Friday, September 28

it has been a year!

Today is an anniversary of sorts. No, not our wedding anniversary, though that's coming up too. A year ago today, Christopher and I moved in together.

Can you believe it?? (Dinah sure couldn't! Here are some photos of the place taken last Oct 1) In this day and age, it's totally old fashioned of us not to have lived together until right before the wedding. It makes us look really conservative and hesitant, which was not the case at all. Most of you know our main reason: we were both homeowners and we had to sell and then buy before we could live together. Yes, yes, there are ways around that. But instead of moving once into a rental and settling there and then moving again when we sold and bought, we moved just once.

But oh-my-goodness! it was a year ago! We have lived together an entire year and it didn't seem like a big deal at all. Everyone says that the first year - of marriage, of co-habitation - is the toughest. It didn't seem so bad. Yes, there have been a few of those, "why don't you pick up after yourself?" moments, but neither of us are too wrapped up in judging the other person's habits, so that was not an issue.
Our move: it was completely, horribly stressful. Two days before we closed on this apartment, we closed on the sales of our individual apartments, with a condition that we could live in them for two more days. This caused stress on many fronts, as Christopher's buyer's lawyer neglected to inform his buyer of this, so until a few days beforehand she was planning to move in right after closing. (Ack!) The other stress was that a week before closing on our new apartment, the realtor told us that the owners had decided that they weren't going to move for another month or two, that they were planning to rent our new apartment from us until they could move. In the meantime, we would just have to find someplace temporary to live (in a week? three weeks before our wedding? You've got to be kidding me!)
These turned out to be minor blips. The sellers found a place to live and our lawyer told Christopher's seller that she couldn't move in yet, end of story.
In any case, a year ago today, at this very moment, our movers were still unpacking our stuff from their truck and moving it upstairs. Christopher and I were moving boxes and furniture into the appropriate rooms, taking stock of what we had, wondering where to begin. Looking at the photos, you can see that we've come a long way, both in unpacking (though there are a few straggler boxes still hanging around) and renovating the apartment.

Sunday, September 23

poco a poco

I had a long list of things to do this weekend, and practically none of them got done. I feel like this is a huge weakness of mine: starting an organization project and then sticking through it to the end. The problem is that I start organizing, carry one thing out of the room that belongs somewhere else and then I get distracted on the computer or with my knitting or whatever else. Very little gets accomplished.

What I did do this weekend:

-I visited with my cousin and checked out the condo she's made an offer on in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. The apartment is yet to be built, but it's pretty sweet. (Imagine glass and brick modern cottage and garden here.)-I saw two movies! We never see movies, but recently we've decided to remedy that and are proud new members of Netflix. So on Friday we watched The Bourne Identity and last night we had a date night and saw Eastern Promises. Eastern Promises was certainly haunting; the plot was rather confusing though and it could have been a lot fuller.

-Christopher helped me photograph my knitting projects (or start to) and I've posted them on this fabulous new knitting site called Ravelry. I was on the waiting list from July 5 until I finally got in last week. It's sort of like Facebook for knitting. I'm not sure where to start describing it but it's completely addictive to someone like me. -We saw a series of one-act plays this afternoon and then played squash for 45 minutes. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this, but for the past 6 weeks or so I've had episodes of dizzyness and headaches. This past week has been especially bad, but for some reason the squash playing took away my headache (which I've had since Wednesday). And it was tons of fun.

-I organized my studio a wee bit and painted my model for a presentation I have tomorrow. I'd been putting that off but it actually went really quickly and will make a huge difference. Anyway, back to my point: I organized the studio a little bit. It's becoming a space where I like to work and where it's not hard to find things. I still need to sort through everything that's on the shelves on the right (and attach the shelves to the wall so they don't tip over some day), but it's beginning to feel right. And Christopher's side of the room is also coming together, but that's another post, another day.

Thursday, September 20


What a busy day!

Among other things, we got a new radiator, courtesy of our super and his sidekick, Luis. They arrived around 2pm lugging the little thing (it's only 18" by 21" or so, and very narrow, but still very heavy) and set to work immediately dismantling the old one.

I'm not sure I've explained our radiator situation. Because so many apartment buildings were built so long ago in New York, many of us still use steam heat. Apparently this is a problem unique to New York. (It's really hard to find modern-looking steam radiators, or even someone who knows how to service them.) My first experience with them was in college, in our 19th Century dorms. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about though, the hissing, gurgling, banging pipes. Anyway, each room in our apartment has a radiator, but like everything else around here, the size and placement of them seems fairly arbitrary.

