pps update that blog sucka

My brother ended his email this morning to me with these poetic words.

I spent last week living and commuting out of Brooklyn. I'm moving in with Goldrick and Mclo as of December; living with such friends alone makes me feel like I've won some kind of roommate lottery. The apartment itself is a charming three-bedroom with a gigantic kitchen and a peaceful living room complete with a flowered couch (ahh, I've spent many a night tossing and turning on thee).

But other than the apartment and the girls, there is Brooklyn. Brooklyn is so incredible, it makes me want to write poems about it. Here's a sample haiku:

Brooklyn bookstores plus
independent coffee shops
plus Joya
make JOY.

My Mom says the word Brooklyn with disdain. "Oh THAT place," she moans. "I HATE driving in that place." Luckily for me, I don't drive there. I float there with Brooklyn love.

I saw my relatives last weekend in Pennsylvania for the Day of Auctioning Nana's House. It went sort of how you might expect an auction of someone's crap from the past 92 years to go; a couple of items went for big money and the rest was sold at $0.50 a box. I told my relatives I was moving to Brooklyn; whenever I say this to someone who doesn't live close to the city, I imagine the Brooklyn they must imagine in their head. A Brooklyn full of chubby, accented pizza guys, of immigrants, of Dodgers.

I'm back up in Yorktown, far away from the doughy-arms of the pizza boys. My pants feel tight from not walking anywhere in 36 hours, from sitting in one spot with my computer glued to my lap as I prepare a new endeavor. Launch date is tomorrow, so get ready- No Is For Wimps is on it's way!


The Feast of Love: otherwise known as what should have probably been my first blog post ever

Every relationship has at least one really good day. What I mean is, no matter how sour things go, there's always that day. That day is always in your possession. That's the day you remember. You get old and you think: well, at least I had that day. It happened once. You think all the variables might just line up again. But they don't. Not always. I once talked to a woman who said "Yeah, that's the day we had an angel around."
-page 17

I have a hard time imagining who I was before I read The Feast of Love for the first time. Does that sound dramatic? I hope so. Reading that book during a family vacation to Block Island back in 2000 was a kind of life-altering experience that I can only associate with religion. Charles Baxter converted me with his words that summer, completely made me a believer- not only in love, but in fiction's power to explore and inspire.

I discovered FOL at a time when I was feeling pretty fragile. My heart had been recently broken - BADLY - and I was pretty confused as to what kind of emotion steamrolls over your identity, your confidence, and your heart in one thundering move. The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to be anywhere close to that happening again. I bought copy after copy of the book, giving it to friends, obliging boyfriends to read it. When one such boyfriend told me that he hated Diana's character, I knew we couldn't last. Any complex woman must admit to being part Diana - and anyone who says otherwise is lying. If he couldn't understand what made her tick, he wasn't going to get me.

I started writing to Charlie Baxter, FOL's author, not long after I read the book. He is incredibly gracious and has written back to me every time I send something his way. Last year I wrote to him to suggest that he read Andre Gide's Les Faux-Monnayeurs because the structure reminded me of his work. Imagine my glee when the author of my favorite book responded with:

"Oh yes, I read LFM (The Counterfeiters in English) many years ago, and although I had one or two reservations about it, I felt, all in all, that it was a masterpiece, and in any case it became part of my mental background, my spiritual furniture, as did Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler (its title in English)."

Spiritual furniture! What a guy!

So now this film is coming out on Friday and the girls and I are going to see it. I'm a little nervous to see what has been such an important book translated into another art form, but I'm trying to let go and see it for what it is. If you have read the book, let us know what you think about the film in the comments' section (what are YOU apprehensive about?). If you haven't read the book, well, there's only one thing to say. Enjoy.


You know when you think you're hip and have it going on and then a 5th grader disses you? Yeah, me too.

5th Grader Babysitting Charge: Jen! I need to write a speech because I'm running for Vice President of the School!
Me: Ok, well what kinds of things do you stand for? Like, why should someone vote for you?
5GBC: Hm. On rainy days, I think we should have a better movie selection for recess. But that's all I can think of!
Me: How about cooler field trips or inviting a great guest speaker to come to the School?
5GBC: Nah, that's too much work. How about "I promise to get recycling bins in the cafeteria"? Or no, make it "I promise to TRY to get recycling bins in the cafeteria."
Me: Oh yeah, that sounds like a politician. Hey- remember when they had that wolf come to the Pre-School? That was pretty cool! Maybe you could get them to bring an exotic zoo! With um... scorpions!*
5GBC: JEN. WE ARE 5TH GRADERS. Come on, be cool.

*Scorpions, their level of toxicity, and the plethora of ways to shoot a scorpion with a paintball gun were all heavily discussed earlier in the evening.


The most meaningless sentence in the English language

"You know that Barnes and Noble? It's right near the Starbucks."


