Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm posting this photo of me, my sister, and Steggy at Dinosaurland because I am feeling sluggish and tired and kind of dinosaury today. I was out late because I forgot the #1 rule of traveling in Brooklyn after 11 p.m.

Avoid the G train.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bag Class

I went from teaching class to taking class again last night, from comic book coloring to bag-making in Hoboken.

Here's last night's output, a handy new yoga mat bag. Though my yoga mat has never left home. I always use one at the studio. "Always" being a bit of an exaggeration. I hardly ever go to yoga class. In my defense, I'm a little busy...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Sunday Photos

Here are some more photos from Sunday's hike. Nice to look at because today it's hideously gray and rainy in Manhattan.

Here's a whole gallery if you want to see more.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday Muddy Sunday

It's been THREE YEARS since Roberta, Kraiger, and I climbed Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap.

Which is dreadful. We really need to get outside more often.

Yesterday morning, we headed out west again, this time crossing the river and going into Pennsylvania. We parked at a lot at a trailhead and headed up the Appalachian Trail to the top of Mt. Minsi.

The previous night skies had been filled with thunderstorms so we brought spare shoes and left them in Roberta's car. Full of eggs and toast from the diner in the actual town of Delaware Water Gap, we headed up the 1,060-foot mountain.

The steady hum of Interstate 80 accompanied up all the way to the top, but the autumn leaves were just turning. The view of Mt. Tammany and the gap itself was stunning. The walk itself was mostly easy enough that Roberta suggested we walk the New Jersey section of the Appalachian Trail next year. But the last 20 minutes or so got rocky, slippery, and difficult. I think I bruised both my big toes in my barely used hiking shoes. I think 72 miles of walking along NJ's Kittatinny Ridge while carrying a 40-pound pack would just about kill me. I'm probably more qualified to walk the West Virginia section, which is four miles long.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Now I Get It

Last night, Denise and I went up to Journal Square to the old Loew's Theater to see "Carrie." Today they're showing "The Wolf Man" and "Rosemary's Baby," but I'm selfishly guarding my Saturday. I've been overwhelmed and today is for me. Not for friends or work or class or being social. All mine and you can't have any.

The theater is so cool... Roberta and I were last up there to see the band Magnetic Fields (with Claudia, but you don't remember that because I wasn't blogging in 1992). It's a grand movie palace from the 1920s.

"Carrie" turned out to be highly entertaining, with lots of inadvertent funny moments. I don't think that the gym teacher smoking or slapping a student were intended to be time capsules when the movie was made. And the girl's shower scene evoked audience snorts. Lots of 'em.

I thought back to some girls I didn't know in junior high. They saw me in the girls bathroom every day before lunch and took to calling me Carrie. At the time, I vaguely knew this was not a compliment. I do sort-of resemble Sissy Spacek, but my mother does a lot more. Anyway, they weren't calling me Carrie because of my cheekbones.

Now I know why. I had really long hair, was terribly shy (which still exists but in a different way, where I don't open up to anyone without getting to know them really well), and probably hid under my hair. I learned early on to wear invisibility as a shield, in the rough-and-ready neighborhood I grew up in. I'd try not to be noticed. Being noticed could mean getting beaten up.

Being Carrie might not have been a bad thing. They left me alone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

JC and Kids

One of the top 100 places to raise kids?



Nah... c'mon. We have one of the top high schools... but what about all the other schools which have not been rated anywhere even close?

But there is a part of me that just wants to say that diversity rocks for kids, and boy do we have it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hip Supermarket Bag

I made this bag last night at M. Avery Designs in Hoboken. It's a supermarket bag, but it may be too nice for the supermarket. Maybe this is a sack for trips to the greengrocer or the farmer's market, not to ShopRite.

I'm taking a 4-week long bag-making boot camp this time. Last night was the easy bag and I still had to finish it up at home. I better try to get ahead for next week—I have to choose between the laptop sleeve and the yoga mat bag.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Putting It Off

I went to a talk on procrastination yesterday.

Yes, that's right. I attended at talk... did not GIVE the talk.

I am pretty good at procrastinating. But actually, what I took away from the talk is that I'm nowhere near as good at it as I think I am. I careen through an enormous list of self-assignments every day, and while they do distract me, I'm getting superhuman numbers of things ticked off my list.

The list is key. A list is concrete. Vague notions don't get done. Concrete ideas help. Even aggressive terms help as opposed to wishy-washy terms. And why are we so into procrastination?

Distractions. So... many... distractions. As I type this, I've stopped to check Facebook, send a note, take a vitamin, and think about what to post on Roberta's Facebook page for her birthday.

