Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Roots

I have been flying through books lately, but haven't felt that the quality has been quite what I should be reading. Most have been just fine (Oates, Erdrich), but some have been crap (Gaiman). Luckily, some have been awesome, and luckily I read three of those in the last week. Mostly because they were young adult novels and were very easy to read. But also because they were seriously, no joke, hands down, without a doubt...AWESOME. And had I read them when I was an actual young adult, I would have been even more obsessed than I am now, and that says something...

The books are "The Hunger Games," "Catching Fire," and "Mockingjay," a trilogy about a teenage girl living in a horrid post-apocalyptic society who is forced into fighting for her life in a reality TV show, and the revolution that eventually ensues... Craziness. I decided I wanted to read some young adult fiction since when I saw the most recent "Harry Potter" movie in theaters I vowed to read all the books by the time the last movie comes out in July. I think I can do it. It's written for children, come on. So I thought, while I find a way to get someone to buy me the entire HP collection (it can be used, it's cool, go buy it for me) so I don't have to wait for the next book from the library or wherever, I'll go ahead and read another YA series, because I felt like it might be good for me. And it sure as hell wasn't going to be that vampire bullshit.

Ugh, I saw one of those crappy movies with my little sister and wanted to puke, let's see, pretty much the WHOLE TIME. What a lousy, sniveling, pathetic little heroine. Quit whining over your pale sparkly boyfriend and get down with the wolf boy for Christ's sake. Thank God that "The Hunger Games" has a badass, horribly flawed young heroine who doesn't always make the right choices, kills people, reluctantly leads a revolution, does some terrible damage, and gets pretty damaged herself in the process. That's my kind of heroine! Katniss would totally kick your ass, Bella. I'm really glad I read those books and I am miserable that they're not coming out with a movie until next year. What the hell? That's ridiculous. Hurry up, Hollywood, get on this shit. Make it awesome.

So anyway, I loved these books now, and I would have loved them even more as a kid. I mean, LOVED. Why am I not 12 again? Oh wait, cuz being 12 sucked. But I digress... Anyway, I have always had this crazy fixation with dystopian societies. I blame 5th grade and "The Giver." Damn you, Lois Lowry, you ruined me. I have also always loved war stories and horrible tales of young people dying. I blame 5th grade again, for its lessons on the Civil War and our trip to Gettysburg where they showed us all the tools used in a battlefield amputation. Gross! I also blame my mom for taking me to see "Les Miserables" that same year so I became obsessed with the French Revolution as a 10-year-old. THAT IS NOT NORMAL. I also blame Anne Frank, of whom, for a short time in my young life, I believed myself to be the incarnation. That's weird. Now I am all grown up and just plain morbid.

Anyway, this post really has nothing to do with anything besides the fact that you need to give proper credit to young adult books and the power they have over young and old minds alike. The books I read as a young girl, like those of Scott O'Dell, Jean Craighead George, Katherine Paterson, etc. really shaped me as a reader and made me want to read more challenging literature. I mean, hell, I plowed through Shakespeare and Victor Hugo as a 5th grader. Did I remember much? No. Did I skip over large quantities of text? Yes. Did I expand my vocabulary immensely? Hell yes. Did I understand all those big words? Hell no. But I read them, goddammit. I read UP. And now, as an adult, I can look back and realize that it's okay to "regress" a little bit and read DOWN, to read books aimed at younger readers. They remind you of the person you were, remind you of why you are the person you've become, and they take you back to those initial questions and interests... They remind you of why you became an English major in the first place. Wait, you mean it wasn't to study the gradual flattening of dipthongs in Western Maryland dialect over four generations? It was to READ BOOKS?!? Oh my god, that's crazy. Why did I waste so much time??

So I decided that before I take on my silly Harry Potter challenge, it was time to read something respectable. And by that I mean depressing, dark, historic, and absolutely miserable. So I went to my bookshelf and after poring over a few Vonneguts and Hemingways and "Catch 22," I decided to go to the motherland of sorts, to 19th century British literature, that genre I completely disregarded in college to focus on Old English and Existentialism. So now I'm reading "Wuthering Heights." And miserable it is! Oh those Brontes, they were such lighthearted little ladies. Like me!

I'm baaaaack...

Friday, November 26, 2010


Last night I caught a snippet of Fran Lebowitz being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon. Let me clarify: I do not watch Jimmy Fallon. It was purely by chance late at night at a friend's house. And it could barely be called an interview, but I digress. I vaguely knew of Lebowitz. Just the name, really, and the fact that she was a writer. Nothing more. I summed her up quickly in my terribly judgmental and stereotype-loving mind. New York Jewish Liberal Intellectual Lesbian Writer.

Except for being liberal, we don't really have much in common. I am not a real New Yorker, I have only a vague notion of a religious upbringing, I am of average intelligence, I am straight, and I barely write. Then my mother and I were watching "Pretty Woman" tonight after all the relatives left, then started flipping channels. Again, allow me to clarify: I do not usually watch lame 80's romantic comedies, but sometimes it happens. It's acceptable now and again, I believe. Anyway, Lebowitz was on Charlie Rose, and this time, I actually listened to the interview. Then I Googled her. Then I felt better about not knowing anything about her since she has really only written a few books, which I do believe I'll read. And then I found this quote:

"I've never met anyone who even comes close to me in laziness. I would have made a perfect heiress. I enjoy lounging. And reading. The other problem I have is fear of writing. The act of writing puts you in confrontation with yourself, which is why I think writers assiduously avoid writing. The number of alcoholic writers makes a lot of sense because if you're going to be face to face with yourself, maybe it's better that you don't recognize that person."

It was in this 1994 article in the New York Times. And it made me feel better, because while Fran and I may not have much in common, this quote pretty much summed me up, though I'm no alcoholic. It also mentioned that she's hypoglycemic, hence why she doesn't drink. I have diagnosed myself as such, yet I still drink. Perhaps too much, perhaps not enough. Brilliant. I have found inspiration.

I would have made a lovely heiress, too, Fran. If I had all the time in the world, I would just sip red wine and snuggle in blankets and eat good bread and just read Read READ all day and all night. I would probably write even less in that case, because I would be ashamed of my laziness. Perhaps that's why I don't write at all anymore, except on this sad excuse for a blog. Perhaps it's because I don't feel like I have anything to say. Perhaps it's writer's block. But you have to be a writer first to catch that terrible disease, and I don't think I qualify. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Now here is the part where I will compare Fran and myself. Can I call you Fran, Fran? Will you be the next female writer that I come to idolize for a few weeks or months and then discard? You will? Great, thanks. Anyway, Fran does not like avocados, which she equates to being the mayonnaise of vegetables. I absolutely agree, and that's exactly why I love them so much. She has gone through a decade-plus-long period of writer's block. I have not, but I feel like I have. It's not really the same. She smokes a lot. I try not to smoke, but I love it. Smoking is delicious and disgusting. Disgustingly delicious. Also, she thinks giving books to children is important. Duh. But some people are terribly stupid and don't think that's important. I dislike those people. I like Fran.

Now I'm bored with this post, and no one is going to read it because it's terrible. But if you do read this, ask me about Fran Lebowitz the next time you see me, because if I haven't picked up one of her books yet, then I just lied about having found inspiration. Don't make a liar out of me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Feeling Strangely Sane

I am writing in a desperate attempt to fit in one more post before October officially ends. Strangely, today I would normally be hungover, makeup smudged, fishnets torn, wings bent, flowers crumpled, wand lost. I would be a sad little fairy trudging home after a night of treating and tricking myself into believing that Halloween could somehow last forever. This year was different. I didn't have a Halloween. I didn't even plan a costume. My favorite holiday of the year, where I get to play dress up as an adult, and I gave it up for my family...and for the country, of course. But really, it was for my mom. As I said, "I did it for the love of mom and country."

For months my mother has been talking about the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" in DC, led by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I hadn't been that gung ho about going in the first place, but I agreed to so long ago that it seemed unnecessarily cruel to back out at the last minute...even after my train was three hours delayed and I had to take a miserable bus for five hours to get home, having had very little sleep two nights in a row, dealing with the insanity of every form of public transportation... But I made it. And it was worth it.

It was incredibly refreshing to stand in the middle of the amazing Mall on a beautiful day, surrounded by gorgeous architecture, immersed in comedy and music, and chatting and laughing along with
thousands of other like-minded (and unlike-minded) individuals. I still can't quite believe that yesterday I saw the Roots, John Legend, Cat Stevens (aka Yusef Islam), Ozzy Osbourne, the OJs, Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, and Tony Bennett (singing "America the Beautiful") all in one day, on one stage... I don't have the energy to turn this into a political rant, so I'm not going to. I'm just going to say that it made me proud to be American, proud to be among those with a sense of humor and a liberal attitude, and proud to be able to say, "I was there," whatever that will mean in 10, 20, or 50 years. Or on Nov. 2nd. Or on Nov. 2nd in two years...