Hell, I'll take a free trip to Club Med right about now...

Here I am, wondering what to write about tonight, feeling a little mad that my day consisted of commute/work/commute/work. On nights like these, I have a kind of inner rage that comes out like "DAMN ALL OF YOU FOR CONVINCING ME IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO LIVE HERE! LOOK AT THIS LIFE I LEAD!" Particularly because my busy days at work leave me with little to no energy to post on this here blog. And no one likes that.

So I'm sitting here stewing about not having any inspiration when I log onto my gmail account and find no less than NINE emails with a subject line of "FEASTOFLOVE/clubmed sweepstakes." I almost spammed them into the spam folder, but out of curiosity, I opened the first one and found a name, a phone number, and a birthday. All eight of the other emails had the same information.

So obviously someone somewhere is having a sweepstakes for a club med trip and accidentally using feastoflove@gmail.com as the email! Hilarious!

Some super-sleuthing on my part has noticed that those emailing me:
1. Mostly have NY area codes
2. Are in the 35+ age category

The paranoid part of me thinks that this is some kind of insanely intelligent computer virus and my whole system is about to crash in 30 seconds because I even dared to open these emails. The curious part of me wants to write them all back a group email to explain the confusion.

And maybe become their new best friends because clearly a club med/feast of love sweepstakes situation is hot stuff.


At least Britney isn't opening THIS awards show...

I never watch the Emmys. This is mostly because I don't watch TV, or at least not anything that's current. Mostly I stumble across the 'good shows' when I wake up hungover on someone else's couch and they put in some HBO DVD that blows my hungover mind away. Sex and the City and Entourage are two examples.


This year's Emmys show is kind of serving as the background noise for the shopping I'm doing online, but I am vaguely listening in and have to ask- what are all these miniseries and Masterpiece theaters and made-for-TV-movies? Literally every award they've given so far (and I've been watching this long enough to choose 9 Xmas gifts for myself...) has been for one of these things. Why is Grace from Will and Grace in a TV movie about being a starter wife? What does that mean? Why is the Queen looking so serious in her new TV movie? And why can't that cute guy from The Office be on more often?

We had a little party here on the deck this afternoon to celebrate my M.A. The deck is a lovely venue for all types of parties, except that after about 90 minutes of party, it started to feel like a deep-freezer. By the time everyone left, they were wearing borrowed sweatshirts and some were wrapped in fleece blankets. What is it with you, September? Why you gotta be that way? Can't you let the good times roll without being a frosty bizatch?

After the guests left, I opened a few gifts, one of which was a very generous one in the form of a COACH BAG. First I passed out and fell on the floor with glee and good fortune. Then I picked myself up and called Goldrick, who is my go-to girl for all things made to hang on your shoulder and carry your money. Because that is what you do when someone gives you a wonderful gift you would never buy yourself- you call you friend who WOULD buy that for herself to give her a telephone high-five about it.

Weekend highlight: Feeling like a WINNER with good friends and a hot suede bag.
Weekend lowlight: Feeling sad knowing that it's going to be a good couple of years before any of the winning HBO shows make it to my brainwaves.


Needing some Art on a quiet Friday night...

If I wrote tonight about what I am musing about lately, it would be a depressing look at marriage and a frank self-inquiry about why I would ever want to enter into something as terrifying as spending the rest of my days with someone unpleasant. But I don't want to go there tonight.

I used to play the violin in school; for ten years the YHS orchestra suffered just a bit because of my participation in its ensemble. Musically, I was not talented enough for the group, but I like to think that my energy was what landed me a spot. Plus I was dating my stand partner, who was rather talented, so I had connections.

Our orchestra director, Mr. Szabo, (who should be cited in this blog more often because he was one hell of a character), told us once about a crazy phenomenon that happened between instruments. It has to do with resonating and purity. If you play a pure note on a string instrument, the other string instruments in the room will vibrate with the note (provided they're also in tune). Isn't that a beautiful thing?

The reason I tell you this is that this is how I feel when I read certain passages or see certain paintings or hear certain songs. Like Art is hitting my chords. And so on that note (ha!), here's a beautiful passage from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath that makes my inner chords vibrate everytime I read it:

...I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.


Because overactive imagination isn't transferred by genetics.

Tonight I decided to take a walk when I got home from work. Because the only exercise I've gotten in the past two days has been walking from my desk to the printer and back. Which is exactly 3 and a half steps. Round trip.

I left my house and was heading down the block when it occurred to me that the distance to the bus stop is possibly only a bit further than the printer in my office. And here I spent all those years bemoaning the marathon walk! Because it was uphill both ways!

