Sunday, October 29, 2006


I took a long walk all over Prospect Park today with Gifford. We were looking for Halloween activities, but none were to be found. I guess we were too late after I did laundry for the better part of the afternoon, then we spent some time in her apartment sifting through the fabulous clothes she found at Beacon's Closet over the weekend, and then getting hot chocolate (for her) and chamomile/lavender tea (for me) at Joyce Bakeshop.

All the same, it was an incredibly brisk and sunny day for a long walk. Without the sun, I don't know if we would have been up for it. We probably would have snagged a table at the bakeshop and hunkered down for the afternoon. It's been blustery all weekend and today was no exception. We saw a group of amateur photographers taking advantage of the wind so as to avoid renting a wind machine. I kid you not. We saw girls draped over massive tree stumps with their hair blowing behind them. I was glad I had a hat and arm warmers.

But photos like this are what fall in Brooklyn is about.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

falling back (only an hour?)

Brooklyn at this time of year is full of faux spider webs, constant winds, and lots of leaves in the street. I noticed today that the tree immediately outside my window is entirely barren of leaves. Gorilla coffee is featuring maple and pumpkin lattes. There are Halloween festivities tomorrow in Prospect Park. I am struck with the desire to make the place cozy by making bottomless pots of tea, keeping candles lit, winding scarves around my neck and listening to happy music. There are dinner parties and just so much more. I have to remind myself to stay home. I've been better about this lately. And I'm trying to make time for my amateur attempts at yoga that are essentially glorified stretching. Hopefully, I'll start a class within the next week or so. I have to get in better shape before flying to NOLA for thanksgiving. A miserable non-JetBlue flight to NOLA complete with (gasp) layovers. It will all be worth it for the last NOLA trip home for a long time. I'm trying to make the connection for my heart and my mind that I'll be in North Carolina for Christmas. There's a weird feeling of disconnect when I get excited about the move. How can I be excited? There's a huge grocery list of pros and cons regarding all these new changes. I'm trying to process them one by one.

No wonder I'm so sleepy and achy these days. My friend LEL says I need more coffee. The answer is more coffee. I've been feeling it's more sleep. A bit of both is probably just right. Time is also crucial. We're all reorienting ourselves. Falling back an hour, falling forward into something new while still so tangled up in NOLA.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

(we get there when we do)

My mom cleaned a mess of cds for me from the house and I brought a bunch of them back to NYC with me from NOLA after a whirlwind trip home to see the empty lot that used to be my house and to attend my ten year high school reunion. One of the albums is Suddenly Tammy!: (we get there when we do). It's an album I discovered while reading "Pulse" magazine, which was a free monthly periodical from Tower Records which I read religiously from puberty onward. I discovered a lot of music that way, but this one album always seemed like one of those rare finds you don't otherwise stumble upon. There are a number of songs on the album that resonate as strongly as they did when I was in high school. Listening to the album again, especially after just spending time with old friends who knew me in nursery school, I feel this odd comfort. As though everything that we've been through over the past year was just a way for me to better appreciate my life.

Listening to this album reminds me of "Weeztie Bat" books, Sunday afternoons in the treehouse, listening to cds on a boombox, doing AP History homework and completing lab reports before dinner. It reminds me of Sunday mornings at Croissant d'Or and spending my babysitting money at Bookstar and Tower Records, Kaboom Books and the Acorn Shop.

I still have all these memories. Over the past year, I've realized that the hard part about everything post-K is that it's shoved all those memories into a shoebox that I felt molded over and got tossed out with everything else in my house. Listening to these salvaged cds continues to amaze me. The memories pour out like milk into iced coffee, with swirls of unexpected twists.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

considering immigrant narratives and East Asian Studies programs

This evening I went to the KGB Bar in the East Village to see Katherine Min read an excerpt of her debut novel, "Secondhand World." Having finished "The Interpreter": Suki Kim on Friday, my head is swimming in fictional Korean immigrant narratives written by women. I'm a bit haunted by both and I wish I could have taken that immigrant narrative class taught by Meli Zeiger at Dartmouth and I'm sure there was a similar class at Bryn Mawr by a prof that was perpetually on leave for the duration of my undergraduate years.