What made it even more worthwhile was that at the very end of the rally I ran into a very dear friend of mine, purely by chance. My mom's cousin was passing out buttons, he happened to receive one, and that made him pause long enough to recognize my mom and for me to spot him and for us to hug and yell and for him to introduce me to his adorable new girlfriend. While we didn't get to hang out for nearly long enough, it was amazing to realize that in a crowd of thousands, in a big world filled with crazy people, you can still reconnect with someone you know and love. We both expressed, "Well of course YOU would be here today..." and it made me realize why we were friends in the first place. What an awesome place to reconnect.

Yesterday and today I saw so many great Halloween costumes, and I was definitely jealous... But I think that what I did was far more valuable than dressing up and getting drunk again, like I do every year. Hell, there's always next year. Instead, I helped my little sister throw together a costume from my old dress ups and she became a little gypsy in a skirt I used to wear myself, complete with a peasant shirt and scarves and red lipstick. Sadly, I couldn't stick around long enough to take her trick-or-treating around our little town. My own, grownup life called and I had to follow it back to NYC. I'm going to be sensible and go to bed, so I can get ready for a busy week of work.

Growing up sucks. Having to miss Halloween sucks even more. But what doesn't suck is spending time with the people you love the most, in a crowd of thousands who have ideas and thoughts and outlooks that you agree with, running into an amazing person who you realize you miss and really ought to go visit, and then returning to the lovely little life you've carved out for yourself with someone you really love. I will be a drunken fairy next year, I promise. This year, I'm just me. But I feel so much more connected with people like myself, now that I know that so many of them exist. God bless America.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ladies I Like

Every day I say to myself, "I am going to be a good little blogger and write something that isn't nostalgic, nonsensical, pseudo-philosophical drivel and I will not write a goddamn two billion word essay, I will just write a few lines of non-rambling, interesting material and put pretty pictures in it and people will want to read it and then they will think what a good little writer I am." And then I don't write anything. And then when I do, it becomes a nostalgic, nonsensical, pseudo-philosophical diatribe about water or noise or boots. LAME. No one wants to read that crap, but I'll just keep writing it anyway.

So instead, here is a list of a few bloggers I admire. They are all women, and their blogs are pretty ridiculously girly, so if you're a boy and don't like this stuff, go away. I am listing six, because that is my favorite number. Three ladies I know personally and three I do not. But I think they're ALL awesome.

1. The Lake Effect: This lovely lady has been one of my besties since we were adorable, obnoxious, zit-ridden, insecure pre-teens. Now we're grown up and we're not pre-teens anymore, but mostly we're the same. Only that she is a good blogger, and I am not. Also she lives in Chicago, which is totally lame, because I only get to see her last weekend! That was awesome. Hey Rach, you should move back to NYC! I miss you. Anyway, read her blog, because I love her with all my heart and you should, too.

2. A Day in the Life: Another one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world, this girl is amazing in every way, shape, and form. She actually writes on her blog every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and her posts are actually useful and helpful and things that you want to read. They're short, they have pictures, and they get straight to the point. Whether she's waxing poetic about nail polish or voicing her concern for low-income mothers, she always has something good to say. Also we took shots of Jager last night and then stuffed our faces with chocolate, so if that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.

3. Sweeter Salt: We went to college together and don't know each other very well, because we really only met after we graduated, but we have a weird boyfriend stalker issue in common so that means she's awesome. I just discovered that she had a blog this morning. Thanks, Facebook! And though she's only been blogging since June, her blog is consistent, interesting, has a purpose, and has great pictures. Also, she is apparently good at creating tasty food and cute outfits, two things women love, so if you're a woman, you should read it. And if you're a man, you should read it anyway because then you'll figure out what women like: Eating. Looking pretty. Done. Ok that sounds shallow, we really like other stuff like books, too, but work with me, people. And yes, that's a picture of a pug dressed as a lobster.

Ok now these ladies I do not know one bit, but I kind of feel like I do. Weird.

1. Hyperbole and a Half: I started reading this a few months ago at Rachel's suggestion, but within a week I had gone through every post EVER and now I've read most of them at least twice. She creates ridiculously amazing cartoons with some low-res Paint-type program
and They. Are. HILARIOUS. I wait with bated breath every week, drooling with anticipation for her next post. She doesn't post as often as I wish she would, seeing as her fan following is ridiculously huge and hungry for more hilarious cartoons, but it's probably because her posts are always really long and detailed and well thought out and FUCKING RIDICULOUS. I can't even explain to you how many times I've doubled over laughing and my boyfriend starts to hate me with a mad fiery passion because he's trying to study. It happens a lot. Way too often, really. I like her because she is a semi-irresponsible young adult (like me!) who has cool pet rats and two dogs (unlike me, sadly) and has serious ADHD (again, unlike me, not so sadly) but lives with her boyfriend in squalor (just like me!!) and so I like her. A lot.

2. Dear Baby: I've been following her for more than a year, which is crazy. This lovely lady has another blog as well, Stay Forever Sunday, which is also great, but I first heard of her through this baby blog, which she started writing when she found out she was pregnant.
Weird, I know. I usually wouldn't be into something like this, seeing as I am in no rush to have children and if I had one it would probably run away, but I creepily love her and read her blog religiously. She is basically the pretty, popular cheerleader who grew up to be really amazing and awesome and has a super hot, tatted up musician hubby and the most adorable baby you've ever seen in your life, and even though you want to hate her because she pretty much seems perfect, you can't because she's just so gosh darn cute. Everything she wears is adorable, everything she does with her family is adorable, I pretty much agree with everything she writes, and I wish that someday I will be a ridiculous MILF like her. I probably will not, because I never have been and never will be this pretty or cool, but I can dream, can't I? She might get your biological clock ticking sometimes and her posts can sometimes tug at your heartstrings a little too much, but mostly she just seems really nice and dear Lord that baby is cute.

3. Apocalypstick:I literally found her the other day (thanks again,
Facebook!) and now I'm obsessed. She is from L.A., a city I have no desire to live in or even visit, but somehow, I am intrigued by her. She's hilarious, opinionated, fashionable, self-deprecating, gorgeous, vulnerable, andseems a little crazy. I like this. We have next to nothing in common, except for a serious case of Quarter Life Existential Crisis (QLEC, it's really awful and someone should find a cure), but that's ok. She makes me laugh. I haven't gone through every post yet, because I just haven't had time, but since I have nothing to do until brunch tomorrow, I will probably just veg out and read through her archives. Everything I've read so far I've loved. LOVED. This morning I was LOLing (not a joke, I really was) at her Fashion and the Shining post. My other serious affliction, Study Buddy Boyfriend (SBB, which requires a cure called "graduation") then reared its ugly head and I had to click away because I was laughing too loudly.

On a side note, here are a few other blogs of people who are awesome, but my following of them doesn't make any sense at all. The list continues...

7. What I Wore: A fashion blog, which is weird because I'm not really into fasion at all. But I've followed her since (almost) the beginning and though I never take her fashion tips because I'm lazy, she is seriously amazing.

8. The Philosophie: A vegan/raw health nut and chef, which I have no interest in, but again, I like this! This blog gives lots of advice I never take but I read it anyway so at least I know what I'm doing wrong. I actually know her, but haven't seen her in years. Our parents were friends way back in the day. Hippies.

9. My Morning Chocolate: Another food blog! And I don't even like to cook. Weird again. But she's a Marylander and a great writer and we used to work together, so that automatically validates my reading of her blog.

10. What I Like: One of the first blogs I ever started following, because she is a New Yorker who is all fashionable and sophisticated in ways I can/will never be. Instead I'll live vicariously through her. But she's a really good blogger and actually posts good material.

Apparently it seems that a lot of the blogs I follow are about fashion and food, two things I generally don't give a crap about, but I guess maybe I do because I like to read about them. Maybe I should start dressing and eating better and actually be a grown up once in a while. Hmm.... Never mind about that. I'll just keep reading these blogs.

So I guess this turned into another rambling, nonsensical, two billion word post. Oops.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Sounds of Silence

I haven't posted for a while, and I really ought to try harder. I just feel as though I've had nothing to write about, though I have a million things to say. But these past few weeks I've been embracing being quiet. It started last week when Nick had a big test to study for and rather than escape the apartment like I usually do when a test is on the horizon, I just stayed home and had calm, quiet evenings with no socializing. And it was lovely. I made dinner, cleaned up, read, messed around on the computer, cuddled with the cat, and I did not talk. It was a bit frustrating at times, but overall it was strangely soothing. The quietness was something I haven't experienced in a while, something I rarely experience. I feel as though every evening, every weekend, every moment of my life is taken up by social noise, and sometimes it just has to stop.

