Wednesday, December 31, 2008


It's almost 2009 and yet somehow I ran into some Civil War soldiers on Central Park West the other day. They were constructing a pyramid out of their guns, and passersby kept interrupting them to ask if they could have their picture taken with them. It's kind of crazy when you think about it--we know we've got it tough in our current society when we look back at the days of the bloodiest war in our nation's history with nostalgia and romanticism. I'm glad I live now.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Romance

He saw a girl wearing a summer dress and winter boots hurrying down 52nd Street, smiling secretively at the song her i-pod sang. Her earrings danced and sparkled against the dark cloud of her hair. To him she looked like a spring flower in a winter garden. She saw him too: a man, hands in pockets, standing like a sculpture beside his truck, with a look about him at once mysterious and wonderful. As they grew closer, their eyes met and shared a moment as electric and quick as a lightning strike. The December wind gusted, ruffling his hair and her skirts, and as she disappeared into the crowd something sparkled behind her like the tail of a comet. He realized her earring had fallen on the ground. But though he snatched it up and followed after her, it was too late. The winter sun slanted down 5th Avenue, blinding him, and the crowd was thicker than brambles. Clutching the earring to his heart, he vowed he would find her. Destiny could not be so cruel. Meanwhile, it was time to grab a slice of pepperoni and cheese pizza...

Ugh! Writing a romance novel would be harder than it seems, I think. Anyway, this is the scene I've been imagining in my head all day as I've tried to console myself over losing an earring today. It wasn't anything expensive--but just one of those charming things that attract me, and which I tend to wear day after day because it always feels right. It's true that I did share a glance with a very attractive man on the street-corner as I rushed to grab my lunch, but I have no idea where I lost the earring. I retraced my steps (and there weren't that many of them today, really) to no avail. Likely the thing was run over by a car, or fell down a subway grate, never to be seen again. However, I like to imagine that my handsome stranger is keeping it tucked away in his jacket's inner pocket as a memento of me, and that his dreams will be haunted by my memory as he curses himself for not saying hello.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I had another church in mind for today, but when I went to take a picture of it, I couldn't find it. Oh well. This one will do:This church is very large--I couldn't get the whole thing in one shot. What I like about it are the beautiful wrought iron hinges on the doors. Many of the large churches in Harlem have very beautiful wrought iron details such as this, because they were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when such decoration was popular and there were very skilled craftsmen. Some parts of the lower Bronx have incredible iron-work on the buildings, many of which were built in the prosperity of the late Victorian period.
I also love the ramp on the steps of this church, reiterating the message of "Welcome" over the door. In my church, if someone gets up to speak at the podium and they happen to say "Good Morning," the entire congregation will say "Good Morning" back. Then, after the meeting, visitors are encouraged to stand and introduce themselves and all of us say "Welcome!" to them. It is a very friendly, happy group of people.

Today I taught Relief Society, which is basically the third part of church, after Sunday School. It is just the women, which were a small group today because so many are away visiting family for the holidays. The lesson was on prayer, based on a talk by Elder Bednar. It was an easy lesson to teach, because the talk was so excellent, and because the women of my ward are so faithful. They all have such wonderful faith and devotion to the gospel, which I think might stem from the hardships that many of them face in their lives. I felt humbled to be standing there talking about the benefits of prayer when I know that at least one woman there had recently lost a sister and a grandmother and has a very sick daughter. But even she raised her hand and spoke of the power of prayer in her life, saying that she is very tired but never stops praying to God for comfort, peace, and to thank him for all of her blessings.

I've been thinking a lot about the New Year and of the resolutions I made last year, which I failed to accomplish. This year I have a great desire to try harder, to be better, mostly to strengthen my faith by finally waking up and doing all the things I know I should be doing but which I do not do. I know I cannot become perfect overnight, or even in a year, but I am thankful for the opportunity to try, to get a bit closer to becoming the person that I want to be, and who the Lord wants me to be. Prayer will be an integral part of my strategy, so it was good for me to reflect on it the past couple of days as I prepared my lesson.

