Monday, November 27, 2006

SF Recap

My parents left this morning to return to Virginia and my sister is driving now back to Davis and M is at work. And R and I? Working from M's apartment today and then flying out to LaGuardia tomorrow morning. It's been an interesting visit: two days with M down along the coast; dinner at the Cliff House on Thanksgiving; a foolhardy trip into the Black Friday hordes of downtown SF; a four mile hike at Tennessee Valley trail in Marin County; dinner at the Rose Pistola in Northbeach on Saturday; a night of music at the Hemlock (great dive bar with a music venue in back); and the newest James Bond movie, Casino Royale, yesterday afternoon.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Best Part of SF the way, right in the middle of a block of muted white and gray painted clapboard houses, you'll see a bright purple home with magenta trim. That and the trippy hills make SF one of my favorite cities.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Even The Dumb Thrive @ Big Sur

Yesterday, at the Ragged Inn minimart on Highway 1.

Do you have a corkscrew?
Sure. But be careful. This one only works if you do it right.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

From SF To San Simeon

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at SFO. Our friend M picked us up at the airport and we spent most of the evening catching up before meeting M's friend and our Burning Man camp-mate, N., for dinner at Garcon in Noe Valley. (M. is a regular at Garcon.)

This morning M, R and I got up (relatively) early and drove down Highway 1 to San Simeon. The road snaked its way along the coast, plunging us down deep dips and up sudden inclines, views of the pacifics' frothing waters and jagged coastline beyond.

We stopped at the Lucia Inn for lunch and sat out on a weathered wooden deck overlooking a short cliff and beach. There was a young family sitting out there with us--a couple with two young boys who, after they finished eating, went to play below. We sat eating our sandwiches (I got turkey on whole grain bread with avocado, swiss cheese, tomatoes and lettuce) watching the boys play and the waves crash against the rocks.

Then on into the Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront, a 3 mile hike through San Simeon State Park and a truly horrible meal at the San Simeon Bar & Grill. (I mean really horrible: if you stay here go to the Cavalier here at the Best Western.)

But the best part? There are three fire-pits here at the hotel so we went down and sat, gazing into the fire and listening to the waves. Beautiful.


Friday, November 17, 2006

The real function of discipline

... is not to provide us with maps but to sharpen our sense of direction, so that when we really get going, we can travel without maps"

- Thomas Merton

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Hardest Part of Marriage ...

... isn't even the dynamics of your own relationship, but the way your extended family's problems can dredge up your own unresolved issues. Wasn't it Faulkner who said that you carry the symbol of your frustration into eternity? Which I always took to mean: your ghosts find you.

You see, it's no accident I'm a writer. What else could you do with all this shit except make art out of it? (Or, as Elizabeth Bowen so eloquently put: art is the only thing that goes on mattering once it has stopped hurting.)

We're planning on making our trek to California for Thanksgiving none-the-less. We're spending two days along the coast south of SF: San Simeon, Carmel, Monterrey. Then on Thanksgiving day we're eating at the Cliff House at sunset with our friend M. (the friend who's really family); my parents, who are flying in from Virginia; and my sister, who's doing phenomenally well at her first semester at UC Davis.

But the best part? Our business is really taking off. R said last week: "We're gonna make it after all." With not the slightest bit of irony in his voice.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

So Much (Not) To Say

I could say, "Before I tried posting everyday I never realized just how much I didn't have to talk about."

But the truth is there's so much to talk about--stuff that isn't really even mine to tell--that I'm struck silent.

Suffice to say: the roller coaster just never fucking ends, does it?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cube 63

Last night we went to Cube 63, the Lowe East Side bastion that not-so-recently opened its new Brooklyn digs. The restaurant's signature dish--the volano roll-- has crab and shrimp in a spicy eel sauce was ho-hum. The spider roll was great and the roe was delish, but overall I think Osaka, just down the block, offers more bang for your buck. So, you know. If you're ever in the hood.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Central Park Run

Today we're taking the F into Manhattan to Central Park and points southward. A three hour walk-run-ramble. Honestly, though, this is my favorite part of NYC: letting yourself get lost in the urban jugle and just winding your way through its streets, people-watching and window-shopping and daydreaming the afternoon away.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Brooklyn Pizza Hits The Big Time

And the NY times weighs in here. Imagine that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thank God America Woke Up

Is all I have to say. And couldn't be happier to see Rumsfeld gone, thank you very much.

