Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm A Good Tenant, I Promise!

I can't even begin to sum up the craziness of the past few days. I was already stressed out about so many things and then my ceiling caved in, and now I'm trying to find a new apartment and move, but it's so difficult. In New York they practically require your firstborn child before they'll let you rent an apartment, and I'm not even talking about a super nice apartment. Here is what they require for the average apartment application:

A letter of employment
Verification of income
Letter from current landlord
2 years of tax returns
Copy of recent bank statement
Copy of state-issued photo ID
Credit check, with a fee of $50
A filled-out application asking for social security, birthdates, previous addresses and jobs.

Each person who's going to live in the apartment has to submit those things, and our combined income has to equal or surpass 50 times our month's rent. If not, we need a guarantor who makes 70 times the rent and who must also submit all of the above in addition to the renters' paperwork.

I found an apartment I really like, and I tried to bribe the real estate guy into just letting me rent it without having to give him all of the above, not because I have bad credit or anything, but because I just want to move and get it over with! But he wouldn't play along. I guess that's a good sign and it means he's probably honest and not going to take all the financial info I give him and steal my identity or anything. But come on--I just want my life to be normal again! I want a home that's not going to fall apart. And I want to get some sleep.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Three Wishes

I wish I were snorkeling in the Caribbean right now.
I wish I could carry big bundles of laundry balanced on my head, as I walk to and from the laundromat.
I wish I could find a new place to live.

Monday, June 23, 2008

House of Horrors, Part 2

On the left: how my room looked two days ago.
Next: how my room looked yesterday afternoon.

For the past month or so there was a small crack in the ceiling that seemed to be getting bigger. When people would walk around upstairs, little bits of plaster would fall down in my room. I just thought it was paint and plaster from the ceiling, and that the old house was shifting with the changing season. But the crack got bigger and bigger until it started to really annoy me. So I went out yesterday and bought some plaster to fill it in. I set up a dropcloth, got out the ladder, and mixed a bowl of plaster, and started to work on the crack. For about 5 minutes it seemed like it was going to work, but then I heart creaking noises and saw that the crack was re-opening. I got off the ladder, walked to the doorway of my bedroom, and as E started to wake up from her Sunday nap, the ceiling over my half of the room came crashing down. The ceiling fell down. It was the most frightening thing I've ever seen! And I'm not talking about just sheetrock, this was a huge piece of plaster almost three inches thick and about 8 feet by 5 feet. I could have died.

My sister and I called the landlady and then started cleaning up the rubble, which was disgusting. We hauled out about 20 bags full of broken sheetrock and glass from stuff that was on the mantel that broke. Everything in our room is coated with plaster and sheetrock dust. I'll spend the day today at the laundromat washing all my clothes and blankets. Ugh. I can't believe my life can get any worse, but E keeps reminding me that it could be much worse. Every time I start to complain, she says something like, "Well at least we're not hurt" or "Well at least this is better than being kidnapped and mugged or having our house burn down completely." When I said I wish I was in Greece swimming in the ocean she said "Well, there you might get eaten by a shark or get a horrible sunburn." She makes me laugh, so that's one good thing. I'm having a hard time looking at the bright side right now.

Here's what the ceiling looks like. The landlady is going to have her contractor come today and take a look at it. But I don't trust her to actually have him fix it. She never fixes anything that goes wrong with this place, and while its just been little things so far, this is serious. They're going to have to replace the whole ceiling, and that could be very involved in an old house like this. Who knows how long it will take or how much it will cost? The landlady will deliberate over the estimate, and meanwhile nothing will get done. So I think my sister and I might be moving out soon. The thought of moving depresses me--it's my least favorite thing to do in the world. But it might be the only option at this point.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella

I can't go to sleep when its raining--I don't know why. In that sense I think I'm different from most people who get drowsy and content when they hear the patter of rain on the roof. Me, I get restless and my mind starts to go wandering. Then I'm up all night thinking about things. That's when a blog comes in handy!

