Friday, September 29, 2006

It's Scary, Really

Hey there,

How was the birthday, Ali? We want to hear all about it. I tried to call you, but you must have seen my name on caller ID, cause all I got was your voicemail. Did you go to work? Did your mom bring cupcakes to class for all the kids? Well, she did once. Not everyone can say that!

I loved the Roll Bounce entry. Did you know that 3 years ago (I think) I had my birthday party at Skate King? Yes, I said three, not thirty. Some year you should come back for your birthday and we'll see if you can shoot the moon. That's going to be hard on skates, though. Especially since I think the term you were looking for was Shoot the Duck. I never could do that either.

I'll admit it, I'm a little scattered today. I know, again. Yesterday was my last day of work until December 11th. I don't even know how to begin to wrap my mind around that. I feel gleeful. I feel like it's MY birthday. I'm sorry, I don't mean to step on your birthday toes. It's still your birthday until the last gifts roll in.

There are a ridiculous number of things to be done when you are getting ready to leave your life behind for two months. Here are a few of them:

- cancel Nov dentist appointment
- mail art back to Julia so she has it for a show in November
- mail Ali's b-day presents (hee! sorry)
- go to bank
- buy digital camera
- pack yarn
- wash car
- wash last of laundry
- mail apt keys to mom
- see Dakota Clay and baby
- give Dakota keys for Allison
- change sheets
- pay bills
- buy Atlas
- buy Jenn baby gift
- host Jenn's baby shower (tonight!)

There's a lot more, but I don't want to bore you. Actually, I'm willing to bore you, as the entry demonstrates. It's really more that I'm a little afraid to see the whole list written out all in one place.

Now that I've seen part of it, though, I think I better go...


P.S. The yarn? Just 3 skeins in a many gallon, many skein tub of sock yarn that is about to cross the country with me. Got any color requests?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My New Job

Oh relax, people, I don't really have a new job. Taking lots of baths? It's really more of a vocation.

I got in some practice at mom's a few weekends ago. She has the best tub, it's deep enough to float in, there's a nice window to look out above, and then she's got a lot of interesting vessels surrounding the tub, as you can see from the photo.

I also intend to make sure that my toenail polish is maintained in a much more consistent fashion than it has been in the past few months.

Lofty goals for my break, lofty goals indeed.

My Last Day as a 32-Year-Old

This morning I had to go to the DMV to have my liscense renewed since it expires tomorrow. The photo above is my DMV photo from my unmarried days, when I was cute.

The photo from my most recent liscense is unprintable. I look like someone beat me with a fugly stick, but I would like to think that I was just jet-lagged from our honeymoon.

In any case, I was looking forward to a leisurely wait at the DMV. I had my New Yorker all primed and ready to read, I had a cup of coffee even, but I was in for a rude surprise.

They were fast.

They were so fast that I didn't even get to ask the clerk who helped me why she had a picture of Al Pacino from Scarface taped to the front of her counter. They were so fast that I actually got to work on time.

I didn't get to drink my coffee, much less read an article. Darn those fast DMV people!

As a side note, I would like to mention that the guy who runs the counter where you get your forms and numbers was the same guy who was there three years ago, which I found strangely comforting in a 'New York is really just a small town' kind of way.

Any hoo, it's a normal day. I have work to do. I'll go to the gym tonight and cook dinner (chicken with anchovies, mushrooms and capers over whole wheat cous cous). I'll watch Bones and Project Runway and maybe Million Dollar Homes (the realtors make me think of Mom - hee!). I'll clean the apartment, because my mother-in-law is coming in on Friday.

And then I'll go to bed and when I wake up tomorrow I will be 33. Jesus age, right? Woohoo!

At least my new photo from the DMV will be good.

I hope.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Yes, Susan, you can be Oprah

I'm really wanting to blog. I am missing the blogging. I have ideas for blogging. Here are some of them:

- Mom, and how she's interesting, and has the best bathtub ever, complete with photos of her place in LaConner, where I could have taken a jillion photos.

