Sunday, September 11, 2011

In which I remember

View of Manhattan from a helicopter, flying over Upper New York Bay.Image via WikipediaI slept through the whole thing.

On Tuesdays my first semester of college I only had one class, in the afternoon. I usually slept in.

My suite was pretty much deserted. My roommate was gone. I got up late, flicked on Comedy Central (which did not have any kind of news ticker or break-in), and watched TV before taking my shower.

I got back, only to be locked out of my room. In a towel. My roommate was due back from her class soon, so I figured I just had to wait. Then she opened the door.

"Why didn't you just knock?" she asked me.

"You're not supposed to be done class yet."

"They let us out early."

"Oh." Awkward pause. We didn't really get along. "Did you just finish early or something?"

She was pissed. "You mean you didn't hear?"

That one class was philosophy. The professor told us that he didn't feel like teaching, but we could sit around and talk about what happened if we wanted to. He ended up teaching anyway. I guess you can't escape philosophy.

When I wasn't in class, I called or emailed whomever I could. Yes, I know, Philadelphia was never on anyone's mind the whole day, but still -- it would have been nice to receive one of those calls. Not my lot in life, though.

I went to the service that night. During the moment of silence, a squirrel darted out of the trees and into the crowd. Rumor had it that some girl got bitten, but I beleive that rumor was debunked.

Later, someone pulled the fire alarm. Assholes. We stood around. Some people panicked. "I smell smoke!" a few girls cried. Well, of course they did. Easily 75% of the students in our building had their cigaettes out.

I didn't know anyone. I didn't even know anyone who did. I missed the whole thing and the people I cared about were safe. It didn't touch me. And guilt -- survivor's, liberal's, whatever -- is one of the things that can knock me down.

Ten years.

My life is not much like it was before September 11, 2001... and very few of the changes are due to the attacks. I made friends through a debate about the war, but the club holding those debates would have been formed regardless, I think. I went through a string of boyfriends before finding Chris. I started seeing the school counselor; I now have an official diagnosis. I live in the very city that felt the attacks hardest.

I never saw the towers in real life. The first time I had been to New York was in December of 2001.

I never saw the towers. I slept through the attacks. I never knew anyone involved. As horrible as it is to say it, my life was not directly affected. Sure, it was peripherally; there's no one on the planet who wasn't affected peripherally, and certainly no American.

But I don't understand why I still cry for these strangers, but not for the dear friend and surrogate grandfather I lost a few years later. I don't understand why I mourn an institution I never saw more than the church I was baptised and raised in.

Here's an interesting thought, though. The casualties of September 11, 2001... they've been immortalized.

They had been from the very moment the first plane hit. So the terrorists really fucked up, didn't they?

As tragic as it was, though, it was rare. We're so lucky it's rare. We live in fear that it will happen again, but other people in this world live in *certainty* that it will happen again, to them.

You know, Chris's mother's birthday is September 10, and my father's is September 12. So really, September 11 should be a day of joint celebration of life. I think I'd like that.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

In which I get ready for another year (28th birthday edition)

Promotional posterImage via WikipediaSo I didn't do all 28 things before I turned 28.  OK.  So I need to take what I learned from that and maybe adjust my ambitions.  Reading 10 books off the reading list is too much of a gimme.  Achieving tons of travel goals is too tough.  And super-ambitious projects... they really count as more than one task, don't they? So let's find some middle ground. Especially when I've been lagging on even getting the posted.

Here is my list of 29 things I want to do before I turn 29:

  1. Visit one city I've never been to before.  This might be a gimme, but in a way that might not really count, so I'm hoping, but not insisting, that I do one other than the "gimme" city.  I'll explain when it happens. 
  2. Take professional driving instruction.
  3. Pass the road test and get my drivers license.  I've been resolving to do this for years.  I no longer have an excuse.
  4. Finish Age of Federalism.  I've been picking at it for a while now.  It's very interesting, but extremely slow going. 
  5. Re-watch  Lost Season 1
  6. Blog each episode as I watch them with my retrospective opinions. I've been wanting to do this since the series finale.
  7. Write an essay, article, short story, or poem.
  8. Edit it to my satisfaction.
  9. Research markets.
  10. Submit my piece for publication.
  11. Figure out what kinds of blog posts readers like best.
  12. Collect my best of those types of posts.
  13. Add extra "bonus" material.
  14. Edit the collection.
  15. Convert to PDF.
  16. Make available on my blog(s).
  17. Get my mother's brownie recipe.
  18. Perfect it.
  19. Personalize it.
  20. Research my favorite bands' tour schedules
  21. Sync their calendar with my own.
  22. Buy tickets!
  23. Research companies to find stock I feel good about and can afford.
  24. Buy low!
  25. Lose 10 pounds
  26. Keep it off at least until my 29th birthday.
  27. Write and send 10 snail-mail letters
  28. Get back into private, dead-tree journaling
  29. Meet my personal "books read" goal for the year.
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

In which I guest post

About food this time!