A few days ago a girl asked me why I keep a blog. It seemed strange to her that I would want to write about personal things in a way that other people could see. Some things ought to be kept personal and private, but I also think that when I write things on my blog knowing that they are then available for others to see and read, then I have a greater reason to stand by the things I write. My New Years goals are more important now because you have read them. While I know you will not be disgusted with me if I fail at them, nevertheless I have a greater impetus to succeed at my goals because I am not the only one who knows of their existence. Hopefully that makes sense.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas is over, and it's time to put all the decorations away. This is always the saddest part. However, I am cheered by my Christmas loot, which includes a cute new apron from Anthropologie (where I took these pictures). I could live in that store, because I like every single thing there. I often pass by just to look at the inventive and inspiring window displays. Yes, I've been doing a little bit of post-holiday shopping today, but none of the things I want are on sale. Oh well. I need to save my money anyway.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Song... Not!

"My Favorite Things" is a song from The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music has nothing to do with Christmas. "My Favorite Things" is not a Christmas song! So now you know my stance on that issue.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The big city was cold and rainy on Christmas Eve, but that was fine with me because I was stuck at work until 5:30. But it was a fun day. Nobody worked very hard--we just sat around exchanging gifts and sharing stories. My closest office-mates include women from Guyana, Romania, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, and each shared a description of the special foods they were going to make to celebrate the holiday. My family always has clam chowder on Christmas Eve, so I was happy to find out that my dad made it, even though my family was not all together this year. After work I met up with some friends for Dominican food, which is prevalent in Washington Heights. It was amazing--there were seven of us and we ate chicken, pork, rice, beans, and plantains until we were stuffed and still had leftovers for $35 total. TOTAL!

Afterwards we headed over to Holly B's house, where we had a table full of desserts to eat, and a Christmas tree that she had just sort of stolen. What happened was: Holly went down the street to where the guy had been selling trees all season. It was rainy and cold, and nobody was there guarding the trees. So Holly picked one out, dawdled, looked around for someone to pay, and nobody appeared. She started shouting, "Hello? Anyone here? I want to buy a tree! I have money! I want to give someone money!" And she has a nice projectable voice, too. But nobody showed up, so she and the guy that was with her just decided to pick up the tree and take it home. The other problem was that she doesn't own a tree-stand, or decorations. So our Christmas Eve activity was propping the tree in the corner of the room and decorating it with homemade paper snowflakes and other random things. It's a huge tree, and it looks hysterical and more than a bit tragic, but it was fun.

Christmas morning, E and I headed back to Holly B's house for breakfast. After stuffing ourselves yet again, we came home and opened our presents. Yay! As soon as we were done opening everything, the doorbell rang, and it was the mailman with another package for us! I felt really sorry for the USPS guy who has to work on Christmas Day, but he got a kick out of me opening the door and shouting, "It's a Christmas miracle!" at him. Now maybe he will find the other box that my mom sent two weeks ago, but which has still not arrived... But I understand the postal confusion in Harlem. The 125th Street Post Office has been converted into a Winter Wonderland of ceramic figurines. Behind the tellers (or whatever they are called) is a huge shelf that I think is supposed to hold the packages that people are coming to pick up, but it is now covered with a village of ceramic houses, churches, town buildings, cotton snow, etc. There are literally hundreds of miniature ceramic buildings covering every inch of shelf-space. Quite magical, I admit, but perhaps a hindrance to the flow of holiday mail.

