November 25, 2006


There he is, all 22 pounds of golden brown beauty: the bird. Happy Thanksgiving, a few days belated. Wednesday we shopped for many groceries, and Craig made his pumpkin pies in the afternoon. And Thursday morning, a very gray, thick Thursday morning, we packed ourselves up with armloads of plastic bags filled with Thanksgiving-related miscellaneous and hailed a cab to head to Long Island City. Our company has a corporate apartment there, which is occupied only during the week when head guys fly in for a few days at a time. One of the office staffers decided it would be great if those of us not going to our families' for the Holiday met up and had dinner. They were talking vaguely about turkey breast or something and I intervened with a firm, No way, Craig and I will do the whole bird - everyone else pitch in for sides and just show up. Therefore, Craig and I arrived at the apartment the earliest, around 8:45, to prep the large hunk of poultry which awaited us there in the fridge (another co-worker involved in the event had dropped it off the night before). Stubborn, and because Craig and I attempted our first Thanksgiving together years ago in Connecticut, when he lived in Hartford, and our gravy turned out a runny tasteless mess, I decided to go for the gold and try homemade stock for then homemade gravy, with fine cooking magazine's printed out "tips" as my guiding light. Yum, tossing a turkey neck and various unidentifiable parts into a pot with some water, parsley and a basil leaf. Seriously, I was pretty disgusted but expected it to yield positive results. The neck and whatever other organs simmered for about an hour and a half (since fine cooking instructed me to "throw out the liver, which makes stock bitter", I threw out a couple of slippery chunks of turkey innards, unsure precisely which one might be the liver and borrowing Craig's expertise, which wasn't delivered as expertly as I hoped as he spoke the following phrase while pointing at a curved maroon part: "That looks liverish.") By the time all was said and done, I had stock, for crying out loud. I was happy as could be. The next mission impossible would be making a roux later, once the bird was closer to done. Anyway, everyone arrived - Josh and Kate, Andy and Autumn and their kids Meghan and Matthew, then Sadaf and her sister who had flown in from Detroit that morning. The boys went to town building four more stools for the table - we were all uncertain as to whether the corporates intended to send the extra stools back, because they were in boxes unbuilt and leaned against one wall, but majority rules, and it was concluded that Oh well, either way. Upon building the stools incorrectly and having to re-do them, we were finally outfitted for a very nice, very amateur but nice nonetheless Thanksgiving dinner. Autumn, a stay-at-home-Mom who happens to frequent the Food Network channel, helped me with the roux, only the gravy, mixed with the stock and turkey drippings, wasn't thickening as we hoped, so she wound up throwing in too much flour, and somewhere between the stove, serving dish and table, the gravy turned into a consistency not much different from congealed milk. She mixed it up again quickly with a fork and we ate it and it actually tasted really good - which I contribute directly to the turkey's neck. And not to blame her, like Autumn put in too much flour, because she was an excellent sous chef. Her roux was far and away more successful than mine would have been solo sans her help. I think there were even a few non-believers, those doubting Thomases of my gravy abilities, who liked the end result. The meat was good - our carving (Craig's carving) was a slight bit inexperienced, so we'll improve upon that in years to come. The sides brought by others were good, too. It was an overall successful meal (only, kind of cold, Craig noted, muttering under his breath that Thanksgiving food is always cold, but it is because of the inevitable inability to time absolutely every single detail to a perfect T and there you go, stuff is going to get cold. Just keep eating anyway, is my advice!)*Friday we spent nearly the entire day watching movies: You, Me and Dupree (entertaining), The Squid and the Whale (good, but bizarre), and The Lake House (laughable and predictable plot but mindless entertainment nonetheless). We went to dinner around 7 at Merrion Square which is north of us, then went to Biddy's for beer and music on the jukebox (mind you, it is the year 2006 and when I say jukebox, I mean a wall-mounted digitally-operated gadget which has a touch screen), and then we came home, fairly tipsy, both of us, and played a game called loosely something like, "Let's play each other our Top 10 Favorite Songs Ever, Ever Recorded" from the iPod. It didn't last much past 4 songs total because Craig decided halfway through a song that a drunk nap was in order. Needless to say, today we slept in (which only really means we slept until 9:30). Then we went to the Whitney! It was our first collective Whitney Museum experience. At the top floor of the Whitney right now they're exhibiting Edward Hopper's paintings with sketch studies he did prior to the paintings themselves. Nighthawks was of course in the first main room, with probably ten different sketches, framed separately from one another, of details in the painting. It was neat (it presented Hopper as quite the organized artist, which is, from my past experience, somewhat of a rarity). Craig liked that Hopper kept ledger books of all of his paintings after they were completed and sold with full information, like materials he used, size, and to whom he sold each work and the dollar amount. The floor below the Hopper exhibit was Picasso and American Art, a fairly massive exhibit of many original Picassos next to American paintings he influenced. The floors below that left a little to be desired, but it didn't matter - we got to see two really amazing exhibits. After the Whitney, we made a return trip to Barnes and Noble (the first time we went, before the Whitney, I was intent on finding some book called Rabbit, Run written by John Irving - hang on for further explanation as to why I was shopping for a book by a male author, which I rarely, if ever do...and it hit me when we left the store that I was looking for the wrong John - I needed Updike. Hopefully neither of the two Johns would be offended at my innocent error). Why was I shopping for a male authored book? Because I was invited to a new New York book club by a new friend in my writing class - exciting!*And this afternoon we watched Thank You for Smoking. I liked it very much. This perfectly calm Saturday night finds us at home, relaxing. Craig is watching an important game and I'm pretty much just rambling endlessly here, but next I am going to begin the epic adventure of compiling New York slide shows (photographic record of our first six months living in the City and working in Queens) that we will present to our families during the Holidays next month. We are flying to Chicago to stay for a few days at his parents', where his Mom steers a heroic Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then we're climbing aboard an Amtrak to head to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to be retrieved by my parents and to spend a couple of days with them. It's our first Amtrak experience, at least, my first, and I wonder if I will meanly compare it to the Metro North or L.I.R.R. in my head. I love the Metro North and L.I.R.R. They're godsends here in New York. I also wonder what it will feel like to be in the Midwest again - although we were just there recently for Craig's party, and we will be going in two weeks for our friend Gordo's Vegas-style Cleveland-based 30th birthday party, spending more than just a weekend there might feel, secretly, really good. I have a gigantic, enormous and neverending soft spot in my heart for anything Midwest - specifics don't matter. I gloat on and on to myself about being an East Coast resident, a New Yorker - and I love all of that. But the Midwest will forever, eternally be home. So we will go, home for the holidays.*

