Wednesday, August 29

small victories

There are just a few days until Christopher returns, and I've started cleaning up in anticipation. I had the day off today and hoped to have the place spic and span by tonight, but alas, it is still fairly dusty.

Instead of cleaning, I ended up doing a few home improvement things that I've been putting off: put a door stop behind our bedroom door, hung a few more photos in our hallway and I put knobs on some of the cabinets in our kitchen. The knobs are fairly major. We've had knobs on maybe half of the cabinets up till now. The problem is that the doors don't all line up and they require tons of tweaking, and I want to get the tweaking done before attaching the knobs.
(yes, I know it's not perfect, but it was such a pain!)

So today I pulled out the drill and adjusted here and there and managed to attach seven new knobs.And now it is so easy to get to my spice drawer!! ah!! Why didn't I do this sooner?

Monday, August 27


Several months ago, while watching Grey's Anatomy, Christopher told me that he didn't like Meredith Grey's hair. Actually, he specifically told me not to get her haircut. I'm not sure what he dislikes about her hair. I think it looks pretty good. I think she looks pretty good. And the thing is, my hair is long and so is hers. Hers is curly and I wish mine were curly. There's not that big a jump from my hairstyle to hers (except for a lot of styling and perhaps some products, and maybe more frequent haircuts).

So. I am generally pretty laid back about my hair. I don't style it, I wash it every few days, sometimes I forget to brush it. I get it cut when I'm desperate, which is probably about 2 or 3 times a year. A guy who I work with is pursuing a career as a hairdresser, so for the past year (yes, even before the wedding!) I went to his beauty school and got my hair done during his class.

He finished his program in May and since then has been working as an apprentice at a high end salon in the Flat Iron district. Part of his apprenticeship is that he has to bring 2 models in every Monday and do a cut. But not just any cut, it's the cut determined by the stylist in charge. It's like an assignment. Last week he told me that he had to find someone to do long layers on, which is more or less the cut I've had for the past 10 years. Boring, I know. Anyway, I jumped at the chance.

It was quite an experience. The salon is nice. Really nice. The guy who owns the salon does a lot of magazine shoots; there are photos of the do he did for Angelina Jolie on the wall. You can book a haircut with him for $950. Anyway, this place is high end, so I decided to just let my coworker and his mentor/teacher figure out what would look good on me.

The cut I got is a departure from what I've had for the past 10 years, which is probably a good thing. But whoa. It is really different! My hair is fairly short in the front, up to about my ear. These are supposed to be bangs, but swept away bangs. And then in the back it's all layered. I have to keep telling myself that I do not have a mullet.

Part of me thinks that I just have to get used to it. I will learn to like it, and when I wash it it will be less flat and more like what I'm used to. But I'm damn scared of these swept away bangs. Please tell me that it doesn't look like a mullet! and maybe it's ok if I look a tiny bit like Meredith Grey, even if Christopher will faint when he sees me.

Saturday, August 25

not much

I have been meaning to blog all week but haven't had much to say. Christopher gets back on Friday, which will change things (and hopefully wake me up from this introverted state).

Since I have so little to say, I'll show you my new necklace, which I bought today at The Market in Nolita. Those of you who know me may be surprised, as I rarely buy jewelry. But this just leapt out at me. When I wear it I can feel like an Egyptian queen!!

Saturday, August 18

my brown thumb

A few months back, I planted some seeds and put them on the windowsill in our kitchen. There was parsley and thyme, a white fir seedling we received as a favor at a wedding along with a few basil plants I've been encouraging for a few years. My gardening technique isn't very refined: I water them when they look dry and I hope they get enough sun.When we went to Maine, I forgot to ask our cat sitter to water the plants, and I returned to see them brown and dried up. In denial, I continued to water them. Interestingly, one of the basil plants has begun sprouting new green leaves on its dried out stem. Everything else is very dead, though. Today I decided that I needed to remedy this and I (gasp!) bought cilantro, parsley and mint plants at the Greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza. I threw out the brown plants and now I have my instant garden, bigger and bushier than my previous plants were. I feel a little like I cheated; just don't tell anyone, O.K.?

Friday, August 17

some cooking humor

A few years ago, I read a book called Julie and Julia:365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. I know that some people didn't care for it, but I loved it. In the book Julie Powell, a writer about my age living in Queens, sets out to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I. During the course of that year she learns a lot about herself and her marriage and what she's good at. I found it rather inspiring.

In any case, she is obsessed with Julia Child. Before I read the book, never had much interest in Julia Child, but now I'm fascinated with her as a person. I haven't yet bought My Life in France, but someday I will and I know I will love it.

