Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A Look Back

Ah. Here we are.


My annual complaint list.

This's really five years old? Seems like just yesterday I had my inaugural New Year's Eve meltdown, right here with you guys after the worthless German guy split on me after I was in the hospital in Namibia, right after he dumped me for being...well, you know why. All that stuff in Uganda. We all know why, though I can't quite bring myself to say it. Good times.

A year later, I was still pretty raw, though I'd had some recovery time in Kuwait. Not a lot happens in Kuwait. It's a good place to recover. I mean, if some young rich Swede isn't kissing your ass trying to convince you to be his gal so he can dump you five seconds later when his ex-wife yanks the old leash. Screech...whoa...what? Again? Can I please develop an alcohol habit now? Oh hell, I don't drink, do I? No problem, this old friend of mine is in New York over New Year's to help me by...getting drunk and trying to kiss me? ARGH, cut it out!

Yeesh. What's a gal gotta do to get a break?

2007. Where were we then? Ah, yes. The next genius move. Does it even matter? Have we noticed a pattern by now?

My next male-related scheme involved fragile-me looking for something less risky...I'm all grown up now, right? I can just, er...look past someone's weight or hair loss or cringe-worthy picking of teeth at the table, right? And I know...someone who actually lives here. In my country, right across the river. Someone employed at a major news organization. Hey, a job and health insurance! My, how my standards have changed.

This seemed like a reasonable choice, but he might have been worst of all. Okay, second-worst. He was pining away for his ex-wife too. Am I now totally scared off of divorced guys? Yeah, maybe. He even managed to call me at the last minute on New Year's Eve to say he'd changed his plans and was in Brooklyn with friends, so our dinner was off, but he'd be in later to go to that party for a little while, where he'd check his phone the whole time because he couldn't wait to race back to see the friends.

This behavior turned out to be typical for him.

And it still took him six months to dump me. Yes, that's right. Dump me. You heard it here first. MARIE WILL PUT UP WITH ANYTHING.


After that, I decided "Screw New Year's Eve," and went to Bolivia the next time. I sat on Facebook melting down in a hotel room while firecrackers went off in the street. Then next year, I went to a large foreign island south of Florida and...well, you know the drill by now.

Melting down in a hotel room. Questioning my choices, beating myself up for having not written another book, beating myself up for not moving forward in some manner and just treading water. For having whatever problem I have that men think I'm some kind of brilliant goddess that would make a great...friend. For not creatively moving forward. For allowing my brain to atrophy as I went through the mechanics of daily routine.

I don't want to sound overly dramatic. Actually, I already have. But I think it's clear that I have a dysfunctional relationship with New Year's Eve.

Not to mention with most men.

This year, I stayed in the US. I am taking myself to a party. No old friends are here to surprise me with sudden declarations of...well, not love, because it was more like "I'm drunk and you're in front of me." I can't say that I'm particularly strong and recovered from my years of whining and being a creatively spent deer-in-headlights. But I'm in my office in New York, and I'm not melting down, and I think New Year's Eve is silly, and I hope to get on the train before the masses do right after midnight.

It's something, right?

Oh, and did I mention that in 2011, I am going to do a 10th anniversary round-the-world

That's why I don't care that it's New Year's. Because this year, I actually have something incredible to look forward to.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Family Holiday

My mother posted this day-after-Christmas photo on her blog. Or on Facebook. I forget.

It looks fine of me, and pretty good of my mother. My sister looks like hell and is horrified at it. To which I remind her that she shouldn't have let her dog eat my shoes when I was 14.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Holidays

It's THAT time of year again.

God, how I hate it. I spend money, get involved in complex travel arrangements, and the worst part is thinking about what I have done over the past year, which means thinking about what I haven't done over the past year. And I am not the type of person who triumphantly crows about the glass being half-full.

Nope, it's not in my DNA. All I can think about is the unfinished book proposals and the brilliant-but-broken people I know whose problems I tend to make my own instead of running away screaming. (This is also in my DNA. My sister does it worse than I do—hey, look, I just saw a glass as half-full. Maybe I'm not hopeless.)

But this year things are going to be different. This year I'm going to do something about it.

You'll see soon.

The irony here is that what I'm going to do about it is what I always going to do about it. But louder.

Maybe this time it'll stick.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Bounty

Christmas, 2010.

I am now the proud owner of three sporks.

Two are titanium. One is BPA-free.

Because a girl can never have enough sporks.*

(*not actually true.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Class Final

Here's my final project for my SVA woodworking class.

And here's how I carried it home on the PATH train.

And here's the edge detailing that the teacher helped me with. It's just an angled cut with the table saw, and then a lot of sanding.

Woodworking school was excellent. I will cry every day now that it is over.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

There's Always a Down Side

I almost feel ungrateful for mentioning this.

