Monday, March 30, 2009


I ought to have bought some of this graduation-themed African fabric and made myself a dress out of it to wear on Saturday. That would have been hilarious. Actually, what was hilarious was this girl in my class who is a really rich snobby sort. She was so attached to the leopard-print hipster scarf she was wearing around her neck that she kept it on over her graduation gown! Graduation gowns are already ridiculous, but that was just funny.

So, everyone is asking me: what's next? But I don't really know! My first item of business is to clean my room, during which I will hopefully find my internet bill, my Netflix movie, my overdue library books, and the pattern to the skirt I'm trying to crochet. Next, I will continue my search for a fabulous job. Everyone is having hiring freezes, but there must be something out there. Then, while I do that, I am going to whip my body into shape, work on some new art projects, and try to be as productive as possible while still getting enough sleep. Is that a good answer?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

St. John the Divine

Today after church, E and I are going to take Dad over to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, because he has always wanted to see the inside. Maybe in the meantime the sun will come out, so the stained glass windows will be set off to greater effect.

Graduation and Other Stuff

Yay! I graduated. I like this blurry picture of me, taken just after receiving my diploma, because it is kind of mysterious, kind of symbolic of the rushing around I've been doing since living in New York, this city of constant motion. I'm still working hard to move forward, and never let life get too stagnant. Also, I like this picture because it reminds me of that one famous photo of Bigfoot, which is so blurry that you can't really tell if its Bigfoot or a guy in a suit.

Anyway, so it has been a tremendously busy week. I have not had a full night's sleep since Monday or Tuesday, and my bedroom looks like a hurricane passed through it, immediately followed by an earthquake. Sigh... I'll clean it tomorrow!

As soon as I returned from North Carolina, my time was taken up with the execution of the Relief Society Birthday Dinner that I was in charge of at church. In my ward, I'm the Enrichment Leader, which means that I am in charge of planning and carrying out all the activities of the Relief Society, which is the women's organization of the church. The Relief Society was organized in March of 1842, so every year LDS women celebrate in March, often with a nice dinner. Well, the dinner we had here in Harlem on Thursday night was nothing like the wonderful (=gourmet food, enchantingly lit, every detail painstakingly executed by hand) dinners that Alisa, DanaLee, Janet, and I used to put together in Chapel Hill, but it was still lovely. The theme was "Food for the Soul" and because there are so many amazing cooks in the ward, we had a potluck dinner of soul-food dishes. The spread was amazing! Homemade fried chicken, collard greens with bacon, homemade macaroni and cheese, cornbread, beans and rice, ham and potatoes... It sounds like ordinary food, I guess, but in the hands of my Harlem sisters, it was the most delicious feast! Especially the banana pudding someone made for dessert. We ate, had a few speakers give spiritual messages about feeding our spirits as well as our bodies, and about the history of the Relief Society. Then, more socializing, swapping recipes, birthday cake, and lots of helpful women cleaning up afterwards. I love my ward, and the women in it. They amaze me with their willingness to serve and help, and their friendliness and love.

Meanwhile, I'm about to gouge my eye out, because I think one of my contact lenses is scratched, and it is constantly irritating my eye. Just wear your glasses, you say. Well, my glasses prescription is about ten years old, plus I hate my glasses, so I have just been suffering with the painful contact lens. No time to find a doctor and get a new prescription. Finally, on Thursday I broke down and tried ordering new lenses online, thinking that maybe if I put it in as a rush order, they would overlook the fact that my contact lens prescription is over a year old and honor it anyway. And it worked! But so much for the rush--I called on Friday and they said the lenses would come on Monday. Ugh! Somehow I will survive until then...

On Friday my dad came to town and we had some more soul food when we went out to eat at Amy Ruth's down on 116th Street in Harlem. I had heard good things about it--and it was truly delicious! The wait was long, and the service slow, but it was Friday night and the place was packed. And it was fine, because it gave me, E, and Daddy a lot of time to talk. There has been much to talk about, too! Some current family drama is keeping us all worried. Sigh...

