Sunday, March 28, 2010

favorite things about this lazy, gray, stay at home sunday

Ben & Jerry's new cinnamon bun ice cream.

A care package full of local Anacortes goodies (Island Trollers tuna, Coyote Coffee, flop-eared chocolate bunny) from a certain someone.

The promise that this certain someone will be coming back soon.

Torchwood, for being set in Cardiff, for having an adorably gap-toothed Welsh lead actress, for almost unbearably sweet man on man kissing, and for using Antony & the Johnsons' Hope There's Someone.

Dumplings & egg drop soup from the Chinese take-out place across the street.

Rediscovering Faithless all over again: Salva Mea , We Come One, Drifting Away, God is a DJ, Mass Destruction, One Step Too Far, Insomnia.

A certain solitude, today warm & glowing, that will nostalgically if also happily come to an end in a few days' time.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

'yeah i was out of touch, but it wasn't because i didn't know enough...'

Went to Bar Nine the other night to see friend Josh's new band's first show. Big Hands. A Violent Femmes cover band. With a ukelele. They were pretty great, despite the fact that the whole thing made me feel kind of old: apparently many of the young whippersnappers in the crowd barely knew of the Violent Femmes, let alone of their oh so awesome music.

Got home and found the above Gnarls Barkley cover which I love (though this actual Gnarls Barkley version isn't bad, either. I first heard this song while driving around the south island of New Zealand back in July of '06 whilst trying to find a decent radio station. It got played a lot that summer on New Zealand radio, and I was convinced it was a newly-popular song from the 1970s. It wasn't till I got home and mentioned this cool old song I'd heard while traveling that Nick burst out laughing and set me straight.)

A few more Violent Femmes gems: Blister in the Sun, Gimme the Car, Add it Up, Kiss Off, and of course American Music.

That evening out on the town watching Josh's band also ended with me frantically looking through my CD collection for a Circus Clone Records sampler I got at a show back in '03, because of its frighteningly good (if somewhat melodramatic) post-femmes Gordon Gano ditty, Under the Sun. (This compilation also included the wonderful Vic Thrill's Hummingbird Pneumonia,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

random musing

I was watching Caprica last night and thinking, "Jesus, they're really making this blowing-up-a-train thing all about religion?" and then I thought about real life terrorism and remembered it's all about religion.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

'looks great in your kitchen & cleans in a snap!'

Forgot I had scanned and mailed this to myself years ago,
so flabbergasted was I by its very existence:

Monday, March 22, 2010

more fun than sparklehorse

"What are you all lying around for??"
"We're dead."
"No kidding. I've been looking all over for you guys! Let's play something."
(Maurice Sendak & Carole King, Really Rosie, 1975)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

immediate gratification, or, overused idioms and how to learn them

There are degrees and then there are degrees of needing immediate gratification.

I was thinking recently about an icy-cold Saturday back in January of 2007. I had been rather unceremoniously dumped the week before and was not, as a result, in a particularly good place. John and Cindy, my beloved Cindy and her quirkily whiskered John, knew this and insisted I spend the day with them. They were living in Brooklyn at the time but were just beginning both a pregnancy and a house-hunt, and so took me with them up to Cold Spring to look at houses.

We got an early start that morning and arrived in time to meet Arielle (who drove all the way down from Catskill just to make sure I was doing okay) for breakfast. We breakfasted at the Cold Spring Cafe, looked at a couple houses, nearly froze to death while sneaking cigarettes in between realtors (just Ari and me, not the happily pregnant couple), and eventually drove to Cindy's parents' place for a quick visit before heading back down to the city.

Sadly, what I remember most vividly isn't the boundless warmth and love that these three people gave to me that day. What I remember most vividly, most viscerally, is a shortness of breath, and a disconcerting compulsion to get to the next thing. I remember staring out the window of John's cute little Volkswagen bug on the drive north thinking to myself that everything would be fine as soon as we got to Cold Spring and Arielle. I remember staring out the window on the drive south thinking everything would feel better just as soon as I got home.

This sense of urgency, of needing constant movement to the next person, the next place, the next thing, lasted a few months. It was ridiculous and frustrating and a little bit scary, and I was relieved later that spring to realize one evening that things were actually okay; that maybe it wasn't all that horrible being who or where I was; that instead of panic between one breath and the next, there was beginning to be a semblance of peace.

I have a new boyfriend now, three years later, though we've known each other for a long, long time. I have a new boyfriend, and a wonderful and intricate and amazing tapestry of new and old friends, and a family I wouldn't trade for all the riches in the world.

And I have an old friend with whom much has been shared, and much has been lost, and who seems to have decided recently to befriend this new boyfriend of mine. I'm trying to be alright with this, despite being prone to fits of pique even at the ripe old age of 33. I sent this old friend a letter last week, a simple letter saying that though it is nice of him to want to hang out with my new boy, it also breaks my heart that he and I have reached a point where our friendship consists predominantly of awkward cheek-kisses at social events. I suggested that we get together, that we perhaps try to discuss some of what has happened between us -- the family history dating back over twenty years, the troubles in our more recent past.

His response was that he cares about me but is busy these days and it might be nice to get together in a month. I've mentioned this to a few of my core girls, my Erica and my Jill and my Lauren, each of whom has asked in her own way, "What in the world were you thinking? Of course he couldn't say he doesn't care about you anymore, but if he did, he'd make the time to see you now."

And of course they're right, and so it begs the question, what was the immediate gratification I was hoping for this time? Honestly, other than the undeniably romanticized hope for a tearful reconciliation, an outpouring of remorse, I don't know. A huge part of what I've been trying to learn since that January three years ago is how to more easily let things go, how not to feel devastated by events large and small, by interactions that become eerily repetitive.

