September 29, 2006


Well another weekend is upon us. Thankfully. What an exhausting week. Presently, my favorite person is down with a cold, asleep on the couch after I went and picked him up some oj, Vitamin Water, DayQuil as well as NyQuil. I coaxed him to take two DayQuil with some of the Vitamin Water and he slipped immediately into the quietest sleep, despite how congested he is. I feel terrible when he is sick, like Why Can't I Just Fix This? But he's such a tough guy - he will persevere. Meanwhile, I don't mind a quiet Friday in New York City, myself. I've dreamed for what feels like 3 lifetimes about this apartment, this neighborhood and this whole fascinating world of New York City. Being quiet in it for a night is just as satisfying as throwing one's self into the activity of it. So, this night finds me with the office (writing studio) window open, a removable screen propped in it, listening to the KBNYC soundtrack that I've been still contemplating. I put a deliriously perfect (the) Cure song on it called "The End of the World" (not to be confused with the R.E.M. song "End of the World as We Know It"). The first time I heard it I was in Nashville, Tennessee, if I am remembering correctly. We were spending my birthday weekend with Angela and Tim there, and we were in a bar eating dinner and the video for this song was actually on a huge screen on one wall, the sound of the song competing, from speakers overhead, with the roar of the bar crowd. I adore Robert Smith - I really always have. I had a friend in High School who loved him far and away more than me, and she would drag me to these weekend record conventions (I'm dating myself, perhaps) where she would spend all of her part-time job money on the Cure collector's things: records, live recordings, rare t-shirts, that sort of thing. So I had a lot of exposure to the Cure, and I even painted an acrylic portrait of him once in High School. I still have it, and it makes me completely sheepish, just the thought of painting a favorite musician's portrait. Anyway, getting back to the point of this: me, some music, sleeping Craig and a quiet Friday night.*Yesterday I ventured to the newly-discovered Gap (found by Craig) to purchase what I'm naming my writing uniform: ridiculously soft gray drawstring pants, and a Body (soft knit) black tank top. I also selected a couple of pair (pairs?) of cords for work (but got a good deal, honestly. I'm not typically a Gap fan but the one at 85th and 3rd is pretty much going to be my new home away from home, next to the bookstore and work, that is). I felt so snug in my writing uniform last night, oddly enough while watching television (oops, not writing) with Craig (Thursday is a night packed with important television, most of which we record to re-watch anyway) that my sleep last night was some of the best I've had in a while. I woke up this morning feeling like I had been sleeping in a warm, soft and safe vessel where dreams kind of left me alone (dreams have been really bugging me lately). Then, today, first thing this morning, before I had even sipped my first cup of coffee, Craig came around the corner into my office and flashed a fanned handful of 4 tickets to the Jets-Colts game this Sunday at Giants Stadium. The look on his face contained so much glow and happiness! Evidently one of our peers (that's how I've recently decided to reference the people in our office) offered these to Craig because something came up and that guy can't go. Nice. So, Craig carefully (not to leave anyone out or cause conflict) spread the word to several football or Indiana enthusiasts, and we've now collected two guy peers of ours to go along with us Sunday to New Jersey (have I ever been to New Jersey before? hmm.) Now, given the fact I spent the greater amount of, let's say, 8.5 years in Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis, the Colts, by rights, should be my team, if I were to claim such a thing as a football team in my loyalty portfolio. Yet, as I e-mailed the boys today, my Colts jersey is still at the team store in Indy. Ie., I do not own Colts stuff. That said, I parted ways with Craig at the 86th Street station tonight after work - he headed north and I walked south - and I fell back into the Gap. There, I located the above pictured ensemble, which, since I own no royal blue stuff, or football stuff or anything seeming football spirit-related, will by all means act as my Colts semi-uniform. I so rarely let myself get into buying clothes - being fashionable is a full time job which requires a full time job to support the habit, that when I do it, and do it happily and well, I feel the need to brag a little. Add to the above cableknit shortsleeved royal blue sweater and mid-sleeved blue and white striped shirt a pair of blue jeans that I bought, too, and I think I might come across as a haphazardly decided Colts fan.*Seriously, since Craig and I are doing that Sunday, I'm borrowing tonight and tomorrow to do my thing. Tomorrow Craig intends to work, so I am going to head to Crosby Street for an Open Air Book Sale, where books of all textures, thicknesses, ages and natures will be sold for $1 each. It's a charity for NYC's homeless living with AIDS. From the sounds of the flyer, tables and tables upon tables of books will be available to browse. Craig wants to go, but we need to talk more about it tomorrow after he arrives at work and determines more about his Saturday schedule.*Happiest weekends to all of you who have been craving another since the last.**

