Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Why I think I've officially outgrown the standard industry party (or why I never enjoyed it in the first place)

I met someone very exciting tonight at a party where I was surrounded by photography that I had previously seen at MoMA or the Guggenheim. The host took my photo which was mildly disarming, but seeing as I had a glass of white with ice cubes in my hand, how serious could it be. I smiled and enjoyed it.

I've decided that I am not a fan of the industry party stuffed with 20/30 something assistants at a bar where I can barely hear myself think and end up being miserable because I (a) don't smoke and (b) have a low tolerance for that certain air of desperation/cutthroat desire to move ahead and (c) I don't like being forced to spend $$$ on drinks in order to just fit the part of the aspiring assistant and (d) don't believe that getting sloppy drunk with people means they'll help you get an interview somewhere.

I would rather be able to talk about the things I do and the things I enjoy with someone. Parties like the one I went to tonight are perfect. A nice blend of babies, terriers, husbands with cameras, rather important people, very important people, incredibly interesting people then me and GH. Also, mini croque monsieurs, excellent wine in lovely stemware, pate on crackers with currants? Hell yes this beats $8 gin and tonics, a surly barmaid, and a slimey Lower East Side floor. I actually got to (without getting accidentally burned by a cigarette or have a vodka tonic dumped on my skirt) talk about what I do, learn more about other jobs in my field, meet kind people, talk about the things I care about, and not have to scream to be heard. Literally and figuratively. Amazing how a glass of wine in the right setting and with the right people is just enough.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I'm back in Park Slope after a restorative long weekend in New Hampshire with TPW. Now I'm listening to the Postal Service/New Pornographers/Lush/Joan Osborne after having some chicken chili that we defrosted (yay for the fully stocked freezer). Sprout decked out the kitchen in lovely IKEA-ness and Nerb was cooking a tasty meal from the Cook's Illustrated Cook & Bake cookbook. We've all become more adventuresome cooks now that all the cookbooks live within easy access in the living room.

TPW got me a new teddy bear in NH. For those of you who know the story, yes, start crying now. For the rest of you, I'll fill you in later. But I got lots of amazing yarn in addition to my new bear. Uncle Bill gave me a huge book of the letters of EB White which really touched me. Does anyone have his essay on marrying a Bryn Mawr woman? I told TPW about it and realized that he better read it sometime soon. We're approaching our fourth anniversary if you can believe it. Didn't I just finish at Dartmouth? Didn't I just finish Bryn Mawr? Didn't I just escape Catholic school in a white dress, kid gloves, long hair and a flower crown?

I'm going to make myself a new cardigan with some cranberry heather wool. I also got more alpaca for arm warmers and some assorted other treats from the sale bin. I may make a sweater vest as I've become disturbingly attached to my white button down shirts and a new spiffy cap.

But I wanted to jump up and down seeing Sprout and Nerb at home. I dragged TPW back with me to Brooklyn. Oh, Brooklyn. My happy little home. It was exquisite being away, but it's lovely being back home. I think I need to get out of town more often. It makes me all the more grateful to live this ridiculous life. I got another wedding invite today. Geez. I just want to drive around looking at farms and snow on the backroads of New Hampshire with TPW. Give me a little more of that, a pinch of homecooking with my Sterling Place family, less time on MTA, more time with my sweetheart.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Is this thing on?

On March 24th Crazy Eights will celebrate two years!

Strange connections

I met "the carpetbagger" yesterday. It turns out we have a friend in common. Who knew?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

nothing else will do/i've gotta have you

Next weekend, I'll be in New Hampshire. T bought the Amtrak tickets tonight. I can't even say how excited I am for a weekend away from NYC, a long weekend's escape with my sweetheart, and also a train ride to Vermont! (We take the train to VT where T's gran meets us) I wish there would be time for a road trip to Dartmouth, but maybe another time. Definitely this summer. As it is, I think T and I are overdue for some time together outside New York. We've both been so busy lately that it's time to make time and take a vacation for no concrete reason. Our inter-borough romance does not count as vacation-centric.

