Friday, June 29

a new look!

Here I am, with a full blown cold, nearly falling over from exhaustion. I should go to bed. I need to rest. My bed is calling.

Instead, I have spent my evening giving this page a new look. I've been wanting to get rid of that weird picture at the top since I started this blog, and I just got my act together and figured out how. But when I replaced the image, I realized that most of the colors were now clashing, so I futzed with everything and have even learned a little html tonight. I hope you like it. Now that I sort of know what I'm doing, I might tweak it a wee bit more, but I promise not to anything drastic.

And now that it's after 11, I think I will go to bed.

Thursday, June 28

an excited update

Well, it seems that Christopher is not only a winner of The Leonard Lopate Essay Contest. He is in fact the winner, which explains his confusion yesterday in thinking he'd won the contest and then discovering that there were actually 20 winners. They've now posted a list of winners in order and he is number one. I don't think he actually receives anything except the privilege of being on the radio and having his essay on their site (though it looks like the formating has been lost, which is a shame for an essay that long) but it's still pretty cool, if you ask me!

Here is a recording of the radio show:

Wednesday, June 27

summer heat

Before I get down to business, I have a bit of good news: Christopher is a winner of the Break-Up essay contest on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC. The contest was judged by Leonard's brother, Phillip Lopate, and both of them will be discussing the essays tomorrow afternoon on the show. Christopher will be on hand to read part of his essay and talk a little about himself. Exciting, no? Tune in from 1:20-2:00pm. If you aren't in New York City, you can listen online here. (I believe you can also listen to past episodes, so if you miss the live broadcast you can still check it out.)

The weather has been disgusting. It is humid. It is hot. It is unbearable.

With much pain and frustration, we installed an air conditioner in the living room about a week ago. It cools most of the living space fairly well. Since the evenings have been cooler, our bedroom hasn't really needed an air conditioner (though Christopher doesn't like the street noise from the open window). In any case, the bedroom AC has been low priority even though we have one hanging around. Which is too bad, because last night was really, super humid and hot. Our bedroom felt like a steam room. Christopher retired to the Aero bed in the living room and at around 3am I crashed on the sofa. We were miserable.

New York in the summer. It can be great, but when it's like this it can also be a nightmare. Today there was a power outage in the Bronx, which led to signal problems on the subways, which led to crowds of sweaty grumpy people on the stagnant platforms. The smells are amplfied, but mostly in bad ways: armpits, garbage, urine. Air conditioners drip from above onto one's head; I looked in the mirror today several hours after being dripped on and discovered that my face was covered in large black spots.

There is an upside, however: the farmer's markets are bursting with produce. I emerged from the subway at Union Square this afternoon and found myself in the farmer's market. It's odd, because I am often in Union Square, but I forget to go to the farmer's market. In any case, I bought myself a pound of potting soil, some baby carrots that look like parsnips, some little zucchinis and green garlic with the scapes still attached. I'm very excited to see what I can cook with these exotic, local items! Anyone have suggestions?

Monday, June 25

bronchitis in June?

I suppose I should've seen this coming. I mean, I feel like I've been going non-stop since May, and now it's catching up to me. (Does a week-long vacation/honeymoon count as going non-stop? It's really a stretch, isn't it?)

So anyway, we've been traveling a lot and not sleeping enough. I thought my allergies were worsening, until I noticed that I was hot and sweaty when Christopher wasn't (bad sign, as it's usually the opposite) and the past few mornings I've been waking up with horribly raw sore throats. Today I woke feeling hungover (for no reason) and my throat kept me from going back to sleep, and then I realized that breathing is a little tricky, that I have to swallow phlegm and I'm just uncomfortable. I have no cough though, so I'm not sure if that qualifies as bronchitis.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, except that it is dragging me down and I have no photos to share from our weekend at Christopher's cousin's wedding, since I forgot to bring my camera. It was a lovely wedding and it made me think about our wedding quite a bit, which I'm not sure I should admit, since it seems sort of selfish. But our wedding was the last one I was at and there were some similarities, and I started remembering things about our wedding that I had forgotten. I wonder whether every wedding I ever attend from now on will bring back all of these feelings, if this is one of those things that happens to everyone who has been married but no one talks about it and so you just discover it when you join the married person's club.

Since I have no photos of the beautiful wedding we attended (if anyone wants to send me some I'd be thrilled) I'll post one from ours, since I haven't before and I might as well.

Thursday, June 21


College reunions. Are they worth it? There seems to be so much hype, so much pressure to reconnect with these people that you spent so much time with, people who were there for a fundamental time in your life and who you supposedly bonded with. But 10, 15 years later, it seems so empty.