November 21, 2006


Audience, I present to you...our orange wall. Voila! It's done. Finally, after a long day (beginning with me up before seven) scrambling to remove all of the many media items from our ladder bookshelves, which do not appear in the photo above but will be returned to that wall, the newly orange wall, once the paint has dried, and I made illy coffee and scrambled around and Craig slept in a little (I tried to rouse him before 8 but he said, "We don't live on a farm. We live in New York City. Work does not begin before 9 in the City." Yes, Captain!) and our apartment has, of course, been in disarray ever since - although, as I type this, Craig endures the perfunctory task of putting our living room back into one cohesive piece. The above photo depicts our living room quite empty, which is not its usual state. Oh, and the slice of wall shown is only half of the whole wall we painted - granted, we live in Manhattan, and Manhattan apartments are small, but our place is not that small. In fact, Craig just pointed out how large our living room appears (without the ladder shelves and dining room table). So, the deed is done. My secret (please, no one tell him) motivation in all of this is that we won't leave this apartment the duration of our stay in Manhattan. Honestly, the last time I lived under the same roof longer than 11 months was in St. Louis, where I lived in the same apartment for exactly 13 months. Since then it has been go go go. And I adore Craig and will do whatever he wishes, but with the sweat he poured today over this wall (I helped very much with the peach [tinted] primer underneath, which is not shown, but the actual pumpkin/rust/Chestnut Stallion (Behr's color), Craig pretty well took the lead. We only had one roller. His arm tends to be a bit stronger than mine. After the first coat we had his dad on the phone for assistance, and oh how I am glad we did that - because the wall before coat no. 2 was fit to be torn down, it was that bad - streaked, primer peering through - just bad. But it wasn't Craig's fault - he did what he could with the dark color we selected. But now, the only flaws we must endure are minor - the kind that come along with living in such an old building and having uneven walls meet an uneven ceiling. Huge praises to Craig today for his painting abilities, and I hereby vow to never look down upon a painting contractor again, ever.*Now I need to serve up some pasta to the hungry painter.

