2010 aspirations

The end of the year inevitability leads us to ponder what is to come in the next year. I personally don’t like to think of it as New Years resolutions but rather things I’d like to learn/do in the New Year.  Here’s my list for 2010.

  • Learn some basic programming. I spend copious hours on my computer and online and would love to learn how to build my own webpage and/or have the ability to moderate an already established one. I think it would be a good thing to put on my resume but mostly I’d love to snazz up my blog and have a cleaner more personalized presence online. Now friends I would like to enlist your help because I don’t even know where to start. CSS, Java, wth? Anyway a little nudge in the right direction would be much appreciated. Where should I start?
  • Finish a half marathon in less than 2 hours. I hate running but its benefits cannot be denied and the only way I can get myself to put on those running shoes is to do a marathon. I’m signing up for one in April so we’ll see how that goes.
  • Write at least 100 pages of my novel. My computer crashed some months back and with it some 200 pages and 6 years of work on a story. That broke my heart, but I’m dusting myself off and will begin anew.
  • Write more snail mail. I am chained to email nowadays, its convenient and immediate. I miss getting letters in the mail though. I have all of this beautiful stationary that I never use. My goal is to use it this year.
  • 100 books in 2010. I’m starting a list on good reads of books I want to read this year. It’s kind of an ambitious goal, it averages to about 8 and a half books a month. I figure lots of time on the subway and adding some YA books to the mix will make this a challenging yet attainable goal. I’ll detail my progress in this blog.

Those are the biggies for 2010. Play safe out there this New Years eve and I hope 2010 brings with it new daring and bold adventures.

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A 2009 Retrospective

I’ve been noticing a lot of grumbling over 2009 (I can’t wait till this year is over, bring on 2010 etc). I personally had a lot of fun this past year. So as 2009 draws to a close I would just like to take a moment to remember some of the highlights for me this year.

  • Florida: I spent a week with Erica & Jon in Orlando at the beginning of the year. It was just a good time to recharge and hang out with two of my favorite people.
  • Stories & Laughs: It’s hard for me to find anyone willing to go to things that amount to an adult story hour but thankfully I’ve gathered a small group of people who are down for a few brews and some nerdy fun. Mortified, Found, David Sedaris etc. I was so glad to go to these events with other like minded nerds.
  • Robin’s surprise weekend: Robin moved abroad in 2009 and to give her a proper send off I planned an elaborate surprise party. Lots of emails and nail biting later I was able to get out of towners and friends of hers organized for a fun weekend.
  • So-cal time: I felt like such a princess the weekend I went to So-cal to catch a Lakers game and hang out with Jon, Dan & Mike. The so-Cal boys drove me around, fed me, took me to the beach, and the observatory. I even saw a Jonas brother. I loved every minute of it.
  • Birthday: My birthday this year was so much fun. Star Trek came out that weekend. A big group of friends and I went to Nightlife at the Academy of Science. Gorged on boiling crab with my cousins. I went for a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge with my brothers and cousin. I pretty much spent a whole week celebrating with good friends and family.
  • Summer Running w/ Mel: I got to spend a lot of time with my childhood best friend and Cousin Mel training for Bay to Breakers and Muddy Buddy. It was nice to cross the finish line and to spend quality time together.
  • Comic Con: I spent an epic weekend with some of the biggest geeks on the planet. I’m a huge sci-fi geek so it was an extra treat to meet people from BSG, Dr. Who, Star Trek & Star Wars. I even helped Leonard Nimoy in the security line at the airport.
  • Angelique & Ricardo’s wedding: A quick weekend trip to my college town of San Luis Obispo to celebrate the nuptials of Ange & Ric. It was an especially beautiful and unique wedding. I know they kept their guest list small so I was honored to be invited.
  • Julie moves back to Cali: My sister moved to Roseville after being stationed at Beale AFB. We’re really close so it was nice to have her only a 3 hour car ride away rather than a 5 hour plane ride. I selfishly make her come home on the weekends to hang out with me.
  • Play time with my godchildren: I must do a pretty good job pretending to be a stand up human being because I have been tapped to be godmother to 5 little ones. I haven’t taken advantage of play time enough but I’ve enjoyed every minute with Jarren, Kaylee, Caycee, Raiden and Kian. Little Kian in particular just has to flash that cute little smile and I am putty in his hands.
  • Europe: I spent almost 3 weeks exploring London, Paris, Florence, Lucerne, Venice, & Rome with my mom and aunt and had a blast.  You can read about it here Allonsy
  • Volleyball: I love volleyball. Thanks Krista & Jared for getting me into Nikkei. Monday night reverse, Friday warm up at the Bank and then Nikkei co-ed volleyball are highlights most weeks. It would be a stretch to say it’s the caliber of play that draws me to the court during the week, really it’s the fun people I get to play with. The Monday Zoo and Friday Nikkei Bunch provide endless laughs.
  • New York: After years of talking about it, I finally made the trek out east to take my bite out of the Big Apple.

