Monday, July 31, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play
Back To Brooklyn

Tatoo Lovers

Y'all should check out this site.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I didn't really call anyone while I was visiting my parents and the town where Rod and I lived for five years. I mean. I went to go see my friend W. and her newborn. But other than that. I've been lolling in the southern heat, a bikini-clad slug beside my parents' pool.

Plus. Insomnia struck me once again. Couldn't sleep until 4 am and then, of course, didn't feel like getting up when the alarm went off at 6... So I missed my workout today.

And I'm so dependent on the adrenaline rush of my daily cardio jaunt. Oh, well. Tomorrow.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Visiting Down South

I'm in central Virginia visiting my folks. Which is nice because I hardly ever get to see them. This morning I went on a run on my old running haunt, the Rivanna Trail. Not sure what part it is, but this section is near where Rod and I used to live--off Locust near Chesapeake St. An hour long run in the steamy Virginia morning. I'd forgotten how much the heat can take out of you, but I did it--and faster than I used to be able to run the same loop. Guess all that yoga and pilates are making a difference after all!

I'm lounging out by the pool now, gathering my strength to go help my dad pick corn and tomatoes and blackberries and whatever else he's got growing this year.

Later this afternoon Rod and I will make calls to all the various folks we know here in town who we didn't get to see last time we were down.

A welcome break from the city, that's for sure. The next two weeks will be action-packed as we gear up to go to Burning Man in late August.

Friday, July 28, 2006

EncyclopediaJane: What Really Happened At Hanging Rock?

Ah. Friday has arrived and yet another installment on EncyclopediaJane—researching useless shit because you just don’t have time to.

As I said last week, I’m open for blog reader suggestions. So if there’s something you’ve always wondered about but never had the time to check out for yourself, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can dig up. Maybe!

Today’s question comes from Red, who asks:

What really happened at Hanging Rock? (I admit to not having seen the film, so I only have a few sketchy details.)

At first I didn’t know what Red was talking about. But it turns out there was a movie released in 1975 called “Picnic At Hanging Rock” that explores the events surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a party of schoolgirls from Appleyard College on Saturday February 14, 1900. The girls were never found again. The film was known for its blend of supernatural thriller and sexual hysteria.

You can see the trailer here.

So the question becomes: was this a real event? Did they ever find out anything about the girls?

My internet ramblings reveal that, first off, there are two Hanging Rocks in the world. One is a state park located less than an hour from Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina here in the United States.

But the other, more famous Hanging Rock, where the film was shot, is Hanging Rock Reserve, a rare volcanic outcrop of solvsbergite ( a type of rock with a high soda content) in Victoria Australia, about an hour north of Melbourne. Hanging Rock is one of the world’s best examples of a rock formation called mamelon (nipple, French lit.).

The area became a national reserve in 1886 and has, ever since, been a popular picnic spot and site of sporting events such as the New Year’s day horse races.

This whole business about girls disappearing had its inception in Joan Lindsay story, “Picnic At Hanging Rock,” that was published in 1967. This was a novel, but Lindsay hinted that it may somehow be real. (No evidence has ever been turned up to support this, though).

In 1975 Director Peter Weir transformed Lindsay’s narrative into a film acclaimed for its well-adapted screenplay, unique score, iconic costumes, art direction, and editing. It became part of the renaissance in Australian film-making and the country’s first international hit.

The supernatural thriller left viewers hanging (pun intended but regretted) at the end: what really happened to these girls?

And so, in 1987 a book called “The Secret of Hanging Rock” was published. This book included a chapter entitled “Chapter Eighteen” that is supposedly the original last chapter of Lindsay’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. (The assumption is that it was edited out of the 1967 version.)

But honestly, the chapter doesn’t really clear anything up. They still just disappear. (You can read more about the spoiler here.)

And if you’re really into this, check out the 2004 documentary: A Dream Within a Dream: The making of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'. Included are interviews with Peter Weir, among others.

If you're going to make a trek out to see the site, you might as well visit the Hanging Rock Winery while you’re at it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

You Gotta Read This

There's an awesome article by Stacy Schiff in this week's New Yorker on the creation and evolution of wikipedia.

Fun stats such as: wikipedia "receives as many as fourteen thousand hits per second."

I mean. Wow.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thursday 13: About Minerva Jane

1. I was born at 9:04 am on a tuesday on the first week of January 1973 on the 7th floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

2. This birthday nails me as a Capricorn. I don’t think the descriptions of Capricorns bear any real resemblance to me, though. And, in fact, a recent blogthing poll I took says I am actually only 40% Capricorn. So it must be true.

3. Even though I don’t believe in the whole horoscope thing, I read my entry every time I get a newspaper. And worry when danger is predicted.

4. My mother gave me the nickname Minerva Jane. She went back to school to get her PhD in Child Development when I was 2. For her dissertation she wrote about “Minerva Jane’s” psychological development. She filled three composition books during a two-year period. During which time my sister was born; I began preschool; and my best friend and neighbor--Jennifer--died of leukemia.

5. When I moved last year I discovered my mother's notes in a box of books I’d been storing at her house. I kept them.

6. I don’t remember Jennifer’s death. But I do remember going over to her house every day for two weeks to play with her dog because of course he was lonely. On the 15th day he was run over by a UPS truck. When I heard I sat down in the dirt beside Jennifer’s grandma’s VW van and cried.