- Knitting update. Dammit! Why didn't I take a photo of those mittens I made for Bobby? I'll have to do that before I leave town... I know you all are waiting for a knitting update, and want to see more photos of the Colorado Yarn Stash that I've got going on, and those mittens turned out almost as purdy as the boy who's going to wear them.

- What I was listening to when I was sixteen. This is the theme for the latest CD from my writing group. Right now, my top song selections include: Bring on the Dancing Horses by Echo & the Bunnymen, Brand New Day by the Eurythmics, Close to You by the Cure, Greetings to the New Brunette by Billy Bragg and You're the Best Thing by Style Council. There is a whole post that goes along with these choices, about how in 1988 (oh no, now you all know how old I am!) I was living in my scungey little apartment, and there was a lot of music listening done on the bus with a walkman, and how my boyfriend was 25 and claimed to have the largest lunchbox collection in Seattle, and also had pinball machines in his apartment and how I thought Mod Boys were the coolest.

But the truth is, none of those entries can really get written now, because for the moment I am too busy and distracted and behind on everything, but soon, very soon, I will not be busy at all, in any way. I will not be behind on anything, or have anything to do. I can't wait.

But first, Susan gets to be Oprah on the road trip. I just pray to God that she lets me play music in the car! Can't wait to see how she looks in cornrows... but I'm still not kissing her.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fashion Week is OVER!

You may not think you look like a Heather, but you definitely don't look like a Heatherette!

Oh fiddle-dee-dee Fashion Week has come and gone.

As always, NY Magazine provided the very best, and most entertaining, coverage. They were brilliant to hire the Fug Girls to cover the festivities though, in the end, I enjoyed some of their other features better.

I loved their Video Look Book coverage. In particular Lauren Ezersky - of whom I have been a fan for a long time. I used to watch her 'Behind the Velvet Rope' show on the Style network and revel in the purely kitsch character that she channels. She is high drama FASHION people! With a crazy Jerzeeeeey accent thrown in for good measure.

I also appreciated the sneak peak coverage of the Project Runway finalists and, I can tell you, I am pretty sure I know who the winner is. And I was surprised!

However, I could be wrong.

This season the judges on that show have stupified me with some of their choices. The fact that Crazy Vincent won even ONE challenge blew my mind. So maybe they will j'adore some of the fugly crap that the other designers (The One Whom I Hate Above All Others in particular) threw up - and I do mean threw up.

And I would also like to point out that even if the designer whom I think should win doesn't win - the other designers all bit her style and had at least one outfit that reflected her 'signature' style.

The thing that cracked me up most - as always - was the coverage of the Heatherette line.

It has got to be the trashiest, publicity hungry, eye-bleedingly-ass-ugly line that I have ever seen. But you have to give them props for fully embracing the horror that is their own creation. It is as though they are determined to single-handedly supply the celebrity population with 'What Were They Thinking' outfits.

God Bless.

Not everyone should be rocking the black Calvin Klein sheath, or the John Galliano slip dress. Somebody has to show up in hot pink pleather with fringe and dammit Heatherette is determined to provide that person with wardrobe options! Somebody has to take responsibility for (attempting to) cover Bai Ling's privates and they are fully on the case.

Any hoo, now that it's over we can all breathe a sigh of relief that next spring we won't have to run around naked. The NY Fashion Gods have spoken and we are about to revisit the age of eighties colors and proportions.

This message has been brought to you by those unflattering skinny jeans (which even Kate Moss looks dumpy in), that leggings and mini skirt combo you thought you were done with in eighth grade, the drop waisted flapperesque dress, the fanny pack and the colors purple, electric blue and virtually any 'acid' color..

Plan ahead now people! Hit the Value Village near you! Flash back to those shopping trips to Esprit de Corps! Roll the Tears for Fears CD, mix in a little Depeche Mode and you're good to go!

I personally, will be staying away from all that. Once was bad enough for me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Visions of Carpet Covered Mushrooms

Dig the rainbow skates, yo!

So Saturday, after Eugene finished his 36 hour marathon at work, we hung out at the apartment vegetabilating. What did we choose to vegitabilate too? The fine piece of celluloid artistry known as Roll Bounce.

