I bought my baby cousin a Michigan sweatsuit for her birthday. A few days later I was emailed this photo:
Pictures from the Arboretum in late August:
the Ann Arbor NYPD:
My house-mate’s awesome TACO CAKE
I bought my baby cousin a Michigan sweatsuit for her birthday. A few days later I was emailed this photo:
Pictures from the Arboretum in late August:
the Ann Arbor NYPD:
My house-mate’s awesome TACO CAKE
It took me almost one month to finish this monster of a book. I hardly understood anything about The Savage Detectives. I didn’t get the jokes, the endless literary references, the politics, or the poetry. But I liked it. I tend to overanalyze and over-think everything; but while reading this book, I resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to understand everything so I might as well keep reading and try to enjoy it. And I did.
Every time I opened to the book to read it on the subway I was somewhere else. The book takes place in Mexico, in Spain, France, Israel, Sierra Leone, California, Argentina, Guatemala, Austria, Liberia, Chile and a bunch other places. Every time I read it I met a different character and heard another story. I won’t even try to summarize the book, but you can read excellent and insightful summaries here from the NY Times; and here from another book blogger.
Now I’m reading a book about bananas.
I spent my day off on Monday sitting in an ancient, abandoned volunteer firehouse in Passaic, New Jersey. This is where Manny works, where he has his office. The goal is turn this enormous, hollow, abandoned space into a community center for the growing Latino community that lives in this city. Right now the building is sort of a wreck, it has not been occupied for 2 years. But it has great potential; it has three floors of big open rooms with an entire gym on the top floor.
I walked around the building taking pictures, playing with the different flash settings on my little point and shoot camera. Here’s a few of them:
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:
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:
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.
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!
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:
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?
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.
Enjoy some random photos while I procrastinate at work. Please forgive my lack of photography skills. I don’t know squat about photography but that doesn’t seem to stop me from taking pictures anyway.
Back in September I did the Tunnel to Towers Run/Walk with my co-worker. I walked, of course. (Why run when you can walk? is what I say). The cool thing about this run, besides it being for a good cause, is you get to go through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
When we were kids, my sister and I used to tell our little brother that the boogie man lived in these ventilation cracks that line in the inside of the tunnel. He believed us and cried and begged my dad to take the bridge instead of the tunnel every time we drove into Brooklyn. Here’s a boogie man crack:
In the North Woods of Central Park:
Here is Leo, my gown-up puppy playing with my cousin’s new puppy, Abbie:
Here is my former kitty, Oliver, hanging out with his new BFF, Hallie. Oliver is the orange one. I miss that little fur ball:
I told myself I wouldn’t read it until after Nov 4th, but I was waiting on some books from the library so I had nothing to read, and I saw it on sale at the bookstore during my lunch break last week and I couldn’t resist: Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father. I didn’t want to read it because I knew it would make me like Obama even more, and if he lost on Nov 4th I would feel really bummed. Oh well. I’m almost finished with the book, and it is really really good. So good in fact, that yesterday I missed my stop on the train coming home and didn’t realize it until the train had pulled into the last station and the conductor made the announcement for everyone to get off the train. Lucky for me, my stop is the second to last stop anyway, so it wasn’t that serious.
This book was published in 1995, before Obama became a national political superstar, so it is quite honest and doesn’t hold back on descriptions of Obama’s college party days, experiments with drugs, his feelings on black power, black nationalism, racism, social justice, and his struggles of finding his identity as a black man in America. In the preface to the 2004 edition, Obama wrote that part of him regrets some of the details he put into this book that have been used against him when he started his political career. It’s kind of surprising to read such intimate details about a popular public figure.
I think its pretty great that we could have a president with such a unique story and world view. A man of mixed race who obviously understands the nuances of race relations in this country. He spent his childhood in Indonesia with his mother, his adolescence in Hawaii with his grandparents, his college years in LA and NYC, then spent 3 years organizing black churches and community leaders in Chicago, then went to Kenya to meet his African family for the first time. I think these experiences are what make Obama such an effective politician, they allow him to understand problems and solve problems with a different perspective that most other politicians. I don’t mean to be gushing about Obama, I’m not naive enough to think that if he’s elected then all of our problems will be solved. I’m just saying that he is a very cool, very smart guy who gets it. And I do really hope he gets elected.
One part in the book really struck me. Obama was describing to his Kenyan sister about a relationship he had with a white woman. When Obama and his girlfriend were alone, their relationship was great. But then, the woman took Obama to her grandparent’s country house, and Obama realized that if their relationship continued, he would have to live in her world, since he already knew how to be part of the white person’s world and culture; he had been doing all his life. But she could not live in his. He took her to a play by a black playwright that involved a lot of anger and what he calls “typical black American humor” and his white girlfriend was not impressed. She thought anger wasn’t a productive way of dealing with past problems, that anger was a dead end. Her and Obama had a fight, she told him she couldn’t be black, no matter how much he wanted her to be. They broke up.
