Tuesday, December 29, 2015

End of year meme.

Time again for my year end meme. I've removed a question or two because it is my blog and I can. If you had a great year, good for you! You fared better than 98% of the rest of the planet! If you had a bad year, take heart, it is over.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?

Let's see: I learned how to "ride" a bike. Or rather I learned how balance wobbily upon one. I visited Chicago in winter and survived their worst snowstorm by watching Law and Order SVU marathons in the hotel room, I chopped all of my hair off into a pixie cut that I've only ever talked about doing for most of my adult life. I commuted more miles than I ever have between Patchogue and Elwood and Manhattan and Queens and back again. I got into a car accident on a major highway with a Mack truck in my Fiat and lived to tell the tale. I ate a Belgian waffle in Belgium while running down the street to take a Belgian beer tour after which I danced until sunrise with an actual French man actually named Luc. (He was really only missing a jaunty beret and a loaf of bread.) I climbed up a Dutch windmill (in actuality, not in some gross metaphorical way..if that's a thing.) I met more than one person I admire immensely including, but not limited to Win Butler, Gloria Steinem, Caitlin Moran and I "met" John Slattery when he held open the door for me, haha. I saw my little brother get married. All of these are things I'd never done before.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My resolution this year was simple: let go and take risks. I did that, in spades. And it was pretty great. Next year my plan is to keep on keepin on.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! One of my best friends, Marianne gave birth to Miles and Jessi gave birth to baby Amelia, my cousin Lauren gave birth to Noah. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My beautiful grandmother Marina Castro and I miss her every day.

5. What countries did you visit?

Belgium and the Netherlands. 

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

X-ray vision, the ability to read thoughts and an unlimited supply of Belgian street waffles.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 31st, the day my grandmother passed away after a long illness.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finishing most of my novel and doing social things alone without feeling the least bit self conscious.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I'll always regret it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Amazingly enough nothing. I'm not counting getting more head colds in my life this year, all in the months of October and November.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My tattoo. I love it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My siblings have been there with me and for me more than ever this year. 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Donald Trump and that one guy who, after the car accident I was in, looked at me and laughed and went to the big strong man who hit me and asked what happened. Fuck you, guy.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel, commuting, food.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Books. Traveling. Living in NYC.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

It was a late entry but "When We Were Young" by Adele since I have cried each of the handful of times I've listened to it. It is an involuntary reaction. It doesn't hurt that it is a bittersweet song that is tragic and nostalgic and I might start crying again.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

happier or sadder? happier
thinner or fatter? thinner
richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

I think I did the right amount of things the right amount of times.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worrying about the future. It takes so much time and energy from the present. (Same as last year. Same worry, same regret)

20. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Define love. Normally my years are peppered with brief crushes but nothing major, as though my love life were a Hallmark movie. This year was bit more basic cable. 

21. How many one-night stands?

Do I count the orgies? Then 11. If not, then 2, though orgies can get a bit confusing, as I'm sure you're aware.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Mad Men, as it has been and ever shall be, world without end, amen. (same as last year) 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No. Hate is still a waste of time.

24. What was the best book you read?

"The Tsar of Love and Techno" by Anthony Marra. Uncontested champion in my reading year.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I loved, loved, loved Father John Misty's "I Love You Honeybear".

26. What did you want and get?

 Productivity and to make strides in the art of self-confidence.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

My film watching was pathetic. I enjoyed "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". It is the only thing that sticks out at the moment.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

39...time keeps creeping, through the neighborhood...
I spent two days before my birthday getting my first tattoo and it took all day. Well, it took three hours and then my siblings got one too and THAT took all day. Also, it really, really hurt. I also got a little too drunk at my local bar in the company of my friends. It was unique in that I was a year older than million other times I have done this. Maybe in my 40s I'll learn to grow up and go to, I don't know, the opera?

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Nothing. I'm ok with things.

30. What kept you sane?

Working. I worked a ridiculous amount of time this year. 

31. What political issue stirred you the most?

Reproductive rights and sexism. Gun control. Racism. Same old shit.

32. Who did you miss?

Old friends who live far away!

33. Who was the best new person you met?

I meet pretty remarkable people every year.

34. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:

It is always, 100% of the time, better to take the risk and be disappointed than to shy away and do nothing. I will always, always prefer rejection from trying than that horrible place I used to live which was called Ifonlyville.