Stranded

I started listening to a podcast recently from the BBC where the premise of the program is you’re stranded on a desert island and you are allowed 3 albums (comedy albums & audio books count as well), 3 books (the Bible is out of the running, the Gideons reach apparently extends to deserted islands), and 1 luxury item (purely luxury, it’s too easy to say a boat) and why. The desert island question isn’t a new one but I thought it was an interesting way to tackle interviews with notable people and I think it reveals a little more about people than normal question answer sessions. It also got me thinking, what I would bring on a desert island.

3 books

–        The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: I know it’s kind of cheating since they’re broken up into three books but Tolkien meant for them to be one book and it was the publisher’s decision to break them up so I’ll side with the author’s original intentions.  I love these books. Tolkien created a world you could get lost in, the detail and attention he paid to the lore of Middle Earth is astounding. I read this series the first time and got lost in the adventure, I’ve re-read it multiple times since to study the nuances of the world Tolkien imagined.

–        The collected works of William Shakespeare: Yes I know cheating again, but hey if they make it a complete one bound book edition I’m going to say it counts. I’m not an obsessive Shakespeare fan, but his command of words makes my heart swell with joy when I read/see/hear his work. My favorite tragedy is Hamlet and comedy is Much Ado About Nothing.  I would entertain myself on the island by performing the plays and basking in his genius.

–        Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: I probably have most of it committed to memory already but my well worn copy of this book continues to get a lot of use. The scene where Mr. Darcy goes to tell Elizabeth that he’s in love with her never fails to make my heart beat quicken with girlish delight.

3 albums

–        Set List by the Frames: If any of you have seen the movie Once you’ll be familiar with Glen Hansard. He is currently touring with the girl from that movie as the Swell Season, but before that he was longtime front man to a band called the Frames. I prefer the eccentric rock and roll style of the Frames. They are so much fun to see live, it feels like you’re at a pub watching one of your friends play. Glen often introduces a song with a short story of what inspired it, most of the time it’s funny, sometimes sad but always entertaining. Set List reminds me of this experience.

–        In Rainbows by Radiohead: I know I’d want to have some Radiohead thrown into the mix but it was tough choosing one album. Kid-A  and Ok Computer are notable contenders. There’s just something about In Rainbows that makes me happy, a stupid grin is often plastered to my face while listening.

–       The Beatles Anthology (1-3): I was obsessed with the Beatles in 7th grade. When the Beatles anthology came out and played on TV I used to sneak downstairs with my sister to watch it since my parents didn’t allow us to watch TV on school nights. My siblings and I still quote lines from the movie A Hard Days Night. This was such a fun time for my siblings and me. I would pick this album not only for the great music but also the nostalgia it provides.

1 luxury item

–        Saturday NPR programming: This was a tough one but when I thought about what would most distract me from the loneliness of a desert island my first thought was NPR. Yes this is ridiculously nerdy but those power hours when Car Talk is followed by Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, then This American Life and topped off with Radiolab make me never want to leave my car. Yes my idea of luxury isn’t diamonds* it’s listening to Ira Glass and Carl Kassel on the radio. (*I’m not opposed to diamonds though)

So what would you bring to your desert island?

People on the Subway

I love the New York subway system. I love public transport in general, it keeps me from the abhorrent task of driving and allows me to people watch. There are certain groups/types of people I see on the subway that always pique my interest.

The moms/nannies with the strollers. How do they do it? I think it would be so hard to raise a family in this city. I always imagine my future children playing in the suburbs. I watch these women carry strollers and rally children together down the subway steps. I feel extra bad when it’s rush hour and they have to try and squeeze their stroller into the crowded subway car. On the other hand I imagine the type of wonder this type of environment can invoke in a child. The melange of people and variety of experience in one city block cannot be recreated in the tract house culture of the suburbs.

The groups of friends leaving each other for the day. I’ve caught several groups of friends systematically leaving one another after a night of fun, one or two getting off at 86th some getting off at 92nd etc. The thing I always notice is the comments the friends left on the subway make about the one that just left. If it’s a group of two guys and a girl just left 90% of the time it’s a comment about how they “hit it”. If it’s a group of girls left, it’s giggles about who they like and yes sometimes they talk about “hitting it” too. Girls and guys left together on the train often make small talk, about the food, the show etc. It’s hilarious most of the time, sometimes gets a bit graphic and vulgar. I think that’s the thing about living in a crowded city, it provides you with this anonymity that makes people callous with their conversation. I hear things that should be whispered, shouted across the subway car.

