Saturday, October 3, 2015


As this truly bleak Saturday draws to a close, I sit in my parent's basement, doing laundry like it's 1997 and I'm just home from college. I'm even listening to Radiohead and singing along. And shopping for green Doc Martens and I'm not even joking about that.

Today I visited my Papa in the hospital where he'll be for a few days after having surgery on his knee. He's in a bit of pain and his veins have decided to play hide and seek so he was pretty attached to his bed but there is soccer on all day so at least he has that. I was unaware that hospitals have an entire wing for hip/knee/joint replacements and their recoveries. What is it about our joints? It kept coming up that when someone is older and they break a hip, it signals the beginning of the end. I always questioned that until I started yoga. Back when I was doing it on the daily, my favorite poses were hip openers. Every time I mangled my body into a position to open my hips (my favorite was always butterfly)

I would feel a sense of release and near elation. I was told that the hips act like a bowl into which your emotions are funneled and that by opening those joints regularly, you release stress, pain, sadness and distress. I don't consider myself a yoga devotee anymore (sadly, life got in the way of my regular scheduled classes and my favorite yoga teachers always quit teaching or moved away or had babies) but so much of the philosophy behind yoga makes sense to me and resonates with me. So I think there is something to that whole "mind/body being inseparable" thing. And if hip joints spend a lifespan "catching" all the stress and sadness and existential dread, all the while not lying, I suppose it makes sense that when one of them breaks, a person could be thrown of her axis. Also, I'm sure it just really fucking hurts.

Anyway, I chatted with Papa for a bit before they took him to take some more tests and then went to run errands with my parents. One of those errands was to find a Western Union to send some money to a relative in Honduras. Apparently this is a relative in name only that I have never heard of before today. But boy did I hear of him. My mother said we had to send money to him on behalf of Papa, who has been sending money to this person for years. I asked who he was and then was told an insane, Dickensian story of how this man was born to a prostitute who was killed when two men fought over her. The two men subsequently killed themselves, leaving the child an orphan. I sat in stunned silence because I have never been able to shake the feeling that my family buries the lead when it comes to stories about life in Honduras or even life in NYC in the 60s. It is a bit frustrating because the STORIES. 

What else? My day can actually be summed up in the most Long Island sentence ever: I ate too much at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner but walked it off at the South Shore Mall with my parents. It really is 1997 again.

What did you do today?

Friday, October 2, 2015

I Remember That

I distinctly remember wearing short sleeves and an accompanying frizzed out crown just two days ago. I'm only prone to one false memory in my life (making me the ideal protagonist to any story...writers, call me!) but as I layered up this morning and had a grudge match with my flimsy umbrella against Hurricane Joaquin's leavings, that old short sleeved feeling flew off and away from me like all of the city's summer garbage from the street under me. Today is a day for sleeping in and binge reading. Alas, I'm at work. And more alas, I just started working full time one month ago, which is too soon to be alas'ing anything, but I yam what I yam.

I don't want to speak of work today though because it is in my nature to assume things will always stay the same as they are right now (which would be a bad thing) and I'm trying to force my brain to change this automatic switch to a "go with the flow and remember that change is inevitable" frequency. Have you ever done that? Teach me how?

This weekend promises to deliver more blustery gray wind and I'm headed out east to visit my Papa who recently had knee surgery and to plow through the veritable mountains of mail I've received since I last visited home. I am anticipating The Mail of Mount Kilimanjaro since my mother has mentioned it in every phone call we've had and I know that when things collect, her nerves get jangly. I'm certain there will be coupons and voter info and credit card offers and other nonsense that was born to be shredded. Still, it makes me a bit jumpy to think I have mail I haven't checked in a month; like someone would have decided to pick September to write me a letter. Wishful thinking. As wishful as my thinking around a year or so ago when I tried to single-handedly revitalize the custom of letter writing. No one I sent letters to wrote back.

I HAVE, however, joined Snapchat, that bastion for the short attention spanned. I'm only a little obsessed with it and I have a feeling my obsession will be as short lived as a snap. Also, I think this foray into MODERN LIFE has contributed to my proclivity for false memories. It sharpens my sense memory that I've seen and done things that I never saw or did, like that time I proclaimed in this blog that I only ever had one false memory in my life. I didn't do that. Did I?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hurricane Chauncey

Whadda month September was! I mean amirite or amirite or amiRITE, right? I mean you wouldn't know it from this blog and its recent silence but so much crap happened in my life that it was like I was swimming in a big, boiling pot of chunky stew, scaling the grooved in walls of large, square chunks of mystery meat, bearing down hard with ALL my teeth. Whoa, that was a really weird tangent. I don't even like meat.