Julia's birthday was yesterday, and a site that I frequently read posted this video. It's rather brilliant, I must say. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15


I think I've mentioned that I'm designing a set for a Fringe Festival show. For the most part it's been going very well.

My set is very simple: furniture and a large cloth on the floor that defines the stage. Simple, but not easy. I bought a large drop cloth from a paint store and intended to paint it.

Hitch #1: I thought I had the right color paint at home, but it turned out to be a different (browner) color. I tried mixing it with other paints, but just ended up with brown goop. Hitch #2: I woke up early on Monday and bought the right paint, but a gallon wasn't enough and I was left with large white patches on the drop. Which I needed to have in the theater on Monday afternoon. Hitch #3: The drop looked terrible in the theater. It was wrinkly and creased, even though we tried to stretch it and tape it down. We talked about cutting it, but the general consensus was that it was doing more good than bad. So I had to brainstorm to make it work.

And so we come to today: last night I finished painting the patches and then I got up really early and put some texture on it, so the wrinkles won't look so out of place (it was a flat yellow before). Hitch #4: I can't tell how it will look. It's on my living room floor and I think it is done, but it will look different under stage lights and I'm having a hard time figuring whether that will be a good thing or a bad thing. Unfortunately I won't be able to tell before the performance tonight, so it better look good the way it is now.

What a weird profession, right? A few years ago I told my cousin, who was at that time a captain in the Special Forces, that I was going to grad school for set design. He was like, "What?? People do that for a living? Don't you just paint something and throw it in the back of a truck?" And I kind of feel like he's right: if you look at this profession from a logical point of view, it makes no sense. A career in theater is sort of like a career in philosophy or something. Really abstract. And perhaps not so useful.

P.S. The last-minuteness of this project is not at all normal for theater, and it is not my fault. This is a Fringe show, which has certain constraints. And I was also hired about a week and a half ago, so I had to throw something together very quickly.

Sunday, August 12

sweating along

I've been reading a bunch of knitting blogs recently. There are some really inspiring knitters out there, writing about their craft. I wish I was one of them. Unfortunately, I am not interested enough in knitting to devote an entire blog to it. One of my favorite bloggers made a sweater from Rowan called Jarrett, and Christopher agreed that he would wear something like that, if I wanted to make him a sweater.

Last night I finished the collar and I did a Google search for the pattern, thinking I might see some other photos of what I'm making. I found this, and then I thought I should probably post a photo of the sweater, in case anyone out there is interested. The color is a little blue. I'm in a bit of a rush this morning or I'd try to correct that. The sleeves are also done. I just need to make elbow patches, sew them onto the sleeves and then attach the sleeves to the body of the sweater. Oh, and then I have to sew the sides up and attach buttons. But then I'll be done!

Saturday, August 11


As many of you know, Christopher is spending this month at a writers' retreat in northern Vermont. I am spending the same amount of time here, in Brooklyn.

He has been up there a week, and though we have spoken on the phone every day I have to confess that I'm not 100% sure what it's like up there. My impression is that it's very remote, but that there is a coffee shop in town (which is very important) and that the general feel of the place is a little new age-spiritual. His writing room looks out over a river. He is getting a lot of work done, which really is more important than anything.

Finding the space to do his writing is key. It is so easy to get distracted here: the apartment needs work, I need attention, Dinah demands petting. Nevermind the laundry or the dishes or whatever else one can find to do instead of being creative. That said, it was a difficult parting when we each got on our separate buses and went in opposite directions. We haven't been apart for so long since we've met. The last time we were apart was last June, when he went to Alaska and I was putting my apartment on the market. It was extremely stressful.

This time is different. I am designing a simple set for some very friendly folks and I find am finding the quietness at home calming. I have to remind myself that this is ok, that we don't have to be in the same room with each other at all times in order to love each other. We can enjoy our time apart and not feel guilty for that. It doesn't mean that we love each other any less, or that we will resent each other when we are back together. This is only for now and it's ok. At the same time, I need to make this solitude productive. When I get home, all I want to do is hang out with the cat, knit and veg. I am letting myself do this for now, until my play opens. And after that I will make myself draw after dinner, because that is the point of my retreat. There is no point in retreating if one has no discipline.

Thursday, August 9

my private concert

There is a park across the street from us. Sometimes music comes from the park. They must have concerts over there.

Tonight there's a jazz band playing. I've been listening to them since I came home. It's almost like having my own private sound track!

Wednesday, August 8

a cog in the machine

New York is a machine, on many levels. We all follow rules and expect certain things, from either the city itself or from our fellow New Yorkers. It may seem chaotic to those who haven't lived here, but we have very clear systems here, almost an etiquitte.

