Thursday, January 26, 2006

all i want

all i really want is a big wedge of king cake.

i'm even a little nostalgic for parades.

you know i'm homesick... that or reading poppy z. brite's incredible book 'liquor.' if you haven't read it yet, what is wrong with you? i think i'm going to go finish it right now.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hungry and choosy

This morning I read an article about Seydou Keita, a photographer that I discovered along with Malick Sidib in Paris at an exhibition in Agnes b.'s gallery du jour in 1999. There's a lot of controversy surrounding his estate which leads to a larger question regarding how one can claim legitimate ownership of photography. Here's another article regarding the topic.

I love his photographs. I had a promotional card for the exhibition I saw in Paris which I hung on my walls throughout the years since my semester in Paris. I have a sinking feeling it was in New Orleans. Someday I'd love to have a book of his work as well as one of Malick Sidib's. I wonder if there was a catalog of that show at the agnes b. gallery.

The question regarding who owns photography is not new. I'm not that interested in that. I was more interested in returning to Keita's portraits. They still feel so fresh and fascinating to me. Much more interesting to me than the upcoming Munch show at MoMA that the museum is trying to use in order to tempt young people to become members. (One of my roommates and I both received letters from MoMA this week requesting we become members so as to receive invitations to a member's only showing of the upcoming Munch exhibition. This was met with a yawn from me. Besides, I can already get into the museum for free with my work ID)

But this makes me puzzle what MoMA finds tantalizing to young people living in New York City. What's next? An MC Escher show? Selections from the JD Salinger archives? I may be a snob, but really, I don't kid myself to think I'm anymore culturally aware than most intelligent New Yorkers of my age.

However, I was really surprised that other smart, young New Yorkers didn't recognize the name Renee Fleming when I mentioned I had seen her perform a couple weekends past. I don't surround myself with dummies. Everyone is excruciatingly well-read and thoughtful. But only the gay men knew who Renee Fleming was. It made me wonder how the arts will be supported in the future. And it also made me wonder how I knew of her and other cultural things I assume everyone else knows.

I read the New York Times daily (admittedly not cover to cover) and subscribe to The New Yorker. I read blogs. But really, I think my semester in Paris exposed me to people, artists, literature, politics, ideas to which I would have not otherwise considered or had been exposed. My years at Dartmouth also gave me the opportunity to steep myself in a world of intellect, theory and culture. Last night, someone else gave me a skeptical "What's that?" when I mentioned my MA in liberal studies. She's another person that I thought was openminded and thoughtful. Someone who's applied for a MFA in creative writing at various schools outside New York as she doesn't want to become a "New York" writer. She also admitted she didn't get into the NYC MFA schools in a previous round of applications. Again, I was struck by her limited scope of vision. When you have to consciously try not to be a New York writer, you are facing an uphill battle, in my opinion. True writers don't limit themselves to one venue. Reading Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" last night, I was struck by how honest and authentic her portrayal of two men in love. That's true writing. The ability to take yourself out of your experience and give voice to another perspective -- and not only that, but Proulx pushed herself to write this.

I say all this with a grain of salt. I have inordinate respect for my peers, but I would like to learn more from them than be shocked by what they do and don't know. This also takes me back to my time in Paris. I was constantly exposed to new things and I find myself seven years later returning to things I discovered then. In fact, I returned to Bryn Mawr and found myself losing interest in friends who went abroad only to chase after American men and create quirky senses of domesticity instead of consistently pushing for the displacement of difference.

And it's that displacement through difference that I want to find here in New York. I find myself depressed when I find myself in the same banal conversations or experiences. I find myself withdrawing from friends who have nothing to discuss other than brunch or clothing. I choose to spend time with friends who want more than to become a wife living in New Jersey or Long Island. I choose to spend time with people who don't aspire to matrimony by age 30. I spend time with my friends who are culturally and intellectually curious. Who value the world in a figure outside monetary currency.

I ache for worlds that take me outside myself and my experience. I haven't been able to do much traveling in the past couple years thanks to my move from graduate school to the pursuit of a career. Now that I have a steady job, I would like to set aside some money to travel again. Until then, I am grateful for my friends and the cultural outlet of readings, concerts, cinema, books, periodicals.

It would be easy at my age to settle for convention, but I know that wouldn't make me feel secure at all. There's too much that I want to learn and experience. I'm not naive and I don't think cultural exposure can be gained by sheer exposure. I think it has to be tempered by some kind of mediation -- either through criticism or context, some prism with which to judge the merit and motivation of that cultural work. And I see my unique undergraduate experience (a school that was intellectually ruthless thank god) and my distinctive graduate program as having provided me with a set of glasses with which to consider cultural offerings and experiences. I lose patience and respect with and for people who respond to my graduate degree with a skeptical "what's that?" instead of an inquisitive, "tell me about that program. I'm unfamiliar with it."

I'm thankful for my judgmental nature. I don't know if it's that I ever want to be sated, but I don't want to ever lose this desire to chase after cultural and intellectual satisfaction. I don't pretend to be smarter than other people. I think it's my awareness of my inferiority that keeps me striving to become acquainted with new things. It's this passion that consumes me and keeps me from feeling anywhere near the notion of settling down in any sense of the phrase.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Selections from the trip to NOLA

"Yo KATRINA!" is right. Here are some selected photos from my trip home to NOLA. I need to set up a flickr account so if anyone wants to guide me through that process, drop me a line.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

did MLK jr intend for people to enjoy his holiday in such a fashion?

