Thursday, October 30, 2008

Art Fix

Today was free day at the Guggenheim, so even though my cold has been wearing me down, I decided to brave the chilly weather and head up there after work. They have some strange exhibitions right now, but that's my normal experience with the Guggenheim. Upon entering the museum there is a large Pinnocchio figure floating face down in a pool of water. And there are some photographs I didn't care to look at, but other than that, the current stuff is somewhat interesting. At least, its always fun to walk up the Guggenheim's spiral sloping galleries, no matter what strange things you encounter along the way. Today, as I walked that sloping spiral, I came across all sorts of different words and phrases applied to the walls and floor. There was also a gallery covered in fuzzy carpet, with large cushions and large tvs for people to sit and watch. I think it was videos of the featured artists. Then I went through a series of corrugated cardboard walls with round cutouts and weird frog-shaped lights. Along the way I saw some paintings from the permanent collection and a tribute to the late Robert Rauschenberg (a huge room of photos from all periods of his life). There were several galleries of photograph series, and the one I liked the best was a long narrow room with large photos of the ocean on one side and scenes of a snowy landscape with small brightly colored buildings. It reminded me of how I once planned to become a photographer who only took pictures that had something red, something yellow, and something blue in them. Like three cars in a row that are red, yellow, and blue. I know--maybe that's why I never became a photographer.

At the top of the Guggenheim is a very strange artwork. On a revolving platform is a bed, table, chairs, and a small cabinet. This is actually an interactive work of art--at night it becomes a hotel room for a very rich person or two. Yes, for the duration of the exhibition, people have rented the artwork, and have the privilege of spending the night in the museum! Maybe like in that kids movie, when the museum closes for the night and the lights turn off the Pinnocchio comes alive and gets out of the water, and other crazy things happen. I just hope the blanket is warm, because museums are always too cold, and the Guggenheim is one huge open space made out of concrete. And I wonder if it has a shower anywhere? And wouldn't it be weird to be sleeping with security guards walking around? Oh well, its completely sold out so rich crazy people must not care.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I hab a code. E is walking around waving crossed fingers at me to fend away the germs. Meanwhile, I have no sick days at work, so I'm going there and sneezing and coughing on everyone as part of my evil plan to make them all sick too. Mwahahaha! At least they have a whole supply closet full of kleenex, and the deli next door has excellent chicken soup. But people keep giving me candy in the spirit of Halloween, and I can't enjoy it, because my taste buds don't work. It's so tragic.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Fish

I used to have Oscars. Not the golden statues that actors win, but the Amazonian cichlids. Oscars are those big huge black fish that you see in pet stores, with the beautiful red markings. They have very large expressive eyes, and beautiful transparent, fanlike fins. It's actually a shame that pet stores sell them, because they start out so small and cute and then when you get them home and start feeding them, they start to grow, and can actually get to be about 12 inches long! My first Oscar was named Holmes, but when he got big he ate Watson, the other fish that shared his aquarium, so I renamed him Moriarty, after Sherlock Holmes' arch-enemy. Oscars are very voracious eaters. Moriarty would get so excited when it was feeding time, that you had to be careful not to get your fingers too close. One time my mom went to feed him and he got so excited when he saw her that he jumped right out of the water and landed on the floor!

Anyway, the funniest thing about Moriarty is that unlike any other fish I've ever known, he would lay down on the gravel, on the bottom of the aquarium, on his side. Like he was dead, but he wasn't--his eyes would still follow me around the room. Usually he did it if he was scared or traumatized by something, like me cleaning the tank, or moving it to another spot. But sometimes I think he was just tired of swimming and needed to take a break. It's kind of how I feel right now. I'm at a point in my life where I've finished something major and need to decide what to do next, but its kind of overwhelming, so I'm just taking a break and laying down on the gravel. I'm resting on my side, letting the water go over me for a little while before I get back into the current.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

African Fabric

About a month ago I ordered some African wax print cotton, and it came this week! All the way from Holland, where it was printed. What should I make out of it? Maybe a dress? A quilt? I don't know. I might just hang it up on my wall and stare at it. And look at the awesome free gift I got: a fabric calendar:

Do you see? It's a limousine. I love it!

Church of the Week

I love how the churches are just built right into the streets of mostly apartment buildings. On Sundays the streets fill up with cars three-deep, so its hard to get an unobstructed view. If you look closely you can see the interesting doors on this church: white with graphic black crosses.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Right Now

Right now me and E are watching this really cheesy Dracula movie on tv and laughing at it. And we are suddenly finding ourselves very confused. What happens when everyone in the world is a vampire, because all the people have been bitten? What happens when a vampire bites another vampire? And why are all the women attracted to Dracula anyway? Oh well. We're also seeing some really great Saturday night infomercials. Did you know there's a battery-operated shaver that works underwater? This guy was shaving with it while swimming underwater in a pool. What a strange way to multitask...