35. What was your dirty secret this year?

That I like that Justin Bieber album.

36. But what species are you, really?

I'm a cat in human clothing. Or rather, Meow meow meow meow meowmeow meowmeow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

If I could pass you a note, this would be it.


Do you ever get the feeling, deep down at the bottom of your belly where all your decisions are made, that something is just about to happen? That's me lately.

I wouldn't be able to definitively tell you why or how or what is going to happen; I have perpetual irons in a variety of fires. I have ideas of course. I only  know for certain that I have lifted myself from bed each morning in recent days and just felt that whatever I'm doing, it's the correct thing to be doing. I don't normally feel that way. In fact, I can't remember the last time I did; most of my life has been decided on the fly and a "let's just choose something and then see what happens" kind of method. (That has both served me well and also led to mild disaster.) But lately, there is a creeping optimism that usually accompanies the fireworks display of being infatuated with someone you just met: distant and loud and bright and totally unreachable.

This is the prime time for things to happen and I feel unusually open to the experience.

I just got a junk email from Staples with the subject line: You have been chosen. So there's that.

How are you feeling these days? Want to hang out?

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Pre-work Haiku

Hi. Today might blow
Because free toys will always
melt humanity.

My coworker just came in this morning and dumped a pile of Advil on the reference desk. There is a lot going on today. And it is all for the kids. I'm glad the kids will be happy but I'm still working on a way to have only kids allowed and not their parents. Because, and no offense meant whatsoever to non-annoying parents out there, sometimes parents ruin everything. Most kids are happy with the box the toy came in. And I get that parents want the best for their kids. I'm just mildly suggesting that perhaps a free toy giveaway at the library is not the place to flex those "I want the world for my kids" muscles. Perhaps you could cast a vote for a politician that has your children's interests at heart? Or maybe, I dunno, teach by example to not expect things worth having just handed to you? Or just teach them some gratitude when something IS just handed to you? I'm just spitballing here. Also, when something is free, it automatically precludes any and all complaints regarding the quality of the item. I mean if you are given something for free and it turns out to be good quality, go ahead and be happy about it. It is unexpected and that's how it should be. I can envision already later today that people will complain about the "quality" of the FREE toy their child was GIVEN...for free. You may think I am jumping the gun with this complaint since the toy giveaway hasn't happened yet. However, you'd be wrong because during sign ups for this program, the complaints already began. Just...hold me.

And maybe bring me a waffle. A FREE one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wasted dream, shared spaces and I've had a pretty cool year

I'm a little annoyed at my subconscious this morning. A more futile feeling doesn't exist. It's just that if one has to pee in the middle of the night, one's subconscious works that into the dream one is in the middle of and I'm ok with this as long as it could limit itself to just a hint. Like, say you are dreaming it is the 90s again and you are young and dewy eyed again and the college campus where you truly grew up was unchanged and you were walking around seeing familiar sights and loving the gift of time travel that only a sleeping brain can conjure and suddenly you pass a bathroom and the dream you says "I'll just pop in here for a sec but don't go anywhere because I will be RIGHT back." And then the you that lives in on this plane of existence could stay sleeping and effectively find the toilet and not lose the momentum of your dream, then FINE. I would be totally fine with that. But brain, and I truly mean this, don't waste an ENTIRE dream on the search for a bathroom, the locating of that bathroom and then the inability to use that bathroom for a variety of reasons because that's just going to put me in a bad humor the rest of my morning. Like, I could have ridden a unicorn while having sex and eating ice cream. Just bookmark that for later, mkay?

I have the day off from my full time job because I'm working Saturday, for a change. In recent weeks I've been coming to Manhattan to take advantage of a writing space that my friend Nancy told me about. It is in an ancient building in Union Square nestled above a bartending school, at the top of approximately 7,000 stairs. There is a silent space, overflowing with ergonomics and flat surfaces and a decided lack of distractions (the internet notwithstanding) and it is very conducive to concentration. There is a kitchen with a fridge and a kettle and toaster oven and a dishwasher. There is free coffee and tea and little lotions in the bathroom. I am grateful for this space. I have gotten a lot of writing done here and a lot of work for my many, many jobs here as well. However, because it is a shared space, there are minor issues that make me understand why we can't all just get along. Some people never learned how much space they occupy nor how to adjust that space to accommodate anyone else, either physically or in their actions. For example, somewhere in this room there is a man who slams what I envision are meaty sausage fingers doing what I can only assume is this:

...only nowhere near as charming as Ron Swanson. And there is only one restroom. For quite a lot of people. Yet I still dare to expect that the seat will be lowered after a gentleman uses it. Or the pee will be wiped from the surface of the toilet seat after a gentlewoman uses it. I've always suspected my expectations are too high. Also, people walk heavily. Now, unless you are in possession of a titanium appendage on either leg, this is something you can control, yes? The pressure at which you walk is not set in stone; it changeth like the moon's face. Again, I could be reaching for the stars here, but is it possible that, when walking through an ancient, creaky building, in a room that is specifically set aside for silence and concentration, you could, I don't know, walk lightly. Or at least not practice goosesteps in the name of your forthcoming WWII novel. 

Still, I feel a bit douchey complaining about such things. I did just go into the kitchen to find free bagels. Also, I'm literally sitting in the same room as the actor who played Roger Sterling on Mad Men. He just held the door open for me and smiled and I'm sorry, but this is the coolest fucking thing to happen to me this year and this is the same year I lived in NYC again, rode a bike for the first time, met Gloria Steinem, got pulled into a secret room at Sleep No More, got a tattoo and went to Amsterdam. 

I just reread my last paragraph and if I ever complain about anything for the rest of the year, you have permission to tell me to shut up. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dieting, Dancing and Being a Big Fat Baby: An Update of No Consequence

It's been awhile. Last time I really updated in here I had passed a watershed moment in my writing life. I went further with it but did not "win" the month of November. No matter, I wrote more than I've ever written in my post-undergrad life and I've got a solid base to keep myself going. I shall finish my book. And then spend 30 years editing it.

I just watched Me and Earl and the Dying Girl film which was based on the excellent novel of the same name and it was a really beautifully shot, beautifully told and heartbreaking story. Some of the shots were really unique and the actors were so talented, I found myself lost in the story again. And crying. Like a big fat baby.

I'm on a Facebook diet. Like all diets I've ever been on, I'm immediately cheating. But honestly, I only read Facebook for the statuses. In fairness to me, I have a lot of witty and smart and informed and intelligent people on my feed. And how ELSE am I supposed to keep tabs on my fake Facebook boyfriends? I know what you're thinking: But Allison, if you just stopped being a huge dweeb and "put yourself out there" you could have an off-Facebook boyfriend. And I hear you. I truly do. The problem is when I try to practice what you preach (and by "you" I mean the other voice in the other part of my brain...the one that isn't a hot awkward mess) I end up turning into some version of a drunk 1920s flapper and an 80s robot. These are two things that do not go together so in addition to the sometimes jerky movements of my body when I get nervous, I am at war with awkward metaphors inside my brain 80% of the time. Besides, I DO put myself out there. I go out dancing, often to sad gloomy new wave pop and punk whenever I get a chance. And I meet tons of people. And none of them are serious because you can't meet anyone serious while dancing which is just contrary to common sense. You can pretty much tell immediately the kind of chemistry you have with someone when you dance with them. I feel like dating should have a compulsory dancing phase. Like a phase of a new relationship that comes right before the "going away together for the weekend" phase because frankly, all that matters to me is that a guy is willing to dance and I'm not going to pack my overnight bag and sit through an argument about directions if I'm not gonna get twirled around the floor a bit at the end of it. I can pretty much tell things won't work out if you refuse to dance out of fear of looking foolish or just because you are a killjoy of the highest order. I have first hand experience with this. Anyway, what the hell was I talking about? Oh yeah, Facebook. I'm not going on there for the time being. Or am I? I mean. I'm posting this. And I have to go on there for work. So I'm totally off Facebook. And carbs.

So, apparently not going on Facebook four hundred times a day has caused my stream of consciousness to idiotize. I made that word up just now. I can do that because I'm not looking at your Facebook profile right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bernard Malamud on how to write.

"There's no one way-- there's too much drivel about this subject. You're who you are, not Fitzgerald or Thomas Wolfe. You write by sitting down and writing. There's no particular time or place--you suit yourself, your nature. How one works, assuming he's disciplined, doesn't matter. If he or she is not disciplined, doesn't matter. If he or she is not disciplined, no sympathetic magic will help. The trick is to make time--- not steal it---and produce the fiction. If the stories come, you get them written, you're on the right track. Eventually everyone learns his or her own best way. The real mystery to crack is you." --Bernard Malamud