It's been kind of a tough week. I was late to work a couple days ago for the first time. I'm usually early, but for once I left a few minutes late. Of course it was the day that the A-train stopped just before getting to Columbus Circle, and waited for 20 minutes while an inspector checked out a report of a person being on the track. They had to check under every car before we could continue. So I was late, and because some of the people I work with aren't very happy, there arose a stink about people coming in on time to help set up the store in time for it to open. Nobody got mad at me for being late, but I think my lateness that morning started a conversation about lateness in general, and now everyone has to start signing a time sheet as soon as they walk in the door each morning. It's ridiculousness like this that drives me crazy. Oh well.

That was a bad day, hectic at work, and then stressful because I suddenly realized that the clock is ticking and I'm supposed to be writing my Master's Thesis. I feel so behind in my research right now, but there's nothing I can do except get cracking and go live at the library for a while. I'm not going to feel better until I've got a ton of notes, so the sooner I start, the better.

Add to that stress the dress I'm crocheting. It's really fun, and I think I'm going to love it, but the pattern is making me crazy because it creates the dress from the bottom up instead of the top down, which I'm used to. I'm worried that I'm going to run out of yarn, or not finish in time for the event I want it for. The forefinger on my left hand has a groove from the yarn. And I'm a little bit afraid that I might have to take apart the whole thing and start over because it seems a little bit small.

Meanwhile, I'm planning a huge going away party for my dear roommate, who is moving back to California. It's going to be a great party, hopefully, but I'm not good at hosting parties, so the whole thing is worrying me.

The stress was really getting to me so I decided to do the only thing that seemed like it might work: say a prayer. And as soon as I did, I got the impression that I needed to just work on my Relief Society lesson (which I'm giving this Sunday--agh!), so it seems like I should have felt even more stressed out at that point. But I followed the prompting and got out my scriptures and read the talk from the Ensign, and felt immediately better. I guess it's good to know that as long as a person's priorities are straight, everything is going to be okay. In the long run, it probably won't matter how many days I spent at the library doing research, or how long it took me to crochet a dress, or that I was late to work one day. But it will matter that I was trying my best, seeking to do good things, reading my scriptures and seeking to know the Lord's will. It is comforting to know that all I really need to do is keep the commandments, and everything else will be okay. So I keep going.

I was thinking about this as I was walking to the subway today after work, and I saw a gorgeous clematis in bloom, growing up an otherwise dilapidated brick wall. In the middle of a chaotic and turbulent city that flower was growing, and it was beautiful, and that's all that mattered to it.

Now the rain has stopped, the lightning has passed on, and I'm going to go to sleep finally...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The streets of New York are full of people who want money, so you get used to being asked constantly for spare change. There are the homeless people, and the crazies, like the one I saw this morning. This guy was holding a sign that said "I need money so I can get drunk and go home with two women." At least he was honest, although I would suggest he takes a bath and shaves, or else I don't know where he's going to find two women who'll have him. Then there's this man that I see all over the city, which is crazy, because it's kind of a big city. He always asks in a certain way, "D'ya have a dime?" My friend Erin gave him a quarter one time and asked him why he only asks for dimes. But he seemed confused by the question and all he could say was "D'ya have a dime?" like he's been saying it for so long that it's all he can say.

Then there's the people who sit on the street corners with a big jar for spare change that they are collecting for the homeless people. I seldom have cash of any kind, let alone change, but I give it to those guys because they are always really polite and they look me in the eyes when I walk by, with a look that, to be honest, makes me feel guilty not to give.

New York also has a lot of people handing out pamphlets and coupons and flyers to passersby, and these drive me crazy. There's enough litter around without more being potentially dispersed! But the worst are the people who stop you as you're hurrying along, attempting to get you to sign up for this or that. It could be anything from sponsoring a child in Africa (which is great--I'm not complaining about good causes!), signing a petition, or promoting a new salon. The last is the one I got today. This random guy stopped me to ask me who cuts my hair. And the funny thing was that I automatically knew he was trying to sell me on something, and yet when he said, "I like your hair--where do you get it cut?" I automatically smiled, touched my hair, and felt good about myself. I instantly snapped out of it and got away from the clutches of the salon-promoter as quickly as I could, but I pondered the power of a simple compliment, not quite a lie, but a ruse to get me to feel kindly toward the salesman and interested in what he had to say.