7. I have long curly hair that drops naturally into sausage curls. When the air is humid, my hair wicks up all moisture and I’ve got a big blonde ‘fro.

8. I’ll never ever straighten my hair.

9. I was an obsessive reader as a child. At one point I was so into reading that I’d bring the book into the shower with me. How? By holding it with one hand extended away from the spray. The book got wet, but I could still read it. My mother thought I was nuts.

10. She still thinks I’m nuts, but for different reasons.

11. My right leg is shorter than my left by just a little bit. My father and sister both have this abnormality, too.

12. I love ice cream, cheese and tofu in that order but not together.

13. The wildest thing I’ve done is skinny dip with a fat Danish chick while we both were fucked up on valium and cheap red wine. That was 6 years ago. In Mallorca.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Whoa. This is weird. An accurate blogthing.

You Are Ani Difranco!

Honest, real, and well liked.

You're not limited by any boundaries.

"And you can call me crazy

But I think you're as lazy as white paint on the wall"

Wednesday Confession

When I met Rod I was dating someone else--a Polish emigre named A. A. was a bodybuilder and really into motorcycles. He worked as a surveyor in the suburban Maryland town where I was living and had a twin brother named P. At that point in my life I was really into men with accents--Mexican, Polish, British, Southern. Didn't matter where they came from--it was the pure otherness of their voices that turned me on.
Another Baby In MinervaJane's World

My friend W. had her second baby on Monday! When I was living in Charlottesville, twice a week before work W. and I would go on a run around her neighborhood. We'd take her first child, S., in the baby jogger and talk about books, writing, and--well. Life.

W. was the first really good female writer friend I'd ever had and our friendship evolved during a really shitty family time for me. (Relative X, when we confronted her about her drinking, attempted suicide. She was in a coma for three days and recovery is still a work-in-progress.)

I came to rely on those jogs. On hearing W.'s thoughts about my book, her book and her struggles with carving out writing time. (Also, her stories fascinated me. In her early 20s W spent two seasons working on the fish docks in Alaska.) And, well. Her emotional resiliency coupled with the unswerving sweetnes with which she still, despite all the shit that had happened to her, approached the world was something I really needed to be exposed to and to emulate. For a while there I was on the edge of either becoming a bitter person. Or not.

The rest of my life I'll remain grateful for those early morning runs.

Rome Peace Talks Collapse

So it looks like attempts to bring Israel and Hezbollah to a cease-fire have failed. Not that that really suprises me. Neither side seems particularly reasonable in their approach. I mean: over 350 civilians dead versus two kidnapped soldiers.

CNN notes that "One source involved in the talks said everyone but the United States wanted to press ahead with an immediate cease-fire, but Rice argued that taking that approach would leave Hezbollah in place and still armed with its rockets."

But honestly? Even if Israel eliminates Hezbollah as a threat and destroys Lebanon entirely, don't they think that the refuges--small children, most of them--aren't going to scatter to surrounding countries and grow up embittered and angry that their entire lives have been destroyed? All they're really doing is creating another generation of people who have every fucking right to hate the western world.

Not that I think Hezbollah's approach is in any way justifiable.

Still. Things seem to be deteriorating even more.

Because of course the UN is still pissed that four of their envoys were killed. Israel keeps saying it was an accident but I don't think anybody really believes that. The BBC reports this morning that an initial UN report says "UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them."

So the real question is: Will the US continue to side with Israel's interests even if the UN condemns their actions more stridently?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel Kills Four UN Observers in Lebanon

Not deliberately, Israel says. I guess they just kind of got in the way.

CNN reports:

"U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "deeply distressed" by the "apparently deliberate" strike.

"This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long-established and clearly marked U.N. post at Khiyam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that U.N. positions would be spared Israeli fire," he said in a statement.

"Furthermore, General Alain Pelligrini, the U.N. force commander in south Lebanon, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to protect that particular U.N. position from attack."

Best Burger in NYC?

We ate at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park tonight with a couple of my friends from Penn. (I met both Janet and Steve through the Community Servive Living Learning Program.) They've recently started a toy company; I'll post a link to their site once it's up.

The line at the Shake Shack is legendary and sometimes wraps halfway round the park. Tonight, though, we only waited about 15 minutes.

I had: a cheeseburger with fries and an iced tea. And god was it good. Dripping with fattening yummy juices. But the best? I like Bar Tabac's burger better... And not just because it's Brooklyn. (Although that did factor slightly into my thinking. Brooklyn's just cooler, you know?)

Try to Punch a Hole Through the World Trade Center Now, Terrorists!

Homeland security cop #1: Bleah! Bleah! Bleah!

He leans over and pretends to vomit in the gutter. Homeland security cop #2 laughs.

Homeland security cop #1, laughing: That was great! Punch me again!

--Federal Plaza, Duane & Broadway

Overheard by: Rich Mintz

via Overheard in New York, Jul 23, 2006

Construction Woes

So now they're stripping the paint from the front of the building. Two guys are spraying some sort of toxic liquid and paint chips and this reddish fluid are raining down onto the sidewalk below. Some has leaked through the bedroom window and puddled onto the floor. Staining our blinds and some of my clothes that were carefully (oh so carefully) placed in a pile next to the dresser.