Anyway, it is a good Christmas in New York City. They are playing the yule log on TV, and I'm cooking up a poor-man's feast of homemade beef stew, cornbread, fruit salad, and pie. Maybe later E and I will play another game of Scrabble, and watch a movie. I hope everyone else out there had a good day. Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I just know I'm going to get sick now. EVERYONE at work is sick. My boss has strep throat but has come to work every single day, the lady down the hall has laryngitis, another girl had a stomach bug, Dali has a cold, and Isaacs has a fever. People have been coughing and sneezing and having headaches right and left, while all the while exchanging holiday gifts and homemade treats. It's like a minefield of germs! I have a container of Purell right next to my desk, so I'm constantly disinfecting everything, but I'm going to have to start wearing a face mask if I want to emerge unscathed. It may be too late. My head is starting to hurt right now, and I feel a little dizzy. It might just be my imagination, but... I'm taking a vitamin right now! And I'm going to drink a gallon of water today. I don't want to be sick at Christmastime!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Side Hobby

Just in case anyone loves broken umbrellas as much as I do, I've created a second blog, which is devoted to the subject. Some people collect golden pocketwatches, others vintage cookie jars. I collect pictures of the broken umbrellas of New York City.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Party Weekend

I've been a very diligent blogger until this weekend. All the parties started piling up and I ran out of time. On Thursday night (or was it Wednesday? It was Wednesday...) after work I went with Dali over to LQ (Latin Quarter), a really cool dance club with a Latin-American twist. It has recently been in the news because of that football player Plaxico, who shot himself in the foot there. But Dali has been going there for years, because she loves to salsa. LQ is large and contains several rooms at different levels. A large sunken dance floor dominates the space, surrounded by turreted alcoves with tables for eating and drinking. It was very old-school glamorous. They were having a free buffet, so I scored a delicious dinner and Dali and I watched the dancing for a while. I didn't stay for the free salsa class, but I may go back one day and do it. Dancing looks like such fun, but I've always felt too uncoordinated to give it a serious attempt.

On Friday night a bunch of us from work met up at a delightful restaurant called Meson Sevilla over on 46th Street, or "restaurant row." It was our company holiday party of sorts, although not everyone could make it. Since a few of us leave work earlier, we made ourselves comfortable at the bar: Dali and Princess had margaritas and I couldn't wait--I ordered a plate of pasta. It was blizzarding outside--the first day of the wintry weather we've been enjoying all weekend, so it felt so nice and cozy to be in a charming restaurant eating delicious hot food with friends. When the rest of my coworkers showed up we were given a nice big private table downstairs and while everyone enjoyed dinner, I had a slice of rich chocolate cake.

The rubber boots that E bought me last year have really been useful the past few days. The snow turns to slush almost immediately in the city, and in some places it piles up and gets very treacherous. In Harlem the snow is blocking all the gutter drains, so at each intersection there are huge icy puddles that blend in with the street. My boots render me impervious to all this, and I am able to walk through anything as if it were nothing at all. Kind of like driving the Suburban in Massachusetts during the winter. My dad used to have so much fun taking that thing to the store while other cars were lining the ditches. If he saw a huge snowdrift, he'd plow right through it. Also, I've been getting all kinds of awesome broken-umbrella shots. Friday was murder on umbrellas. Collecting these pictures is so fun, but I'm wondering what I'm going to do with all these pictures of dead umbrellas. Unless I start the Blog of Broken Brollies, the only other option is to self-publish a coffee-table book called something like Discarded: The Broken Umbrellas of New York City.

Anyway, on Saturday night I attended two parties. The first one was at Jeff's house in Harlaman Hall, which is the apartment building that houses so many Mormons that the residents have nicknamed it for Helaman Hall, the dorm at BYU. Jeff had been dying to have people over to watch Babes In Toyland, the remake with Keanu Reeves and Drew Barrymore. It was made in 1986, and it is one of Jeff's favorite movies, not because it is good, but because it is very bad. By bad, I mean, hilarious. I won't try to explain, but it was really fun watching it with Jeff and a bunch of other friends as we ate popcorn and laughed. I skipped out before the ending, but Jeff assured me that the good guys win. Phew! I would hate for Bartleby Barnacle to have thwarted the Asian Santa/Toymaster guy and married Mary Contrary and taken over the cookie factory with his jar of Evil Essence. Anyway...