I've always been drawn to stories told from an exile's perspective and I am curious to hear what Korean-American readers have to say about these books. I come from a historical perspective, having studied 19th and 20th century history relating to the relationship between colonizers and the colonized. In college, I looked at the Industrial Revolution and the events (cultural, political, otherwise) of the 19th and 20th centuries through this lens of imperialism and its effects. Both historically through primary documents and also through literary and cinematic narratives.

Regardless of my academic work, I myself am obviously an outsider. I was struck by the darkness in these two novels which both hinge upon language (one through poetry, the other through the literal act of translation as occupation) and miscommunication (between children and parents, between the immigrant community and the United States with which they grapple, the lingering effect of shame, silence, betrayal, loyalty, and confusion).

Also, "The Interpreter" offers what could be considered a critique on East Asian Studies programs (in this case, EAS at Columbia University). I don't know if the author does more than raise the issue of the purpose and intent of an East Asian Studies department; however, of the two immigrant daughters in the novel, one persues Religion as a major and the other, East Asian Studies. How much does education, specifically these programs, inform the experience of first generation students? Does it help them better understand themselves and their families or does it just provide a worthless paradigm? What is the work of a program like East Asian Studies, especially when it can hardly be studied as an objective field by students who are so clearly vested in the subject? Again, as an outsider, I'm just curious to know what these fields contribute to a larger sphere than the academy. And do they need to? I have incredible respect for the people I know who studied within this field, and have had the pleasure of knowing several professors from the field, but I've never really interrogated for myself how this field identifies itself and its mission until I read this book. There is a plot twist that forces the reader to wonder how one character's studies within this field have encouraged/discouraged various opportunities in life and what the author is trying to say through this decision.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

unsettling events, riveting reading

When I woke up this morning, I could hardly get out of bed. It was a perfect day for one endless cup of tea and a stack of books. I begrudgingly got out of bed, deciding that jeans, boots and a nice sweater were perfectly acceptable. A cute cotton skirt and flats were not happening in this damp chill without a giant wool coat and I'm not willing to bust that out just yet.

So off I went to work, or rather, I began reading on the subway. I just about polished off Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation" on the ride to work. Just as I entered the building a colleague who was also on the train commented on what a long ride it was today. I honestly didn't notice. I was so caught up in Vowell's delightful way of mixing sarcasm with sincerity. I'm an American history nerd and a pop culture nerd so this book was quite a treat.

I finished Vowell later in the day when I had to run an errand. I then began Suki Kim's "The Interpreter" (not to be confused in any way with the Sydney Pollack film starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn) and my colleague Nicole was right: I don't want to put the book down. I've yet to put my finger on exactly what it is about this book that makes it so downright edible. So far, it reads like noir. There's a sinister event that is just dangling in front of the reader, just out of reach, but you can smell it. And it's incredibly atmospheric and so very New York.

Given that I read even more of it tonight while running more errands and transferring from train to train to train to train to bus as it continued to rain and leak into the subways all evening. I was in an unpleasant mood when I finally arrived at Columbia to see T, but I think I was unsettled by the grimy ugliness of New York. A place where rich baseball players fly planes into buildings, and the rest of us scatter not unlike rats while underground. There is so much that is liberating about New York that the unpleasant aspects hit you like a pile of bricks when they rear their ugly heads.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I spoke too soon

The house is getting a stay of execution. I mean, the demolition has been postponed a day. So maybe, given the way these things work, I may see the house after all. Who knows. All I do know for certain is that I'm counting the days until I go home and looking for tickets home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the year to make all the trips.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"Everything is temporary, Loretta."

October 10th is not just my friend Becky Bourque's birthday, but also the day that my house will be demolished. Yep, it's officially gone as of Tuesday night. I thought I'd make it home in time to see it one last time, but I won't be able to say goodbye. I guess it's just as well. "Everything is temporary, Loretta." It seems fitting to quote "Moonstruck" at a time like this.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This was always stupid

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

upcoming fall events for me

More of the same --- people don't get it

Monday, October 02, 2006

cell phone blues

so, for reasons that are too annoying to get into, i may need to get a new cell phone plan.

what do you have, what do you pay, and are you happy with it?

Please let me know!