We've now filed complaint #3 with the City. But the landlord doesn't really care. Cheaper for her to rack up the fines and just pay them then to hire a competent crew that'll cover all safety precautions.

My blood boils...

Tagged You Say?

And so I am! By Red.

Five Things in my Freezer
1. A humungous bottle of Fish Body oil supplements
2. Two hot dog buns
3. A tin of pre-ground admittedly crappy but needed for emergencies coffee
4. Half bag of now freezer-burned peas
5. Two scary-looking sausages

Five Things in my Closet
1. A stunning carpet our Azerbaijani friend brought back from Baku for our wedding which we never got around to hanging after the move. (Too nice to put on the floor; the cats would’ve destroyed it. That's their favorite hobby: destroying our shit.)
2. My new running shoes—asics gel kayanos XI--I bought from ebay for like half the price. (Yay ebay!) Although they're now a little dirt-stained after our anniversary run in Prospect Park.
3. A brand new Louis Vuitton duffel bag my ex-Uncle (as in used to be married to my Aunt) bought for our wedding and which we haven’t gotten around to selling yet--on ebay! (A little too ostentatious for our tastes and habits. I mean it wouldn’t really work on a camping trip, would it?)
4. An empty laundry basket that one of the cats—Jasmine—has adopted as her lair.
5. My gigantic winter coat. Back in Charlottesville I didn’t need anything this heavy, but here? With the tall buildings acting like fucking wind tunnels? I'll need a heavier one this year, actually.

Five Things in my Car
1. An empty water bottle crammed under the passenger seat.
2. A Xerox of a booklet called Great Runs In Charlottesville. (I only ever went on one of the routes, though.)
3. A gagillion paper napkins left over from lunches on the go.
4. A bag of stale pretzels
5. An invitation to Rod’s friends’ June 24th wedding out on Long Island.

Five Things in my Purse
1. My wallet walled stuffed with receipts, credit cards, and a handful of seeds I collected from a Money Tree from a Carroll Gardens front patio.
2. Half charged cell phone.
3. Pen and Small notebook stuffed with index cards and scraps of paper. (An example. A lime green card with the words: Hook; Character; Plot in black marker.) I've been carrying that one for five years now.
4. Keys
5. Camera

And the Lucky Five...
1. Calla Lillie
2. Novelist In Training
3. Pendulum
4. Mama Duck
5. Scott Holden Smith

Monday, July 24, 2006

What the nurse did

I went to the doctor’s office for a general check-up last thursday.

When the nurse was taking my pulse she noticed the butterfly rings (3 of them) I wear on my right hand.

Ew! I like them, too,” she said and turned around, lifting her shirt briefly to show me her own butterfly—a faded tattoo on her right shoulder blade.

Such a beautifully unselfconscious movement it stunned me.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

One year and 364 days

We’re celebrating today even though it isn’t until tomorrow.

We’d been living together for 5 years before, though, so it wasn’t like it was all that different. I mean we had a lot more shit after. And the same amount of storage space. But we’d joined bank accounts a few years before; had bought our first big purchase together (a car). We’d both made a commitment to stay together and both weathered through this bad extended family (mine) phase still joined. So, yes, we were a family.

But then. I don’t know. I started to want it. This pure girly side of me that I’d never really encountered before just rose out of fucking nowhere. Those frilly wedding dresses and soft lighting and masses of flowers and candles and everyone smiling and us dancing? I wanted that. I wanted it. And it turned out he did, too. Maybe not the paraphernalia of the event, but the act of joining itself.

So. It was a beautiful day. In the woods. At dusk. We had a klezmer band. Some kids from this commune near Charlottesville called Twin Oaks.

You know it does make a difference. Even if you tell yourself it doesn’t. Because before whenever we got into a really big fight, I always thought. Well. It’s not like we’re married. I can always walk out if this gets to be too much. (I have this thing about feeling trapped.)

Now? It just wouldn’t be that easy. Not just because of the number of ways our lives have become entangled. But because we’re building something here. And even though I don’t know what exactly it is, I know it's important and I that I can’t leave it unattended even for a little while. Plus? When I'm having a good time, it's more fun when he's there too. And when things are shitty? Not as shitty when he's with me. Some days it's as simple as that.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yoga Citta

This morning, as I swept from warrior I to warrior II into plank I thought how a vinyasa yoga class is like a kind of wave. Back and forth, back and forth. Carried on the wave of the breath.

Friday, July 21, 2006

EnclopediaJane: Petra

So this week I’m continuing the weekly Friday EncyclopediaJane feature. The last few days my mind has been dwelling on the middle east and how the continuing war threatens to destroy thousands (if not ultimately millions) of lives and hundreds of ancient archeological sites. So when I saw a book on Petra, the Jordanian rock city, in the sales bin at the local Barnes & Nobles, I couldn’t resist. (Well, even if war hadn’t broken out, I wouldn’t have resisted. But that’s another story.)

After today I’m opening the feature up for blog reader suggestions. So if there’s something you’ve always wondered about but never had the time to check out for yourself, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can dig up. Maybe!

