6.30.2011

Are we married yet?

I'm having a rough day and most of it is because of that darn wedding infringing on what was otherwise a very happy life! This morning I wrote out checks to vendors only to find out that we have no more normal US stamps, only foreign. So in a fit of rage, I stuck $.98 on each envelope, which is only traveling to Westchester, NY. I guess those puppies rode first class.

Not having stamps is not a big deal unless you are six weeks from your wedding and you hate everything. Like you hate talking about vendor insurance, for example, or the impending necessity of making a fun reception playlist when you do not have 98% of the songs you want to play. Is this boring you yet? I know! That's what happens when you are six weeks away, you get totally boring and just walk around muttering about what time the ice cream will arrive and will it fit in the freezer.

When I got to work today, I googled foods that will reduce stress and just finished a salad that had avocado, walnuts and almonds on it. Now I'm all zen and relaxed and slouching in my chair! Not really. Ok, a little.

We're leaving for Madison, WI tomorrow. When we first planned this 4th of July trip, I think we were both kind of nervous about being away for a whole long weekend so close to the wedding. It's safe to say we're past that now. We're like, GET OUT, GET AWAY! Get far away from Brooklyn and wedding errands. If you have not yet been through a wedding and you believe you will do this at some point in your life, I cannot more strongly recommend a long weekend trip six weeks before the wedding. We will be forced to ride bikes and take walks and eat BBQ food for 4 days with the Sarahs. BOO HOO!

As I ate my low-stress salad over lunch a few minutes ago, two things made me happy. This post by Mimi Smartypants made me laugh out loud and the following pictures of big, white dogs really did the trick. Having a rough day, even if it's not because of a wedding? Take a look at these guys...





Ok, now for the grand finale:

6.27.2011

Philly weekend.

We spent this weekend in Philadelphia for the last wedding we'll attend until ours. It was goosebump-inducing, hearing the vows and watching my friend Galen come down the aisle with her dad. At some point I thought "geez, I better do some kind of therapy beforehand, something that will allow me to not sob through my entire ceremony." Then I reconsidered and decided I might just take a shot.


These past few weeks have been so filled with wedding errands and emailing vendors that we've found ourselves needing to distract from the upcoming event at hand. Last week I called Tuesday a "wedding-free day," a suggestion that Evelyn had made to me way back when we got engaged, but at that point I thought "who the heck needs to lay aside one day per week to NOT do wedding stuff?" Little did I know.

We stayed with Jess and Sean on Friday night, dear, dear friends from Muhlenberg. We had the best time catching up in a pub, then wandering out for Starbucks the next morning and catching the flag-raising ceremony at the Betsy Ross House. There is nothing better than Saturday morning chai in your pjs at the Betsy Ross house with Jess:


We got back to Brooklyn last night after a traffic-filled ride home with Anne and Tyler, happy to be back with the cats. New York passed a bill this weekend to allow gay people to get married in our state and that feels just right. Here's to many happy, respectful and lifelong marriages - for everyone!

More pix from our weekend here.

6.23.2011

So true.

From page 133:
"Men talk." She pointed her finger. "They talk all the time. The truth is, in normal daily intercourse, men never shut up. Let me give you a for instance: three men building a stone wall. Talk, talk, talk. Artie, they go on and on. Every rock and angle has to be anointed with talk. Ad nauseam. People: it's a lousy wall. Throw the damn thing up and be done. But no. When they finish and it's time to relax, that's when they shut up. Have you ever seen workmen eating lunch? Staring into the distance, chewing like zombies, not one word. With women it's exactly the opposite. We get down to work, and we don't want anything pleasurable to get in our way. Think of all the grandmothers in the kitchen rolling dough. All business, only shorthand talk allowed: put that here; no, not those; roll it thinner, that's the way. But when the pies are in the oven, they sit down with their cups of tea and the fun begins. To a man, talk is work; to a woman, it's reward." 

- Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian

6.21.2011

Shots of NY: West Village and Fort Greene

In the past month, I've done Big Onion walking tours of the West Village and Fort Greene. Don't know Big Onion? Well, they're the best. $15 per person, you show up with cash in hand and a very smart PhD student takes you on a tour, full of fun facts and gorgeous things you wouldn't have noticed yourself.

The Village is a part of Manhattan that I've always been intimidated to explore. The roads are twisty and confusing and I'd never wandered in that part of town, other than getting lost on the way to a restaurant. But I loved it! It's all Edith Wharton and Henry James over there. I'd just finished The Age of Innocence, so I was pretty into it.






I'd wanted to do the Fort Greene tour because I run over there sometimes and I am ALWAYS lost. Part of the fun thing about doing a walking tour is laying out a plan that you can come back to later. You can be sure I'll be returning to run around Clinton Hill once the weather cools down.

P.S. Fun Fort Greene fact? Richard Wright wrote Native Sun in Fort Greene Park. Writing in a park = awesome.




6.16.2011

Why a wedding is more than 6 hours in an arboretum.

The shower with my lovely bridesmaids.
Here's the truth about having a wedding: it's only 50% about the wedding day. At least, that's how it feels to me. Because in the ten months leading up to The Wedding, an event which will start at 5pm and end around 11pm, there are a billion little events and moments that count just as much.

A former boss (and someone I am honored to call my friend) happened to be in New York last weekend. She lives in Luxembourg and for a bunch of reasons, isn't going to be able to make it to our wedding in August. And so we spent three hours together at a Le Pain Quotidian in midtown last Saturday, talking about the best marriages she knows, the reasons I love Chris and the differences between French and American weddings.

"Should we take a walk?" she asked after we had paid the check. And so we walked down 3rd avenue a bit while I talked about not yet having sandals for the wedding.

"Let's go into that shoe store!" she said and because she has insanely classy style, I listened to her. Thus ensued 30 minutes of trying on various sandals and shoes and I walked out with a pair that were on super-super-sale and that will allow me to dance all night long. The sandals are great-looking. But the memory of purchasing them with a dear friend who won't be there on The Wedding Day is priceless to me.

There are hundreds of other examples. Dinner last weekend with two friends who have volunteered to handle picking fresh flowers and arranging them in centerpieces the morning of the wedding. Dinner last night with old friends who, amid great conversation about innovation and art history and musical performances, volunteered to loan us a sound system for the reception and DRIVE THERE TO SET IT UP THEMSELVES. I sent an email last week to our whole company asking if anyone ate Bonne Maman jam and would they save their empty jars for us. A co-worker that I barely know showed up the next morning with 20 jars.

When you let people in, when you invite them to participate in the joyful moments of your life, I promise that you'll be blown away.

A college friend wrote me a 3 page email suggesting places that we should stop as we drive down the Pacific Coast on our honeymoon (including places to sleep, eat and take random beach walks). We'll be spending the 4th of July in Madison, where I'll meet Chris' extended family and spend a few days with the Sarahs, a visit we have wanted to take for a while, now prompted and expedited because of The Wedding Day. These are examples of the tiny branches that grew out of planning this event, but branches that I did not anticipate, branches that make our wedding tree fuller and stronger and more meaningful than the 6 hours on August 13 we are excitedly waiting for.

I picked up my wedding dress on Sunday morning. It was shiny and new and so much whiter than the one I'd tried on in the shop. My Mom came down to the West Village and so did one of my bridesmaids, Katherine, who brought the veil she wore in her wedding, when I was one of her bridesmaids. I'll be wearing her veil; it matched the dress perfectly. I love that my Mom is getting to spend more time with my friends, getting to know them through this process of planning and parties and pretty dresses.

I know I'm going to cry my face off at our wedding. Part of it has to do with this insanely grateful feeling I have when I think about the man I'm marrying. I did good to wait for him. I'm going to have a great life, and a huge part of that is because he's going to be the one next to me.