Kind of like the phone-spam message I got today. The guy said, "We are aware that your loans payments are behind and can help you," or something to that effect, and even though I knew all my financial affairs are in perfect order, it scared me enough to check all my credit cards and student loan information just to make sure there wasn't anything crazy going on. It was a lie by the salesman to get me to call and probably pay to have them help me "get out of debt."

I don't really know why I'm talking about all this, but it is interesting to think about the power of words, and small things that affect our emotions and fears. There's a passage in East of Eden that talks about a similar thing, but it's late and my eyes are blurring and I can't find it for the life of me, though I've thumbed through the book three times now. Oh well. Trust me--Steinbeck knows what I'm talking about.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Project #1

This is my next project. I'm going to crochet this dress in a dark navy yarn with gold sparkle built-in to make it look more formal. I'm obsessed with crocheting dresses! I have 5 more patterns lined up to do after this one. It's just really satisfying to be able to wear something I've made myself. It's different from everything else, and I like to be different. If all goes well, I'll have this dress done by July 12, when I'll be attending the fabulous grand-opening party for the new Somerhill Gallery.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This and That

So here is a picture of the giant Hello Kitty sculpture I was talking about yesterday, in case you were curious. There are a few others around it, but I like this one the best.

Today I just feel like writing some random thoughts. I wanted to share that I may have a new side-career as a baker. A woman that I work with paid me $20 to make a pie for her husband for Father's Day! So as I was delivering it to her yesterday I was thinking how I should devise a pie-carrying bag with my number on the side so that when I'm carrying pies around New York, other people can order pies from me too. Sometimes I think it would be so fun to be a baker and make the pies all day. Maybe if this whole art-world career doesn't work out then that's what I can do next. However, I don't think I'll be baking a lot this summer--it's too hot in my little kitchen!

Anyway, moving on... Today I was thinking of my favorite hymns, so I thought I'd share a list of them. Have you ever thought about your favorite hymns? Mine top ten are (in the order they appear in the hymnbook):
Redeemer of Israel
All Creatures of Our God and King
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
For All the Saints
How Firm A Foundation
For the Beauty of the Earch
Lead Kindly Light
Nearer, My God, to Thee
Our Savior's Love
Be Still My Soul
Ring Out, Wild Bells (but I like this with a piano accompaniment much better than with organ)
A close runner-up is God Be With You, but I feel like its not a regular hymn--more for funerals and such. And I also really like a couple of lesser-sung songs such as Adam-ondi-Ahman and Israel, Israel, God is Calling.

Hmmm. I thought I had more things to say, but I don't remember them now. I think the heat makes my mind slower. Oh yeah. This upcoming week will usher in some fresh changes into my life: I think I'm going to join a gym (!!!) and I think I'm going to sign up for Netflix. So I'm planning on simultaneously being more lazy and more active at the same time. We'll see how that works!

Happy Dad Day

Happy Father's Day! But I have to say, my dad is the best of all. My dad plays the bassoon. It's an amazing instrument, difficult to play, and beautiful. My dad is very proud of his Heckel, and practices on it every day. He also plays the flute. I didn't inherit that musical talent, unfortunately, but I definitely appreciate it, and I am proud to have such an accomplished father. Some of his other hobbies include swimming in the pool and riding motorcycles.

My dad is also excellent at fixing cars, helping with math homework, building tree-houses, and is one of the most patient and kind people I know. He is always happy. He was a bishop for many years, too, because he is incredibly faithful and righteous. He is a quiet leader. I remember many times that people have come up to me and commented on how wonderful my father is. And I definitely agree with them. My dad is the best!

And Daddy, I know you are reading this! I love you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

NC vs NY

When I was in North Carolina last week, I started thinking about all the differences between the South and New York City. If I was trying to decide which I liked best, I never came up with an answer. There are great things about both places, but here are some of the areas of comparison:

The South is very hot and humid for about half the year. It never gets unbearably cold. New York on the other hand is very hot and humid all summer, and does get unbearably cold for a while in the winter. The difference is that in NC practically everywhere you go you have air conditioning, whereas in New York city, there are millions of places without it, including the post office I was in this morning where I had to wait a half hour in line to pick up a package in 90 degree stuffiness. And in New York, the pavement and buildings contribute to the heat, whereas in NC you've got trees and grass to counteract it a bit.

