Archive for the ‘ NaBloPoMo ’ Category

Thirty Days

You know the rhyme:

30 days has September, April, June and November…

(I still use that one more than I care to admit.)

Here we are. Day 30.

I expected NaBloPoMo to be more difficult than it actually was. Yes, it took some organization and there were a few nights I went out later or came home earlier than perhaps I would have liked, but I managed. The act of writing every day isn’t so difficult when you tell yourself you have to do it and are beholden to a group doing the same thing you are.

It forced me to relax my assumptions a little bit about whether what I’m writing is good enough, or is something people will actually want to read. I’m not sure whether my concern was too many people seeing my writing, or not enough people wanting to read what I have to say, but getting past that and just doing it has been so good for me.

I didn’t attract a miraculous fan base. In fact, the most views I had on a single given day was 20. My most loyal readers (or at least, commenters) are my boyfriend who I see every day and my very good friend in Denmark who I see almost never. And that feels perfect. I like that this is a venue that the people closest to me, whether they sit next to me as I type or read my words 8 hours ahead of me on the other side of the world, can use to check in every now and then on my thoughts. Even when you’re there for all the action, it’s interesting to hear what people choose to tell or not tell. Thanks Chuck and John for  keeping me honest.

And while my closest friends were my most loyal fans, I did get a comment or two from other NaBloPoMo folks who stumbled across this little blog. It’s nice to know that I did reach a few new people, and to feel supported by other people having the same experience.

I don’t know what comes next for my writing. If I could spend as long as I do writing these entries on editing and polishing some of my older work, I might have some real stuff to work with. But then I remember–this is the real stuff. This is my life. Wherever it goes next will be wonderful.

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Cleaning

I know it’s been a relaxing weekend, because I took a nap in the middle of the day today. Once I’ve let my body unwind enough to sleep whenever and wherever it wants, I know I’m in good shape. Just in time to go back to work, I hit my pure vacation zone. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Anyway, I earned that nap today. We decided to close out the long weekend by cleaning our apartment. Next weekend a friend is coming to stay with us and we are finally having our housewarming party (6.5 months after we moved in) so it was the kind of cleaning that we wanted to make count. I was in charge of sweeping, mopping, dusting, linen changing, toilet, mirrors and counter tops. After our apartment was properly scrubbed down, we met some friends for a drink to celebrate the end of the long weekend and our hard work. Then it was more work–I took on Sunday dinner with maple-roasted brussel-sprouts and celery root au gratin. Have you ever eaten celery root? It’s a tasty, delicate little thing, but man is it ever ugly.

I’m ending the weekend relaxed, well-fed an in a clean, cozy apartment about to snuggle up to an episode of Mad Men. Did I mention I had so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? 2010 started out a little sour but it’s been a steady build. Hope your holiday was lovely.

Made it

4 entries to go before the end of NoBloPoMo and today was this first time I nearly forgot to write at all. Meant to do it this morning and got distracted by other avenues of the Internet. Thought about it this afternoon and ended up cleaning out the fridge instead. And now I’m out for the night–at a friend’s house meeting their new puppy Bruce Wayne, and then most likely going to a show tonight. Luckily, the Internet is everywhere, so I’m posting from my friend’s as Bruce Wayne, who runs like a bunny rabbit with long puppy legs, plays with toys all around me. We got him something made out of tennis balls and shaped like a jack, and it seems to be a new favorite of his.

It was awesome to wake up this morning thinking it was Sunday, only to remember that it is Saturday. 4.5 day weekend was just what I needed. Just under a month until I am off for another week, visiting the Ohio family for Christmas.

Anyway, this may be a little bit of a lame check in, but I’ve made it this far and dammit, I’m determined to finish. And now… back to puppy time.

Pre-Gluttony, Pies, and Kick-Ass Women

The office closed at 2:00 today, and I was out the door at 2:01. (Sadly, I was dragging with me a few projects to work from home on Friday, but in my mind it’s a 4.5 day weekend I’m starting. And Friday I have the option not to work should I find myself bloated like a ripe-melon and unable to move in the morning. I feel like I can’t lose here.) Stopped on the way home for wine–beaujolais nouveau is back!–and ice-cream. Tonight Chuck is in charge of shelling pecans and we are going to make a pie.

Pecan pie is a sensitive issue in my family. Only my grandmother’s recipe is acceptable. It’s grade is weighted heavily on “chewiness.”  Crusts are more an afterthought than part of the equation: you don’t lose any points for buying them from the store, or gain many from making your own. (Although, when I revealed this secret to my baking obsessed co-worker, I think a lone tear fell from her eye.) Note that this is a strict rule governing only pecan pie.  For other pies, it is perfectly acceptable to buy the whole pie from the store. I once commented on this to my mom in front of my step-grandma, who stepped in with a smile and said, “You’re mom’s just using an old family recipe.”

The woman in my family are workers first, domestic goddesses second. My aunt might not be able to roast a chicken, but she can design and sign off on plans for new green buildings. My mom hasn’t knitted a stitch in 50 years, but she founded a company. As for grandma: she can’t sew, bakes well from boxes, and served as a Navy WAVE.  And my step-grandma, rest her soul? In her lifetime, she earned a Ph.D.

