Thursday, September 30, 2010


Yours truly, as you may have noticed, attended a wedding last weekend.  A beautiful and decadent and emotionally moving wedding at which a grand old time was had by all.  And at which the infamous ex-boyfriend and his lovely new bride were also in attendance.  (On a sidenote, boys, just for future reference: suspenders make you look old.  If you're not yet actually old and you're forced to wear a tux, go with the vest or cummerbund.  See my boys in the link above.  I'm just saying.*)

At any rate, the infamous ex and I managed to smile amicably enough at each other and it was a relief to see him without the immediate compulsion to either (or, I suppose, simultaneously) burst into tears or kick him in the 'nads.  I was slightly taken aback, however, at the one verbal exchange we had, which consisted entirely of him explaining how awkward and stressful were the three minutes of his and the aforementioned bride's first dance following their wedding ceremony.  Seriously, dearest ex?  Pick your audience.

And, I swear, that's all I have to say about that.  Also, I looked damn good** if I do say so myself, even if still in my usual funny-looking librarianish way.

*This, of course, coming from a woman who thinks wool shawls equal black-tie and regularly curls up under granny square afghans.

**Thanks, Shanna, for that weird but kinda great photo -- there aren't many of me that I like much!

comics like you've never seen

Also Friend Josh gets a shout-out.

strange light, gray shawl

at the rubin

Friend Dave, behind the scenes at the Rubin Museum.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"U" Like Garden

at the mall

Had a lovely post-wedding brunch at the White Plains Crown Plaza Hotel this morning, which just happens to be across the street from The Westchester, as in one of the most ridiculous and expensive malls I've ever been in. Not that I've been to many malls other than the much more down at the heel Jefferson Valley Mall, where I spent an embarrassing amount of time as a suburban teenager.  We, or at least I, was excited at the prospect of walking around a mall.  I bought a black cardigan on sale at the Gap.  Marcos found some stripey socks that caught his fancy at Nordstrom's.  Then we went home.

black tie

Getting ready for Annie & Lenny's wedding at a beautiful spot overlooking the Hudson, just at dusk, on a gorgeous September Saturday.  Cocktails and dinner and dancing followed (Even yours truly, rhythm-deficient klutz extraordinaire, managed to get out on the dance floor a bit...) Poor little doorman Joe couldn't quite figure out how to take a picture of the five of us, so alas, none exists.  But just check out my handsome boys and the lovely, lovely Moira.  Hopefully someone else managed to get some nice shots at the wedding since I stupidly left my camera in the car.

Friday, September 24, 2010


My mother has an uncanny ability to turn any space in which she finds herself (all of her houses over the years, my dorm rooms, my brother's dorm rooms, my apartments, hotel rooms, guest rooms) into a home.  She could, I imagine, live in an empty room and make it seem somehow warm and inviting and cheerful.

Sadly, this is a trait I did not inherit.  I, unlike my mother, have the uncanny ability to turn any space in which I find myself (all of my apartments, hotel rooms, guest rooms) into the equivalent of a dorm room.  Clothes scattered in corners, books and boxes and this and that piling up around bedside tables, papers washing up over desks and dressers and counters like waves cresting on a beach.

Of course, my detritus has changed since college days.  Novels accumulating at alarming rates in my to-read piles instead of books on Vietnam and its shaping of cultural notions of American masculinity. Knitting projects scattered unfinished on tables instead of half-written papers lurking accusingly on a recycled laptop courtesy of family friend and IBMer John Crow.  Mounds of wool spilling uncontrollably out of baskets instead of old Snapple bottles half-filled with cigarette butts gathering dust on windowsills overlooking Broadway or Claremont or that funny little triangle where Claremont meets 116th.  (Now I have overgrown avocado plants gathering dust on windowsills overlooking another funny little triangle where Pinehurst and Cabrini collide at 187th Street.)

I have been trying, granted in incrementally miniscule ways, to make things a little nicer, a little homier, a little less dorm room lately.  I painted one of my bedroom walls a couple years ago a lovely pale shade of green, and friend Josh gifted me this gorgeous print for my birthday a few months back, and it's about time I get it framed and up on the wall.  A couple weeks ago I finally got around to hanging a new shower curtain and replacing my ratty old yellow shower curtain rings that stopped staying closed a long time ago with these cute little flowers instead.  Also recently I finally found a comforter cover that I like, in shades of white and green and covered in little flowers (yes, more flowers).  (Unfortunately Llama has also already grown fond of it, and her black fur shows up smashingly against this pale background.)