There is nothing like Southern food. I love it! I could eat it for the rest of my life and be perfectly satisfied. But New York is like the Epcott Center of food, with the option to travel to any nation just by going to the proper restaurant. There are restaurants featuring any type of food you've ever imagined. Which reminds me: I still need to go to the place in the Village that only serves mac and cheese... And speaking of food, it is interesting to note that North Carolina has its Krispy Kreme while New York has Dunkin Donuts. Which is better? I know people are crazy about Krispy Kremes, and I certainly have enjoyed my share of those sticky sweets. However, I've come to the conclusion that I'm a Dunkin Donuts person. They have more variety of flavors, including maple-frosted, which may be my favorite. When I was in North Carolina, I kept looking around, subconciously wondering where all the Dunkin Donuts stores were, because here there's one on every block. I actually missed them.

Of course if I was a bazillionaire, I would have the time of my life shopping in New York. But since I can't afford much, I don't really shop much, unless its a big sale at H&M or something. There is no H&M in North Carolina, which is a major drawback, and yet, every time I walk around NYC I recognize people wearing things I saw at H&M, and even though I really like the clothes, I don't want to wear something recognizable, or something that everyone else is wearing. Besides clothes shopping, yarn shopping is hard in New York for similar reasons. If I were rich, I'd have no problem, because all the yarn stores here are packed with gorgeous yet exotic and expensive yarns. There is no Red Heart, no Caron to be found. Thank goodness for online shopping!

North Carolina has art, but New York has Art. New York definitely takes the cake here. Where else could you see a giant sculpture of a wind-up Hello Kitty? Or a skyscraper made of erector set pieces?

I love the landscape of North Carolina: the rolling hills and farmland, the kudzu jungles, the honesuckle, the cedar forests. But it has a lot of spiders. Forget about going outside in the summer--you'll walk through about 5 spiderwebs every day. New York doesn't have much nature in the city besides the park, which hardly counts, even though it can be peaceful and bucolic in places. There are way less mosquitoes, and the birds here will eat right out of your hands--and I'm not talking pigeons. Yesterday a tiny brown sparrow landed beside me and took a piece of donut right out of my hand.

I guess I could ramble on and on, but it never resolves itself. No one state or city is better than another, is it? Each has its own beauty and strengths, capable of being loved for entirely different reasons. I'm just glad I get to enjoy them both!

Friday, June 13, 2008

NC Recap, Part 2

So there's this boy in North Carolina, and we go way back. Anyway, this is his theme song:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I'm going to write a few catch-up posts about my recent trip home. One of the things I thought about a lot while home was how thankful I am for my family, especially my parents. And when I went out to get ice cream at Maple View Dairy with my mom, and we sat on the porch rocking chairs, I thanked her, and told her that she gave me the best upbringing I could have asked for.

My mom and dad grew up in seperate Idaho towns. My dad was the son of a dairy farmer and my mother's dad was the superintendent of a hydroelectric power plant. They both learned at a young age the importance of hard work. My mom remembers spending her summers in the Idaho bean fields. Her mom would drop the kids off at the fields before the sun came up and they'd spread out a blanket and sleep for few hours, then wake up and pick beans all day, all summer long, earning 4 cents a pound. At the end of the summer the money they earned would be spent on school clothes and shoes. My dad worked just as hard, milking cows and fixing cars under the tutelage of his father, who never did things for his kids, but instead would pull up a lawn chair and tell them how to do it themselves.

Years later, married with children, my parents were better off financially than their own parents had been, but they didn't let me know it. I grew up in an old house in the Oregon woods, with all of nature to instruct me. Summers from age 12 onward were spent just like my mom's--I was dropped off at the blueberry or the strawberry patch and picked my way to school-clothes money, the dollars stained berry-red. We didn't have ipods to listen to out there in the fields, but sometimes my sisters and I would sing songs. We were jealous of our older brother who got to pick cherries--he got to climb trees, and be in the shade.

When we weren't picking berries, we were roaming the fields and woods around our house, catching snakes and salamanders, picking wild irises, swimming in the ponds and creeks, and discovering all kinds of things. Every year we'd camp, go to the beach, hike, go on roadtrips to Utah to see relatives with plenty of detours to ghost towns and state parks along the way.