September 24, 2006


Sunday, a perfect new whole Sunday for us. We've had another memorable New York weekend filled with each other and New York. Friday we decided, since we are getting older each day and feeling more tired than ever from living here (Lauren taught me that your first several months in New York are spent in a fog of sheer exhaustion and then you just get over it and keep going - I'm not sure if I've explained that here yet or not) that we would come home after work, take naps and wake up to pub crawl the Upper East Side. We kicked off our night at Cavatappo, an intimate wine lounge right around the corner from our place. We shared a carafe of Malbec, delighted by the ambience and the long tabletop made of wine corks laminated in a thick clear surface. Then we headed over to Rathbones, a pub up the street, where we ordered beer and appetizers. The appetizers were alright, the beer was good, and after 2 rounds we went to a third bar, which neither of us can identify by name (at this point we basically fell into whatever bar came next) and we ordered, still unsure precisely why, mojitos. I've heard of these before but never had ordered one, assuming it was a sweet cocktail which never appeals to me. The mojitos were gooood. Too good. By round 2 of these, I began to physically recoil from the evening's events. We were having such a great time, but I couldn't possibly finish my second minty mojito. Somewhere in there Craig ordered a Jack and Coke, as well (he likes to order those as caffeine boosters sometimes - and because he likes a Jack and Coke now and then). So, we came home before midnight, but whatever the combination, even with a whole night of sleep, I still woke hungover. We nursed our hangovers with illy coffee and bagels and several recorded shows from the new tv week. Then I showered and packed a bag with a notebook, some loose leaf paper, 2 favorite pens and This is Not Chick Lit, kissed Craig goodbye for the afternoon, and headed to the 6 train at 86th Street. I settled into a seat on the train and just as we departed for the next stop, a couple of Latin American men entered the car from the adjacent car, the first man wearing a classical guitar slung over his chest, the second carrying an accordion. They both wore elaborate western button downs and cowboy hats and boots. My head felt yet cluttered and I had hoped for a quiet ride to SoHo. Instead, the men stood on either side of the car too near where I sat and broke into a cheerful Latin acoustic tune. Normally this would have pleased me. However, the song was loud and the guitarist's vocals were just barely off key. Anyway, they finished their song and held out their hats for tips, then exited the train somewhere around 23rd Street. I got off at Spring Street, feeling all the pride I still feel for navigating my own way in New York these days - Craig not necessary. Don't get me wrong, I adore his sense of direction and his ability to show cities off to me. But I remember back to a time where New York seemed like such a tangled weave of subways and streets that I figured I would never know how to be in Manhattan alone. Now, I'm getting better all the time. Granted, I'm still leagues and leagues from finding my way entirely. I lean heavily on the subway lines to act as my guide. Anyway, so I emerged from the subway at Spring Street to greet the wonderful energy of SoHo, the liveliest little streets, the crowds of New Yorkers blended with tourists. I ducked into a Starbucks after finding the building where my writing workshop would be held. Then, with my latte and bottle of water in hand, I entered the old building. Someone directed me to the back, I believe he called it "the tea room," or I imagined that. There sat Elizabeth, in a circle of empty chairs, rifling through some papers and a notebook. She introduced herself happily and welcomed me to her Saturday class. We chatted for a few minutes before other women began to trickle in. The room was high-ceilinged, the floors wood, the walls brick and covered in framed new art. It felt warm and inspiring. Once everyone had arrived, Elizabeth began the class. It was wonderful. We wrote lots of timed exercises, the kind where the imagination gets switched on and can't shut down because you aren't supposed to stop moving your pen. We shared ideas, expanded on ideas within new exercises borrowing from previous ones, and explored reasons for writer's block. Elizabeth has an extremely open and honest personality. I got the feeling I would benefit greatly if I were to take one of her long courses. My favorite thing she said: "The stories of humans repeat ad infinitum, but the details change." So completely true!*I need to recognize my ability to unfold events between characters, instead of garbling on with too much exposition. This whole writing process is incredible. I don't remember poetry being so multi-layered (although I love poetry and I simply love that I spent so much time getting to know it back when). It feels like there are basic fiction elements that I need to break apart and piece back together in order to attempt fiction. What's tricky in it, is that I can detect the elements in someone else's story. Now how do I proceed in creating those elements on my own?*So today is Sunday, and we're missing a wedding at Bear Mountain (north, I believe?) My friends Eric and Lynn are getting married this afternoon. Surveying the financial obligations we have in these next few months, it just didn't seem feasible to attend today. I feel terrible to miss it but I will see pictures and certainly, Lauren will someday play the song she has written for their ceremony for me. Instead, today I am going to head out into the neighborhood to spend 15 minutes in one place (my homework assignment for class). Then I will come home and write a several-page sketch of what I see, hear, feel, taste and smell in that single spot. If I haven't said so before, New York is filled with sensory information. Just stuffed with it.*One last detail: I've been a patron of the same wine shop since we moved into the Upper East Side. It's a narrow store, dimly lit and operated by a couple of handsome, I gather, European? young men. Yesterday, on my way home from Elizabeth's workshop, I ducked into the store for some wine. The gentleman smiled shyly at me as he rang me up and said, "Do you live in the neighborhood?" I smiled back and said, "Yes I do. So you are my staple wine store." He looked down at my receipt and put his hands to his temples as if massaging the information into memory and said, "I will remember your name." Then later, I walked down the block to pick up a pizza for Craig and me, and I passed him at the corner. He called out my name and waved. I love New York. *PS--Happy Birthday to the Best Girl I Could Ever Share Initials With: KB. Craig's sis. Happy Birthday Kara!