After such a quiet week, the weekend threw me for a loop. I feel as though I talked nonstop Friday night, with some singing and drinking in between, of course... I was exhausted but I probably could have stayed up all night, blathering on and on. But on Saturday morning, I awoke to nothing but the sounds of birds and an occasional car, and the sights of sunlight and trees through the windows of my friend's home just north of the city. While I waited for everyone to wake up, I was amazed by the peacefulness. I just sat on the couch and stared out the window and drank in the silence, wondering how in the hell I would ever force myself to go back to Brooklyn. But I did. Rather than sleep on the bus, though, I stared silently out the window. I barely thought about anything, I just reveled in the sights of trees and pretty houses and the endless river and highway, and I ignored all the sounds. Once I was back in the city I was horrified by the noises and sights and people and the terrible things they were saying. Talk talk talk, chat chat chat, yell yell yell... Curse curse, blah blah, crowds crowds crowds! Shh...

While I would have gladly spent my Saturday night curled up in bed reading, I forced myself to go back out for birthday parties because I'm a good friend like that, dammit. Once again I felt as though I had entered a portal into another world, making my way on the subway to the East Village and then Union Square for one party after another, filled with laughter and talking and drinking and dancing and loud, loud, loud music. I didn't quite know what to make of it. The clatter of high heels on the pavement, the sloppy drawls of drunk college kids, the unwelcome cat calls emanating from every corner... No noise escaped my ears, it was so overpowering. I could hear people taking drags of their cigarettes. I couldn't hear myself think. I wasn't thinking, I was just acting, just moving, just going with the flow of a noisy city that didn't give me a choice, just carried me along in its tornado of sound.

Sometimes the noise of this city is overwhelming. Perhaps it's because no matter where you go, no matter how many noises you hear, now matter how many people who are talking and yelling and laughing and crying in your ear on every street and every subway car, everyone is still alone, confined in their own little worlds. We are interacting with so many different people at so many different times, and yet, we interact with no one. It's a very isolating feeling, to hear so much and see so much and still know that you're just one tiny speck among millions, all of us endlessly prattling away about next to nothing.

I'm escaping the city this weekend. There will be no cars honking, no subway announcements, no sirens, no chatter of people on the street who you don't know and you will only pass by once in your life. And if you pass them by twice you'll never know it.While there will be family and friends talking on and on, when I wake up in the morning I can have my breakfast and sit on the porch and revel in the quiet that I've been craving. And when I'm hiking, I will hear only the leaves under my feet and the wind in the trees.

I feel like I need to counter this post someday with something that praises the noise and insanity of city life. I love it, I really do. But sometimes I just need to escape into the silence. Surely you understand.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Autumn Awakening

If 30 days has September, then today would be the official beginning of "late September." The first day of fall is exactly one week from today, and I will turn 25 on the last day of summer... Time is swiftly passing and the weather is steadily growing cooler. One tree on my street has decided to get a head start on the others and its leaves are already beginning to take on a rich red hue. I don't understand the rush, but maybe that particular tree is just an overachiever.

Though I'm hesitant to see summer end, there is an air of relief about fall that is akin to winter changing into spring... No more sweaty days where you long to to peel off so many layers of clothing that you risk impropriety. School kids are off the streets and back in classrooms, hopefully with commutes much earlier than yours. Friends who have been away traveling magically return with stories and photos. Wedding season thankfully begins to fade away, so that Facebook is no longer inundated with the obnoxiously requisite "jumping bridal party" or "bridesmaids lift groom horizontally" photo opps.

And best of all, shallow though it may be, fall means the beginning of a whole new wardrobe!! Before the misery of winter sets in and everyone tramps through the slush-laden streets in the obligatory black wool coat and black leather boots, you are free to experiment with the palette of autumn fabrics and colors... Houndstooth, herringbone, corduroy, tweed, and of course, leather... Mustard yellow, olive green, burnt orange, burgundy, and every shade of beautiful brown imaginable.

I can wear all the cardigans and sweaters I want without seeming like a psycho for owning a million in every shade. Jacket or blazers are a must, preferably in any of the aforementioned fabrics.... Scarves are finally an accessory once again for everyone, in every imaginable color, and not just for hipsters who risk passing out in mid-July by wearing a keffiyeh. And for your legs, the denim gets darker and gets tucked into possibly the best wardrobe item about cold weather... BOOTS!! Ahh, I'm dreaming about the possibilities right now... Boots with jeans, boots with dresses or skirts and tights, brown boots, black boots, tan boots... One boot, two boot, red boot, blue boot... Boots, boots, BOOTS! I wore my first boots/jeans/blazer/scarf outfit out last weekend and man, it felt good...

Since the weather started changing, I've seen people wearing everything from full winter coats to cutoffs and sandals...on the same block and on the same subway car. Apparently New Yorkers can't always agree what the weather calls for, especially in these times of transition. They'll figure it out. All I know is that if my birthday reflects anything about me, it's that I was born at the perfect time to revel in the weather of late summer and early fall. I love the lingering green of the trees and the crisp hint of coolness in the air. I love that when the leaves finally turn completely, they glow red and gold against a perfectly blue autumn sky. I love how my hair is suddenly frizz-less and plaid is acceptable in any form and it's okay to wrap yourself in scarves and how red wine suddenly tastes better when you've been the slightest bit chilled.

So goodbye, Summer. I'll miss you. You gave me a great tan this year. But you make me sweat. And so autumn, I love you. I missed you. You and I have always been great friends, and it's good to have you back...

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Everyone remembers where they were on this day 9 years ago. As my mother so aptly put it, "This is your Kennedy." She recounted to me her own story of that terrifying day when she learned the President had been shot when she was home sick from school. She said I would never forget, because it is one of those moments, one of those days, that will be forever trapped in your memory. A small part of you will always be that self you were when it happened.

I was 11 days away from turning 16, having just started my junior year of high school. As I gear up for my 25th birthday, I realize how this was such a milestone at the time. I remember how excited I was at the prospect of driving, how I was going to try for an editor position on the high school paper, and how my parents were soon going to depart for Kazakhstan to pick up the black-haired toddler who would become my sister. My school was in a small rural town, so set apart from the rest of the world, and we lived our lives in truly blissful ignorance of the outside world. At 16, not much else mattered. I don't remember what my first period class was, I just remember that when I stopped at my locker to pick up my books for second period, there was a strange anxiety in the air. Kids still laughed and flirted and yelled and chatted--I was one of those kids--but so many others hurried to class anxiously that it was plain that there was something amiss.

I first heard from a girl named Laura--our last names meant that our alphabetized lockers were right next door. She stooped to get her books with a harried expression, and when I asked what was going on, she looked up at me with a twinge of annoyance for not knowing what had happened, but also with great fear. I will never forget her eyes. I don't recall her exact words, but it was someting along the lines of, "Didn't you hear? Someone blew up a building in New York. It's all over the news."

In my Photography class, the teacher had already turned on the TV, and all I could see were soaring buildings surrounded by billowing smoke. I don't think the second plane had hit yet. Perhaps it had, but for me, the events of the day become more and more unclear, just fleeting images and sounds accompanied by a sinking feeling of dread and above all, confusion. All we knew was that buildings were burning in New York and no one knew why. Teachers herded stray students into their classrooms--the school was on lockdown. The principal made a tearful announcement telling us a terrible thing had happened and that we could keep our TVs on and to stay in our classrooms. When we learned about the attack on the Pentagon, just an hour south of our little town, we were truly terrified. But there are a few moments that stand out clearly...

CNN or some other news network reported that the attacks were the work of terrorists--Muslim terrorists. Most of us knew of only one Muslim student in our school. A boy at my work table, with anger and ignorance in his voice, said that this student was "going down." I immediately responded with harsh scolding, defending the poor teenager who had nothing to do with the tragic events of the day and who I realized with regret was soon going to be a target of misplaced hatred. Our school was at least 90% white, our town was small and conservative, and anyone who was different stuck out like a sore thumb--we didn't need a terrorist attack to single out this student even more. The boy who had made the remark immediately recanted, saying he was just kidding, but the damage was done. I look back on this now and realize that this gut reaction of a scared 16-year-old boy, and my strong defense of the only Muslim person I knew, a person I was not even friends with, was a premonition of things to come. This was my first inclination that while our country was united in grief, it would soon become divided along lines of race and religion.

I remember finding my best friend at the time and escaping with her to the bathroom, where we could find a little peace from the crush of emotional reactions occurring in the hallway. We had few direct connections to New York--she had a friend from summer camp who lived in Manhattan, I had a cousin who was a senior at NYU. Neither of us had any idea of the layout of the city, if there would be any chance that either of them would have been caught in the attacks. Luckily, Stuy High and NYU are not in the Financial District. But at the time, we just knew that the girls' bathroom provided a place to slump against the wall with a few other girls, I don't remember if we knew them well or not, and just cry. I did not like crying in front of others, and I felt a twinge of resentment for the girls who wandered the halls rubbing at their eyes and hugging their friends as if they personally knew people in the towers. I thought it seemed like they were doing it for attention. So like all high school girls in all high school movies, the bathroom provided solace, a place for emotions to come gushing out, until a teacher came and quietly shooed us out with pity in her eyes.