You know it is going to be a good month when you start off with a weird tangential metaphor.

In the past month I saw my LITTLE brother get married, started a new full time job, visited umpteen new neighborhoods in NYC that I've never been to, lost about 20 pounds, saw some dear friends whom I haven't seen in years and learned that I can deposit checks through an app on my phone directly to my bank! This world is mad modern and I'm just mad! Mad, I tell you!

There is a new surge of energy in the air today, likely due to the weather. I read today that there is a hurricane in our midst and that his name is all espanish which just means conservatives will blame it for all of the country's problems. All kidding aside, I really have always loved the name Joaquin. It's one of those names that sounds adorable on a toddler and really creative and mysterious on a full grown adult. Like Harrison. Or Tristan. Or Chauncey. Hurricane Chauncey. That should happen.

Anyway, back to my energy. I walked to the bus stop this morning and saw two young men, both with scratch off tickets, both eagerly scratching away at them, both simultaneously walking and talking on their cell phones. I felt my mood lifted because if those two can multitask like that, then so much is possible. So I'm starting a bunch of new projects, some writing, some not writing and my calendar is already solidly booked for October. That's making me sound popular but I'm not. I just make plans ahead of time. Try it! You'll like it!

I'm also going to make yet another attempt at Blog Every Day October but seeing as I've failed a few times and really only succeeded blogging an entire month ONCE, I'll content myself with calling this an attempt, while giving it the college try. Ideas are swirling around my head in that autumnal way they usually do so you never know; I may have double the nonsense to share!

Do you have any nonsense to share? Please comment. I LOVE nonsense. Happy October! I'll just be over here like

Friday, September 25, 2015

Supermarket Clerk Verse

I know the day
must drag
the food from here
to there and over
again your eyes
on the horizon of
a distant place
you will inherit
as Earth 

and you'd hold
the food at your
your hands no
longer cold by 
the door that opens
and closes ad
infinitum on day
then night then forever
day by fluorescence 
which you can

you see it?
Yourself there
and then
day old, stale 
bread sceptre 
on a throne of
tiny conveyor belts.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Atlas me! (Now with footnotes!)

It has been a pretty intense and amazing year for me thus far. I am reflecting on it now, even though it is still September because there are two days every year that mean renewal to me: New Year's Day and Labor Day. One is for obvious reasons and the other is because of years of institutional brainwashing (aka going to school) has indelibly ingrained the end of summer with starting over, as though I should have sweated out all my physical energy (such as it is) and focused instead on working out my brain. I also tend to assign witchy sorts of activity to September since so many significant things have happened in my life during this month.

And maybe it's all the coffee or all the running around I'm doing of late, but I find myself reflecting and lost in my head more so than normal which, if you know me at all, is already a fuckload* amount of time. I've tried to get down on paper or make note of things I want to write about and we've now reached the point where the things I want to write about and the things I want to write through are catching up with my ability/time/desire to write them out. My brain most closely resembles every long suffering bookshelf I've ever owned: never enough space for all the things I pile on top of it. I find myself often wondering how most people cope with the hyper activity of the world and, after years of close study** what I have concluded is that we are all on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram staring and focusing on image after image and soundbite after status update after photo because it helps us whittle everyone (and ourselves) down to a more manageable size. I blame no one for getting lost down those digital rabbit holes. I do recognize that my life is whizzing by while I'm Facebook stalking you doing useless things. So I came here to blog. Because I'm definitely going to write about something meaningful any day now. Ahem.

In the spirit of having too much to talk about, I find myself typing frantically with nothing to say (witness my pointless diatribe above.) So instead, let me tell you about last night:

Nancy invited me to something via email earlier this week with an accompanying link explaining the event. I've made it a policy lately to accept invitations when offered, when possible; my hope is to quiet my restlessness through perpetual newness. And Nancy has never invited me to something I didn't have an awesome time doing so I accepted the invite and spent the next five days not clicking on the helpfully informative link and not knowing what I agreed to, only that we were to meet at a bookstore in Dumbo. Nothing bad ever happens at a bookstore so all was well.