September 18, 2006


Today feels like one of those extreme surges of livelihood, where life brims with stimulation of all varieties and I couldn't be happier to be alive. I suppose it all began with the weekend. Friday Craig and I went to dinner in the rain at Blondie's, a very nearby sports bar with better-than-norm bar food. We were both exhausted so we ate (Craig ordered chili and I ate this buffalo chicken salad with chopped romaine and radicchio and buffalo sauce and ranch, and we shared cheese fries: not necessarily the healthiest meal but we deserved it for a Friday, right?) and returned home to attempt a movie (Brick), not quite making it through. Saturday I went for bagels and coffee for us (bagels are becoming a weekend am I ever going to eat a bagel outside of New York City? The City has the bagel mastered) and we watched an indie film I had reserved from the weekend before to watch with Craig, upon his request, Winter Passing. We loved it (I loved it - Craig doesn't commonly love my indie picks but he enjoys many of them quite thoroughly) and I now have an official girl crush on Zooey Deschanel. Additionally, the movie rejuvenated my blissful music appreciation and I am in the process of organizing one of my ego-trip power music mixes (I tend to think of myself as an accidentally amazing djay, even all the way back to the day of mix tapes). I have been waiting for the point where I had a mix ready that I could play as my First Year in New York soundtrack, and I think I'm onto something at last. After Winter Passing we headed out to run a couple of important errands, including (but not limited to) purchasing a London guide book (more to come on that later), go to Bed, Bath & Beyond for a new coffee pot (I don't know how we've been here this long without) and come back home for an afternoon and night in. I had bought another writing exercise book, as well, and so settled myself into the computer room (which I have lovingly dubbed my writing studio, but Craig has probably dubbed it his fantasy football update room, too!) to write a lot. I'm so new to the fiction writing experience that I could hardly see anything to come of my hours spent doing it, but I definitely kept myself entertained (while my boyfriend paid appropriate attention to football in the living room, of course!) In the meantime, I have been reading this incredible (seriously, unbelievable) collection of short stories titled This is Not Chick Lit. I am fairly decent at finding things for myself with good timing in play, as was the case with this anthology. One internet thing leading to another type of thing. Anyway, one internet thing led to another and here I am with this anthology, which contains a new Aimee Bender story (my favorite contemporary author). One more internet thing led to another and I discovered that the woman who compiled this anthology teaches writing courses in New York. From what I can tell, she isn't affiliated with a university, but she teaches small courses to which an aspiring author must apply with writing samples. I'm not sure I will be able to juggle full time work, a commute to and from Queens, a class and another class, so in the meantime I am taking her one-day workshop this weekend in SoHo! How exciting! I love the way my nerves get supercharged with anxious energy as I approach these things one by one. I'm such an amateur living in such amateur fashion, but it's all in the sake of figuring out whether I'm capable or not.*Anyway, yesterday we attended a barbecue in the honor of Jeff, who moved in with Lauren a few weeks ago (with Craig's help and my, um...supervision). Craig's famous family recipe burger came out (its second appearance in El Barrio) and as always, the hungry audience was impressed. There was too much drinking involved, followed by drunken discord at Lauren's keyboard which consisted, as usual, of her hammering out great piano and belting out her gorgeous voice, and me attempting a sloppy harmony somewhere in between. But it's great how Lauren is - she shares music with everyone, even those of us who are best left in the audience to be amazed by the Laurens of the world! We had a great time. I'm elated to be back in the presence of so much talent and inspiration.*Then today was my class. I loved it and it was only class 2. I'm a hopeless sentimental (and quite nerdy) romantic, but even just getting on the subway after work, devouring as much reading as possible before class, to ready myself for writing conversation...the whole concept of it delights me. I feel smarter living in this City than I have felt anywhere else. My opportunities are open and opening. I'm really happy here. New York makes everything so good. And then I came home and what greeted me when I swung open the door but flowers from my Craig? We have an ongoing joke about the flower thing - I'm not a flower enthusiast, but the occasional picture in my head of Craig ducking into one of the corner markets to buy flowers for me - that's what doesn't get old - that image of him with me in mind while I'm not physically right there. Again, I'm a romantic.*And a tired one. So off I go.