November 19, 2006


Sunday finds me particularly rested and satisfied. We haven't had the most eventful of weekends in the grand sense of touring New York, yet enough unfolded. Friday after work we came home and got cute, then went to Penang East at 83rd and 2nd. We've walked by it countless times and vaguely planned to go sometime, so Friday it was. And I hadn't realized in advance of reading reviews Friday afternoon that Penang is Malaysian, which we've neither tried before. As an appetizer we had a pretty savory chicken satay with peanut sauce. Then, oddly, my entree (grilled chicken with asparagus beneath a thick blanket of maroon-colored Malaysian spiced sauce) arrived substantially sooner than Craig's beef dish. I was slightly confused, and of course I politely tried to wait, but the time between the arrival of mine and his increased enough that he offered that I go ahead (plus I eat at approximately the speed of a turtle so it wound up working out alright anyway) but I still felt strange. We'll try it again, of course. The food was all pretty decent. After dinner we went to a bar that Craig has passed and wanted to try, but we didn't stay too late. We needed to be home and in bed early enough to prepare for Saturday's errands. So, Saturday we woke up, ate breakfast, and headed over to our Post Office at 91st and 3rd, where they accept passport applications. Recall, last weekend was Veteran's Day holiday and the applications have sat around the apartment idle ever since. When we walked up to the counter, we were third in line behind the following New Yorkers: a couple with a baby (at the counter when we arrived), and a line of females with one man (behind the couple with the baby). The line of females consisted of a grown woman in a knee-length black quilted winter coat, and three duplicates of her (not wearing the same coat but all with the same dark hair, the same wide blue eyes, and thin legs - all of this I noticed in small increments at a time while we stood behind them). The duplicates appeared to range in age from maybe six years old to early teens. Craig noted in my ear early on, "Poor guy, he's outnumbered three to one." The couple with the baby wrapped up their process and next up was the long line of dark-haired family. As it turns out, they will be traveling abroad in two weeks and all needed passport renewals. By doing some fairly blurry math that would lead me to suspect that each girl has been abroad at least once in her respective young life, and from early on enough that they needed passport renewal already (don't passports last ten years? Maybe for children the time is shorter?) and Craig peeked over their line of shoulders to see the teenager flipping through her passport's stamps. He again whispered to me something about how well-traveled she was already based on the number of country's stamps she had. Anyway, we continued to wait as this family went on explaining that they were expediting their renewals, and the passport lady behind the counter had to go through various steps to see that this could take place. Meanwhile, the line behind us had grown to probably about ten people. We were nearing our fortieth minute of standing there as the family was informed that because of expediting, they would need copies of their travel itineraries. At that point, the dark-haired man had to scramble out of line and go home to retrieve that because of course, they hadn't brought it along. Somewhere in there Craig also noticed their Park Avenue address (he was being awfully nosy at this point, peering at their information over their shoulders, but I was attributing it to boredom from standing in line). By this time, people were grumbling behind us - one woman, in fact, was not being shy about her irritation with this well-to-do polished family. She even used the word "rude" loudly to ensure they heard her. The teenager, bless her poor little rich heart, became increasingly mortified at the unrest her mother and sisters' respective passport renewals was causing. She was wearing her embarrassment on her sleeve, at that point. Nevertheless, the family finally was asked to step aside, and Craig and I moved forward and our processing took less than ten minutes. Alas, we waited approximately one hour for a ten minute ordeal.*After that, we headed off to Home Depot at 59th and 3rd to pick out paint for an accent wall. It would only be appropriate that the line at the paint counter would be ten people deep, wouldn't it? But by that point, waiting felt like it was becoming second nature. We wound up with what we hope will be a beautiful rust color (see above paint splash on the can near the colored square we were trying to match on our area rug). Seeing as we were supposed to have visitors next week (my friend Jen and her husband aren't going to be able to make it afterall) we took off Tuesday through the Thanksgiving Holiday. In essence, tomorrow is like Friday again. I needn't express my relief at that. So tomorrow night after my class we have a date in the Village, then Tuesday morning we will wake up and begin the process of prepping the wall for paint application. Undoubtedly the color will be shocking - hopefully in a good way. I'm anticipating it taking a day or two to get used to, seeing as we've had stark white walls for five months now. But I'm excited. I mentioned, long ago, that we were planning this. The execution just took longer than either of us expected. Today there is a lot of football on television so I am either meeting Lauren this afternoon for a couple of Sunday margaritas, or simply rooting myself to this chair and forcing out the long running list of metaphors I had in my head beginning yesterday. My latest achievement will be a page or two of metaphors I can shuffle into stories when and where needed. I think it's one of my stronger points, and the actual narration (the heart of any good story) being my weakest. So maybe clearing my head of metaphors will be like paving the way to a clean narrative which I can later decorate with fancier words. I don't know - I'm struggling here. It's like running a certain distance, developing a cramp, stopping to rest, then deciding if I have enough energy to keep going. Oh, the process.*

