Monday, August 3, 2015

Looking at Things From a Distance

The first time I met up with my friend Alex for lunch after I moved to New York City, we had a long discussion about making it through the first year. He told me the first year is the hardest, and after that you can handle anything.

Although I'd wanted to move to New York for years and although I felt prepared to live here, I took Alex's words to heart because I already knew New York wasn't going to be an easy place to live. So I mentally braced myself for a tough first year. 

That first year is a few weeks away from expiring and it's turned out to be much easier than I was anticipating. Even the long winter and the humidity this summer haven't completely gotten to me. It's been a bit of a dream, really. Perhaps that is all thanks to the fact that I never doubted my place here, or that I was supposed to be, meant to be in New York. In all honesty, the things that have been the hardest to deal with haven't had anything to do with New York, but happened elsewhere. Like Rosie being needlessly euthanized by my own cousin - a cousin who is now dead to me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

50 Things I'd Rather Do Than Watch "Fifty Shades of Grey"

Well gang, society is about to hit a new low. On Friday, Focus Features is releasing the film version of the terrible (or so I've heard. I don't read "erotic fiction") Fifty Shades of Grey book.

Here's some background on this book, which is sadly only the first in a trilogy: it was written as Twilight fan fiction. No, you did not just have a momentary hallucination. Fifty Shades of Grey was written as fan fiction for the second worst thing to happen to books in this century. I'll wait for you to recover from your rage stroke.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Tribute

The heat in my building went out yesterday while I was at school. I arrived home to a chilly apartment, no hot water, and a cold radiator. Some of the apartments in my building lost electricity; mine was on and for that I am very grateful. I layered before bed and felt the cold on my face as I laid there wishing for heat and sleep.

This morning I awoke an hour before my alarm, too warm in my many layers and thinking gleefully that my heat and hot water had been restored. They had not, I'm just great at layering and have a top-notch down comforter. I laid in bed wondering how long this would last, where I'd shower tomorrow if my hot water wasn't restored by then, would ConEdison give me a sweet discount on my power bill next month? I fretted for awhile, tried to sleep, alternating between being too warm and too cold.

When my alarm sounded at 8, I got out of bed and turned on the left side of my bathroom faucet. The water ran rusty for half a minute and as soon as it ran clear I put my hand under it. It was warm.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Half my current lifetime ago, on a busy highway in the Mojave of California, my two eldest brothers died in a grey 1987 Honda Civic. Neither of them were wearing a seat belt, neither of them suffered more than a few seconds. A few seconds. Long enough to exhale a breath, for the heart to beat a few times, for a head to settle on the shoulder of the brother sitting in the driver's seat.

Half my life ago I was a sixteen year-old with a learners' permit and a crush on a boy named Zach. Naive and relatively unfettered, living in what had to be the whitest place in America, where autonomy was not being a member of the dominant religion, I had no idea about the horrors of humanity and that terrible things could happen to my family. We didn't even have to lock our doors at night. But in an instant, that sixteen year-old who wore overalls to high school during sophomore year in January 1999 was jolted from Utopia by a single-car accident in the desert.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Of: 2014 - Living the Dream

Here we are on the last day of 2014 and that means it's time for my annual "Best Of" review. Overall, 2014 was a pretty good year for me. I made some changes I'd hoped to make and with one really big move, reinvented almost my entire life.

There were some pretty tough moments too. I began 2014 with an unpleasant health challenge that has become a semi-permanent fixture. I had some pretty serious doubts I could move to New York, that I could really do it on my own. The entire month of September was basically the worst and losing my precious kitty in that month was possibly the hardest moment of all.

But I'm lucky the good outweighed the bad. For every awful September there was a March and a December to make up for it.

Best Of: 2014 - Living the Dream

Monday, November 24, 2014

I [heart] NY

It's been slightly over three months since I moved to New York City. I've written very little on my silly blog about it and I know this annoys probably half of the ten people who read it. The fact of the matter is that I don't feel like I have the time to post. Grad school is busy. And when you have retinal damage like I do, it takes twice as long to read books and essays as it does for everyone else. Sometimes three books a week takes precedence over writing a blog post no one sees. Except the ten of you who "follow" my blog. There's a lot of writing too - this is a writing program - and that writing is a bit more important than this.

But I was sitting in church yesterday thinking about what I love about living in New York and what I don't and I decided to hurry up and write it down before I forget or my mind gets changed, because like this ever changing city, the things I love and don't about New York are bound to change in one of its famous minutes. The semester is winding down and it's a holiday week so I only have three classes. And yes, I should be reading Ragtime by EL Doctorow right now, but guys, I get it. Mother's Younger Brother is sad because Evelyn stopped loving him. Houdini isn't thrilled by his magic anymore so he's in Europe flying a Voisin for the Archduke Ferdinand. Father engaged in coitus with an "Esquimo" during the long Arctic expedition and now cries when with Mother. Taft is president and everyone suddenly feels the need to slim down. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It's actually kind of fun, but so superfluous.

