Saturday, March 31, 2007

shawl for karen

So I just finished my first project involving an actual pattern, though I still have to block it. A simple pattern, but pretty, made from some Blue Heron yarn I fell in love with this past December at the yarn store in Anacortes. I bought it specifically to make something for Chris's mother, Karen, for her birthday this April, and I think I'll give it to her despite the way things have turned out. Unfortunately I don't have a camera to take a picture of it with, but maybe I'll borrow Shanna's, as I'm pretty excited and would like to have some image of it to keep.

the trouble with cellphones

The trouble with cellphones, or at least one of many troubles with cellphones, is that you never know in what context you're calling the person that you're calling. By which I mean, maybe you really, really want to have a serious conversation with this person, and the best time for this is a time in which you are both safely ensconced in your respective homes. And maybe you have to psyche yourself up for this serious conversation, and you work up the nerve to call this person, only to discover that they, unlike you, are out drinking at a bar with a bunch of people you don't know, being raucous and rowdy and loud and stupid. And there goes the serious conversation. Not that this has happened to me, mind you, but the thought of it happening, the fear of it happening, has proved to be a (probably good and beneficial to everyone involved) hindrance to even making the call in the first place. But I miss the good old days, when you called someone at home, and they were either at home or they were not, and you knew either way what to expect.

Friday, March 30, 2007

funny story

Chris broke up with me on a Friday in early January, over the phone since he was already back at school in New Haven. The following Tuesday, when I opened my door in the morning to go to work, I found a gift bag of fancy Jacques Torres chocolates on my doorstep. My friend Nick's girlfriend Sarah, a true sweetheart if ever there was one, works at Jacques Torres in Brooklyn, and one of her coworkers happens to live down the hall from me. So Sarah had decided that what a recently-dumped-over-the-telephone-for-another-woman-girl needs, quite logically, is chocolate, and had sent this bag up with Becca to leave for me.

I hadn't actually seen Sarah since last fall until yesterday, when she and Nick and I went out for dinner after work. So though I'd thanked her in an email, I finally got to thank her in person for her sweet gesture all those weeks ago. We joked about how she'd frantically been trying to figure out how to ship the chocolates to my apartment without me having to sign for them or end up having to go to the post office until Becca volunteered to deliver them in person after work. And it turns out that Becca had actually rang the doorbell, not wanting to just leave them out in the hallway. I must have already been in bed, because I don't remember this at all, but Nate was staying with me at the time and apparently thought that the doorbell was the downstairs buzzer, because Becca could hear a man's voice from inside yelling, "Hello? Hello?? Hello?!?" into the intercom. And she panicked, thinking it must be Chris and imagining the horrible, if comic, awkwardness of that little interaction, and so left the chocolates and fled back down the hall.

I guess it never occurred to Nathan to see if anyone was at the door, because he was as surprised as me when I left for work the next morning, in a very dark space, only to find a lovely surprise that made the world seem just the littlest bit warmer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

more film stuff

Through the familial grapevine, I recently took a gander at Handcrank Films' website, and it seems they're working on some pretty cool stuff like the aforementioned Eagle or Ostrich documentary, as well as more commercial stuff which, I assume, is paying the bills. Here's just a few snippets of stock footage that Erik shot around Bellingham, beautiful stuff, makes me wonder if maybe I shouldn't move out west after all.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

eagle or ostrich?

One of the best things about my mom marrying Paul almost five years ago was that Nate and I got a fantastic stepbrother out of the deal. Erik's been working on a short documentary called Eagle or Ostrich, about an American Muslim learning to fly. Erik did most of the filming and audio, and it was mostly filmed around (and above) his hometown of Bellingham, Washington. Check out the trailer, and keep an eye out for it's first showing on PBS, hopefully sometime this spring.

please note: for proper aspect ratio, in the youtube viewer, click the small box just to the right of the volume bar, or the film will look stretched.

nate & me

moms are so the greatest

It's funny how, even as adults, sometimes what we really need is our mother. Perhaps its largely a result of our culture, this not quite entirely ever growing up. I've been supporting myself, other than college costs, since high school, and other than a few months during those rather tumultuous college years, have not lived with my mother since high school either. And yet, during these last dark few months, I've felt like I needed her in a way that I haven't since I was a kid. And she came. At first I was disappointed that she couldn't fly out here to New York right away, but in the end I think it worked out perfectly. Looking forward to her visit was something of a shining light in the cold and gray of winter, and by the time she actually got here (a day later than planned, due to her flight being canceled because of bad weather--and this in March, after an incredibly mild winter!), I was doing well enough to have an absolutely wonderful week with her.

