Sunday, September 23, 2007

Joey, days 6 & 7

Last Monday Caryn and Larry's daughter, Joey Devin, was born. I made the trip to NJ this weekend to meet her first the time and was instantly enamored. Check out how cute she is!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Water for Elephants

One of my Tattered Cover purchases the other day was Sara Gruen’s novel, Water for Elephants. It’s been on so many best seller lists that I assumed it would be a good, fluffy read at best. I have such little faith in the American public that if a book is a best seller, I assume that it might be entertaining but not good in the literary sense of the word. And while Water for Elephants may not end up in the cannon of American Literature, I will give it a hearty recommendation. Gruen’s style is instantly engaging, and her story of a student turned circus vet grabs you from the start. Though she tips her hand at the story’s ending in the prologue, there are surprises enough along the way to keep you guessing. The book utilizes a flashback structure, which I almost always find at least somewhat ineffective. I think I said it in my Evening review: with that type of structure, the reader is almost always more interested in one part of the story than the other. Gruen, however, is the rare success story who has created two equally compelling narratives: one is a high-stakes love story, the other a commentary on the frustrations of aging. Water for Elephants won’t make you want to run away and join the circus, but it will make you want to curl up with a good book.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Vaca Hey Day

Well, I'm back at sea level and want to say again what great hosts Laura and Nate are. Sitting on their deck, drinking wine, and reading, reading, reading was just what I needed.

Saturday was our most eventful day, and even that was totally relaxing. We went to an amazing spa where we were not only treated to massages, but we also go to take a mile walk around the lake (complete with a little off-roading thanks to Laura's keen navigation!), canoe out onto the same lake, soak in the natural hot springs, and generally take advantage of the gorgeous spa setting. Most of the spas I've been to are either in hotels or here in the city; a massage is always wonderful, but there was something really special about having that relaxation and feeling of wellness last the whole day. The below pics are both from Saturday.

My trip also included a fantastic visit to The Tattered Cover, an independent bookstore I've heard Laura talk about for years; it was great to finally be able to visit myself. Between the books I bought there and those that I borrowed from Laura, my already giant to-be-read pile grew by half! I also loved that we got together with Mike and Dorrie who are so fun, and who I don't see nearly enough.

All in all, I'm smitten with Colorado and hope to go back again soon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Greetings from the Mountains

Hi everyone! I'm stealing a few minutes on Laura's computer and thought I'd give a quick update of life in Colorado--it's awesome! I'll post details and photos when I'm back home and have more time, but here's the short version. Nate and Laura's home (as anyone who visits ellebee knows) is amazing. The views from every window are stunning! I love it here. Add in a lot of time for reading, a full day at one of the prettiest spas I've ever seen (in competition, of course, only with Drew Patrick Spa) and I'm tempted to stay here as Laura's house guest forever.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy birthday to me!

In honor of this milestone, I thought I'd write something full of self-reflection, stock taking, and goal setting. And, knowing that my day would likely be fairly busy, I thought I'd get up early to do it. I set my alarm for about 45 minutes earlier than I normally do and thought a leisurely and thoughtful morning would be just the way to start my thirties. Here's what I learned:

I'm exactly the same person as always. And you know what? That person doesn't like to get up early. This isn't my first get-up-early-and-accomplish-shit-before-you-go-to-work plan. I do this on a regular basis, and it never, ever works. I really would like to be a morning person; I look at my friends who are up at 6:00 every day, and I think they are fitting so much more into their lives than I am. I want to read for an hour before work or actually start a writing project instead of just talking about starting one. And my resolve is firm as I go to sleep the night before, but that snooze button is just too tempting come morning. I could find this frustrating and be disappointed in myself. Instead, though, I'm taking comfort that I am the same person as always. It seems that no matter what age I am, I'll always be the same lazy snooze-hitter, and I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My waning youth

Today is the very last day of my twenties. As of tomorrow, I’ll officially be in a new decade and no longer a kid. Thirties seems to be a decade of adult decision-making and taking actions like buying homes, getting married (and possibly divorced), and having children. So, I’m happy to say that before settling down for all that responsibility, I threw myself a party on Friday night and lived it up like a young ‘un while I could still legitimately call myself one.

The night took place in the Morningside Heights neighborhood, which I might soon be calling home. We started with a pre-drinks dinner that Josh and Todd kindly organized for me at The Heights. It was the perfect start to my night with four of my very closest NYC friends finally getting to know each other. I’ve been remiss at bringing together various individual friends, and it was great for Rena and Jen, who have heard so much about each other, to finally meet. And really, I think it’s safe to say that we all bonded over the Vancouver fries, a high-end take on one of my guilty pleasures: disco fries.