Saturday morning was my graduation! I had to be there super early for picture taking, so my dad and E came later. It was so fun to see all of my classmates again--some girls I haven't seen since last May. It was just like old times, as if we had just come from a class on 17th century portraiture or a museum visit. We caught up on each others lives, met each others families, and laughed at the ridiculousness of our graduation gowns. For some reason we had to be there two hours early, but the only thing we did was have a group photo taken. By the time the ceremonies began, I was starving, and wishing I'd stashed some snacks inside the bizarre flaps on my graduation gown. But I survived, received my "diploma" (the real thing will come later in the mail, and I had fun tricking E by making a fuss of unrolling it, only to reveal a blank piece of paper!), as well as an honorary auctioneer's gavel, and completely enjoyed graduation. And miraculously, for the whole morning, my eye didn't hurt! It was a graduation miracle. But now it hurts again.

Afterwards me and the family went out to lunch nearby, enjoying a beautiful sunny spring day. Daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths are in bloom everywhere! We made our way home, changed clothes, and then went to see the Brooklyn Bridge. My dad just finished reading "The Great Bridge" by David McCullough, which tells the story of the Roeblings, and how the bridge was built. It is an amazing story, and it is wonderful to see the bridge still standing, 125 years later, with the same steel cables, controversial in their time, still holding it up, no problem.

Other than that little bit of sight-seeing, my dad and I have just been taking it easy now, sitting around the house eating food, watching movies, and having "laptop club" as E puts it, with me and Dad typing away on our laptop computers in the living room--he reading political news articles, and me posting pics on facebook or trying to blog. It's nice to just sit around and do nothing much, after such a busy week. I'm so happy to have my dad here, and happy to finally be graduated!
Here is a picture of E taking pictures on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


It's a very busy week! I have a bazillion things to do in what seems like very little time. Luckily, I have a sister who helps me. Tonight we ate cotton candy, watched a movie, and made the handouts for the church dinner I'm in charge of. Now we are both yawning, laying around, exhausted from the day. The dinner is on Thursday night, and I'm not sure how it's going to turn out. I'm bad at being in charge of things. And it's really hard to get everything done and have a job, too. The dinner is going to be sort of fancy potluck, with all the church ladies bringing their favorite soul-food dishes (theme=food for the body and the spirit), and I have so many things I want to cook and bring to share, but I know I will hardly have time to prepare one or two. So, tonight I did the grocery shopping and made the hand-out. Tomorrow after work I will go and set up the church and make cornbread. Then on Thursday I will wake up early to make ham and potatoes in my slow-cooker so it will be ready when I get home from work and I can just run over to the dinner in time for it to start. After that is all over, my dad is coming to town on Friday for a weekend visit, so I need to clean my house in preparation. On Saturday, I graduate, so that will be a busy day, too. It's all very fun stuff! But I need to budget my time wisely in order to stuff some other things in like paying bills, writing some letters, and eating. Oh yes, and sleep. I'd better get to bed now, but E is making me laugh. I've been asking her to write a guest post on my blog, but she can never decide what to write about. Her latest idea is to make a list of all the most disgusting things in nature and post that on my blog! Um... okay.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Get Right

I don't have a Harlem church to post today, but here is the North Carolina equivalent. Saw this on the way to the beach.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Top Ten Beach-House Activities

1. Yoga on the sand, next to the waves.

2. Cooking and eating delicious food.

3. Soaking in the hot tub.

4. Watching basketball games on the TV.

5. Taking a nap on the beach.

6. Painting pictures of people napping on the beach.

7. Watching dolphins play in the waves.

8. Watching pelicans catch fish.

9. Reading a book in the rocking chair on the porch.

10. Mah-jongg.

At The Beach

Something about being at the edge of the ocean, like being at the edge of the earth, with nothing but the eternal expanse to look at and listen to... I love it. The beach is my favorite. I'm still in my bed, but I can see and hear the ocean waves from my window. The sun is rising and making everything baby-pink and blue. There is a rocking chair on the balcony that is calling me, but so is the surf. I want to go walk along the edge of the waves and get my feet wet in the sea-foam, telling poems to the ocean.

We arrived last night in time to enjoy the beautiful evening. It's warmer here than I thought it would be! And sunny. So peaceful and amazing. We soaked in the hot tub, under the stars (trying in vain to identify them...), with the waves crashing below us. When I got too hot, I'd go run and jump in the waves for a minute, then run back. I'm in heaven.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Country Life

I'm in North Carolina! After work I hopped on the last plane to Raleigh and arrived in NC around 10 pm only to find that my dad had fallen on his back while standing on the porch swing to change a light bulb, so my brother was coming to get me instead. Dad seems to be fine, but ouch! I just know his back is going to be sore for days and days. I wish I had time to stay home for a few days, but I'm headed to the beach with friends. My mom has been in Idaho, and is going to be there for another month, so I wish I could clean the house for her from top to bottom and put everything in order. Not that my brothers and dad are super messy (but my little sister is! :))--I just can't stand the cobwebs in the corners, the dead flowers in old vases, and the jars of weird leftovers in the fridge. Oh well. It's home. And it's so quiet here.

I woke up early, even though I stayed up late catching up on all the crazy news of home. I think I'll go to the grocery store and stock up on food for the beach, and then go to the yarn store. My friend is coming at 1, and then we're headed to the beach!!! Meanwhile, I'll go play with the dog some more. My mom's Alaskan Malamute is a doll, and I love to run around the back yard with her. Actually, I already did a little running this morning, after I looked out the front window and saw the chickens were out! They were pecking and scratching around in the garden, with their gate wide open. Someone must have not closed it tightly last night as they rushed to get out of the rainstorm that was happening. So I ran out and chased all the chickens back into their pen, making sure to count them. I must say, my herding skills are not bad! That's what comes from having five younger brothers and sisters, I guess. And that reminds me--fresh eggs to take to the beach!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Eyes are Smiling

I still don't really know why, out of all the hundreds of Catholic saints, we Americans celebrate Saint Patrick. However, I don't really mind--it's a fun holiday. And, like many other holidays, we don't celebrate the historical aspects of Patrick's life (driving the snakes out of Ireland would make for kind of a scary parade theme). Instead we rejoice in leprechauns, the color green, and getting drunk. I'm talking about Americans, not myself personally, of course. You ought to have seen 5th Avenue today!

So, my roommates and I decided to have a St. Patrick's Day themed party, and we decorated our apartment very festively. Our living room is encircled in a gigantic, neverending rainbow! We had our party on Saturday night, and although nobody really came (it was a really busy weekend for everyone--even I left my own party early to go to another activity), we had a great time. And our treats were delicious, so for all of you who didn't come--come to our next party! Stefanie's cookies are the most delicious cookies I've ever had in my life. And mine were a version of my tried-and-true chocolate chip cookies, but with green M&Ms instead of chips. In order to get all green M&Ms, I had to go to the M&M store in Times Square. I'm not sure why there is even an M&M store, but apparently there are enough people in this city who want backpacks and hairbands printed with the images of scary anthropomorphized candies that an entire store can exist and afford Times Square real estate prices. The best part of the store is the huge wall of tubes full of colored M&Ms, where people can fill a bag with whatever color or colors they want. Because we all know that the colors taste different. Also, there are specialty mixtures like "Central Park" which is a combination of green, light green, gray, and brown M&Ms. So I went over and filled up my bag of green ones, watching as little kids tried and failed to use the dispensers. The stray candies they dropped rained down through strategically placed grates into a Willy Wonka-esque trap door, where they mysteriously vanish, safe from kids that might want to gobble them up. What a pity. It was then that I realized why these "bulk" M&Ms were $12.00 a pound. At home, E and I figured it out to be 2.4 cents per M&M. Now you'd think they'd be cheaper in bulk, but no. A regular pack at the quickie-mart across from my workplace costs a dollar, which makes those M&Ms cost 1.8 cents per candy. Out of the city, you could probably get a pack of M&Ms for 75 cents at a drugstore and they'd be 1.36 cents each. It's splitting hairs, I know, but it's kind of fascinating to see how things can be so much more expensive in some places than they are in others. Which has nothing to do with Saint Patrick's Day...

Back at the party, we ate green foods, applied Irish temporary tattoos, video-taped stuff, and generally just had a fun time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This is the story of your red right ankle...*

My ankles have been sore for the past three days, and I don't know why! I probably need new running shoes. The stress of running might also be exaggerated by all the salty greasy foods I've been eating lately (hello homemade macaroni and cheese in my fridge!), and the fact that my low-heeled black leather Mary-Janes that I wear to work every single day have definitely seen better days and are in need of new heel-tips. Sigh. Why do things have to wear out? Including our bodies. It was depressing to read in the newspaper that scientists now believe that we begin to see effects of old age as early as age 27! Yup. It's all downhill from here, folks. Actually, I don't really care about that. Who cares if I can remember where I put down my glasses. I just want my ankles to stop hurting. So when I got home from work this evening, I went for a quick run, making sure to walk for a long ways afterwards to cool my body down. Then I stretched for about 15 minutes. Then I ran the water in the bathtub until it got really hot, and let my ankles soak for a few minutes, giving them a good massage. Next, I rubbed them with my Absorbine liniment (yes, it's made for horses, but who cares?) and covered them up with my big thick leg-warmers. The liniment really does the trick. Give it a few minutes to kick in and then you feel it burning for a few minutes, then cold and soothing, as the menthol works its magic. E came home and declared "the bathroom stinks!" Well, she's the one who puts vinegar on her hair, so we've both got our quirky home remedies. And my ankles feel wonderful now.

*It's a Decemberists song.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Ramblings

When I was a little girl growing up in Oregon countryside, it was always a long car ride to church. I didn't mind looking out the car windows, though, at the beautiful scenery going by. There always seemed to be birds lined up on the telephone wires, and I imagined they were having church, too.

There is a trend in my ward for all the hip young married girls to wear beautiful headbands, hippy style, around their heads. I love it. But I feel like I cannot copy them. I will have to be cool and original in my own way. Anyway, I don't know why I thought of that just now--I guess it was the next thing I thought of when thinking about church today. Church was nice today. I love my ward, and I love that there is a mixture of all ages of people. Even some young single ones for me to have crushes on. I'm not admitting to any crushes, but if there were...

Yesterday was nice too. A woman in my ward invited all the Sisters over to her house to teach us how to make a few Southern style soul food dishes. My task was to clean the collards. And I took notes and wrote every step down, so we would have the recipes to share, but Malvina just added everything instinctively and timed everything perfectly as a result of cooking these same dishes her whole life, having grown up in South Carolina, learning it all from helping her mother. She made us fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens with pork necks and tails (I know, but it was actually delicious!), and cornbread. It was my dream meal come true. I asked Malvina if she had saved her receipts from the grocery store, because it was really a church activity, and she could be reimbursed, but she said no--that's not why she did it. She wanted to share something with all the women at church who have given so much to her. "It will come back to me in other ways," she said. A wonderful cook, and a wonderful spirit of love.

So I have been snacking on fried chicken and mac'n'cheese leftovers all day long, plus cookies. I'm going to have to roll myself into bed tonight! I was going to run today, but my ankles hurt--I think I need new running shoes. And that's a really good excuse! Instead I have been crocheting and watching movies and eating all afternoon. And now I'm exhausted for some reason.

Bethany Baptist

My church of the week is technically located in Hamilton Heights, not Harlem proper, but close enough. I like the funky shape and the modern windows, although I can't really tell if they are real windows or not. I suspect they are matte colored glass that is not transparent enough to see through, but still lets some blue-colored light in.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Case of the Missing Rolex

It has been such a crazy week! I promise I'm not going to keep complaining about how busy my job is keeping me lately, but today was the worst. Fridays are always busy in retail for some reason, and since I am already behind--trying to learn a new job--and doing my old job too, today was really trying. I don't know which was the worst part: getting a phone-call at 4:45 that a certain watch had to have its strap changed and be shipped overnight to a customer, or having to stay an extra 45 minutes after closing time to search for an expensive Rolex that had been misplaced (not by me, thank goodness!). I was able to complete the shipment (running down the street at a minute to 5 with a Fed-ex package under my arm) in just the nick of time, and I accomplished most of the tasks I had before me (and some more that I didn't even know I would be doing!), and I didn't mess anything up, so I consider the day a success. And working like a maniac all day isn't so bad. As long as I keep my smile, and keep in mind that I'm not performing brain surgery, being busy can be enjoyable. It's like a constant puzzle that I have to keep solving. On the downside, I have no time to daydream, check my email, or drink water. I guess I'd better get a water bottle and keep it at my desk. Hopefully I can keep up the pace, at least until Dali gets back from vacation and can take some of the Inventory jobs from me.