I had put the book down as soon as I read this. Obama wrote about something that Manny tells me all the time. Manny even uses the same words, about living in different worlds. Manny has learned to be part of the white American world, the mainstream culture. But as a white woman, I’ve never learned to live in his world, a Mexican world, an immigrant world. As a white woman, I never had the need to do this. Manny and I have talked about this a lot, we’ve come to terms with it we’ve compromised about it. But when I read stuff like this I still get insecure, I mean, even Obama couldn’t have an inter-racial relationship! What hope is there for the rest of us? Dramatics aside, I need to stop these comparisons. Manny is not Obama. He has never made me feel like I should Mexican, and never made it seem like he wished I was. I have never passed judgement on Mexican culture nor would say that their way of dealing with their past is a dead end.
Its strange to write about such personal things, I’m actually a private person in real life. Feels good to get those thoughts out there. Last night, in my moment of insecurity, I asked Manny if he felt like he always had to be part of my world in order for us to be together. “No,” he said. “We both live in Brooklyn now.”
Oh Brooklyn, the great equalizer. Here is an example of Obama-inspired racial harmony that Manny and I thought was so appropriate, him being Latino, me being Irish. We had to stop in front of this stranger’s house to take a picture:
I’ve been immersed in Richard Russo’s Bridge of Sighs. It is my favorite kind of book, the kind of book you can get lost in, when you read it you completely forget where you are or what you’re supposed to be doing. Luckily I often come to my senses just as the subway pulls into my stop. I snap back into reality, get off the train and walk up the stairs into the morning daylight and head to work. I look forward to my commute, when I can finally escape the stress and anxiety that is my job right now, find myself a nice seat on the train (the only good thing about the local train is you always get a seat) and read alone in peace for 50 minutes. Ah, it is heaven. I’m nearing the end of the novel and I’m trying to read it slowly, not wanting the story to come to its conclusion, which I fear, won’t be a happy one.
This book kept me company during some lonely times these past few weeks. I had to find a home for Oliver, which was harder than I thought. Seems like lots of people talk about wanting a cat, but when it comes down to actually taking one home, they change their minds. Finally, I convinced my co-worker, our resident cat lady, to take him because obviously 4 cats is not enough for her and surely she’d like one more. Once she saw the picture of him, she was a goner. She tells me that he’s adjusting well, is making friends with her other cats, is being spoiled by her kids, and gets himself into trouble, including falling into a tray of white paint and knocking over a 2 liter bottle of soda. The first few days after he left were hard, I missed him more than I expected. I’ve had pets since the 2nd grade so its hard to be without one now. But I had Bridge of Sighs to distract me and keep me company. Once Oliver left, I had to wash everything I own to destroy the cat dander so that Manny could come over without experiencing another life threatening asthma attack. Bridge of Sighs kept me company at the laundry mat, where I must have spent 20 dollars in quarters in 3 nights, washing everything that had potentially come in contact with the cat.
I also, I’m not going to lie, the fact that my favorite TV show of all time is on DVD helped too.
I love The Nanny and Fran Drescher. I am not ashamed.
Then I went to the 3rd to last Yankee game at Yankee Stadium. Here’s where it offically changed from 3 to 2 games remaining.
Best seat in the house? The bleachers, of course.
So I’m slowly finishing Bridge of Sighs and slowly coming out of my lonely funk and back to reality. This weekend, my entire family makes our yearly pilgrimage to the World’s Largest Garage Sale, which we refer to lovingly as the Crap Fair. I haven’t been there since high schoool, because I went away to college. The last time I went to the Crap Fair, I found a Tori Amos bootleg from a 1996 concert and felt so cool. Oh let’s face it, if I found another Tori bootleg this year, I would still feel cool.
I present to you a show and tell of the week’s events, in pictures.
So a few days ago I went over to my local library and got one of these:
then I got these:
Yeah that’s right. Two big, fat, new, HARDCOVER NOVELS for me to enjoy. After weeks of reading 99 cent Strand paperback specials and books swiped from friends and family, I finally have a permanent address which means I am finally a card carrying member of the Brooklyn Public Library. Sweet.
Also? Two weeks ago I adopted this kitty:
And I named him Oliver after Oliver Twist, because he’s an orphan boy with no mommy who was found alone and starving, along with his brother and sister in the parking lot of a New Jersey sex offender rehab prison where my friend works as an inmate counselor. But one trip to the ER and 4 new asthma prescriptions later, we’ve come to the conclusion that he makes Manny really sick, so now we have to find him a new home. We are really sad about this situation, but Oliver remains oblivious and is content to sleep in a shoebox surrounded by all of his toys:
And occasionally taking a swipe at the camera from his toy-filled shoebox lair: