Sunday, January 30, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

things that make me happy

Waking up at 12:25am to a text message from my brother saying he's on the plane at PDX and his flight is taking off on time after all.

Waking up at 5:21am to a text message from my brother saying he's landed at JFK. And it's snowing. A lot.

Hearing the downstairs bell ring at 7:30am and then opening the door to find my brother standing in the hallway, tall and tousle-headed and cold, saying, "Do you think I can borrow a scarf? It's colder than I thought."

Having a closet full of scarves.

Leaving for work in bright yellow sunshine under bright blue skies, bright white snow swirling and whirling up in clouds from awnings, trees, the bus, the ground.

Looking forward to drinks at the Rubin after work tonight with dear friends. And my brother. And my boy.

Today is a good, good day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

local dive

There's no denying that 1020 is a pretty shabby joint.  Sticky floors (and often enough tables).  Occasionally skunked taps.  No such frivolities as bowls of peanuts or pretzels or popcorn lined up on the bar or particularly clean bathrooms (though I have only seen a roach there once, years ago).  It gets ridiculously crowded with largely obnoxious college kids on weekends and sometimes weeknights. In other words, it's got a lot not going for it.

But there's something about the place that I adore, especially on days like yesterday.  I arrived a few minutes before Nick, bellied up to the bar, ordered a $3 Goose Island IPA, grabbed a booth, pulled out my book, and found myself looking around through rain-speckled glasses, inexplicably grinning.

At the warmth after the wind- & rain-driven walk down from 117th Street.  At the blue and green twinkle lights cheerily brightening up the front window as full dark settled in outside.  At the white twinkle lights festooned from ceiling to walls, right angles softened by their glow reflected off the wood that makes up much of the place.  At the cost of my beer and the smile of greeting the bartender tossed my way along with his amicable "What can I get you, honey?"

I've been hearing this phrase from this man every few months or so for, believe it or not, going on sixteen years now.  We haven't exchanged much more than pleasantries and yet his quiet kindness always makes me happy.

And that's the thing about 1020.  It's dirty and it's gritty and it's cheap and at the wrong times it's full of raucous obnoxious college kids.  But at the right times (five o'clock happy hours, quiet Sunday evenings), it's that homey warm kind of place that makes pretty much the perfect local dive.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

weather (and product placement) and how to deal

It's that oh so special kind of weather.  The kind that slushes and seeps and drags at your feet and coats your glasses in pelting icy sleet.  The kind that tangles in your hair and catches in your eyelashes and turns what is normally solid ground treacherous beneath your feet.  The kind that hurts.

It's the kind of weather that really is only endurable curled up on the couch under an afghan, mug of hot chocolate (preferably Abuelita) close to hand, furry fluffy little black cat curled up at your feet.  Purring, of course.

The bus dropped me off into an ankle-deep puddle of sludge.

Luckily my new Dansko boots (thank you Shanna, best sister-in-law that ever was!) withstood the onslaught, the slushocalypse if you will, and my feet remain toasty warm in my SmartWool socks and thick black tights.

Then I arrived at work to find a veritable waterfall (all that melting pelting soul-numbing slush has to go somewhere after all, doesn't it?) pouring down through the light fixtures just outside the entrance to the library.

And so begins the first day of the new semester here at good old CU.  Luckily for me I've already got post-work drinks lined up.  They will be much needed, I'm sure.

Friday, January 14, 2011

in response, or, the truth of spock

I may have left an arguably snarky comment on the Ruth Institute's blog* the other day about not letting their kids eat shellfish.  To which I got this response:

Emma.  You make light of Torah.  If you want to live long and prosper, take the law of God seriously.

Just for the record, indeed I do want to live long and prosper.  And my love for equality and oysters will probably not undermine that, at least barring a bad one.  Oyster, that is.  And Spock would no doubt approve, in his ever logical way, of both of these great loves of mine.  And perhaps even of my inability, at times, to keep my big mouth shut.