As for the missing Rolex, we finally found it after ransacking the whole store. It had been returned by a client last weekend, but the person who took it in didn't process it properly and it had been set aside and forgotten about. Tucked away in a nondescript black velvet pouch, no one knew what had happened to it. Luckily it was found, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. I'm just happy it had nothing to do with me! My boss-lady can give a mean lecture, and I never want to be on the wrong side of that. Hopefully I won't ever have to! Yay, it's Friday!!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well, my new position at work is going well so far, but it's going to be kind of crazy until I know what I'm doing. The bad thing is that even though I am being paid a little bit more, I am now doing essentially the work of two people, but not being paid two salaries! And there is only one of me, so I am stretched thin. It's going to involve a lot of running up and down between my old desk and new desk until I get everything more efficiently streamlined. I figure as long as I don't lose anything (including my mind), and just keep up with each day's tasks, I'll be fine. It's day 2 and so far so good.

Some girls from work and I went out after work yesterday for drinks--they like to go to a 2 for 1 martini place. I'm not a drinker, but it was fun to hang out with them and de-stress a bit. As Dali got more and more uninhibited, she imparted words of womanly wisdom to us, which was both hilarious and thought provoking. She said she can't wait until I get married because she's going to throw me a wild bachelorette party. We'll see about that... Then later she blurted out that she wants to come to church with me one day! It took me by surprise, but I am happy to take her. I think she might really like my church, although she says she's not going to join. She just wants to check it out and see what my prospects are! Dali tends to be psychic, and she predicted that I was going to find someone soon, so maybe when she comes to church with me, she can look around and feel psychic vibes coming from whatever man it is I'm supposed to be with.

Anyway, I'm just rambling on, on my lunch break at work, eating downstairs at my old desk because I miss it already, and its too rainy to go outside and walk around. Upstairs is cool and happening, but downstairs is comfortable and peaceful. And I have been too exhausted the past few days to blog when I get home. But I'll get better. Spring weather would help... where is the sun?!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Topsy Turvy

I'm not sure what is going on in my world! I went to work today and found out that some more people got laid off. Then I found out that I've been offered a promotion! I don't know what to make of it. It's good news, but it will mean leaving the pleasantly anonymous little cave that I've been working in for the past year, going upstairs, and dealing with things that so far just seem confusing. But I can probably do it, once I figure it all out. Ugh. I feel like a daffodil sprout who, after hibernating under frozen ground for a long winter, must push its tender green shoots miraculously through shards of ice towards the sun, all the while praying not to be buried under a late snowstorm or eaten by a hungry deer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Best Saturday Ever

My friend Abby from North Carolina was in town visiting over the weekend. She had come for business, and had a big long meeting on Friday, but on Saturday she had the day free and we decided to pack in as much as possible. Luckily, it was a fantastically gorgeous day, with the first real Spring weather of the year. On our way to get breakfast at H&H Bagels on the Upper West Side, I noticed purple and white crocuses sprouting from recently barren flower beds. We ate our bagels on the steps of a church, soaking in the morning sunshine. Next we walked over to the park, and through it to the East Side, and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit that Abby wanted to see was one that I also had been meaning to see--Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard. Walker Evans was an amazing photographer in his own right, but he was also a collector. He collected things from everyday common life, like pull tabs from soda cans and old postcards from junk shops. Over his lifetime he amassed thousands, keeping them catalogued by subject in shoe-boxes and leather suitcases. He even wrote essays about postcards and several, along with selections from his collection, were published in magazines over the course of his life. It was so interesting to see all the different postcards from Evans' collection on display, including ones that had been sent to him by friends (Diane Arbus for one) and ones from junk shops that had all sorts of mundane yet mysterious notes scrawled on them: "Arrived on the two o'clock train. Send my love to Mother." The thing that struck me about the postcards, most of which were produced in the years from 1900-1950, was that they were in most cases just pictures of tiny little towns, factories, country roads, etc. Nowadays we see postcards when we visit big cities or places like Disneyland, but back then people traveled to little towns across the country and without email needed a way to send details of their trip and greetings to those back home. These "postals" live on at the Met, a fitting place for the dying but beautiful art of correspondence.