Later that day in Journalism class, my teacher seized the opportunity for us to really learn something about reporting, and we devoted an entire special issue of the paper to the attacks. This was a big deal at the time, and a therapeutic way for all of us to deal with the events in a strangely professional and productive way. I was given the assignment of writing the front page article, so I called up my teacher's cousin or brother or friend, I don't recall which, who lived in New York, and did my first real interview, getting all the gritty details I could about what it was like to be in a city under siege. I later realized that this assignment was a test, as I was eventually given the position of News Editor (which was to directly lead to Editor in Chief). With that, my 16-year-old ambition to be a high school newspaper editor was fulfilled, the same as it would have without the attacks. And thus life went on.

I don't remember the rest of the day. It was a Tuesday, so I was probably going to a dance class of some sort after school. Maybe I just went straight home with my mother, I don't know. But in the months and years following the attacks, I could feel the world changing, and I changed with it. This was probably my first real awakening to how the United States was viewed by the rest of the world. They didn't all love us or want to be like us or want to live within our borders--they wanted to kill us. The patriotic rampage began. People plastered their cars with ribbons and flags, they started hating the French, your love of God and country was questioned if you questioned President Bush (which I did, all the time), I attended a peace rally in Washington, D.C., and my graduating class joined the Army in droves and were swiftly deployed to Iraq. Then I went off to college in New York City...and I'm still here.

That day is still so clear for so many people--their grief and fear is real, and sadly, this makes Islamophobia strong. The mosque near Ground Zero has started a firestorm of both criticism and support. A Muslim taxi driver was recently stabbed because of his religion by a drunken 21-year-old white kid. Glenn Beck held a rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech," making a mockery of the civil rights movement and progress in general. A redneck Florida pastor threatened to burn the Quran, and actually received attention from President Obama and General Petraeus--now he says he won't do it. Speaking of the President, far too many stupid people believe that he's Muslim, largely because they want a reason to hate him.

Do you remember how hate and fear caused these attacks in the first place? Please, America, don't give anyone, anywhere, any more reasons to hate us. I don't want another day like this to stick in my memory forever, forcing me to forever be 16. This is a day I will never forget--no one will, though we might want to. We owe it to all those who perished and all those who lost loved ones to always remember. But I don't want to remember another day like this. Please let it remain the only one.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Music

On Friday night, I went to Jones Beach to see Crosby, Stills & Nash with my dear friend Janice. We were by far some of the youngest people who were there by their own accord -- as opposed to the teenagers and children who were their with their parents, some of whom looked rather bored and engrossed in their text messages. While I've listened to a good bit of CSN(Y) in my life, I'm no die hard fan; however, I was truly humbled to see these great musicians and to hear them harmonizing so beautifully after so many years.

They played a good many covers that night, like "Ruby Tuesday" and "Norwegian Wood." The one that brought tears to my eyes, unsurprisingly, was "Girl From the North Country," which was part of a set of "songs we wish we'd written." Maybe it's because I truly am a huge Bob Dylan fan, or maybe just because the harmonies were so amazing and the melody so beautiful to begin with, that I got a chill through my spine and tears in my eyes and wished it would never end.

These songs made me think long and hard about my taste in music. My top favorite artists include Bob Dylan, The Band, Bob Marley, Joan Baez, Van Morrisson... I also love The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Arlo Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Fairport Convention, The Doors... How many of these artists have died? How many are well past the age of retirement now? Though many still perform today, the music that I hold near and dear to my heart is from decades before I was born. Is it really "my music"? Then again, what does "my music" really mean?

Sure, there are more modern bands that I've loved since childhood like Nirvana, Sublime, and Pearl Jam, but even they were around when I was in elementary school. Hell, Kurt Cobain died when I was in fourth grade, and Bradley Nowell when I was in sixth grade... Yet I loved them. Then I grew up and moved onto bands like Phish and Yonder Mountain String Band, while continuing to discover even more Grateful Dead than I'd ever known existed. I was introduced to The Shins and Sufjan Stevens and The Postal Service by a good friend, which likely paved the way for me to discover some modern music all by myself. I now count Beirut and Arcade Fire and Dr. Dog and Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver among my favorites.

But the music that I still turn to when all else fails is those first few mentioned before, namely Dylan and Baez and The Band. Of course, I have only my parents to thank (or blame) for this, depending on how you look at it. In some ways, I feel like my adoration of the music of the 60s and 70s has hindered my discovery of new bands. When there is such a huge amount of amazing music that was created 20 years before I was born, there's a lot of time to make up. And since I didn't really even start really getting into music that wasn't on the radio until I was about 15, that's a full 35 years of incredible songwriting to cover! Only when the prospect of going to concerts came up did I realize I needed to know new music and I needed to know it now. Thank god for friends who told me, "Buy this ticket, go to this show" or I would never have seen bands like Moe or Assembly of Dust.

I guess that while the music I love the most is that of my parents' generation, it is still "my music." It's what I love, what I find solace in, what gets me pumped up and happy, or what calms me down and brings me back to earth. And while I do think I'm a bit lazy about finding modern musicians, that's ok. There are so many beautiful singers and songwriters that I will be fortunate to even discover a few of them. But I really ought to make an effort to see more of them in concert... Then again, I should also be fortunate that great bands like CSN are still alive and kickin' -- and playing truly amazing music. And I will most definitely go to see them perform while I still have the chance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Our futon broke last weekend. Rather, I broke our futon... I was sitting on it as I Facebook stalked my friends from childhood with my mom (no joke), and suddenly it just came crashing down. So we put the mattress on the floor in front of the broken frame, moved the coffee table over, and have proceeded to live for the next week like this is a perfectly normal and acceptable way to hang out in your living room. It's not, of course. Yet I don't really mind. It's nice to just kind of flop down on the ground, read, watch TV and movies, waste time on the Internet, and occasionally sit up to eat off the coffee table. It's like camping in my own home.

I really ought to be more grown up than this by now. I mean, on the outside, I seem like a perfectly responsible adult. I'm nearly 25, I have a boyfriend of 5 years, I graduated on time from a good college, I have had two full time jobs in the 3 years since school, I have held a second part time job for a year and a half, and I actually have a savings account! I have never worried about not being able to pay my rent or feed myself... I can even feed my cat! All of these mean that I am a responsible adult! Right...??

Then I look around my apartment from my little nest on the ground and I see bizarre things. A futon mattress on the floor is the first glaring clue that I am not a real grownup. And why is there an empty lemonade bottle sitting inside the plastic pitcher we use to water our plants? Judging by the multitude of dead and dying plants on our windowsills, perhaps it's because that pitcher doesn't get much use. There is an air conditioning unit sitting on the floor and a fan is sitting on top of that. Nick's boxers are for some reason crumpled on the floor by the piano. On a chair in the corner there is a pile of unread magazines about which I keep saying to myself, "Someday I'll read these...Someday..." Our ironing board is never used for what its name specifies, but rather as another surface where we can pile all our crap. Speaking of crap, my bedroom looks like a bomb went off around my closet and dressers. Yes, I have multiple dressers. Three to be exact. And yet my clean and dirty clothes, many of them folded carefully by the nice ladies at Big Apple Laundry, are strewn across multiple dressers and the floor, as well as on a kitchen chair which has been kidnapped by my room and held for ransom. We aren't just messy or disorganized. We're hopeless. Well, it's mostly just me. I am the guilty party most of the time when it comes to not putting things away or doing stupid things with food and clothing that don't make any sense. Nick's pretty good about being domestic. I'm more than hopeless. I'm a lost cause.

I looked at Facebook today and it seems that everyone is getting married. And I mean EVERYONE. Not my close friends, thank god, but about half of my high school class. Ugh. And they have children. LOTS of them. I can barely even keep houseplants alive, and I worry every day that my cat doesn't get enough attention. I can't even fathom what it would be like to be responsible for another human life. I'm barely responsible for my own life! In the last two nights I went to three different parties. Yesterday I didn't get off the mattress (it's not a couch anymore, it's a mattress) all day. I spent my whole day watching YouTube videos of kittens and puppies, reading about serial killers on Wikipedia, watching "Grandma's Boy," eating bacon sandwiches, and snuggling with the cat. Today, after waking up at noon, we spent most of the day waiting for some legendary pizza at Di Fara. That's what you do when you don't have kids. Serial killers, kittens, bacon, and pizza. All this and more in between drinking Bloody Marys and lots and lots of beer!