I digress. Here are things I love, and things I don't, about New York City.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmas Cake

My mother is British. She was born in London a few years after World War II and immigrated to the United States with her family as a kid. When I was a kid we'd spend Christmas Eve at my British grandparents' house with aunts, uncles, and cousins. With jam tarts, sausage rolls, and Christmas crackers (the toy, not the food). With modified raspberry trifle (modified by my grandmother to be virtually sugar-free as a fifth of her grandkids and a few of her sons had Type 1 Diabetes), lemon curd, and mince meat pies. My grandmother would end the night by giving each of her children a loaf of Christmas Cake.

Christmas Cake is what I like to call a sober fruit cake. A traditional fruitcake is aged in the freezer, wrapped in a liquor-soaked cheesecloth or unbleached muslin that's been saturated with rum, brandy, cognac, bourbon, or whiskey. During the aging process, the cake absorbs the liquor, the tannins of the dried fruits are released (read: fermentation), and the fruitcake gains a richer flavor. That's not to say that alcohol is necessary to make a fruitcake a fruitcake. It's easy to find recipes that don't use alcohol. So what makes my grandmother's Christmas Cake different from other sober fruitcakes? It's my grandmother's recipe, and it's been in the family for generations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trouble with the Cat

There's been some trouble at home since I left. Trouble with my cat. Some old lady (using a tactful word, not the one I want to use) complained to the HOA about her "trying to trip her" - aka rubbing against her legs as cats tend to do - so Rosie was no longer allowed to go outside. Rosie loved outside. It was her favorite thing. All she wanted to do was stalk birds and tease confined dogs and run.

It was a difficult transition for Rosie to stay inside. She tried to bite my mother's legs a few times, and after she attacked my niece - it was an unprovoked attack - it was decided Rosie would go live with my grandma and Uncle Mark. Mark was sure he could cure her of her biting.

After only a few days, Rosie, again unprovoked, viciously attacked my grandma. So my cousin, a vet tech and devout animal lover, came and got Rosie, and it was determined - without consulting me or my parents - that Rosie needed to be put down. So she was. None of us found out until after the fact. I  found out this afternoon.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cookies for Dinner

I'm sure the 10 of you who read my silly blog are expecting me to write a long post about moving to New York City. I might do that eventually, but I'm not going to now. I will say this: it was hard. It took a lot longer for my apartment to come together than my parents or I expected. I cannot put together IKEA furniture, but my dad is super impressed by the engineering of it. And that Valentine's Day episode in the final season of 30 Rock when Liz and Kriss go to IKEA Brooklyn and she says IKEA's sole purpose is to ruin relationships is true; I'm surprised my parents didn't disown me and/or I didn't murder anyone in the 4 HOURS we were there (not including travel time).

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Skip to the End

I'm ready to leave, but at the same time I'm not.

I'm ready to not have to answer the same questions and have the same conversations over and over and over again. My tolerance has grown thin, "like butter scraped over too much bread". Yes I'm excited to go. No my bags aren't packed. I'm leaving August 18th. My program is two years of classwork with up to three additional years to write a thesis. I don't feel like this will be "such an adventure" because this is my life. I'm not going on a safari. I'm making a life move, a change, and the fact that it's taking place in Mystical! Magical! New York City doesn't make it anymore of an "adventure" than if I were moving to Nowhere, Oklahoma.

Monday, July 14, 2014

New York City: The Rent is Too Damn High

**Final in a series about my 11 day house hunting trip to New York City. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Columbus Circle and Central Park South
 Does anyone remember Jimmy McMillan and his political party, The Rent is Too Damn High Party? I do. Mostly thanks to Kenan Thompson and SNL when good ol' Jimmy was in the New York State gubernatorial race a few years ago.

Back then he was just a crazy dude with a fantastically-named political party.

But guys, Jimmy wasn't lying.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New York City: Adventures in Dog-Sitting

** Second in a brief series about my 11 day house hunting trip to New York City. Read Part 1 here.

Meet Sofia.

For most of the time I was in New York, Sofia was my charge. Her full name - Sofia Antonietta - is bigger than she is. Sofia is a miniature Chihuahua. She, like Carla on Scrubs, is Dominican and Nick rescued her and brought her back to New York.

I was a bit nervous to take care of her because I've never cared for a dog. Or owned a dog. Or lived in a house where a dog also lived. And let's face it, I'm a cat person. Nick received approximately one million texts from me full of questions. His instructions were pretty simple: Don't let her sleep with you on the bed, walk her twice a day, make sure she has food and water, don't let her die.

Easy right?