I got yelled at by one of the Met employees for talking on my cell phone, though! But it wasn't fair because I was practically whispering and yet this other lady was talking really really loud to her friend the whole time, and I think she was more disruptive than I was! Oh well. While at the Met, we also cruised through an exhibition of drawings called From Rembrandt to Renoir, which included a lot of very nice studies by Degas, Millet, and others. Then we headed to Abby's favorite book store, Crawford Doyle Booksellers, on Madison Avenue and 81st. Afterwards, for refreshment we stopped at that New York icon, Tasti-D-Lite, for a snack of soft serve frozen yogurt, and ate as we strolled down town a few blocks before hopping on the subway.

We met up with Abby's adorable cousin Warren down in Greenwich Village. He took us to a fabulous little Italian restaurant (so sad I can't remember the name of it!), where Abby had delicious spinach gnocchi and I had an amazing omelet that came with the perfect fresh basil salad and fried potatoes. I thought that was heaven, until afterwards, when we wandered over to Grom and I had heaven in a cup. It was some kind of dark chocolate drink with a scoop of chocolate-orange gelato in it. Seriously, it was like drinking a cup of the most delicious dark chocolate syrup you can imagine. So rich, so divine! We sat in a little park and ate our gelato and then wandered around the Village some more. We stopped at Brooklyn Industries, where I found the best bag ever! I'm very excited to use it for everything, because it is just the perfect size for my lunch, a book, and all the other stuff I have to carry around everywhere. And it's so unique. Plus, it has a lifetime warranty! And it was 60% off. Enough said.

Warren then managed to get us entry into the Pulse art fair which was happening over at Pier 40. Contemporary art fairs have been occurring all over New York this week, with the main one at the Armory. However, Pulse is a pretty big one too, and so fun to see. An art fair consists of many different galleries and art associations that each get a "booth" or space in a huge room full of such booths. They display works by their most important artists and collectors, dealers, and other art people wander through, assessing the state of the art world by what they see, buying art, and making connections. There was certainly a lot of crazy stuff, a bit of really good stuff, and some familiar things. I was happy to see one artist that I admire represented. Marci Washington is dark, but I love her. I always to tend to love figures rendered in flat color.

The three of us wandered around a little bit more in the Village, admiring the weather, the picturesque neighborhoods, the cute shops, and we wished we could afford to live down there where life is so lovely. Then, we parted ways with Warren and met up with Israel and Mark, who suggested we try a place nearby called Souen Restaurant, an Asian fusion macrobiotic joint. None of us knew what macrobiotics were, but we learned that it is a way of life that involves healthy eating. Luckily, healthy can be tasty too! My seafood vegetable kuzu stew was so good! I had to take most of it home with me, because I'm unaccustomed to eating this much food in one day, and I was stuffed! Nevertheless, I had a little room left in me for Rice to Riches, the most fun place in the city for an unusual dessert. There they have rice pudding of all flavors, served in darling little bowls that you can take home and reuse. We shared four flavors--I loved the cherry mascarpone and the chocolate hazelnut. The four of use wandered around a little more in that neighborhood, but even though it was only 9 o'clock Abby and I were exhausted from having walked around the entire day, so we decided to call it a day and head home. And once back in Harlem, the only way to possibly cap such a delightful day was by watching a youtube video of Morrissey sing "This Charming Man."

The end.

St. Joseph's

This is a nice Harlem church, that almost looks like it could be in any American town. Of interest is the statue of St. Joseph holding a baby Jesus in his arms, situated in a niche above the door. White with an eggshell blue background, the sculpture evokes the terra cotta work of Italian renaissance artist Luca Della Robbia, who made similar pieces in bas-relief and on a smaller scale for the decoration of Florentine church exteriors and homes.
I am also curious about the front door, and wonder why it has a wreath of dried leaves hanging above it, tucked up behind the light fixture. Either it is a remnant of some Catholic tradition unknown to me, or else the people who hung it there for Christmas forgot about it completely. I wonder if there is a bell in the church tower. If so, I would be able to hear it from my house, but I have never heard one ringing in my neighborhood.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Why Brooklyn Is Creepy and Harlem is Home