If no one has any suggestions, next week’s topic will be: Shea butter. What is it?

Petra is an archeological site in southern Jordan. This ancient city was carved into the hollow between mountains Umm el Biyara and Jebel el Khubtha and is situated about 80 km south of the Dead Sea and 190 miles south of Amman. Hunting and gathering tribes roamed the area from about 1500 until 1300 BCE when the semitic Edomites settled there. Around the fourth century BCE the Arabic Nabateans emerged from Babylon and drove the Edomites out. Under their rule Petra grew rapidly and soon became the epicenter of a bustling trade empire—spices, silver, frankincense, myrrh and water were all part of their expanding caravan trade network. Because there were only a few easily controllable entrances and exits, the settlement was easily defended from invaders. The Nabateans also developed an innovative hydraulic engineering system that channeled infrequent winter rainwater into cisterns for use in later, drier months. In about 63 AD Petra was conquered by the Romans but remained under autonomous rule until 106 CE when Emperor Trajan annexed the kingdom to the Roman province of Arabia. An earthquake destroyed half the city in 330 CE, but some inhabitants remained. Archeological records show us that there was a fragmented Byzantine community living among the abandoned buildings until about 551 CE when an even larger earthquake finally brought this ancient city to its knees. (By the way, Byzantine Christians settled in abandoned rock churches and houses in a similar fashion in eastern Turkey’s Cappadocia region. The final chapters of my yet-to-be-published novel, The Jar-Born Sage, are set in this eerie moon-like region.)

Wanna know more? Check out Petra: Jordan’s Extraordinary Anciet City by Fabio Bourbon.

What I Look At Every Day...

This is a shot from our May trip to Colorado. We went on a run along the county road behind the Arrowhead Point Camping Resort site.

I don't know why, but I get enormous comfort from this image. Everytime I feel overwhelmed--by my job; my life; the city and its teeming people--I picture myself on this road, running toward the mountains.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thursday Thirteen: Ways Of Looking @ Brooklyn

1. My favorite middle eastern grocery store...

2. The restaurant that never opens...

3. Where I yoga...

4. Where I lauder...

5. Real Fish N' Chips. Home of the deep fried twinkie and mars bar combo.

6. I swear to god this fruit stand is open 365 days a year.

7. The lovely Gowanus.

8. A pretty cool place to buy weekly flowers.

9. A bookstore straight out of a Paul Auster story.

10. Prospect Park during an evening concert.

11. Ye Local Hardware Store

12. Stately Court Street in the evening.

13. On the Brooklyn Bridge looking into Manhattan

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday Confession

I'm 33 years old and I still haven't figured out how to correctly shave my legs. Razor burn, large swathes of missed hair, and cuts abound. Plus, when I shave in the summer the back of my legs break out in this weird red rash. Still, I hate the coarse black (yes, black; even though I'm a blonde everywhere else) hairs enough to keep on trying.

Because of this I'm endlessly envious of my smooth-legged cohorts.
Construction In NY

So we live in this building on the edge of a great neighborhood. Other buildings around us are pretty, well-maintained. Ours? Not so much.

When we moved in, over a year ago, the landlord was in the middle of renovating the store downstairs as well as the first floor apartment. A couple of weeks later, construction stopped suddenly. Then restarted a month or so later. Then stopped. Until Monday.

Then they built this big scaffolding that blocks our fire escape. Groups of men knocked on my door, trying to gain access to our roof. (One of them, his lazy eye keening to the right, just grunted, "I need to get on the roof." and pushed past me.) One of them, perched on a makeshift platform that seriously looked like it was going to splinter apart in two seconds, painted some kind of noxious chemical onto the outside of the building so all afternoon and evening all we could smell was this horrific mixture of gas and terpentine.

How long are they going to be working on the building? They don't know. Who can you call with complaints? The number listed on the billboard? Ah. No. That just goes to me, the guys laughingly called out as my husband plugged the digits into his cell phone.

We called 311--the city's nonemergency help line--and reported them. An hour later the appropriate building permits were posted but the fire escape is still blocked.

So apprently we're in for a seige.

And, yes, the downstairs apartment is still empty. A two bedroom one path with outdoor patio a stone's throw from the Brooklyn Bridge. Granted the bathroom and kitchen are in shambles, but still. Many would jump at the chance. At the price she's asking? Fuck.

Within eight hours of the scaffolding going up, people started tethering their bikes to the post. Damn. New Yorkers are quick. In Charlottesville weeks woulda gone by before someone'd thought that hey, maybe I can tie my bike there.

Indian Bloggers' Freedom Of Speach Threatened.

You gotta read this BBC article.

"The country's 153 Internet service providers (ISP) have blocked 17 websites since last week on federal government orders.

Some of these sites belong to Google's Blogspot, a leading international web log hosting service."

BBC claims these are some of the banned sites.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Too Hot In NYC? Try A Cooling Center

If you're here in NYC and don't have an air conditioner, get yourself to one of the city's cooling centers.

I myself am going straight to the frigid gym right after I'm done here at the home office.

They're in the process of doing something to the front of the building--more on this later tonight; It's a whole thing--and the entire apartment smells like gas.

Which can't be good.

