Saturday, September 27, 2008

The end of Summer Classics.

Summer is over, so here's my final update on my Summer Classics:

I read Rabbit, Run by John Updike, which is not exactly a classic you would read in high school, but a well-known book nonetheless. (Full disclosure: While I know that Updike is supposed to be one of the best modern American writers, I never heard of the book until this summer when I was browsing through a bookstore. It is part of a series of four books--the last two won the Pulitzer Prize, so yeah, apparently a classic.) Out of all the books I read this summer, this one was my favorite. It's kind of a crazy story about a 26-year-old man nicknamed Rabbit who used to be a high school basketball star, and is now stuck in the suburban trap: a wife he doesn't like, a kid with one on the way, a stupid job. And he can't deal with it anymore and so one day he just gets up and runs away. Hasn't everyone experienced a moment where they feel, life sucks, I want to run away? (Well, I've been there.) Rabbit is the type of character that makes you want to smack him on the side of the head, but I totally got where he was coming from at times. I just got book two from the library.

Inspired by my Philadelphia trip, my final classic movie choice was Rocky. I thought I had seen parts of Rocky on TV but I found out that was not true. The characters a little sad and darker than I imagined. Running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Musuem: Awesome. The scene at the ending with Rocky and Adrian yelling each other's name: pure cheese. I mean, what can I say about Rocky?

I totally wimped out in the classic music department. Yes, I did listen to the top five albums on Rolling Stone's 500 Great Albums of All Time--but I already own and have been big fans of four of them, so I wasn't exactly exploring new music. (#1: The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, #2: The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, #3 The Beatles' Revolver, #5 The Beatles' Rubber Soul). The #4 album, Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, I owned for a few years but never got into. Dan, who is a big Dylan fan, and I sat down for a listening party one night. To show me how far ahead Dylan was of his time, Dan played me songs that were popular at the time first. And then we listened to Dylan who was just so different lyrically and in sound. I still think a lot of his songs sound the same and it's not a sound I particularly like, but I did come to appreciate his talent more after our listening session.

And that concludes my summer classics. I am really sad that summer is over.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Sweet 100

This just might be the challenge that I am looking for.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Records and shoes and Dan.

Here are the pictures I presented to my class for my first photo assignment:

My teacher said that my pictures reminded him of puzzle pieces that you needed to fit together to tell a story. While he said he liked my images and how they evoked some kind of nostalgia, he said that I needed to leave my pictures more to chance and step back (not zoom in so much) and let things happen rather than try to control my pictures so much.

For class, the teacher is making us make prints each week of ALL of the photos we make. I can't tell you how much fun it was to receive a bunch of photos from the photo store and flip through them like a new issue of US Weekly. It's been years since I've done that and was complete and utter fun--just like it used to be. I just might start making photo albums again! (And by the way, some of these images look tons better printed.)

This one's for Erin.

I don't usually like to write about work because really, work is pretty boring and so why would I want to write about it and then subject you all to reading about it.

However, I recently started a new assignment last week, and I got the job with a little help from my friends. I am working with three ex-magazine staffers from my old job, and it's a happy reunion.

That's me on my first day on the job with my old work chums Jen, Erin and Alyssa.

The working conditions here are not so bad. I'm reporting to Erin who on my fourth day, gave me a gigantic chocolate chip cookie just because. Erin says that she likes when I write about work in the blog because then she knows who I am talking about. Don't expect it to be a habit. Just like cookies at work shouldn't be a habit (I used to have that one BAD). So this one's for Erin.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Birthday Galore

Dan's 29th birthday came and went, and the lucky guy got to celebrate for five days.

Wednesday: I finally invited my former roommates Meagan and Julie for an apartment house-warming (nine months after the fact) and we dove into Dan's birthday cake I made that day: a devil's food cake with chocolate mint icing. I am not a fan of mint but this cake had such a subtle flavor that even I had seconds.

Thursday: I threw Dan a mini-birthday party a deux that included taco dinner (He loves anything Mexican) and more chocolate cake (this time with ice cream--as requested by the bday boy) and present-giving: A Nintendo Wii. Usually Dan scolds me if I buy him a big gift for this birthday and so I was prepared for Dan to tell me to go return it, but this time, heroically, he accepted the present with no problem.

Taco mouth.

Friday, Saturday & Sunday: Dan and I jumped on the BoltBus heading to Boston to meet up with his parents for a Dan-centric, record-shopping filled weekend. Seriously, that's all we did in Boston. And eat. A lot. The best: a delicious cheese-filled cannolli from the Italian North End. The worst: cupcakes at Lulu's from the Italian North End. Bad cupcakes are bad. We thought we spotted another cupcakery called Johnny Cupcakes on Newbury Street but when we walked in, we discovered that we were in a t-shirt store all cupcake-themed. Yes, I got one because how could I not? The t-shirts were displayed on baking sheets. Oh, and then we met up with Dan's work buddy Andrew who is studying at HARV-ard.