What's the old adage about insanity? Doing the same thing again and again but expecting different results?

I may not harbor that desperate need for immediate gratification anymore, for that next great thing that's going to save me. But I've also come to realize that when someone you once adored says maybe they can squeeze you in next month, it's probably finally time to let that particular sleeping dog lie.

Friday, March 19, 2010


My dad had a special word for those partially-popped popcorn kernels lurking at the bottom of every bowl of popcorn. We both really liked them, despite the potential for dental disaster. I wish I hadn't forgotten quite so much of his vocabulary.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

when the power co. trims your trees


Portland, Oregon
(Thanks, Nate, for sharing this -- every time I look at it, I chuckle!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

expiration dates

The milk is bordering on crossing over to the dark side again: expiration date 3/18/10. Sometimes it makes sense to spend twice as much on the organic stuff, if only because it inexplicably lasts way more than twice as long.

Hot chocolate last night, chocolate milk tonight. I bet you didn't know that chocolate milk is one of my favorite things.

There was a particular autumn that I spent too many Friday evenings on trains going out to New Haven, Connecticut, but the boy waiting there kept a container of Nestle Quick in otherwise empty cupboards just for me.

He would joke about keeping me in a cage in his living room, singing off-key Ani while perched on a swing, taking quick sips from a chocolate-milk-filled water bottle.

This only struck me as uncomfortably odd months later, long after we had parted ways. At the time it just seemed oddly endearing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

a day in the life of NYC

The Sandpit from Sam O'Hare on Vimeo

(Thanks, Andy!)

word of the day

Flabbergasting. As in, "Don't be flabbergasting over that drunken email. It was actually (relatively) lucid."

Still, just as a general rule, anything timestamped 3:56 AM (even the night that Daylight Savings Time kicks in) probably should not be sent.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

'and i am standing on the deck in the rain...'

'and i am standing on the deck in the rain
listening to jazz,
smoking a reefer cigarette,
and i swear, i swear i didn't think of you once...'

(The Jealous Girlfriends, Lay Around)

Sunday, March 07, 2010


You can tell by the way they've stopped turning them on that the College Walk Christmas lights will be coming down soon. I was walking to the Journalism Library this evening and the lights, now dark, reminded me of the once ubiquitous unwound cassette tape you used to see dangling and writhing and tangling in tree branches, flashing and flickering under streetlights and the sun.

It made me a little sad to think that kids today will never see this phenomenon, and will never have a similar moment of intense nostalgia and longing (unless we start stringing up our obsolete CD collections, leave them dangling and twirling and refracting in the light).

Saturday, March 06, 2010

get up

I've been wracking my brain this evening, trying to remember the title, or the author, or at the very least a line, of the poem that Jeff Rundell read at my father's memorial service, down by the water's edge at Mohegan Lake.

I remember Jeff's voice, that deep and resonant voice of his, though only fragments of the poem remain -- it's been awhile. But those fragments were enough, in the end, in this miraculous internet age. Snow. I am not there. Weep. It's a little cheesier than I remember (the seventeen years in between that adolescent memory and now, this moment, have perhaps taken away a small part of my ability to be moved to tears by such things), and a little less beautiful. Even still though, years later and feeling jaded, there are images that resonate.

I've been thinking about the memorial my boy is helping to organize for his brother next weekend out on the western rim -- an afternoon potluck full to the brim with local brews and delicious food and live local bluegrass and, I imagine, an uncomfortable and beautiful and heartbreaking and cathartic mash of laughter and tears and tall tales and rage.

I was going to post something to the invite page for this potluck since I won't be there, a song or a poem or something, but felt too self-conscious. The sad songs were too sad and dreary, the poems weren't quite right (though this poem has been one of my favorite poems for years now, and came close but ultimately was rejected for being too long).

Back in November of '99 a boy I knew in college drove his car into a tree. I went home to Brooklyn the night I found out, and I listened to this song. A lot. And so I share it here*:

And when the body finally starts to let go,
let it all go at once! Not piece by piece,
but like a whole bucket of stars
dumped into the universe.
Get Up!)

*Also, this video was directed by Miranda July, who, in my ever humble opinion, rocks.

Friday, March 05, 2010

guest post: moments

I love these moments in life, where every time you find yourself lost in a thought it feels like hitting up against something, like pushing against a closed door with a toothpick instead of a battering ram. Pushing against what once seemed such stark dichotomies, science versus spirit, writing versus math. What I keep hitting is this: that things which at once seem discordant can be so much the same. I keep discovering beauty where once there was none. I keep seeing the equal sign as a metaphor, a truth I feel like I am coming to slowly, but with more certainty and art than I could ever have imagined in those two little lines. And like the equal sign, there are parallels everywhere -- in a moment that seems at once hilarious and unnerving (what DO I bow down to? Science? Physics?? Jo Ann Beard?) or a state of mind that I can laugh about even as I feel real anxiety. Here is a moment to push back against, to find pleasure in. To live through -- physically, spiritually, truly -- and find some glory in just existing. I know that something will come of these funny emotions, something that might feel like acceptance, or excitement, or that certainty when you know what you're going to do next, but right now, I'm not really waiting for it. Just letting it come slowly is part of this bigger thing, and even when it's awful, it's great.

(Erica S.)

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Dan and I were meandering our way through the newish (and shockingly, wonderfully, amazingly emptyish) Whole Foods on Columbus & 97th yesterday evening. I picked out a bag of Stacy's pita chips and a jar of salsa, but was taken aback after glancing up to see the look of complete and utter shock on Dan's face. Apparently tortilla chips are for salsa and pita chips are for hummus, and ne'er the twain shall mix.