done the trick because these delightful hosts let us mooch off them all weekend!
We kept them up way too late chatting - but man, I've missed this girl. Whitney and I used to work together in Salt Lake and when you go from the morning download and the daily elliptical chat in the TSG gym to the periodic text and email, you've got some things to discuss.

Not a problem. We slept in (glorious!) the next morning then made our way to Boston Common and Cheers, because sometimes you wanna go....
Then we hit the trail. The Freedom Trail, that is.

Awesome anyway, but on the heels of reading "1776," I found it even awesomer. This is the third time I've followed the red line around Beantown, and I think I appreciate it more and more each time. I love that Boston has done this - it's the perfect way to see a lot of the city. I love to wander around a city, and wandering along a path that will lead past everything we want to see? Now that's just a good idea.

As the red line led us through Haymarket Square, I think - yes, - I believe my brain exploded. Remember when I thought strawberries for $1/pound were the best thing since strawberries for $2/pound? Well, no. It turns out strawberries for $.33/pound are the best thing. And a clamshell of raspberries for $.75. I didn't even think - I just acted. Dropping chump change on two things of strawberries and two things of raspberries before Noah's wisdom sounded faintly in my ears like a rational echo... "what are you going to do with all these? We're headed to Fenway..."

I finally came around and realized he was right, but the berries were now in our possession. So we ate a lotta berries along that trail. (You're reading right. Canteloupe for dinner, berries for lunch and a chocolate shake for a midnight snack. Because it's all about balance.)

"Oh - look. CityHall."
"Yeah. Totally. Berry?"
"Why yes, thank you."
"And a cool orange chair propped up on the stoop."
"Retro. Berry?"
"Why yes, thank you."
"Hey - that guy in the straight jacket is hanging by his ankles in front of Quincy Market."
"Indeed he is. Berry?"
"Why yes, thank you."
After summiting the Bunker Hill monument and appreciating Old Ironsides from the sidelines (wicked long line), we caught the T to Fenway in hopes of catching a little Sox/Mets action. We waited at Gate E, discussed tickets with scalpers, waited at Gate E some more, ate a hot dog and waited some more as they kept counting down the line and promising tickets were still available. Twenty minutes into the game, we got cold, gave up and took a picture.
The next day, Cutlers took us to Concord/Lexington and to Walden Pond. It was so calm and peaceful... can we stay here forever?
I know simplicity and self-sufficiency are largely at the core of Thoreau's Walden - so I can hardly claim this as independent thought. But while we were there, I found myself really reflecting on the concept and my own belief in the value of provident living. Am I perfect in my own attempts to simplify? Not by a long shot. But truly, there is something so liberating in the mindset that I simply don't need A or B or C. I believe that's true for material possessions, demands on our time, those things to which we devote our thoughts and energy, all of it. I know our very being on this earth is a tremendous gift, and I know we're meant to HAVE experiences. To learn, to grow and find joy in those experiences. But for me, my thoughts on the simple, uncluttered versus full and rewarding always seem to weave their way back to balance. You know, balance like canteloupe and berries and chocolate shakes and hot dogs.

I think I woke up smiling on Monday morning. Isn't the actual holiday in a holiday weekend the best part? I could do the exact things I would have done on a Saturday. But somehow sounds are lovelier, colors more vivid, smells sweeter because its a break from the norm.

We spent the morning walking from Cutler's quaint neighborhood, through the streets of Cambridge to Harvard's campus, where we snapped our picture with John Harvard and, hoping to channel some of that uber-motivated vibe, planned our lives on the steps of the library.

For lunch, we met up with Cutlers and our other favorite duo (plus their little Boston baked bean), the Crowells, at Border Cafe for some delicious Mexican fare, great conversation and a few inside jokes (I hope Alisa's not driving...). How could you not be completely content at this table?Truly, Boston has some great ones. There is a whole lot of talent, smarts, motivation, ambition and drive in that bunch with the humility, kindness and thoughtfulness to match.

The restaurant wasn't far from the LDS church house in Cambridge that burned last week, so we walked over to see the church and the Longfellow Home across the street. Such a treasure lost - I know that building represented a lot of memories for members of the LDS church who live and have lived in Boston.

We continued our walk along the Charles River and enjoyed a quick tour of Corey's soon-to-be alma mater before heading back toward Cutlers and the bus ride home. But not before discovering Christina's homemade ice cream.

It's probably not a secret, I'm sure it's pretty well-known around town. But wow. If you live in Boston... or really, even within a 70-mile radius, it's worth stopping by. Get the Carrot Cake. And tell them the Rileys sent you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Framed - Parts Deux et Trois

Part Two:

Hang ridiculously large homemade frame on painfully bare bedroom wall.

("Ridiculous" and "painful" are usually sound ways to describe my half-baked ideas.)