Trannies. The thing I noticed about the trannies on the train is that they get fancier the closer to downtown you get. I saw a trashy tranny get on at 242nd. He/she was a bit busted, unflattering makeup, bright 80’s inspired tights. All in all not a good look. Then I saw a tranny get on near 42nd I believe and it took me a bit to figure out that she wasn’t an amazon women but indeed a man. Maybe there’s some sort of tranny transformation train that turns the young ugly tranny caterpillars in the Bronx into fancy tranny butterflies by the time they hit Times Square.

The tourist(s). Always lost, poor things how I remember the days when I was counted among your lot. Walking the long blocks only to find I’m headed in the wrong direction. Not listening when the local train turns into an express train and I miss my stop. I feel for these people. Popping your head up from the depths of the subway station, you get turned around and can’t figure out where to head next. My favorite are the ones that act like they know where they’re going when they’re so obviously lost. I let them get lost, a little humility never hurt anyone.

The readers. My favorite people and can be found in abundance on the subway. I like to get a peek at what people are reading, and gauge whether or not we could be friends by the book they have in their hands. Yes I also do this when I peruse your bookshelf, but don’t worry it won’t make or break a friendship (usually).

Oh there are more so many more people. The hipsters, foreigners, meat heads, hot men in suits but maybe I’ll do a breakdown on them at another date. As for now I’ll leave you with some of my favorite subway archetypes.

Tim Burton at the MOMA

I went to New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to check out the Tim Burton exhibit. From what I can tell by talking to friends, this exhibit is pretty popular at the moment. I was excited we were able to score tickets. Nat’s friend Erica was in town and since Nat was at school all day Erica and I hung out and spent the morning at the MOMA.

First off Tim Burton is freakin weird. I guess all great artists are eccentric but Tim Burton is on a whole new level. The entrance to the exhibit looked just like the photo above. One wall was lined with screens showing short films of this little guy.

In each short film he kills somebody, always in gory fashion. I learned later that the premise of the movies is that he was ridding a small town of the hooligans and riff raf. He was the town’s superhero. Which was weird since it seemed more like he was offing people. The main impression I got from Tim’s work (which was beautiful and twisted all at the same time) is that he’s pretty morbid and yet has a pretty bright outlook on life. His characters are misunderstood but well meaning. His humor and his art is pretty dark, and he has a distinct style. Did you know he was involved in all of these movies (see gallery below)?

I sure didn’t. I didn’t realize what a big fan of Tim Burton I actually was. His first movie was Pee Wee’s Playhouse. He did the Batmans and even Planet of the Apes. I had no idea. You kind of notice that he likes to cast the same people in his movies. Especially this guy.

He likes casting Helena Bonham Carter, who is his live in partner and mother to his children. Up next for good ol’ Timmy.

Alice in Wonderland! I can’t wait, it looks spectacular.

The exhibit is definitely worth a visit if you’re in New York sometime before April. It’s an interesting showcase of a unique talent.

Baby it’s cold outside

It’s not quite yet snowing here in NY, but the temperature has definitely dropped. I think the worst thing is the chilly wind. My lips are getting chapped from the wind, my carmex addiction has been unable to curb the effects. I am quickly coming to the realization that my winter wardrobe is seriously lacking some essential items. Here’s what I picked up on in the past week (functional and fashionable pieces).

1. The knee high riding boot. I saw a 10 year old wearing a pair like these today and I felt so unhip in my UGGS. These look good over jeans, leggings, with a skirt etc. You can dress them up or dress them down. They’re good for all types of weather. The big plus for me is the manageable heel. Yes I’ve watched Sex in the City, I am no Carey Bradshaw those sky high heels are not my style and with all the walking I have to do here there’s no way I’d get away with heels without breaking my pretty little neck. This is at the top of my Christmas list this year.

2. A long coat. One that looks like you’re walking around in a sleeping bag. I have a snowboarding jacket and a down coat but they’re not long enough to cover my legs. The coats I have, have been sufficient but my poor legs are freezing by the time I get home. I’ve seen a lot of ladies wearing only leggings or skirts which makes me think you’re crazy! but if they got to walk around with one of these covering their exposed legs it wouldn’t be so bad.