But another reason for the tears will be the culmination of these wonderfully intimate moments among the people in our lives. It means so much when people reach out and are there to celebrate with you, regardless of whether they can make it to the actual day or not. That feeling, the feeling of us being loved and respected, is really just the best in the world.

6.15.2011

Camp Mighty, party of 2.

This morning Kelley emailed me with a link to Camp Mighty. It's Maggie Mason's latest gift to the world, a long weekend of meeting other people who want to change the world and learning how to do both practical things (tie a knot!) and insane things (accomplish your life goals).

Here's the moral of this story: Chris and I are going together. My FUTURE HUSBAND and I are going. We're going to figure out the individual and together goals of our lives. It's taking place in the Ace Hotel, Palm Springs, where we'll have finished our honeymoon only 3 months earlier.

I am freaking out of amazingness. How lucky am I that we're doing this together? People, I'm totally marrying the right guy.

6.14.2011

The new East River Ferry. Excellent.

Yesterday was the first day of the new East River Ferry and I took it home from work! If I never get around to writing that book, at least my grandchildren will have one thing to brag about.


Here we are leaving Manhattan in the dust. This new ferry service is free until the 26th and let me tell you guys something. FERRIES ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN SUBWAYS. If you need proof, let's examine the behavior of people on both forms of transportation. People on subways say snide things to each other and give you mean looks when you actually find a seat. People on ferries? Well, they're much too busy wind-blowing their hair for any of that!


Look at how peaceful that dude looks. He's like "man, here comes Williamsburg. I wonder who built those ridiculously shiny buildings." Me too, dude. Me too.

One of the best things was getting a view of Brooklyn that you really can't get from anywhere except the water. I never knew these signs and factories existed! Also, gotta love that Lehigh Cement. Go Lehigh Valley, PA!





When the ferry let me off down by the Brooklyn Bridge, I was still a 20 min walk from home. But since the Brooklyn Bridge Park's job seems to be making my neighborhood more beautiful every damn day, it was a picturesque walk home. See?



Moral of the story: ferries rule. Mostly because of how joyous everyone around you is. When this other ferry came by, we all waved and cheered. I mean, what?? That never (EVER) happens on the subway.

6.08.2011

So now we're basically BFF.

One of my very favorite things about living in New York is that you're almost guaranteed to see every author or musician if they're on a tour. It's an embarrassment of riches; last month I saw Elizabeth Gilbert twice in one week. (And what a grounding week it was...)

Last night was the first night of Ann Patchett's book tour for her newest novel, State of Wonder. I haven't read it yet, but I started it this morning in the train and within two paragraphs I was sinking into the bench on the 4 train, struck speechless by how masterful she is at writing a novel. She read a scene last night about an anaconda that had everyone's jaws on the floor. (By the way, you should totally see if she's touring in your city. Here's the schedule.)



I read Run last summer while I was in Iowa for the summer writing workshops and I gotta say, it's not just a good book to read. It's also a good book to learn how to write! I can't tell you how many times I've gone back to Bel Canto to see how she ends chapters or changes perspective. Patchett's books are writing how-tos if you read them the right way.

I almost never stay for book signings, but she's such an approachable writer that I picked up a copy of her new book and waited on line. When it was my turn, I handed her my book and said "Hi!"

"I love your necklace!" she said.
OhmygodAnnPatchettandIarebestfriends, I thought to myself. But I said "thanks, cool. My fiance got it for me for Christmas."
She opened the book to the title page.
"Your books are really helpful to learn how to write," I said. "I'm writing my first book and I find myself looking to Run and Bel Canto to see how they work."
"Oh!" she said and started signing, but not before she looked right at me and smiled for a minute.

Later I looked at what she wrote:



I mean, is that the best or what?

6.06.2011

On being "away."

So I read this blog post by Steven Berlin Johnson over a week ago and I can't stop thinking about it. Steven B. Johnson is an author and thinker about innovation who lives in Brooklyn. I heard him speak last year at a conference, where he was really engaging and made me want to read every one of his books. (Best one I've read so far: The Invention of Air. Amaaaaazing.)

