Sunday, December 21, 2008

Well here I am in Florida. I flew out of Chicago a day early when I heard about the impending snowstorm on Thursday night. Apparently my flight was one of the last ones to leave Midway airport on Thursday night--woo!

So now I'm here in the land of palm trees and sunshine, and things are great! Thanks for reading, and happy holidays and all that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And on the 6th day...

Well, as you can see, there is not much to do in this town. But on the bright side - I am updating my blog more often! So everyone who always clamored for more, more, you got it!

Today I decided not to venture outside again, since yesterday I finally learned why they call it BRR Ridge. Ha. Anyway now I'm in the hotel room, and somehow there is a breeze in here. I don't know how to make it stop! So I am just sitting here with 2 sweaters on, and my slippers. It's nice, though.

This morning I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which was pleasant. I was pondering eating alone in general, and I was surprised at how much easier it is to eat alone in a public place when said public place is empty. I was the only one in the restaurant, and I wasn't gripped by intense self-consciousness or the obssessive need to occupy myself somehow. Maybe it's because when no one is around, you don't worry about what other people are *thinking.*

Yesterday I tortured myself by looking at the weather in Orlando. Here in Burr Ridge the highs hover around 27, and in Florida it is a balmy 80 degrees!! Thank god I will be there soon. Phew!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Burr Ridge, day 5

Today is day 5 in Illinois (yes, Ernest, Illinois (c:). I am back in my new favorite starbucks, where they have the ever elusive maple scone (it's a Christmas miracle!!), so I have been happily munching that and sipping my Christmas blend. The "town" of Burr Ridge is an interesting place. On the way in my lost cab driver drove us through developments with gigantic houses, so it is clearly a rich area. The hotel and my office are across the street from each other in this business park, which is also where the starbucks is. There is a "village" also in the business park, which is the cookie-cutter suburban deal where you have a yankee candle, a banana republic, and of course a starbucks. And of course there is Christmas music pumping from hidden speakers in the well-planned landscaping. Not that I'm judging...

Yesterday I went to the city of Chicago, which was great! I met Melissa and Becca there--two of my friends from Ithaca. I was so happy that Melissa contacted me because I had not realized how close she is to Chicago. It was great to see familiar faces so far from home. We went to see the Bean in Millenium park, and then went to Giordano's for pizza. The famous Chicago style pizza was so delicious! It lived up to all my expectations. I wish I could have more time to spend in the city itself, because I really liked what I saw. There is so much interesting architecture there! Melissa and I also stumbled across a mini German festival where amazing smells wafted from the booths, and there were tiny hand-crafted wooden ornaments everywhere. I had a really good time, and hopefully someday I'll get to come back in the summer time for a real vacation.

Work has been really tiring mentally, but I have been able to have excessively slow, lazy mornings, which I have been drinking up, needless to say. Today there is a layer of ice covering every surface, and the wind is brutal. But at least the sun is shining, and there is an ever-familiar Starbucks in which to take refuge.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hello readers. I'm sitting in a Starbucks in lovely Burr Ridge, Illinois. I am here for work, and my shift is 2 PM to 11 PM CST. So I have been enjoying the freedom of this long, long morning.

It is very cold here, everything is covered in a thin layer of snow. The receptionist at the hotel warned me about going out in the cold. I scoffed at her inwardly thinking that this day is tame compared with winters I used to spend in Ithaca. Buuuut it has been a long time since I lived in Ithaca, and I have to say I am not used to this anymore.

Anyway, I don't have a ton to say, just a quick update on my location. I'm flying to Orlando in one short week!

Hope everyone is doing well.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Well, the last two weeks have certainly been amazing, haven't they?? I am very happy and relieved about President-Elect Obama, and I subscribed to the New York Times yesterday so that I can follow every step of the way! However, what I really want to write about is what I did yesterday. (And please be aware that the rest of this post is me nerding out about opera, so. You've been warned)

I woke up to the strains of the "Menuet des Follets" from Berlioz's Damnation de Faust, and I remembered that last night was its opening night. My interest in seeing Faust at the Met was sparked by reading the program notes for Doctor Atomic: John Adams said that his opera was commissioned to be a modern American Faust story. So, since I loved Doctor Atomic, I thought it would be really neat to see Faust to compare.