By Brooklyn, I mean Williamsburg. Where all the hipsters live. In fact, no one but hipsters lives there. As a result, all the shops are impossibly cute and quirky, because they are aimed at the hipsters who are rich. The rich hipsters patronize the shops and fuel the economy of this small pocket of New York, while the poor hipsters patronize the myriad, also impossibly picturesque, bars, cafes and corner stores. So maybe the streets aren't quite as picturesque as an imaginary Disneyworld village, but when you walk around Williamsburg you feel as if you are on the set of a movie or something. Everything is so retro-lovely and shabby-glam. You get the feeling that you should be skipping down the sidewalk, or playing jumprope. I don't know how else to describe it. But that's not the creepy part. The creepy part is that everyone is young. Everyone is in their 20s or early 30s. Take a walk down one of the popular streets and look around: young people eating in the cafe, young people in line at the store, working at the store, young people at the bar, in the cars, hanging out--everywhere! There are no old people, no middle aged people, no children. And I know it sounds crazy, but it gives me the creeps! And I say this in a loving way, because I do like Brooklyn. I admire the hipsters, and secretly wish I were cool enough to be one. I'm sure it would be so fun to live in a place that is constantly full of young people. Maybe it would be like Never Never Land, or being at a really cool college. The world would seem ever young and ever alive... but you have to admit a little creepy, too, right? Like a reality TV show or something.

In Williamsburg on Wednesday night, after going to the show and eating my free hipster pizza, I emerged from The Charleston and looked around. The bright streetlights illuminated the charming storefronts and bike racks and VW bugs parked alongside pastel scooters. Guys in too-tight pants were smoking outside the bar, some people skateboarded past a group of silly laughing girls that were pulling someone out of a Playskool toy house, and I swear I heard the Twilight Zone music start to play. Through windows I could see young people shopping, eating, sitting around. Acting like normal people, but they weren't. They weren't old and gray or parents or pre-schoolers. They were cookie-cutter cut cookies. Where were the families? The aged? The innocent? Like Pinnochio when his friend turns into a donkey, I suddenly just wanted to go home because Brooklyn was creeping me out. I wanted to be in Harlem, where out my window I can see a Mother putting her baby to sleep at night and old fat guys playing dominoes in the park while their grandchildren run around the playground. In Harlem there are young hippish people, but they are part of a community of all ages, and it isn't the young ones who run the show. I feel like I'm in a family when I'm in Harlem, and I like that a lot.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Middle of the Night Musings

I'm awake in the middle of the night. I blame the diet coke I had in Brooklyn around 10:30 p.m. just a few hours ago. I was down there to see a friend's band play at a little dive on Bedford Street. Last Sunday after church we had started talking and he told me he was in a band, but when I asked him what kind of music they played, he couldn't really define it. That amused me, so I figured I should go have a listen. It was all right. They probably would sound better in a better venue, with better equipment and more practice, but then again, I only heard one and a half songs, because my friend made me late! It's not really Megan's fault--she had a lot of things she needed to do after work, and I tagged along with her. By the time we made it over to The Charleston, Taylor's band had warmed up, played their set, and was winding down. But that's okay, because I really just wanted to hear a sample and say hi to Taylor, and that was accomplished. The band after his was horrible, and the one after that was a no show, so Megan and I sat at the bar drinking diet coke and eating free pizza. Said hello to Taylor and met his band-mates, and felt almost like a young music-groupie again.

There are a few more things I want to write about regarding this evening's adventure, but I guess I should try and get some sleep because I do have to work tomorrow/today. So stay tuned for future posts about: why I think Brooklyn is creepy, being asked by everyone I come into contact with about my religion, and... I can't think what else, but I know there is more to this story. I'm just half-awake right now and so am not thinking correctly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion

There was so much snow on the ground today! It was crazy. I was tempted to just stay inside my house, cozy in my blankets, but then I decided to brave the winter weather and see how Harlem looked in a white dress. I found a lot of broken umbrellas, jumped in a lot of knee-deep snow drifts, and took a picture of bird tracks on the snowy sidewalk. Then I got a text message from Alison, my North Carolinian friend. Alison had been on her way home from Iceland when her stopover in New York turned into a day-over. Being stuck in a hotel on the far side of Queens all by herself sounded terrible. I had to go rescue her!

