October 31, 2006


Happy Halloween, says the girl who doesn't celebrate it. Without children, why bother? I've got years ahead of me to hold the hands of the hungry candy eaters while they stumble beside me down the street peering from behind too big Spiderman masks or bunny heads, what have you. For now, chicken tacos on chipotle flour tortillas with Craig will do me just fine. I admit, though, it was fun to manuever through the bloody princesses and savage werewolves on my way out of the subway at 86th Street. Anyway, it's been a long while since I've been around. A lot has gone on, and versus trying to recap all of it and miss out on any important details, I will just tap on a few memories. Plus, tonight, before Craig returns home from work, I've got homework writing to do in addition to this.*Tonight marks the first night in a long while that I've been home earlyish with little stress on my mind, or no errands to run, or no class to attend or no function happening. A couple of weeks ago we flew to Arizona for our company's annual meeting. Six hours one way on a plane will really remind you how good it feels to stand on solid ground. Nevertheless, the weekend was a smashing success. We saw a lot of the old Detroit crew, from back when adult life was merely beginning for me, when I was meeting incredible friends and learning a thing or two about what it means to work around a bunch of men in dusty boots. Many of the guys now have families of their own, homes, exciting projects. It was great to catch up. The weather was fantastic but we really didn't get to indulge in it too much. We also caught up with Craig's Phoenix cousin Paul and Paul's wife Angie in Old Scottsdale at a bar. That was memorable, too - they are wonderful people (and by the way, they even thought to ask me about the Breast Cancer walk in Central Park! after donating me a sizable amount of money back then! They're awesome!) So, Arizona happened - and then we returned to New York for a fast-paced short week and flew out once again, this time to Indianapolis, where I managed, with the help of Craig's friends from Purdue, his sister, Andrea, and my parents, to throw him a nice surprise dinner at a Buca di Beppo in Castleton, Indiana. We landed Friday around 4-something, and Kara picked us up at the airport, where I was beginning to feel nausea floating through my midsection. Nerves. We went to Kara's house, met her husband Ben there and left for dinner: arrived at Buca, entered, hissed orders to the hostess and host at the podium in the lobby while an oblivious (I hoped!) Craig and Ben stood back against a wall (I was positive the host and hostess wanted to ruin everything: they kept saying, What are you here for?) and finally, they got the picture and led us all, the four of us, back through the kitchen (it's what they do at Buca) and to the room where 23 people awaited our arrival - nice! The dinner was great, I think. I was too wound up to enjoy it, but I think Craig liked everything about it. My parents and my nephew and brother were there, which was a great feature, too. That night, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. Yayy! And the next morning, we woke up too early to head to West Lafayette, for Purdue versus Penn State football. Another great day with friends, more friends than I have time to name, and the weather was clear blue sky but brain-numbing cold, and we survived the boring game (sorry Boilers) and Craig and I decided to stay in West Lafayette for the night. Above is a photograph taken sort of absent-mindedly and accidentally while scrolling through the other digital photographs I had taken of the weekend, but it represents our night at Purdue's bar (Harry's Chocolate Shop) rather well. We spent quite a few hours there with Craig's old crew, getting to see people we hadn't seen in a long time (Jen from Wallace's wedding years ago, and some guy in a black t-shirt to whom Craig kept shouting, "I never thought I'd see you again, ever!" and when someone else was near, Craig pointed at Guy in Black T-Shirt and said to Someone Else, "I never thought I'd see [whatever his name is] ever again!" The whole night was filled with a lot of reunion and some happenstance. Enjoyably. And after that, we turned in early (the game was at noon so us old kids were retired by like the eleven o'clock hour!) and in the morning, we ate at a Steak'n'Shake with Djay and Diana, and Dustin and Fiona (they are the couple marrying in London in January...) and John and Liz. And John and Liz drove us back to Indy, to Kara's. In the later afternoon we saw my parents, brother and nephew again, and my brother's new girlfriend Diana. Life these weekends was good. Fulfilling. Renewing. And now I'm back at the grind, having missed the pace of New York yet having experienced the thrill that throbs just outside of this town: life is good out there, people, even without the bright lights. The southwest is warm, the midwest is cozy. It's all here for a reason.*And now, off to enjoy my Halloween without ghosts and masks.