O.K., maybe I'm a bad example because I didn't have any of those quintessential college friendships. I didn't have a group of friends who knew my innermost secrets. I spent most of college trying to find a niche for myself and learning who I was and immersing myself in theater design. And that worked pretty well for me. Not that I was lonely, but I never felt that I had made any lifelong friends.
Of course, one's preceptions rarely are the truth. Here I am, 10 years later, and I'm still in touch with some people I went to college with. Some of them live in New York, and we see each other occasionally. Some of them live elsewhere, and we email. I like these connections. I really like seeing what happens to people, how they grow and change and find different paths for themselves.

I enthusiastically signed up for my college reunion. I'm not sure what I expected. I was really excited about the parade of alumnae and how we'd all wear white dresses and cheer for each other. The campus lit by lanterns was also high on the list. I knew that one of my friends would be there with her husband, so we'd be able to hang out, if nothing else.

It rained, so the parade and the lanterns were cancelled. I did get to hang out with my friend, and a saw a few people I'd lost touch with, and that was fun. But I somehow hadn't counted on seeing so many people who looked familiar, and then having to make small talk with them. I felt like I was on auto-pilot, introducing Christopher, explaining that I was now a set designer and that we lived in Brooklyn. And then there were a few people who I saw across the room but never connected with. It felt so fake and boring and too quick at the same time. The joys of that weekend were when no one cared about those life details and we could get drunk over a geology lesson with an old friend or when I got to hear about my Italian professor's retirement plans.
My point is, now that we've also been to Christopher's reunion, that this seems to be par for the course. Our reunions were very different - clearly a women's college knows that their alums are impressed by lobster dinners and traditions - but in the end we had very similar experiences. Unlike me, he had a group of friends that he has kept in touch with, but there was still some disconnect. And maybe that was because we all grow in different directions after college. Or maybe we're at different stages in our lives (we seemed to be the only childless folks at his reunion). Or maybe it's really hard to relate where we are now to who we were at 22. I mean, who was I 10 years ago? I feel like I've grown so much since then. I'm not sure what 2007 me would say to the 1997 me. But then, that's all probably part of growing older. Will my life 10 years from now be as drastically different? Probably, just in different ways.

Monday, June 18

the house

I'm not sure whether a day-by-day replay is really interesting or the best way of describing our vacation. Like, on one day we took a long walk and then came home and Christopher took a nap while I read by book and journaled. Not worth an entire entry.

So I'm going to tell you about our house in Vermont.
Back when we started thinking about this trip, Christopher found a site of vacation rentals. We looked at a bunch of these sites partly with the idea that we could swap our apartment in Brooklyn for a place to crash in Madrid, but between the ant invasion and the amount of hair Dinah coughs up, I don't think we're ready for someone to stay in our home when we're not there. In any case, when it became clear that we couldn't afford tickets to Spain we started thinking about Vermont. Christopher emailed me many links and voila! The converted barn on 100+ acres popped out at us.

Wow, you might say, 100+ acres! what we didn't realize until soon before we left was that we wouldn't be the only ones on that acreage. Our landlord and her daughter also live on the property. Their house actually butts up against our converted barn. And they own 3 horses, which need to be taken care of each morning before the ladies left for work or wherever her daughter was going (school?). And the horses, well they get up when the sun rises at 5am and neigh to each other across the field. One of them was pastured just outside our bedroom window. Need I say more?

The location was incredible. Our house/barn was built into the hillside, so we'd enter the first floor from the driveway level, walk upstairs and then could exit through a pair of glass doors on to the hillside. We had a BBQ (which I had little success with) and a little round table and chairs where we had breakfast. The views were beautiful in most directions, either looking down a field or towards an old red barn. Even looking towards the pasture above us was great.

And the inside? It was very simple and clean, open spaces on both levels and a sleeping loft in the eaves. The place was outfitted with satellite TV and a DVD player, and we actually spent more time than I'd hoped watching Law and Order reruns on USA. We did manage to finish season 2 of Six Feet Under, which I borrowed from a co-worker over a year ago. It was nice to veg out a little and just watch something after hours of introspective conversations. And I finished the first front panel (and half of a second) on Christopher's cardigan sweater. Bliss.

Sunday, June 17

we are back

and I want to share what we did, day-by-day. Mostly I have pictures to show, and I don't want to show them all at once or it will be a photo overload. I've been uploading them all evening, and how here it's nearly 11pm and I'm ready to start sharing.

So. How to do this... I'm thinking I might try changing the date of the posts, so they match the day described. OK? If this works, the posts will appear in date order, meaning that they will show up below this one. Confused? Just scroll down.

