Renate and I have reconfigured our apartment at least thirty times since moving in. Why? Because someday one undoubtedly looks back and says, I wish I’d spent equal amounts of time in the dining and living rooms.

Last fall we retooled our dining room into a sitting room. Two leather chairs face the television, with a bookshelf standing nearby in case the power should go out and we need either a) entertainment, or b) fuel.

The rearrangement was a smashing success. We now spend a good portion of our evenings on those leather chairs, either engrossed in our laptops (yes, we have become those people) or watching the tube (we’ve always been those people).

We’re usually enjoying a quiet moment in these chairs when the cat wakes from a nap and comes shooting into the room, squawking as if her tail is on fire, just to let us know that she IS HERE and she IS NOT HAPPY ABOUT SOMETHING.

Now that the guest room has morphed into a nursery, the cat largely avoids it. I think she’s protesting the loss of her favorite hiding spot beneath the guest bed, or perhaps ignoring the impending reshuffling of the pecking order. (Maybe I’m alone in that.)

Continue reading “Rearrangements”



Eight years ago my folks moved to a county west of St. Louis where farmland still envelops pockets of strip malls. Suburbs spider out into the countryside, but feral cats played in my parents’ front yard and distant coyotes yowled at night.

Apparently the wild followed them back to the burbs in October; my dad awoke early one morning to a pack of foxes playing in their back yard, and a family of curious squatters has settled in just past the fenceline.

Within the span of a year, all members of the Myler/Yssel family branches will have moved. Some have gone a few miles, others will leave the country. We’re staying put until after the wee one arrives, but then I expect our apartment will shrink to the size of a peanut.

Continue reading “Neighbors”

Your Fugitive’s Name Is…

We’re stuck on a plane at La Guardia airport, waiting for a ground stop in Chicago to lift so we can return home from a weeklong romp through the east coast. I’ve just seen Ja Rule in the airport terminal, and I figure this random sighting will provide me with some conversational fodder back home.

But then two Port Authority cops board our plane, stopping two rows behind us.

Continue reading “Your Fugitive’s Name Is…”

American Puts on its Dancing Shoes

AU 52, Colgate 46

Oh my. Does this mean people outside of the DC/New Jersey corridor will actually know where my alma mater is?

“Wait, they won?” came the response from one friend after I sent a celebratory text message following the game.

That reply sums up the past eight years, when American has flirted with a bid three times only to poop out at the last second. Now that they’ve made it, I’m reminded of Boston after the Red Sox won the World Series; what’s left to complain about? Facing Memphis?

LOOK OUT #1 SEED MEMPHIS #2 SEED TENNESSEE — here comes a team of juniors, minus their star forward, from a school that has never been to the NCAA tournament.


Who do I pick in my bracket? Holy cow, I have a chance to circle American in a NCAA bracket.

This is Not My Room

Guest room closet, beforeThe guest room closet of our apartment has always been the home for homeless things. Non-seasonal clothes, wrapping paper, tennis rackets, framed diplomas, an old typewriter, wall-mounted wine glass racks, the box that (household appliance) came in… If an object doesn’t clearly belong anywhere, it gets sucked into this black hole.

But now someone is moving in to this room, which means all of our stuff has to find new lodgings, get stored, or get tossed. In fact, just about everything must come out of the guest room to make room for a crib and eight tons of diapers.

(An aside: we were at a dinner party last night with two set of new parents, both of which lifted up their baby and smelled its rear to assess the need for a new diaper. Now – I still remind my in-laws of the day they left me with a locked-and-loaded infant nephew, so you know I am not looking forward to this activity, but SO HELP ME I WILL DO IT. That said, I am still hopeful that someone will invent a diaper that changes color when it’s “full,” or perhaps emits a soft beeping sound. If we could make this diaper seal in the odor too, and maybe even change itself, that would be great.)

So our apartment exploded into piles of stuff yesterday, and we have worked diligently to restore order. I volunteered for the task of reorganizing the bookshelves while Renate boxed up items for storage. Inspired by the Weisz’ reorg of late ’07, as well as the ridiculously engrossing ‘Bookshelf of the Day’ site, I set to work.

Piles of books

New bookshelf arrangement

New bookshelf arrangement - side view

Entirely organized by section, occasionally by spine height and sporadically by last name.

The guest room has improved:

Closet, before and after

Now – it may appear that we simply stuffed things into boxes (which we did), but my parents have graciously offered to take in these boxes until we move into a larger place. If they’re not careful we may punch holes in one of them and ship along a watchful, sullen surprise.

Maggie supervises the books