Once gay marriage is legalized I'll throw me a party and y'all are invited.
You Know What?

Nah. Just got back from dropping some mail at our friendly neighborhood Mailboxes Etc. My windbreaker that was supposed to keep me all dry and toasty? So not waterproof.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Short Story X: Finished

Yesterday I finished up short story x and can now safely reveal the current title: "It was just perfect." Now begins the long-ass process of revising. It topped out at 16 pages double-spaced, which is a little too long for me. I may have to cut it down. Funny: I started off writing about one thing but somewhere along the way some of the characters hijacked the story and took over. Plus there's a visciousness to it at the end that makes me squirm a little.

But yeah, I'm giving myself a big pat on the back for finishing this one up so quickly, even if no one but me and R and maybe my sister (she reads everything I write, god bless her) know about it.

Sometimes? Life is just plain good.


NYC In Winter

So here's something I never anticipated about New York before I moved here: the heat in our building is forced steam, so apparently there's no real way of regulating it. What this ends up meaning is that in our apartment in winter it's so hot we have to open ALL our windows just to get it cool enough to breathe. The same problem repeats itself in other buildings across the City, although not half as bad. Still, my winter outfit usually looks something like this: an outer layer of a massive down coat with an inner layer of jeans and tank top. I freeze my ass off outside, then sweat like a pig once I walk through the threshold.

Weird, huh?

But even more odd is the sound the steam makes as it pushes its way through our pipes: a creepy low-tone tinkling that freaks the cats out.


So Lame

Seven days into my month long post-a-day venture, I failed to post as planned last night. What does this mean? I'm going to post twice--no three times today. Because overcompensate I must.

We went out to Schiller's again last night. This time I limited myself to a tuna salad (seared tuna over baby greens) and some mango vodka drink topped off with champagne and a mango slice. Well, there was some wine too.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mueuk At The Brooklyn Museum

We went to the Brooklyn Museum today with R's Mom to see an exhibit of Ron Muek's fiberglass sculptures. Muek's uber-realistic figures are either gigantic or tiny and there's something about the unflinching nature of his gaze--the fat man's uncircumcized penis hanging flacidly against his thigh; the elephant-sized newborn still streaked with blood; the old woman's hawk-like eyes peering from hooded flesh--that startled me. These were not necessarily attractice or unattractive people, but just normal human bodies, flaws and all. And as I stared down at a mini sculpture, one of a couple spooning, I realized that by reducing--or enlarging--the human figure so dramatically Muek had effectively divorced it from both the glorification of say greco-roman nudes and the shame of porn nudity. The tiny figures engendered feeling of protectiveness in me and the gigantic figures showcased the body's individualities, like nose hair, or a paunch, or chipped toenails, and ultimately made me exclaim--jesus, we're all flawed like this, aren't we? Every last one of us. A tragedy, really, that movies and magazines and the internet have lulled us into forgetting what most of us are really like beneath our clothes.


Saturday, November 04, 2006


We just got back from seeing Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen's biting satire. It was just about as funny as I thought it would be and I have to say I think the guy's brilliant. I didn't expect it to be quite such an insightful look at the prejudices and attitudes to which a lot of Americans still cling. And then, of course, there were the truly uncomfortable moments: like when a group of drunk frat boys from University of South Carolina riding along in an RV pick up Borat and, while doing shots and drinking cheap beer, muse about how much better things would be in American if we still had slavery. Keep in mind we watched the film at UA Court Street here in Downtown Brooklyn and I'd say about 90% of the moviewatchers in the audience were black. I swear you could have heard a pin drop in the theater during that entire scene. Not a laugh; not a groan; not a snicker nor even a boo. Although the creepiest part was the pentacostal revival. I'm sorry, but fundamentalist Christians just scare the shit out of me.