The new production at the Met is directed by Robert Lepage, who did a Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas recently. I knew this before going into the opera, and I wonder if I would have had the same reaction had I not known. I thought that the opera was a little circusy--there were acrobats suspended on wires doing flips in almost every major dance. Marguerite's Act 2 aria, "D'amour l'ardente flamme," started out very simplistically, but as the music swelled a giant image of the soprano was projected on the large screens behind her. The projected image was not only the height and width of the stage--the image was also burning (in case you needed a visual for love's FLAME?). I thought that all the larger-than-life staging took away somewhat from Berlioz's music. Although, in the middle of Act 1, when Faust is having the vision of Marguerite, the dance is made to look like it's under water. I loved that--partly because it really seemed magical (is it a tank of water, or just a visual trick??), and partly because of the symbolic weight of Faust falling through water, drowning as he is coming under the spell of Mephistopheles. It was beautiful and unique.

The singers were fantastic--Marcello Giordani, John Relyea, Patrick Carfizzi, and Susan Graham. I can't imagine the vocal stamina it must take to play Faust; he sings almost constantly for the entire opera. And Susan Graham's D'amour l'ardente flamme was so beautiful, even with her own giant burning head behind her. The ensemble was huge, and all of the choral numbers were really gorgeous. It was also really cool to see James Levine conducting! I have seen his name and image so many times on CDs, text books, etc., and to finally see his little head bopping over the edge of the pit was so neat. I wished that I had been able to take a crash course on Berlioz opera with my favorite music professor Dr. Swenson, as I'm sure he could have provided me with some great insight.

I also have to mention my seat, or lack thereof. I actually thought it was really neat to be in the standing room orchestra section--even though you can't really see the top half of the stage, I don't know that anything was really lost. Being in standing room is neat because you know that the people standing with you are really there because they love opera. It's a necessarily intimate setting, because the translation screens are so close together, that you kind of have to huddle next to the people around you. It felt like reading a book with someone--both bent over the same story and experiencing the same excitement over it. A couple of women walked by at one point and one said, "Standing room?" to which the other replied, "I guess if you REALLY want to see it..."

Friday, October 24, 2008

You say potato, I say Turkeyfoot

This weekend I am going to Lower Turkeyfoot, Pennsylvania, to find three graves of my ancestors.

It all started with an email from my Aunt, who wondered innocently how often I go to PA, and escalated into a fantastic trip that I am taking with Laura E. Tonight I go to Philadelphia, and we will buy provisions for the road ahead. Saturday morning we are leaving for Mill Run, PA (20 miles outside of Turkeyfoot) where we are going to see Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright house. I’ve always wanted to see a FLW house—sometimes the partial rooms in museums just don’t cut it.

Then Sunday we are going down to Addison to find a church where my great-great-great-grandfather was a Methodist preacher! I am most excited about this part of the trip. I’m sentimental for churches that my dad’s family had preached in, because my parents got married in a church where my great-grandparents preached. I guess knowing that there is a tradition like that in my family makes me feel connected to something. Continuity feels good.

Sunday afternoon we are going to rent bikes and ride the Allegheny Rail trail. Hopefully the weather will stay cheerful for us, and we get to see some beautiful Laurel Highlands-style fall foliage!

Pictures to follow…

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Wow, it has been over a month since I've posted! I cannot believe it. I guess the reason I haven't written a lot is because what has really been on my mind is something that I can't write about in a public forum. Was that too mysterious for you? It's really not that exciting.

Anyway last month was great--I saw Godfather parts 1 and 2 at Film Forum on 2 different weekends. I still like part 1 better. It's possible that my first failed attempt at seeing part 2 (not having seen the first one yet, I fell asleep 20 minutes in, and woke up at the very end.) has marred the movie for me in some way. I do see that it is a great movie though. I just love Marlon Brando and James Caan, and I love seeing the Family intact. If you're in New York they are playing until Tuesday, so go see them!

Last month I also went to Washington DC for one Billy Fettweis's birthday extravaganza! It was a lot of fun--spending time with Randolphians always is. It was kind of a whirlwind trip, 5 hours on the bus each way and 24 hours in DC, including sleeping. My favorite part was the big delicious breakfast we all cooked up and ate together. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures, but luckily Billy took about one hundred and ninety.