Israeli, Lebanese and American Views On Conflict

Israeli and Arab TV news show different sides of war. Eye-opening to say the least.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Brooklyn Boils Over

We just come back from a walk to Prospect Park.

I'm so hot that when I came back home and went to the bathroom my ass stuck to the seat.

The asphalt is actually steaming and every few blocks or so this weird funky odor rises out of the sewers.

Window boxes are in full bloom, though. Bright splashes of color planted in any patch of dirt.

Still, I saw: several people running; several more biking; one man refinishing his front door; dozens working on their cars on Union St. by the lovely Gowanus.

And there was the guy a block from the park who'd bought a bunch of waters and was selling them to the people who were walking or biking past. He looked like a kind of god when I came up over that one hill, his left arm raised for just a second, three bottles glistening in the sun before he drew it down to meet his right.

Best Italian Food In NYC. I'm Not Kidding

Noodle Pudding. We went last night with Rod's family. Why it called Noodle Pudding and not, say, Pasta! Italia! I have no idea. But. This is by far my favorite place so far. And in the past year we've eaten out a lot. It's kind of the thing to do here.

Even though it's technically in Brooklyn Heights, not Manhattan, it's worth the trip. (One stop on the 2 or the 3 to Borough Hall or a quick cab ride over the Brooklyn Bridge.)

Noodle Pudding is so hip they don't need a sign. (No, really. There's no sign out front, so unless you know where it is, you're out of luck.)

Plus, no credit cards. Only cash.

But god.

I had: figs with prosciutto dribbled with honey and dotted with toasted almonds; halibut with spinach; and lemon scented whipped cream with fresh raspberries. Well. I also had a few bites of Rod's chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut gelato. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Idle Hands

But at least there's no dye involved. Still. You know all the other dogs in the hood laugh their asses off each time he walks by...

The photo comes to Goddess In The City via Grier, who found it on

Dahn Cult

So I went to this free yoga class on Saturday afternoon at Dahn yoga.

I’d passed the place before, but had never seen anyone else in there. Plus, I'm into vinyasa and their classes seem pretty basic and more hatha-based then I'm used to. Then, well. You know about the loss of my two karma yoga classes a week. So this time when I saw the notice about the free class, I thought I’d try it.

When I came in they had me fill out a basic form—name; address; etc. Then the woman—dressed in loose clothes—led me into the back room where three other women were lying on their backs with their eyes closed. It felt like the back room of a store in a suburban strip mall. Really. No windows. Bright florescent lights. There were white boards on one wall. And on the other computer printouts with basic yoga poses—cat stretch; standing forward bend--were scotch-taped to the paint. In the front were what looked like regular household blinds except a mountain formation—something that looked like this—was printed on it. Soft ambient music played softly in the background.

It felt soothing. Or at least an accurate facsimile of serenity.

We did a series of really basic poses—the most strenuous thing was the seated front stretch. Still, one of the women in the front row kept saying she was lightheaded. (Granted, she was pretty obese, so chances are the exercises probably were quite a challenge for her.)

Throughout the instructor kept saying a lot of stuff about energy—energy blocked; energy released—but not in any really coherent way. (Her accent, unfortunately, was so bad that I lost about every third word so that might have added to my perception of her as rambling and unfocused.) Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be dismissive or anything. I’ve encountered people really into the charkas before and think there’s probably some kind of basis to it. Acupuncture, for example, which targets energy channels in the body, has really helped my mother--who can't take pain relievers for a variety of reasons--deal with her chronic back pain from degenerative disc disorder. Plus. There are people and places that just ooze negative or positive energy. Just hang out with a really bitter ex-wife for an evening and you’ll see what I mean. But. Well. There was this exchange: while we were shaking our arms, trying to loosen our wrists, I shivered. She said, “You’re cold.” “Yup,” I concurred. “That’s the energy leaving your body,” she said. “Or maybe you’ve just got the air conditioning on too high,” I said.

Afterwards we all sat in a circle. A middle-aged woman in a white karate outfit came in carrying a tray with 5 teacups. We drank tea together, bowing to each other and the instructor. It was quite nice. A beautiful little ritual. And then. It was like we’d been circled and the Big Sales Pitch began. “Which package are you going to buy?” She asked each of us in turn. The 3-month package for $450 or the one-year $2500? Trying to reel us in and all. The four of us looked at each other and then at the instructor, all blank-faced. Was she really trying to coerce us into a sale? (Sure. I should have known. The old TimeShare bait and pitch.) She got up and left the room for a few minutes. One of the other women—the obese one—said she loved the class and wished she could do this every week but she was a single mother and on disability. Her friend, a middle aged Spanish woman agreed: “I can’t afford something like this, no way.”

The instructor came back in with an older man in tow. They both sat down in this tiny circle we’d formed. The man had a clipboard with blank membership waivers.

“I think,” the woman next to me said, “that we all want to think about it before we sign up.”

“Oh,” the instructor said. “So you’re already a We?”

So yeah. Warning bells were ding-alinging inside my head big time. Time for Jessie to Exit Stage Left.

“How about you give me a brochure or something and I’ll think about it,” I said as I stood up and started backing up toward the door. "My husband would kill me if I spent money like that without talking to him first.” (And see that’s something they don’t tell you about marriage—the Excuse Factor. Don’t want to go out for a drink with that annoying girl from work and her schlep of a boyfriend.? Gotta check with the Husband. I think we already have plans with his step-Aunt’s niece that night. Sorry!)