A summation before I start: it was gloriously wonderful to be away from everything and to have no schedule other than what we wanted to do. We bought a guide book and poked around some little towns. We didn't hike or do active things as much as we though we would (no swimming all week) but it was plenty full. We also had some very deep discussions about our lives and where we want to go and who we are. And that was wonderful too.

Saturday, June 9

day one

On Saturday we took Metro-North up to New Haven, where we rented a car and headed north on 91. As we were passing Springfield, MA, Christopher suggested that we stop in at Bart's Cafe, in Greenfield, MA. Some old family friends (the friendship is old, not the friends) have recently opened a Bart's franchise in Greenfield. They live in Amherst and we stayed with them during my college reunion. We gave them a call to see if the store was open and then stopped in for ice cream, Italian soda and a warm visit. It was really nice to see their friendly faces and celebrate their first week of evening hours before continuing on to Vermont.

Friday, June 8

heading north

Since we were unable to take a honeymoon after our wedding in October, we've planned a weeklong getaway in Vermont starting tomorrow and culminating with Christopher's college reunion next weekend. Life has been so busy and hectic in the past month and we've seen so little of each other; the timing is perfect (though yes, I HAVE given up design work because of this).

I'll try to check in and post photos of our vacation, but it looks like there's only dial up at the house we're renting. Hopefully there's an internet cafe or something nearby.

As for this photo, some of you might be scratching your heads about why there's a picture of Cadillac Mountain, in Maine, when we're going to Vermont. I have to confess that I don't yet have any pictures of Vermont, only Maine. I did look around on Flickr for some good Vermont photos to steal, but all the good ones were copyrighted.

Monday, June 4

where have I been?

You may not have noticed, but I've been very busy recently.

Where did I go? What did I do? That is such an interesting question. I've been collaborating!

Ok. That's not a great answer. Here's the deal:

Lincoln Center has this program called the Lab, which is development program for young theater directors. They bring about 70 young directors to NYC from all over for three weeks in June each summer, where they explore various ideas and theories in contemporary theater. It's also about redefining theater and how it's done.

One thing they explored last summer was Collaboration-- the relationship between the actors, directors, designers and writers. Since last year, the administrators have decided to explore those relationships further, and so asked 5 writers to develop their plays in controlled environments in May. Each rehearsal room included the writer, a director, actors, one designer and a stage manager. Since my project was a musical we had a composer along with our lyricist and a music director.

In exchange for 3 weeks of unprogrammed and uninterrupted rehearsal time, we were required to think deeply about our collaborative relationships and blog daily about what happened in the room. We also have to give a 3 hour presentation about our process to the directors in the Lab, once they arrive (our presentation is on Wednesday).

There are two purposes to this project: to find a new way of working (one where everyone has a voice) and to present our process in a way that is useful to young directors, to help them understand collaboration, what works and what doesn't.

As a designer, I'm not used to being in a rehearsal room 5 hours a day, 6 days a week. During this project I was expected to contribute to the script and acting in a constructive way (and not design). I came from a completely different perspective than everyone else in the room (visual) and I sometimes felt like my ideas were from another planet. But we were all supposed to be very non-judgemental and open to the process. It was also hard because we had 10 actors in the room, and they all were struggling to find their voices and contribute in a way besides acting and that didn't always go smoothly.

This was exhausting and fulfilling in a way that I haven't been exhausted or fulfilled since grad school. It stretched my idea of who I am and what I can contribute to a process like this. I must say that I want to take this and push forward, use this new idea of myself and contribute to theater. The problem is that I have a role as a designer and I'm not sure that I can redefine it so easily without everyone else changing their roles a little bit. All of these roles are interconnected, it's not so easy just to change what one does...

Sunday, June 3

the ants march in

We can't seem to get rid of our ants. They reappeared when we were painting, throwing themselves like lemmings out of an electrical outlet. I put down a cotton ball laced with sugar and Borax and they shrivelled up and stopped swarming.
Now another group has discovered the bowl of cat food. Christopher dumped out the food and took a photo last night. This morning they were once again eating the cat food. I put the bowl in a dish of water, and the ants drowned trying to take the food home. A little sick but it worked. Unfortunately this group is too savvy for Borax and it doesn't care about cayenne, which is supposed to be a deterrent. Anyone out there have some good ant solutions? I'm getting desperate.

In the rest of my life, things are busy. Tomorrow (Sunday) is the last day of my rehearsals. It's been great but I'm ready to have my life back. I move directly from that into designing a show for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and we leave on Friday for a week in Vermont: our belated honeymoon. I can't wait!