The guys who developed the condo complex across the street went to great efforts to listen to the community. They helped renovate the wonderful park in front of my building, which is now home to two dog runs, a kiddie water park, and amazing playground, and two newly renovated tennis courts that are always in use. The basketball court is still active, the fountain works, the gazebo gets some use, and they even thought to add a funny crop-circle sort of thing for those of use who appreciate aliens and sit above the park, looking over it.

The lights come on at dusk and stay on until 10 or 11 depending on the season. The park was already wonderful--that's one of the reasons I refuse to go buy a condo somewhere and move out of my friend Yancey's place, which he rents to me. But now the park is even better.

And that's not all. The old nursing school across the street houses an arts center, a day care center, and my eye doctor. The middle part of the old St. Francis hospital is gone, and was home to the mini-golf course over the summer. The hospital tower and parking garage now house upscale condos, a fantastic gym, a wine shop, a kids dance school, and a gourmet-junk shop where you can buy handmade rolling pins and housewares.

I shouldn't complain. These are all nice additions to the area.

But my god...the parking situation!

I already have to haul my groceries and laundry up four flights. And now I get to haul them down the street too, from wherever I manage to find a spot.

Maybe I need a donkey.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


My table is coming along. On Tuesday, I get to glue it all together. I'll have to shellac it later at home. Did you know shellac is made from bugs?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I recently downloaded and printed out each year of this blog into a single book.

It's not available for purchase to the general public, but my intent was for long-term preservation. Like a scrapbook.

I haven't finished 2005 yet. That one was a doozy. But the others are done. 2010 will be on its way in a few weeks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Atlas in Softcover

Check it out—my mother found a copy of my 3-D World Atlas in paperback.

I don't know where this came from or how you buy it. She found it on the used section of Amazon. Maybe it's a book club edition.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pie School

First, there was bag school. Then there was Final Cut Pro and Flash class, and quilt school, and knitting. There's been robot school and woodworking shop and god knows what else. It was all part of my master plan to engage myself at home in order to get used to staying in one place instead of being hooked on the daily novelty of traveling. It's worked.

And now there's this.

Pie school.

I loved pie school. The rewards were many. Okay, not so many. I got a pie out of it. A tasty, flaky, tangy apple pie. And I have a skill, or rather a semi-skill. I will have to keep working before I can claim to have mastered this one.

Aunt Karen and family had presented me with a gift certificate for the Brooklyn Kitchen for my birthday. I'd heard of it, but hadn't been, and as usual I was lost in my multitudes of responsibilities, so it took me a while to get around to using the gift certificate.

And when I did, I scrolled through the class offerings instead of buying a kitchen utensil.

And boy, am I glad I did. What fun.

Millicent, whose pie I'd had once before at one of my friend Tamara's dinner parties in Astoria, taught the class. She showed us the trick of working quickly with butter crusts, scraping the surface constantly, and of grating a little ginger in with our apples.

Love, love, love pie school. I'd go back if they had a second pie class.

And on the way home, I balanced my unbaked pie carefully on the L train. There, that mariachi band! Charming, sure...but also a potential pie-hazard. I held my pie tightly to my gut as they strummed by. And then, kids breakdancing. Those feet! Those arms! MIND THE PIE, please.

Pie and I made it home in one piece. I lined the oven with foil, like Millicent said to do, and baked a delicious apple pie.

And on Tuesday, I forced slices off on my students. After all, one thing I *don't* need to do, is eat more dessert.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Clamps and Glue

My table is coming along. Two more classes to go.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Look, Up In the Sky

I went up to J.C. Heights the other night to look at a two-family foreclosure. I'm looking for a backup plan, somewhere that my money can go and do some good for me instead of me just slowly spending it.

This is the elevator that goes up to the Heights from Hoboken.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Chill In the Air and On My Feet

I headed home on the Amtrak the day after Thanksgiving. The train ride was more than 7 hours, and while I was going stir-crazy, I had two seats to myself, a power outlet, and a lot to read.

I thought I'd have time to get a sandwich in Washington DC, but I chickened out of leaving the train when one of the cleaners was vague about when the train would depart.

But one of the Amtrak employees gave me a slice of Bundt cake from her personal stash, so I made it home on sugar fumes.

I stopped by the office next to Penn Station to shuffle through some mail, and headed home. The weather was still nice out, but had just enough chill that when I got home, I changed into the socks that my friend Jessica had knitted me.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Family Snapshots

This is Johnny Appleseed. He stands outside of Johnny Appleseed Restaurant in New Market, Virginia. Push his button and he'll sing you a song about his origin.

This is one of the souvenirs you can buy inside Johnny Appleseed's. Before you think this is weird, bear in mind that New Market is the site of a major Civil War battlefield and museum.

And this? This is Flash, who jumped up on the dining room table and ate a waffle on Thanksgiving morning.