Last Week

Last Saturday night I took a break from working on my paper because I had a free ticket to Carnegie Hall. Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette were playing jazz, and even though I'm not a huge jazz fan, it was very good. Mostly I was just happy to see Carnegie Hall--it was my first time inside. The stage is gorgeous, and I had an excellent box seat. I went with a coworker, and we got all dressed up. Why not? I have a lot of nice dresses that I never get to wear, so we decided we'd go all out. So to round out the night we met up at this really fancy restaurant for drinks (well, she had a drink--I had a piece of chocolate cake) and then we made our way over to Carnegie Hall to see the jazz. The show was great, although I think Keith Jarrett is a little full of himself. They played three encores--possibly more, because after they came back out for the third time, Dali and I left. We were going to head over to the Iguana for some salsa dancing, but the cover charge was too high... and it was probably a good thing because I already felt guilty for neglecting my paper. But how could I have passed up a free ticket to Carnegie Hall?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finally, I'm Done!

So the day has come at last. I handed in three copies of my final thesis this afternoon, and now I'm officially done with my Master's program! I'm in a state of denial, because I can't really believe how fast the whole year went by. And I'm kind of in shock because I always thought people with Master's degrees were super smart, and now I'm about to be one, and I don't feel that smart. Mainly, I feel tired and hungry and exhausted, because I've been up every night for the past week until 2 or 3 in the morning, and worked full days at my job. Lesson: never ever procrastinate your thesis! Then again, it's not as if I had the most boring of summers, and laid around doing nothing.

I'm not even blogging coherently right now. What I need to do is make a list. So here's what I'm going to do next:

1. Lay around.
2. Clean my room which is messier than I've ever seen it in my life. But not until I get my energy back.
3. Stop drinking Diet Coke. I'm not an addict, I swear. I've been taking it for the caffeine this week to stay awake, but it backfires, because then when I want to sleep, I can't.
4. Re-pot my plants, which are dying of neglection (that should be a word.)
5. Be nice to my sister, who has had to suffer through my craziness this past week.
6. Read books again. And magazines. And week-old newspapers.
7. Watch the Net-flix movie that is buried somewhere under my pile of a room, which I've had for about 4 weeks now.
8. Catch up on reading other people's blogs.
9. Buy groceries. I've subsisted on cheerios for a week. Thank goodness for vitamin fortified milk!
10. Do laundry. They finally hooked us up! $1 laundry on our floor, just three steps out of our door!
11. Start running again.
12. Sleep.

Ahhhhh. It feels good to be back.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Churches on My Mind

Well, this isn't a Harlem church, but it's the only church on my mind right now. I'll be back to blogging after my thesis is done!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cold Hearted Orb

What is it about the full moon that makes us stop and stare? What is it that inspires painters and poets? Is it the circle, the symbol of eternity and perfection? The glowing light? The seeming magic by which it rotates the earth, waxing and waning forever?

After work, when I arrived in Harlem and stepped out of the subway onto my street, I saw the full moon above the dark buildings, swathed in a veil of misty clouds. A woman stood on the street-corner with an outstretched arm, trying to take a picture of the moon with her cell phone. I went inside, put away my groceries, then went up to the rooftop to gaze at the moon myself.

Some people believe that the full moon affects peoples moods. In all the places I've worked, there has always been a rumor that the crazy people come out during the full moon. It might be true, or it might just be a convenient excuse for something that would happen anyway. All I know is that I love the moon, especially when it is full.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It Ain't Fittin'

For my thesis bibliography I have to cite my sources using the Chicago style, which means that the title of the book is not capitalized or underlined, just italicized! This is an example of how my reference looks:

Robison, Elwin C. The first Mormon temple: design, construction, and historic context of the Kirtland temple. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1997.

Sorry, but this just goes against all the English classes I've ever had. It doesn't feel like a title to me if the words aren't capitalized. Does this rub anyone else the wrong way?

Secondly, I just want to say that at this point I really don't care what grade I get, I just want to be done with this whole thesis! I'm having heart palpitations.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Church of the Week

Today, kind of a frightening church in my neighborhood. I mean, a house of prayer for all sounds great, right? But who are these angel-dudes on the side of the building, and why do they seem so ominous?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Holly Lobbies for Hobbies

Something I have been thinking about for a long time is kind of a strange and radical idea. In fact, I don't know if it would really work, but its a theory of mine. And I started thinking about it again as my sister and I walked back home from the voter registration place near our home in Harlem. Weekend nights in Harlem the streets are full of punks, and the reason why there is so much trash everywhere, busted newspaper dispensers, broken windows, fights, police sirens going off, and all that trouble on a regular basis is because people don't have have enough hobbies. If the bored men and women would get hobbies that kept them busy then they wouldn't be roaming the streets at night looking for trouble. They would be home or together in groups happily discussing a recent jazz album or drawing together or making a macrame hammock or doing genealogy or building a replica of the city out of erector set pieces.