November 12, 2006


This weekend has just been so good. Now it's Sunday and tomorrow is Monday. Typical. But anyway, working is the reason I'm able to be here in the first place, right? So Thursday I cleaned the apartment with fervor. Friday we ate bagels and left for the Morgan Library at 36th and Madison. There, we decided to view just the Bob Dylan Experience Music Project Exhibit. We loved it, positively loved it. Very smartly organized, and it was neat to see the roots of such a legendary icon. I learned a thing or two that I hadn't previously known, for instance that he and Joan Baez were a passionate item for a while (silly for me not to know that, I know. Especially given I've adored them both for so long and seen both in concert once each). Makes perfect sense. And I saw fragments of a documentary called Don't Look Back that I'm going to buy sometime. We listened to bits of different early albums, read old manuscripts and lyric sheets and notes. We spent an hour or so wandering through this. After that, we emerged back into the gorgeous weather (lovely, lovely day) and headed north to the MoMA. I know my intensity for visual art tends to wane at times, and over the course of several years I have tried to determine why. At one time I was on fire for art - for a longer time than not. But being in the MoMA revived every ache for art I've ever had, particularly seeing paintings such as the above posted (Rene Magritte, The Lovers). I suppose a lot of what I loved (love) about visual art is what can be expressed without lengthy verbal exposition or harmonies of sound - for instance, here. The title of the painting functions on plenty of levels to assist the viewer with the content of the painting, but I doubted, standing before it the other day, even the necessity of a title: I think the embrace hooded by sheets suggests enough itself. And the seeming rotation of the room is interesting, too. I can stand in front of splashes of color like with the Pollocks we saw, or the cubist works and I understand, but don't necessarily love it. Not anymore. But something like this painting, where human expression is illustrated without showing faces, without complicating the concept of love (not that this painting is even just about love to begin with) reminds me precisely what is to love about visual expression. Anyway, the whole MoMA experience was a positive. Craig is a fantastic museum companion. He isn't snotty about art, which is something I find myself not missing when it comes to the art experience (I dealt with my fair share of being a snotty art critic and exposure to others at Indiana - I think I exhausted myself of it then). Now I just prefer to love it if I love it or leave it if I don't. Seems like a fair enough approach. After spending good amounts of time at the MoMA, we ate lunch at PJ Clarke's, which appears in our Best Bars of New York book. Then we came home, rested, and dolled up to head to The Bitter End, where we saw Lauren play a couple of weeks back. The opening band was Derek James - they were really pretty good. That was the draw, for me - I looked up the calendar of events and found them (him plus band) and picked that as our activity for the night. After Derek James, a young girl held her CD release party - this was brutal to endure. She's teen talent, which I have nothing against, of course, but it showed. After her set, another woman came out, who was also decent. Basically, we spent our day off soaking in good (and semi-good) art and music. Yesterday we experimented with photographing ourselves for our passport photos. I thought we were going to strangle each other. We wanted to approach it from two different perspectives. But, the outcome proved to be successful, only, when we pulled together all of our info, photos and ourselves, hurried up 91st Street to the Post Office, we discovered our efforts were in vain: Veteran's Day - Closed USPS. We just forgot, I guess. So, yesterday we really didn't do a whole lot of anything. It was good, though. I managed to spill forth a short story based on some notebook writing I had done in 1996. It felt good - write, write, write. Today we're going to Eric's gallery opening in Brooklyn but hopefully will be home relatively early in the afternoon, in time enough for me to go at it some more - write, write, write. The practice is what I need most. I'm slowly, so slowly discovering elements that steer a narrative in the direction of being a narrative. It's weird to see my old writing, to realize how much more open my mind was then. But it's good to remind myself, too. I can't be afraid anymore. I am working on this for me, for nothing else. It's proving to be a happy journey. And a difficult one.*Here's to Sunday, the final day of my much needed and much loved time off.