Part Three:

Fill with random assortment of picture frames procured at various locales. No rhyme, no reason, different colors, styles, materials, etc. (The hope was to have a few good Craigslist finds in the mix - you know, so the wall could relate to the rest of the apartment - but my one and only attempt thus far ended in me and no fewer than TEN other people waiting on some guy's doorman to drop his checkered flag and admit us in to claim stuff. I was really just there for the frames. And I was not competitive enough to care. But really - I am shocked, a little embarrassed, that there are so many others like me out there.)

I really wanted a big something on this huge, empty wall - but we all know the bigger something gets, the exponentially more expensive it also tends to get. So I was looking for the poor man's solution - and I'm pleased with the results.

The best part was sending Noah to the register at Marshall's with 10 of these frames. The woman in front of him in line kept shooting glances, confused by what I'm sure she thought was some clueless bachelor, clearly colorblind, and his pitiable attempt at home decor. I relieved Noah of his post (because you've been there - you know these lines, right? Oy.) and now she was staring at me, still a little confused by the admittedly confusing assortment of frames.

"What are you going to do with them?"

Outline vision, complete with hand gestures of approximate frame dimensions.

"All right, all right - oooh! I love it! Wait... can I see all the frames? Yes.. all right, yes. It's going to be so eclectic! Your girlfriends are gonna come over and wo-nder where you got this..."

I love having an idea and having a partner in crime who knows how to actually get 'er done. One of these days, we will put your skills to a manlier task than bringing straighteners back to life (an impressive display of electrical engineering) and home decor.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On My Mind

Every few weeks, as we're in the elevator bound for our office on the 10th floor, someone will get on the elevator on the third floor, hit the four, ride up one story and exit just as quickly as they entered.

These fleeting rides always leave me with a lot of questions.

Why would you wait for an elevator just to ride it one floor? Why does this always happen between the third and fourth floors? Who or what is on those floors that requires so much back and forth? And why are they so disinclined to walk ten stairs?

Shifting gears completely: I just glanced at my call list and realized the last call I made/received on my cell phone was on Tuesday. Is that weird or just pathetic?

Monday, May 11, 2009


I had this idea.

And part of that idea involved jogging out to the Bronx for lumber and Noah building THIS*.

Your eyes doth not deceive. That is roughly, well - precisely, the size of a door frame.

Updates are forthcoming. Get excited.

*The white one, I mean. The brown one is the shelf Ikea built. And Rileys acquired for free. Boo. Yah.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I took a quick inventory of Mother's Days of the past several years and realized there were many I attended "in spirit." The ending of the school year and the prospect of a summer adventure normally meant I bid adieu to my South Ogden address before mid-May and hence, celebrated Mother's Day via telephone call.

That said, it's surprising to me that the distance between Utah and New York feels so painfully wide today. Maybe it's because this time I don't have a return ticket booked. Maybe it's because I was fortunate to live near my truly incredible mom(s) for a year and a half and enjoyed the spoils of being the nearest set of kids to both. Or maybe it's because with age comes maturity, with maturity - hopefully some better understanding, and with understanding the realization that our moms (you too, dads... we'll discuss in June), all moms, are truly a group to be celebrated, honored and admired. And I desperately wish I could be there in person rather than telling blogger about it.

My beautiful and talented mom, Julie, leaves a certain impression on everyone she meets. She is so genuinely interested in others and has such a fun-loving personality that anyone and everyone feels welcome in her home.

If you stay the night, even if you were a surprise guest late the night before, you will likely wake up to the smell of homemade cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit the next morning. I don't know how she does this. I suspect the woman doesn't need sleep.

I love my mom's healthy relationship with her health. She is a great example of taking care of your body and still enjoying the "guilty pleasures" in life. I love that she used to round out her morning run to the theme from Rocky and that now she's a little ball of energy makin' those ladies "work it" at water aerobics, but she still has a thing for chocolate and doesn't stress over giving in occasionally.
My mom has a knack for accomplishing what three, maybe four, regular humans can normally do in a day. I think it's due, in part, to her ability to multi-task - as evidenced here by a contraption meant to maximize phone chatting time. In a bizarre mix of the words "hands-free" or "-less" and "headset," Mom called it her "headless set" a time or two... or eight or nine... And the kids just haven't let the poor gal live it down.She is so generous with her time and talents, flying out to sisters' homes to watch grandkids and install crown moulding. Devoting time to a busy church calling. Caring for aging parents. Packing little lunches for Noah during the 5 weeks we lived with them. Suggesting I could get cheaper paint for our apartment if I went a certain place and picking it up for me when I couldn't make it during work hours. Refinishing a table and chairs for our first married apartment and refinishing two more chairs at the drop of a hat when we finally moved into a place big enough for dinner guests. Carting five kids to music, athletics, National Academic League (guilty...), student involvement activities, church activities and more.