I know, I know, it sounds crazy. And yes, I do believe that good education, satisfactory jobs, and family counseling also need to happen in Harlem. I just have this feeling that if people had more hobbies, they would have less time to vandalize, fight, get drunk and all that stuff. They would be doing something productive, which they would enjoy, and it would bring them satisfaction while simultaneously enriching the community and the world. I guess its about being productive rather than destructive, and I realize its a mindset that does not come easy to everyone, especially if you've never had much good happen to you in life. But I was walking home from Enrichment the other night and passed a dance studio. Through the large front windows and open doorway I could see a half dozen women dancing to an African beat. It looked like such fun, and it was so beautiful, and it was causing other women besides me to stop and stare longingly. Those women have found their hobby, so who will be next?

Friday, October 10, 2008


Today at work, out of the blue, Princess said, "I think I'll go home and do some vacuuming." So I laughed and said, "That sounds like a pretty exciting Friday night!" But what am I doing with my Friday night? Working on my Paper. It's almost done, luckily. So its okay that I've been mostly distracted from working very hard on it tonight.

My first distraction came when E came to me and said, "I need to go register to vote." Well I'm glad she finally got the civic urge on the last day to register in New York! So we put on our flip-flops (it's been so warm in the city this week!) and went out in search of this voter registration place we saw the other day over by the laundromat. It was plastered with Obama propaganda, because this is Harlem, and they were selling bejewelled Obama shirts and hats. I wanted to buy a sticker, because no matter which way you lean, you must agree that Shepard Fairey is a brilliant artist. But I didn't have a dollar. Now, I do want to rant a bit here because lately I've heard several people say they aren't going to vote. I'm not endorsing Obama here, or McCain. But I am endorsing voting. If you physically can, vote! It is a privilege and a responsibility that no citizen should forfeit. You can write in a candidate if you really must, but at least go and vote. If you sit home and ignore the process, nothing will ever get done in this country--or at least nothing good.

Anyway, I came home and started working on my paper some more, but then I got distracted by talking on the phone to my brother, who described the cakewreck he saw this evening at a wedding reception. I hope he sends me a picture!

By the time I got off the phone, the Japanese guy who has been "installing" our floor's washer and drier unit was out in the hall throwing tools around and talking to himself in Japanese, (now look who's got an exciting Friday night...) and I couldn't concentrate with that ruckus. So I got distracted by my blog.

The photo above was taken in 1963 (I think) by Leonard Freed. I hope it inspires you to go vote in a few weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In Rockefeller Center

There's lots of fun stuff going on around town right now. For instance, in Rockefeller Center there is a recreated cranberry bog with real live cranberry bushes planted around it and people in waders walking around handing out Ocean Spray juice and cranberries. I liked the machine that rustles up the cranberries from the plants--kind of like a big egg-beater.
Near the cranberry bog is my favorite store, Anthropologie. Lis has been ogling on of their chairs, but I like this one better. I also love their window displays--always super creative and inspiring. All the windows right now are full of stuff made out of old books and magazines.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday Night Baking

Monday night was delightfully spent at Debbie's home, where Marta, Megan, Debbie and I baked banana bread* and zucchini bread. Not to brag, but my banana bread recipe is so good that I have had boyfriends list it as one of the best things about me. I will share it with you, and you can be the judge:

Banana Bread
1/4 cup Crisco
2/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup smashed banana
2 tbsp. milk
extra sugar and cinnamon
raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan. Cream together the sugar, shortening, and egg. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the sugar mixture alternating with the banana and milk. Add the raisins or nuts or whatever. Turn batter into the greased pan and sprinkle the top liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Eat it hot with butter and a glass of milk.

At Debbie's house we made it with margarine instead of Crisco, and chocolate chips, and we cooked it in Debbie's crazy flexible bundt pan (I feel wierd calling it a pan, because it was made of that new rubbery heat-resistant material, not metal...) and it turned out delicious. The best part about baking banana bread is that it makes your house smell really good, and then you eat it warm and you always eat too much so you get that deliciously satiated feeling like on Thanksgiving Day.

Other activities of the evening included trying to play Nintendo, playing Scrabble, receiving Debbie's grocery delivery from Glatt Mart (inexpensive and kosher!), and listening to Megan talk about how wonderful her new boyfriend is. We'll have to do girl's bake-night more often, because it was very fun.

*Until Debbie emails me pictures, I am forced to illustrate this post with a stolen picture of banana bread from the interweb.

