Sunday night of the Keep Busy weekend.

No one wants to be the mopey girlfriend, least of all me. Chris went back to WI for a long weekend of camping and canoeing (aka Mosquito Bite Central) and, anticipating potential loneliness, I tried to organize weekend activities far in advance.

It's a fine line between thrilled-with-your-6-month-boyfriend and appearing-clingy-like-the-worst-Saran-Wrap. Nah, that's not true. It's not actually a fine line, but I think girls see it thinner than it actually is.

I ended up with a fantastic weekend, full of friend dinners and brunches and museums and lounging and babysitting for Sima's sleeping baby. (Can it really be called babysitting if you never actually *see* the sleeping baby? Seems more like couch-sitting...). And yesterday afternoon, I got my first 300 project job, writing a section on Greenpoint for a "Living in NY" guide. Today, my second job: writing the section on Williamsburg. Soon to be $30 in pocket in total. Two days in and I'm already at 10%.

Productive, social weekend. Boyfriend who?

Last week at a birthday party for the lovely Goldrick. Girl in the kitchen, looks so familiar. We're eyeing each other until I say "Did you go to Muhlenberg like 90% of this party?" Negative. We try other guesses. Did you ever live in France? Rye? Work on a farm in Italy??

Then finally, Yorktown High School. This girl was a photographer for the newspaper when I was EIC. Now she works with Goldrick. Crazy. Such random connections always freak me out.

Today, at the Guggenheim, I'm hiking up the slanted walk with Anne. Suddenly a feeling comes over me, something feels incredulous, like I just ran into someone I know at a random place. I shake it off, easy as it came, remembering last weekend's party.

Not two steps later, there's Kate, a buddy from Middlebury Paris. Last time we saw each other, we were graduating with Master's in Vermont two years ago. I'm sufficiently freaked out. I mean, come on NY. I don't know THAT many people. And yet my rate of running into familiar faces in a city with 9 million people is off the charts. Enough that my friends make jokes about it.

Enough that sometimes I wonder about coincidences.


Yesterday morning, one blue Morning Glory opens herself along the fire escape. This morning there are three. The garden adds an extra dimension to the apartment, a crazy, changing section of my living space. Other than the cat, who follows me incessantly from one room to the next, the rest of the place stays the same. Dirty dishes, sadly, do not wash themselves.

It's the greatest thing about plants. They're just living here parallel, going through their life cycles alongside us. Thrive on some love and water and sunshine, but capable of photosynthesizing on their own.

Good role models.


The $300 Project

I think I've mentioned before that my friend Tejal is getting married in India this December. This week I started to do some flight-searching and figure out what Visas and vaccinations a trip to India entails.

Results: Hepetitis A + Typhoid + Tourist Visa = $180 + $60 + $73 = $313

"Bummer," I thought to myself. "If only there were a way for me to make that money OUTSIDE of savings and my regular salary."

Thus was born the $300 project. I'm challenging myself to make $300 by doing odd jobs (the odder, the better for the purposes of reporting to this blog!) from now until December. Here's a list of little jobs that I've thought of so far:

- tutor French
- bake sale in the park
- babysit someone
- rake leaves
- submit articles to magazines
- find money on the sidewalk

Obviously, the last option would be the quickest, though it is the most unlikely. Today I interviewed Oscar about helping me make some money. I must say, he doesn't seem too interested in helping, maybe because the vaccinations aren't for him.

The $300 Project from Jen Epting on Vimeo.

Does anyone have other good ideas for making little bits of money? Even something that makes $15 would help work towards the goal. Feel free to get creative; I know I will.


Endagered species

Last night I got in bed at 9:03. Exhausted from a late night birthday party and a long day spent walking, my eyes closed and re-opened at 9:20. Done sleeping. Ready to go.