I know it's not much but, well, it's a start.

My mother will be visiting soon, and will work her sadly temporary magic while she's here, and my apartment will feel more like home than I've ever managed to make a place feel on my own.  But maybe this time a little of that magic will wear off on me, will maybe stick around for awhile after she heads back to her own home again.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

savage love goes soft

Seattle's own Dan Savage, of The Stranger's infamous & wonderful Savage Love column, has a new project.  A video collection of stories to stand in the face of ongoing and vicious bullying of gay, lesbian, and otherwise queer kids (& the conservatives who condone such behavior by themselves taking a stand against anti-bullying legislation).  These videos, unlike much of the political and media rhetoric around this subject, address these kids directly and simply with the message that life will get better.

This, yeah, this is one of those things that made me cry.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

'5am, cold sweats, waking up to the sky...'

(Kid Cudi, Pursuit of Happiness)

Have been strangely enamored of this song recently, much to my own consternation. One of the only songs I know of that seems to reference PTSD, but what do I know?

More fun time-wasting music things I've been wasting time in lately:
Pitchfork's Top 50 Music Videos of the 1990s
the awesome & amazing Black Cab Sessions

Monday, September 20, 2010

restless nights, or, llama can't handle the reindeer

Llama, at the ripe old age of four (give or take), seems to be going through something of an acting-out adolescent phase.  Just in the last few weeks she's taken to rampaging around the apartment at 4am, crashing into radiators and doors, skittering across hardwood floors, jumping up onto dressers and upper closet shelves and generally wreaking havoc on our ability to sleep through the night.

Two nights in one week she sent water glasses, sadly full of water, cascading down from bedside tables.  None of us were happy about these incidents, least of all Llama, who spent the remaining pre-dawn hours howling out in the living room as we tried to go back to sleep behind the now-closed bedroom door.

It is largely because of the reindeer.  I don't even know where they came from now:  wrapped jauntily around a Christmas present, probably, from some unknown gift-giver with a heart set on revenge.

We have taken to hiding said reindeer (pictured below) at odd hours of the night, and finding them days later tucked beneath a bed pillow or curved into the folds of a cloth shopping bag.

Last night I rediscovered the reindeer after several nights of blissful undiluted sleep and thought that perhaps Llama would be able to behave even with the reindeer out and about, that perhaps she had learned a lesson.  I was of course woefully mistaken, and am regretting it now as I wait for my morning coffee to finally kick in.

Perhaps we will have to establish a strict reindeer routine along the lines of not feeding a mogwai after midnight, but much, much earlier.  This has, after all, been going on for weeks now (see below), and has got to come to an end before she or I, one or the other of us, fails to make it through the night.

September 6th, 6:45am.  Rudely awakened at five o'clock by the Llama-monster crashing around the bedroom with her reindeer toy, which was eventually confiscated and hidden away under a pillow.  Watched the sunrise pooling warmly up against the red brick buildings to the west.  Now, coffee and the NY Times.  And the Llama-monster? Curled up in a ball on her favorite orange couch pillow, snout demurely tucked under front paws, all innocent-like.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I eat a fair number of bagels (as evidenced of course by my svelte and girlish figure), and miss them horribly when I am away from New York for any length of time.  Quite honestly, they are pretty much a mainstay of mine.

Which is why it strikes me as particularly symbolic that my boy is dedicating himself to mastering the art of this particular (and largely geographically specific) baked good.

You can take the girl out of the city, but only if you can buy her off with a decent bagel.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I was chatting with Mom on the phone last night for the first time in a couple weeks (she's been in the wilds of Northern Idaho at the lake cabin and out of easy contact) and we had a little catching up to do.  And in the midst of our talk it occurred to us that it is just a month until she comes back east for her semi-annual visit.  Her last visit, May of 2009, was a particularly lovely time for us:  full of gorgeous weather, dear friends, and delicious food, but also a unique visit in which we found a balance between our relationship as mother/daughter and our relationship as pals, mates, buddies, adults, friends.