September 12, 2006


To say that the past few days have been emotional would be positively an understatement. In fact, while I doubt I can adequately express a lot of the goings on of the weekend and through today, I will give it a shot, if nothing else, to chronicle and not forget. It began with Sunday. I walked in the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure which began on the west side of Central Park and wound through the southern part of the park, finishing, conveniently for me, as it were, on the east side. The feeling was indescribable, so I won't try. I just recall, and won't forget, witnessing so much cheerful love and energy converted from so much past sadness and so many losses, and being part of it. I only raised $250 on my own but next year I will strive to raise more, because being a part of something so vast and beautiful, so pure and meaningful, and contributing, was nothing short of amazing. Craig came along in the morning to shoot a couple of pictures, and then he left me with the camera and returned home. When I made it back to the apartment, he stood from his post on the couch, came to me, asked me so sweetly how it went, and I just began to cry. I couldn't help it: I walked with a co-worker, who is extremely genuine and nice, but I hardly know her, and couldn't imagine falling apart in front of her. And then I saw Craig's kind eyes, and realized how much people care for one another, and how much people forget how short our existences actually are. And what echoed through my head as Craig hugged me while I cried was the woman (women were invited to announce their terms of survival of breast cancer as we crossed the finish line) who shouted, right as my co-worker and I crossed, "My name is _____ and I'm from Jersey: 30 years!" Cheers of appreciation and congratulations filled the finish line like a huge wash of color. That will stay with me.*Then of course there was yesterday, standing out in the middle of the jobsite amid the site workers and office staff gazing at the American flag hung half mast over Shea Stadium, facing eastward, in the vague direction of Manhattan, at 8:46 in the morning which was the time of the first plane to tower. And again, standing with people I likely could trust but didn't feel quite near enough to, the tears stayed right inside my eyes - but it was difficult. I have no idea how many of those people lost people 9.11.01 in the tragedy that shook our Nation. Fathers, sons, mothers and daughters could have been lost to any of them - loves, spouses. I couldn't know but could only fathom the pain felt over at Ground Zero right then, and the amount of tears that could have amounted to a river flowing right through the heart of our country.*Then my mood shifted yesterday afternoon. I left work at 4.30, super speed-walked to the 7 train and rode it to the transfer to the F. Then I rode the F to 14th Street in Manhattan, emerged from underground too early to walk right into my class, so spent about 15 minutes in a Food Emporium where I wondered if I should buy myself a snack: was I hungry, or was my stomach just nervous? Nervous, I decided, abandoning the idea of buying soy nuts which I don't typically eat, or organic chips, also which would be unsual for me to eat, and I walked on to the building where I would begin my first New York City Fiction Writing course. I spent those 40 minutes before my class feeling so oddly wired. Once at school, I paced the building, admiring all of the artsy students milling around, my nerves flooded with pre-first class anxiety. But my first class went well, so well. The instructor is talented and obviously brilliant. My peers seem inspired and inspiring. We completed "author questionnaires," and wrote 2 entire 15-minute intervals of writing exercises. We learned about our instructor and her experience. We met each other, timidly. Perfect, as luck would have it, my classmates are all adults, in the least. Quite likely I'm at the top of the age spectrum, but it seems they're all at least somewhere in their 20's. And the class is mostly comprised of females: one male. He at least seems passionate about becoming a writer.*Anyway, I needed to sum up somehow the events of the past few days. I needed to at least voice just how lucky I am, as a woman wandering through this amazing experience, living all of these emotions to high degrees and wondering how I would ever be able to be this fortunate without my Craig here, without his love, and his endearing and absolute support, while we moved to this magical City where everything unbelievable that could happen, does. In all senses of the word.