All this to say, my attempts to make things from scratch most of the time actually make me a little bit of a rebel girl amongst my kin. (Note: in past years I may have tried to smoke the pecans. Not toast them, but inhale them. So I’m not the rebel I used to be.) Perhaps it’s my destiny to open a Bed and Breakfast and grow my own herbs (the not-for-smoking kind) in the back and combine the savvy of past generations with the down-home environmental earthiness of today. That, or if my pie fails, head back to graduate school.

For the record, I did buy a pre-made crust. Don’t tell anyone at my potluck.

Tonight is a tired night after a 9 hour day followed by yoga followed by stir-fry making followed by shower. I almost forgot to write altogether. Luckily, I had a tab open on my laptop that reminded me.

The screen is definitely dying on my laptop. I just got an unexpected flashing light show. Hold on little guy!

Good luck to all travelers tomorrow. I hope you get home safe for the feast, and are subject to minimal hassles along the way.

I’m gonna be holding down the holiday in Brooklyn this year, and baking pot-luck pecan pie tomorrow night. Psyched.

****EDIT****

For those of you keeping track, this post BARELY made it in time. I wrote it around 11, settled into solo internet surfing, and at 11:52 realized that it hadn’t posted. Apparently, instead of “Publish” I hit “Preview.” Luckily, I caught it just int time. I think I would have cried if I was eliminated from NaBloPoMo on a technical error. PHEW.

On the Myth of “Travel Options”

Ever since the public outrage at the TSA began last week, I’ve heard a lot of people put forth the following solution:”If you don’t like it, drive or take the train.”

Handy for the majority of Americans who own a car. Totally feasible for many of the corridor-city residing people whose family lives within 25 miles of the nearest train station (and, presumably, has a car to pick them up). But let’s explore the options for a carless couple traveling from New York City to visit their respective families in Cincinnati and Columbus Ohio in December.

Normally, we fly in to Columbus, spend a few days with my family, borrow a car, and spend a few more in Cincinnati before returning to Columbus for our departing flight. The itinerary this year is similar:

12/22: Depart: 9:25 AM; Arrive: 11:26 AM (2 hours 1 minute)

12/29: Depart: 6:40 AM; Arrive 8:25 AM (1 hour 45 minutes)

Total cost for per person: $234.40

Taking into account that planes use more fuel than cars, and that airlines employ significantly more staff than trains or buses (not even including security), economics would seemingly dictate that flying should be the most expensive option, the trade-off being time vs. cost.

Wrong.

Let’s look at my other options.

Bus

Greyhound’s web-only fares quoted me the same web-only price for multiple departure times. Given these options, I chose the shortest travel time going out. However, on the way home, I decided I wanted to have some time at home the day I arrive, so I opted for longer hours on an overnight trip:

12/22: Depart: 1:15 PM; Arrive: 1:25 AM 12/23 (12 hours 10 minute including 1 layover)

12/29: Depart: 12:15 AM; Arrive 2:45 PM (14 hours 30 minutes, nonstop)

Total cost for per person: $190.08

At least I am saving a little money with the bus, even if I am spending an extra 22 hours or so en route. That’s only if I go for the web-only fare though; the cost of a refundable ticket is $241–$6.60 more than my flight.

Train

Sadly, Amtrak doesn’t offer service into Columbus (and if Ohio’s Governor-Elect Kasich has his way, that will continue indefinitely). But with a slight re-ordering of our travel plans, I learned we can take a train from NY to Cincinnati. Let’s see what that does for us:

12/22: Depart: 6:45 AM; Arrive: 1:03 AM 12/23 (18 hours, 18 minutes)

12/29: Depart: 3:29 AM; Arrive 9:45 PM (18 hours 16 minutes)

Total cost per person: $310.00

So, I can pay $75 more and get 32 additional hours of travel time in return? With deals like this, I find it hard to believe trains aren’t doing better in this country.

Car

Suppose I go the American way and rent a car. A one-week rental with unlimited mileage starts at $457, including tax. Slightly cheaper than the $478 it’s going to cost us to fly. Except we haven’t bought our three-four tanks of gas or paid any tolls yet, and we’re spending about 10 hours going each way.

All this to is to say: despite the inconveniences associated with the airport and my intense fear of heights, I usually fly. In fact, I usually feel good about flying. I sometimes even enjoy drinking ginger ale at 14,000 feet. And I don’t expect any of my other options to be nearly as quick. But for flying to be both one of the more affordable options, and by far the most efficient one (environment aside), the choice that people tell me I have isn’t as simple as they assume it to be. I hope that this does make people reconsider air travel: real competition and legitimate use are the only way that other forms of transportation will become viable.


“The Sun is the Same in a Relative Way, But You’re Older”

Meandering through my Sunday afternoon, I stopped into an antique store around the corner to look for a set of bedside tables. The music that they had selected for the afternoon was Pink Floyd’s Time. Wandering through people’s discarded furniture: a vanity from the 1940’s, an armoire from the 1960’s, grandfather clocks and china and silver platters and jewelry boxes packed floor to ceiling to a psychedelic soundtrack was totally surreal. It felt in some ways completely appropriate. At the same time, though, I imagine when the band wrote the song they didn’t think it would ever become the soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon in an antique shop.