This weekend has been a lot of fun despite not being a vacation per se. Snow stomping around the neighborhood for groceries with T on Friday evening, silly songs with T and Sprout on Friday night over dinner, "The Family Stone," further silly singing over breakfast with T and Sprout, coffee time at Gorilla & a little retail therapy to recoop some losses with La Giff, a phone call from Rachel in SF, chicken chili & the fifth act of "When the Levees Broke," and tomorrow some sledding, freelance writing, taxes, and a dinner party involving Tofurkey & Dutch Apple pie. Oh and some reading, too. I started a new book that is reminding me of Steinbeck's "East of Eden" which I read about 14 years ago. Amazing how some literary memories lock in despite the years.Did I mention I'm excited about going to California?

So all in all, a restorative weekend. Nothing like knowing you'll be heading out of town shortly!

Also, we at Crazy Eights are looking for a new roommate to move in mid-April. We are looking for someone who enjoys dinner parties (planned and impromptu), keeping the apartment clean (a must), has charming friends that they would love for us to meet (we love friends and visitors in the apartment), doesn't smoke, is petless, doesn't mind Aerie Tuesdays, loves to cook and will contribute to late night conversations over tea or wine. If this sounds like your kind of living environment, contact me.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I'm doing better. Turns out there's something (or somethings depending on who you talk to) going around the entire building so I'm not the only one with the mystery cold. Sounds like a bad board game. Mystery Cold. Ick. I guess it's no better than Operation. Really, who thought of that?

I knitted for a long time this evening. I'm just not in the mood to curl up with a book. Somewhat alarming, no? But I'm trying to just do what I want to do. Coming out of a cold, it seems right to listen to one's body. One would say this means to sleep when one needs it. Drink a lot of fluids. I say it means to knit in the face of a stack of books. I just don't want to jump back into things immediately, okay? It's something to say, "I'm settled, alright?" I don't need to find a new challenge just yet. I can try to just sit still for a while. And I don't always have to finish every book I start. Sometimes, it just isn't worth it.

Today I watched redtail hawks swoop around Manhattan from the windows at work. It was something to see their wingspan, their freedom. Not everyone paid attention or cared. But those of us who did stopped and paused. We let our eyes wander. We watched the hawks pay no attention to traffic, hideous condos, city buses, scaffolding or the Time Warner Center. The hawks were in no rush to take off for Central Park. Instead, they gave us an opportunity to see ourselves in them: ripe with directions and no timetable. Just for a minute.

We went back to work. Phone calls, tinkering with programs, writing things up, mailing packages. It was hard to leave work tonight. I lost track of time and I ended up leaving sometime after 7. Probably not the best idea on my first day back. I took the train home and looked out at the city as I crossed from Manhattan into Brooklyn. We work so hard to stay afloat in this city. Finding a job, finding an apartment, finding a relationship, making it work, even just making time to see your friends feels like an Olympic effort. It seems like a crime to just relax, but you need to relax. I have what I need. What I want will come. And really, a lot of it is already here. I don't always take the time to enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March into, oh, whatever.

I'm home sick. Boo. Chest colds are no picnic. I'm taking Robutussin, long baths, catching up on old, languishing New Yorkers (didya read the piece about the kid at the Sundance Festival?) and reading cookbooks before collapsing into sleep. Sprout brought me pulpy OJ and potstickers. I have a kitchen full of food and I'm sitting around in my robe, trying to decide when is a decent bedtime. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

LA3: The Other Mission Control

Today I got a tour of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL is responsible for all unmanned space missions. The Mars Rover was built there as were the first satellites. JPL is able to communicate with the objects through its' Deep Space Network. The DSN "is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe." One of the largest antennas is 70 meters (230 feet) and can track a spacecraft moving 10 billion miles away. Crazy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

LA2: Pasadena Art

Went to Art Market yesterday in Pasadena. Local schools [Pasadena City College, Art Center College of Design, and The Armory] invited students, faculty, and alumni to show their works. As compared to a NY show (especially students'), the art was thematically sunny in disposition. Since it was 97 degrees in March though, I suppose that's what happens.