I've been getting requests for my baked brie recipe, so I submitted it to my favorite food blog,

And if you want it, check out the article.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

In which I try to understand housepride.

I don't take much pride in my home.

I don't take shame in it.  In fact, I take a lot of comfort in it.  I quite like it, even.  But I just don't see a reason to take pride in it.

I associate pride with identity.  And if you take pride in your dwelling, then either you associate that part of your identity with your possessions (which, YMMV, but I find that slightly problematic), or you associate it with achievement.

And, OK, the achievement part I get. 

If you saved your pennies and paid for a huge part of your house in cash and are in a place to pay off your mortgage within ten years, that's a huge accomplishment and you should totally be proud of it. 

But I just pay rent every month.  That's, like, the bare minimum required, isn't it?  It's like feeding your kids: if you don't do it, you get the kids (or apartment) taken away, but if you do, that in and of itself doesn't make you parent (or tenant or homeowner) of the year.

If you have made your home as green as is reasonably possible and strive to go even farther, that's awesome! You should be proud! It's a major undertaking, even a major lifestyle change.  Nothing easy there.

I try to fit green in.  We're switching to CFLs; we recycle.  But as much as I'd like to, composting isn't practical right now.  We haven't gotten the smart surge protectors yet.  We use plastic.  We use chemicals.  It works for us, and I'm not ashamed of it, but it's not much to talk about.

If you've taken a total fixer-upper and DIY'ed it into submission, good for you! Show us the house porn! The Mythbusters have proven that it's really hard to polish a turd, so if you've ended up with a gem, you deserve to crow about it.

But we have very few repairs that need to be done, and most of them we're not allowed to do ourselves.  Asking the landlord to fix the toilet is hardly the hallmark of the capable handyman (however, I do think I get points for renting from the capable handyman...).

If you've decorated the home, or even a single room, to reflect who you are, sweet! The Dr. Seuss nursery, the seahorse bathroom, the bohemian-chic living room, awesome. It takes creativity and vision and not a little time and patience to pull that off, to say nothing of the maintenance.

But take our living room.  The sofa/loveseat combo from Macy's: comfortable, sturdy, affordable, neutral-colored.  The TV stand from JCPenny: comfortable, sturdy, affordable, neutral-colored.  We've yet to find a coffee table that is comfortable, sturdy, affordable, and neutral-colored, but the TV trays we use instead?  The ones we got from Bed Bath and Beyond?  Say it with me now: comfortable, sturdy, affordable, neutral-colored.  Boring.  Heh, I guess my living room does reflect my life (see also: the entire point of this blog[link]).

And if you've made your place into the gathering space, good for you! Maybe you have the ultimate gaming table or the ultimate kitchen table. The dinner parties, birthday parties, potlucks, and game nights can make a community.  That is truly something to be proud of.

Not so easy in a small Queens apartment.  Certainly there's no room for major events; even board games and potlucks with small groups would be pretty tight.  And it doesn't happen anyway.  95% of the time, it's easier on everyone if Chris and I go out than if other people come over.  Even when we've invited people, we usually are told, "Nah, let's just meet in the city." Fine by me; I love the city.  Even so.  It's just easier for other people for them not to come over.  And there's not a lot of point in keeping the home ready for last-minute guests when we will never have any.

So I quite like my apartment.  But I don't see much reason to be proud of it.  And I don't see why it should be a problem that I'm OK with that.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

In which I check in with the list for March

Source: via WikipediaOK, it doesn't look like much will get done this month that didn't get done in the last 11, so let's do an overall recap.  If anything gets done between now and my birthday, I'll let you know.

  1. Learn to ride a bike. -- Nope.
  2. Get my driver's license -- Nope
  3. Get my own domain and move my blogs there. -- Nope
  4. Obtain at least one new pen-pal -- Almost, but losing my notebook was a major setback.
  5. See one of the American sites on my list of Things to Do Before I Die -- I did a decent amount of traveling, but didn't manage this.
  6. Go somewhere I've never been before (the above does not count) -- Several! London, Paris, Brussels.... Chicago.
  7. Read one of the books on the same list. -- Too many are series.  It's a trap!
  8. Watch one movie from the AFI 100 -- Done
  9. Watch a second movie from the AFI 100 -- Done
  10. Watch a third movie from the AFI 100 -- Done
  11. Come up with an idea for an ebook.  Not necessarily write the thing, but come up with the idea. -- Nope.  Am open to suggestions.
  12. Actually win NaNoWriMo  -- Hahahaha.  No.
  13. Read a book off my reading list (Not counting #7) -- Done
  14. Read a second book off my reading list -- Done
  15. Read a third book off my reading list -- Done
  16. Read a fourth book off my reading list -- Done
  17. Read a fifth book off my reading list -- Done
  18. Read a sixth book off my reading list -- Done
  19. Read a seventh book off my reading list -- Done
  20. Read an eighth book off my reading list -- Done
  21. Read a ninth book off my reading list -- Done
  22. Read a tenth book off my reading list -- Done
  23. Submit a piece of writing for publication -- Nope.  Didn't even finish one.
  24. Buy an outfit that makes me look amazing, and not freak out about the price -- Eh.... maybe.  Sort of.
  25. Attend a Flyers home game. -- Nope.
  26. See the Pacific -- Nope.  Next year doesn't look good, either.
  27. Join something: a club, organization, or team -- Book club, yay.
  28. Attend a cherry blossom festival -- This is really the only one I might do in the next month.  I'll let you know.
Not a very productive year, is it?  Let's see if I can do better in the year ahead... list will be up soon, but I'm open to suggestions in the meantime.
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