Unfortunately I have never been to Queens, so I didn't really know where I was going. After getting off the E train, I was pretty much lost. One bus seemed to be going the wrong way, so I got on a different one. But that one didn't seem right either. So I got off the bus and walked to a nearby gas station, which led me to a man who gave me two dollars from his wallet to take a gypsy cab, which let me out about a quarter of a mile from A's hotel, and after wading through some monster snow drifts, I was there! But we didn't know what to do next. When we asked the guy at the hotel what there was to do in the area, he said, "Um.... nothing." Luckily there was a hotel shuttle to the subway, and from there we could get to the city. But first we decided to travel to Brooklyn. And now I can cross Grimaldi's off my to-do list! We ended up there and had an extremely delicious pizza. Then, despite the 20 degree weather and piles of snow, we decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was inadvertently left off my to-do list due to my obsession with food. The views were gorgeous, and it was surprisingly non-windy. When we entered Manhattan, that's when the wind began. It was great to see Alison, and I'm so glad I happened to have the day off to spend with her! Yes, it might have been nicer on a warm dry sunny day, but there was something so adventurous about traipsing around greater NYC in the biggest snowstorm of the year.

It was a good weekend, too. Sunday was so nice. Church was wonderful and inspiring. I love all of the sweet old ladies there. Sunday evening I had a delightful dinner with friends who live up the block, and after that dessert at another neighborhood friend's house. I broke my rule and ate some delicious sweets, played Ticket to Ride, and socialized with lots of lovely people--what could be more fun?

On Saturday, I went speed-dating! It was a church activity, and I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, because... well, just because. However, I was pleasantly surprised. There were a ton of people participating, from all over New York, New Jersey, and beyond. Everyone was assigned a random number and a huge double-string of chairs snaked around the gym so that a line of guys could proceed along a line of girls, each pair getting three minutes to talk before the guy had to move to the right and talk to the next girl. I was nervous at first, but soon realized that I was nowhere as nervous as all the guys that proceeded to parade along past me. They ranged from bizarre to amazing, which was no surprise, but I was surprised at how many of them I wrote down a 'yes' to. All but one were men I'd never met before, and who I'd probably never meet without this activity. I tried my best to turn on the charm, be easy-going, and not lose my voice (difficult in a gym full of hundreds of people all talking at once and non-stop for an hour and a half!). Hopefully it worked, and I received a few yeses myself. The way it works is that someone will tally all the cards and send each person an email with the people that they said yes to and who also said yes to them. Crazy! It makes me laugh just thinking about the whole thing, but I really did have a blast. It was a great activity, and I think they should do it more often here.

So that was my weekend. It was fast, fun, and very rewarding. Hopefully the month of March will be just the same!

It's Still Winter

I woke up this morning to a world blanketed deeply in snow. I'm not sure how much it is, not having ventured out into it yet, but they were predicting ten inches. The snowflakes were still thickly falling until just a few minutes ago, and I'm trying to decide if I should get dressed and go out there. It might be fun to take pictures, or at least wander around and enjoy how clean the city looks under fresh snow. In a little while it will all be brown and gray slush. Snow always reminds me of the photography of Michael Kenna. He uses snow as the backdrop for bare minimalist portraits of trees or stark fences. The results are poetic, and so beautiful. There is nothing so simple in New York, however. Every tree is surrounded by buildings, and the fences are lined with litter. But I think I am going to go outside and see how it all looks. Carpe diem.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Time

This is a picture of the Greater Metropolitan Baptist Church in Harlem. I hate that some of these churches are so huge that I can't capture the whole thing in one shot. However, I was able to get all of the best elements of this one, at least: the gorgeous bright red doors (click to enlarge--look at the gorgeous carving!), the cross-shaped sign sticking out from the side, some of the lovely spires, and the set of three small asymmetrically placed gothic arched windows. The sad thing is that what used to be a huge stained glass window over the door is now closed up and cemented over. Perhaps it broke and the church had no money to replace it.

Well, it has been a really good Sunday. I have so much to write about, but I have been asked to dinner and I've got to run and get ready and go. So... I will have to do some catch-up blogs later. Have a wonderful Sunday evening!