Yesterday the Grand Street Community Band played at Pumpkin Day in McCarren Park in Brooklyn, and it was so much fun! We played under a giant sycamore tree, and there were tons of little kids there with their parents. The weather was perfect, and after the show we ate lunch on a rooftop. Then when I got home I made pumpkin soup that was delicious. Yay fall!

And, next weekend I'm going to New Jersey to have a fall/nature weekend with Laura. I can't wait to go hiking in the Delaware Water Gap again, it should be lots of fun!

Time always moves very fast in the fall, maybe it's because the days get shorter. I hope you are enjoying the cool air, temperate breezes, and sunny days while they last. I promise to write again before the election.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

ambient awareness

New York Times Magazine Article:
I'm so totally, digitally close to you

I'm aware of the irony of posting this article to my blog, and sharing it with you in a virtual medium. But reading this article nearly made my head explode, and I had to do something about it. In case you don't feel like reading it, the article is about our constant contact with people in an online world. Facebook, twitter, flikr, these are words that didn't even exist 6 years ago (besides twitter, but you get what I'm saying). The relation we have to the people who we read about on our Facebook news feeds is now being called "ambient awareness." It's this idea that we don't have to devote a lot of attention to people in order to maintain a relationship with them. I am certainly guilty of this, as I'm sure you are too (you're reading my blog, aren't you? why don't you just call me?).

In the back of my mind while reading this piece, I was thinking of a line from the movie Before Sunset, when Celine is talking about time she spent in Warsaw as a teenager and she is cut off from her habits. She says:

My brain felt like it was at rest, free from the consuming frenzy. And I have to say, it was almost like a natural high. I felt so peaceful inside, no strange urge to be somewhere else, to shop... Maybe it could have seemed like boredom at first, but it quickly became very, very soulful. It's interesting, you know?

I have to say I am longing for my brain to be at rest. While reading the article, I seriously thought about leaving facebook (gasp!) but decided against it because I don't want to lose touch with a lot of people who I wouldn't have any contact with if it weren't for facebook. But at the same time, I constantly feel the "urge to be somewhere else," and I mean constantly. The "somewhere else" changes on nearly a daily basis, but the feeling is always there. And I think that shedding all my digital crutches would certainly be helpful in resting my brain and being at peace with where I am. But, as the article points out, it is nearly impossible now to be an integrated part of society and not be part of some form of social networking. Although I certainly don't feel more connected to my friends since I joined facebook--if anything, I feel more disconnected from people in general. More solitary, but with an excess of this ambient awareness.

One thing that has been a real eye (and ear) opener recently was losing my iPod. Sure it was a tragic accident, but now when I ride the subway, I do not have one entire sense shut down. I can hear people's conversations, their breathing. I have also become much more aware of how 95% of the people who ride the subway do have headphones in their ears. What did people do before iPods? Talk? Heaven forbid.

Anyway I am curbing my desire to rant here, because I don't want this post to get absurdly long. Also there are just too many thoughts bouncing around in my head. I will just say one more thing: establishing a human connection in a natural way--meeting on a train, or striking up a conversation over a common interest--is one of the most fulfilling things I've ever experienced. And attempting to establish a relationship of any kind in a digital arena has always left me feeling unsatisfied and lonely. But in a world dominated by digital communication, how do we find other people looking to establish friendships the old fashioned way?

Monday, August 25, 2008

some pretty photos from the beach

I spent this weekend at the Jersey Shore with a group of people who I've been friends with for so many years... and somehow they still like me! It was a wonderful weekend.

The umbrellas we lazed under

On Sera's boat... Sera, Laura, me, Billy, and Katie

The sunset

future album cover?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

challah at your girl

This week I thought about writing to tell the tale of my tragic/freak accident involving my iPod, but I don’t like to dwell on the negative. Plus I’ve told the story about a million times already, so.

Last weekend I found myself once again on the fair shores of Philadelphia. It was a great trip—my dear friend had a party that was super fun, and the next day we all went out for breakfast at a place called Honey’s. The restaurant specializes in Jewish and Southern cuisine, so I had grits and challah with my eggs. It was excellent! We spent the rest of the day lazing, and in the afternoon founded a spontaneous band, “interior design,” comprised of guitar, accordion, harmonica, plastic recorder, and toy piano. Look for us soon on YouTube, and then, inevitably, Radio City Music Hall.