Now I know that I did not grow up black on the North Side of Chicago, but this movie took me BACK!

Back to Skate King, that is.

Oh for the days of the snowball, the all-skate, the birthday parties, bordello-esque carpeting and nude pleather skates. The movie really captured the essence of Skate King, right down to the carpet covered mushrooms we would sit on as we struggled into our skates.

Plus, the kids all capping on each other.... the Ronald McDonald looking culotte outfit... kids attacking each other with water balloons... boys in knee-high tube socks... choclate eclair popsicles... all the elements of a late seventies/early eighties childhood.

If only they had had someone wearing Gunniesaks...

(As an added bonus - the actor formerly known as Urkel playing the sexy baddass Sweetness is pretty entertaining.)

I remember the times when we went to skate - the birthday parties and Saturday afternoons. I remember watching the kids in the middle of the rink who could shoot the moon or do jumps. I always wanted to be one of those kids, so I would skate out and try jumping or twirling and I would inevitably fall. I'd be all sweaty and red-faced and messy.

You would always be the cute girl. Skating around making a perfect oval. With your perfect braids, ribbon woven hairclips and baby blue sweater.

You were always so cool.

I've always loved that about you.

Any hoo, if you haven't seen it I give Roll Bounce a thumbs up.

And the next time I am in Seattle, I fully want to go to Skate King. I know I could shoot the moon now... I just know it!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chicken and Noodles

Okay, I know this isn't the greatest photo, grainy, dark, and Dad looks like he is going to growl at me or something, but I like it because of the look I'm giving him. You can tell I love my dad. Which is not what you would think if you read my novel, where the only dad is dead, and does not at all resemble our dad, either with his current temperment, or the dad we grew up with, who was, shall we say, a little more hot-headed.

I had quite the parental week last week. I'll start with dinner at Dad's on Thursday night, since that came first, and will write later about hanging out with Mom in LaConner over the weekend (yes, Mom, you are every bit as interesting as Dad).

Dad and Lucia made the famous chicken and noodles that I LOOOOOVE and Lucia made a cherry pie. My reward for going to Auburn was a nice bag of leftovers, so I ate pie for breakfast the next day. The other reward was having dad tell us about how we got our names.

Apparently the name Heather was picked out before I was born, but then Mom looked at me and said "No, she doesn't look like a Heather...". Dad says that he said "That is MY BABY and her name is Heather!", then he told me about how when he first saw me (no dads in delivery rooms back then) he KNEW I was his baby, he would have recognized me anywhere. I think maybe it's because I looked like a little monkey and had the thick dark hair that he wishes he had. For the record, Mom is not the only one who doesn't think I look like a Heather

After that experience, I guess Mom refused to commit to a baby name for Allison, until she could see her and gaze deep into her soul for the name that would be the fullest experience of this little person's being. In the end, though, the nurse named her. Mom wasn't done doing her soul-gazing when it came time to check out of the hospital, and the nurse refused to let the baby leave with the name "Baby Girl Malcolm", though I think it would have been fun to call my little sister Baby Girl. So, the nurse said "How about Allison? Allison's a pretty name." And we've been calling her Puppy Sarah ever since. It's better than Dubervinski. Or Gronk.

Other baby lore - Mom says I weighed 10 pounds when I was born, but I saw a copy of my birth certificate the other day, and it's a vicious lie. I weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces.

Grandma Ellen was visiting at dad's house, so I got to see her too. She is her same fiesty self and proudly told us that she is the only person from her high school class who is alive and living independently. Towards the end of the night, she was talking about how she had a hard time writing letters because she needs something for her typewriter, "I haven't been able to find erection, er, erasure correction, fluid", she said. Lucia and I looked at each other and winked.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Guest Blogger!

Ed. note: Since our regular blogger is a little short on time and photos today, we are pleased to present our first of what we hope will be a regular feature, the Guest Blogger. Anyone who has seen those Audrey Hepburn/AC/DC Gap ads will understand...

TO: Gap, Inc.
RE: Shame on you, Gap!!

The Audrey pant?? I think not, Gap, Inc.