Really. It was all about Dan. All weekend long.

Me and Dan at Boston Commons.

Dan's parents at dinner.

I did spend the greater part of the weekend taking shots on my new camera for my first assignment for photo class. We were asked to take about 30-40 pictures of one person, place or thing. I felt really nervous picking the right subject but then I started taking a bunch of pics at--where else--one of the record shops, which turned out to be my theme. I also started a second theme of Dan's shoes. I will be uploading them shortly to Flickr so stay tuned.

Sunday: Rode the Boltbus home, dropped off our things and changed and ran out the door to meet Dan's poker buddies for some delicious birthday dinner at Peter Luger Steakhouse, a New York institution that always makes the "best restaurants" lists. I just saw them on the Food Network touting them as the best place to get steak in America. The steak WAS really good. Not Buenos Aires, Argentina good, but good in a different way. What really blew me away was the bacon appetizer. At $3 a piece, you get one slice of bacon practically the size of a hot dog and super thick. I have never had anything like it, and it was pretty amazing. The waiters in white shirts and bow ties sang Happy Birthday to Dan, throwing a handful of gold chocolate coins on the table for good luck. Real classy.

The poker group (minus Kayleen) at Peter Luger.

After all this birthday celebration, I didn't have to go to work on Monday. Dan did. Birthday's over.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's all relative.

Awesomeness apparently runs in the family.

Earlier this year, my dad and my brother traveled across the country on a bike. Now, I have learned that my sister Annette might become the next Animal Planet celebrity.

A life-long animal lover, Annette was the person in my family who as a teenager hid a cat in her bedroom for a few weeks until my mom discovered it. She's the one who nursed two baby birds with a missing mother to life until they were ready to face the world on their own. At one time, she had potbelly pigs roaming freely in her apartment until the landlord found out. Then she worked as a pet groomer for a few years.

She's now down to two dogs, two cats, fish and I believe some ferrets (though who really knows for sure).

Anyway, it came to no surprise when my sister announced last year (or maybe the year before) that she was training to be an animal officer, even though none of us really know what that meant. It's kind of like being a cop who investigates animal cases (for example, an animal that is hit by a car and needs to taking care of or getting animals out of abusive situations). She and her friend Sandi went through weeks of intensive training, including how to handle a gun, and while an animal officer was needed in her Pennsylvania community, the town didn't have the funds to support it.

Until now. Annette and Sandi have accepted jobs as animal officers and have been in Philadelphia for a few weeks of training, and apparently Animal Planet has been taping them, and they might be on an episode of Animal Cops, Philadelphia!

I have never seen my sister so excited about work in her life, but she has emailed all of us to tell us how much she loves her job. She sounds so happy. I think she's found her calling, and I am proud of her for going for her dream even though they were a bunch of road blocks along the way.

With family like this, the holidays will be a lot more interesting.

I have got to step it up!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Places we'll go.

Dan and I love New York, but we're always looking for a new place to live.

Don't ask us when. It's something that always seems five years from now, but I think one day it will happen.

Why? Well even though New York City is probably one of the best places in the entire world, nearly everyone who lives here has a love/hate relationship with the place. Luckily most of the time, the good outweighs the bad.

But one day I would like to own a house. And one day I would like to have a garden and outdoor space I can have my breakfast every morning just like my mom does. Own a dog that I won't feel guilty if I leave alone at home. A neighborhood where kids can run around and I can bike around to the farmer's market, work, where ever. A place where when I lay my head down at night, I hear the crickets outside, not the trucks bopping down First Avenue.

The problem with New York is that you can't live your ideal life here. Maybe you could if you were a millionaire, but I am not sure if that will ever happen to us.

Recently, New York magazine ran a story about people like us who are moving to Buffalo, NY for these very reasons. Because the life you've always imagined for yourself in New York? Yeah, well, apparently some people are doing it better and cheaper in Buffalo.

Dan's like, "Let's move to Buffalo!" I told him that after living in Syracuse for four years, I will never live in Upstate New York ever again. My reasoning would entail an entirely new blog entry.

And so, the pursuit of somewhere else. A few criteria: It has to be a cool city or town that has character. While I undertstand that no place compares to New York, it has to have a lively scene--food, arts, culture, the works. It has to attract smart, cool people. It has to have jobs in the city, so we don't spend our lives commuting to work. It has to be liberal. It has to have good weather.

Portland, OR is a city that always comes up in conversation. We've never been to Portland, but everything we've heard is perfect...except the weather (I have a boyfriend who--unless he has to--will not leave the apartment if it is raining). It would be disasterous. Plus, it's a million miles away from everyone we know.