Unbelievably, after living in NYC for more time than I haven't at this point, the first time I ever set foot in Dumbo was earlier this year when I was sent on a work errand to what could be the coolest publishing house I've ever been to: Melville House. At the time, I was a bit lost and just kept walking toward the water and found myself surrounded by cobblestone streets and factory facades.  I remember thinking that Dumbo was a strange place. I also remembered being jealous of the people working in that converted factory loft because that is just the epitome of coolness to me. But I digress.

Last night I got out of the subway and it was drizzling and bustling and as I walked the streets toward the bookstore, I got the strange notion that I wasn't in New York but in a Hollywood, soundstaged version of New York. That's what Dumbo reminds me of: everyone's idea of New York. And, like most ideas of things, I loved it. I temporarily forgot about how expensive everything is here and how dirty and smelly the summertime is here. I forgot about my wanderlust and that blinking pilot light inside my head that whispers always what else is there, what else is there? was quiet for a moment. I just felt grounded and present inside a tangible, realized idea. By no means do I think Dumbo encompasses the reality of NYC but it does paint a pretty picture. It probably helped that I didn't know where or to what I was going to that night; the unexpected always quickens my pulse.

I got to the Power House Arena bookstore, something I wasn't aware existed until just then and it was closed for a fundraising event. Turns out, I was there for that event. I was early but Nancy's name was on the list and I got in and headed straight for the free bar. There were book displays everywhere and, still not fully grasping what the event was or what funds were being raised for what, I started browsing the books, cup of wine in hand. I was immediately approached by a woman who introduced herself and asked if I was a writer and whether or not I had been at the conference that day. Using my unparalleled powers of deduction, I figured out that the fundraiser was for the literary magazine that had sponsored a conference for aspiring writers that was taking place all weekend. The event was a game of Jeopardy between authors, literary agents, publicity people and editors. The woman who spoke to me was a very nice person and she told me that she was writing a book based on her Instagram account. I really don't understand that sort of thing but I nodded and smiled and checked the door for Nancy.

I circulated the room and checked out the book displays, doing that dork thing I do and counted how many of them I had read ( gives my brain distraction from feeling awkward) and contemplated buying several more before coming back to reality and remembering that I have one bedroom right now and that bedroom is literally covered in books all over the floor. I met another woman who is an independent book editor which is a job I didn't think existed but sounds pretty awesome to me. Nancy arrived and we chatted and drank and were the bleacher creatures of the Jeopardy game. I noticed the playful, yet cutting banter between the four groups of people and it left me wondering whether or not literary agents, authors, publicists and editors all secretly (or overtly) hate each other. I'm sure someone wrote a book about that.

A highlight of the game for me was when one author was contesting an answer in the "Literary geography" category and yelled out "Let's look it up! Atlas me, someone!" I want to use that in every day speech going forward, but only regarding reference books. Almanac me! Dictionary me!

After the game was over, Nancy and I stayed for another beer and I bought a little notepad set with the promise that I would write a poem in each page. I can get SUPER creative with my rationalization. On our way out Nancy said goodbye to a former coworker who was packing up the leftovers from the event and he gave me two beers to go. They sloshed around in my purse while we walked again through the evening movie set of Dumbo. Here's a photo I took:

And that's what I did last night. I'm awake super early after doing a fuckload *** of things this morning, blogging being one of them. How are you?

*An actual measurement.
** "Close study"= I just had that thought right now.
*** See "*".

Monday, August 31, 2015

Het Einde

And then I came to the end of my trip to Belgium and Amsterdam, something I haven't fully come to grips with since the craving for a street waffle bakes my brain and then covers it in sugar. I was able to bring some things home with me to tide me over but that's all gone. I did discover though that my local supermarket sells Orval! Wahoooo!

On our last day, we had booked an all day excursion to see windmills, cheese, clogs and the area just outside the city. It was a mission of mine to see at least one windmill before I left the land of windmills and no one ever needs to convince me of the virtues of trying cheese in foreign lands. This tour included the bus ride, a bunch of stops and lunch and it was what you would expect an organized tour in Europe would be like: a bus full of American and British tourists. Some highlights of this tour were the oil mill we got to tour. This mill was hundreds of years old and is still in use making peanut oil. We got a chance to climb inside it and watch it make the oil which was very cool. There was a man standing in front of me who was probably about 60 years old and he made a point to touch EVERYTHING. He was pretty much caressing all of the stuff, even the highly dangerous clampy type things and while that was weird, it was also giving me anxiety because why are you touching everything? You are a grown adult! Anyway, I was going to include a video I took of oil being made but after trying to upload it on here and failing a few times (compyoootors) I have given up. Just know that peanuts got all crushed and crap and it was powered by wind and had been for last few hundred years and it was cool. And then some dude molested all the equipment.