October 15, 2006


I've spent a lot of today with words. It's been a beautiful, yet heart-wrecking experience. And this whole time, this whole day (this whole weekend), the DUMBO Art Gallery openings have been going on. And we missed it. But we won't next year. And as good fortune would have it, my guilt over not going to DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass in Brooklyn) was rectified by the mailer we received from the Park Slope Gallery, where my old college friend Eric will host his first solo show in New York City since he moved here, in mid-November. Luckily Craig's little sis and her husband will be here that weekend, so we can show them the local arts of New York. Oh, so back to words. I saved my homework assignment up for Sunday, which is quite common of me to do. It isn't that I can't just sit myself down on a weeknight. It more or less involves going through the typical process of writer's block, where I do everything humanly possible to avoid the computer, dishes and laundry and dusting and bathroom scrubbing seem better than writing, to the point where Sunday I realize, Hmm. Something's due tomorrow. So, this morning I balled up in the corner of the bed with a "Writing Fiction" book. Then I went out for Diet Cokes. Then I returned to re-read, for the hundredth time, my typed assignment from my instructor. Then I went back out to grab my laundry cube from the Asian ladies across the street. Then I came home and unfolded the cube. Things went something like that. I managed to put off writing until about 2 o'clock. By that point, I had no other options available to me. Craig was watching football. I needed to just sit down and do the damn homework already. It's why I took a class, right? Once I got into it, yes, that's where I exist. It's where I feel alive. Writing one sentence makes me feel more vibrant in color than anything in the world. And listening to my own words in my head knock all around and make sensible sounds together - that is passion, and love. But, I am so far away from being someone who does this for a living. So far away. So instead of doting on myself and my Sunday accomplishments, what I really crave is one person who will please please please read Aimee Bender's story from her latest collection (Willful Creatures), called "Fruit and Words". I read it on the subway this week, and I practically needed to go home with faux illness, it was that good. I looked up after finishing it, noticed that we were 2 stops from our subway station for work, and I wanted to throw myself onto the train across the platform that was headed back in Manhattan's direction, wanted to re-read the story for how just gorgeous each word is. It's hard. I am really not sure who to call about a handful of words that I love this much. So instead of struggling to think of who could appreciate what happened to me when I read that story, I simply wrote to Elizabeth, who put together the not-Chick Lit book and has been defending herself ever since. She led that one day workshop I went to in SoHo. And she replied almost immediately - she didn't recall that particular story but would surely go back and read it again. Her anthology includes Aimee. But the whole feeling, the whole idea of just loving someone's words so much that you can't think of anything else...it put me in a different frame of mind this week. I sort of floated through the days gazing out my window office at mirages filled with books, and words. If only Aimee taught at my school. Because I adore my instructor now - she's a brilliant brain - but I long to hear Aimee lead her students to places in their minds they didn't know existed. I long to hear her read her own words. If California weren't so far away! Maybe I would go. But for now, I am perfectly happy to sit here in New York and know how unbelievable it is that I just get to live here, and to let the words flow over me like sugar water.**My beautiful boyfriend enters his third decade this week. That's another thing that matters. Him. His existence. Happy Birthday this week, Handsome.

October 08, 2006


Another week and weekend has passed for us in the City. Last Saturday I did head down to SoHo to check out the open book fair while Craig worked. In theory it should have been right up my alley, but when I got to Crosby Street, it appeared to be a bit more cluttered than I prefer. Boxes of books, in no particular sorted order, on tables, on the street, beneath tents while clusters of readers hovered around the boxes, pawing through the stacks and stacks and boxes. I gave up pretty immediately and went inside the Housingwares store itself, which was cool. I found a White Stripes book for Craig and a Francine Prose novel for myself. I started reading the novel already and it's darkly comedic - a take on one writing professor's struggle to teach an intro fiction class while dealing with his own mental happenings. I am reminded what a tricky experience writing profs must have, more than likely teaching primarily to put food on their tables while penning out their own work on the side, and dealing with manuscript after manuscript of less than admirable work. I'm speaking from direct experience: from being a part of that group of hopefuls, in all of my undergraduate poetry workshops, and now as a writing student once again, I know that instructors of any art or writing are dealt the rotten task of avoiding offending students while at the same time avoiding presenting students with the false sense of hope that their work is actually going to lead to eventual publication. I'm generalizing, obviously, because there are always exceptions to the rule - the talented writer here or there in an undergrad class who stands out from the rest of the group. Anyway, the book I'm reading evidently is about that exceptional writer and her relationship with her prof. I'm not that far along, but it seems like a pretty decent read, especially given my interest in these classes I'm in and so forth. Anyway, after Housingwares, I took the subway to Union Square to go to a couple of stationery stores near school. My walk led me inadvertently right to Strand Bookstore, which boasts 18 miles of books, used, new and rare. I wandered around in absolute awe of the books. I didn't even buy one - it was too overwhelming! But, I was happy that I found it on my own, and I think that after that, the stationery stores seemed to have less power over me than they usually do. Usually I'm left thinking, what is it about so many pens and so much blank paper that is utterly profound, to me? I know it's common for writers and artists to like paper and pens, but I wonder if it isn't just the sea of possibility that makes pens and paper so sensual. Still, it was like going from one extreme to the other: Strand, with its infinite number of words in one building, to the paper stores, where everything is blank and void.*We spent the rest of the weekend unwinding, of course. Then the week began, and flew by in a flurry of playoff baseball (the Yankees are out, but the Mets have swept the Dodgers which means my old friend Roger will be ordering up a subscription of fine cooking magazine in my name - that was our wager!) and here it is, Sunday already. Friday we went out with co-workers for a few beers in Queens, then returned to the Upper East Side for dinner (just the two of us). Yesterday morning we had our weekly bagel sandwiches and coffee and watched all of the shows we recorded from Thursday night (a guy that was in Lauren's play had a small part in Six Degrees!) Then we suited up and left the apartment, walked in search of an Oktoberfest a co-worker had mentioned, but never found it - so we ducked into Jack Russell's for appetizers and beer and Yankees baseball. This morning we showered and left the apartment pretty early - it was a gorgeous day with an irresistibly blue sky, and we ate breakfast at a diner at 70th and Lex. The morning walk was perfect and peaceful. I love walking in New York City with Craig. It feels like the safest thing in the world. He holds my hand while we walk, which makes me feel protected. And just the stretches of New York all around us - it's more like being home than anywhere I've ever lived. I love being here with him. The remainder of the afternoon I need to attempt a few writing exercises (class tomorrow) and tonight I'm making us penne with vodka and a side of asparagus (I'm an asparagus enthusiast, which is so funny because before Craig, I had never eaten one stalk of it and now I can never get enough of it!) I discovered this penne with vodka recipe a week or so again, and it's got fantastic flavor - garlic and basil and crushed red pepper and creamy tomato - it's a nice Sunday dinner. Tomorrow, another week to tackle head on. But in New York City, every new day is loaded with promise.*