After the market, we went to the Pasadena Museum of History, and saw an exhibition of works by Sam Hyde Harris. When I first saw the paintings (one pictured here), I thought my eyes hadn't adjusted yet from being out in the sun. The colors looked so dull. I wanted to adjust the brightness on my internal tv. As I looked through the gallery though, I began to appreciate the soft hues and natural themes. They reminded me of works by New England coastal painters. Made me a little homesick, to be honest.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

LA1: Beachwood Canyon and Eagle Rock Chalet

I sat tonight by a fire in an air-conditioned room modeled after an Austrian ski lodge. The floor was a carpeted tartan. The weather outside was approaching the 80s.

Welcome to LA.

Flew out today from JFK to Burbank Airport (named Bob Hope). The flight was full of gay couples and one even had a baby. One of the fathers was sporting a "native baby carrier" that I think I have seen on Angelina. Sadly the Native Baby web site features no pot-bellied gay men.

Went to dinner in Beachwood Canyon at a place called Birds. My friends and I sat in a red booth below a large picture of Alfred Hitchcock. The food was delicious and the restaurant was right across from a large Scientology complex. The air smelled of honeysuckle or dogwood or magnolia. My nose is apparently only able to decipher between Canal Street and 59th Street subway odors.

Gained three hours. Lost an hour. I am not sure whether I have lost or won.

Before I jump into bed I thought it appropriate to depart with this quote in honor of my dining companion tonight. Hope you enjoy.

[Dressed in safari hunting gear and pith helmet]
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to darkest Hollywood. Night brings a stillness to the jungle. It is so quiet, you can hear a name drop. The savage beasts have already begun gathering at the water holes to quench their thirst. Now one should be especially alert. The vicious table-hopper is on the prowl, and the spotted back-biter may lurk behind a potted palm. To take me through this most savage of lands, I have hired a native guide.

[Snaps his fingers. An old man joins him, wearing a billboard sign that reads, "Maps of the Movie Stars' Homes - For Sale"]

He claims to know where I can find the big ones.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


June 2-10: I'll be in San Francisco.

It's my very first trip to San Francisco, my first trip to Northern California. I'll be staying with the lovely Rachel and I'm so very excited for lots of quality time with her in her new city. Well, not so new anymore, but you get the picture...

I'll get to see this show at Doe and I'm excited to see Lisa and Stephanie's work in person after admiring it from afar via these imperfect computers. Being me, I want to go to the DeYoung and SFMoMA, but I also want to ride the cable car, see the Golden Gate Bridge, go to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, eat seafood and avocados, City Lights (!), and Lombard Street.

I can't say how much this is lifting my spirits. Please send recommendations for SF things to do and books and movies relating to SF that I can read before going (I've seen VERTIGO and SNEAKERS, but please tell me more).

Brooklyn had actual sunshine and Springtime weather today. I opened all my windows and bought daffodils with Gifford today. Sometimes I wonder how I can cope with work and commuting and the imperfection of every little thing and then the world opens up with possibility again. I'm never going to stop reliving and revisiting the past, but I'm never going to come to terms with that or fully understand it for what it is unless I keep moving and learning.

San Francisco, here I come. Your very own Judy Maxwell.

Carrot orzo and Lane Kim

Every Tuesday night, I make dinner with friends. At first it was always with HEO, but lately the crowd has grown. The draw of "Gilmore Girls," good friends, homemade food, wine, etc makes for a good evening.

Last week, I was planning on making a dal, but one friend doesn't eat lentils so I had to rethink my menu. I combed around epicurious and found a recipe for carrot orzo. Who knew how tasty it would be? The carrot gives an earthy and sweet flavor. Green onions, rosemary, parmesan cheese finish it deliciously. Also, for those of you who may want to try this at home, I substituted olive oil for the butter.

It's healthy comfort food. I made it again today for T and J for lunch along with some spicy blanched bean sprouts. When a vegetarian and a meat & potatoes kind of guy both wolf something down with gusto, it must be good. I think I've found a new kitchen favorite. We're making fondu this evening... Nerb has taken off for a week in Los Angeles and was kind enough to bequeath his Emmental cheese... So we will make the most of it and also look forward to some possible blogging from LA.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

a more complex sort of joy

Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue is a hodgepodge of architecture and commerce. Slapdash finishes, buildings that don't quite match their neighbors thanks to some financial woe at some time or another. One month's windfall greets a death in the family. Gentrification hasn't wiped out the character in my neighborhood. A bodega, a dry cleaner, an upscale Tex Mex joint, increasingly more middle eastern spots, 99 cent stores, used bookstores full of theory and literary fiction, wine bars, donut shops, seasonally open Italian ice shops, Bocce courts, yoga studios, muffin bakeries, hipster coffee, clothing boutiques, Brooklyn Industries.