Next I headed downtown to a Chanuka party hosted by my coworker Lil' Debbie. She had made the most delicious party snacks, including some amazing star-shaped cookies. I'll have to get that recipe from her! I had a fun time spinning the dreidel, defending Debbie's wall decor, and hanging out with fun friends. The night flew by and I headed home sometime around midnight, enjoying my walk to the subway through the falling snow, which makes the city seem even more magical than it already is. I think the snow also makes the city lighter at night. The lights reflect off the clouds and all the moisture in the air, and sometimes when I walk through the city on such nights, I feel like its the middle of the day because its so bright. The city that never sleeps, indeed.

Tonight another coworker is giving a party, and I will probably stop by, although I kind of just feel like curling up and taking a long nap. Party weekends are so fun, but I'm exhausted.

Church of the Week

This church actually looks somewhat deserted, what with the boarded windows of the building. However, maybe the building is under renovation. I'm intrigued by the X-in square markings on either side of the sign, which may be some kind of construction-work marks. Anyway, the green background on the cross is made of small iridescent tiles which sparkle in the sun. I've also noticed that a lot of small churches around here use glass blocks to form crosses in masonry walls--kind of a poor man's stained glass window effect. This church is on 126th Street somewhere on the East side. I first saw it from the window of a taxi on my way home from the airport after Thanksgiving break. Next week I will post a church with a similar look that I discovered while walking a few weeks ago.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Three Camels

On the one day I didn't have my camera, I was walking to work and saw three camels walking down 6th Avenue at 53rd Street! The funny thing was that the busy New Yorkers were so focused on getting to work on time that nobody was paying any attention to the camels at all. I think I was the only one who stopped and stared. Turns out they are performing at Radio City Music Hall, in the Christmas Spectacular, with the wise men and everything, and they were out for their morning exercise. The surreal picture of cold winter day, crazy traffic, skyscrapers, and camels serenely plodding down the sidewalk put a smile on my face that lasted the whole day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This Day

On this day many years ago my life changed dramatically. My family moved from Oregon to Massachusetts. On December 17, 1994, I boarded a plane for the first time in my life and travelled from the comfortable life I had in Oregon to an unknown future in a cold, unfamiliar New England town. I was a senior in high-school and I did not want to move away from my friends, my boyfriend, my school. And Christmas was only a week away. Of course I didn't think how hard it must have been on my parents to move seven kids, a dog, and a cat across the entire country at Christmas-time. All I could think of was myself.

In Oregon it was cold and rainy, but in Massachusetts it was even colder, and snowy. We arrived in the middle of the night, and our new house was cold and strange. Our belongings were being transported across the country in a moving van, so the house was empty and we slept on the floor in sleeping bags.

Eventually I would become enthralled with the beauty of the Massachusetts woods in winter, but seeing them for the first time was shocking. Oregon woods are full of pine trees and never really lose their green, but the New England woods are stark bare, ice-encrusted, and silent in a snowy December. I explored them intensely, trying to figure out who I was.

Unfortunately our moving van had a tragic accident, and we found out we weren't going to get our things until a few days after Christmas. However, it was a blessing in disguise. New Englanders have a reputation of being a bit standoffish and cold, but our new neighbors were none of those things. Before we even arrived, the neighbor who built our house stocked the kitchen with milk and bagels for our breakfast the next day. When they learned of our plight, neighbors and townspeople brought us not just food but a Christmas tree, games, chairs, and other comforts of home and the season. It was my first time being the recipient of such charity, and I was amazed and thankful for the generosity of strangers.

It turned out to be a great Christmas. Though it was a rough transition for me in many ways, now I look back at the experience with fondness. I learned so much about myself, my family, and the meaning of Christmas. I trusted my parents choice, and forged ahead into the forest of my future with bravery. The journey started out cold and wintry (my new high school was atrocious), but became a beautiful and delightful experience, which continues to amaze me. It's hard to explain these things, but I think we all have a day or a time in our young lives when everything changes, and for me it was December 17.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hello, This is the Future Speaking