The pants you are shoving down our throats are nothing the fabulous Ms. Hepburn would have looked at, let alone worn.

What you are presenting are CHINOS in BLACK. That is all. Front pockets AND rear pockets? Belt loops? Wha..? These are not what we expected Mr. Gap. You done us and Audrey Hepburn very, very wrong.

Hang your heads in shame.


Friday, September 15, 2006

I am in LOVE!

This is Joseph Ladd Marsh - the most scrumptious, adorable baby I have ever seen in my whole life!

He is over 9 POUNDS! He was born at 7:05 AM yesterday. Doesn't he look awfully mature for a one-day-old baby?

It is all I can do to stop myself from kissing my computer screen and trying to sniff it to see if it has any residual fresh baby smell.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What pleases me when nothing pleases me

Well, one thing that pleases me when I am in NO MOOD TO BE PLEASED! is a wee Keene-Marsh baby. What's the name? I'm so sad, she asked me for good name ideas and I never weighed in. There are so many boy names I like. I won't go into any of them right now though, since they might give something away.

Another thing that pleases me is this. It's true.

But the thing I was originally thinking of is my friendship with Kirsten. Over the past 5 years, if you were to tally up all the hours I've spent with people, the person with the most frequent flyer miles would definitely be Kirsten.

When I first started working with her, she had a convertible. We would put the top down and cruise away from the office to pick up sandwiches from QFC and it entertained me to watch the other drivers check her out, this tall blonde in her red Cabriolet, wearing big sunglasses and looking like a woman to be reckoned with. She always had her toenails painted and her shoes frequently match her purse, but she also always had black and blue bruises up and down her forearms from sparring at Tae Kwan Do. She has her black belt and we used to say that if anyone messed with me, she'd kick some ass. She's a powerful woman.

She's a softie too, though, and I will continue to make it my personal challenge to make her eyes well up from time to time by telling her how great she is. She is so great - empathetic, thoughtful, tough, and fun.

We used to go to the gym together at lunch, and it was a toss-up which one of us was the worse influence on the other, since neither of us really wanted to work out. We preferred Jamocha shakes at Arby's. There was a 6-month period of time when I was single though, and telling her all about my dating exploits was entertaining enough to convince me to do sit-ups. For me, at least. I loved her as an audience then, and I still do.

One of the best things about having dinner with her last night was the moment when she threw her head back and laughed laughed laughed at something I said. At least once a day, I would hear her laugh through the wall my office shared with hers, and I loved that and miss it and on those days when nothing pleases me, I know that laugh still will.

This Sweater Has a Baby!

Clay called this afternoon to tell me that Dakota has had their baby!

And I have written it the following haiku…

New sweetness, new boy
we will love to snuffle cheeks
and kiss tiny toes

I am so happy for them that, when Clay called, I cried for the second time at my desk this week. She is so brave and amazing, I just wish I was there to share this experience with them.

November feels very far away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My Favorite Part of the Weekend

Heaven, minus the Cuisinart

I do love New York, but part of what makes it loveable is the getting away to Vermont on the weekends. Even with all of the tiresome - and seemingly endless - roofing, it is still a balm to my soul and a respite from the exhausting realities of living in a shoebox and working in a fluorescent-lit glass monolith.

Waking up on Saturday morning to the sound of the wind in the trees, and the sight of maples, pines and (my favorite - shhhh) birches standing straight and tall outside of the paned glass doors from our bedroom is magical.

I could lay there for hours, watching the limbs and leaves sway and glisten in the sun. Catching sight of birds flittering to and fro. Watching the quality of light change as it passes through the limbs and leaves. Nestled in my quilt and a multitude of pillows.

That's all great.

But really, my favorite part of the weekend is the cooking.

Almost all of my cookbooks and most of my good cooking instruments (yay for my wedding registry!) have migrated north. They've found a comfortable home in the wide open spaces of our kitchen there. I even keep a pantry full of the dry ingredients and spices that I just don't have the real estate for in the city.

I can easily lose a Saturday afternoon shopping at Dutton's Farmstand, the Williamsville Country Store, our Wardsboro Country Store or - if I am feeling particularly ambitious - the mighty and expansive aisles of the Price Choppers in Brattleboro.