A Sunday Night Visitor

On Sunday I called my sister BJ who lives in Idaho. Her cat recently had kittens and so we were talking about how cute kittens are. I was saying, as I often do, how I wished I wasn't so allergic, so I could have a kitten. Later, when E and I were watching some TV, we heard a sound from outside that could have either been a baby or a cat crying. Ever curious, and a cat lover herself, E opened the window, and we distinctly heard a cat meowing over and over again. We decided to investigate, and anyway we had to take the trash out. Outside where the trash from our apartment building is collected, there is a large cement area which has become the site of a lot of debris. We followed the sound of the meows over there and in the dim light of the evening we tried to figure out where the poor cat could be. Suddenly a big fluffy cat ran past me, obviously a wild tomcat frightened by us. Then out of the pile of rubbish came a gray kitten. It ran straight toward us, and E bent down to pet it. Neither a baby kitten nor a full-grown cat, the "teenage" kitten was adorable and obviously happy to see us. It purred and rubbed against our legs and let us pick it up. We wondered if it had been abandoned by someone, or somehow escaped an indoor home. There was no choice but to take it inside. Naming him Long John Silver for his color and his extremely long skinny tail, we fed the kitten and played with him. He gobbled up the food, then ran around our house exploring and attacking things, but would always return to us for pets and cuddles. I wanted to keep him, but after just minutes of kitten exposure, my sinuses were filling up, my esophagus closing, and my eyes itching. When I started to sneeze, we had no choice but to take little Johnny back outside. Satisfied that we had at least fed him, verified that he was strong and healthy, and given him a little bit of love, we set him free to brave the wilds of an urban jungle. The life of a Harlem alley cat is not pleasant or easy, judging from the wild-eyed mangy felines I've seen slinking along sidewalks in the halflight of evenings before trash day. Facing constant attacks from cruel vehicles, humans, and rats, they lead dangerous, unloved lives. Our little silver-colored cat-kitten meowed for a few minutes, unhappy to be unbundled from E's warm sweatshirt and put out into the cold night, but he was soon gone--bravely and curiously entering the darkness.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nice Long Weekend

Today while I listened to General Conference, I channeled Alex Katz (or tried to, at least) and did some drawings of me and my sister. She's the one that looks like a Barbie and I'm the one that looks like a cartoon character. I asked her what she thought and she just laughed and laughed. I'll take it as a compliment. My drawing skills are rusty lately, but my writing skills are getting better. I still have dreams of publishing a book of short stories someday. But that is, no doubt, in the far distant future.

It has been a nice long weekend. I haven't changed out of my flannel pants and striped toe-socks since Friday. I've worked a lot on my paper, listened to podcasts and conference, watched some movies, eaten some donuts, and just generally lazed around. I love it. My perfect weekend is one where I don't have to go anywhere or do anything, and I accomplished that this time.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

The best part of this church is the windows, which are basically iron grills to keep the Harlem riff-raff out, but made creatively and quite attractively. There are actually two, one on either side of the door, but it was hard to get the whole thing in the picture. I also love the white and blue contrast, which reminds me of Greece for some reason.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


As I walked down 53rd Street on a crisp fall afternoon, I suddenly caught a whiff of turpentine on the breeze. The sharp piney scent transported me back in time to my freshman year at a small southern Oregon college, where I was taking an oil painting class for the first time. Never having used oils before, I felt a sophistication that belied my inexpertise. The new experience was heady--both enormously satisfying and frustrating--and I can remember with precision the small building used for painting classes, with its enormous windows that let in the desert sun unfiltered. Lockers were provided for students supplies, and the floor, easels, and walls were covered in splatters of paint, the result of years of artistic freedom. My teacher set up a huge pile of broken furniture in the middle of the room and we students formed our easels around it and painted abstract depictions of the tangled forms. I had a boyfriend then who would come to my class just to sit beside me and watch me paint. Not at all artistically inclined, he was as equally baffled by the colors I chose to use as he was with my lack of interest in him. Out of the corner of my eye, I was paying attention to a guy with long hair who reminded me of a young Neil Diamond. In that class I learned how to make a proper oil paint medium--that mixture of turpentine, stand oil, and other exotic ingredients that aid in smoothing the texture of the paint upon the canvas. Just as our childhood shapes our adult years, this was my painting childhood, which formed the artist I would later become. As our childhoods are mixed with awkwardness, disappointments, freedom and undiluted joy, so my painting career began. Now, no matter how many times I get out my paints and brushes, whenever I smell the turpentine I am taken back to that class, heart full of nostalgia.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Really Good Idea

So I won't be stressed out in December, I'm starting my Christmas shopping now. I'm very excited about it, and I already have two and a half of my gifts purchased.