Sunday, August 24, 2008

When You're Ready To Give Up

I'm a writer. And even have the MFA girl scout badge to prove it. ( Go American U.!)

I wrote one novel that's collecting metaphorical dust in my cyber-drawer and have another on deck that I've been casually "rethinking" over the last nine months.

Sure, I've gotten a couple of short stories published, but really, the number of unfinished shorts far outweighs the completed ones and I have to admit the general lack of response to my work coupled with the drive to earn money (go iphones!) and the distractions of life have all led me to shelf the writing addiction for the past year or so.

I've even stopped really thinking of myself as a writer. (I used to write, is how I described my former passion to someone several months ago.)

So imagine my surprise when I get an email this morning from a literary agent saying she'd read my short story in StorySouth and was wondering if I had representation and, if not, if I had any full length work either completed or in progress.

Now, I've been through the lit rounds before. (At least five agents were interested in taking a look at my first novel, The Jar-Born Sage, only to pass once they'd seen the whole manuscript.) So I have no illusions that this could very well turn out the same way. I mean, the newer manuscript--which most resembles the story the agent read--is still an embryo, not even a fetus.

But still. Someone read my work and liked it.

And that, folks, feels just peachy keen right now.

And is making me think that maybe I gave up too soon. I mean, writing may not have much of a pay-off but its a more productive hobby than TV-watching. And certainly less expensive and less dangerous than skiing.

And if agents really do read those lit mags and really do troll for new writers then maybe there's hope after all.

So: hi writer-self! Sorry I've been MIA for so long. We've got quite a bit to discuss in the next few years. I've seen some crazy shit...

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Afternoon In Manhattan

Every time I decide I'm sick of this city and can't take the noise/crowds/prices/fast pace I run across someone like this: so utterly out there it makes my heart sing.

I heart you Nueva York.

Can you imagine how hard he must have worked to train that cat to ride around on his head in the middle of 5th Avenue?

All I can say is my cats are sooo not earning their keep around here.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Bacon Ice Cream?!

Sounds disgusting and yet strangely intriguing, doesn't it?

I saw this recipe at Jumbo Empanada and I'm dying to try it if only for the You ate what? factor. Alas, everything I own is NYC apartment-sized (read teensy weensy) and so even though I actually own a mini ice cream maker, I cannot fit it inside my freezer. Such a sacrifice living here, you know.

Please please, someone make this and tell me what it tastes like!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Life I'm Living

I realized yesterday that I'm actually living the life I always dreamed about. The only snag is the constant guilt I feel: I should be working harder, I should want to work harder, be more than what I am etc etc. If I could cabash the shoulds I'd actually be more content than I've ever been. Funny, how that old cliche proves true time and time again: I'm my own worst enemy.

So: here's to respecting joy where and how you find it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Red Horse Cafe In Park Slope

I'm always on the look for new wi-fi cafes. As a nomadic worker, I rotate my days through a list of places with a wi-fi connection, a desk, some inexpensive coffee and an outlet within a three subway stop radius. Lately I've been sticking to my usual round: Carroll Gardens tea lounge, naidres, starbucks, with an occassional two hour stint at Margaret Palka Bakes. But today? Today I ventured out into the Slope. Three stops along the F and its a whole new fucking world, folks. I'm here at the Red Horse Cafe where I had a chicken and grape salad on wheat and a cup of decaf. (Salad: eh. Next time I'll get a muffin or bagel. Decaf: well, it's decaf.) But the atmosphere is sweet. It's quiet. The ceiling fan circulates the AC quite nicely and they're playing Wilco softly in the background. Haven't spied any outlets yet, so once I'm down to 15% I'll motor over the vast Park Slope Tea Lounge. But until then, I'm a happy camper.

Oh, and right now they're featuring Francis Simeni's artwork. Check it out:

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Thursday, August 14, 2008


August in New York: streets empty of locals and fill with tourists. Days are hot and slow; evenings echo with the sound of cicadas--a sound that always, without fail, brings me back to the summer evenings in suburban DC of my childhood.

No pools here. No ripening gardens. No evening BBQs. Just strolling through the city's streets, gaping at the strangers who've come visiting.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Family Farm

I've been down visiting my parents at their Charlottesville, Virginia farm this past weekend and I'm amazed at the number of changes in the five months since I've been here. They're in the process of converting their non-working farm to a sustainable organic working farmlet. They've now got about forty chickens, eighty guinea hen, three hives of bees, a couple fields of hay, a massive veggie garden and a new dog. Plans are in the works for goats come Spring. The next year: cows, maybe some sheep. All organic, grass-fed, humanely-raised and slaughtered.

I love visiting here for a couple of reasons: there's the obvious draw of my kooky but lovable parents; the lure of farm life with its growing plethora of produce and animals, both of which I love; and the peace of the country pace.

So different from both the life I'm living in Brooklyn and the world I grew up in. (My parents only left our comfortable suburban Maryland existence when I was in college., although their farming tendencies manifested early. We had huge gardens during my childhood, baked our own bread, made our own pasta, yogurt, & sausage and even brewed beer.)

Sometimes it feels like this big disconnect inside me: urban Jessie exists but beneath her exterior is this other potential self waiting for the right time and place to emerge.

I don't know if I could live here permanently, or farm on this scale, but I do have fantasies of buying a 2-3 acre house in Jersey or NY 45 minutes outside of The City and setting up a mini-farm: 4 chickens; a garden; a dog; my darling cats... And of course a gaggle of children.

Of course, I have an equally strong fantasy of my potential Brooklyn life: a three bedroom garden level apartment with an outdoor space in Carroll Gardens or Cobble Hill seems about right. With a gaggle of kids, of course. Or as many as I can squeeze into the two extra bedrooms....

I look at my life now and feel this weird sense of curiosity and excitement. I wonder where I'll be in ten years. Will I be living the urban fantasy or the mini-farm/suburban one?

It's anyone's guess, really. But if the next ten years are going to be anything like the last, its going to be one hell of a ride.

And luckily, I've got my seatbelt fastened and the radio turned way on up.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Woes of Brooklyn Parking

Our car got towed on Saturday--for blocking a pedestrian walkway. In our defense: we saw no walkway! But $200 poorer and several hours later, we've retrieved the trusty Elantra from the scary Brooklyn Navy Yard impound lot.

All I can say: there are some angry people out there.

Strangely, though: the cops at the lot were nice. And seemed happy with their jobs. How odd.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

You Know What? Its Friggin' Hot

Its so hot here in Brooklyn that as I sit here in Margaret Palca Bakes having my decaf iced coffee my thighs are literally sticking to the seat--this despite the AC.

O August, I heart you.

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