Tossing and turning for the next two hours negate the hopes of waking at 6:30 to Get Shit Done before work. This morning I snoozed over and over, dreaming crazy dreams of secretly being a Russian rock star, confronting someone at work who was spreading rumors that I smell, speaking in French with friends (discussing said smell, I suppose) and realizing that my accent has gone to shit.

Dreams about losing my accent (and my vocabulary- in the dream, it took me 5 minutes to think of the word for garbage) get under my skin in a panicking way. I look at the calendar. Forty-six days until France.

It can't come soon enough.


Things I've learned since college.

Faced with Steve's graduation a few months ago, the inevitable Graduation Gift loomed. For a while, Katie and I talked about investing some money for him so that, in five years, he'd have some spare cash on hand to do something cool. Like fly to Australia. Or buy some camping supplies.

Turns out that, in this economy, 5 years of invested money will buy you a turkey a sandwich. Sans mayo.

So I started thinking about what I wish I'd known six years ago when I graduated. In so many ways, it seems like everything significant that's made me who I am has happened since that May day on the front lawn of Muhlenberg 6 years ago, though I know that isn't true logically. College made me who I am. The period since then has been pure gravy.

In the first of two gifts requiring worldwide support this summer (more on the second in about a month), I wrote to a bunch of people that I know who went to college and lived to tell about it. Whose backgrounds are similar or very different than Steve's, but whose voices I thought would provide interesting and meaningful advice. My email to these people asked them for any random things they've learned since the cap and gown.

And guys, I was floored by what I got back.

Their advice, coupled with significant chunks of information I thought Steve should know about, make up The Graduation Gift, which has become a book called "Things I Learned Since College."

I have to publicly thank all the generous people who took a few minutes to help with this project:
Dawn, Jay, Erica, Melissa, Tyler, Adam, Peggy, Leigh, Walker, Sneibs, Vinny, Chris, Evelyn, Mike, Skersh, Sima, Josh, Tim and Tejal.

Of course the spirit of this book was giving Steve a send-off into his post-college life, to reassure him that college, while A great time in your life, is not THE greatest time in your life. But I had such a kick-ass time making it that it served as this great stopping point for me to take a look at where I've been and where I'm headed.

If you have a few minutes, you should flip through the book on Flickr. The advice is SO good and there are tons of my own advice, recommended recipes and spots around the world that are worth visiting. In the next couple of days, I'll post selected highlights.

Also, feel free to leave some advice in the comments if you didn't get to add something to the book. Again, thanks to you guys who contributed. Humans are awesome.


Growing pains.

I've been working on this long and rambling manifesto about how software and love are similar. It's been a major thorn in my side all week. I take it out every day and work on it, move some paragraphs around, cut some sentences and add some words.

Sometimes you have to recognize when things are not working.

So I'm tabling that for now, which frees me up to write something on here that isn't that post. Amazing how something like that can block me from updating here for a week.

Chris and I talked on the way to the subway this morning about my (lack of) writing lately, how I feel about that and why I feel it's happening. I do feel that the past few months have been an explosion of creativity for me (I attribute 75% of this to the SARK workshop, incidentally), and I'm not sure how things are shaking out in terms of relative priorities to projects. I've been cooking up a storm, making some crazy gifts for people and planning a trip to France with such detail that you'd think I'm my own personal assistant. I feel energized and creative and like I'm getting shit done... only it's in a million directions and not focused on one thing.

I don't know if that's a problem (lack of focus) or a quality (diversity of interests). I do know that my planning for a site re-design will have to take into account all of these passions because part of the reason I feel myself slipping away from writing here is that I'm not sure what content belongs in this space. Or rather, today, it seems that only a specific type of content belongs here. I want to branch out.

So I think the new design will have to allow me to share recipes and photos of something I made, along with some tips I have for what happened when I made it. I think it will have to be flexible enough to let me review a book one day and write a list of places to visit if you're ever in Wisconsin the next. I feel like my creative self is going through a bit of an identity crisis and instead of forcing myself to only acknowledge one aspect of that, the new design needs to celebrate reality, as blurry as it is.