For example, when we ride the subway we (usually) step aside to let people get on and off. We move our cars so the street can be cleaned. We have complicated relationships with grocery shopping and schlepping that no one else can comprehend. (Dare I even broach that subject?) The way the city works keeps things moving. In exchange for our city manners, we expect certain things in return. From inside our ways and rules keep the busy city dependable and systematic.

The problem is, sometimes those systems break down. Like, the electricity goes out all over the city. Or a steam pipe explodes. Or maybe the public transportation employees go on strike. And then we, resourceful New Yorkers that we are, try our best to find a new system. We adapt.

Today was one such day. Our disaster? A thunderstorm.

This wasn't just a little lightning, a little thunder. No. This storm was a battle overhead, tearing down trees and ripping off roofs. Even Dinah was disturbed and curled herself next to my head. By the time I got up, at about 7am, the rain had stopped, but almost 3 inches had fallen in the prior hour and a half, and the subways were flooded.

I left the house at about 7:45, heading to Franklin Avenue subway. A crowd was gathered outside the station on their cell phones. Inside, another crowd listened to an MTA employee about subway delays. The 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains weren't running to Manhattan. I bumped into my neighbor, who suggested that we take the S to the A. We waited for the S for a while before he said he was going to take a cab.

I gave up and decided to walk to the Q, joining hundreds of other people on foot. Each station I passed was the same situation: groups of people looking confused, talking on their cell phones. The Q was also down. Rumor was that the D was running from Atlantic/Pacific, so with no other options, I walked down Flatbush to that station.

For those of you who don't know the geography of Brooklyn, the distance from Franklin Ave to Atlantic is about a mile and a half. It's downhill and really not so bad, except that today it was sort of like walking through a jungle. Very humid and, even at 8am, about 85 degrees. In any case, it wasn't much fun and I was tempted to pop into various stores along the way to cool off. Sweat was rolling off of my face and I could tell that my t-shirt was soaked where my backpack rested on my back. None of that really mattered anymore; I concentrated on the cold ice coffee that I would find for myself when I got to my destination.

Here is what I encountered at Atlantic Ave: Confusion, more heat, tighter crowds. The good thing was that the trains were indeed running there, and after a short wait I managed to pack myself into a D. Three stops later I was at my destination. The time? 9:30am.

Sunday, August 5


I am home, alone except for the cat. Leaving Christopher at the bus station in Boston was emotional for both of us but now I think we're each focused on where we are and what lies ahead. I'm in Brooklyn, reflecting on our trip and also wondering what I'll have for dinner. Christopher should now have arrived at his destination. I hope to hear more about it in the coming days.

I've uploaded some photos from our trip and stuck them in the previous post. It would be nice if we could afford a longer vacation; I don't feel like I was fully able to relax and settle in this time.

Friday, August 3

one more day

We are heading south tomorrow, first to my mother's art opening in Portland, Maine and then to Cambridge, Mass. We'll visit with my cousin and spend the night in Cambridge before Christopher heads off to his residency in northern Vermont and I return to Brooklyn.

I've been meaning to blog more about our vacation, but the DSL connection up here is very slow and the photos take ages to upload. Here's a rundown. Maybe I'll add some photos when I'm back in New York.

It's hot, but not as hot as New York.

Christopher is doing lots of reading and a little writing. I've been swimming nearly every day with my mom. One day a huge lab thought I was a stick and jumped in after me. I shoved it back to shore but then it shook itself off all over my clothing and towel. My father has installed a washing machine. He is currenly sitting in front of it in a chair watching it work and exclaiming over it. Just now he called my mother in to see what it's doing. (The machine has been moody, so it's not without reason that he would want to know whether it was working or not.)I have been doing a bit of knitting, both working on Christopher's sweater and finishing up some odds and ends of old projects.

One day I had to help my father shingle the side of the screen porch. It was really hot and I was dismissed as I kept wandering off. (I can't say it was all my fault; my father also kept wandering off and rather than hang around I left too.)We visited with a bunch of Christopher's family members who live nearby. I have no photos of it but it was fun and Christopher's cousin's 2-year old son is completely adorable and friendly.

Tonight we are going to celebrate Christopher's birthday, since it is next week and he'll be in Vermont. I am making a chocolate bundt cake, which I have made before. The last time I made it I wasn't so happy with how it turned out, so I'm hoping this time will be more successful. We are also having lobster and mojitos.Two people have contacted me in the past week about designing sets for them. One is still pending; the other is a very last minute design for a New York Fringe Festival play. Interestingly, the director from the Fringe Festival show was impressed with the set from the last show I designed, which looked great in the end but which was also quite a struggle to pull off. I guess all that pain it was worth it!

We are about to have a thunderstorm.