Dan is on an Austin, TX kick lately. I have never been but I can't imagine ever living in Texas. I did apply to the University of Texas at Austin so there is something about that place whose dream is still unfulfilled.

There must be some place in California that meets our criteria (that does not start with a V--yes, Dan sometimes talks about moving back to his hometown, but that might be too rural for me). I just don't know where. San Francisco is great, but it's just as expensive as New York and it's always cold.

My new favorite magazine, Bon Appetit, had a really interesting article about Durham-Chapel Hill, NC as the next big thing. People there are really into their locally-grown food, buying their produce directly from small-time farmers and eating at restaurants who cook with the stuff. I have no idea what the towns are like, but that sounds terribly cool. After reading the article, I wanted to meet all those people they talked about.

I don't know where we will go, if we will go, when we will go. There is a part of me that thinks about this all the time. And another part that feels like I can never leave New York City. What do you think? Maybe we should just leave the country.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Let the sunshine in!

Me with the rest of the crazies.

I am not good at being unemployed.

I was fine last week, but this week, I have grown incredibly bored and restless and unmotivated. You would think that with all the free time that I have got, I would do something productive with myself, but I find it hard to conjure up the energy to do anything--which is why we have no food in the fridge and I find myself taking naps when I should be going to the gym or writing.

On the calendar, the evenings of the last two weeks should have been crammed with social outings but given the Labor Day holiday or something in the air, nearly everyone bailed on me, which only intensified my cabin fever. And job hunting is the ultimate energy drain because it feels like nothing is happening.

Yesterday, I decided that since I had all the time in the world, I was going to wait in line for free tickets to see Hair in Central Park. I always thought the people who waited in these lines for free tickets were crazy, but I had such a great experience at Hamlet earlier this summer so I decided, What the heck? and hauled my ass out of my bed to get to the theater by 8 am. Tickets are given out at 1 pm for the evening's performance.

Rounding the entrance of the theater with my lawn chair and a backpack full of reading material, I came across what I initially thought were homeless people but were actually people waiting in line. The people in the front of the line looked like hippies themselves and they were lying down on the ground, fast asleep, wrapped around in bedding and cushions. They looked like they had been camping out for days. I followed the line, already 100 people deep, to the end where I plopped down and spent the next five hours.

Besides for the obnoxious group of girls talking loudly on one side of me and the woman complaining about the obnoxious girls on the other side of me, it was quite peaceful. I tuned everyone out with my ipod and I sat under the trees and rested and read and napped and looked at the runners thinking I should be running, too. It was not at all different than what I have been doing at home for the last few days--except that this was actually productive. I got the two tickets. (Fun tidbit: Since you could not leave the line except to go to the bathroom, you could have pizza and deli food delivered to your post in line!)

The show was great. Having seen a production before, I knew what to expect (shabby plot, great songs, nudity) and so it was invigorating and inspiring to see all this great young talent on the stage. It was worth the wait. I had a lot of fun. (Though seriously, why is everything cool in New York such a big production? Five hours wait for theater?)

So now it's Thursday. 12 pm and still in my pajamas. I so need a job. And a home-cooked meal. And a shower. And a kick in the butt. And someone to talk to.

UPDATE: I got some work for next week! Phew.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Sometimes I wish I lived in a city that enabled me to be a little more outdoorsy, but somehow Dan and I found our way outside this Labor Day weekend while staying in the city.

On Sunday, Dan and I rented some bikes and rode around Manhattan.

Here I am at the East River.

We basically covered the perimeter of Manhattan from 72nd Street downward, making a pit stop in the West Village for some ice cream and (what else) record store shopping.

We spent the rest of the day lamenting that we wanted bikes and had no place to keep them in our apartment. One day, we will get bikes...and a dog...and a garden...obviously, one day we will not be living in New York City.

On Monday, I was able to convince Dan to walk the 15 minutes to Central Park where we sat on beach chairs and read for a few hours. There was a couple nearby kissing on a blanket, and I said to Dan, "They look like a picture of love." Dan disagreed. "No, we are." He said this even though we were sitting a yard apart, nose in books, barely talking. The couple left, to be replaced by another who also started a major make-out session. They were kind of gross, so Dan moved his chair with so he wouldn't have to look at them, his back facing me. We went home shortly thereafter.

One year ago.

I can't believe that I embarked on my trip to Poland just one year ago.

How time flies! It feels like just yesterday! It feels like a billion years ago!

I am kind of floored how much I have matured and evolved in the last year. It feels kind of awesome. If every year of my life is lived as fully as this one, then I am going to be a happy camper when I am old.

I can't help thinking, what's going to happen now? I gotta keep it going!