The main problem, we discovered last winter, was the radiator in the den. The room is roughly 12'x12', and the radiator was about 4' long and 9" wide. It ran under our window, preventing us from pushing our sofa up against the window (which is where we've placed it). There were about 2' on the other side of the pipe, in the corner, where we could stick a smaller radiator. And today we made that happen. (I'm not sure I'm making sense. Hopefully the photos will help.)

Here is what it looked like this spring, when we were painting:This is a photo of the work today, with the old radiator ready to be taken away: And here is our new radiator!! It still needs to be painted, but isn't it cute! (I feel like I should name it!) And the den feels so much bigger now that the sofa is up against the wall.

UPDATE: I have one radiator name suggestion from my father: Thumper. Anyone else?

Saturday, September 15


I am currently working on a design for a set that takes place in a subway station in New York. But it's not that simple. The play is about the dreams of 2 homeless people who live on the platform, and the set transforms as their imaginations shift. It's a lot of fun to design and very different from what I've done in the past.

Perhaps because my daily life involves the subway, at least 2 platforms per day, I have been looking very closely at what is around me.

Here are two unusual things I've seen in the past 24 hours:

A beet that was shaped like a heart. It looks even weirder on the cutting board.

And a Philadelphia SEPTA trolley beached in a parking lot in Brooklyn. Seeing this is a sort of blast from the past, as they were all over the place when I was growing up.

Maybe our lives are chock full of things like this, but we forget to notice them.

Friday, September 14

argh is for ebay

I love ebay. I really do. We bought our dining chairs there, with no problem. I've bought books, CDs, props, whatever there. I've only had one problem in the past, when a seller didn't sell me the flashlight I won. So then I lost $10.

We have been gearing up to tile our kitchen backsplash and (why not?) ordered our tile from a seller there. I felt like the design we chose was risky, something that not everyone would like. But we plan to stay in this apartment for a while and hopefully the tile would age with us. Here is what we decided on:We ordered 40 sheets of it. All in all, it wasn't that expensive (that's why we bought it on ebay) but we were excited and my father is actually coming up this weekend to help us get the tiling started.

You've probably guessed where I'm going with this. The tile arrived today. It isn't what we ordered. More like, it probably is what we ordered, but their photograph doesn't match what we received. Here's what we got: What do we do now? I wouldn't mind so much if the tile we received looked good in our kitchen. But it doesn't. The color nearly matches the wood of our counter top, and as Christopher says, it looks like fake wood. I've contacted the seller and hope that we can get this sorted out without getting ebay and Paypal involved. Argh. Argh.

Anyone want 40 square feet of caramel tile? (And honestly, does anyone think that these photos look alike? Is this just a problem of viewing them on different monitors or is their photograph really off?)

Monday, September 10

the internets

Something I've learned recently: I have been living in a cave when it comes to the internet.

Right now I feel like someone just opened a door and showed me where everyone has been playing. What am I talking about?

Chicklets. You thought that they were the original chewing gum, the type that is square and hard on the outside. But no. Chicklets are these little icons that are sometimes posted on blogs so you can link to them. I actually can't explain it to you, because I am still having trouble grasping what they are. Clearly I'm not alone (just follow this link.)

Facebook. I thought it was for college students to send each other dumb messages, but apparently it's the next new hot spot for networking. And who knew that networking was now on the internet? I thought I had to go to bars and talk to weird people I didn't know, but I can actually do it from the safety of my computer! ha!

Stumbleupon. On that link you may notice that there are chicklets for Stumbleupon. (See how I'm already using my new vocabulary?) Actually, I just downloaded a new version of Firefox and they suggested that I add on Stumbleupon. Not knowing what I was adding, I pressed "Yes" and now I am stumbling all across the internet. It is awesome. Ever wanted to waste time online and not know where to start? Stumbleupon is for you! You install it on your browser, answer a few questions about what sort of sites you like and voila! Clearly whatever answers I gave told them that I am one wacky girl (which I don't dispute), because it sends me to sites like this and this. But that's cool. I'd rather see photos of hotels made out of sewage pipes than someone's math calculations.