November 09, 2006


It's fall now. I'm happy to spend my first fall in the City...I'm happy to see strings of lights begin to string through the streets as December approaches, although it's only the 9th - early for lights, but anything is acceptable here. To me. I took today and tomorrow off to unwind from a long previous month of travel and chaos. Craig's sister and her husband weren't able to make their trip here this weekend, and I had already requested the days so I figured, why not stay home anyway? I needed today. I needed my apartment. I had tentatively planned to travel downtown to scope out a denim sample sale, but then I paid bills and remembered London (now that Craig's surprise party has passed my savings are to be routed to a London Trip fund) and changed my mind about shopping. Anyway, this old girl isn't the best shopper. Instead, I have purged the writing studio (den, fantasy football headquarters, miscellaneous furniture storage room) of much piled paperwork that was causing me an inability to sit in here distraction-free. Did I say that correctly? Well, now a cedar candle burns to scent any residual dust I may have missed with my dust rag. I still have three rooms to clean but I wanted to take a break to invite the onset of fall and bid goodbye to the end of any stray summer remaining from September. Surely cleaning isn't the most exciting way to spend a vacation day, but oh, how we need it right now. Too much time spent outside of the apartment yields frenzied piles of junk everywhere. And dust.*I'm in a good place with writing right now. I've got some old notebooks from pre-2000, in which there are fragments of elements I might revisit. I just read a review a while ago of a book, in which the critic commented on some of the author's 'adolescent poetry', and frankly, much of what fills my notebooks from long ago is just that. Yet, there are always crumbs of food for future thinking there. Plus, back in the day, I was quite the free thinker, idolizing stream of consciousness writers and mimicking them. I suppose we all did that at one point or another. Regardless, if I can spin through the rest of the apartment in record time, without being hasty, I intend to sit back down here this afternoon and explore some recent ideas I had. My class is fantastic. I'm keeping a nice pace with myself as I learn the craft of fiction. There are just so many avenues I haven't even contemplated yet. It's a wonderful fantasy to follow, that of making things up out of thin air. Speaking of which, I've been reading some positively incredible work: I began a Jennifer Egan novel called Look at Me, which is brilliant thus far. We read a short story for homework this week called "A Temporary Matter" by Jhumpa Lahiri, and I can't wait to re-read it before next Monday - it's beautiful. There is a woman here in New York City who curates a reading series twice a month in Manhattan, and Jennifer Egan actually read there last night - I planned to go but a lot of rain and other after-work activities in Queens prevented me from attending - I was disappointed, but Jennifer Egan lives in Brooklyn and reads here constantly. And the woman who runs the reading series seems like a great brain, as well. I will pick up her book soon. I just can't get enough of contemporary writing, and it's funny, because five years ago I wouldn't have been caught dead with a book in my hands written anywhere in the 80's or forward. Funny how things change. I love books so much, almost possibly more than I did as a younger girl - or perhaps at least as much. Just when you think everything has been said already, someone turns around and unravels a mindblowing narrative. And in smart words. I am grateful to New York for every new day to ride the train, read a book, attend a reading, and to immerse myself in the brilliant pages of New York's own ongoing stories.*Tomorrow Craig is off, also. We're going to a Bob Dylan exhibit at the Morgan Library, and to the MoMA. Sunday my friend Eric unveils his first solo painting show in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I can't imagine living anywhere else but here.