Humans are instinctively programmed to procrastinate. We hate change. We like what we know. I am well aware of this and you can see it in your own actions as well as in the loony actions of the masses. I have, same as everyone else, occasionally chosen familiar misery over potential pleasure. I have railed against other who do this, especially exes, when they prefer the comfort of their disappointing status quo over moving forward and trying to overcome their self-imposed limitations.

And that's where I learned that I am doing all right on the procrastination front. I have, ironically, been trying to reinstill some kind of appreciation for routine into my own psyche for the last few years.

It is working. Just slowly. By the time I really appreciate it, I'll be renewing my passport.

Anyway, I left the procrastination talk, picked up some sewing materials, came home, did laundry, went to the supermarket, cooked dinner, then thought about slacking off the rest of the night.

Instead, I taped up plastic over the windows for the winter and re-coded an old website for a friend. I couldn't stand the idea of letting my procrastination instincts win.

Procrastination will win, but I can fight it. Starting now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stay Busy, Don't Stop to Think

As part of my incessant quest to stay as busy as possible as avoidance technique (yes, life blows, let's pretend not to notice), I have attended several New Yorker Festival events this weekend.

My favorite lines so far?

Rachel Maddow on writing a book: "Writing a book makes me want to blow my head off with a shotgun."

Neko Case on aging, to a male interviewer: "At least no one is calling you a cougar."

Today, I am procrastinating by going to see a talk on procrastination. New York is my kinda town.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bright, Shiny Choo-Choo

I had about 25 minutes to waste last Friday afternoon. Shannon was visiting NYC and in 30 minutes, he'd return to my office and pick up his suitcase. In 20 minutes, the office assistant who shares my office would leave for the day. I wanted to go back when he'd left just because I get really squirrelly and petulant when people are in my space. Squirrelly and petulant might even be an understatement. The right term might be... oh, I don't know. Psychotic rage, maybe.

Any space. Office works as well as home.

Penn Station, which is the train station under Madison Square Garden, is across the street from my office. So I wandered around Penn Station, looking for the wine store to note its location for the next time I go to the Astoria supper club after work.

Ah, there it is. Now what?

I saw a map and some schedules. What is this Long Island Railroad anyway? I'll read these maps and schedules. Maybe I'll learn something.

I like maps.

There's a schedule for the Airtrain.

I'd never considered taking the Airtrain from Penn Station. I've only been in my current office for a year and from other locations in Manhattan or Jersey City, there are a half-dozen convenient, cheaper ways to get to the airport.

Hmmm. Shannon could go on this train to Jamaica, then get on the airport monorail there. Looks like it takes 10-20 minutes less—at least—than the A-train to the Rockaways.

I bought him a ticket. When he showed up at my office, he asked "What's the best way to get to the airport now?"

"Don't worry about it. I've got it covered. Here, check your e-mail before we leave."

"Fine. Less for me to think about."

We've known each other a long time.

The train was clean, modern, easy, had a seat, and whisked him to the airport in style.

I never saw the point of the Airtrain before. The subway goes to the same place and has better connections. But now I got it. Fast. Easy. You could fall asleep on that thing.

I got it so much, in fact, that when Thanos flew in a few days later, I instructed him to come straight to my office.

On the Airtrain.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Forking Fantastic

On Sunday night, I trekked over to Greenpoint on the worst public transport weekend of the year. Trains were canceled, broken, and delayed. But I had to go, because I couldn't miss the in-store appearance and bookstore potluck of Zora and Tamara's new cookbook, "Forking Fantastic," especially considering it was arranged and hosted by my pal Kelly. She's events coordinator at WORD, and we last saw her looking puzzled while a baby ate an atlas at my appearance on the Upper West Side.

I'd whipped up a batch of ANZAC biscuits that morning. I felt guilty for not taking a stab at one of the recipes in the cookbook, but I'm still a bit scared of the kitchen. I'm not much of a cook. I know how to do a few dishes, such as Thai veggie curry, artichoke and spinach risotto, and chicken-with-peppers. That's about it aside from dessert and breakfast.

Zora and Tamara host underground supper clubs in Astoria. What this means is that an e-mail goes out. The first 20 or so people who respond get to come to dinner, but have to show up with $35 and a bottle of wine. I've spent many a weird, wonderful night eating meals next to random strangers in Tamara's backyard, though it took me about a year of getting their quirky e-mails before I finally responded. To be fair, I was in Cairo for much of that time.

