Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'll start blogging more regularly when I get internet hooked up at my house. The school/community center across the street used to provide a strong enough signal for me to use, but now it just doesn't work for some reason, and it's driving me crazy! However, I just started a new job, and I have to get here wicked early because C and I are sharing a car, so it gives me a few minutes to use the internet before I have to start working. My job is fun! I cut and pack fabric for a company that prints custom designs for people all over the world. Nothing high-powered or high-fallutin', I know, but I LOVE it! Because, what? Free fabric? Yes! I can have my pick of the scraps, cast-offs, rejects, stuff like that, and there's a ton of nice stuff. I can already see myself competing with C in the hoarding department. I've been trying to get him to clean out the house, but now I'm going to be just as bad, bringing home bags of fabric every day! No, I'll try not to go crazy. Anyway, my NYC trip went well, but I'm very happy to be back home, beginning a new chapter.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Harlem Church

I have been lazy and have not been posting church pictures on Sunday like I promised I would, but since I am back in Harlem this weekend, here is a Harlem church of note.

Riverside Church stands like a sentinel over Harlem, the tallest thing around. It's hard to fit it in the frame of my camera.

The carving is gorgeous and so is the ironwork on the massive doors.

Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in! (Isaiah 26:2)

I went to church in my old ward today, and was joyfully reunited with beloved friends. How wonderful to be part of a worldwide family, a sisterhood of love and charity. After church I wandered over to 135th Street, where Harlem had rolled out her finery in the annual Harlem Days celebration. Colorful fabrics, baskets, music, incense, jewelry, food, and entertainment were all there to be had, and I enjoyed it all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Different Kind of Alive

I keep suddenly looking around at the walls and ceiling of this New York apartment where I used to live and thinking, "How did I get here?" A few days ago I was peacefully living with my husband in my new Durham North Carolina life and now suddenly I am back in New York, working at the job I escaped from five months ago. It could be a nightmare, you know? Or an episode of the Twilight Zone, where I come home from work and my apartment is the same but slightly different. The bedroom furniture that was mine since age 8 are in another woman's bedroom, filled with her clothes. A once-thriving plant that I potted in a beautiful yellow flowerpot sits in the front room, quietly dying. An old apron that I used to wear when baking hangs from a hook in the hallway, but I don't know if anyone ever wears it. I opened the hall closet and there was the metal rolling cart I used to move in and out of every New York apartment I ever had. Next to the kitchen sink is the gallon of dish-soap that E bought over a year ago when she and I lived in Harlem together, over on St. Nicholas Avenue. I'm predicting that soap will last another ten months. There are things here in this apartment that used to be part of my life, but really aren't anymore, except that I recognize them. When I leave, I'll leave them behind for the second time. Will I ever see them again? Who will they belong to then?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New York, I Remember You

"You've grown skinnier since you got married," said Joe Cigar, as he handed me a neatly folded white paper sack. The aroma of warm chocolate-chip cookies hit me like an alarm clock, and I automatically reached in for a bite. Some things never change, I guess. I've been away for five months and when I come back, I still get cookies on Thursday. Why Thursday? I guess he knows that by the time a girl reaches Thursday, she just needs that little push to get her through the one long last day before Friday. Why Joe Cigar? He says I remind him of his daughter. I think he has a thing for girls smiling and eating cookies. C always tells me he enjoys watching me eat because I appear to love it so much, and maybe Joe Cigar feels the same way.

I was hoping for shortbread cookies from Sant Ambroeus, but he brought chocolate chip cookies from Macchiato, newly opened around the corner. And he was right--it's much too hot and humid for good shortbread right now. The chocolate chip cookies were fat and decadent, fudgy and crisp at the same moment, somehow. As rich and overwhelming as New York City itself.

But New York and I have a thing. We get each other. It pushes me and I push back a little, then I give in and fall into the city rhythm. In some ways it's like I never left, and then sometimes I look around and wonder how I got here. Buildings as far and high as sight will reach, endless people, smells I forgot existed, the most amazing clothes, an utter lack of silence, a never-ending list of happenings, an infinite menu. Yes, I do enjoy food! What else is there for a good Mormon girl to indulge in?

After work, my feet walked to the subway and got on the train while my mind paid no attention. I just knew the way. I found myself wearing my New York face, avoiding eye contact with people, reading my Raymond Chandler novel as the train slowly chugged its way up west Manhattan, as if an old book was so much more interesting than the living breathing pulsing metropolis all around me. But it's okay because NYC and me are old friends, the kind you don't even really need to talk to much because you already know as much as you can or want to know about each other, and usually you're content just to hang out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Goodbye city of Durham, for a little while. City of medicine, city of tobacco, city of red bricks, glass block windows, abandoned factories, boarded windows, train whistles, crows, my new home. Durham has charmed me with its dusty gap-toothed smile, and I'm going to miss it for the next ten days. And I'm going to miss my husband even more.