The mill was located in a little touristy town with lots of little cheese, chocolate and waffle shops. I'm going to repeat that: lots of cheese, chocolate and waffles. In fact there was a shop there that had some of the most delicious cheese I've ever eaten spread out all over the store for you to just taste. I'm pretty sure I had a cheese sandwich there with an appetizer of cheese dipped cheese. The cumin gouda is the stuff of legends.

I also, and here is a major surprise for everyone involved, ate a waffle here. So let's recap: cheese, cheese and waffle. We traveled a bit more by bus to a small factory where they made wooden clogs. What was fascinating about that process is that it has remained essentially unchanged, apart from the addition of a few mechanics, for hundreds of years. I did try on a pair but couldn't really see myself ever wearing them for anything other than gardening and I have never gardened anything in my life.

After the shoe making demonstration we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that overlooked water and had a lovely conversation with a couple from Pennsylvania. They seemed just as traumatized by being a pedestrian in Amsterdam as we were. The diet of champions continued here where I ate something fried and chased it with some beer.

After lunch, we boarded a ferry to Volendam, which, while very pretty and peaceful, is also very touristy with souvenir shops lining the streets mixed with beautiful cottages and picturesque facades. If weren't for the heavy tourist foot traffic, it could be called "sleepy"and I sort of wish I could visit in wintertime. We saw a cheese making demonstration and ate more cheese like the dairy savages we all are.

We then drove a bit more in the bus to Edam and strolled around for a bit. The sun had come out for this day and it was a lovely afternoon with postcard views.
 Here's a selection of photos from that day, with the order all random and not organized, really:

In front of our lunch spot.

View from a bridge.


We had a good lunch here with, what else? Beer.

Did you know that women want these clothes?

The view from the top of the windmill.

Peanut oil mill.

Little alleyway

We got back to Amsterdam feeling sleepy but also feeling the need to go out since it was our last night. The previous evening, we had passed a bar that was local to our apartment and decided to check it out. Turns out it was one of the chillest, hipster bars in the city...according to a few lists. Cafe Brecht had mismatched, vintage looking furniture everywhere and the vibe was very low key, a perfect place to spend our last evening in such an undeniably cool city. By the way, that bar is on a street called Weteringschans, a word I will never be able to pronounce properly, no matter how many cab drivers correct me.

The next day we took the train to the airport. I may have already mentioned this but Amsterdam has the best setup with the train and airport being connected. Genius. It was a Friday morning so we shared the train with commuters and schoolkids. I saw a child who was about five years old with the most stylish outfit I have ever seen and now I know how grown men in that region of the world are so stylish: they learn early. Our flight was smooth and we came back to NYC pretty seamlessly, visions of cheese and waffles and beer and bicycles and waffles and waffles and waffles and wafffff...

And now we arrive at the end of my blogs about this great trip. That only took me, what...two months? I recommend a visit to these cities and I really would love to return and live in Belgium, marry a well shoed man with a vague accent and unlimited access to Orval. By my own personal account, it is filled with lovely people and beautiful scenery, and did I mention the fucking WAFFLES yet???

I'm in the process of pinpointing a trip for a very big birthday I have coming up next year. I'm sure after I plan and get back from it, I'll write about it so look for my next travel blogs in 2076.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Amsterdam: the Penultimate Edition

Writing these blogs about my trip has made me a little bored within my current pinball machine of part time jobs. I feel sometimes like I just zip around crashing into things under the flashing lights and noisy near accidents of everyday life. And sometimes I long for the din to quiet for a handful of hours and to close my eyes and open them and be in a new country. Sigh.

Amsterdam greeted us on our third day with overcast skies and just millions of bikes, all narrowly skirting collision. It was another chilly day but if I'm being honest, I prefer chilly to hot and sweaty any day, particularly when you are standing in line for hours, which is exactly what we did in order to get into the Anne Frank House. The weather was actually very strange that day because it shifted so dramatically from overcast to sunny to rain to warm...Amsterdam in June is bipolar.