3. Ear Warmers. My poor lobes hurt after walking the city. My beanie is insufficient at keeping my ears warm. These are cute ones I found on etsy. I think I may actually be able to make the second one (maybe my knitter friends can help). The first ones are the most practical. I may pick up a set on Canal street with one of the street vendors, but I love the snowflake embellishments.

4. Neck Warmers (i.e. scarves, snoods). I love that the snood acts as both a scarf and a beanie. I also really like the mini scarf pictured above, it does what a scarf is supposed to do without all the extra fabric. It also doubles as a headband if you want it to.

5. Leather gloves. I say leather because when it’s raining, it really sucks when you touch your wet jacket and all of the water is absorbed in your fleece gloves. Yes this has happened while I’ve been here. My thought at that moment was I wish I had leather gloves.

These are the lessons I’ve learned rather quickly since it’s gotten colder. I can only imagine what other unforeseen wardrobe adjustments I’ll need to do when the snow starts to fall. I’m up to the challenge New York, bring it!

Ira Glass (my NPR crush)

I am in love with this man. If I have not already introduced you to his genius, this is Ira Glass host of the amazing This American Life. If you have stopped listening to radio, he gives you a reason to go back. The premise of TAL is they pick a theme and they put together different stories based on that theme, which may sound boring but it’s more like movies for the radio. The show has the ability to have you laughing hysterically in the first act and reduce you to tears by the last act. You can stream all of their shows on their website www.thislife.org. They also have a weekly podcast of their latest show. If you need suggestions I have a favorites list I’d love to share with you, just let me know and I’ll email it to you.

Anyway the reason I have Ira on the brain is he was in Berkeley this past weekend giving a talk on how to tell a story. I was supposed to go to this show but since I’m on the other coast of course was unable to attend. A group of my friends went and from preliminary reports had a great time. One of them managed to sneak me a sound clip of part of the chat. In the clip Ira deconstructs the opening segment of the Cringe episode (this episode is on the favs list btw). He breaks down how they put together a story for the show. This is why I love Ira, he can make something mundane into a compelling story. I’m so sad I wasn’t there. (Thanks for the clip BDM, it felt like I was there because I could hear you and J$ laughing)

I’m crossing my fingers maybe I’ll run into him on the subway (he lives in NY). Better yet maybe I’ll submit one of my story ideas to the show and he can come and interview me.

C.S. Lewis

I love C.S. Lewis. He has been one of my favorite authors since I was a kid. First it was the Narnia series. Then his Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Peralandra, That Hideous Strength) . In college it was his books on faith (Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, A Greif Observed, The Great Divorce). His fiction is an all encompassing, fantastical adventure. His books on faith always point out the ways I try to fool myself into thinking I can pull a fast one on God. I always feel convicted to chill on being the pretentious a-hole I can be about things. The thing I might like about him best though, is that he wasn’t a shiny happy Christian. He got into arguments with people, he struggled with cultural identity, he struggled through the death of his wife, he struggled with his faith. I’ve identified with Lewis’ characters and as I got older began identifying with him. I’ve always felt like good ol’ Clive wrote his stuff just for me because his books were interactive experiences. I hope that one day my writing will be able to change people the way Lewis’ writing changed me.

“It was when I was happiest that I longed most…The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.” -Till We Have Faces

Christmas Cheer

My best friend was in New York today!! She was in town on business and decided to stay and extra night to take in the sites, and it just so happened I was in town at the same time. HOORAY!! We see each other maybe once a year, twice if we’re very lucky.

We met around 4pm. I decided to skip the subway and walked from 89th to 57th to meet her at her hotel. It was a nice 20 min walk. Her hotel was near Columbus Circle.

We set off with her boss and a friend who drove in from Delaware. We started at the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman. They were Alice in Wonderland themed.

We walked down Park Ave. and headed to the tree at Rockafellar Plaza. I have to be honest, the tree was a little disappointing. It seems so much bigger on TV. The magic of television I suppose

We went to Bryant Park and watched one of the figure skaters set to go to the Olympics skate. They have some really cute shops set up there. They had some opera singers do a few songs. I think we stumbled upon the tree lighting ceremony for the tree at Bryant Park. It was crowded so we didn’t stay too long. We set off to Times Square and all it’s bright screens. Here is another of the many Times Square shots I’ve taken over various trips.

We headed uptown to Columbus Circle. They had a beautiful light display inside the shopping area. We went inside to get out from the cold and find the lav.

They have TVs installed in the bathroom mirrors. Ted Turner has way too much money! After the shops we walked a little through Central Park. It’s a bit freaky at night so we didn’t walk too far into the park. It was so good to have my best friend in town, even if it was only for the day. Now I’m in the Christmas mood!