Sometimes I have a blinking light on my phone at work. It's supposed to indicate that I have a voicemail message, but somehow my extension is always the one where the non-calls end up: the pocket phonecall of muffled nothingness, the hang-ups, the silence. However, every now and then I have a real message--my boss calling to tell me something too important for an email but not important enough to actually come speak to me. The thing that makes me laugh, and always catches me by surprise is that when I check my messages, the recorded voicemail voice always says something like: "You have one new message. First message, recorded today at 10:32 a.m...." and I look at the clock and it's only 9:45 a.m. Apparently, I have a phone that is giving me messages from the future! I'd better start paying closer attention to them. With such a phone, I may end up like that lady on "Medium" who can never get a decent night's sleep because she's always being awakened by horrible nightmares of the future that she has to then go and prevent from happening. So, I will let you know if I get any important information about the future from my phone. Meanwhile, the future just seems to involve a lot of muffled street noise and wrong numbers...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Window Watching

I've been keeping my window open lately because, for one thing, this steam-heated apartment of mine is like a sauna, and there is no way to control the temperature. Not only that, but I discovered that one of my bedroom walls is heated. There must be more steam pipes inside it because the wall gets really really warm. Also, today it was in the 60s! I almost forgot its December, with a week and half until Christmas.

Speaking of windows, last night I went into the kitchen without turning the light on. Through the kitchen window I saw the bright light of the apartment across the narrow alley. The curtains were up and there was a guy in a small living room putting together an Ikea-ish looking chair. I don't know why, but there was something so fascinating about the scene, and soon E and S joined me in the kitchen to spy. We sat on the countertops with all the lights off, laughing and talking for a good while. The poor guy had no idea he had an audience who found his every action comical. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Rear Window, in which James Stewart and Grace Kelly get involved in a murder mystery because of their window-watching. Well, I doubt that my roommates and I are going to see anything nefarious in the apartment across the way, but we did spy an intruder in the next apartment down, which also had its lights on: a mouse was walking around on the stove! Ewwwwww.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm Someone Too

Here's the Harlem church of the week, East Mt. Olive Baptist Church:

It is nice to be reminded that everybody is somebody. It's a really cute little Arts-and-Crafts-revival looking church, but I'm very upset that the gorgeous stained glass windows on either side of the door have been covered up with notices--I think they are announcing who the pastor is and what the sermon is going to be about. Also, this little church seems to have an equally cute brick building peeking out from behind it. It's probably an extension of the church, but it looks almost like the little church came along, said "Spread out!" and squeezed itself into its little nook, with no heed for the buildings around it.

Meanwhile, a couple of streets over, I had a delightful morning in my own church. I sang two songs with the ward choir, and they were lovely. Sara, our choir director and a fantastic soprano, sang O Holy Night, which I adore. Then the primary children sang a Christmas song, and they are always adorable. I sat on the stand with the choir, which is fun because I get to watch the congregation's reaction to all the songs and talks, and so I saw that during O Holy Night a woman far in the back lifted up both her hands in witness to the spirit she was feeling. Later, during some scripture readings out of Luke, a man in the back also lifted up his hand, shook it in the air, and I watched his head sway as he closed his eyes and silently recited the scriptures. Such pentecostal expressions of faith don't usually happen much in LDS church meetings, but this is Harlem. Over half of the people in my ward are new converts, who grew up going to other churches, expressing their beliefs in different ways. Many of them are very poor and have had very hard lives. But when they feel moved by the Spirit, they recognize it, embrace it wholeheartedly, and want to share it with those around them. It made me happy to see that people were being moved by the songs that were being sung and the words that were being shared, and that I was a part of it. I felt the Spirit too, and I share it with you now. Hosanna!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Christmastime In the City

Last night I returned home to find Trini and his henchmen decorating the apartment building. An old Jamaican guy with a gold tooth and dreads is quite a sight in a Santa hat, let me tell you. The place looks best at night with all the lights, but my camera doesn't work in dimness, so here is a daylight shot:
This is the second gate into the building, and the first gate and the entire courtyard is decorated quite exuberantly. Also, I've noticed that many of the residents have decorated their apartment doors. The entire 3rd floor is decked out in tinsel, wreaths, and bells. It's a wonder to behold. If there's one thing New Yorkers love, it's Christmas, and the enthusiasm is contagious. So here's an early greeting, one of Trini's decorations:

And Another One

After yesterday's post, it was funny to find this discovery just a few blocks from my house this morning when I was out for a walk:Actually, the picture doesn't do it justice, and I couldn't get a better one because there were people walking by giving me strange looks. Hey, I'm not the one who abandoned the umbrella on the sidewalk, people!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rainy Day People

Rainy days in New York aren't just wet, they are really really wet. And windy. The day after a rainstorm, the streets are strewn with destroyed umbrellas, and pieces of destroyed umbrellas. I like to take pictures of them, because they are like sculpture. Sometimes I see dead umbrellas stuffed into garbage cans, half sticking out, or just tossed aside, and I like to imagine the scene that ensued. How some poor person running through the rain was suddenly overtaken by a huge gust of wind that caught at their umbrella like a sail, ripping the cheap fabric from the straining ribs, turning it inside out or shredding it, as they struggled to keep their head and their packages dry. Once I saw a woman running through the rain, vainly covering her head with a broken, wilted umbrella that had lost its handle, as if it were a huge leaf.

At some point the wet person decides that the broken umbrella is more of a hindrance than a help and casts it aside like so much litter, and runs as fast as they can to the nearest subway entrance, store, or empty doorway. I've never seen anyone in the very act of tossing aside a broken umbrella, but I'm sure I will someday, because the discarded brollies can be seen everywhere. My favorite one was a Batman umbrella, torn up and left for dead on the flooded staircase of the 125th Street subway station. I still regret not having my camera that day. Okay, so I'm crazy, but I think there is something very melancholily beautiful (how do you make an adverb out of an adjective that already ends in ly?) and poetic about dead umbrellas. They illustrate a moment of drama and frustration; they embody the struggle of life in this big city. The lucky, strong ones survive and live to see another rainy day. The unlucky, weak ones are defeated and are left like dead birds by the wayside. The very unlucky, very weak are picked apart by the elements of the storm until nothing remains but their bones, like insect legs on the sidewalk:
Luckily my umbrella survived today's rain and wind, valiantly defying the fierce wind, although only keeping me dry from about the shoulders up. Sometimes the rain here falls parallel to the ground. I left work with a paper bag that had completely disintegrated by the time I got to the subway station, and I was thankful that even though I forgot to bring my lunch to work, I remembered to put on my tall rubber boots. Someday I'll be the girl who's umbrella flips inside out while she's crossing the street, and I'll have to decide whether to struggle with the contraption or toss it into the nearest gutter.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I like to brag about how my Viking heritage makes me immune from the effects of the cold weather, and it's mostly true that I can stay pretty warm when other people are shivering, but today was a different story. Yesterday it was snowing in Harlem and, though it didn't accumulate, it has ushered in a winter chill. There are people selling Christmas trees on the street corners, but that's about the only life I saw out of doors today as I walked around town running various errands. I needed some cassette tapes for a project, so I ran out of the house with just a sweater, a scarf and a coat, no gloves or hat, and I soon regretted it! On the upper west side I found a guy selling books and videos on the sidewalk, and he had a box of old cassettes. $2 each, he said, which seemed outrageous for an obsolete technological artifact of the 80s, but when he saw me roll my eyes he said, "Consider yourself helping out some homeless guy like me." Sure, maybe that's the spiel he uses to push his merch, and I could probably have bargained him down (if I'd had a smaller bill than a $20), but how could I resist a statement like that on such a cold day? My fingers had already lost all feeling after being out of my pockets for just a few minutes. I bought five tapes, and felt good about it, especially when I went to Goodwill and saw that tapes were "$2 and Up" there. Who even listens to tapes anymore? I can understand the appeal of vinyl records, but cassettes? Anyway, I'm going to pull the tape out of them and crochet it into something. (Ha! Maybe a hat for the homeless guy... I could line it with felt.)

