Checking in.

On Monday night, my sister and I cuddled up in her room to catch up on our lives. Having been driven from the family room for disturbing Steve's TV-watching, we were deep in a discussion of love and life when my Mom poked her head in to say goodnight. As she pulled the door shut, I imagined what we must have looked like, two similar-looking twenty-somethings sharing secrets.

This is what my Mom always wanted for us. "You're so lucky you have a sister!" she would say to us during our frequent adolescent fights. "I always wanted a sister... and look how you talk to each other!"

For lack of a better excuse, the simple fact that we see each other so rarely prevents us from using harsh words. The entire family made the trek up to my parents' for the funeral of a dear family friend on Monday and we had only a few precious hours of time. Better make the best of it.

The funeral (which I will probably write about at some point) was difficult, the way it always is when someone dies in their 50s. You mourn for the kids, you mourn for the husband, you mourn for a life that should have been allowed to continue for decades. But the underlying refrain remains: our time is short. Our hours are precious. You never know.

Chris and I found an apartment this week, a place that strikes at the heart of where we want to live and the kind of life we imagine together. We got approved yesterday and will sign the lease next week when he's back from Wisconsin. As we rode the elevator up to work the other day, I said "don't die, ok? Be really careful." Things are so good right now that I can't help letting down the brakes. The build-up has the ring of tragedy, the potential for devastation.

I know that's not the way to think. I know that most of this is a reaction to death and the incredible amount of joy in my life and the confusing way those two exist side-by-side. But, you know. You wonder.

To distract myself, I've decided to embark on a project so great that I don't sound sane talking about it. Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? This year I've decided to join the ranks and throw myself into writing a November novel. I have no idea how this will go and it's possible that posting here will be light for the month. But oh! The CRAP that will come out while writing 50,000 words in 30 days!

I'm pretty excited to see how that goes.

P.S. I haven't said anything about my trip to Madison last weekend; I'll write about that soon too. For now, amuse yourselves with photos of this awesome city.


Las chicas.

Behold! The stunning Mexican ladies!

These girls are multi-lingual like you wouldn't believe, have lived all over the world and are willing to engage in theories on love for hours at a time. Daniela is spending a few months in New York on an internship and Steph is up in Montreal for the year. What a crazy thing to meet up in Greenpoint last night to reconnect over dinner and drinks.

Per usual, our goodbyes were uncertain as to when and where we'll meet up next. Maybe Amsterdam 2010? Possibilities exist, that's all I'm sayin'.


Lovely lunchtime: check.

Today at lunch I took a 20 minute walk around the UN and, to give my walk some purpose, I took my camera. I decided to specifically look for new and lovely things. Here are some of the things I found:

Crazy vantage point from the outside of the U.N. After I took this photo, I walked up the stairs and into the most quaint neighborhood I've ever seen in Manhattan.

This wall made me think about what it would be like to chisel this text into a rock myself. And how that might be a great way to meditate on a mantra.

The U.N. isn't really the most attractive of buildings, but there's a little magic in the way you hear people talking so many different languages while on their lunch break.

Um, hello. I am moving to this park. Forget it Chris, call off the apartment search. I will just live here. Or, if rent is too high, I will spend my lunch breaks reading Jane Austen or tales of Heathcliff here. It seems too appropriate.

An inscription revealed this to be the last remaining lamppost from the 1927 park. How many people spent their evenings wandering by this light? Fiction brain suggests a tryst between lovers of different nations, who meet at the Tutor City park after hours.

It was good to leave my desk and take a break. You should too.


An Ode to the Socratic Method

We walk through the door, taking in the large living room and the awkward way you have to turn yourself to get past the island in the kitchen. It is a huge apartment. The landlord explains his new place in Park Slope, that's why they're leaving, he's bummed because this is a great place. I wander to the window, wondering if this is where Oscar will sit to watch the birds. It isn't. We both feel it and, though we're enthusiastic to the owner, we decide this three blocks away after the tour is over. The search will go on.

The past week has been a swirl of reflection within a sea of stress. Though we'd discussed living together in the future, several recent conversations made it clear that the future might be sooner than we'd thought. And though some might see the mere possibility of taking the next life step as confirmation to do it, I was on less solid ground.

All I will say about this is that I lived with someone a few years ago and it did not go well. It went so not well that it was over within a few months. And though I am someone who loves jumping into new challenges and adventures, I find it much more difficult when it is an adventure that I have already failed.

How do you get to the bottom of what you really want? Such epic life moments have a way of sweeping you up into them. You imagine how happy your mother will be that you've finally found someone. Your friends will come to a housewarming party and bring you candles and guest towels. The outside world never fails in its enthusiasm for societal progress. And what of your inside world?

Sometimes I write things on this blog because I want to share them with you. Most times, actually. But sometimes I find myself writing things here for myself. Your appreciation or lack thereof is merely by-product. Sometimes I want to record history here, register how it was. In future weaker moments, I want to know that this decision was something that I thought through and out and around and about. Because I have. And all of that brings me as deep as today possibly allows me into the wants of my subconscious: I want to live with Chris.

In short, we made a survey and took it separately about where we wanted to live, what kind of neighborhood, the amenities that were important, how long our commute should be. Then, compared. And though it was a promising start with many similarities, my introspection wasn't finished.

I came home on Monday night and put on some Bon Iver, lit a couple of candles, and wrote out some questions. What would I ask myself if I were my own friend? And then, in colored markers, I wrote out the answers. Those answers are full of nerves and excitement, a colored mess of letters on a page filled with as much truth as I can muster. So then I knew.

