Sunday, March 26, 2006

full moon, empty heart

One my coworkers (and friends) lent me some cds that I had left behind in NOLA which were much beloved in my early to mid teens and periodically left alone. When I finally realized they were gone w/ everything else that didn't survive Katrina, I noticed these albums were not in the first wave of items for which I felt immediate pangs of loss. But oddly enough on another listen, I'm realizing I love these two albums (Belly: "Star" and Velocity Girl: "Simpatico!") as much as anything else, but the reason they didn't register earlier is a complex thing.

I guess there's a part of all of us that wishes we could leave things in the past. Mixed feelings, awkward moments, learning how to carry oneself as an adult, navigating the murky waters of making decisions, and there's a whole side of yourself that you've seemed to forgotten anyway like what it's like to have never lived anyplace but home. That was what my house in NOLA was for me. It's hard to imagine what it was like when Athis Street was all I knew of home. I've lived in so many places since moving away for college at 18. I know others have to deal with this a lot earlier, but I enjoyed my childhood with one permanent address, which was still what I used up until August 29th.

Listening to these albums take me back immediately to the best parts of being a teenager, going to an all-girls school, being incredibly free of the fumblings of adolescence. I got to explore books, travel, music, dance, volunteering without any peer pressure to be cool because I just didn't even try. The all-girls school kept me from any teen relationships (of course, I had my unrequited crushes, but that's something else entirely) and being so short and young-looking, there was no way I could join my classmates with fake IDs on the local bar circuit even I wanted to. Which I didn't.

Instead I looked elsewhere for pockets of belonging. One place I found it was in the sheer joy of music that was my own - which was what indie rock was to me. It was the music my brother and I enjoyed. It was the music I shared with my friends from academic summer programs and which was something entirely separate from my conservative high school's taste in music. This music was my secret place.

When I went to college, I didn't really need this music anymore. I was submerged in complete sensory overload on all levels. Friends who were more like me, and less like sisters. Books, writing, access to cities like DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Bostona and NYC. Romance outside the realm of imagination and novels. There was no longer a need for music that held this intense place in my life... and listening to the music without feeling that solitary position was impossible. There was no way to separate the associations from the music.

But going back now, over ten years later, it feels good to go back and smile at the young person I was. I cringe a lot less that I used to when looking back. I'm happy I was fairly naive in a lot of stereotypical ways. I saw enough to shock me into adulthood as any NOLA native can tell you (nothing like growing up with the highest murder rate in the country and having gone to a dozen funerals before turning ten and probably a dozen alone between the ages of 15-17). The pleasure of music as belonging is something incredibly endearing to me.

Now if I could only get my hands on some Bangles albums.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

making groceries

whew! i tried to go to trader joe's today and i did succeed in that i got into the store and managed to walk around...

but if you ever wanted a casual idea of what it must have been like in the markets of soviet russia, come see these folks freak out over trail mix. i couldn't deal with the long lines, cramped aisles, and people without a sound sense of spatial relations. i'll have to show up before work just as the store opens in order to shop. i can only imagine what the wine shop will be like when it opens.

instead of a tasty TJ meal, i decided to just go to the associated grocery on 5th ave at union in park slope. i got an eggplant, stewed tomatoes, and chicken broth for eggplant soup as I already had onion and garlic and fresh basil at home. i also got sugar snap peas, yogurt, bananas and pomegranite juice. Stocking up. I'll be home tomorrow night as well so I now already have dinner pre-made. as usual no one was home before 10:30 pm so i cooked up a storm and even watched a little "gilmore girls" over dinner.

the dishes and pots are clean and put away, the counter is clean, the trash is away and leftovers have been stored.

doing domestic tasks well still feels like an accomplishment. so does one's ability to make NYC feel like a small town, despite the kind of crazed response generated by one little grocery store at 3rd avenue and 14th street.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

upon returning home from Carnegie Hall

The pianist thanked the audience and then bowed, waist down with his hands fanned out on his thighs. A display for all to see his manicured, steady hands which had entertained us for hours.


At intermission, I wove my way back to my seat and, out of necessity, practically jeteed across the standing gentleman and seated older lady in the seats just before mine.