And when I get home, the counter space stretches before me like yards of blank canvas.

I can make a flaming brandy sauce and not worry about ventilation. I can use more than two pots and a pan and not overfill my sink. I can have a Big Mouth Cuisinart and a Kitchen Aid mixer out and still be able to truss a chicken without worrying about raw chicken juice contaminating them.


I can talk to myself while I am cooking and not worry that the neighbors in the hallway are overhearing my Nigella Lawson impersonation. I actually bought Thai fish sauce (which, for whatever reason, was something that intimidated the hell out of me) to make her Cambodian Beef Salad.

That english accent really does make the food taste better. Pinky swear.

Anyways, during the week I cook - and I find it relaxing then too - but in the city it's always a rush to get something done with the minimal amount of ingredients, pans and time. I try to minimize my grocery shopping time instead of savoring it.

I even 'multi-purpose' when I am cooking in the city by catching up on my TiVo recordings. Sometimes, I'll chop at the dining room table so that I can watch Iron Chef or Opening Soon or the dreaded Rachel Ray while I cook. Mostly it's for inspiration, though with Rachel Ray it's more my desire to heckle her than cook like her.

'E-V-O-O!' Puhleeez. Egh.

In Vermont there is no TV (can I hear a collective gasp, please?) So there is just me, my cookbooks and a whole lotta time to kill.

Every weekend I try to make at least one new recipe. Which is why I asked for cookbooks for my birthday - I am running out of recipes that I am interested in making!

I try to stay away from things that take five million steps or too many esoteric ingredients, but I have been pleased with the complexity of some of the things I've accomplished. I also avoid most recipes that would call for using my Big Mouth Cuisinart because I am too lazy to wash the thing and, unfortunately, our dishwasher needs replacing.

But I still like being able to have the Cuisinart on the counter to look at.

Maybe it seems hoplessly domesticated of me. But really I think that I find it relaxing because the alchemy of cooking still amazes me. It's so creative, and visual, and textural. It's like design work that embraces all of your senses.

And then there's the fact that I love my food. What was Mom's other saying? 'We never have to worry about Allison being anorexic!'

Too true. Too true.

I never thought that I would love cooking so much, but when the nearest restaurant is a half hour away and - like me - you like your food, you learn too cook. And if you get bored easily, you learn to cook a lot of different things - as I imagine you will at Pam's ranch.

My saving grace - in terms of the over-domestication - is that I don't bake.

That's Eugene's territory.

Monday, September 11, 2006

That thing that sometimes happens when I just let some thoughts show up on the page

Hi there.

I think this might be the first ever Malcolm sisters together photo... no, wait, there was the hungover in our pajamas photo back in July, so this isn't really the first photo of us together on this blog. It's too bad the blog doesn't have a photo album feature so that those of you who find the text a bit slow can just click on pretty pictures.

I was browsing through photos for the blog today, and kept coming back to anything that was taken in NY of course. One thing I always say about 9/11 is that I knew my sister who lives in NY was okay, because the Towers were hit just after 9, and I wasn't really sure she even got out of bed that early. It's a joke, but seriously, it was sort-of nice to think that you were probably just leaving the apartment, even though it makes me sad to think of you and Eugene looking down those long avenues to where all the smoke was coming from, and to think about the police barricades that blocked off lower Manhattan, stopping just 2 blocks from where we used to live, with you on the inside and so many of the firefighters from the station we walked by every day never making it back up there again.

This photo was from the NY visit with Elvis. I guess it was spring of 2004. Not a visit I remember with a lot of fondness, not, of course because you weren't great company, Allison, but it certainly wasn't my finest moment, nor the finest moment of my traveling companion. I'm not sure I had ever stomped up to a bar to flip my boyfriend off before. I know I haven't done it since, and I'm pretty damn sure I won't be doing it again.