Good thing Rachel turned me on to Hyperbole and a Half. This little blogger makes me feel better about myself, because apparently we're just about the same age and she lives in squalor as well. Only she has pet rats, so I'm jealous. I held a ferret the other day and now all I want to do is go adopt some rodents. Anyway, this girl is hilarious, and while she is a famous blogger and I am not, she makes me feel like I'm not a total failure. Does it matter so much that my houseplants die? That my apartment is a mess and frankly, I don't care?!? Since I'm not married and living in suburbia with a bunch of kids, DOES IT MATTER?!?! Hell no. Posts like This is Why I'll Never Be an Adult and Am Adult help me come to the conclusion that the longer I can perpetuate this absence of real responsibility, the better. I have my life together for the most part, so who cares if there is a random teddy bear sitting in the middle of my living room floor covered in cat hair? At least I'm not on crack. At least I have a job. At least I have an education. At least I'm not fat. HAH. I win.

New York City enables the Peter Pan Syndrome to take hold and never let go. Here, it is perfectly acceptable, perfectly normal, to simply never grow up. To live life as if you will always be young and the future is only a dreamy destination to be arrived at someday, but that day is far far away. And the real world is only as real as you allow it to become during the work week, because when the weekend arrives, you're free. Free to drink and sing and slack off and stuff your face full of terrible foods, and wear what you want, or not wear anything at all. Free to not budget or plan ahead or worry about what your grandchildren will think, but just live in the moment and always, always go with the flow... And even during the week, there's always happy hour.

So does it matter that for the duration of writing this post I've simply been procrastinating the cleaning of my apartment, as I have planned to do all day and then promised my boyfriend I would do? Does it?? No. He knows and I know that I'll get to it eventually, when the motivation strikes me. Because right now, I'm young enough and free enough that I can do that. I can say, "I'll do it when I feel like it." And the world will not come crashing down. Everything will be fine. Because I am a responsible adult. Responsible for me, and only me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Moon Shadow

My cat is sitting next to me, snuggling with the remote control and purring away. Just a moment ago I leaned over to pet her and she swatted a claw-less paw at me. I said, "Hey, stop that!" She froze, then saw my still extended hand still hovering over her head and rubbed her little cheek against it as if to say, "I was only kidding. Please pet me."

The purring is what gets me. It's taken little miss Moon Shadow Stugalas a long time for her little kitty motor to start running at what I would consider a normal speed. After I found her on the street and brought her home with me nearly two years ago, she rarely purred. I've heard that purring it something only domesticated (as opposed to feral) cats do because it elicits the right response from their owners. Basically, it's their adorable and soothing way of manipulating us into petting them. I'm not sure if it's true or not, but if it is, my little Shadow eventually learned this tactic and started using it to her advantage. Since she rarely purred before, I'm mighty impressed with her.

Besides purring, she used to rarely let us hold her. While she was obsessed with following us around the apartment (hence the name Shadow...the Moon was added later) because she didn't want to ever be alone, she was not the most cuddly cat. In fact, she was not cuddly at all. About 10 seconds after we'd pick her up, she'd be struggling to get down. We finally started dealing with this in a way she could adjust to. Rather than force her to stay in our arms (tough love), we would set her down gently and give her a little stroke once she reached the ground. Eventually she was letting us hold her for longer and longer periods of time. It still kind of amazes me when I pick her up and she settles against my chest or shoulder contentedly purring away, and doesn't make any move to get down. Eventually I'm actually the one to willingly put her down. That's crazy.

I found the little devil on an October morning in 2008 when I went to move my car. She came scampering up behind me on the sidewalk, mewing adorably, and what was I supposed to do? She rubbed against my legs and followed me for about 20 feet. It was unbearable. I called my boyfriend and explained the situation.

"Uhh, hi sweetie. I found this really cute little kitten on the street and she's really sweet and skinny and she's following me and I'm going to bring her home with me and--"

"Put it back."

Needless to say, I showed up at the apartment 5 minutes later with the cat in my arms. I blended some lunchmeat with some cereal to make a wet food of sorts (which she ate ravenously), put some potting soil in a wash basin for a litter box, and ignored Nick's glares as I promised to take her to the shelter that night. Instead I went to Petsmart and bought toys after work, as well as flea shampoo. Then I went to Duane Reade and got litter and food. I came home to a pile of puke on the carpet and a freshly used litter box. I scrubbed her down in the tub as she stood there still and terrified, looking like a pathetic, emaciated otter. I picked the encrusted flea dirt from her tummy and rubbed her paws until they were finally white instead of beige and could feel every delicate bone in her tiny little body. I did the same thing the next two nights, and she only ever made one pathetic attempt to get out of the tub.

Two weeks later we decided to keep her officially. In that time we pronounced her the most docile and loyal creature we'd ever met. We took her to the shelter and had to leave her for three days so we could get free shots, a free vet visit, a microchip, and a minimal adoption fee. It was horrible. I literally had to fight to get her back since they deemed her "unadoptable" because she had shown "signs of aggression." I was devastated, but I cried and hung around long enough that they realized I was serious, then agreed to reevaluate her in the morning and go through with the adoption. I took her home the next night. I took her to the vet, who disspelled my belief that she was only about 6 months old. She was actually a year and a half, but was stunted in her growth. I was happy to have a tiny kitty and proceeded to furnish our home with all the silly crap that you buy when you get a new pet. It was like she was finally ome for good, though she'd been with us for about three weeks. And then her true colors came out and her real identity was born.

First, her name changed. She was soon renamed Moon Shadow due to my parents' belief that Shadow was simply not creative enough for a black cat. And because she had gotten her name due to her penchant for following us (underfoot always, meaning we tripped on her and stepped on her many times), it only seemed right to take my mother's suggestion of naming her for the Cat Steven's song... "I'm being followed by a moon shadow... Moon shadow, moon shadow." Thanks, Mom. Now I look like a ridiculous hippie every time I tell people my cat's name.

After weeks of thinking she was so incredibly docile, she suddenly became the rambunctious and playful, albeit somewhat frustrating, girl we came to love. Running through the apartment at 4 in the morning, attacking us as we walked by her, biting with no warning, staring at us creepily, rolling around on the rug, scratching the rug, learning to ignore us when we yelled at her for scratching the rug, then finally, scratching the rug just to spite us when we weren't paying attention to her. She used to literally scratch it and stare at us as we clapped our hands and yelled, knowing we had no other defense. I never did break out the spray bottle...I guess I just spoiled her. My little baby could be a tyrant at times, running along the back of the couch and swatting our hair, biting our ears, jumping on our arms with teeth bared. She never really wanted to hurt us, we realized, she was just trying to play. And she ALWAYS wanted to play. She just didn't quite know her limits.

Shadow has grown up a lot in two years. She is now much calmer, much more willing to just sit next to you and enjoy being stroked. We can hold her, listen to her purr, laugh at her antics when we break out the feather toy, smile when she gazes longingly at the mourning doves on the fire escape, chase her around the apartment when she gets into a hyper mood, and not get freaked out when she stares at us with her huge green eyes from far away, because we know she'll lose interest soon enough and go sleep on "her" chair. It was strange to realize one day thatshe had changed so much -- although she had been a fairly normal cat before, just a little hyper, she had truly become domesticated. It made me realize just how wild she had been from living the first year and a half of her life on the streets. I'm happy to say that will never happen again.

Over the course of writing this post, she has run around for a moment, eaten some food (in the kitchen), drank some water (in the living room), scratched the rug, rolled aroundon the floor, and now she is back next to me, stretched out and purring while her little tail twitches. And she looks so content. Someday she'll have little brother and sister kitties (and doggies!) to entertain her. But for now, she is an only child, a tiny little bundle of black fur and white paws that I am so happy to have. I think she's pretty happy to be here, too. I think she knows followed the right person down the street on that day in October...

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I am a terrible blogger. It's been almost a month since I posted last, and I was asked recently by a friend, "Did your blog die?" No, it didn't die. It was just taking a nap while I... (get ready for a quick recap of the last month of my life):

1. Lounged on the beach and watched the Mermaid Parade with an old friend, my cousin, and her friends, and had a lovely little picnic.

2. Went to some wineries on the North Fork and lounged on the beach some more amidst the foggiest fog I have ever seen.

3. Started my new job and quickly became overwhelmed.

4. Lounged in a pool for a weekend drinking beer out of cans and watching beautiful fireworks from the roof deck of a mansion.

5. Worked some more, acquired more and more responsibilities.

6. Rocked out to some 90s cover bands and once again discovered how much I love my neighborhood.

7. Lounged around the house and did nothing while I was supposed to be cleaning.

8. Worked some more.

9. Got sick with a stupid sore throat and fever, in the SUMMER for god's sake.

10. Had my dad visit for THREE WHOLE DAYS while he was up in Brooklyn for an auction!! Amidst my illness, we did quite a bit of catching up... We ate some Filipino food and I introduced him to goat curry, he came to the bar to listen to jazz -- he was a big hit with all the guys and this resulted in him having a bit too much Jack Daniels, and then we took him and his country-folk employees out to a fancy Brooklyn dinner, where they were introduced to Pork Slap Ale. Awesome times with my dear old dad...