The bookstore appearance was fantastic. Best bookstore appearance I've ever been to. The food was excellent and the attendees were unpretentious and chatty. And the cookbook itself? I've actually been reading it as narrative! The story starts with two young somewhat impoverished women showing up in NYC. They meet,they bond, and they cook together. And they get very, very silly as well. It's an excellent read! Maybe one day I'll actually try one of the recipes.

Here are some words of wisdom from Tamara and Zora:
  • Don't count calories—just eat less junk.

  • Peeling is overrated.

  • Don't fear the flame. You can always turn it off.

  • Cooking is like sex, in that at first it can seem a little messy and not worth all the trouble.

  • It's also a totally accessible art that doesn't require an MFA, grandiose statements or schmoozing with the nouveau riche.

  • and last,

  • Put the party back in dinner party.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tauntaun Sleeping Bag

I remember being in junior high, watching Empire Strikes Back and something that resembled an abominable snowman, and then... wow. Han Solo slices open a camel-like ice-horse and shoves his pal into its guts to keep warm.

Wowwowwow. Something had changed. Unfortunately for us audiences, it wasn't long before it changed again, to something vomit-inducing that didn't involve "I thought they smelled bad on the outside." Boo.

Regardless, the brilliant April Fool's joke has become real.

Check it out!!! Someone really is manufacturing the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag complete with inside intestines. Now that's class! And warm and fuzzy to boot.

Are you thinking, wow, that's cool but it's out of stock. How can I get one?

Carve a pumpkin. Or the online equivalent.

I expect someone I know to win this. You guys are some talented readers. Let's see what you have.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nail on Head

I finished up an indie-rock-cred novel ("You Don't Love Me Yet") on the train last night and this morning picked up a thin book that Michael Kraiger had loaned me, a book about art and fear.

And was reading it on the way to work, skimming large chunks thinking "Yeah, yeah, whatever," when I hit this sentence.

Ansel Adams was right: to require perfection is to invite paralysis.

Damn. That's good. And exactly my problem.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Follow Instructions

I stumbled over this box on the street outside McD's a few weeks ago.

Come on... do they really need to be this explicit in the instructions? I think maybe the employees know to salt the fries.

Monday, October 05, 2009

New Book Concept

I had an idea for a new book, and then Steve Buccellato enhanced my cover concept. My thinking is that zombies don't really digest. They lose their food through holes in their throats, or maybe it rots slowly and falls out.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Worried Shoes

I like this version of Daniel J's "Worried Shoes." I used to play a cover of this on college radio in 1986-87 but this one is just about right, and you can hear the lyrics perfectly.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Benefits of Multitasking

I was listening to a radio show this past week—or rather half-listening as I answered e-mails—and there was talk about the dangers of multi-tasking.

Is that even really a word, or is that one of those modern creations, like the word "downsizing," which is vaguely propagandistic. Hell, is propagandistic a word? I doubt it. Multi-tasking just means doing a lot at the same time.

Webster's says multitasking has no hyphen and may have been around since 1966. As have I.

So clearly, it's quite a young word.

The radio show was warning us all about the uselessness of doing too many things at once. Reminding us to focus on one thing at a time, and pointing out that multitasking leads us to being less effective and doesn't save us time at all. I was typing an e-mail while charging my phone while checking my Facebook page and listening to the radio, and also keeping an eye on dinner while waiting for a file to upload.

The point of the radio show may be true. But I have been multitasking like a lunatic and I am here to evangelize for poor, battered multitasking.

Sure, you space out on things that you'd normally remember. You start to get giant blanks in your brain when someone asks you a simple question, because your inner hard drive is skipping frantically, trying to sort out who is asking you a question about which project you have going.

But here is the benefit to multitasking.

It's like giving yourself blissful amnesia. It's also helpful when you have a serious need to procrastinate. These may both sound undesirable, but used judiciously, can be helpful tools.

It's like having the side effects of a drug or alcohol habit, without the health problems or loss of control.

Which, if you are like me—paralyzed by too much introspection, contemplation of loss, and disappointment over what seemed like already-low expectations at the time—can be a good thing.

Added bonus? You gets tons of stuff done!

Funny thing about depressing thoughts though... you can multitask yourself into oblivion, but they still find a way in, trying to sneakily incapacitate you. Like when you're walking to the train and trying to strategize how to handle a meeting. Suddenly, your brain screams "He dumped you because you suck!"

Some people might reel and respond to this with wilting or tears.

But I respond by volunteering to help a friend or taking on more freelance. Because obviously, I'm not keeping myself busy enough.

Multitasking can be your friend.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Streets of Manhattan

Roberta ran into Princess Leia on her way to work.