I love that I inherited my mom's frugality. One of my favorite memories was driving in inner-city Ogden with my mom one afternoon. As we pulled into a parking lot of a non-descript building, she turned to me and asked, "promise you won't tell anyone at home?" We went inside the cinderblock building to find aisle after aisle of damaged food products. Smashed boxes, dented cans... a whole store devoted to the items they wouldn't sell at regular grocery stores. Evidently she'd discovered it a few weeks prior and had been stocking up on granola bars for $.50/box. But knowing we may be wary to bite into damaged goods, she was emptying the boxes into a jar at home and discarding of the evidence. Brilliant!

I knew I'd really earned the title of "my mother's daughter" when she and I wandered into DownEast Home last spring and I found an armoire marked down from $1000 to $500 and I told my mom, "I bet I get it for $250."

I truly could go on and on... but I need to reserve some space here for another incredible mother. Clearly, my mom set the bar pre-tty high when it comes to awesomeness. So any mother-in-law was really going to have to be up to the challenge.

Before I ever met the Rileys, Noah was elected to a position on our university's student government. A roommate of mine was also elected to a position that year, and met Noah's parents at the announcement ceremony. She commented to me later (in a bit of a foreshadowing moment, because this was still in in the "Noah and Allison aren't dating stage"), "did you meet Noah's parents? They just seem like the greatest people. You can tell they'd be amazing in-laws." You just can't be around the Rileys without a sense for what wonderful people they are.
That summer, as Noah and I were dating and living 2,000 miles apart, I said his name to a new roommate the evening she moved in. She recognized the name and realized she knew Noah's older brother. "Oh, wow - you can tell those guys have an amazing mom. Those boys are so well-trained." And I thank you every single day for it, Chris.

Chris has a beautiful talent for all things fabric - quilting, sewing, you name it. We have a gorgeous quilt she made for us and I love suggesting projects I'd like to try, because I always see that twinkle in her eye, like "I know exactly how we'll get that done!"

I feel like a million bucks every time I see or talk to Chris. She has such a way of making you feel like, "yeah - I am pretty neat!"She is so genuinely interested in others and has a beautiful way of building others up.Chris has such a wise and profound perspective on life. She has such an ability to look at situations from all sides and considerations. I find myself wondering often what her take on a particular topic or situation may be, much the same way I treasure that in Noah. We have attended church with the Rileys on several occasions, and each time I am struck by how deeply the women in her ward love and respect her and I think this attribute, combined with her unconditional love of others, is very much the reason.

I am so grateful for all the beautiful women in my life - mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends. Happy Mother's Day to each of you!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Life Rewritten

Noah: "Did you ever think about what marriage would be like 2 1/2 years in?"
Allison: "I never thought I'd be lying on the couch, staring at the drapes in our apartment in New York."

Allison: "Let me clarify... I never thought I'd be lying on a couch we found for free on Craiglist, staring at a shower curtain I cut in two in our apartment in Harlem."


I think I have a healthy fear of most things-to-be-feared.

This morning I discovered the trump card of all fears. My toddler puking on the subway.

Seriously. Think about it. Well, don't think about it. Just think about the logistics of it all. I know, harrowing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Berry Nice

I think Noah and I have consumed at least 25 pounds of berries since we moved to the city. It's those little stands on the street - I just cannot resist them. And a little friendly negotiation to get them at an even more affordable price? What could be better?

I'll TELL you!

If you live near a Pathmark and you, too, cannot live without your daily dose of B2, B5, B6 - strawberries are $1/pound. You heard me. Two-pound clamshells of deliciousness for $2.

Go there. Don't even finish reading this post. Just go.

I wish I could sound healthy and say that yogurt, berries and granola are my treat of choice. Don't get me wrong, I can put away this combo like nobody's business, but it may be misleading to have you think it's in place of treats. My sweet tooth and my conscience prevent me from such a misunderstanding. Nonetheless - since our $4 acquisition (limit two per customer; we will be back - oh yes, we will be back) it's been berries with yogurt, berries with spinach salad (this and a delicious loaf of sourdough were dinner the other night. our male coworkers were horrified that I would subject Noah to a meatless dinner of salad and bread. oooh, boy. if they only knew how rarely I prepared meat. i think they added it to their list of questions to ask a prospective spouse...) and berries with berries. Breakfast Saturday morning will likely be crepes with berries.

And if anyone knows where to find some pectin in this city, spill it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


To the lowest bidder?

Remember how we drove our little car across the country in January? Remember how there is nowhere to park the little guy in Manhattan unless we want to take out a second mortgage? And so, by the grace and goodness of a very kind cousin and his equally kind wife, the little white car took up residence in lovely Connecticut just until we could sell it. You know, one... two... weeks?