So by the time I got home I was chilled for real. My fingers could hardly work, so, although I had planned on painting today, I decided to go see a movie instead. This time I wore a hat and gloves--even thought about bringing a blanket--but the theater was still really cold. When the movie was over and I came back outside into the frigid winter night, this guy walked by wearing shorts, with bare legs. An old man right behind him said to himself, "Look at that one in short pants--he must be crazy!" I heard him and burst out laughing, and we shared a glance, shaking our heads in disbelief. It must be in the 20s out there. Now I'm home, practically cuddling the radiator, and making some hot chocolate. I don't want to go back out, but I have one more errand I have to run tonight.

Where's MY Marriage?

Here is a short film that my friends Ryan and Collin made for the Lingos:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Somewhere In Harlem

I don't know what the name of this church is, and I was going to go find it today to get the name, but it's SO cold outside that I think I'm just going to stay where I am: curled up in a blanket drinking hot chocolate. It was snowing earlier, and I hope it resumes, because if it's going to be this cold, it might as well be snowy. Anyway, this church is somewhere in Harlem. I just love the red door.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

blah blah blog

I really feel like blogging, but I don't really have anything very important to talk about right now. So here are a few random things:

1. The Lingos. The Manhattan stake singles have a wonderful traditional film festival every year, named after that classic Mormon movie, Johnny Lingo. Anyone who wishes to may submit a 3-5 minute movie, about anything at all. Then, one winter's night (the determination of which is still a mystery to me--they never really announce stake activities here--they just come along through hearsay and the grapevine) in a typical combination of chaos and brilliance, the films are shown, judged, and given awards. Last night was my second Lingos, and I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly. With LDS amateur short films you never really know what you're going to get, but there were fortunately no super-awkward, sacreligious, or distasteful movies this year. There was one short about baptism which was really minimal, and I have to admit that I was on the edge of my seat, anticipating something in poor taste and just hoping it wouldn't be too bad, but the movie turned out to be so innocent and even joyful, that I ended up feeling bad for thinking that it would be bad. The rest of the movies were a very good combination of TV show spoofs, a western, a crazy Santa, a haunted school, and some very funny commentary on current social and economic issues. This is Manhattan, and there are some really talented amateur filmmakers among us. But the biggest surprise? The activity started only 20 minutes late!

2. Happy St. Nicholas Day! I'm just glad we don't celebrate this holiday like they used to do in some countries. The legend of St. Nicholas is that he was a kind man who anonymously donated three bags of gold to a man so his daughters could have dowries and thus marry. So in parts of Eastern Europe, the little children would leave their shoes out the night before St. Nicholas' Day and he would supposedly come along and fill them with treats. But if they were bad, St. Nich's henchmen would come beat the children. I'm not making this up--you can go look at Wikipedia if you don't believe me. I'm suddenly wondering if the reason I'm not married yet is because I have no dowry. Maybe I should have left my shoe out last night?

3. At the Lingos last night I ran into a kid who I babysat one time when I was 17. He's all grown up now and friends with my friends, which is kind of wierd! But all I can think about is how when I was 17 his dad had so many speeding tickets that he hired me to drive him to work in the morning (this counts among one of the more unusual jobs I've had during my long career) and I totaled his car. Each day, depending on how late he was running, we would drive to a different train station so that he could commute into Boston. This particular morning (foggy, 5:30 a.m.) we were headed to a station I'd never been to before, and when I turned left to enter the station parking lot, I drove right into the path of an oncoming SUV. The accident happened right in front of the local police station, and you know how Massachusetts cops are. Nobody died, so we were lucky, but I had never been in a wreck before and was crying in the arms of the policeman, telling him "It was all my fault!" as my late-for-work employer ran away to catch his train. This was before cell phones, so my dad was very surprised to see me arrive home a little while later in a busted car (it could still move, thank goodness!) with flat tires and bumper dragging. I collapsed on the couch and didn't drive again for at least a week.