In the winter my family would drive up the road and cut down trees to fuel our woodstove. I can still remember the scents of pine-gum and gasoline, and the thrill of being allowed to come along. We'd gather around the woodstove on winter evenings to cuddle and tell stories, eating the walnuts we'd gathered in autumn from the trees in the backyard. My mom taught me to knit and crochet and sew, and she would instigate craft projects for us all. If I ever told her I was bored, she'd make me research and write a report on a random subject.

I guess I could go on forever, but the point is that I really feel like I had an idyllic childhood. I had energetic, talented, loving, righteous parents who taught me everything important: how to work and how to enjoy life. And I'm not saying this to brag or to say that my life has been perfect. I have made many mistakes along the way which have caused me grief, and none of my siblings have turned out perfectly, either. But I had an excellent start, an origin that I look back on with wonder, gratitude, and love. I truly could not have had a better childhood, and I hope I can give the same to my children someday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Inferno

My sister and I flew back to New York last night, arriving very late because of a delayed flight. Even though the city has been experiencing a heat wave, we thought it would be cool outside at 11 p.m. but it wasn't. It was still in the 90s as we waited forever at the bus stop. When we got to the subway, our train wasn't air-conditioned (usually they are, but things often go wrong) and then we had to climb the hill to our house. So we had worked up quite a sweat by the time we reached our front door. Still, we were unprepared for the inferno that met us as we opened the door and stepped inside. Strangely, the house was blazing hot inside, even though all the windows were open. And it wasn't just your average summer heat. It was BLAZING. Our roommates were asleep so we couldn't ask them what was going on, but we soon realized that all the radiators were going full blast!

Obviously something had malfunctioned because even though all the radiators were switched off, they were still emitting massive amounts of heat, and we could even hear them sizzling. In these old houses, there is a boiler which controls the hot water and the radiators using oil and steam (somehow--I'm fuzzy on the particulars) and our landlady had supposedly turned off the master radiator control weeks ago when the weather turned warm. But clearly, either she did something wrong, or something broke.

Our floors were hot from the pipes underneath them, and the cold water faucets were flowing with hot steamy water. It was like we were in the twilight zone. So E and I plugged in our AC unit and cranked it up, hoping it could compete with the radiator below it. I turned on my computer and found an email from one roommate saying that when she woke up on Monday morning the radiators were all going full blast and she was worried that our house was going to burn down because the landlady wasn't returning her calls and the first floor of our house is full of the landlady's junk--who knows what is down could be combustible! So she got a neighbor to help her go into the rooms downstairs that are full of our landlady's junk and they moved stuff away from the radiators and tied up curtains and tried to go down to the basement to see the boiler but it was so hot and dark down there that they gave up. However, my roommate did call the city hotline number that you can use to report stuff like when you have no heat or hot water in the winter and you're about to die. She reported our landlady's junk as a safety hazard, which it probably is.

Anyway, so my sister and I went to bed and today when we woke up we talked to our other roommates and got the story. I was hoping that we could call the fire department or something and have them come and dramatically bust the boiler and save us damsels in distress, but J said that she'd finally heard from the landlady and that she was going to try to get someone to come over. But nobody came and when I got home from work today the thermometer in my bedroom was 100 degrees even! I was about to call 911 when I saw the landlady herself, down in her room sorting trash (did I mention that she's crazy?) and she said she'd fixed a wire that had shorted and caused the boiler to malfunction, and wasn't it funny that it happened on the hottest weekend of the year? Ha ha. Like the time we had no heat or hot water on the coldest day of the year. Hilarious.

So it's starting to slowly get cool in our room. At 7 pm it was 100 degrees and now its 84, which feels deliciously cool in comparison. And I think it's going to cool down outside too, because as soon as I got back from the grocery store, a huge thunderstorm rolled in. It was frightening, actually, and I usually don't get scared by storms. But there I was, sitting in the slowly-cooling bedroom and all of a sudden the entire house shook and the windows rattled like someone was battering them. I heard a crash from upstairs and I just knew that even though we'd survived a giant tinderbox-house house, we were now going to have the whole old rickety mess blown away by a tornado. I ran upstairs and the wind was blowing in the windows and knocking chairs over. Lighting cracked and rain gusted in, so I ran back down to my room and called my other sister on the telephone to get my mind off all the craziness. She told me that where she is, in Idaho, it only got up to 48 degrees today, but she did have a trampoline picked up by a gust of wind and carried UFO-like into a cow pasture.

