Sunday, June 29, 2008

The funk.

I have been in a bit of a funk lately, hence the lack of blogging. What fun is to write about how depressed I feel?

I am not sure what stirred on this bad mood (I am trying to sort through it myself) but it was made worse because my day job went easy breezy to stress overload this week. A VIP--very important project--had me working like crazy all week, including Friday up until 9 at night, leaving me with zero energy or motivation to do much else this weekend but nap and be glum and watch movies.

One of the movies this weekend was The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, based on the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor in chief of Elle magazine, who had a stroke that caused his body to be paralyzed. He wrote his memoir by communicating with a blinking left eye. Pretty incredible. And makes you feel like an ass for being depressed about anything. Things can always be worse.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Highlights of a Kunka Wedding

Before we leave New York City.
Going to the airport on Friday morning, having the cab driver ask us, "What airline are you taking and having Dan answer, "" It ended up being Delta, but we only found that out after we looked on my computer and realized we were in the wrong terminal (there are two Delta terminals at Laguardia).

I nearly KILLED him. But I do love him.

The Rehearsal Dinner.

Kunka, the groom, nailed the powerpoint presentation.

Jacey, the bride, wore a traditional Polish robe with plastic dolls attached to ensure fertility. Mom? Is this for real?

Dan made this expression for 30 minutes straight while speaking with this gentleman.

Dan's friends, making fun of his upturned collar fashion sense.

Dan and me, dodging questions on when are we getting married/moving back to CA?

The Wedding Day.
Before the wedding, while the groomsmen played games and watched baseball, Matt and I went for an amazing prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich in Chicago's Little Italy. No pictures taken, but the meal, the conversation and company were a highlight.

Some of the smaller members of the wedding party.

The new Mr. & Mrs! (And yes, that is Kunka wearing his wedding band on his pinkie. A golf injury a few weeks ago made the ring finger swollen; the ring unwearable.)

See me with the women of Los Angeles. See me not wearing white. That's right. Decision was made. I was happy with it.

The reception took place at the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Dan was into it.

It had a nice view of Chicago. Looks can be deceiving, but no, I am not pregnant in this picture. It was very windy which made my dress balloon with air, and I ate 6 cupcakes the day before remember? Just look at the view, okay??

Let the party begin!

The crossword in the children's activity book had one important word: Squeen.

Dan & Dan.

Dan ended the night eating this at the after-party. If you think it looks bad there, imagine how it tasted. He ate the whole thing. I do love him for that.

The Chicago Cupcake Crawl

Oh yes, we did! While Dan went record shopping, my college pal Lindsey and I spent Friday afternoon scouting Chicago's best cupcakeries.

As organized as ever, Lindsey mapped out the cupcake trial.

Spumoni and deep chocolate blueberry lavender flavors at "
Cupcakes." We both loved the light creamy frosting but the cakes were a little dry. Spumoni was lovely. Blueberry was a little strange.

Molly's Cupcakes, we sampled the strawberry shortcake and the Ron Bennington's--a delicious dense chocolate cupcake filled with peanut butter, topped with a chocolate ganache and butterscotch. Ron was my favorite in the crawl (I even picked one up for Dan) and I think Lindsey favored the strawberry shortcake.

At the Martha Stewart recommended
Swirlz, we had the Banana Nutella and Malt Madness but were so over-sugared by that point that we barely finished them. I thought the banana was real nice.

While most Manhattan cupcake shops focus on creating old-time favorites (overly sweet standard what-your-grandma-used-to-make flavors), I noticed that the Chicago shops cared more about diversity, offering more flavors than I ever imagined.

The verdict: Molly's is tops in Chicago, though I know I still have a lot of experimenting to do in this town. There are more out there to try. We had to cut our tour short because we ran out of time. A great reason to come back (and of course, to catch up with Lindsey again which is always a real treat.)

I don't know what this means, but I like it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sweet dreams.

I have been really unmotivated about everything lately. Working. Exercising. Eating healthy. Socializing. Blogging. Strangely enough the only thing I do find some motivation for is writing which usually is not the case. But even that has its days.

The thing is I haven't stopped doing these things. I still work, exercise, eat healthy (for the most part), socialize, blog, write. I just don't feel like it all the time, and I am dragging myself through these activities.