We hosted an afternoon of knitting, which was just lovely. We met the professors for lunch over in McIntosh, the Barnard student center. "The professors" consist of a few old friends of my father's, with whom I've rather inconsistantly managed to stay in touch over the years, and it was a lovely hour down there in Lower Level McIntosh. They're an odd, endearing, quirky group of people, and it was good to be reminded of our mutual affection. We walked from Barnard down to 79th street and bought yarn for mom and double-pointed needles for me. Met Shanna and Nate at Genaro, a delicious little Italian restaurant on 92nd Street. Mom accompanied me to work a couple days, got to meet the also rather odd, endearing, quirky group of people with whom I work (yes, I, too, am sensing a pattern here). We went to another of the professor's apartment for dinner one evening, though this particular professor is more a dear old friend and in some ways a parental figure. We took the A train all the way down to Broadway-Nassau and met Nate at the Strand Annex, then bought sandwiches and drinks and wandered out to the end of the South Street Seaport pier to eat our lunch. Afterwards Nate showed us the lobby of the Woolworth Building, where he's working these days. Then we left him there to work and walked all the way to West 4th Street, wandering through Chinatown and Soho and eventually through Washington Square Park. We spent a couple quiet evenings at home, watching movies, eating, drinking wine, knitting, talking, talking, talking. I knit my first hat. Patternless and funny looking, but Mom seems pleased with it. I showed her how to make a stripey scarf. We had Arielle, one of my oldest and greatest and dearest friends, and her mother Adele, over for dinner one night, to me a truly magical evening.

And Mom spoiled me rotten. I think she let me pay for a couple lattes here and there, but her generosity and concern and love were overwhelming. I'm now the proud owner of the afore-mentioned double-pointed needles, and the cutest little orange colander you ever saw, and a salt cellar, and a myriad of other little tidbits, not to mention a kitchen newly stocked with juice, greens, bread, tea, cookies, yogurt, bagels, hummus, chocolate, cheese, etc. I think she was a bit taken aback at the emptiness of my refrigerator.

She left yesterday, and I miss her calming, wonderful presence already. But it was a wonderful week, full of love and connection, and I'm already looking forward to spending a week or two out in her hometown sometime this summer. And with daylight savings time already in effect this year, though I don't really think this is the only reason, the world doesn't seem so dark these days.

P.S. She remembered to bring the readers copy of the book I left in Barnes & Noble a couple weeks ago, and I am happily plowing my way through macabre descriptions of people dying of the Spanish influenza in 1918.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

mixed messages

I got a quarterly newsletter from Compass Wines in the mail this evening. Compass Wines is a wonderful wine store in Anacortes, Washington, and has a vast, wonderful selection of northwest wines, not to mention an incredibly knowledgeable and friendly staff. We've bought a delicious array of wines there over the years, from the cheap, under $10 end of the spectrum, to a strange and intriguing sparkly red shiraz, to a truly amazing $40 bottle of Oregon pinot noir. The thing is, the newsletter I got in the mail today was addressed to Nathan Emily & Chris McNeil. Just as I'm trying my damndest to untangle certain things, I'm reminded yet again of the intricate ways in which everything gets tangled.

Monday, March 12, 2007

late night reading

I was up until three o'clock in the morning Saturday night, which is very unusual. I'm an early-to-bed and an early-to-rise sort of person, generally, but was in the grip of a book in a way I haven't felt in a long time. After losing The Last Town on Earth at Barnes & Noble Friday night, and needing something to bring on the subway with me, I grabbed another Christmas book from the shelf: Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Finished it around midnight last night. I'm not sure I'd exactly recommend this book, though I found it completely compelling. When I was a kid I read lots of books about the end of the world as we know it, adult & young adult, disease, nuclear holocaust, the rapture. I kind of grew out of this genre eventually, until I stumbled across Alas, Babylon, written in the 1950s but published again recently, last Christmas out in Anacortes. It's a pretty good book, full of hope in the end, communities coming together to learn how to feed themselves, a nation rising from the ashes of its own destruction, that kind of thing. But The Road is made of much darker stuff. This story of a man, unnamed, and his son, also unnamed, desperately trying to survive in a world disappeared in the aftermath of war, is gutwrenching. Ash covers everything. It is very cold, and it snows a lot, and the snow is gray. There are few people and even fewer animals populating this desolation. The man and his boy push a grocery cart, one wheel coming lose, down this road. They cough a lot. Remember, there is ash everywhere, and the masks fashioned out of bedsheets don't seem to help much. The ocean smells slightly of iodine. The books I read as a child and the fantasies I had about them, though scary to me, were ultimately about the ways in which people survive. I would imagine planting more apple trees in our yard. I would think about the chickens they kept at the plant nursery not far from our house, and would think about how to get them, and raise them. I would imagine a fishery down at the lake at the end of our block. McCarthy takes my childhood imaginings to an entirely new level of detail and horror. This is a book about the way a people, an entire world, destroys itself, eats itself alive.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

it's good to have a mother in a bookstore

Nate and I met after work yesterday evening at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble. We had some time to kill before going to a friend's birthday party, so I treated myself to a latte, Nate gathered up a bunch o' magazines and grad school guide books, and we managed to find a free table in the cafe. We read, we chatted, we caffeinated, we left. Only many hours later, on the subway going home, did I realize that I'd left my book there, innocently hiding under that pile of magazines. And a brand new book at that, a leftover from the pleasures of being part of a family where you actually trade Christmas lists and get the things you ask for! Chris's aunt & uncle had left it with his parents for me, and I'd just started it this week and was thoroughly enjoying it. I called Barnes & Noble this morning to see if they'd found it, but of course they had no interest in a lost book, let alone any knowledge of said lost book. Luckily, though, I was chatting with Mom this morning and it turns out that she has a reader's copy of said book and will bring it out to NY when she comes to visit next Friday. Yay! And, as Nate so succintly pointed out last night, maybe it's not a bad thing to start severing ties to this lost, if loved, adopted family of mine.