I did not get any photographs in or around the museum but I will say that it is a place everyone should visit at least once, even if you've never read the Diary of a Young Girl, even if you only know peripheral information about Anne Frank and her experience. Being in that space, reading about her life and her family and roommates was striking and poignant and more than once I found myself overcome with emotion. There was a palpable feeling in the museum among all the visitors which I'm certain happens each day the museum is open, which is apparently nearly every day of the year. I was told that the wait to get inside is almost invariably hours long and after going inside and spending time among the rooms where Anne lived and wrote and seeing and experiencing what it must have felt like to be trapped in a small space for years, I have to say that waiting that long is the easiest and most worthwhile way to spend time. I will never forget that experience.

After we got done there, we were both ravenous and decided to try The Pancake Bakery which was just up the road from the museum. I had a very delicious savory pancake with lots of little salty bits in it that I'd like to have a again right now as I type this, and an Orval, of course.

We had booked an all day excursion for the next day so this was the day to see the Van Gogh museum as well since we were leaving the day after next. The sun had come out and the weather had been growing hotter so our journey from the restaurant to the Museumplein was a bit slow going.

Our visit coincided with the 100th anniversary of the children's character, Miffy and all along the Museumplein were commissioned versions of her which I thought were all pretty cool. Here's me standing next to (and looking blobby beside) the Delft inspired one, with the line of others behind me.

We made it to the Van Gogh Museum about 2 hours before it closed. To be honest, I was a bit tired and worn out from standing in line for Anne Frank, eating a heavy lunch, walking in the heat, etc so I was a little relieved that we were forced to accelerate a bit through this museum. I appreciate the art of Van Gogh in the way that someone who didn't really study art and knows a particular artist more for his pop culture status on the walls of 1990s dorm rooms. I did find that I liked his pastorals way more than I expected, considering my limited impressions of him were mostly biographical and mythological; I didn't expect the down to earth portraits and the muted colors of some of his work.

While walking through the exhibits, I overheard a lot of conversations over the art work that were, how shall I put this, enhanced by what I'm assuming was, how shall I put this...legally obtained marijuana. And I thought that was pretty entertaining and something I had forgotten to notice. Frankly, the streets of NYC smell more like pot than any neighborhood I walked through in Amsterdam. Could be the baked goods angle, though. Not that I'd know anything about, say, enhanced brownies, for example. I just know what a friend told me. Yeah. A friend. That same friend went outside and ate a brownie in the sunlight and then went home to nap and when she opened her groggy eyes the first thing she saw was a summer sky marbled with clouds. The blue in between the clouds looked like faint little veins and for the briefest of moments she had the distinct, warm feeling of being on the inside of a ready to be hatched egg, all tucked in and safe. She had the sincere notion that if she lifted her index finger and lightly tapped, the sky would crack lightly and beyond would be the galaxies that she could lie still and observe from a secure and cozy distance.

I mean I don't know firsthand or anything. I just know what she told me.


Anyway, inside the museum, they have these wooden booths for visitors to sit in, should they become "overcome" by the art work. I have no idea if these are tongue in cheek or if they are actually there for their stated purpose but I do know that Lauren sat in one and I took a photo of it.


After leaving the museum, we stopped to take a photo by the now iconic "I amsterdam" sign. Here's mine and I'm standing just under the first hump of the "M" and being slightly less creative than the people surrounding me who were climbing letters and doing splits.

Museuming all day is exhausting and for no other reason on earth, we decided to go home and nap and rest up before checking out a nearby neighborhood. By the time all was said and done, we were hungry again and decided to wing it and walk around De Pijp, only it was getting late and a lot of places were closing up. We happened upon a tucked away Thai restaurant called Siriphon who were literally closing in 30 minutes. We made it just under the wire and holy shit, I am SO GLAD because the food was freaking amazing. I'm actually salivating in the memory. Tofu and noodles and spring rolls and spice and mmmmm. If I ever return to Amsterdam, I'm going to chase all the waffles I eat with all the food here.

We finished up dinner and headed to Barca for a cocktail. It was loungey and very sleek in there and, even though the bartender had some difficulty with Lauren's order of an extra dirty martini, very cool and low key which was the order of the evening. Across the way, there was an Irish bar (isn't there always one, in every city on earth?) called O'Donnells that seemed lively so we stopped in there for a quick drink before heading home. The last day of the trip was to be an all day excursion to see windmills, cheese making, clog factories and sundry and it had to be an early night.

Just one more of these and I can get back to writing And junk.