September 11, 2006


Today marks the 5th anniversary of the most devastating event to happen to my country in my lifetime. This is the point where I realize how very limiting our language is. This is the time where words cannot do an event justice - the statistics and images carry far greater weight - to realize the death toll, to embrace the sadness wrapped around our country, especially this great city, today, or worse, this day 5 years ago - it's far better to show respect by honoring with silence, if the words, at least my clumsy collection of words, won't work for this.*

September 02, 2006


My Labor Day weekend thus far has been filled with absolutely so much laughter, love and extravagant entertainment that I hardly can do it justice. I shall try. Our dear friend Andrea, previously identified as AB, arrived in New York Wednesday night after she spent several days working in Boston. Since I met her just over a year ago, she has managed to not only remain one of the truest, sweetest friends I've ever had the good fortune of making, but she has also visited Craig and me both times that we've moved since we met her. Wednesday she managed to catch an earlier flight than scheduled out of Logan, and I hopped on the local 6, traveled to 51st Street, transferred to the E, and rode out to Forest Hills - 71st and Queens Boulevard. Craig busied himself with his fantasy football draft at home. Oddly and by miracle of human instinct, I emerged from the subway station at the exact intersection where I had instructed Andrea to be dropped by a cab from Kennedy airport. She was several dollars short for her cab ride and the agitated cab driver impatiently awaited completion of payment at the moment I discovered her standing there, and as luck would have it I had enough cash on me to finalize his business and send him on his snotty way. Cab drivers in New York are never hailed as good friends of locals, much less the tourists. And Andrea, poor thing, had already undergone public transportation frustration related to Boston's subway earlier that afternoon. In keeping the theme with public transportation frustration, as we stood on the platform awaiting the E to deliver us to Manhattan, my eyes were blurred by fatigue, and my heart was just filled with the excitement of seeing Andrea. And to defend myself, the letters "E" and "F" have several characteristics in common. That said, the F train rolled to a stop and I confidently told Andrea that that was our train. We got on, rode...rode...rode, and the stop at Roosevelt Island somewhat startled me - I hadn't stopped there en route to Forest Hills - but what did I know, maybe the route had shifted. Then I became increasingly concerned with the increasing street numbers of the stops. When we reached Rockefeller Center, I announced to Andrea, "I believe we've missed the right stop." We darted off the train, avec all the heaviest luggage of Andrea's world, and as the train shot through the tunnel in the direction of its next destination, I saw that the identity of the train read "F," not "E." Nevertheless, we rose from the underground of the City and Andrea's first actual sighting was of Radio City Music Hall. I think it worked out well, the way that went.*We ate dinner at Cilantro with Craig Wednesday night, stopped over at Biddy's for a few beers, and Craig turned in early - I stayed with AB. We wound up sitting on the stoop later in the night for hours, catching up on everything and staring, wide-eyed, at the rat infestation of the night, which is very real and very alarming - they come out after hours, shrieking and scaling the mounds of trash bags piled for the following morning's trash pick-up. They are all gray, and they are all menacing. But they steer clear of humans. It is trash that they seek.