So going to see 'Match Point' this afternoon, made me come home, make dinner and watch 'Love Story.'

I started crying within 5 seconds of the film beginning.

Today was a weird day. I got yelled at and almost lost a hand thanks to the fact that no one told me it was "crazy person day" at the laundrymat. No microwaves today, but yes, crazy people did reign supreme. I was evidently taking the crazy woman's two washers. Did I get schooled for such behavior? Yes, I did.

Then the cranky lady who works there wouldn't give a man (very tall and wearing a big furry black hat with earflaps) change for a $5 and insisted that if he wanted a quarter he could put the entire bill in the change machine. I felt bad for him and gave him a quarter.

Evidently New York is a tough town. This man was so grateful and struck by my kindness that he kept thanking me and literally his face softened when I said, "You only need one? Do you need more?"

If only I could make everyone happy this way.

Then a cute guy in a tweed blazer and jeans came up to me and asked my name. He began to immediately engage me in conversation and asked if I would be free sometime. He also mentioned I should call him if I would like to do something.

OK. I will psychically dial you up. Clearly, that is a perk of "crazy person day" at the laundrymat. I said I was really busy and wanted to leave it at that. I felt bad - almost awkward - and a bit impressed that he could so boldly chat me up in a laundrymat that I didn't want to crush him by saying I had a boyfriend. So I let him babble. He asked where I was from to which I answered: "the south." He returned with, "Really? I'm from North Carolina! Where are you from?"

Answering "New Orleans" seems to be quite the conversation stopper these days. Can't imagine why.

So I tried to get through the "yeah, no one died, but we lost everything" speech as quickly as possible. I said, "Well, I'm a bit of a downer. Probably not what you expected."

Then he asked if I was really busy or just making something up. I told him I was honestly really busy with work and friends and a boyfriend writing a dissertation chapter.

You'd have thought I cheated on him when I said this.

"OH. A boyfriend. Well, you could have just said that instead of saying you were busy."

Hey --- I am busy with or without a boyfriend, buster, and who goes to the laundrymat in a blazer? I was in my Dartmouth baseball cap (masking the bed head hair), levis, cowboy boots and a black trainer jacket. Clearly, it was laundry day.

Also, total aside, why is it that no one ever checks me out when I actually look good. A pair of jeans that are probably too tight is clearly all it takes. That and the cowboy boots.

No, we all know it was the Dartmouth cap that started it all: the screaming, the lack of change and the relationship that will never be.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

hell freezes over

That I would live to see the day where Sacred Heart would organize a protest against George W. Bush. This did my heart a world of good.

My mom ran into them in the Quarter as she, herself, made her way to the protest. Seems unreal. The world surely must be ending if my conservative, Catholic high school is participating in something political that dares to criticize the president. All I can say is that if this is the end of the world, we're all going out swinging.

The president was noted in the NYT as saying: "It's a great place to find some of the greatest food in the world and some wonderful fun."

How the hell can he say that when he has seen what happened to the city and how little has changed since August. Oh wait, he didn't tour the city. Naturally.

Anyway, hell hath no fury like a Catholic school girl scorned. Bravo to the teachers and students who made this happen. Lord knows the administration was probably not so pleased about this... But it certainly has made me proud to be an alum.

Update: Academy of the Sacred Heart is mentioned in the New York Times.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

building resolve

This weekend I am determined to catch up on sleep, write, see a movie and see a friend who moved into Park Slope last month. Reading is also another priority, but so are cooking, stretching, working out, and looking into language classes, capoeira and yoga classes.

Ambitious? Probably, but I do have a three day weekend.

Making lists is rather satisfying and I want 2006 to build on the success and disappointment of 2005. This hinges on my ability to take care of myself and be prepared for whatever crosses my path. Hurricanes, impossible work projects, cleaning: you name it.

I don't know if these are necessarily new year's resolutions or the resolve I've acquired at the start of a new year. Resolutions seem like something you feel you should do. These are things I feel I truly need to do.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Baby it's cold outside

I'm back in New York after returning late Saturday night. I rang in the New Year on the 1 train somewhere between 96th Street and 103rd. I met up with Tim and kissed him at about 12:08 am. Some year I'll actually do the whole kiss at the stroke of midnight. Some year.

My flight was fine. My brother and I did some seat finagling so that we could sit together on the flight from NOLA to NYC. I watched almost three whole episodes of "Project Runway" which made the flight (and lack of cable in NOLA) entirely enjoyable.

Since I've been back, I've done a lot of sleeping. Tim and I went to RJ and Kathleen's on the evening of New Year's Day for a celebratory supper. Today I went to Brooklyn to collect mail and deposit most of my traveling trappings. I also imported some music from the destroyed home onto my itunes. Can't believe I have my Juliana Hatfield cds again and my rare Sleater-Kinney two song cd from their "One Beat" release.

It was chilly and rainy as I walked back to the subway station. I picked up groceries when I returned to Morningside Heights and made a dinner of black-eyed peas and a cabbage-ground turkey casserole with bread crumbs and onion. Mmmm. I have to say, I did a bang up job. Having the Camelia beans helped, but I must admit I seasoned everything just right which proves you can take the girl out of NOLA, but you can't take the NOLA out of the girl.

I am heading back to work tomorrow. It's cold and I would rather sleep in, but I'm looking forward to getting back to a routine. When does Spring arrive?