On top of all this, I am craving sweets like you wouldn't believe. I am trying my best not to eat them (although my friend Heather was hazing me with M&M's at work the other day). They all just seem so tempting, and I think it's because I am bored and tired and sweets seem very exciting in the realm of my day-to-day life. It doesn't help we have a cupcake party at work every day and that there was an open bag of M&M's within arm's reach sitting on the conference room table during my two hour meeting this morning. I did not take any but it's haunting me still.

I think after months of being so strict and disciplined in all aspects of my life, I want to rebel. I am getting sick of being so good. Good can be so boring sometimes.

Which may be why on the day before we leave for Chicago for Jacey and Dan's wedding, I am daydreaming about the cupcake places I will visit when I am there. Dan has been thinking about all the record stores he wants to visit, I am thinking cupcakes. He has his thing, I have my own.

Okay, so it's not everyone's definition of rebellion, but me and my friend Lindsey who lives in Chicago, we initially talked about hitting one place, but now we just might have a mini-Chicago cupcake crawl.

Some of you may know that last summer, my sister Annette and I had a cupcake crawl in Manhattan. In one afternoon, we ate cupcakes from six different places and while it was one of my favorite days ever, it was a LOT of cupcakes in one day. Things got very...sweet by the end. Lindsey and I will be more moderate (I need to fit in my dress--white or not, I am still undecided, so I will pack them both). We're thinking about checking out here and there.

I am terribly excited. Let the rebellion begin!

Annette and I during our Manhattan cupcake crawl in August 2007.

Goodies that went in our tummy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not diet food.

Today I went out for Mexican food for lunch with the girls at work. I said I would go as long as I did not eat the chips.

I ate the chips.

Note to self: Don't eat the chips.

Because it makes you feel tired and crappy and bad.

This blog post serves as a personal reminder. Because they taste so good, but the effect is always the same.

Isn't it a form of craziness to always do the same thing over and over and expect a different result?

Late Again.

One thing about me that might be surprising to others is that I am often late to work.

In my normal life, I am beyond prompt. I am the type of person who goes to the airport two hours early, who leaves for the movies an hour early, who meets a friend 5 minutes early. In Europe, I hung out in many a train station because I arrived way too early. It usually causes me much stress and anxiety if I am running late or keeping someone waiting.

But then back in high school, when I first got a license and could drive to school, I would always find myself running late getting ready in the morning. My grandma would bail me out with "Sorry Yvonne is late today" letters that I would draft myself and she would sign. The attendance woman at school was my brother in law's aunt and the nicest woman, so it all worked in my favor when I came in 15 minutes late every so often.

College, I was always on time to class and I hardly skipped. And my first few years in the working world, I came in early and stayed late trying to make a good impression to my bosses.

But then something happened. I started working out in the morning and walking to work and while most of the time I came in 9:02, many a time, it was more like 9:09 or (gulp) 9:18. I never got in trouble for it because I got my work done, but then other people would get called out for being late. Seriously.

That was my old job. Now that I am freelancing, I have to be more professional but I admit I have gotten a little lazy because the horrible 6 train (which makes my commute either 15 minutes or 45 minutes--one can never tell) and we have summer hours where we have to come in at 8:30 which means I should be waking up at 5:15 am to go to the gym, but I actually only get up at 5:30 am because I can't handle 5:15. Yeah, ONLY five thirty. Do you feel my pain?

Yesterday my commute took forever (I left late and no trains came for hours, and the ones that eventually came were packed like sardines.) I tiptoed to my desk at 9. Yowsers! I don't even have have a phone to tell these people I am running late either. I didn't get into trouble even though I totally deserved it because this has been becoming a more common occurrence lately but I had massive guilt so I was in work today at 8:22 (while still managing to ONLY wake up at 5:30).

And it's quite possible that today's the longest work day that ever existed. I looked at the clock expecting it to be 11 and it was 9:01. So this is how it feels to come into work on time. It's horrible.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

30 Days of Unreachability?

So I told you all that my phone was breaking. I don't know what happened, but one day one of the hinges was missing that attaches the phone together, but for weeks I was still able to talk into it, even when it got worse and I had to hold the two sides of the phone with both hands so it wouldn't flop open all together.

Yesterday I went to charge the phone and the screen went completely black and there was no reviving it. Crap.

Like most New Yorkers, I use my cell phone as my regular phone so I don't have a house phone. Besides email and my semi-permanent work phone, my cell phone is the way people can get in touch with me. I admit that I am not a huge phone talker (90% of the time I don't even hear my phone ringing and don't pick up and I can be horrible at calling people back) but there is something weird about suddenly have this void in my life.

