Archive for January, 2009

No Love For The Wintery Mix

January 28, 2009

Oh how I hate you, wintery mix.   You make it snow, then sleet, then freezing rain (what’s the difference?) then rain and make everything gross.  This morning I navigated around giant puddles (more like small lakes) of muddy slush and ice coated sidewalks.  What I wouldn’t give for a snow day right now, to be home, eating the delicious chicken and dumpling soup I made last night, and curling up with The Savage Detectives.  I am right in the middle of this novel; actually this book is less like a plot driven story and more like a meandering collection of journal entries about the state of Mexican poetry, of which I know absolutely nothing about but somehow the book is still interesting and I cannot stop reading.

One of my favorite authors and the only fantasy/sci-fi writer I enjoy, Neil Gaiman, has won the Newbury Medal for his children’s book The Graveyard Book.  Yay!  The film adaption of his book, Coraline comes out soon as well.  If you haven’t read any of his books, what are you waiting for?  Winter is the perfect time to lose yourself in fantasy novels.

Inauguration Reads

January 23, 2009

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Good thing I wrote on and on about how much I love the cold weather, because I spent this past weekend freezing my ass off.  But its okay, because I freezing my ass off in DC, watching Obama become the president.   Here is a blurry photo of my inauguration ticket and my Obama Metrocard for the DC subway:
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When I got back to work on Wednesday morning, everyone kept asking me how it was.  I said it was amazing, it was great, it was crazy, it was cold, it was crowded, it was fun.  What can you say?  It was all those things and more.  

About a year and half ago, my dad retired from the fire department in New York City and moved to Arlington Virginia to take a new job in Washington DC.  It was kind of a big deal, considering that no one in my family has ever moved away from New York (except for one aunt out in Jersey), it was hard having my dad so far away.  Now my sister is married, I moved out, my dad lives in Virginia, and my brother goes to college in Boston. Besides holidays, its rare that the five of us spend time together.

But early Saturday morning, my mom, sister, brother in law, along with my dog, stopped in Brooklyn to pick me up and together we drove down to DC.  My brother flew in from Boston that night, and together we stayed at my dad’s apartment for weekend to see this together:

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For four days we argued about whose turn it was to take the dog out, we fought over the bathroom, we made fun of each other, we joked about high school, we recited our favorite lines from Seinfeld, yelled at each other about changing the radio station in the car, basically drove each other crazy, and watched the first African-American president get sworn in on the capitol steps.  The whole weekend was a whirlwind but what mostly stands out in my mind is how happy I was to be with my family in that moment.  And the crowds of happy people.  I’ve never seen so many happy people before in my life.  Whenever the crowd got tense and I thought there might be a stampede someone would start a chant: “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” and the tension was gone.  Watching the ceremony was unreal.  It didn’t really hit me until we were in the car driving home on Tuesday evening.  We were listening to radio coverage of the parade, and then I realized the significance of the evident I just witnessed. President Obama.  Dude!  How awesome is that?  

But now, what to do with all of our “Bush sucks” paraphernalia?  Such as my dad’s Bush toilet paper, each sheet features an infamous quote from our former president (anyone remember “They misunderestimate me?”)  Ugh! Time to flush you down the toilet, W.  I never want to see your smug monkey face again. 

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Now, my inauguration reads.  I always get a ton of reading done when I’m with my family,  because they like to watch a lot of reality TV and football and I really hate reality TV and football.  Whenever I spend time with them I bring my books, my companions, to keep me company.  They turn on the TV, I curl up in the corner of the sofa with my books and read.  I usually like reading some light, entertaining fiction so this weekend I read The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank.  I know a lot of people love this book, but I just thought it was okay.  It was more a like a collection of short stories that tell the coming of age story of Jane, the main character.  Some stories worked, others felt completely out of place.  The story about Jane’s dad completely blew me away it was amazing.  Then I read Towelhead by Alicia Erian.  It is the coming of age story of Jasira, a 13-year old girl who is half Irish, half Lebanese.  Her parents are clueless and seem to have given up on raising her, so she forms an unhealthy relationship with her adult neighbor.  Its a sad book, a graphic book about adolescence, abuse and bigotry, but somehow still managed to be a beautiful story.  A very quick read.  