I do have some photos to share, but haven't had two seconds to upload them, so I promise the next post will be just photos of recent good stuff in life.

How are you guys holding up?


Elements to a great evening

1. Thai take-out
2. Vanilla pudding cups
3. Three episodes of Lost
4. One snuggly cat
5. A very smart and very talented boyfriend whose enthusiasm for Coderific things is infectious

And... cue happiness.


Gravity, you son of a B.

Alright, this is going to be a doozy.

I had a really shitty day. I had the kind of shitty day that I don't remember how to process anymore; it's rare that I feel something triumph so devastatingly over me. Enthusiasm is my vital warrior, so much so that when it fails to accomplish, I'm left confused and lost.

I finally went to the doctor this morning about something that's been happening in Yoga classes- first last summer, then this winter, then over the past few days. When I'm doing inverted poses (even downdog), fluid collects under my eyes and they swell. It doesn't hurt and it's not gross, but it looks as if I've been sobbing or as if someone recently took out their own shitty day on my face.

After going through a bunch of scenarios (yoga mat allergy? incense allergy?), the doctor agreed with me this morning that my body isn't able to handle being in those positions for more than a few minutes.

I've googled the hell out of this and I literally can't find one other person on the planet who has similar symptoms. The doctor said he was sure a million people have the same problem, but just don't know it because they don't do Yoga.

Sentiment during the 30-minute walk from the doctor's office to work bounced between feeling self-conscious (still a bit swollen this morning) and pissed.

"Don't you think if I do Yoga a lot my body will get used to it?" I'd asked the doctor moments earlier. He shook his head. "There's nothing there that would get stronger or benefit from more use," he said.

Other than looking like a freak, it also slightly stresses me that there isn't a name for this. Anti-inverted-ness? Dis-gravity-io? Come on, modern science. Do me a solid and name this shit so someone can create a wikipage about it and we can figure out a solution. Because for now, the new expensive Yoga mat and 2-week unlimited Yoga pass are going to waste.

This evening in an effort to throw a middle finger at the whole operation, I put in a Yoga DVD I got from the library and did some poses for 40 minutes. The tiny button of light in this whole thing is that it makes me more aware of what's happening to my body as I go through the moves (although I'm pretty sure the Yogis didn't intend internal freak-out monologues as part of the relaxation technique). I just didn't want to mess up my streak of 4 days of daily Yoga. And also because I still sort of refuse to believe that my body wants to screw me on something I like doing so much.

Ok readers, now this is where you come in. So nobody wrote about anti-inverted-ness yet on the Internet. Consider me #1. All I need to feel better about this is a second person, a second case. This post could be found by someone keyword searching or maybe one day you'll be talking with a friend who mentions their increase in puffiness post-headstands. DIRECT THAT PERSON HERE.

We have a Meet-up to organize.


Namaste, I come in peace.

"Look, here's my new yoga bag."
"The one that cost a million dollars?"
"Well no, the mat cost a million dollars. The bag wasn't that bad."
"It looks like you're carrying a bazooka."
"Yeah, I guess it does."


Check it out: Caillebotte at the Brooklyn Museum

Caillebotte was one of the artists covered in the Art History course I had to take for my MA in Paris. We all had a soft spot for him (as we did for Courbet, that Johnny Depp look-alike...) and when I saw posters for the Caillebotte exhibit in Brooklyn, I knew I had to make it.

The Brooklyn Museum far surpassed my expectations; there were interactive activities for kids at the museum, iPod listening tours and a phone number you could call to get information about some of the paintings (each painting had a code). SO well done, thoughtfully-organized, and a real treat to see some familiar off-beat perspectives here at home.

If you're in New York this weekend and looking for something to do, the exhibit is open til July 5th. The suggested ticket price is $10 and let me tell ya- it was well worth it.

More photos on Flickr.