4. Actually, I think I've run out of things to talk about now.

P.S. Last night on the way to the Lingos I saw 4 skinny guys in Santa suits skateboarding down Central Park West. It's that time of year!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cookie Night Done Right

My roommates and I have been wanting to have a party since we moved into our new place in July, but somehow we just never got around to doing it. However, the stars magically aligned this week and we were able to celebrate National Cookie Day. My roommate (who I will refer to by her elf name, Lemondrop, to protect her identity) is the collector of all little-known holidays, so when we saw that National Cookie Day was coming up, it seemed perfect. I, for one, love to bake cookies, and have been making them all week, much to the amusement of our across-the-alley neighbors, who have no doubt been entertained by our baking escapades--I have a hunch they have been keeping their blinds open in order to watch the spectacle. E made cookies too, and so did Lemondrop. (No, she didn't make lemon-drops!) By the time Thursday came along, the freezer was bulging with cookies, and our kitchen was a flour-dusted wreck. We decorated the apartment with lots of fun snowflake decorations, lights, and paper lanterns. Then lots of friends came over, and we ate the fruits (well, fruit and cookies both have sugar so, close enough) of our labors, played contortionist games, ate more cookies, then ate even more. Now its the next day and I'm suffering through what can only be described as a Mormon hangover, a result of too much sugar, lots of laughing, silly games, and too little sleep. I think I'll have another cookie...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Can't Help It

All right, I admit it--all my favorite songs are depressing. I've had my music playing on shuffle while E and I decorate, clean, and make cookies for our Christmas party tomorrow, and she was commenting about how all my music is sad. "I know," I said, "but I love it." Eventually, however, when I had my arms elbow deep in dough the song "Love Hurts" by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris came on, and I called for E to skip it, please!, because that song is just too sad for even me. But the next song in the shuffle was The Byrds' "Life in Prison," and the next was something from Ryan Adams' "Heartbreaker" album, and after that some Smiths single, probably "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" followed by equally melancholy songs by Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin, and Nina Simone. I guess it's time to get out the Christmas music! However, I just got the Modern Skirts album "Catalogue of Generous Men," which is excellent and upbeat--I'm enjoying it tremendously. The new Rosebuds album, meh, not so much--it's just not as inventive as their previous work, although quietly beautiful, I suppose. The last song is quite good. My other new favorite band is Okkervil River. Try their album "The Stand Ins," or, if you like depressing music, "Black Sheep Boy."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I'm simultaneously making cookies, eating pasta, decorating my apartment for the holidays, blogging, and editing photos all at the same time. I feel very productive. And I'll have you know I have been blogging--I just haven't published my last couple of posts. I wrote one about some psychic predictions I was having, but then I realized it might be upsetting to the people who's lives I was having premonitions about... not that they know me, or even read this blog, but you never know.

Life has been very eventful lately. Of course I was home for Thanksgiving, and that was great. As it turns out my family did accept and love me despite my choice of vote, and there were only a few political conversations I had to flee from--nothing major. I saw lots of old friends, and had some good times. Some of the highlights of my weekend in Chapel HIll: finding a bat in the garage, seeing a man in full clown makeup although dressed like a regular person going through a dumpster at the local mall, playing tons of games with my sisters who went to church dressed like twins although they are not, and finding this book in my mother's closet (see photo.)

Waking up at 4 a.m. to leave for the airport, flying to New York, and then going immediately to work for a 8 hour day on Monday was not fun, but the good news is that it has made the rest of my week seem like a joy in comparison. I've been very happy lately, which is great. Maybe it is the holidays, or the self-actualization I experienced while home, or the Christmas trees they are selling down the street (in the middle of a huge concrete city!), or just the fact that I'm healthy and alive--whatever it is, life is good right now.

However, as much as I'd like to say I can do it all, I must end my blog post and go attend to my cookies now. The night is slipping away, and I don't know how to twitch my nose or snap my finger and make stuff magically happen. Tonight I saw a lady embroidering on the subway. Talk about multitasking. First of all, there are people who still embroider? Second, how does she do it on a jerking jostling subway car? Well, if she can do that, I can get everything done that I need to do tonight and still have time for a cup of hot cocoa and a chapter of my book.