But since it's just you and me here, I have to say, if he didn't deserve it then, he sure did later. The problem with him though, was that 15 minutes later, he was in a taxi eating a falafel that was so spicy it was making him cry, and whine like a baby, which was pretty funny considering how he looked in those days, and when I said "Why don't you stop eating it then?", he said "I'm not going to let this falafel lick me!" and we both laughed, and one of our favorite recurring jokes was born.

Laughter through tears, my favorite emotion - isn't that what you always say, Mom?

Except, of course, that I prefer to cry because I'm laughing so hard, not laugh in spite of crying so hard. I bet mom also prefers the laughing too. Unless she's at a movie. She likes those tear-jerkers. Or used to.

What does all of this have to do with 9/11? Well.


Just grief is all. Life is sort-of full of unresolved grief, isn't it? Thinks that there is no fix for, that we don't have much choice but to feel sad about. 5 years ago seems so long ago, and just yesterday at the same time.

I'm glad that a lot has happened in the last 5 years. At the same time, in some ways, I'm still orbiting around the same places. When I heard about the Twin Towers falling, I was standing in Caffe Lladro, at the bottom of Queen Anne Hill, on my way to work at a biotech company, in HR.

This morning found me standing in Caffe Fiorre, on top of Queen Anne, on my way to work at a different biotech company, still in HR. The coffee shop is nicer, the coffee is better, if more expensive, and as I've said here before, the baristas are my favorite baristas ever. I think the biotech company is more promising too.

So, those things are sort-of the same, but back in 2001, I was living in the house I owned in Ballard with Karl, and that seems like a very long time and a different life ago. I find it a little comforting that it was so close in time - I like the idea that 5 years down the road might make certain aspects of this time seem so far away, while keeping lots of the good things the same.

Anyway, the grief is still there. I hear the 9/11 stuff, and as much as what it all turned into irks me, it still makes me cry, I think about the city I lived in, the one that still keeps you, and it is easy to tear up. I was there the first time the towers were bombed, probably more than 10 years ago, and I remember the people streaming out of the buildings with their mouths and noses balck with soot from breathing the air in a building that was on fire. What I thought of in 2001 was all those people not coming out. That's all, just not coming out.

There isn't a fix for that kind of grief. There isn't a fix for losing someone you love, no matter what you lose them too, whether it's a plane through a building, or alcoholism, or one of the diseases these biotech companies are trying to cure, or just plain old incompatibility.

I don't like that part of living. I don't like it, but what I know 5 years later is that, like it or not, I can live with it. And there's something to be said for that, and for the fact that even after several of those unresolvable losses, on any given day, I am usually just as happy getting up in the morning and starting the day with a visit to a Seattle coffee shop as I was on any given day 5 years ago. And if 5 years down the road, I can still say something like what I'm saying today, that's good enough for me.

Love you Ali, and I'm glad you're here.

What to write about today?

This morning we woke up to the deluge of media related to September 11th.

This morning we woke up to a clear blue sky and the crispness of early fall in the air.

It is a morning not unlike that morning. But there is a space in the sky and holes in the ground that speak more eloquently than politicians, or newspaper headlines, or anything I could ever hope to write.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What NY is to you, Pamfas is to me

This post has been a long time coming. I'm in the midst of my third week back since I went to the town with the pseudonym, to see the ranch where I'll live for October and November. About every other night, I sit down and chip away at an entry, but it never seems to get done. So tonight I'm just going to sit here until it does.

People keep asking me how the trip was and all I ever seem to say is “It was beautiful/great/I loved it.” All of which are true, but seem so weak in comparison with what the experience was, and I feel a little guilty everytime I see the little sad look on the face of whoever I say this to. It's like they are saying to me "You went all the way to Colorado and all I get is this crummy slogan?"

When someone asks me how the actual writing workshop was, then I branch out and say “It was really helpful”. And it was. But again... that isn't much of a keepsake either.

There's a thought I keep having, which I think of as a symptom that might lead to some diagnosis of whatever keeps me from being able to breathe life into a description of my trip.

What I keep thinking about the trip is this - the photos are so gorgeous they look photoshopped.

Think about that for a moment. I could have described the sky as being the color of the kind of swimming pool that’s always the perfect temperature, or the color of the way you feel at sea level after you’ve been living at high altitude for a while.