11. Went to hear the New York Philharmonic in Prospect Park. After getting terribly lost and nearly breaking up a few times, the Boyfriend and I eventually settled onto our blanket and drank wine, ate cherries and blueberries, and realized we actually kind of like each other a lot.

12. Lounged around the house and watched a lot of terrible TV.....JUST BECAUSE I CAN since I am a young adult with few responsibilities. HA!

13. Played bocce, drank delicious gin drinks, stuffed my face with meat at Yakitori Taisho, and was introduced to the new beaux of a friend, who I thought was very nice.

14. Woke up this morning....

So here I am. What am I doing? LOUNGING. I just read a lot of Passive Aggressive Notes and did some laughing on the inside. In my defense, I was somewhat productive, too. I just cleaned out my freezer. Why? Because the other day I filled a tall glass of water with about 6 ice cubes, getting ready for a nice cold glass on a hot day when, to my horror, I realized that my ice cubes SMELLED BAD. How the hell do ice cubes smell? Well, when your freezer is littered with the crap my freezer is littered with, it's easy. Here is what I found in my freezer:

1. Broken glass from a beer bottle... Explanation below..

2. Beer sludge all over the bottom and sides, from when I thought it would be a good idea to chill beer in the freezer... This was last summer. Apparently beer doesn't have enough alcohol to keep it from freezing, so it froze and the glass broke and we didn't really clean it up too well.

3. Rotten ginger. Ew.

4. Batteries. Why do we have 4 batteries in a baggie in the freezer? I don't know. We have about 20 of them in a box in my desk, probably melting, but whatevs.

5. A massive sheet of grayish brownish ice covering the whole bottom of the freezer. EW.

6. Smushed peas.

7. Southern Comfort left over from Chelsea's visit... in March.

8. Whisky, but in a vodka bottle -- time in freezer: 2 years.

9. Half a million of these little ice packs from when Nick had knee surgery (2 years ago) and all his medicine came in environmentally unfriendly styrofoam coolers with thousands of ice packs. For some reason we still have most of them.

10. An unopened bag of edamame. Yay!

11. How could I forget... 3 glasses full of BACON GREASE that Nick has been saving for months and months since he had an epiphany that the only respectable fat to cook stuff in was that of a pig's belly. I identified these as the probable source of the ice cube stench, allowed the fat to melt, and flushed it all down the toilet. Vengeance is mine!

I now have all 4 of my nice, clean ice trays filled with fresh water so that the next time I want to have ice water I don't have to hold my nose every time I want to feel refreshed. I feel like such a grownup right now. Since I cleaned my freezer, I don't have to clean my room, right?

Someday I will clean the fridge out, too, and I will tell you what I find. That is another post for another day...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Slang

I haven't exactly been keeping up with this thing, have I? Sorry to my millions (ahem, four) followers. There just seem to be too many other important things in real life to do that I just forget to sit down and wax philosophical about my observations and experiences and all that crap. Is it really that interesting anyway? Probably not.

I just finished writing thank you notes to the three former employers of mine who acted as references for my new job. If they were women I'd send them flowers, but what do you send a guy? An expensive and overpriced gift basket? Sorry, I don't have the cash flow to send three $80 baskets full of crackers and cheese and olive tapinade. So a note will have to suffice. I've already thanked two of them in person anyway. I really do appreciate their help, though. Starting this new job should be a breath of fresh air into my life, which from 9 to 5 on weekdays was beginning to feel stale and stagnant. Well, not quite had been that way for a while. The only things that keep me sane are the lovely ladies who I shared my time there with, and they're what I'll miss most about my old place of employment. But I have to grow up and take on new challenges, figure out what the hell I'm actually meant to be on this Earth for -- and I knew I wouldn't find that where I was, no matter how many lovely conversations and shopping trips we have day to day.

Speaking of coworkers, one of mine got MARRIED recently (and she will soon be reading this post when she gets back from her fabulous HONEYMOON!)!!!!! Six other current and former coworkers attended, dragging along two boyfriends (one of them mine) and a husband. We had an AMAZING time at the beautiful wedding, and it was a really nice way to wrap up my time at The Organzation That Shall Not Be Named. Angela looked GORGEOUS in her gown and as far as I could tell, the day went smoothly and everyone was happy. At least that's what I thought, since all I could see when I looked at Angela were her teeth because she was smiling so much. Congratulations, little bride. You got wifed!

I've also been bopping around the city recently doing all those fun things you do when the weather is warm and everyone is in a good mood. We had a book club meeting in Washington Square Park, complete with gourmet snacks and way too much wine, and recruited two new members to the club... The book club has been good for me since it's made me stop being such a literary snob and just pick up something light and entertaining once in a while. Or to pick up an international bestseller that I'd previously snubbed and realize that it's a bestseller for a reason -- because it's awesome -- and then continue to read the next two books in the series. Sometimes it's nice to just kick back and be a normal girl, rather than reading all these harsh and depressing novels all the time... Then again, in between the book club books, I find myself gravitating toward stories about Prague Spring or Agfhan immigrants, so I don't think I'll ever change.

Let's see, what else have I done... I went to the Native American Heritage Festival in Brooklyn with this lovely lady and her boyfriend, where I watched some stunning Polynesian and Aztec dancers and bought some lavender body spray, a beautiful white linen dress, and brass earrings based on a design by the Moche tribe of Peru. Yesterday I went to the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island and met up with an old coworker as well as my cousin and her friends. When I first went to the parade two years ago I vowed to march in it, and then last year I completely forgot about it... Maybe because the weather was so crappy EVERY DAY last June. Ugh. This would have been the perfect year -- the weather so PERFECT, but of course I completely forgot to check when the date was. Next year, I fully plan on gluing seashells to my nipples, painting myself glittery green, and donning a ridiculous wig and a sequined skirt and being the most fabulous mermaid I can be. How can I live in Brooklyn for so long and NOT take part in this incredible tradition?

I also rediscovered some old music on my computer that I had never converted to mp3 format after I got this new computer... So now I'm listening to Belle & Sebstian and The Shins again (hence the title of this post). Lovely stuff that takes me back to freshman year... Ahhh....

Ok I'm over this. Today is Father's Day, and I guess I really ought to have been writing about how much I appreciate my dad and all that. But I'm not going to bore you with all that. I love my dad and he's an amazing guy, and I think I'll just give him a call right now.

Then I'll clean this apartment and try to get back to writing some fiction I just started up again. Aren't you proud of me?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Beginnings

I am being a bit lazy this morning about getting myself to work. Why, you might ask? Aren't you a gainfully employed young adult with a full time job that requires you to be at work at a set time? Well, technically yes. However, this morning is different. This is the beginning of the day that I hand in my resignation to my employer of nearly three years.

In two weeks I will start a new job, working for what is essentially a pro-bono law firm for families with children in foster care. They aren't really a law firm, but it's easier to explain it that way. The new job will have countless more responsibilities than the current one -- it will be a lot more work for a little more pay, but it's really all about the experience.

I've been working in a stagnant office for too long, where innovation is squashed and challenging projects are few and far between. I'm young and energetic, and I need to get out there and actually learn something of value, actually DO something of value. Will the new job be perfect? Certainly not. There will be downfalls and disappointments, but at least I won't be bored. But instead of working in a bizarre bureaucracy where it matters more who your parents are than what your qualifications are (such is life, I suppose), I will be working at a place where people have actually gone to school for law and social work -- intelligent, educated people working for a good cause. Perhaps I'll actually be inspired.

Today is not exactly the first day of the rest of my life, but perhaps June 28th will be. Congratulations and good luck to me!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Here I am, back in Brooklyn, once again typing from the boyfriend's computer. How strange it is to be back here after 10 days! I'm tired so this is will be one of those boring, lame, let's-recap-my-weekend type of posts.

I left on the 21st to take a bus to MD, so that the morning of the 22nd I could fly down to St. John in the Virgin Islands for week of sun, sand, and lots of rum. Lots and lots of rum. I went snorkeling, jet skiing, did lots of lounging, ate lots of seafood, drank tons of fruity drinks, wore pretty dresses, ended up with a hellish sunburn, and came back with a heavenly tan. I also got to spend some time with my lovely cousins, both of whom were pretty much the closest thing I had to sisters growing up. Needless to say, we had an absolute ball.

Saturday brought me a bit closer to reality when I flew back to DC. Luckily, the next day I got to spend some quality time with Rachel and her boyfriend in Baltimore at the Brew at the Zoo, featuring tons of beer, local wineries, and live music. The elephants were pretty cool, too. Then we converged at Courtney's house for some sangria and pork barbecue, and once I had my wits about me I hopped back on the beltway and hopped into bed.

Monday was Memorial Day, which meant my family got a monopoly on my presence. I got to see some of their old friends and drink some more sangria, along with more delicious food, so I can't complain. Plus today is my dad's birthday, so we had a little cake for him last night and I gave him his complimentary book and cigar (to be used simultaneously, of course) from the islands. Finally today I made it back to New York, and now I sit finishing up some Indian food while the boyfriend studies, and I feel quite at home.