So then, to top off the night, as I was sitting there talking on the phone, a gigantic cockroach ran across the floor and I don't know how I didn't just die right then and there. I killed it, but I want to know what is going to happen next? Are we experiencing plagues like the biblical Egyptians? First heat, then wind, then insects? When will the madness end?

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I'm in North Carolina! And having a great time. My littlest sister graduated from high school yesterday and her big surprise was for me and E to come for a visit. We flew in on Friday morning (ugh--waking up at 4 a.m. to get to LaGuardia in time for our 6 a.m. flight) and arrived while she was at school. When she came home we were hiding in her closet, and we jumped out and scared her. It was great because she hadn't suspected a thing.

Saturday was her graduation, which took place at a small church. K went to a tiny charter school with a graduating class of only 18 students, so the ceremony was very personal and each student was able to give a small speech, which they all did very well. I didn't even know those kids, and I was crying.

After the graduation we had a second surprise for K: a huge party. My mom had been making food for a week to prepare, but I guess K still didn't suspect what was going on. She didn't even notice all the folding chairs we set up in the backyard on Saturday morning! She was amazed and excited to discover that about a hundred people were invited to come over Saturday night for tons of great food and a swim in the pool.

Our family tradition is to make a six-layer cake for the graduate, so I worked on that, but the kitchen was so hot from the chicken wings that were baking that by the end of the day the cake bore more than just a passing resemblance to Pisa's leaning tower! There's a reason cakes don't normally have six layers. But it lasted long enough to be eaten at the end of the night, by the light of pink and blue chinese lanterns.

So it's been such a great weekend already and there are still two more days I can enjoy myself here. I love waking up every morning and going for a swim in the pool, which is delicious warm in the morning compared to the cool air. Then when it hits a hundred degrees in the afternoon, I jump in again and the water feels cool and refreshing. I love all the hummingbirds that are taking advantage of the red trumpet vine on the back porch. I love the round hay-bales. I love the noise of my family.

The other best thing about being home is seeing all my delightful friends. With all that they have going on, they were all miraculously free on Friday night to go out to eat yummy southern food with me. I enjoyed myself tremendously, and it wasn't just the honeysuckle sorbet!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bon Voyage

I'm off on a top secret trip. I'll be back in the blogosphere soon, though...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

When Pie Doesn't Mean Pizza

In New York, the cool kids refer to a pizza as a pie. When you want to go get some pizza, you say "Ay! I'm gwonna go get a slice." (Try to imagine the thick New York accent.) Anyway, in my house, a pie is not pizza. A pie is a pie. A flaky pastry crust full of delicious fruit, cooked to a crisp with granulated sugar on top and eaten with whipped cream.

I've been making pies all night, to the tunes of Patty Griffin. I always get "Making Pies" stuck in my head when I'm at the grocery store and see the Table Talk pies next to the checkout. The pies I'm making are blueberry and they are for my coworker Jesse, whose birthday is tomorrow. I don't know why I volunteered to make him pies, but he always buys me pizza, so I guess a pie for a pie.

While I was making the pies my sister came home and started bemoaning the state of her bananas, so I decided to make some banana bread too. And I even convinced E to let me put raisins in it! Soooo good. It's all up there cooking right now: two pies for work, and the banana bread, and an extra pie for good measure. Now I just have to figure out how to get two pies to work tomorrow morning on the crowded subway. The other day I saw a girl get her dress snagged on some guys backpack because the train was so packed. The poor guy had to get off at her stop while she attempted to free herself. Hopefully I won't meet with any similar accidents. I have been known to leave pies on car roofs, and drop them face down in driveways... I'll have to plan carefully.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Night City

This past weekend I went on a boatride around Manhattan. It was a church activity, billed as a "Singles Cruise" but every New Yorker I've talked to agrees that a boat ride around Manhattan is not a cruise. Well, whatever you call it, it was great. I didn't go because of the dancing or the socializing--I just love riding on boats. Not that I know much about boats. My sister and I were all like, "Look at those big fat ropes laying on the deck--I wonder what they're for?" But I think I was the only person on board who stood for at least five minutes looking into the engine room at the gigantic... engine-things. Joking aside, large machinery always fascinates me.