As the door was closing behind me, I heard the instructor say: “Don’t think too long. Then all that tight energy will build up again and you won’t be relaxed and open.”


Sunday, July 16, 2006

I don't know how to feel

No good can come of this.

Hunting for Burning Man Costumes

This is a cool little thrift store half a block away from me. They have a 50% off sale this week, so I'm going hunting.

The store's a trip. They change their window display every month or so--sometimes extravagant tableaux with funkily-clad maniquins. Everytime I pass, I peek in to see what's new.

The lady who works there has no eyebrows and instead draws them in with dark brown eyeliner. Which, weirdly enough, is a detail from my first but yet-to-be-published novel. Hmmm.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

So Wrong

Apparently she needs to be re-dyed once a month to keep her pinkness fresh.

Because I'm Cheap

I don't have a digital camera yet. So here's a photo I finally got developed (as in dropping it off @ CVS for them to transfer onto a CD) from our July 4th weekend with Charlottesville friends Agil and Josh. I'm the one in red. Agil (now in DC) is to my right, Josh (now in Austin) to my left. We're sitting on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side.

Friday, July 14, 2006

EncylopediaJane: Hopscotch!

I have this running list of Things I Want To Know About. Items include such fascinating topics as: Vietnamese mythology; carborators; geography of Languedoc; Tazmanian devils; DIY cheesemaking; and freak show circuits of the 20s.

When I was working as a temp and had oddly long hours of idlenss in front of a computer, I'd research these topics when I had a chance and tell my then boyfriend (now husband) what I'd learned.

Since he's not really interested in, say, the mating habits of ants, and lost incentive to fake it after I Said Yes & Went Through With The Wedding, I've decided to post my findings here. Every Friday. We'll call it a feature. Hell, maybe even a Column.

The first item on the list is: hopscotch. What is it? How did it start? Is it an American phenomenon?

This is what I've unearthed. Keep in mind this is all based on internet research and may in fact be completely false. But still makes a good albeit geeky cocktail party ice-breaker and/or a reasonable sounding lie to tell your kids so they'lll think they've got the Smartest Parents On The Planet. At the very least it'll up your chances of winning your next game of Trivial Pursuit.

So. Hopscotch.

Hopschotch began as a training exercise for soldiers of the early Roman Empire stationed in ancient Britain. Courts were 30 to 100 meters long and soldier hopped through the course wearing full military armor.

Today children from all over the world play a version of this strength- and balance-building exercise. The game’s called "Potsie" in England, ‘Marelles’ in France, ‘Templehupfen’ in Germany, ‘Hinkelbaan’ in the Netherlands, ‘Ekaria Dukaria’ in India, ‘Pico’ in Vietnam and ‘Rayuela’ in Argentina.

Court layouts and game rules vary slightly, but the principles remain the same. All you need is chalk and a pebble or piece of wood.

You can read here about how kids in Colombia and Indonesia play the game.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

How evil am I? Very evil.

You Are 34% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

Because he asked...

Rod: Hey. You don't have any Tshirts for men on that blog thing.

Me: Well. I can make one. What should it say? God In The City.

Rod: How about Hot Rod In The City?

Me: Uh. You sure you want it to say that?

Rod: Yeah. Because then I can give it to people. As gifts and stuff.

ckThursday Thirteen!

13 things I didn’t know about New York City before I moved here

1. Subway lines are not color-coded even though the map is. Pay attention to the train #, not the color. is the best way to figure out which is the closet subway stop to your destination.

2. It’s easier to get fresh, inexpensive produce here than in the suburbs. Even in the dead of winter.

3. Life is actually easier without a car. Why? No gas. No parking. Better people watching. Keeps you in shape.

4. Every New Yorker learns the art of staring without seeming to. (This also explains the popularity of sunglasses.)

5. If you walk through Chinatown at least three women will approach you whispering, “Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton.” This isn’t some strange cult. They’re trying to sell you knock-offs.

6. The best way to see art is to stroll though Chelesea and Soho. Galleries are free.

7. The Soho Apple store has free lectures in its spiffy auditorium.

8. TimeOut is the best guide to weekly happenings.

9. New Yorkers never tire of talking about real estate. Knowing your apartment’s square footage is essential. If you get an apartment without paying a broker fee, you’ll be the envy of all your friends.

10. People not from NY have a lot of stereotypes about it. These stereotypes are usually based on: movies they’ve seen; a cousin who visited on a school trip in ‘89; their own fears.

11. Flights are cheaper from here.

12. If you walk over the Brooklyn Bridge on a nice summer afternoon you’ll hear at least five different languages. Be prepared to have one family ask you to take their picture.

13. New Yorkers like to look down on tourists even though most of them are really from somewhere else.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! (Leave your link in comments and I'll add it here.)
The Scratching Post
The Writer Alau
Xs Matter
Reds Page
Summer Girl
One Scrappy Gal
Lil Duck Duck
Carmen Has Gone To Plaid

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wednesday Confession

When I was working as an office temp in Washington, DC back in 2000 I made a point of stealing at least one pen or highlighter from every place I worked.