It's ironic; I carry a notebook with me, I write on this blog, I am perhaps one of the people who wonders and reflects the most on the world around me. And yet the challenge of knowing what you really want seems an impossible task without some solitude and quiet. In the stillness of Monday night, I felt no loyalty to either opinion, but rather to myself, as deep down as I could stretch.

So January 1 it is. We're at the beginning of our search for a place with enough space for independence, as many outlets as an apartment can handle and close proximity to Trader Joe's. This time, maybe because I've made such a point to think it through, it feels much more like taking off, like clipping in our seat belts and putting our chairs in an upright position.

Yes, it feels a little like flying.


Happy Napping

Uncle Steve moved back home with the 'rents last weekend, but his memory remains. Also the photos of him napping at various hours of the afternoon. Ahhh to be a recent grad...


Bulking up... on weight-lifting, India-ness and wedding gifts.

This is going to be another post about the India trip and I know, I know- you're sick of it already. First it was francefrenchfrancais all the time and now it's iheartgandhi. Well, that's how I run, folks. I really like getting INTO something and, at the moment, I'm reading Indian fiction and kind of pissed at the British and storing various Lonely Planet guides under my pillows, which I fall asleep reading every night.

Not knowing much about the place, India already sounds GIANT. People are giving me this kind of advice:

"X town is only 6 hours away from Y town, so you can totally do that and get back in a day."

That seems like a long time in a vehicle to me, regardless of whether that vehicle is a bus, train, driver or personal chauffeur who will carry me on his back while I drink chai tea lattes. Someone kindly recommended a very adorable hotel in Delhi and I have half a mind to have a stay-cation for all four nights prior to the wedding in Bombay and explore the closest cities. Because packing up my stuff EVERY MORNING and moving to the next place? Well, that sounds like traveling in my early 20's. Ha.


Last night I printed out some arm exercises and hit the Weight Area at the gym. For the first 20 minutes, a crazy-toned Asian girl with tattooed arms lifted some odd heavy bar in front of me in the mirror. We ended up in one of those awkward positions, where every time she stooped down to drop it, there I was behind her, calmly doing bicep curls. I was like her lame-tastic double, sans body art and giant lobe holes. Also, I was rocking out to The Killers and, I can only assume by how angry she looked, she was using something a bit more heavy metal as her lifting muse.

I happened to glance over at a personal training session and almost laughed out loud when I saw the trainee had folded her arms across her chest and was sulking, which the trainer explained why xyz exercises were good for her. Listen up! If you have enough cash flow that you can pay for personal training, how about you NOT SULK? It makes you look like a royal jack-ass and if I were a less polite girl, I would have gone over and asked to use her 60-minute session, since she was so clearly not.


2010 is shaping up to be The Year of the Wedding. Four friends have already proclaimed their engagements and I am starting to think about bulk-shopping for blenders and champagne.

Some of you have been to 15 million weddings (Katherine? AB?)... any advice on how to budget for such massive de-single-ifying is welcome.


Take that, Lonely Planet.

A former boss of mine was, for a million different reasons, a great role model to me. She was self-sufficient, confident, a mother of two, a hard worker and a smart cookie. But for all the reasons I had to admire her, there was one that stood out like a golden achievement: she had great friends.

Having lived in a million places around the world, she had acquired a network of incredible people who would do anything for her and she for them. I babysat for her sons when she took a plane to Switzerland to a surprise party for a friend's 50th birthday. I met a few of them at her son's Communion party, one of whom gave a speech that still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it today. Not one of these epic friendships were cultivated in the town she lived in; rather, her network spread out across the world, flourishing in airports and annual dinner parties and random meetings in the south of France.

Three days ago I sent an email to my most nomadic friends, asking for advice about where to stay, what to see and who to meet in Delhi when I go in December. And this morning I have no less than 16 emails back, many from connections of connections, all of which overwhelm me.

Some snippets:

My next recommendation would be to take a train to Amritsar which is about 6 hours from Delhi. Its where the golden temple is which is a holy sikh temple. Its so beautiful and atmospheric, it was my favourite place in India. Also you can go to the India/pakisthan border in the evening for border ceremony which is worth a visit!

...I could also check with my mom, if she can perhaps help you, while you are in delhi... (she is a great shopper!).. you can contact her for everything (sight seeing.. shopping.. etc)...Next do check out the Agra fort, 40kms from Taj... do some shopping in the local markets (leather footwear is famous)... well, if u happen to get in touch with my mom, i don't need to give u any more guidelines.. she can join u for a day trip to Agra too...she would love that!

After two nights in Delhi, jumped on a Second Class section of train and zoomed to Agra. (third class can be a bit sketchy, and first class is quite a bit more expensive and you don't get to sit next to strangers and talk to them, so we thought 2nd class was the way to go). We arrived in the late afternoon and made sure to find a hotel within the limits of the Taj Mahel, and had already organized with a tour guide so that he would pick us up before dawn, so that yes - we did indeed watch the sunrise over the Taj. Magical indeed - check out my Facebook photos of my South Asia trip.

our tour guide for agra was Amit Agarwal. HIs email is [email]. His phone number is [phone number]. I had a very positive experience with him the first time I went to the taj.

my recommendation here would be to show up early in the morning at the British High Commission in Delhi, and sign up for a tour of Old Delhi with Nigel. Nigel is an old man who came to Delhi in the early '40s with the British, and after independence he decided to stay in India. He knows places in Delhi that no one else does and brings a small group of people there. You cannot reserve over the phone, you have to go in person to the British High Commission and sign-up. This is a one full day tour in Old Delhi... you'll never forget it!

I cannot even tell you what all of this advice means to me. The prospect of connecting with a random friend's mom in Delhi and having tea with her (or, you know, visiting a FORT together!) is making this trip truly come together.

Human connections, man. The most valuable thing I have.