I did dance a little and socialize too, but mainly I looked at the spectacular view of New York City at night. It was breathtaking. The ride started out ominously, with rain in the forecast. When we boarded, the sky was being quickly blanketed by a huge cloud cover and thunder was rolling in the distance. Suddenly my sister looked at me and shreiked. She said my hair was standing on end, which meant we were about to be struck by lightning. Luckily we weren't, though it did rain for a little while. Eventually it cleared up though, and stars emerged in the darkening sky.

Cruising around the island of Manhattan at night is a treat. The city is beautiful, glittery and looks so clean and crisp; both large and small at once. We set off from a pier on the West side and headed south around the tip of Manhattan, past the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island. Then the boat headed up past Ellis Island, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and then back again. A few sailboats were out and about, and a few really nice yachts, one all lit up for a party. It was chilly and windy out on the water, but I relished the salty air and could not take my eyes off the scenery going by. One of my favorite parts was going under the Brooklyn Bridge. That thing is amazing. And when you learn that it was built using experimental technology under the direction of a recluse who for most of the construction never left his house, you wonder how its even still standing.

E's boyfriend showed up aboard at the last minute, so she was able to spend the ride with him, which was really nice. It would have a been a very romantic evening for couples. Still, I wasn't lonely--I was having too much fun talking to friends and gaping at the passing view. And we had some entertainment when some people started goofing around and taking pictures of each other hanging off the side of the boat. One guy did it and it was funny. But when a second person did it, I rolled my eyes and was about to head to the opposite side of the boat, when all of a sudden out of nowhere a Coast Guard boat sped up to the side of our boat and shadowed us for a good while. The troublemakers scattered, and after a few moments of watching us, the little Coast Guard boat made a breathtakingly hairpin turn, sped around to the other side of us, then zoomed away. And that little thing could go! I guess they need speed to rescue people, right?

So, no romance for me, but I did talk to one eager young man who went on and on about his art history class at BYU and how his teacher told such spellbinding stories like the one about how Monet killed himself shooting crows in a field, but the only reason he died was because his doctor didn't believe in using medicine. And how this Japanese guy bought a painting for a fortune but he didn't want to pay taxes on it so he burnt it up. I had no idea what he was talking about the entire time! I corrected him and said that it was Van Gogh who shot himself in a field, but it had nothing to do with crows, and I don't think the doctor could have saved him, medicine or no. As for the Japanese guy... who knows. The guy couldn't even remember the artist or anything else about the story.

Anyway, the cruise was great, and even though it was four hours long, it seemed like 20 minutes to me. I want to go again! And I want to go for a ride on that Coast Guard boat.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


On Friday as I was walking to the subway after work, I stopped to grab a copy of the Onion, and I noticed that someone had inserted a strange drawing into the front of the newspaper dispenser. I pulled it out and this is what I found:

And on the other side it looked this:

I've been puzzling over it all weekend. Sure, it's probably just the crazy byproduct of a demented homeless person... or is it? At first glance the drawing appears to have been done on a sheet of lined notebook paper, and it was, but then it was photocopied and the photocopy was drawn on some more with a blue pen. The artist must have made several of these, with a clear purpose in mind. I'm most intrigued by the "E too Brut-a-a" on the back. This is clearly a reference to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, but why is it being spoken by a cowboy?

I'm going to keep my eye out for more of these drawings, because whoever this artist might be the next Keith Haring or Basquiat. Those guys used to wander around New York in the 80s and draw on things. Then they became famous and their doodles became worth millions. Kind of like Banksy. Actually, he seems like he might be someone more like Daniel Johnston, a sort of visionary but extremely quirky outsider artist. You never know. Plus, I just like it. There are so many interesting parts to it, from the stern policeman's expression to the odd phrases like "I'm just a lad." So I'm saving it.