 

If I can figure out how to post videos on WordPress, I will post a video I took of my family dancing to Garth Brooks during the Obama concert on Sunday.  It is priceless.

Dude, President Obama!

Winter and Revolutionary Road

January 14, 2009

I know there’s a lot of snow-haters out there, but I gotta say it, I love the snow and I love winter.  There’s only a few days of good snowy winter weather in the city, and if I don’t go outside to appreciate it, I feel like winter has passed me by.  I love the snow, love the cold winds, love glistening ice on the trees (but not the ice on the sidewalks), love the look of  bare tree branches, love dressing in layers with hats and scarves and warm jackets, love trampling through snow in my winter boots, I love when the sun is warm but the wind is cold.   I especially love coming inside and sitting down to homemade lentil soup after sending the day out in the snow.  Which is exactly what I did on Saturday . 

Saturday Manny and I wandered through Prospect Park during the snowstorm.  (Sadly, Manny doesn’t quite share my enthusiam for winter, but he came out with me anyway).  We really liked this enormous tree:

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Just as it starting snowing really badly, we walked out of the park right in front of the B16 bus stop just as the bus was approaching.  Perfection!  There was hardly any traffic on roads due to the snow so we had a nice scenic ride home.  Our bus driver was particularly chatty and told us about his tricks for driving in the snow. 

Sunday I went walking through Shore Road Park.  I cannot even begin to describe how happy this park makes me, a little slice of wilderness close to home, wedged between the Belt Parkway and Shore Road.  It has walking paths through the trees, wide open fields for soccer and baseball, and a bike/running path along the water.  During my walk yesterday, I saw a red tailed hawk sitting in a tree branch close to the path, near the tennis courts and ball fields that are apparently closed for some sort of reconstruction.  Its crazy to think if I didn’t happen to look up while I walked past it, I would not see it.  Because those birds are huge.  The bird was all fluffed up to fight the cold winds.  It looked rather relaxed, not moving except for turning it head from side to side, checking things out.  I watched it for about 10 minutes.  It was still there in the same branch on my walk back home about 25 minutes later.  Of course I didn’t have my camera with me.

I have been waiting on some books for the library so in the meantime I’ve been keeping myself busy with magazines discarded on the subway, free newspapers, The Village Voice, The Onion, and the occasional Us Weekly.  Oh, and also, the movie tie in edition of Revolutionary Road.  Being a being a kid from the burbs I am intrigued by books about how the suburbs suck… plus how bad could the plot be if Kate and Leo are in the movie adaptation?  

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Turns out, Revolutionary Road, first published in 1961 was one of the first books about how the suburbs suck. We meet Frank and April Wheeler who are stuck in a failing marriage.  Frank works at a dead end corporate job in the city and April is stuck being a housewife.  They like to think they are more superior than their suburban neighbors.  They are cultured, they help start a theater group in their suburb, they have big plans to move to Europe.  But throughout the book they are forced to come to terms with the fact that they are like everyone else and their lives are nothing but ordinary.

Frank and April Wheeler are not the most likable characters, but we can all relate to their circumstances in some way.  In the same way people slow down to watch car wrecks, I kept reading the book to find out what happens to them.  You know they are in for a volatile ending, but you keep reading, partially to find out their mistakes so you make sure you don’t make them in your own life.

The book is told mostly from Frank’s point of view, but it is April Wheeler is the most intriguing character.  At first, she seems like a shallow, neurotic housewife, only because we don’t know much about her.  Only in the end does her character fully develop.  In an interview, author Richard Yates spoke about how April’s character embodies the rebellion against 1950’s America:

I think I meant it more as an indictment of American life in the 1950s. Because during the Fifties there was a general lust for conformity all over this country, by no means only in the suburbs – a kind of blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price, as exemplified politically in the Eisenhower administration and the Joe McCarthy witchhunts. Anyway, a great many Americans were deeply disturbed by all that – felt it to be an outright betrayal of our best and bravest revolutionary spirit – and that was the spirit I tried to embody in the character of April Wheeler.  I meant the title to suggest that the revolutionary road of 1776 had come to something very much like a dead end in the Fiftes.

I hope I get my library books come through soon.  I’ll definitely need some reading material by this weekend.  My dad now lives in Arlington, Virginia so my entire family is driving down there this weekend to crash at his place and maybe score some tickets to Obama’s inauguration.  This is should interesting.

