Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday photos

Even though I haven't been walking quite as much lately, I do find the occasional moment to snap pictures of windows.It's been rainy and gross in Philadelphia lately, but next week should be better and I will try to get out and about more. Until then:

An Ernesto look-a like
And this cat looks like it's looking at the cat about it ala the boxes in the opening of The Brady Bunch
He just wants to go outside

Perpetually looking as if she's saying, What is this mess on the floor?
Awaiting your return
And this is the second in the series of ink drawings Dan is doing wherein he takes regular song lyrics and substitiutes the word kitty or cat somewhere.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Slowly but surely

The kitchen is getting taken apart. Last weekend, Dan dismantled the center island and removed the cabinet, so now the wall by the fridge is completely ready to go.
And Dan moved the shelves that were on this wall into the living room. Voile.
Now all I have to do is order the rest of the cabinets and counter tops, figure out when they're going to get them installed, coordinate that installation with the delivery of appliances, and figure out what to do with the lights. Meanwhile, here's a very rare sighting of Emma Carol and Henri together on my lap. Blood was shed shortly hereafter, but it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As Rare as a Loch Ness Monster Sighting

These photos show the never before seen journey of Henri outside--for the second time in his entire life (16 years? Maybe 17?). I lured him out using cat treats. He sniffed the air cautiously, like pre-man emerging from a cave after 1000 of years of darkness. He ran back inside when a distant car horn sounded, but at least he will die having actually smelled fresh air two times.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No Time For You

I am suddenly taking two writing classes and going to a conference tomorrow and so have been too busy this week to write. And I still need to finish up a few tasks, so here is your bullett-ed update:

1. Screenwriting class: no text, which I think is a little weird. 11 students, all but three are guys. Does that mean that men are more interested in screenwriting than women? Is screenwriting, like, the masculine writing discipline? Teacher played some clips from This American Life and stand up by my new favorite person, Mike Birbiglia. We got out early and have 10 pages of work due on Tuesday.

2. Fiction class: I don't like it when we read our stuff out loud in a circle. For one thing, I'd rather spend the time talking about the craft of writing. And for another, I am not totally shy, but I am secretly a little shy and then I wonder about the other people around me who might be really shy. We also did two guided visualizations; one was more productive for me (about grandparents), but it's not my favorite way to work. The teacher brought in her Havanese dog, Mr. Bojangles and I was so happy the whole time. He looked like this except all grown up:

3. We pulled some things off of the kitchen wall to repair for the kitchen renovation. Will have to post pictures later.

4. It went from being air conditioning weather to tights-wearing weather in the scope of 12 hours. I'm secretly glad of this as my PECO bill was $210 last month.

5. Went to see the teen slasher, 3D movie, Fright Night last Saturday.  I thought that maybe it would be good because Toni Colette is in it and she seems like a smart woman and Colin Farrell also has a role and he seems not totally washed up. It wasn't that great. I have issues with plausibility in all movies, even the vampire next door genre. But we still had fun.

That's all for now. Will try to write more next week. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

More Brooklyn

I almost forgot that I took a bunch of pictures from my real camera last weekend. Now I miss Brooklyn. Not Liz or Luke or JJ, just the city. But first, here's a time when my worlds collided. Dan brought Luke in to my work last Friday. They climbed on the Button. Kids simply cannot resist it.

Dan and Luke on a Penn icon

At the House of Pigeons

I didn't capture the whole thing--someone feeds them tons of bird seed every day.
Love the scary lion
Dan with JJ.
Liz with Blue Monkey.

Incongruous. Baby at Cemetery.
Same day, different lion.
Basquiat is buried here--not exactly here, but in this cemetery.
The picture of grief

This is Tessa. She drools.
Dan working on a design.
We spent part of Sunday at Brighton Beach and then walked over to  Coney Island.

I tried not to think what would happen if you threw up in this thing.
Dan asked me to take this picture.
Roller coaster.
Old photo of Coney Island.
Does anyone ever win though?
Like the teacups at Disney except not.
He is a very good baby.