*A silly little organization whose sole stated purpose is to convince young Americans to get married -- as long as they're straight. An offshoot, not surprisingly, of the much despised NOM.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

down the road again

We watched The Road last night, based on Cormac McCarthy's novel about which I have written before, and I spent the night dreaming (yet again) about armageddon.

Last night's incarnation involved fleeing our apartment and across the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey to find shelter because, in my dream world at least, the state of New Jersey has stricter building codes and can withstand the onslaught of nuclear fallout. (Even in dreams, it seems, I am always looking for an explanation.)

We were scrambling through rubble looking for basement apartments, digging through piles of dust in search of nails to board up broken windows and splintered doors.

Apparently even with its stricter building codes, New Jersey is no safe haven in the face of nuclear annihilation.

Then I woke up, showered off these clinging remnants of sleep, came to work, drank my morning coffee (on the house, because my deli man insists that the New Year deserves a free cup!).

Am now I am hard at work. Clearly.  But sometimes that's better than dreaming.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


What I did over my Christmas vacation -- because what better way to combat the winter cold than to make something so irresistibly reminiscent of springtime?  Now available on Etsy.


Friday, January 07, 2011

on the bus

I know in some parts of the world it is normal to go to work in the dark at this time of year, but there was something very disconcerting about being on the bus so early today that it was too dark outside to see through the glare of the bus lights on the windows.

I love riding the bus to work and watching the world go by, but I do not love the world watching me go by, caged there in the lights on the bus.

Luckily it is not often that I have to leave at 6:45am to get to work.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

out of the mouths of babes, or, a moment in the life of a library supervisor

Small girl:  Are you wearing a wig?
Me: No, why?
Small girl: Well, then why is your hair that color?
Parents of small girl: *Gasp!*
Me, taken aback but chuckling: Well, it wasn't exactly intentional.
At which point everyone, including the small girl, starts laughing uproariously.

Just about the perfect way to end a day at work.

'all exits lead away from the big top...' *

Evan took me to the Big Apple Circus last night, tucked away in the southwest corner of Lincoln Center these past few months.  It was both more and less than I thought it would be.  Times are tough here in the Big Apple (I guess times are tough all over, though, huh?), and there were more empty seats than I expected and fewer polished acts.

But there was also, or so it seemed to me, a unique sense of sharing an experience, and a sense of having a vested interest in wanting to make everyone there -- both performers and audience members -- feel good about being there.

I found myself clapping and grinning at the spectacle and chuckling at the old woman sitting behind us with her extended family, who spent the evening giving a play by play of each and every act.

And the more I clapped and the more I smiled, and the more everyone else in that audience clapped and smiled, the less it seemed to matter that the Big Apple Circus is clearly down on its luck, at least compared to the PBS documentary about it that aired just a year or so ago. 

No trapeze artists this year, just a lone woman on a big rope swing.  No trick horseback riding or tightrope walking, just a woman leading a cavalcade of little white horses in circles around the ring.**

But the pretty little flock of Mongolian contortionists folded themselves into knots and then unfolded like flower petals, opening up and out and back into human form, and this unfurling in particular was beautiful to watch.

And the Bulgarian hand-balancing acrobat's music may have been overblown drivel, but the strength he harbors in those arms was a sight to see.

And the juggler from Ethiopia, with his juggling orange orbs glowing in the dark and flying through the air in time to the music, managed to entrance the crowd despite the smallness, the containedness, of his act.

The evening was in some ways smaller than I expected (the last circus I went to, or rather got dragged to by my parents back in the early '90s, was Ringling  Brothers at Madison Square Garden), but also warmer than I expected (more along the lines of the circus before that, a circus I loved, in St. Maries, Idaho sometime in the mid '80s, with its sawdust-covered ring and its wooden benches lining the big top).

We, the audience, wanted to be impressed, wanted the clowns to be endearing, wanted the little boy picked out from the crowd to have the time of his life.  And we were, and they were, and he did.

*Announcement at the beginning of the show, in case of a fire or other emergency.
**And dogs.  And goats.  Oh how I want a goat.  Someday, I shall have a goat.