But in my head, the description of the landscape is “photoshopped”.

There are other symptoms.

Like, how while I was there I would find myself sighing, and that sigh would be coincident with the thought “I’m so happy”, but thenfollowing thought would be “I’m probably sighing because I’m not getting enough oxygen”.

Then there was the fact that I had some sleepless nights. And some weird dreams. Like the dream where the town with the pseudonym was a big carnival for the weekend, and I went into town and got plastered (even though we know I only get plastered at the Loggerodeo) and danced with someone else’s husband (another thing I'm unlikely to do) and paid the price in town the next morning when I found myself shunned in that way that only a small community can shun you. Thoroughly, seemingly irreparably.

There was also the dream where there were horses almost drowning in the river. Big powerful horses that I seemed to have spooked somehow, horses which nearly trampled me as they clambered up the river bank.

You don’t have to tell me what the dreams meant. I know, or I know as much as I need to.

Karl used to say I was better in the bad times. I never could disagree with that. In a way, I'm sorry that I was a better bridesmaid to the friend whose wedding I cancelled than I was to my sister, who glowed, and danced all night, and is still gloating over the groom she snagged. But sorry or not, I think I was better in the worst case.

The good times, sometimes they leave me sleepless, unsettled, dreaming about all the things I could lose, now that I have so much of what I want. All the symptoms, what they really tell you, ironically, is just how good a good time I had.

But the photos? They aren’t photoshopped. I’m not even a good photographer. It’s just that beautiful there. And even though I had some sleepless nights and my vision went all fuzzy and white around the edges at the top of our long hike, and I fumed over some slights I’ve suffered in the past few weeks, and wished that I could forget the things from my Seattle life that were troubling me, it was still that beautiful. Any time I doubt that, I see the photos and they prove it.

And no matter what my anxieties are or were, the fact remains that I spent a week eating incredible meals made for us by Pam herself – that gorgeous lamb, polenta with wild mushrooms picked that day on our hike, Thai shrimp curry, a fantastic salad with nearly every meal, homemade ice cream and lots and lots of cheese.

The food was enough art and pleasure for a week in itself, but of course, still there was more. We read writing so powerful that it left some of us sitting on the couch with tears streaming down our faces. We also read some damn funny things, and laughed out loud, and added to the list of running jokes that we’ve got going. We hiked and took naps and drew animal cards and thought about dreams and metaphor and love and Jazz and writing and writing and writing.

Add to all of that the fact that I haven't even started to tell you how much I love the women in this group. I love them a million little knit stitches worth, because they are writing things that are clever and poignant and ruthless and beautiful, and they are generous with their praise and brave with their criticism and I am so grateful for that. And when I tell you that they are a credit to the woman who leads them, I am saying a lot, because there is no superlative strong enough to express our gratitude for the way in which she is so smart. Towards the end of the workshopping, Tami said, with great passion and a hint of frustration, "Pam is so fucking smart!" and we all lost ourselves to laughter at that point, because it is so so true, and it certainly captures the feeling I have, that any attempts to articulate how great she is will only ever leave me frustrated.

But maybe a way to say a little part of it is that Pam is smart in a way that is Good, in a way that helps us all be better writers, and gives us room to be ourselves.

So, it was a dream week, but a dream week in the most complex sense. It was strange and surreal, beyond anything I could have imagined for myself a year or two ago, full of anxiety and joy and deep satisfaction and the spiritual peace you sometimes have after the kind of dream that helps you resolve something you've been worrying over for weeks.

Do you know the kind of dream I mean? The kind of dream that transforms you, that makes you feel like there's a real world inside dreams, that makes you believe that some dreams are experiences that really happen to you, rather than just the sets of images that flit through your sleeping self most nights, without leaving a mark on your memory.

See the truck in the photo above? That truck is exactly the kind of vintage, impossibly blue, photogenic truck that I dream of when I dream of a ranch life. But someone lost the keys to it, so now, it just sits in the driveway. And of course, I like that fact. It keeps it all from being too perfect, too photoshopped, too cliche.

I can have the dream, but only if I bring my own wheels. For someone like me, there's something comforting about that.