Easing back into vacation was the way to go, I think. After such a shock of being on a Caribbean island where the water looks like a perfect swimming pool, where the rum flows freely, and where shirts and shoes (and bras) are always optional, I needed some time to segue back into real life. And here I am again... and it is oh so real.

I'm ready for the weekend. Coney Island, anyone?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5/11/10 - 10:40 p.m. - Q train

A good looking man. Had only someone told him. Do not stick your neck out like that.
Straighten your teeth.
Dress yourself in suits.
Do not wear cheap yellow t-shirts.
You could have been a movie star. A contender?

And thus it begins. My incoherent subway fiction party... intelligible? Illegible! Mostly, bad.
Snippets of people whose lives I do not know and who I will think of no more past the writing and subsequent reading of this illegible text.
But there is a story behind him... a "guy" who could be a movie star but has grown up in a post-Soviet bloc town with no opportunities.
That's a lie because he doesn't even seem to have a trace of an accent. I don't know, I'm not close enough to tell.

"Be that as it may."
<--- Haha. Leather bracelet. White sneakers. Velcro shoes. Nose ring. Headphones. Blackberry. Bad handwriting. It feels ok to write. Good, even. ILLEGIBLE. Unless you don't listen to the reader. Joan Didion. Arm in a sling with a supportive lady friend. Lovely dark curly hair with a nose ring. Very large mole on head. Closely cropped hair. If I don't stop looking I'll faint. It is BAD. Oww... <--- Out of my line of vision. Now an old hippie man. Maybe. Gray messy ponytail. Adidas? Plaid on plaid. Book? --> James Patterson. Maybe not hippie, just lost.

I need to practice writing more like this, at least, when I am on a train... and slightly........

Thoughts move too fast and


2 stops left.

It's better to write on a ride like this than read.
Creative reflection and slight embarrassment.
Maybe editing needed and major revisions required that



(EVER) = no motivation to get


(if possible)

Monday, May 10, 2010


I haven't posted in quite a while, and I now have a damn good reason, besides laziness, of course. My employer, That Which Shall Not Be Named, has blocked all blogging websites. That's right, folks, Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, none of these are accessible any longer through my computer at work. In my perpetually sophomoric vocabulary, this is LAME. Seeing as I probably spend (and waste) the most time on my computer at work, it would be nice to still be able to take advantage of the blogosphere to cut into the dull monotony of EVERY DAY of my work week. Alas, this distraction exists no longer, hence why I sit here writing on my boyfriend's computer... My computer cannot connect to the Internet because of our faulty wireless system, so here I am staring at a massive and horrid HD screen, typing on the worst keyboard EVER (seriously, babe, how do you use this piece of crap?), wishing I had my own little laptop to type on and wishing that Blogger would allow me to just copy and paste things in from Microsoft Word. This is again (alas), not to be. It is, however, LAME.

I am consumed with the lameness of this situation and can't even discuss what I was going to, which was, of course, books. I'm going to go distract myself with the boyfriend, who is currently cooking in the kitchen (!!!) and the beautiful new volumes that now grace my terribly disorganized shelves. Glorious.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Nature Girl

Tomorrow morning I will leave this city of sin for the soul-cleansing purity of the country. My dear friend and I are driving to New Paltz, where we will scamper through the meadows and mountains and breathe some fresh air. I can't wait!

The city can be so stifling -- there is always pressure to be here or there and do this or that... For example, I'm going to some fancy club for happy hour and I have nothing to wear since I can't go home first as I had planned. This means I had to go shopping... Wahh, poor baby! Life is so tough.

If I was just in the country right now, I would be in flip-flops and dirty jeans and a t-shirt and that would be that. So this weekend, I vow to put vanity aside and just relax.

Goodbye, soul-sucking city. Hello, Zen.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Library

I just found an interesting little snippet in the New York Times. It cites a study proving that children who grow up in a home with a library have an academic advantage -- a three-year advantage, to be precise. Regardless of the education level of the parents, kids with access to lots of books at home are also more likely to finish college.

My first thought was, DUH. Of course kids who are exposed to literature and information will do better in school! When children are surrounded by the potential for intellectual exploration in their own homes, of course it's going to help them in school. I mean, would I have read Romeo & Juliet in fourth grade had the book not been on my shelf at home? Of course not! And would I have graduated college as an English major had the book not been available? Hmm... Well, most likely. I think nerdiness is just in my DNA.

The point is, this article further justifies my penchant for buying and hoarding books. I have always planned on having a library in my home. I simply can't wait for the day that, from the comfort of a big old armchair, I can gaze around the room and see books lining every wall, sunlight streaming in onto the pages of my current literary obsession. My goal to own every book I've read, and those I haven't read yet, is really just an investment in my children's education, right? Won't it be nice to say, "Go read a book. We have 2,000 of them," when confronted with a bored and bratty kid? And all without having to leave the house...

As much as I love libraries, and even as I start to consider more seriously a Master's of Library Science, I don't use them very often. I just got my first library card from the Brooklyn Public Library after living here for more than two years, but I have only been to the tiny library on Cortelyou Road. I have yet to explore the main building by Prospect Park, which I hear is sprawling and beautiful and I have only ever seen from the windows of a cab. Of course, I still strongly believe in the value of public libraries -- not everyone has the money or space or even the desire to own hundreds (or thousands) of books. Plus, there are plenty of terrible books out there, and who wants to keep those books around the house? So although I recognize the social need for libraries and may quite possibly make a career out of them, I still want a library of my very own...

As a child I used to get lost in libraries and never want to leave, but what I enjoyed even more was buying books -- I wanted to see my books sitting on my shelves, knowing that in the inside front cover I had scratched my name in childlike cursive. Sounds selfish, but I really just wanted to be able to revisit certain beautiful passages and interesting characters on a whim. I absolutely hated to return a book I loved -- it saddened me to drop a book that I had fallen in love with through a slot, knowing I was relegating it back into obscurity on the shelves. The only thing that gave me comfort was thinking of the others who had read that book before and would read it again.

In college I loved to wander through the Fordham library finding the strangest books imaginable. I could sit for hours in the linguistics section, delving deeper into the intricacies of language and mind, desperately trying to find some way of including my newfound text into the essay I was currently ignoring. I became an expert at finding books, and I can't tell you how many times I showed fellow students, often those I was tutoring, the magic of discovering what lay in those seemingly endless stacks and how to find exactly what you were looking for. The search itself was, of course, part of the magic.

Of course, I can't imagine that I would have this strong love for libraries and a strong desire to have my own had I not been surrounded by books as a child. Some of my earliest memories involve my mother reading to me -- apparently I requested Goodnight, Moon so often that she hid it from me for a while since she was so tired of it. While she read to me more often, I always loved it when my father did, because he was the one to give the characters distinct voices, as dads tend to do. We didn't have thousands of books or a terribly organized "library," if you can even call it that, but there were always books in the house for me to leaf through.

I also remember when we got our set of encyclopedias, before they were made obsolete by the Internet. I was so excited to leaf through the heavy, alphabetized texts, bound in forest green with gold lettering -- it seemed like I had all the knowledge in the world at my fingertips, and I would just read and read, mostly about exotic animals or historic women. Speaking of women, I also remember spying a copy of The Second Sex on the shelf, which terrified and intrigued me. Upon picking it up I immediately realized I had no idea what Simone de Beauvoir was talking about and quickly put the book back in its place.

I might buy a lot of books, but my new rule is that I buy only used ones. Therefore, the Strand is now my new best friend. And should I dislike a book so that I find no need to keep it on my shelf, well then, back to the Strand it shall go. I only really buy paperbacks (the more beaten-up, the better) because they're light and easy to carry and cheap, so that I don't feel bad when I dog-ear the pages. The only new books I have decided to buy will be The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which will be leatherbound, goddammit. And someday, I will purchase a comprehensive Oxford English Dictionary, which I will need a magnifying glass to read.

And all those little paper books that I have read and loved and reread and recommended, I will keep forever. They'll stay on the shelves of my apartment, the shelves of my parents' home, in boxes if need be, and someday they will come out and sit permanently on shelves built just for them, and they will be beautifully organized. And I will give my children a three-year advantage on their less well-read peers, and they will never, ever be bored.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Embedded Water

To continue an earlier post about the global water crisis, one of the BBC headlines on my iGoogle homepage today is "Western demand 'hogging water.'" I clicked on it and it lead to this article, which, while focused on the UK, says quite a bit about the consumption of the world's water supply by the West -- we use far more than our fair share.

The article brings up an interesting point about "embedded water," defined as "the water used to grow food and make things." Unsurprisingly, I never even thought about that. Of course water isn't just for drinking and washing, and of course many of those developing countries that have water shortages have to produce goods to sell to richer countries, and those products require water. Duh.