I read an article a few months ago about estrangement between parents and their grown children in this day and age in America, and how it is not nearly as uncommon as we might think.  What struck me most deeply was a description of those estrangements that seem not to come of anything in particular -- no underlying child abuse or family trauma, no irreconcilable falling out -- but seem rather to be just a quiet slipping out of each others' lives.  This broke my heart, but it also scared me a little bit:  it is generally my mother and my brother who call to catch up, not the other way around.  I am relieved that they are so good at these day to day interactions, these small ways of reaching out.  I chuckle to myself sometimes over my mother's weekly letters and my brother's quirky habit of calling me while he is out walking Milford -- these postcards and these ten minute conversations, interrupted by honking horns, defecating dog, and the requisite clean-up duty, have in their way become a mainstay of our relationship.  And then it is always time to go.

I wish sometimes that I were more like my mother and my brother, that their ease of connection came as easily to me.  It does not, though, and so I know that I am blessed to have them.  And I count myself as lucky to have the kind of relationship with my mother that leads to genuine pleasure at the realization that I will be traipsing off to Newark in a month's time to pick her up at the airport.

Friday, September 10, 2010

the girls

It's funny how sometimes the entire tenor of a friendship can abruptly change. I don't mean the emotionality of it but rather, I suppose, the functionality.

Erica and I became officemates back in July of 2005, but that's such a glib surface-y term to describe what almost immediately became a deep and abiding affection.

We developed a certain office rhythm, streamlined perhaps by the fact that our shifts usually overlapped by only an hour or two (our office is small for two, even two such as us).

We survived each other's odd flings (the guy who spent his days crisscrossing an upstate reservoir, arms flapping, curls flying, scaring birds off the water -- and getting paid for it!; the 23-year-old blonde with a penchant for good hummus and cheap wine), compromised morals, bitter breakups, several moves, winter days, and dead pets.

We became and remain neighbors, and have each other's keys (labeled simply, as if there need be no explanation, 1E and 6B).

We have given each other gifts (knitted things, bookish things, flowers, mini Maker's Marks, dark vegan chocolates, cupcakes) and shared birthday parties and writings and letters and many walks to the train and became known in some parts as 'The Girls."  Well, at least to coworker Rong Li who so sweetly insists on giving us matched Christmas gifts -- rose soaps, silky scarves, huge bottles of peach-scented lotion.

We've spent years receiving each other's emails, our names apparently bordering on indistinguishable to fuzzy-headed academics and underpaid workers alike.

Now without this easy rhythm, the built in framework of being office-mates, the thread of her presence seems suddenly fragile.  It's strange to have to suddenly think about something that came for so long without thought, without an awareness that things must be planned, that friendships must be nurtured.

We will of course survive these changes; have already begun to navigate the terrain of this new kind of friendship.  It will be strange for awhile, but we are meeting this weekend for brunch and an exchange of CSA vegetables, and for now, for these days, this is enough.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

apostrophes gone wild

mulling, and first reactions

I've been mulling around a not so secret semi-fantasy of leaving this fair town and heading west.  A return to my roots, perhaps, being an Oakland girl by birth and a Pacific Northwesterner by heritage, but a New Yorker at first by circumstance (as of 1980) and then by choice (these last eleven years).

I mentioned this to Nick a couple weeks back, this idea of cashing it in and heading to Portland or Bellingham or Ershig Road (overlooking the Skagit Valley floodplains not far from Chuckanut Drive, and my boy's not so secret fantasy).  To which he looked a bit skeptical and said, "Well you better come back for my wedding..." To which I replied, "Of course I'll come back for your wedding, dumbass... especially if I get to be your best man..."  To which he replied, "Well, would you be willing to wear a tux?"  To which I of course replied that I would absolutely love to wear a tux, while feeling a certain relief that the conversation had so quickly shifted from a not remotely comfortable topic to Nick and Sarah's eventual wedding, which is just plain awesome.  Even if I don't get to be the best man and wear a tux.  This was, after all, well into a second round of particularly potent margaritas and not entirely binding (or possibly even remembered).

Last week, in the midst of a delicious CSA-filled vegan dinner with Dan, I mentioned this idea of westward migration and he just kind of scoffed good-naturedly and said, "Of all the unlikely things in the world, you leaving New York is one of the unlikeliest I can imagine."

So there you have it.  Rumblings.  Can you imagine me buying a piece of land and building a house here?