Especially when the wheels come attached to an almost-new, turbo-charged, all-wheel-drive sport wagon named Mo.

I Heart NY

The Earliest NY Photo I could find... College graduation...

It's been 15 years since I moved to New York.

Labor Day Weekend 1991.

Last night I was walking home from work and I passed by the dorms where I lived that first year. Not hard, since they are basically across the street from our apartment, but I don't normally walk down that block.

Students were wandering in and out of the lobby, the requisite black portfolios tucked under their arms. A light rain was falling, so no one was really hanging out on the patio in front. A girl and a boy were tearfully kissing and saying goodbye on the steps.

I remember the first day I pulled up to that tall brick building like it was yesterday.

When I think about all the emotional highs (the freedom! the independence! no curfew!) and lows (getting kicked out by my roommates, bitches) of that first year, I still get a tight feeling in my chest.

It was really the beginning of a dream.

I had always imagined what life would be like when I finally got here. Those fantasies made the misery of high school bearable. And the reality was far more than I ever could have expected. Everything was bigger, brighter, more beautiful and more dramatic than I had the imagination to conceive of.

Finally, I was in classes where my clothes weren't too weird. Where people were interested in fashion and art and beauty. Where there were REAL LIVE NUDE MODELS!!!

Finally, I could stay out all night with my friends and then take a taxi up to Tiffany's and eat a danish as the sun came up.

Finally, I could study with a group of students who were as likely to break out in choruses from Les Mis as they were to dress up as a christmas tree for a night of clubbing.

New York that first year was fantastical and it has never quite stopped being so.

Just when I think I am ready to be tired, ready to leave, it tosses up some new miracle or some cosmic joke that leaves me grinning.

I walk down the street in the rain and see the pavement glistening and the skyscrapers evaporating into misty clouds. I see Parker Posy walking her silly dog, dressed in an equally silly outfit. I meet my husband, who is as tied to this city as anyone I've ever met.

I still find it hard to deal with the abject rudeness of some people. I still find the pace exhausting sometimes. I'm sick of the NYU-ification of my neighborhood. I wish we had a bigger apartment, but I acknowledge that we are lucky to have a place that we can afford.

I try to imagine how we will make having a child work - if we are lucky enough to have that happen. But then I see some hippy mom on the street with her little pumpkin in tow and I think 'I can do that.'

I fantasize about moving somewhere else. Seattle, for instance. Even after 15 years, that's where I am from when people ask.

But then I think about not having the subway, the Met, Central Park, the Cloisters. An egg and cheese on an everything bagel from the corner deli. Sushi from the restaurant downstairs. The Hudson River at sunset. People who walk fast on the sidewalk. The meat counter guy at the grocery store who likes to flirt with me. The firemen I walk past on my way to work every day. The cafe crowd at the bistro on the corner, sipping their glasses of wine and smoking their cigarrettes.

I'm not ready to leave all that, or the million other little things that make New York, well, New York. Not yet at least.

In some ways, I think I have changed a lot in the fifteen years I have been here. I've had a lot of lessons to learn. In other ways, I don't think I've changed at all. I'm still Puppy Sarah.

I don't know if I will still be here in another 15 years. Sometimes I think that New York is best for people who want the nightlife and the happy accidents and the crazy rush and crush of people. But then I see the families. I see the older couples at the museums. And I think that maybe there is a New York for every stage of your life, you just have to look for it.

I walked past that dorm last night and I remembered my awe at the view from my room on the 12th floor.

I remembered the first time I went to the Met by myself, to read my freshman philosophy texts with a sulpture of Hercules peering over my shoulder in the American sculpture wing.

I remembered watching the Cirque du Soleil perform, swinging from trapezes over the crowd, at Webster Hall.

I'm looking forward to what the next 15 years might bring.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My big idea

Sooo... I was thinking today, what do I want to do before I go? How about bowling? Anyone, anyone? Beuller? I need a send-off.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Photo album

Here, at last! is the link to my photo album from the ranch workshop. I'll write more soon, but for now you'll have to content yourself with the comments in the slide show.