Okay, so I should just get a new phone right? Problem is: I want to get the brand-new iPhone and it doesn't come out until July 11. This whole time, I was hoping to deal with the broken phone for a month but now it seems that the broken phone is now the dead phone. Totally different story.

Can I go one month without a cell phone? A month where I will be going to Chicago. A month where Gerda and her family from Belgium are visiting us in New York. A month where I might need to find new freelance work (though this might not be true.)

As my friend Heather at work says, "They did it in the 90s."

Dan, who has a blackberry through work, let me borrow his phone today just in case I had to call someone. Too bad I don't know anyone's number.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Blame the weather. Blame the alcohol. Blame the STY. But I did not write yesterday. So it goes.

Luckily, I am convincing myself that I am not an all-or-nothing type of person and that this doesn't bother me greatly (today is another day!!) and 30 days of writing will continue as if this incident never happened.

Here's the deal (or in other words, my excuses). It's horribly hot in New York City, 95-degree hot, where the streets are smelling like piss and the mere act of standing outside is tiring. I am sweating on a 24 hour basis. It does not help that Dan switches off the AC every night to FAN which wakes me up in unbearably warm discomfort in the middle of the night. (He is a California man and believes that when it's summer, it should feel like summer inside, even if it's a billion degrees outside). To add to my discomfort, the ugly sty is still there and wearing the glasses make everything hotter and then I can't see anything very clearly.

Monday at work I was not the least bit productive, taking all day to write something that should have taken me an hour and then reading Adam's movie script. Afterwards, I met up with my old co-worker Brooke for drinks at the lovely Campbell Apartment, but there's a problem when I drink two glasses of wine with no food on an empty stomach when I haven't drunk two glasses of wine with no food on an empty stomach since March 1. I got completely drunk.

I staggered home and made Dan order Chinese food. I propped my computer on my lap, ready to write Hemingway-style and all I see is a sea of words and I am trying to make sense of them but I am reading the same sentence over and over and then the food comes and we eat and then I go back to the computer and I feel myself feeling very tired so I shut the computer down and turn on the AC in the bedroom and go to bed.

At 3 am, I woke up in a puddle and changed the FAN to AC.

Morning arrives too soon and I feel depressed and mopey. And I remember why I don't like to drink sometimes. I don't get a physical hangover, I just get depressed. Like the high I experienced the night before must be countered with the lowest of lows. I go to the gym and today is chest and tricep and quads day--the hardest for me--and not even half way into my work out I decide, I can't do this anymore.

Don't be crazy Yvonne.

I kneel down to do another push up, my glasses dropping to the tip of my nose. Nothing happens. I just can't. I am done. I lie on the mat for ten minutes and go home to take a shower in our temperature-challenged shower (it's either sweaty or ice).

I look in the mirror and the crazy sty is looking at me and laughing. I have to force Dan to wake up and he complains it's too cold in the room and that is why he can't get out of bed. I wish I had his problem.

Man, I feel like a turd today. But I will write today. So it goes.

P.S. And yes, if you haven't figured out ("so it goes"), my first classic novel is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I received many emails about my classics list, so more info to come when I cool down.

UPDATE: I just found out how much money I have to pay for taxes for first and second quarters. I have to write a check for how much??? Oy vey!! I have saved the money for this but seeing those 0's did not make me feel better.

Monday, June 9, 2008


In the midst of a New York City heat wave, an old friend makes an unwelcome appearance.

Still annoying as ever. Still a reminder that after ten years, it's time to get new glasses once and for all.

Things to buy this summer:
1. new glasses
2. new running sneakers
3. new iphone (I need it, dude, my phone is literally falling apart!)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Classics

Nearly every summer, Dan and I find ourselves in the bookstore in the high school summer reading section. You know--all those books you were supposed to read in AP English? We often tell each other what books that we've already read and then we'll spend a few minutes in that section, picking up books that we "ought" to read. But then we leave the store empty-handed. Not this year!

Inspired by a family of five I saw reading together on a blanket yesterday in the park and also in a full-out effort to learn from the greats as I try to become a real writer myself (7 days of writing so far), I am embarking on a summer filled with classics.

From now until Labor Day, I plan to:

Read 5 classic novels
Watch 5 classic movies
Listen to 5 classic rock albums

Why do I create homework for myself? Because I have been telling myself for years (read my diaries, I am serious!) that I am going to read more and watch more and listen to more and immerse myself in art. I know I have even written about such things in this very blog.

