December 30, 2010

"Or to begin again"


Dear Readers,

Hello from New Orleans! I thought I'd stop in for a moment to ask if you have any New Year's resolutions. I've switched from comfy couch to sun-dappled backyard this afternoon, and it dawned on me that I haven't really made one yet.

I've been writing every day and was thinking I'll probably keep up the habit, resolution or not. has been a great new addition to my writing practice, even though I tend to be a tried-and-true pen-and-paper kind of gal.

I was thinking I might also learn to bake ALL of my favorite kinds of cookies. What do you think? That could take me through pretty much all of this year and the next and the next.

In the spirit of new beginnings, above is a photo of a sunrise, for your viewing pleasure. It was taken back in Boston, very early on Thanksgiving morning.

I've also been thinking of a book of poetry by Ann Lauterbach, entitled, Or to begin again. I remember going to a reading of hers a couple of years ago, and I was a little mesmerized. It felt more like an incantation. She didn't say much, except, "I'm just going to read, if that's ok with you." Now there's a book I'd like to get my hands on in the New Year.

When I found this video of her reading as a 2009 National Book Awards Finalist, I was reminded again that her voice and her words speak for themselves.

Wishing you a new year filled with poetry and pomegranates and all of your favorite little things.

December 21, 2010

Growing wings

Guess what. This little couch potato is flying south for the winter.

Lately, I've been dreaming of beignets from Cafe Du Monde and reading up on the 1895 World's Fair.

It's hard to believe I'll be leaving my cozy nest, but it'll be nice to take in new scenery and new faces, for a change of pace. Actually, I'll still be going at the same pace: slow. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, here's a photo of my little sunflower, Beulah, who's been keeping me company.



December 14, 2010


When I first got sick and the doctor came to see me in the infirmary, he said it would be important to "simulate game-time."

By this, he meant that even though I could barely walk and didn't have anywhere to go, I would have to wander aimlessly up and down the little hallway with the nurse at least twice per day.

I hated that. I hate treadmills for the same reason. They make me feel like a hamster in a wheel.

Anyways, I did it without too much fuss, and pretty soon, I got restless enough to actually want to come home. Before that, I had been pretty content with the steady stream of popsicles and pudding at my disposal. That is, until they made me do stuff.

One day last week, I woke up feeling especially terrible. This was nothing new, but I decided I'd had enough. I was tired of being sick, and I was getting restless. I decided I was having a day out, and I was going to walk to a café to have a drink and read a book, like any normal person might do.

So, I prepared myself mentally all morning. "Act cool," I thought, taking a cue from some friends in Budapest. I got some breakfast down. I took a bath. By early afternoon, I had a few articles of clothing on. I struggled with the last layers of winter regalia. My fingers started to tingle. I began to sweat. I got a little woozy.

I reached for a new bottle of gatorade. I couldn't get it open.

"Oh, forget it," I said to the bottle, as I held it like a baby and flopped over onto the bed. "At least I simulated game-time today."

The next day, I aimed a little closer to home. I set my sights on the slow cooker, instead of Starbucks. Turns out, a batch of rice pudding goes down easier than a latte, and the crock pot holds enough for two.

In recent days, similar pursuits have led to stuffed peppers, "pieless apples," and a first attempt at butter cookies, as you can see below. Thank goodness there's a consolation prize for warming the bench.

In process: "Pieless apples"

In Process: Butter Cookies

December 9, 2010

Things that make me smile

1. Reinventing the sky (via Joanna Goddard)
Ever wonder how to bring the sky inside? Or how to wear it around your neck? Artist Maria Alexandra Vettese did just that. As the days grew shorter, she photographed the sky and created an art installation entitled "Come Darkness, here we are again," along with a book and silk scarves, all featuring the changing light of the autumn sky.

2. Dance clips
Since I can't move much right now, and I used to be a dancer, I sometimes spend an inordinate amount of time searching for great dance clips on youtube. Here's my latest favorite. Just try to sit still while you watch it.

3. The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
This compact book begins with a series of metaphors for writing, strung together with such humor and grace, I couldn't help but smile. I just started it when my favorite person ever brought it to me for a surprise Chanukah present (you can guess who—he bakes cookies), but I'm already sailing along (there's a sailboat on the cover—I approve). Anyways, if you like to write, or you just like reading about writing, I think it's great. And it's short too, which I also like.

December 3, 2010

On mood lighting and pencil skirts


I tend to be very concerned with creating the right conditions for things. I always thought I could write best in a café with medium-level background noise and gentle lighting. I have a certain kind of pen I like and favorite notebooks.

I like to have the right kind of music for the right kind of thing. Running music for running. Cooking music for cooking. Dinner party music for dinner parties. I think somewhere along the way, I must have picked up the idea that I would fall in love wearing a little black dress. Or maybe a pencil skirt.

These things are all so nice. It's really sweet to make things just so.

But when I got sick this semester, I really kind of thought I'd lost everything for the first little while. I was afraid to open my eyes and see what was left when the dust settled. I'd gotten so attached to all the little things that I didn't realize I'd mostly only just lost the icing off the cake.

Turns out I did some of my best writing while horizontal, notebook smashed sideways against a hospital bed railing. Turns out I can write with or without a needle in my arm. Turns out I can also write while taking a bath or while frying an egg (although, admittedly, the egg did not turn out so well).

Turns out the pencil skirt and little black dress were kind of unnecessary too. You can also fall in love in your pajamas, not having brushed your teeth in kind of a long time.

I think I knew that. I'm not sure I really believed it, though.

I'm still convinced that the little things really matter, but I've had to remind myself how the big things fit in too. If I had any confusion about my priorities back in September, I suppose I've had a little help sorting them out. When you can only do one thing in a day, then two, then three, you start to learn very quickly what matters to you, what you really need, and who you love.

As for that icing on the cake? Well, I've had plenty of new little things to fill in the gaps left by afternoons in cafés and mornings out running. Here's a little list of my favorite little comforts.

Gatorade flavor: light blue
Comfort foods: soda bread, matzo ball soup, cookie dough ice cream, avocados, cheese, chocolate chip cookies
TV shows: Big Love, Gossip Girl
Movies: Forrest Gump, Good Will Hunting, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

As for the big things, well, you'll just have to come back later. I'm still mulling them over.