Lastly, though I actually discovered it first, is Flickr. I love Flickr. I've been using it since around the time that I started this blog. It's a site where you can upload and share your photos. You can keep certain pictures private, but others can be made public so other people can see them. I find that it's a fantastic resource for me as a designer. Right now I'm working on a play about homelessness and it's so easy to find thousands of very detailed pictures of exactly that. And then you can join groups-- for example I am a member of a Flickr group that is knitting shawls from a lace book that I own. So I can see what other people's projects are like, or if someone has made the same one that I'm making. It's very cool.

Anyway, I have to go work on my design.

Tell me what secrets you know about the internet! I feel like I need to catch up!

Monday, September 3

a video

Here's something new: I have uploaded a video. I don't actually have a video camera, but my digital has a low quality video option, and I used it to make a little video of the action outside. Unfortunately the sound isn't so great, but you can at least see some of the action.

It's not as crowded as it usually is, apparently. Near the barriers, in the full sun, I stood next to a wonderful and chatty 75 year old Jamaican woman (in the video you can see the card she was fanning herself with; I wish I'd gotten a picture of her). We watched the parade together and she filled me in on what was going on. I learned all about her trips to the Caribbean, her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, her garden, her diabetes. She even talked a little about the recent integration of this neighborhood, which made me a little nervous. Clearly it made her uncomfortable too but before we changed the subject we agreed that living together in harmony was better than living apart, that we can all learn from each other.

Anyway, I'm not planning to go out again. The music comes in though; there's no escaping the bass...

(A post script: in researching the Parade I stumbled across this blog, which has some beautiful photos of it and of J'Ouvert. If you are interested in the parade I recommend checking it out.)

The Parade

This may be a long day of many posts. I'm really amazed by this celebration. I'm also really tired by the celebration. What I didn't realize was that J'Ouvert, the overnight kick off to the parade today, feeds their bands from our street. And that the bands play on their way to J'Ouvert. Which meant that at 4 am, in amongst the stop and go traffic outside our window, were steel bands and their handlers. And those bands, which were playing merrily along, went as slowly as the traffic. If it hadn't been 4am, I might have thought it was pretty darn cool. But it was 4am, and then it was 5am and it quieted down a little until 7am, when this straggler band came through, complete with a crowd of dancers. Yes, that's a bus trying to pass the group. It's now 11:30 and the parade has still not started. I went out and checked out the scene. There are tons of vendors and people are setting up their spots for the best view. Our building has hired off-duty police to keep the crowds out of the building (this has been a problem in the past) and there are barricades outside. I feel like I should buy some ox tail or something, but I'm not hungry and it feels sort of arbitrary what one should try.

This guy was frying whole fish.

Sunday, September 2

a little advice?

I don't usually ask for advice, but here I am. We want to finish our kitchen. I haven't posted much about it, since it always seems to be in progress, but we need to motivate and get this done. This is what it looks like now.
They're not the best photos but you can see what our cabinets look like. The next step is to tile the back splash. We're currently looking at these tiles on ebay. All are in our price range, but we're not 100% sure which direction to go. Bright or Dark? Elegant or fun?
I know it's really just a matter of personal taste, and I'm not sure how closely these tiles match the photos. And if we don't choose one of these, can you suggest something else? How does one choose?

Saturday, September 1

a holiday weekend!

Look who is home!!
Don't you think he looks relaxed? He's already gotten a hair cut since this photo was taken; no looking overgrown for the first day of class.

This weekend will be a busy one. Not only because Christopher and I want to spend tons of time together, but also because our apartment is smack dab in the middle of a huge festival, probably the biggest parade you've never heard of: The West Indian-American Day Parade. The Wikipedia link says that 3.5 million people come, which is about 3 times what I've heard. But still, 1 million people is a lot! And they'll literally be on our doorstep. Not only that, but the festivities have already begun. This morning was the Junior Carnival, a parade of children. And tonight is a contest of steel drum bands, right down the street. Sunday night, or really Monday morning, is J'Ouvert. This is a street festival/parade that starts at the library at 2am and lasts until about 7:30am. Yes, it's in the middle of the night. (I guess I know where I'll be if I can't sleep!)

In any case, Monday's parade will be major, with bands and crowds and vendors. The food is supposed to be fantastic, mostly homemade by local groups. Just this afternoon I saw this man. I assume he was prepping food for Monday.