Alien Squid!

January 9, 2009

I finished reading Revolutionary Road on the train this morning, thanks to some police action at Prince Street, which kept my train stopped in between stations for 20 minutes, allowing me to read the conclusion of the novel.  I’ll write about the book soon.  But in the meantime, I’d like to share with you pictures of the weirdest animal I’ve ever seen, the elbowed squid:

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Watch a video of the squid here

Year In Review – Part 2

January 4, 2009

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?:
Move

2. 2008’s Goals:
Ha, I don’t even remember.  Probably learning Spanish, that’s always my goal

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?:
No

4. Did anyone close to you die?:
No, thank goodness

5. What countries did you visit?:
None, but I did go to Florida

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?:
The ability to follow through on my goal to learn Spanish

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?:
None really, I don’t even remember the date I signed my lease and that was the biggest thing I did this year

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?:
Moving to my own place

9. What was your biggest failure?:
I don’t know if had any major failures

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?:
Nothing serious.  

11. What was the best thing you bought?:
Most definitely my new bed, and all of my furniture.  When I moved, the only thing I owned was a dresser. Also, I didn’t buy it, but my dad bought me a single-serve French Press coffee pot and it makes the most amazing coffee in the world.  It has opened up a new dimension of coffee flavor that I never knew existed. . 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?:
Manny for being awesome and inspirational for reasons listed in Part 1.  My parents for always being super supportive of me, helping me move, being generally awesome people, and buying me a MacBook for Christmas.  

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?:
People for voted for Prop 8 in California.  There was also these two hate crimes that happened in New York against Latinos, that was appalling and depressing.

14. Where did most of your money go?:
Rent and furniture.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?:
Moving.  Obama.  Meeting Manny’s family

16. What songs will always remind you of 2008?:
“LES Artistes” by Santogold

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i) happier or sadder?: happier
ii) thinner or fatter?: the same, I think
iii) richer or poorer?: definitely poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?:
Spent quality time with my mom while I lived with her

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?:
I don’t really know… wasting time watching TV?  Now that I don’t have cable TV (and don’t plan on getting it)  I realized how much time I wasted watching shit on TV.  

20. How did you spend Christmas?:
At home with the usual characters

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?:
Just with one person

23. How many one-night stands?:
Being in a relationship means I get 365 one night stands… actually, 366 because 2008 was a leap year.   Sweet.

24. What were your favorite TV programs?:
Mad Men.  I think Manny and I watched the entire first season in 1 day.  Oh it was so good.  Also, 30 Rock. 

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?:
Nope, no new hatred this year!

26. What was the best book you read?:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?:
Santogold

28. What did you want and get?:
My own apartment

29. What did you want and not get?:
I don’t know, I got so many good things I can’t think of something I didn’t get

30. What was your favorite film of this year?:
Slumdog Millionaire.  Milk.  Wall-e

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?:
I turned 24.  I actually had a great birthday.  I took off from work, when hiking with Manny in Pelham Bay Park, saw some neat birds, my mom made me eggplant parmesan for dinner (my favorite) and my buddies Jenn and Rob came over to celebrate.  

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?:
Liking my job better, doing more exciting things at work

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?:
Attempting to dress like an adult

34. What kept you sane?:
Manny, reading, my dog Leo, baking, blasting music

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?:
Obama.  I also have a girl-crush on Angelina Jolie.  

36. What political issue stirred you the most?:
Obama 08!

37. Who did you miss?:
My friends who live everywhere but Brooklyn.  My kitty Oliver that I had give away because he gave Manny allergic asthma.  My car that my brother destroyed when he tried to drive it through a giant puddle during a rainstorm and the engine flooded.  RIP my little Dodge Neon. 

38. Who was the best new person you met?:
My girl Sashana at work.  The smartest person I’ve ever met.  We’re going to write a book together.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008

I think people should take always take pleasure in the little things – like when the subway comes just when you get the platform, when you find a beautiful parking space, having a great time with friends, eating delicious food, the perfect cup of coffee, your favorite song on the radio.  Life is hard, but the little things make it okay.  