Anyways. His most recent post is about picking up and moving his family to California for two years. Their kids are young and his job is flexible (author/speaker for the win!) and he's always wanted to spend some time out west. What's unique about this situation is that they're not moving, per say. They're spending two years somewhere else and then coming back to Brooklyn.

And I gotta say, I adore this idea.

On hearing about their move, one of his friends told him that this is going to be like slowing down time. Since the four of them are going to be focused on where to live and getting lost in their new town and finding the best places to eat and just plain old DISCOVERING all the time, they're going to be able to spend more time together. No more routines, no more birthday party obligations or standing lunch dates or stuff you do just because you live where you live and everyone else is doing it. For two years, they're going exploring.

Can't you just see it? The kids grow up and they talk about the two years they spent in California. The two years when they hung out with their Dad more than ever, when they all piled in a car and drove to see the Redwoods or vacationed in Seattle or got to know the friends and family out there who they never normally see. By breaking the schedule of life in Brooklyn, they create unique memories, ones that will last longer than the others, because they aren't all blurring together in a rhythm of sameness.

On Friday night, Chris suggested we take a walk. It was gorgeous weather and we had eaten an early dinner, so we headed down to Brooklyn Bridge Park, where we found the WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL was kicking off! There were telescopes for star gazing later in the evening and at 8:30 there was a panel of astronomers speaking about their jobs and the universe. We were giddy! A beautiful evening with a stunning sunset over Manhattan and a free panel filled with super-smart guys. It was an awesome night, one that I won't forget for a long time.

But what allowed us to stumble onto this? For once, we had a free weekend. No plans, not even one. And with the freedom from obligations, we allowed ourselves to be more spontaneous, to wander our neighborhood, to stumble upon and enjoy something without worrying about needing to get back or get up the next morning.

We woke up Saturday morning and decided to grab the ferry to Governors Island. Let me be clear: we've wanted to go to Governors Island for over two years now. The ferry is a 7 minute walk from our place. And yet! Not once have we made it down there, not once have we taken the 3-minute ride to the island. Friday's spontaneity put us in the mood for more exploring, so we spent a few hours walking the island, swinging on swings and sitting in Adirondack chairs.

It was the best thing ever.

And all weekend, this joy kept bubbling up in me, this love of doing tons of fun stuff on the fly. It felt so familiar, I couldn't quite place it. Until I could. And I realized that a huge reason why my time spent in France was memorable is because, while I lived there, I was free. Family lived far away so there wasn't the guilt of needing to plan visits. Most of the people I hung out with were not from France either, so we didn't have hang outs that required calendars. We were there for a year, living it up without repercussions or savings accounts. And every single day was a clean slate, one that could end with a dance party or dinner by the Seine or a free night at a museum. I miss this, but have never found myself able to replicate it on this side of the ocean. I have always assumed that this is a France thing, but now I'm wondering if it isn't, simply, an away thing.

There's no clean ending for this blog post because I don't know what the ending is myself. Is the moral of the story to move away every few years, take a year abroad? Am I supposed to resist making plans here in New York so that they never feel like obligations? Or is this another one of those life balance problems that you never quite figure out? In lieu of an ending, how about some pictures from our super spontaneous weekend, eh?







6.01.2011

Shots of NY: The Chrysler building and the Flatiron

I walked to my friend Leigh's new apartment last week and ended up passing through Madison Square Park again. Since I've already shared that in an earlier NY post, I figured I'd turn around and snap a picture in the opposite direction. Look at this sweet building:



I wonder who lives in the Flatiron. And what kind of rooms they built at the front tip...

And then we have our old friend, the Chrysler building. Chris and I emerge from the subway through this building almost every morning. Just yesterday I switched roles at Arc90 and my new team happens to be in an office with this view:


Uhhh... AWESOME? Or what?