I was just about back home when I passed a couple of women walking towards me. My first thought was "oh, that's my neighbor David's Mom and the woman that lived at his house too." My second thought was "who is that other woman?" And then, as if modern times smacked me across the face, my third thought was "LESBIANS! THEY ARE LESBIANS! THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LESBIANS!" Thrilled at my discovery, I came down the front steps with old adages echoing through my mind about how blind we are when we are young and how sweet it is to think of a time when we are young enough not to judge. And then I came inside and declared my discovery to my Dad ("Dad! Our neighbors are lesbians!").

"No they're not," he said. "Some guy lives there too. Some guy that walks a pit bull every night."

"Maybe that's someone else?"

"No. That's the guy who lives there. You just made all the rest up."


June Carter was one lucky gal

I spent part of my last day in Paris at the Fondation Cartier, not far from Montparnasse. They were showing an exhibit about the history of Rock and Roll and as I wandered through the rooms listening to different selections of hits from the 40's and 50's, I couldn't help thinking "man weren't they lucky back then, to have grown up in a simpler time when Elvis crooning about being a hound dog was the most complex stuff they heard on the radio."

Ya, I'm naive like that.

I have to recommend the exhibit though for those who are still in the Parisian region; I could have spent a lot more time watching the videos and sitting in the "studio" listening to the recording sessions of Elvis and Johnny Cash, among others. And if you haven't yet seen Walk the Line, you need to clear a couple of hours this weekend and do so. Cause Johnny + June = hope in true love in a post-rehab world.


And now I don't get the student price EITHER...

Me: So how's the commute from Hartford going?
Co-worker 1: It's fine, it's living with my parents that's making me crazy.
Me: Yeah. I hear that. Overall, I'm cool with my parents, but last night we ate dinner at 4:14pm.
Co-worker 2: What! You're like, living in a retirement home!
Me: I know, just like that. Only no senior discount at the movies.


Paris Newsletter: Month Twelve

Dear Paris,
A few years ago, a friend of mine was preparing to go abroad. She was nervous to go and we spoke on IM for a while about how much she would grow during her time in Scotland, how much she had to look forward too, and especially how strong she would feel when she came back at the end of the semester. "This will be you," I wrote:
love love love
love you love
love love love

I have never felt as close to that diagram as I did this past week in Paris. What I thought would be a horribly depressing seven days ended up being my best yet in a city that welcomed me as if I had never left. Everything was just as I left it, the Champs Elysee still led to the Louvre, Notre Dame was still catercornered to St. Michel, and all the Starbucks were still where I'd left them. What a relief to know I hadn't imagined the beauty of the Jardin de Luxembourg or the quiet calmness of the Seine.

In some twist of inexplicable efficiency, I managed to see every person I wanted to and then some. I only cried once while walking through the Tuilerie gardens, and that was only out of sheer awe at how much beauty could exist in a city, and more importantly, how much beauty could exist in the people I have come to know and love over the past year. I saw ex-boyfriends and wished them well; I saw ex-students and apologized for my not coming back; I sat down with my ex-boss and spoke frankly about how disappointed I was to not work with him, but how excited I was to return to my new job. It was as if I stopped beating around the bush with every person and told each one of them how much they meant to me. And holy shit, was that ever freeing.

On Friday, I spent the afternoon walking through the Latin Quarter alone, eating ice cream for lunch. My joy must have been spelled out across my face because every single person I passed smiled and said "BONJOUR, MADEMOISELLE! QUE VOUS ETES CHARMANTE, MADEMOISELLE! C'EST BONNE, LA GLACE, MADEMOISELLE?" It was like that scene from Beauty and the Beast where bakers and bookstore owners and sheep are all popping out of doorways to watch her as she walks through town. And I'm not kidding, I just about died of happiness, I just about converted to Parisiennisme, leaving behind the mess of men and boys and taking a vow of celibacy, all in the name of baguettes and cheese.

Maybe it seems like I'm rambling on too much with love for a place that is known for its sneers and its snobisms; perhaps some of you will read this and imagine that I'm romanticizing a place that pays way too many civil servants per year and should be "happy that we saved their asses during World War II." But I can only say this. To have felt so much joy, so loved, so free, even for one afternoon must mean something. Someone must be doing something right in that city so that I was able to feel that even for 30 seconds, and for that, and for my friends abroad, I am forever grateful.

The trip ended with a mind-bogglingly funny night in which Maddy and I got plastered on the Pont des Arts, seduced a Scottish barman into giving us double the alcohol we paid for, and ended up taking the bus home with a bunch of rowdy rugby fans. Perhaps my favorite moment of the whole trip was what happened next, when Maddy used her insane convincing power to make two men MAKE-OUT in the bus after having promised one a kiss for it. Somehow we made it home with French flag colored painted on our faces, and proceeded to eat Dunkin Heines chocolate icing from the jar. Hung over for most of my inter-continental trip the next morning was a bitch, but damn wasn't it worth it, wasn't it all so freaking worth it.