"You move like a ballerina!"
I danced for fourteen years, but that was a long time ago.
"And such a nice figure. Did you notice, Ben?"
I thought it and you said it!


the older couple beside us churlishly grumbled when audience members in the balcony clapped before the end of the entire piece. themselves, they shouted and cried "bravo" after each piece was over. the pianist was French and they wanted him to hear them praising him in his language.


the pianist performed three encores. A nocturne by Chopin, a piece by a late friend whose name I didn't catch, and Debussy's Clair de Lune. At the opening keys, I had to keep myself from crying. I love this piece and had never imagined I'd see it performed live in Carnegie Hall. The surprise of it, to be caught off guard; it was a moment that literally takes your breath away because you wonder (like everyone else) if the air has been taken out of the room. The pitch is so perfect.


A peevish former friend once snapped at me for eagerly telling her the contents of the set list at a Magnetic Fields concert which had yet to begin.

"There are few surprises in life," she sniffed as she reasoned barking at me a minute earlier.

Maybe there are few surprises in life. Maybe that's why I live in New York. To be sure that I find myself pleasantly surprised on a frequent basis.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

my phone's on vibrate for you

Question: why is it that my radiator is on when it's in the mid50s but not when it's 30something degrees?

The windows are wide open and the fan is on. Go figure.

I'm listening to Rufus Wainwright and taking a moment after laundry to relax before running back to Manhattan for dinner with Tim and friends in Koreatown.

Lots to read, but there's always time for that. Spring may actually be trying to make it's way into NYC. Let's hope this is the real thing.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


bad things: the MTA, airfare costs, commuting, bad customer service, conspiracy theorists, entitlement, the way men have to spread their legs out while sitting on the subway, idiots, morons, stupid people, the general cost of living in NYC, the utter lack of a front or a back porch in my life, the weather

good things: my friend leah who found the most wonderful knitting book for me, my friend nicole who always tells me i look cute when i feel crappy and also tells me i get upset about things because other people aren't as kind-hearted as i am, being home, living in park slope (even if i don't have a balcony or a porch), pajamas, long baths, coming home to see nerb

Today was a truly frustrating day. I could have stayed home and slammed my hand in a door every five minutes and that would have been about on par with how my day went. Don't even really want to get into it, but I just hope it improves by tomorrow. Going to take a shower, read and get to bed early. Or at least before 1 am.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Chloe wins: "She knows how to dress a woman"

YAY for Chloe! I am so happy that Chloe defeated the fluffed up men and won Project Runway! I thought a Santino win would vindicate his poor behavior throughout the season and a Daniel win was a gesture of affection for a puppy who likes to please Michael Kors (please, I still think it was LAME that he chose to be inspired by the orchid in Michael Kors' office... could you try? try to pick something that a stylist has not already chosen?). Also, how not shocking that Michael Kors all but offered Daniel V a job. I think Chloe's clothes were well fitted, looked sexy and flattering and best of all, her models could walk in the clothes. Daniel V's Rebecca tripped on the feature dress. Embarassing. Santino never fitted the clothes on actual women before they hit the runway! This is a man who has serious issues with women. Daniel V is still in the state where he wants to please and receive serious affirmation for what he does. The way he pouted about Tim's critique was so infantile. Chloe may have waivered in terms of presenting the fashion god's notion of how to present a show, but she stuck to her guns and focused on satisfying her client. In this case, it was to make her models look good and feel good. Her models walked with ease. It was a clean finish. Sometimes, Project Runway is like figure skating: the technical takes it in the end. All final three designers have creativity and passion, but Chloe brought intuition and polish. About damn time a female designer gets respect in the fashion world. It's not surprising after Tara Subkoff's comment at this year's New Yorker festival (...something to the effect that Anna Wintour trumpets and spotlights gay male designers and ignores female designers) that 'Elle' (I mean, even the title is feminine!) would run with this and reward a woman. Nina Garcia, I think you are also a winner at Project Runway. I would like to see a m-----f---ing runoff (if you catch the reference, you're good) between Nina and Anna. Carry on!

Monday, March 06, 2006

eating books like air

Rereading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for my book club. At the Strand I found a copy just like the one I had in seventh grade. There's something very personal about mass market paperbacks. I feel like I should be underlining all the "significant" passages in blue ball-point ink, making lists of the page numbers in a composition book under various headings so as to prepare for my inevitable essay homework.

I just finished an Italian novel in French ("La bete dans le coeur": Cristina Comencini). Reading in English is a speedy treat in comparison. I'm eating up this and then I'll devour Sarah Waters' "Tipping the Velvet." I want to read it before Gifford and I watch the miniseries. I also need to read some more French. I'm enjoying the mental gymnastics of returning to the other tongue I know. It's been a while, but I'm not as rusty as I imagined I was. March is coming in with a reading lion.