And well--I know this isn't very "artsy" of me. I am not very free-flowing. I am really good at following directions and rules. This is why I excel at work, school, running marathons, grammar. Tell me what to do and I can do it and I can do it well.

I've figured out this is how I am and so it's just up to me to write the rules myself ("Yes, it's perfectly acceptable to go on three-month vacations and take Fridays off from work and write every day and have a summer of classics.) For me, it's the only way that it will work.

Otherwise, I am just saying that I will do it and not doing it, and that is not what I really want. And I have been doing what I don't want for years, it seems.

P.S. I am trying to get Dan on-board with summer classic reading and he's still on the fence, afraid that he won't have time for The New Yorker--his favorite magazine. I just told him that he will have to spend less time with fantasy baseball and more time reading but he didn't like that one bit.

Everyday Ham(let)

Since I have moved to New York City, I have always wanted to go to Shakespeare in the Park. Every summer, The Public offers free performances in the outdoor theater in Central Park of different Shakespeare plays. Sitting outside in a park and watching theater--now that's what summer goodness is made of.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Here's the catch: You have to wait in a long ass line and pick up your free tickets the day of the show. I remember four years ago, when I was training for the New York City Marathon, running the 6-mile loop in Central Park at 9 in the morning with Danielle, running past an extremely long line of people sitting on blankets and lawn chairs.

"What are you waiting for?" we asked them.

"Tickets for Shakespeare in the Park."

Running the second loop an hour later, we would pass the same group of people. I wasn't sure who was more crazy: these people spending their entire mornings waiting in line for tickets or us, running 12 miles in one day.

Apparently in my sick head, I decided the 12 miles was more sane because I never waited in that line and I did eventually finish the marathon. A few weeks ago I got an email about the performances this summer: Hamlet and the musical Hair, and so I suggested to Dan we go see at least one of them. Lo and behold, Dan was able to secure free, no-waiting-in-line seats for us from work, and so yesterday, we sat in front and center second row and saw Hamlet.

It was amazing. Seriously. While certainly an admirer, I am not a huge Shakespeare fan. I have seen many a performance, especially when I studied abroad in London, and I have to admit that I usually get a little bored or my mind wanders a bit in the midst of the plays. I have seen Hamlet before, but none were as compelling and FUNNY (yes, this Hamlet was FUNNY) and inspired as the performance we watched last night. I was riveted until the end.

So if you were in the city and want something to do: go wait in that long line. It's worth it! If Dan doesn't score another hook up, I just might be doing the same thing to see Hair next month.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rough week.

Figures during my first few days of 30 days of writing that all hell would break loose.

My boss decided to go on vacation this week, and so all of a sudden, instead of working at the leisurely pace I've grown so used to, I am running around like a chicken whose head is cut off, being whisked away to meetings, writing business proposals at frantic paces, helping to manage a marketing department. While my friends go out for long Indian lunches, I've had to decline their invitations, reduced to eating my salad in front of my computer screen. Although I know that many New Yorkers do this (Dan included) I hate that more than anything. Lunch is not to be eaten at your desk.

In some ways it's fun to feel busy and important. People need to see me, talk to me, get my opinion. And there's a high you certainly get from running around and getting stuff done. If anything, this feels like the old me. Me, before Poland. Yeah, it's stressful, but I have always prided myself for having high tolerance for work. But at the end of the the last three days, I've felt wrecked. My head pounding, my brain feels stuffed with cotton balls, my face breaking out with pimples, my eyes drooping with fatigue--and I go home and try to relax to prepare myself for the promise I made for myself: to write at least 30 minutes a day.

To make matters worse--all I have had to eat in the last few days are leftover Polish pork products, pierogi and apple cake--not exactly healthy fare. I had a piece of red velvet cake at work and tonight I had bad Mexican, as in a tub of melted cheese and sausage wrapped in a tortilla badness. My diet has totally fallen out of course, and I am doing my best not to beat myself about it, but I am stressed and tired and I have a belly full of ham and cheese, so I am beating myself up about it.

But tomorrow's looking promising. I will start anew and eat right and exercise and write and see the Sex and the City movie. Just because I have had a rough few days doesn't mean that all my hard work was for nothing. Plus it's my last day of work this week. And I have written for four days straight. It doesn't get better than that.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

30 Days of Writing

The idea behind March Madness: Try to eat right and exercise for 30 days, with the notion that anything can be done in 30 days (it's not THAT long) and by doing something for 30 days straight, it eventually becomes a habit and continues on and on.