I've been summoned to New York on a secret mission! No, actually, my old boss just needed a project done and didn't want to bother training someone new when he knew I could do it blindfolded. And since I'm still jobless and penniless, I jumped at the chance for a free trip to New York for a week to earn some money. Plus I'll get to see old friends, and go to old favorite places. Sant Ambroeus, I'm already salivating! The upside: good money, New York, New York food, New York friends. The downside: I'm going to miss my husband, I'm going to be away from him on my birthday, and I know he's going to miss me. It all happened so suddenly that there wasn't even time for us to think about it, which is why I found myself crying at the airport this morning. It's not as if I'm being deployed to a foreign country for 2 years (how do they do it?) It's only ten days, but everything is different now that I'm married, and so newly. I'm not just a loner anymore, a free spirit that can wander around at will, no ties. My heart is bound up with his, and ten days apart seems momentous.

Last night C found a sphinx moth on the front porch and put it in a jar so I could see it. It lay still next to a leaf, trying to blend it's patchy gray wings in with the twigs and leaves that C had stuck in the jar to make it feel more at home. When it got dark, he set it free, and once it figured out which way to go, the large moth flew out of the protective jar into the perilous night. The moth is free and so am I, but I'm already wishing I were on my way home.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Since I have a lot of free time, I'm working on two projects. The first one is a Hawaiian quilt for my sister-in-law, which I've been promising to make for her for several years now. I've always been intrigued by the Hawaiian quilt style and graphic quality, and she is from Hawaii, so it's my perfect excuse to make one. But since I don't have the room to make a full-sized quilt, I'm going to make 18 small appliqued pieces and sew them together into a large quilt. The first one is this one:

The second project I'm working on is curtains for the house. One by one, I will make them all. First, the bedroom. And because all I have to work with right now is off-white cotton thread, I'm crocheting a curtain. I estimate that it is going to take me a total of 96 hours to complete it--possibly more, because if I watch TV while I work on it, I go slower... radio is best!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Days

The summer continues on, and here I am. The internet hardly works at home, so I have been loathe to blog. Still, I want to remember these long and lazy days. Mostly I stay home and try to apply for jobs. Then when I get tired of writing cover letters and uploading my resume, I take pictures of my artwork and post it on etsy, in hopes of a sale. I've got to scrape together some money somehow! Sometimes I wonder why I ever went to New York in the first place, because now the only thing I have to show for it is a huge student loan. A master's degree yes, but for what? It isn't helping me find any jobs here. Then again... my experience has taught me that you can never know what is going to happen later down the road. I knew C for years before knowing I'd fall in love with him and get married. Maybe my master's degree will come into similar use ten years down the road from now. But the loan payments won't wait. Sigh...

That wasn't what I wanted to blog about. I wanted to talk about the cadence of my life, the day to day rhythm, which I love. I wake up in the morning and see C off to work. Then, like I said, I work on computer things until I grow weary. Then I turn myself to more satisfying tasks, such as washing clothes and hanging them up to dry on the backyard clothesline, where they sway in the summer breeze to the accompaniment of songbirds, a backdrop of pink zinnias, butterflies dodging and darting. Yesterday a huge praying mantis was perched on a dried flower stalk, blending perfectly with its brown and green surroundings. At first all I saw was dried sticks--then I saw a triangular head cocked in my direction, and long spiky legs. I inspect the squash plants for baby vegetables, but I can't stay outside for long because the mosquitoes are bad. Instead, I take a break and rest on the screened porch, where C has his desk, and I do a crossword puzzle while cicadas buzz in the trees around me. I listen to the neighborhood sounds, and eat frozen strawberry popsicles to keep cool. When C comes home from work, sometimes we go to the grocery store, sometimes we build a fire and roast corn on the cob, steaks, or skewers of fresh vegetables. The past couple of days have been very cool, a nice break from the summer heat. We've had the doors and windows open while we sit inside and play gin rummy together. And I'm starting new projects, like crocheted curtains, and a quilt.

Last night I had fabric out all over the bed and C was cleaning an old clock. Suddenly an owl hooted from the tree right outside the door, and I went to try and see it. Walking in the dark, my head got caught in a spiderweb, and as the light came on, I saw a big cat-eye spider bundling up its dinner. Outside on the ground was a huge cicada corpse, and a few fireflies twinkled in the underbrush as crickets and cicadas chorused loudly. Summer in the south is like that--it seems so quiet and so lazy sometimes, but it's so full of vibrant life.