New York City As A Sort Of Sisyphusian Hell

Scene: Union Square, last evening. Rod and I sitting on a bench watching people stream by.

Me: The weirdest thing about NY is that the entire culture centers around eating out and yet you're never supposed to look like you've had more than a few crackers and a house salad.

Rod: That's why coke is so popular...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cat in a Bottle
Village People

It doesn't get any better than this. YouTube rrrrocks.

Yoga Sorrow

I just found out that the yoga class I was opening for at Yoga People is going to be cancelled until the fall. I don't really blame them--only one person showed up for today's class. But jeez. Now I'm out two free classes a week. Which means my year-long project of paying for yoga with yoga is pretty much shot. I mean, I'll still be working the Saturday morning shift, but if I really want to get in my three sessions a week I'm going to have to dig into my own pocket.

Maybe my experience with YogaBitch was a sign. I don't know.

The bottom line is that I may be writing an article about my six months of karma yoga instead...

Syd Barrett Died

He was 60 years old and he died peacefully.

Monday, July 10, 2006

If The Union Square Hipsters Are any Indication

... apparently leggings are back in. I had hoped this day would never happen. (Although, I've been secretly plugging for leg warmers. Stop looking at me that way. It's fucking cold in NY...) All we can do is hope that the God Of Fashion has pity on us unsuspecting mortals and draws the line at shoulder pads.

Goddess In The City Thongs

That's right. Now you can get one of your very own. Click on the CafePress banner on the right hand side of the page. (You can get a T-shirt or tank, too!)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

On Wanting

I got my haircut on friday at a new salon. Cheaper than my regular guy, Raphael at John Sahag. But I’d recently lost the family discount I’d previously been getting and, well, without that. It’s just a no-go.

I had a coupon for the new place: free manicure with cut. So.

And as I was getting my cuticles trimmed—one hand nestled in the woman’s palm, the other wading in warm sudsy water—I thought how if I had enough money I’d get my nails done every week. And maybe a pedicure too while I was at it. (There’s a place on Court Street that offers a mani-pedi deal for $25.) That would be cool. Dip my toes in warm water every week. A little foot massage. And they have those vibrating chair thingys. That would be nice. And once I started thinking about the massage chair I thought about how nice a real massage would be. Every week. After yoga on Sunday mornings. And a facial. I’ve always wanted to get a full hour facial. For a second as I watched the woman deftly polish my left thumb I saw myself living this wish-fulfilled life. Carefully coiffed and serene, I’d shine like a lovingly polished stone. But. There was more. I could want more. Clothes. Jewelry. Make-up. And someone that polished, that elegant would naturally travel to France on vacation, wouldn’t she? Where she’d probably buy more clothes. Fashionable. Stylish. Clothes. With sandals.

And then, as she laid my left hand down on the towel and lifted the right I understood something I’d never really grasped before, other than in an entirely intellectual way. There could be no end to the things I could want. Each new acquisition could eventually lead to more: more objects and services and experiences. And when I have a child I’d want things for her too. Eventually she’d start to want. An endless cycle of wanting and getting and wanting again.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Gay Marriage In NY?

Apparently not.

For a long time I've been absolutely baffled by why anyone cares whether or not two consenting adults want to marry or not. I mean. Its sort of like pickles and ice cream. If you don't like it. Don't eat it.

But the answer just came to me two seconds ago: this is another economic thing. Huh? you may well ask... Married couples get a tax break, folks. If gay couples marry the state and federal goverment will lose revenue. Its in the state's best interest to restrict the number of people who can marry in any way possible.

Another possiblity? They're just too scared to take a stand.

As the NY Times notes "the Court of Appeals found that the state's definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, enacted more than a century ago, could have a rational basis, and that it was up to the State Legislature, not the courts, to decide whether it should be changed."

In other words: I don't want to decide. You do it. Because really. What kind of rational basis could there be for sticking your nose in someone else's business if that business doesn't hurt you or yours in any fucking way?

Donald Hall & The Farm

Beautiful article about Donald Hall's relationship to his ancestral farm and the home he and Jane Kenyon shared.


Those not familiar with the phenomenon known as karma yoga as it works here in NYC and most likely elsewhere in the US: you work a shift in exchange for a free class. Usually one class per two-hour shift. The term karma yoga, which means selfless service, is a misnomer since you’re actually getting something in return. Just not money.

So I’m smack in the middle of a year-long karma yoga project: from December 2005 to December 2006 I’m earning all my yoga classes (3 times a week + home practice) through yoga. A neat little experiment for myself. Of course, there’ll be an article at the end about my experiences and thoughts. And yeah. Blogposts.

Anyway. The way it works at my current studio is simple. You arrive half an hour before class. Count the change. Straighten the studio. Sign people in and sell class cards as the folks arrive. I’ve met a lot of yoga practitioners and teachers this way and learned a great deal about how a studio is run.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to pick up another shift at this new studio down the street. Why? To see how a different studio might work. And because the space was beautiful—indoor water fountain; bright murals. The whole place had the feel of an artsy inner city spa.

The woman who owns the place looks a little like Naomi Campbell, except with bright blue eyes. Natural, as far as I could tell. (Colored contacts tend to look overly blue.) Absolutely beautiful. And therefore intimidating. (For some reason really pretty women tend to cow me. I have no idea why.)