This was a side show. What if that were your job, to show up and be the headless body each day?
Why children are scared of the Scream Zone.
He is wet from the beach, not from his diaper.
This person was dressed like a woman but had a black mustache drawn on his /her face.
For dinner, we ate at this lovely restaurant called The Farm ( I have the same skirt, but never wear it. There's hardly ever an occasion where it's called for.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books and More Books

Still on my Edgar-Award winning book series. This past weekend, I finished In the Woods by Tana French. It's interesting in part b/c the narrator is male, though the writer is female. That's refreshing to me. Male writers seem to have no trouble picking up other genders/races, but women writers don't do this as often. Her voice is convincing, and the story is a page turner, but I was so disappointed that she didn't solve one of the central mysteries. I won't spoil it for you in case want to read it, but what happened to the kids??? It was just beautifully written and compelling. Also finished Walter Moseley's When the Thrill is Gone ; liked it okay, but got a bit confused by the characters and their motivations. It involves twins, if that explains the potential confusion. Restocked my books from the Penn library and just started The Serialist by David Gordon (narrator's a tiny, tiny bit too cutesy and aside-y... Has one of the worst, self-conscious first lines to start the action that I've ever read. Something totally confusing like: "Dressed as my dead mother with my fifteen year old business partner at my side, I opened fan mail from the serial killer") and also got The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin and two others I don't recall at this moment. I'd also like to know how it is that the last issue of The New Yorker had a fiction piece in it that ended with a single tear running down someone's cheek. It's a story called "Town of Cats," (you think I would love it instantly) by Haruki Marakami. This is last paragraph containing the tear reference:

With his hand on the doorknob, Tengo turned around one last time and was shocked to see a single tear escaping his father’s eye. It shone a dull silver color under the ceiling’s fluorescent light. The tear crept slowly down his cheek and fell onto his lap. Tengo opened the door and left the room. He took a cab to the station and reboarded the train that had brought him here.

Here's your quote of the day (don't worry, I won't start doing this regularly): "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." --Groucho Marx.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


For our Labor Day, we went to see Liz and Luke in Brooklyn. I love Brooklyn with all of its high buildings and people and cool coffee shops and dogs (we actually didn't see that many dogs, unfortunately) and the diversity--you just don't see that many Hasadic people out and about in Philadelphia. I took a bunch of pictures, but here is just a sneak peek. I'll put the rest up on Friday. This is Dan driving. Overall, he did a good job, as he always does--I, of course, was a terrible passenger. 

This is the Verrazano Bridge
And again.
Her is JJ, chewing on the blue monkey we brought for him.
Wish these weren't so blurry. You can't see how beautiful he is.
In motion.
He is a very good baby. Hardly fusses, eats his veggies, smiles all the time--my only complaint is that you can't carry him around everywhere. He prefers his parents to a virtual stranger who is constantly making animal noises to capture his attention.

Why Don't I Do This Fiction Writing Thing More?