"Oh, what's that? You haven't sold that thing yet?"
"No, no - it's just been darkening their driveway in an auto cocoon since January."

Here's a proof point - the picture we've been posting with the listing. Yeah, that's snow. And now it's May.

I know! It makes us probably the worst people you know. This was not for lack of trying or failed attempts. Plenty of both.

So this morning, when a guy showed up with cold, hard cash and it was less than anyone had offered ever and it didn't matter because he was there and willing to drive it away we said - "pleasure doing business with you."

And so I bid adieu to the first car I ever owned.

I had to laugh remembering the day I bought it from the previous owner. My dad came with me and as we approached their driveway I quickly explained under my breath that the car was standard, I didn't know how to drive one and he needed to get right in the driver's side and not make a scene :). (I didn't want to go lurching out of their driveway with them standing there, and I really didn't want to sit there and have the conversation about it in front of them.)

And later that evening, driving the car to Logan from Ogden with the utmost focus, hands clamped at 10 and 2, taking 10th West because there were fewer stoplights and everyone knows the tricky part of a manual transmission is the stop and go.

And stalling it at the intersection of 10th North and Main Street anyway.

There was also the weekend I was pulled over without registration, proof of insurance or a valid driver's license (basically I was just a human in a car); the car was illegally towed from a grocery store parking lot in Salina (not related to the aforementioned issues - and this is actually a good stick-it-to-the-man story when a police chief in Logan called Salina City to demand my money back); and I left the interior light on, killing the car in yet another grocery store parking lot in Bountiful.

Friday, May 1, 2009


"Research indicates smell is one of the strongest triggers of memory."
I began one of my scholarship application essays with this statement when I was a high school senior. I'd learned the information in my psychology class and as an individual particularly prone to remember things, I was fascinated by the idea. So I used the slice of information to launch my essay.

After draft, draft, draft... I assembled the rest of the requisite materials and shipped them off to the school of my choice. But before the spit on the stamp {that's right, future kids, we used to lick stamps} could even dry, I caught an ad campaign for some brand of deodorant using {nay... debasing} my once-legitimately-acquired intelligence and reducing it to anti-perspirant-pushing drivel.

I imagined a panel of distinguished looking individuals - lots of mahogany and tweed - smoking their pipes and scoffing at the fact I based my lengthy dissertation on knowledge gained from an ad campaign encouraging personal hygiene.

I didn't get the scholarship. I'm fairly positive I'm in the right holding that campaign responsible.

I continue to be completely intrigued by memory in general, but especially by those memories triggered by scent. It happens every time I wash my hands with Dial soap and I'm suddenly standing on the little stool at the sink in the corner of my preschool after a chocolate pudding art project. Or whenever I smell a very specific artificial flavor of cherry and I'm drinking my Cherry Geyser on a sunny winter afternoon just before ski lessons at Snowbasin {in the upstairs part of the lodge where all us "home lunchers" had to eat - any other Ogden-area kids remember this?}. It really blew my mind the other morning when we passed someone on the subway platform and her perfume sent me reeling back to nursery at the church on Adams Avenue and set off an intense craving for Nilla Wafers.*

*I should also note, as evidenced by all three - most of my memories are also inextricably linked to food.

This fascination with smells is probably the impetus behind a real desire to have my smell.

I went through stages - but thanks to my rapid consumption rate in junior high and high school, those stages passed quickly.

My best friend Shae and I procured our first bottles of Tommy Girl for Christmas in 8th grade. A few days later, our matching bright yellow Columbia ski parkas doused in the stuff, we went out for a night on the town {i.e. met the Mount Ogden Middle School boys at the mall}. We were a veritable Tommy Girl bug bomb. Was that part of our scheme? The adolescent girl equivalent of smoking our target out? I think we sent my dad into a Hilfiger-induced asthmatic episode by the time we got out of the car.

By the time spring came around and we were wearing our tall Nike socks with Dr. Marten sandals at Lagoon - the Tommy bottle was dry and I was Happy. Clinique Happy, that is.

The schizophrenia lingered through high school until I finally landed on a scent I loved. And used in regular-human-like moderation. Ah, August by Hollister.

So you can imagine my devastation when they discontinued it two years ago. Not wanting to relapse into my smelly adolescence, I've played it cool these 24 months. Smelly primarily of Jergens or Dove deodorant (And hey! - we're back to deodorant. This post finally comes full circle.) and occasionally Bath and Body Works' Japanese Cherry Blossom when my hands are really dry.

But last night I finally took the plunge. I found a delightful scent at Urban Outfitters and I'm prepared to make it mine. I know I may regret hitching my wagon to yet another clothing store perfume line and they could pull the rug out from under me before I know it. (Why not just settle into the old lady scents NOW, Allison? They've stood the test of time. I don't think they even evaporate - the atmosphere can't break those puppies down.) But I think I like where this relationship is heading.