In which I vacation by myself (a Personal Ad)

BoltBus #0800 in New York City on the West Sid...Image via WikipediaI am in favor of the mancation.

Occasionally, Chris's guy friends will want to get away for an overnight or a weekend, usually to Atlantic City.  This is fine with me; I trust Chris, and I have no interest in the activities of the weekend.

It does, however, raise the question, "Why does he get an extravagant weekend away and I don't?"

Well, of course, I can.

I have, actually.  Once, I went to Washington, DC by myself for the weekend.  I took the BoltBus down, stayed in a hotel in Alexandria that was right next to the Metro station, and wore myself out on tourism.  It was nice.

But what else can I do?  Most internet searches for ideas either give me essays on why taking separate vacations is not a red flag for my marriage (which, thanks, I wasn't worried 'til you brought it up!), or lists of incredibly girly ideas for Girls' Weekends (which I dismiss for multiple reasons).

So, I shall write a Personal Ad about it.

What I'm looking for

I don't have a driver's license yet, so anywhere I go would have to be reasonably easy to get to by bus or train from Manhattan, and easy to get around by foot or public transit.

Likewise, wherever I stay would have to be within easy walking distance to public transit.

I wouldn't be able to embark any earlier than 5:30 PM Friday (preferably 6:00), so my destination would either have to be within 3 hours of Manhattan, or have late-night activities that would not require me to drink alone.

That said, I'm happy to drink with others, so if we know each other and your town of residence otherwise fits the bill, I'd love to meet up Friday night!

Once I check out of my hotel on Sunday, I'd either have to carry my stuff around or stash it with the hotel staff and come back for it.  I'd like Sunday to involve more than just traveling, so I'm looking for one or more of the following:
    • The hotel to be very close to the bus or train station I'm using to get home.
    • Things to do, open on Sunday, that are either very close to the hotel or very close to the bus or train station mentioned above.
    • Things to do in between those two places where 
      • I wouldn't have to do much walking, since I'll have to carry my bag
      • I could safely stash my bag
      • I could carry my bag easily, because the place I'm going to allows that none of my weekend's activities would require me to bring much
Speaking of which, activities where I don't need much.  I really don't want to bring more than a change of clothes for each day, maybe a set of pajamas, a jacket, some toiletries, and my purse.  If I bring my Kindle, I won't need to bring my laptop or any extra books.

Food!  Cheap, delicious, or both!

What I'm not looking for

I prefer activities not cost an arm and a leg.  The beauty of DC was that I could wander in and out of museums on a whim.  If I  have to pay $35 for admission, then I'm going to see every inch of that museum, and that would likely take up my whole day.  So things should either be cheap enough that I can wander off when I choose, or awesome enough to be my primary activity for the weekend.

Staying in New York is not an option.  Yes, I can do a ton in the city, but the fact is, I won't.  Last time I took this option, I went to the Brooklyn Museum for the First Saturday events, which was fun... but otherwise I sat around and did nothing.  Not an option!

How this might work

One of you could leave a comment here.

I could get feedback on Twitter or Facebook.

I could come across an idea online.

A random magazine or newspaper article could fall into my hands.

Something else I haven't thought of.

My commitment

I will Tweet a link to this post.

I will keep an open mind about suggestions.

I will take lots of pictures.

If you want me to, I will post my pictures from Washington, as well.

I will return the favor!  If you're looking for things to do in New York, or just happen to be there and want to meet for coffee or lunch or a drink*, let me know!

*Offer to meet only valid for people I've met IRL before, but since that's most of you it shouldn't be an issue.  Certain exceptions may be made for longtime internet acquaintances, but I promise nothing.

So, do you have any ideas?
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

In which I need help to start plotting...

So I;m trying to come up with this year's list of 29 things to do before I turn 29.  I don't want to overwhelm myself, so I'm trying to stick to just one item per category.  I'm willing to break into sub-categories, but even so.

So I've got a handful of good resolutions, but I need more.  I need ideas for categories (leave a comment!), and I need help narrowing down the categories I have.  So: polls!


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