Rena headed home after dinner, but the rest of us made our way to La Negrita, the bar I chose for the night’s main festivities. I want to say that it was a perfect bar choice and that everyone settled in to a great night of drinking. In reality, though, it was bluegrass night. I swear to god—I think someone was playing a wash board. Compound the questionable music (I’m not saying bluegrass is bad; I’m just saying it’s not necessarily what you expect in a Manhattan bar), with the fact that the entire seating area was taken up by the band, and things were looking grim. What could be worse than listening to bad music while standing around uncomfortably in your going-out shoes? How about sweating like a pig while doing it? That’s right, the air conditioning was not working. My friends were troopers and took it all in stride, and as the night went on things got a bit better; the band ended and it cooled off as the bar thinned out. Still, I felt bad for choosing a location with so many things to be miserable about happening all at once.

I guess drinking heavily was one way to combat all these various challenges, and, in true youth fashion, I ended the night babysitting a drunk, vomiting friend. She’ll remain nameless, but those of you who know her can probably figure out who I’m talking about. And, in reality, I’m telling this story pretty freely, so if you really want to know which drunk you met on Friday night puked, just ask me. The lesson I learned, as I tried to air out my barf-fragranced apartment, was this: maybe turning thirty and growing up is a really good thing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Favorite new website

I like to listen to music while I'm at work but have gotten more than a little sick of the very limited choices I have loaded onto my itunes here at the office. Over the weekend my friend Susannah turned me on to Pandora, though. You enter the name of a song or artist you like, and the site basically creates a radio station to your exact preferences. You can thumbs up or down every song played, and future song choices are adjusted accordingly. Genius! I love it!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My latest Enfuse review

Check out my latest review (of The Keep this time around) on Enfuse Magazine.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In nine pictures this book disappointed me; in the tenth, I loved it.

I’ve mentioned before that I find it absolutely impossible to visit a used bookstore without buying at least one book. I find it easily justifiable, because we all have to do what we can to battle the monolithic Barnes and Noble and support independent book sellers. One recent purchase of this kind was Veronica by Mary Gaitskill. Several of my fellow book clubbers had mentioned it as a possible book group read, so even though I hadn’t heard much about it when it came out I decided to give it a try.

The story, according to the back cover copy, focuses on the friendship between two very different women in the 1980s. One of these women is the titular Veronica, and the other, Allison, is the narrator. The full first half of the book is a build up to their friendship and focuses extensively on Allison’s family, modeling experiences, and disappointing adulthood. Throughout, we’re fed teasers about how Allison ultimately ends up so physically and financially damaged, but Gaitskill seemed to run out of energy by the end of the book and races through the actual events as if they’re afterthoughts. An argument can be made that they are afterthoughts, really, because the heart of the book is supposed to be the women’s friendship. Gaitskill skillfully portrays these two imperfect characters, but I never felt an emotional connection to either. Again, this is arguably the author’s intention; she’s honest about what ties Allison to Veronica and it’s often not affection. I appreciated the book and the way the Gaitskill found beauty in ugliness (and vice versa). I’m not able to really recommend this book and honestly didn’t even like it that much. That said, Gaitskill, every thirty pages or so, writes a sentence or paragraph of such clarity and beauty that it stopped me in my tracks. She was able to turn a phrase just so, capturing an entire person, relationship, emotion in just a few words. Much of the book felt like slogging, but those moments kept me going.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

This will be my obsession for the next few months

In addition to dancing it up at Pam and Brandon’s wedding this past weekend, I also took a day trip out to Brooklyn to check out potential new neighborhoods. I spent the bulk of my time in Williamsburg where I had an awesome (and awesomely cheap) falafel for lunch and some tasty massaman curry for dinner. In between, I mostly just walked. I worried that all the hipsters in Williamsburg would be annoying, but I saw fewer wannabes than I had expected. Maybe they’d all gone to the Hamptons for the last weekend of the summer (do hipsters do the Hamptons?), but overall the feeling was less ironic and more authentic than I’d anticipated. I saw lots of cafes, bakeries, and coffee joints, and there was nary a Starbucks in sight. I also found an independent bookstore and lots of quirky shops, all of which makes me think Brooklyn’s not half bad. McCarren Park was bigger than I thought it would be, and I also found a waterfront park with a fabulous view of Manhattan where I watched the sun set. As vast as it is, there is a lot more of Brooklyn for me to explore before I get too attached to any particular area, and I’m trying to keep my expectations realistic and my mind open.

If I try to stay in Manhattan, I think Morningside Heights is my best bet. There seem to be some deals a bit further north than where I am now, and the commute to campus and work would certainly be easier than they would be from Brooklyn,

Every broker I talk to seems to utilize the scare tactic approach. According to them there are no places to live for less than the cost of your right arm in monthly rent and your first born in broker’s fees. Luckily Craig’s List sings a different tune, and I’m banking on finding something I like. Everyone: Keep your fingers crossed for me and pass along any news of available apartments!


Just a few pictures from this weekend's wedding. Pam looked like a dream--her dress was gorgeous, and she made an absolutely beautiful bride. I was reminded constantly of Caryn and Larry's wedding (which was held at the same place) and am amazed at how far they've come. Baby Joey will be here in just sixteen days!