"Embedded in a pint of beer, for example, is about 130 pints of water -- the total amount needed to grow the ingredients and run all the processes to make that pint of beer." This statistic is going to haunt me when I pour pints for thirsty customers at the bar...

So now that I'm feeling thoroughly depressed and guilty for being born into a prosperous society that has water in abundance, I think I'll go get a nice cold glass of ice water. Maybe that will make me feel better... Apathy is really dehydrating.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I have started and deleted no fewer than four blog posts in the past two days. I just started a new one a half hour ago, wrote a few paragraphs, and then saved it and clicked away from it because I was bored with it... Why can't I write? I certainly have a lot on my mind. I've started writing about Brooklyn, about literature, about food and health, about singing, about beauty... All good topics, I think... But let me clarify -- not beauty like makeup and nail polish, but about how lovely the world seemed the other day and how lovely I felt.

Perhaps that's why I haven't had the urge to write... I've been feeling all right for the past few days. Maybe it has something to do with enjoying good literature and eating better food that I can actually digest and having a sing-along the other night with friends and organizing all my jewelry and cleaning my room, and these are making me feel lovely. I even remembered that April 15th is in two days and I have to do my taxes -- I'm getting an early start this year! Right now, I don't feel the need to gripe about things via this blog. Not that I usually complain... Or do I? Maybe something will make me miserable in the next few days and I'll feel the need to wax philosophic and then you can read a rant about leaving New York and about water and puppies and all that crap, but for now, I'm feeling somewhat content and healthy and at peace with the world.

I'm also feeling good about the fact that I've decided with this blog post that I'm spelling out numbers now (except for dates and really big numbers), which from reading past posts I realize I haven't been doing. Stylistically, that is a big no-no, and I'm happy when I can modify and solidify my writing style. Perhaps I should go with AP style and only do that with numbers under 10...or ten... Yes, I'll do that. It's 10. If someone notices me writing something like, "2 days ago..." please make a comment and tell me what a bad English major I am.

That is all.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Country vs. City

As I drove through the streets of Raleigh, NC on Friday afternoon, I thought to myself, "How could I ever live anywhere but New York? How could I ever be satisfied in a little city like this?" As much as I make plans to leave my beloved Big Apple within a year or so, I fear what lies ahead. I have lived in New York since I was barely 18 years old -- I've learned to drink and eat and shop and play and walk and run and scream and cry and laugh and love on these streets... These filthy, crowded, magical streets...

Where do you go when the majority of your most important experiences have occurred in the center of the universe? Where you hear 6 languages as you walk down the street, where you can have any food from any country at any time of day or night, where you never have to go to the same bar and restaurant twice (but you always do), where everyone comes to visit and gawk and then (thankfully) departs again, and where you can walk the same route every day and still be sure you'll never see certain people again in your life... I've discussed before how I love the anonymity of this city, so how could I ever move to a smaller place where people actually know your name?

When I travel, people label me as a New Yorker, and I know they will when I move away from here. But I'm not one by nature, only by osmosis... I'm from Maryland and I always will be from Maryland. As I walked tearfully through the house I grew up in on Sunday, as I gazed into the woods where the birds flitted about and the trees swayed quietly in the breeze, I thought, "How can I ever go back to New York?" As I prepared to leave on Monday, I just lay down for a few minutes and stared out the window, where all I could see were trees and sky, listening to the tuneless symphony of birdsong and wind chimes, and wished desperately that I could stay. I wished I didn't have to return to the insanity of this city, the constant noise, the constant chatter, the millions of words I don't understand, the millions of places to eat and drink and shop, the millions upon millions of people. How overwhelming it all is. I am not a New Yorker.

I'm not a country girl either, however, and especially not a suburbanite... As much as I would love to be home again, driving back country roads and spying wildflowers and deer at every turn, I'm not sure that's right for me either at this point. I just know that in North Carolina and Maryland, things seemed so small and plebeian, so behind the times, with everything moving so slowly... When I came back to New York I realized it all goes too fast, the future is in your face at every turn, everything is always changing and there is always something new and different and unknown... There is good and bad in both of these extremes, and I want both every day. But I can't have both -- that doesn't exist.

It will always frighten me to leave New York for good until I finally do it... But it always frightens me to come back and probably always will. Now that I'm here, I'm back in the swing of things. I went out to dinner and had a drink at the bar last night, and today I'm back to work after my usual morning commute... It all seems so normal. Hard to believe that only yesterday I was desperate to leave it all behind.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I don't know why North Carolina is called North Cackalacky, but my friends who live there seem to refer to is as such. Southerners are weird... but they are also very hospitable and live in a lovely climate, so I'm glad to be going to good old North Cackalacky for Easter! Tomorrow I'll fly out of LGA to get to Raleigh by about 3:00 p.m., where I'll meet my mother and sister, settle into our hotel, and have a lovely dinner with my parents' good friend Nan, then visit with their other good friend Vince and his sister Peggy. I guess on Easter Sunday we'll drive up to Maryland, and then Monday I'm back in New York. A whirlwind of an Easter vacation, but I'm okay with that. My parents are pretty cool people, and I think their friends are great.

I was raised by parents who surrounded themselves with an eclectic crowd of folks... Musicians and artists and teachers and nurses and massage therapists and librarians... and then those who never really had a set career but just kind of floated through life taking the next job or opportunity that came to them. One of these is Vince, who for the better part of each year now travels around the country in the VinVan, camping in national parks and visiting Rainbow Gatherings. Occasionally he shaves his bushy red beard and gets a job working for The Man... And then he somehow ends up in a fancy hotel in New York City doing some sort of consulting thing I'm not really clear about, and then Nick and I go out to have Indian food with him in Midtown. Weird. I've known Vince my whole entire life and think he's pretty damn awesome.

Nan (real name Nancy), I have also known for just about forever, and again, I'm not really sure what she's done for a living all these years, though she's retired now. She has always been an artist and photographer, and I remember for a while she was a teacher's assistant and shared hilarious stories about the crazy names the inner city children were cursed with (like Iska...pronounced Isaac. Lord.) In fact, when she moved out of her country house when I was in middle school, she gave me a bunch of old issues of National Geographic, which started my collection and which I still have. She always seemed so hip and otherworldly to me, like the coolest grandma in the world, only a child at heart... She has this short white hair and wears crazy glasses and funky earrings and is always working on some sort of art project or is taking beautiful pictures. Featured here is a picture of my dad that she must have taken in the '80s... He's looking remarkably like a hipster with his bushy beard and his overalls, but he was the real deal -- hippie redneck to the max. Anyway, I haven't seen Nan in about 3 or 4 years, and she's really a lovely person with a lovely daughter and a nice little grandson who I guess is probably a teenager now, but who I will always remember as a goofy, brainy little 8 year old. It will be nice to reconnect...

Part of the reason we're going down is to visit Nan, and part is because Vince's sister has cancer and doesn't have a whole lot of time left. My mother adores Peggy, so of course she wanted to spend some time with her. Peggy is a lovely person who has raised a bunch of kids and foster kids and grandkids, and who, when we spent Thanksgiving with her when I was 9, introduced me to "Gone With the Wind," and experience which I will never forget. I guess she's a true Southerner, which I can only pretend to be... Anyway, Peggy has this fiery red hair and penciled in eyebrows and the most pleasant accent I've ever heard in my life. The last time I saw her, I was home for the weekend and I proudly cooked up the best homemade brunch ever for my parents and all their friends -- I'm glad I could share my limited cooking skills with Peggy by making some damn fine eggs Benedict. I hope I'll get to see her at least a few more times after this...

While this will be a very non-traditional Easter, because I can't imagine in a million years that we'll set foot in a church or have an Easter egg hunt or even mention the words "rose from the dead," it will be absolutely wonderful to reconnect with the people who I really feel had a great impact on me during my childhood years and who I am lucky to still know as an adult. Growing up, I always thought of my parents' friends as my friends, too... Since I was an only child who had few friends to drag around with me, and very few of them had children, I did a lot of hanging out with the old folks. Sure I got lucky at many parties and got to run off with any kids who happened to turn up, or I got sick of the adults eventually and yelled at them to turn their music down once I decided it was time for me to go to bed... But for the most part, I was able to talk and eat weird food and it didn't really bother me. I really appreciated the people I was surrounded with growing up and I don't really remember there being any awkward transition between childhood and adulthood, though I'm sure there was. I sat around tables listening to crazy conversations and on porches hearing beautiful live music as a child, as a teenager, and now as an adult, and though the faces occasionally drifted in and out and sometimes I had friends around to share it with, not much changed.

I suppose people have changed quite a bit (and so have I), I just haven't been around much to see it. I've left home for good and I'm not turning back, but still... it's good to reconnect and acknowledge your roots. You can't forget where you come from or the people who made you who you are, especially when those people are pretty damn cool.