Tomorrow I am jetting (via bus) to the Jersey Shore, to spend the second-to-last weekend of summer with some of the best people I’ve known in my life. Needless to say, I am excited.

I’ve still been listening to Blood on the Tracks a whole lot, and even learned “Tangled up in Blue” on guitar. And if my last post didn’t convince you to listen to Bob Dylan, maybe this one will? Just do it, you know you want to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

jumbled pile of person how I've been feeling lately. Has it really been 12 days since I've posted?

Anyway, things are kind of strange right now. It seems like a lot of things are changing really rapidly, and yet it feels like each hour drips by like so much molasses. Maybe that is just adulthood?

I have itchy feet lately too--I think it has something to do with the time of year, as I've spent the last 17 Augusts of my life getting ready for a new school year or a new apartment. So I've come up with various schemes to get moving. One is that I will move to Seattle in a year. I'll spend the next 12 months saving money, planning, etc, and then next summer get the hell over to the west coast and stay there. I'll have a room with a view of the mountains and ocean, and a garden with basil, and a cat.

Another plan has been getting an MBA, which I must admit is less picturesque, but will allow me to fund my new life on the west coast. Plus how cool would it be to get into Harvard business school?

In other news I have been listening to Madeleine Leyroux lately and would highly recommend Careless Love to anyone with ears. Even though there is a song on the album called "Careless Love," I like to think she named the album after the lyric in the Dylan song of track 4:

Dragon clouds so high above
I've only known careless love-
it's always hit me from below

Oh, bob.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Man on Wire

Last week I went to see the above movie, about Pierre Petit: the man who walked a tightrope between the twin towers in 1974. The movie was really quite arresting. The shots of New York City in the 70s, of all the men who worked on the towers and their progress. It was amazing to see them as skeletons before they were completed.

Anyway, Pierre first had the dream of walking between the towers when he saw a picture of them in a Paris newspaper - before they were built. He practiced for years and planned his secret feat down to the inch. before he walked between the towers, Pierre had also wire-walked between the towers of Notre Dame and over a bridge in the Sydney Harbor. He practiced walking the distance between the towers in his french countryside backyard, and had his friends shake the wire back and forth so he could prepare for the wind that would be blowing a mile up in the air.

The most amazing thing about the movie, I thought, was how much of it was comprised of historical footage and photographs. The view from the top of those towers was breathtaking, and made New York City look like a tame wilderness. In some of the shots all you can see is sky, and you can't help but think how beautiful it is how a preposterous dream can become a reality.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jerusalem Hot Pita

Yesterday I tried the above restaurant in my neighborhood. People have been telling me since I moved here, "Oh, Astoria? Good Greek food." Well A-MEN brothers and sisters. I went into Jerusalem Hot Pita (the unassuming awning reads Pita Hot) looking only for some falafel. Little did I know that I was about to taste the best falafel. Ever. The man behind the counter is a true artist: he carefully constructed my falafel sandwich with the focus of someone who really cares about providing a good sandwich. For three dollars and fifty cents I got a sandwich that did not fall apart or dissolve as I ate it. It held together for every satisfying, delicious, chick pea filled bite.

The ambiance did not even leave anything to be desired. Putamayo Cairo mix playing, post-cards covering the walls, and a hookah in the windowsill. Tonight I went back for the hummus-falafel combo. Please, how could one ask for more?

Monday, July 21, 2008

they say i need a post

I had this whole thing written up about the state of American education, but it was rambling and pointless, so I just deleted the whole thing.

Last week I rang in my 24th year with a bang--a few bangs, actually. I experienced many of New York City's outdoor pleasures: movie in the park, concert in the park. I went to the famous Beergarden of Astoria and I had a lovely dinner at Bar Americain.

I haven't reflected too much on my birthday, but I do hope that this year will be even better than the last. I am in a brand new place physically, and that is certainly a good start for turning over a new leaf.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

new places and faces

Hi everybody. This is my new blog. If you pine for my witticisms past, you can still find them at

Happy reading!