Over the course of three days I trained at with I. at the new studio. Then had my first shift. At first it was fine. There were more details to learn, of course, than at my home studio. (While I. owns both this and two other studios here in Brooklyn, she just bought a land in Costa Rica and will move there shortly, operating her business remotely.)

So yeah. Precision is to be expected. But this level of anal retentiveness, or shall I say obsessive compulsiveness, was a little off-putting at first. I mean, she had me labeling lightbulb packages…

It was only gradually that the full extent of what I’d gotten myself into emerged. Some people take a little bit of power and amplify it to assuage their own egos. Her version of this common human compulsion: Condescension. Bitchiness. (Apparently I didn’t straighten the blankets well enough. Repeatedly.) And a weird habit of ordering food and eating it right in front of me without asking if I'd like to order something too. (She’s scheduled me for a 9-3 training session.) Then there was the way she treated the others: spilling toner onto another karma yogi’s bag and not even registering that she’d destroyed someone’s stuff. (Oh. Hahahah. Sorry...)

Now, if this was a real job and if I were actually earning money I’d have sucked it up. Rod and I have a media imaging firm and we’ve dealt with more than our share of difficult clients. You just deal, right? Business is business. But this is yoga.

And at its core yoga is a spiritual practice. A dance with the divine, a way of making love to the Beloved, to the inner Self. Physical prayer. True, there are other elements. But at essence practice is church + aerobics + an hour long stroll in the park all rolled into one. All of these things all the time. The ratios ebb and flow, but all elements are essential.

But god. The soullessness of the yoga studio world when it’s run as a business with just the sheerest of trappings of spirituality doesn’t just offend me, it repulses me.

I thought at first that maybe this was a lesson. Because, yeah. My ego was bruised. (I’m not an $8/hour employee, I thought. I’m not doing this because I have to. Fuck you you fucking cunt.)

But of course, it shouldn’t matter why I was working there. All people should be treated with respect regardless of how or why they ended up in the situation they’re in. So I decided that maybe this would serve as a sort of spiritual lesson. Humble me. Except I found myself reluctant to go back to the studio to claim my free classes, which was supposed to be the point to begin with. I even started avoiding that very block in fear that I’d run into her.

And then I thought about something Jay Brown said during a class I took with him. One of his students had said to him that there’s this vinyasa class she goes to that she really hates. He asked why she went if she hated it and she said she thought that maybe there was something she was supposed to learn there, in that experience. His response? Well, maybe the lesson is not to do those things you hate or dread.

So. I quit. End of YogaBitch. And while the day I severed the relationship I’ll admit I had fantasies about destroying her (Sure. There’s an element of the SuperVillainess in me…) those feeling dissolved within a day or so.

Now I have a newfound appreciation for my original studio. The ease of the shift. The flexibility of the studio owner. The way even though it is a business, the focus is on the yoga and the things it teaches us about yoking ourselves to the divine--our bodies and our minds and our spirits.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Burning Man 2006

So yeah. We're going to Burning Man at the end of August.

I've been told by the trip organizer that my main job is to come up with some costumes for myself. I'm thinking: sexy. Perhaps a bit whorish. With a tiara. I mean. What the hell.

Wednesday Confession

I tell my husband I watch superhero movies to share his love of all things comic but really... the muscle-men turn me on.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth!

We slept in after our friends left this morning at about 8 am.

Now we can't decide what we want to do. Blahhhhhhh.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Middle-aged, overweight woman #1: How can these brownies be low fat? Look at these ingredients! Walnuts, almonds... This can't be low fat!

Woman #2 points to a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the wall.

Woman #1: She was a size twelve, you know.

--Cafe Bacio, 71st & 1st

Overheard by: Emily Duncanson

via Overheard in New York, Jul 3, 2006
Pizza For Breakfast

Josh and Agil want pizza for breakfast and since we're grrrreat hosts, that's what they're gonna get.

Yesterday was fun. We played Trivial Pursuit at Floyd's. (Josh and I beat Agil and Rod.) Then we went to dinner at The Fountain. Mmmm. Then more Trivial Pursuit at home. (Rod and I beat Agil and Josh.) I love Trivial Pursuit.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

More May Vaca Recap

View from the top of Pikes Peak.

Yesterday was ane extravaganza of food and adult divertions.

Brunch at Schiller's--where we saw Todd working behind the bar. The boys had a cocktail and I had an iced latte. Hmmm. French toast with berries.

We walked from the Lower East Side across the Brooklyn Bridge back home. Something every tourist should see and we make sure we walk our guests over at least once. (Not in winter, of course). A brief rest then we headed to Prospect Park. We met up with Sam Stackhouse, friend from grad school and recently returned to the states from Korea.

Dinner at a Park Slope thai restaurant and then went to some dive-y Irish pub in Prospect Heights.

Today? Hanging out in the BH hood: movie and grimaldis.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Friends From Charlottesville

Our Cville friends Agil (now living in DC) and Josh (now living in Austin) are visiting for 4th of July.

Today's agenda: brunch at Schiller's on the LES, then a jaunt to Prospect Park. Evening in the park. Maybe!
Rod Schmoozing Great Aunt Bev