Friday, November 03, 2006

See How Distracted I Was? See?

I was so caught up in the drama (of lack thereof) of Short Story X that I completely forgot to write about our trek over the Bridge into Manhattan the night before. After a long urban hike (i.e. we met a friend at Union Square and ambled down the West Side Highway to watch the sunset, crossed over to Broadway and pushed our way through Chinatown rushhour footraffic back into the Village) we ended up at Schiller's Liquor Bar where said friend works.

T-Bone, as R. affectionately calls him, is a painter and musician who lives in Williamsburg and tends bar at Schiller's. Honestly, out of all of R's old friends--and most of the people we know here in NYC are guys he went to high school and college with--I get along with this guy the most. Kindred hippy-meets-hipster spirit, fellow artist... Plus, they've known each other since 5th grade, so there's a complex and rich energy there that's really wonderful to witness.


For those not in the know: Schiller's is one of a series of restaurants Keith McNally started here in Manhattan. Two of them, Balthazar--of Sex In The City brunch fame--and Pastis, look like Schiller's but don't have such a fabulous mixed drink menu. I haven't been to the other two yet--a caviar bar in Soho and a place called Lucky Strike--but have heard they (luckily) break the French bistro mold. I like moules frites as much as the next girl, but after a while it gets a little old, no?

Now, back in high school both T-Bone and R. had a band and two members of said band went on to have interesting careers. One is the general manager for both Pastis and Schiller's; the other became a record producer, one of Mandy Moore's earlier hits being his first major success and Hulk Hogan's daughter's first CD his latest.

So: After dinner we went to Schiller's for a drink before heading back to Brooklyn. And that drink, folks, was one of the tastiest I've had in a while. Called an Old Fashioned Lemonade, it had real crushed strawberries, fresh mint, freshly squeezed lemonade and lemon vodka. Yum. (The chunky strawberries were incredible, but they kept clogging up my straw.) But, no: I didn't have two.

I'm trying to be a good girl. I really am.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Because I’ve Got A Big Mouth

I can’t not talk about it.

I tried not to jinx myself but how can I possibly post everyday this month without writing about the one thing I’ve been thinking about nonstop? See? I can't.

The truth? I’m dead stuck on Short Story X. Have been stuck for about a week and a half now. No, two weeks.

The first seven pages came out in a rush: a young woman, newly married, leaves the lower east side for the NJ suburbs only to gradually, over many years, find her world narrowing into an ocd-like routine. She becomes a prisoner of the story(ies) she tells herself about herself. But now I’m discovering that the real focus has shifted without my really being aware of it, and it’s become a story about a group of three friends, three middle aged woman who watch this woman and how, in the watching, they grapple with their own demons and foibles etc. (I’m being deliberately vague here: maybe if I keep the distinguishing elements hidden the jinx won’t be so bad.) So, you see, the voice of the piece is now a modified “we” and while it was this element that got me all excited at first, this is precisely where I’m now hitting all sorts of snags: in terms of voice, plot and now even character.

I’ve been so frustrated that I abandoned the computer and have been taking notes on scraps of paper for days. Now I’ve got a folder with the original draft, my often-incomprehensible notes, and some weird diagram I thought was going to help at one point. (Don’t ask. When I get frustrated all my inner-geekiness emerges in some sort of catharsis of over-compensation. When I hit a snag in the initial chapters of my novel I story-boarded the whole thing in my writing office. Colored construction paper with plot points scribbled on them plastered all over the walls. People thought I was nuts. Which I am. But in a more literary way than they were used to.)

Tonight my one goal is to get all the hand-written notes into the computer draft so I have one document to work on. I can do that. A baby step but a step none-the-less.

The saddest thing I've learned about writing over the past few years is that it actually never gets easier. Why is that?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

100 Greatest Hits of the 80s

Why am I so sluggish this morning? Because I spent three hours watching VH1's spectacular parade of 80s videos rather than going to bed on time last night. And today? I had to be at the yoga studio at 6:30. Gah. But I will say: Debbie Harry is one haggard woman. And Bonnie Tyler--famous crooner of Total Eclipse of the Heart? Botox addict.