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I can’t really appreciate lyrics without knowing the song.  So, listen to LES Artistes by Santogold (check out that bizarre video) then read the lyrics.  When I had decided to take the apartment and I was freaking out, not really knowing if I was making a good decision and feeling unsure of myself, I drove around in my Neon blasting this song:

What I’m searching for
to tell it straight, I’m tryin to build a wall
Walking by myself
down avenues that reek of time to kill
If you see me keep going
be a pass by waver
Build me up, bring me down
just leave me out you name dropper
Stop tryin to catch my eye
I see you good you forced faker
Just make it easy
You’re my enemy you fast talker

Chorus:
I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up
If I could stand up mean for all the things that I believe

What am I here for
I left my home to disappear is all
I’m here for myself
Not to know you
I don’t need no one else
Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later
You don’t know me 
I am an introvert an excavator
I’m duckin’ out for now
a face in dodgy elevators
Creep up and suddenly
I found myself
an innovator

Change, change, change,
I want to get up out of my skin
tell you what
if I can shake it
I’m ‘a make this 
something worth dreaming of

Year In Review – 2008

January 4, 2009

I started this blog one year ago.  I started it because I couldn’t remember what happened in 2007.  I couldn’t remember what I did on my birthday, what I had accomplished at work, or what books I read.  Time was flying by and my life was a blur.  

So now thanks my little blog here, I can look back and remember all the books that I’ve read, what I did while I was reading them and how I felt while reading them.  I can recall all the small moments that make my life enjoyable, and big ones too.  Finally, I get to do those year in review posts, taken from Leslie:

1) Was 2008 a good year for you?
Generally speaking, yes

2) What was your favorite moment of the year?
Moving into my first place and meeting Manny’s family for the first time

3) What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Getting the 4am phone call from Manny when he came home to find his apartment building on fire 

4) Where were you when 2008 began?
At my mom’s house 

5) Who were you with?
My buddies Jenn and Rob

6) Where will you be when 2008 ends?
I was in Manny’s living room, watching the New Year’s Eve countdown in Spanish on Telemundo, eating homemade flan and grapes.  

7) Who will you be with?
Manny and all of his wonderful family

8 ) Did you keep your new years resolution of 2008?
I don’t really make resolutions, I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure

9) Do you have a new year’s resolution for 2009?
Not really resolutions, but I’d like to get accepted into graduate school in NYC, I want to make more of an effort to learn and practice Spanish.  Also, living on my own for the first time is a constant learning process and I want to get better at cooking, cleaning, saving money, home decorating, and being independent.   

10) Did you fall in love in 2008?
Not with anyone new

11) If so with who?
See above.

12) If yes, do they know?
See above

13) What was the stupidest thing you did this year?
I do a lot of stupid little things, like falling on the ice, forgetting stupid shit at work, forgetting to call friends back.  But it was pretty stupid of me to get into some petty drama with a good friend of mine over moving out together.  That sucked.

14) What was your favorite month of 2008?
May

15) How many concerts did you see in 2008?
None.  How sad, I love music

16) Did you have a favorite concert in 2008?
see above 😦 

17) Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2008?
Not really.  I don’t really drink a lot, but I enjoyed a few beers at happy hour

18) Did you do a lot of drugs in 2008?
I’m a regular user of caffeine

19) How many people did you sleep with in 2008?
One!

20) What was the worst lie someone told you in 2008?
I haven’t been lied to

21) Did you treat somebody badly in 2008?
Not that I know of

22) Did somebody treat you badly in 2008?
There was some drama at work with difficult co-workers

23) How much money did you spend in 2008?
More than I have in my entire life

24) What was your proudest moment of 2008?
Getting a promotion at work.  Sitting in my apartment and realizing it was all mine.  I’m proud of myself for not going broke (yet) during the move.  I’m proud of Manny for all the work he does.  I sit in a cubicle working for The Man, but Manny is out there working for the people and saving the world (for example: campaigning for Obama, registering Spanish-speakers to vote, organizing health fairs, opening a Mexican-American community center in New Jersey)  Dude is amazing.

25) If you could go back in time to any moment of 2008 and change something what?
Meh, why bother with regrets?  What happened happened

26) What are your plans for 2009?
Get into grad school.  Not go broke.  Continue to perfect my domestic skills.  Seriously learn Spanish.  Not mess up at work.