I just found this short piece I wrote for the writing class I was in last fall for about two seconds. I stopped going, but I worked on a few things while I was there. Here is one of them. It needs a better title.
Tragic High
Bentley, James (Jimmy). A tree branch crashed on his beautiful blond head as he stood goalie for the championship soccer match. Those of us who knew him even a little bit wept in the hallways at school, holding on to one another, looking sideways at the passing students, to see who was noticing how sensitive we were. Jimmy Bencusky with his strong, broad swimmers’ shoulders, bright blue eyes, and orthodontically straightened teeth. None of us had ever dated him, but we daydreamed about it. Lucky Jimmy, in a way. He went out in the prime of his life. He would never age. He got a full page in the senior yearbook next to his picture with the words, “In Loving Memory of One of Dunedin’s Finest Boys.” We gawked at his sisters during the funeral. They looked different from us. They had real tragedy, whereas all we had were parents who didn’t let us pierce our ears or a failing grade in geometry or bad skin. The sisters would no longer be known as Hannah, Jennifer, and Mary—they would forever be remembered only as the Sisters of the Dead Goalie.
Caley, Todd. He earned all the leads in the high school musicals—Danny Zucko, Sky Masterson, Curley from Oklahoma. He could sing, tap dance, and imitate an impeccable British accent as Henry Higgins. His deep tenor echoed through us whenever he sang the national anthem at football games. He was never just Todd; he was always referred to in revered tones by his full name “Todd Caley.” We loved him from afar and wrote his initials on the inside covers of our social studies textbook, The World and You. We all knew he would make it on Broadway and we kept our fingers crossed that he might remember us, even those of us who were only extras in the background. Then, in his senior year, he dropped out of drama club, buzzed off his dark black hair, got his nose pierced, and declared himself gay. We were devastated, confused. What was wrong with us that we could have a long-term, passionate crush on someone who claimed to love men? Did it mean something was awry with us too? Were we gay and didn’t even know it?
Folkman, Sarah. Molested by the music teacher. He was much older than our parents, and had a shock of white hair like Beethoven. Sarah whispered to us later that she thought they were in love. She didn’t see anything wrong with it (then again, her parents were atheists). When the affair was revealed, she cried real tears in the locker room while we were dressing out for gym. She said, “He was the sweetest man I ever met! He taught me the meaning of true love!” We consoled her, and then talked about her behind her back, some of us making gagging noises when another one said, “I picture his penis as this tiny pink thing wearing a marching band hat.” Secretly, we were glad we had stopped taking piano lessons in the seventh grade. Sometimes, it seemed, quitting could be a good thing.
Mowe, Keri. The phrase “date rape” didn’t exist then. We were never bruised or beaten, just coerced; the labored “please, please, please” of a boy we liked or the bullying words of the ones who said, “I thought you were more mature.” It seemed that to say no after a certain point would be impolite. We lost our virginities to avoid appearing rude. But Keri Mowe told. She told and, after word got around, someone wrote, “Keri Mowe is a Ho” in red spray paint on her locker. The accused boy got high-fives from his teammates and two weeks after-school detention. Keri didn’t vanish off the face of the Earth or slit her wrists. She did shave off her eyebrows with her mother’s Bic razor and when they grew back in, they seemed arched in a look of perpetual surprise.
Sokol, Jenny. Stepped outside to get the mail in a rain storm. When her glittery nail-polished fingers touched the mailbox, lightning struck. What were the odds? Now, poor Jenny, who used to be the smartest kid in the junior class (and lots of us sort of hated her for that) was basically a vegetable. Her mother had to feed her by hand, just like she did when Jenny was a baby. Jenny would never again have a normal life. She would never shop with her mom at Macy’s in Tampa for senior prom dresses or give the valedictorian speech about the road less travelled, or apply to the state university. Jenny would have to learn to walk, talk, and eat on her own. We were sorry for Jenny, but a little relieved too; one less person to make us look bad by comparison.
Walters, Andrew. He and Patricia Clemens had been sweethearts since the sixth grade. Both were beautiful and perfect. But then, after her junior abroad in Spain, rumors spread that Patricia had slept with the Spanish teachers’ son, Danny. One Friday night, Andrew confronted Danny at the Exxon gas station. He got in his face, a big linebacker next to a much smaller boy who wore glasses, and threatened to kill him with his bare hands. Patricia rushed to Danny’s aid, and Andrew threatened to kill her too. He jumped into his Ford Bronco, and pealed out, his blue tail-lights disappearing in the night. He drove the car into the family garage, shut the garage door, but kept the engine running and the radio turned to 92.2-YRock. When his little brother discovered him, Andrew’s lips had turned an icy blue. Scott Roach said that all his hair had fallen out too, but we didn’t believe that. We did believe the part about his blue mouth. We would wake in the middle of the night years later, shaken from a dream of Andrew floating in the air above us like a ghost, exhaling a cold breath of air from his dead mouth.
We learned about his suicide at an emergency assembly called by the school principal, Mr. Peterson, at 8 AM the following Monday. “I am very sorry to announce an unfortunate tragedy…” Mr. Peterson told us that if we had any feelings of anger or insecurity or thoughts of harming others or ourselves, we should talk to someone; a priest, our parents, the school counselor, God.
We kept quiet.
Didn’t they understand that we all felt those emotions to some extent every single day?
The Others: There were the cutters, and the girls who starved themselves into something inhuman and insect-like, flat chested beings, luminous and ethereal, with their skin stretched tight across their protruding bones. Or the pale boys with the skinny legs and concave chests who could never go out for the swim team. The person with the birthmark like a map of North America stamped on his face; a mark that flushed a deep crimson red when he was embarrassed, which was often. And also the fat kids, the ugly kids, the weird girls who wore handmade dresses with calico cats cart wheeling across the fabric, the two straight-backed black girls we never spoke to, the foreign students, endlessly teased for not speaking exact English and for having unfamiliar, non-Christian names. Eddie Zappato forever transformed into “Eddy Go Potty” after he wet his pants in third grade. The redheads, and Patrick, the one deaf boy in our school who read lips, but spoke in a slow, atonal voice. He sometimes misunderstood what was being said and there were those of us who purposefully talked too fast or covered our mouths with our hands when we asked him a question, hoping to get a laugh from one of the others, hoping to deflect negative attention from ourselves and on to someone (anyone) else.