This is home. These days, Brooklyn is where my heart is. I step out of the 7th avenue station and I fit in. I've got my tote bag full of six periodicals, countless books, my ipod, a change of clothes, a change of attitude. New Orleans is still so deeply a part of me, but I'm crossing a threshold---or am I just admitting it?---Brooklyn is the place I've lived the longest as an adult. This haphazard collection of folks and homes and businesses and trees, subways and patches of dirty snow is the place I hang my hat.

I've been thinking I'd go to NOLA for Jazz Fest, but the airfare's rising everyday and my hesitation is amounting to a large bill. Today I got off the subway and thought, "But who will get me from the airport?" It broke my heart just a bit to realize that for the first time, my mom and dad wouldn't be there in the terminal waiting for me in Louis Armstrong International Airport. I know there are lots of people who would come and fetch me, screaming my name and hugging me so hard my bones would ache. But it's all so different and I've been feeling the post-partum blues of losing my childhood home for good. I don't know if I'm ready to go back yet. I think I need more time to heal. I can't say how hard it is to say this.

There's words to put to paper and so many projects I want to accomplish. Lately, I've been catching myself thinking about the places I'd like to explore beyond the Mississippi delta. San Francisco is still just a dream to me. I want to visit Rachel and see her new home through her eyes. I was so proud of her when she left the East Coast for the West Coast... so it would mean a lot to get to know what her life is life out there. I want to explore and learn, take in new sights. The West Coast is this unexplored territory to me. I'm so confined to the land East of the Mississippi that I think I need to piece my way around the West.

By no means am I considering a move, but I've healed just enough to be ready for new spaces, new ideas. I'm not just coping anymore which is a wonderful feeling. Spring's around the corner, I'm cooking new meals for friends, thinking more about theater, clearing the cobwebs. Beginning to think about how to reconnect with old friends. Looking forward to making new ones. Nerb introduced me to a wonderful new band, The Weepies. I've been listening to their music on their website and enjoying the hope and sweetness in their music. Deb Talan's voice is reminiscent of Sam Phillips and Steve Tannen sounds like a young Paul Simon. The words curl up and take root in my heart, giving a little pulse of extra life to my day.

At heart, I have been living inside my flooded out house for the past two years and I'm ready to get out. I'm ready to write about NOLA, pre and post Katrina, but I'm also ready to let go just a little bit. It hurts me to say that, but what with everything that's been happening to me and my friends and family, we all need to put those feelings on the shelf for a while. We've all been trying to balance these New York lives and careers with one foot soggy in Lake Ponchartrain and the other hopping onto the Q train crossing Manhattan Bridge. It's been a tough high wire act. Nothing like what the brave people in NOLA and all over the Gulf Coast have been experiencing, but for a pack of natives who lost everything and then some, it's been one heartbreak after the next. No comparison's necessary. I raise a glass to all of us.

Last week, I finally gave up and got a new cell phone, a new cell plan. After having the same plan for almost four years, my first cell phone, it was so hard to break away. Silly, huh? And it hit me that it really shouldn't be this hard. It's just a phone. Not every little thing has to mean everything, imbued with meaning of connection. Another day, another bump in the road. I can do this. I've learned so much and I'm my parent's daughter, my friend's confidant, reckless companion or grounded voice of reason all at once. My boyfriend's girlfriend, my brother's sister, a child of the Sacred Heart, a former ballerina, a Mawrtyr, an extreme bicyclist, a baby born in Baptist hospital, a Katrina survivor, a product of publishing, a writer, a correspondent, an admirer, a passionate advocate, a girl lost in the crowd, the one who won't be left behind.

I'm all these things, but most of all, I want to be the one rolling the dice. It's time to carve out a new path. The next year and a half will pass by like the blink of an eye and I'll welcome my thirties. It's time to take more in stride. It's time to hold everything close to my heart with the other hand out the window catching the wind and taking note of the changes in temperature and temperament. It's time for something new. I'm looking for a more complex sort of joy.