*Thursday Craig and I worked, and Andrea spent the day with an old friend of hers who lives in Jersey and came into the City for the occasion. Then Thursday night I made reservations at Dragonfly in SoHo for all of us: Andrea, Craig, Lauren, Jeff, myself and Amanda (Lauren and Jeff's roommate) and in the midst of the transfer from the 6 to the F (this time I believe we were in search of the F), while riding the escalator downwards, a voice began to fill my ear and I spun around to see Amanda, followed by Jeff and Lauren. How odd to live in a City filled with 11 million people and somehow you run into the people you know! So we all rode together to SoHo. Dragonfly was nice - we introduced Andrea to edamame, which she announced tasted like peas (I disagree-but I still adore you AB!) And then after dinner we wandered to a bar filled with red dim lights and Belgium beer. Jeff is a raging Belgium beer fan and he was taking us to a place he knew. After that, we tried another place. Too many intricate details to mention in between, but they were ever-present and we all enjoyed the presence of the intricate details.*Friday, Craig and I took vacation days and showed Andrea as much of New York as we could without overstimulating her or causing overexhaustion. Our bagel deli, Midtown, edges of Central Park, the Today Show, Columbus Circle, the sights, the sights. I wanted to take her on the Circle Line boat tour, the 2-hour ride, because it is my favorite way to unwind and see gorgeous Manhattan, and the lovely Lady Liberty at a decent distance. Other than the fact that the clouds were very gray and heavy from Ernesto (I don't heart hurricane season) our ride was splendid. We had a couple of beers and watched the enigma of Manhattan from the boat which moved at a fairly regular speed. After the boat tour, we took Andrea to Ground Zero, where there are now indescribably emotional photographs that have been blown up and hung side by side attached to the heavy steel fencing as steady amazing reminders of the 5-year anniversary of the tragedy as it approaches. I think I fought tears enough times, to resist a breakdown, that I could have filled the Hudson River with my own emotion. Or near enough. And Andrea was as pulled into the passionate unrest as anyone with a heart is. Seeing this site, standing beneath the heavy weight of brilliant New York sky where once stood two towers of unreal height and inconceivable presence, should be something that every visitor we invite or welcome, should request to see. For every bit of battered and bitter reminder it is worth.*We ate dinner at Cafe Fanelli, which is a place on Prince Street in SoHo that Craig and I just love. Then we took Andrea to Times Square (though she had gone with her friend the day before) so she could see the lights and immense wonder of the pleasure by night. Then we took a cab to 68th street, where we began our bar hopping experience in the Upper East Side. We saw a phenomenal number of establishments, the latter of which was Elaine's, which is evidently where Woody Allen has hung out in the past.*The entire Andrea-stay was relaxing, stimulating and brilliant. I think she had a very rewarding adventure here, for her first trip t0 New York, ever. We tried to display for/to her how it is to be here, to live here, to positively thrive here. I think she got the idea. And I hate to abruptly cut this short, but it's late, and my enthusiastic sports fanatic boyfriend has purchased tickets for us for tomorrow's display of tennis masterdom - the US Open in our very own Flushing, Queens. Because of rain delays, it sounds as though we will be seeing Agassi and two other significant tennis professionals - which delights Craig bey0nd human comprehension. I love to see him happy - that's what it is doing for me. Meanwhile, so nice to be off work for so many days. Must love an extended Holiday weekend. And love all over New York.