It is now June 1 and March Madness still is going strong. Sure I am not as strict as I was on Day one, but I am feeling healthier and my pants are looser and I've stopped the sweet addiction and I must say that taking care of my body has made me feel stronger in a physical and especially in a mental sense.

And with that strong foundation, I am now focusing on the second part of my evolution, my writing. In the same strategy, I have decided to make a commitment, starting today June 1, to write every day for thirty days. The goal is a minimum 30-60 minutes daily and this writing time does not include emailing or blogging. It's strictly time set aside for my creative writing, whatever that may be. While I have started doing some memoir writing for the last few months, lately I have been more excited about some fiction ideas that have been tumbling in my head, and so that is what I spent doing today and an hour later, and I feel great.

While daily may seem like a lot, I think I am coming to realize that writing a few days a week does not work for me, and nearly every writing book/expert advice I have read--Stephen King, Anne Lamott, Steve Pressfield--all say the same thing: write every day.

I feel that I am finally ready to do this now because my fear of not ever writing anything is finally starting to outweigh my fear of writing and failing at it. And second, while I am pretty content with everything in my life right now--I often go to bed with this emptiness inside of me, this void that something is missing. And I think it's about creating something that makes my life more meaningful than just going to work and paying the bills and lifting dumbbells at the gym.

I talked to Adam a lot about writing last night at pierogi party (He writes screenplays and is directing his own movie), and I was a little drunk so I don't remember every detail about our conversation, but he did say something about "writing the story that you would love to read yourself" and that's what this fiction story in my head is all about and I am ready to do it and write something just for me.

I am also going to take some advice from Stephen King and start reading more. He reads like two books a week--and that's a little too much for me--but my goal is just to be reading something always and reading a little every day. I tend to do that anyways, but I just want to be even more diligent about it.

Wish me luck!

Pierogi Party

I haven't had the time to blog this week because I was completely occupied with the pierogi party. Back in January, when we first moved in our new and improved apartment--bigger space! dining room table!--we convinced ourselves that we would get our apartment and act together to have some kind of housewarming party with our friends by February. Last day of May, we were finally ready. Only it seemed strange to have a housewarming now, so I decided it would be better to invite some friends over to indulge in some homemade Polish cooking.

I've been tinkering with the idea of a Polish dinner for a long while. Especially after I learned how to make pierogi. One to have fun with friends, two to improve my cooking skill set and three, spread the Polish word with the Americanski people. So we invited Brett and Emily, who always bring the fun (and who have made dinner for us at their place more times than I can name) and Adam and Nell, who we happen to like and who happen to like to eat (perfect combo!)

My priorities this week: Plan the menu, clean the apartment, get some "entertaining-ware" for the apartment (we never invite people over and we had not a single serving platter to our names), and oh cooking. Lots and lots of cooking. Dan's priority: The music playlist. What else?

So that is what I have been up to all week. I enlisted my mom's help to assist me with the cooking, and we spent the greater part of Friday in her New Jersey kitchen making everything and I had the chance to learn how she makes all of our family recipes. Before transporting everything to New York, we stopped by the Polish bakery and butcher and picked up the essential hams and bread and pickles and things. Because what kind of Polish party would it be without the ham?

Twenty minutes before guests arrived, Dan was hanging up the rest of our pictures on the wall (finishing touches!) Yet all the planning and preparation was worth it because we had a really nice evening with our friends and some really great food (and LOTS of leftovers). It was funny to watch everyone take a vodka shot (some people, this was their first time) or see everyone experiment the food. (I have a strong mental picture of Brett gobbling down some Polish vegetable salad ( even I don't like that salad!). And yes, most importantly, everyone liked the music.

Preparation before the party.
The menu included: red borscht, ham plate, vegetable salad, kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, piergogi, and for dessert szarlotka apple cake and ice cream, kolaczki cookies, and E. Wedel chocolates.

Emily gravitated towards the stuffed cabbage. She also was the first to try to scary "pasztet" on the ham plate.

There was some controversy about the label on the Zywiec bottle. It had a beer thermometer that was supposed to indicate ideal temperature, but it never seemed to change no matter what the temperature. We think the Poles are trying to trick us.

Desserts! (and Adam!)

Brett and Emily sink lower and lower into our couch through the evening. Suffering, I think, from a case of Polish food coma.

I celebrated (here, with Nell) and (multiple) drinks.

Dan experiences shoulder pain from overeating. The evening is officially deemed a success.