Wednesday, November 30, 2005


175 pages, 50,708 words (I wrote extra to hit that nice round 175-page mark). More reflections to come later; right now, so looking forward to sleeping until 7:30 tomorrow morning. Yay me!

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Greetings from the great gray (with snow, at the moment) Midwest, where I'm still ensconced after a happy Thanksgiving weekend with my family. I came down with a stomach bug yesterday that left me with a temperature over 100 and no energy whatsoever, so I decided to stay home an extra day and let my mom take care of me. Thus today I read two manuscripts, overdosed on morning television, finished knitting my first-ever scarf, crossed the 47,500-word mark on the Bad Novel (putting me in good shape to complete 50,000 words by Wednesday), and . . . didn't do much else, having a nice, restful day around the house. I'll fly into New York tomorrow and real life will resume. Until then, other news:

  • My funny, smart, and beautiful sister -- still six months away from graduating from Missouri State University -- already has a job with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as their newest management trainee. Yay kid!
  • Speaking of my sister, I tried on bridesmaid dresses over the weekend, and it looks like I'll be wearing a V-neck halter with a long A-line skirt, all in a pretty rose color. Melissa said, "You can't wear that, you'll look hotter than I am!" when I put it on, so I knew immediately it was the right one. The wedding is next July.
  • I caught up with my elementary-school friend Cydney Rabourn, who is now running for state representative in Kansas.
  • I saw "Rent" and "Walk the Line." I love the Broadway version of "Rent," but I felt the movie suffered from being a little too faithful to the original material: Relationships and transitions that were perfectly believable onstage felt forced and clumsy in the naturalistic setting of film, and Stephen Chbosky's screenwriting skills and/or Chris Columbus's directorial imagination weren't quite able to open them up and make them real. Still, it's valuable merely for preserving the terrific Broadway performances from Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Jesse Martin and Wilson Jermaine Heredia . . .
  • . . . and my sister said after we saw it, "So is that really what happens to people with AIDS?" And I said, "Yes, really," and she said, "Oh. I didn't know that." So it accomplishes one of the best things art can do: creating imaginative sympathy.
  • And "Walk the Line" was quality as well, though what's remained in my mind three days later were the intense performances from Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix (hello, Joaquin Phoenix) and the wonderful, wonderful music.
  • Still haven't seen the new "Pride and Prejudice."
  • I caught a video on FUSE for the excellent Hasidic reggae singer Matisyahu.
  • And I taught my technologically challenged father to use my iPod, which he found really easy and cool. The number-one song he wants for himself? "Hey Ya."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

For the Beauty of the Earth

This is my favorite hymn, for its simplicity and its wonder, and because it does list so many of the things I'm grateful for: my family, with whom I ate an enormous Thanksgiving dinner earlier today; my friends, whose humor and faith keep me alive; community; peace; the "heart and mind's delight" provided by nature and the arts and having good work to do. . . . It doesn't mention chocolate, Twinings Earl Grey, the novels of Jane Austen, and wireless DSL, but otherwise, it's got me pretty much covered. The words are by Folliot Pierpont; the music, Conrad Kocher.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Eliot Deflated

Courtesy of child_lit:

Two limericks off Prufrock:

A man did not dare eat a peach
But he wore trousers rolled at the beach.
Women walked to and fro
Saying, "Mike Angelo"
And he heard mermaids call each to each.

An angst-ridden amorist Fred
Saw sartorial changes ahead.
His ears started ringing
With fishy girls singing.
Soft fruit also filled him with dread.


Waste Land Limericks
by Wendy Cope

In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful;
Clairvoyantes distress me,
Commuters depress me–
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.

She sat on a mighty fine chair,
Sparks flew as she tidied her hair;
She asks many questions,
I make few suggestions–
Bad as Albert and Lil–what a pair!

The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep;
Tiresias fancies a peep–
A typist is laid,
A record is played–
Wei la la. After this it gets deep.

A Phoenician named Phlebas forgot
About birds and his business–the lot,
Which is no surprise,
Since he'd met his demise
And been left in the ocean to rot.

No water. Dry rocks and dry throats,
Then thunder, a shower of quotes
From the Sanskrit and Dante.
Da. Damyata. Shantih.
I hope you'll make sense of the notes.


He deserves this. But also: The Four Quartets.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cardeology + Quotation + Signs of the Times

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year(tm) quickly approaches . . . and indeed I'm such a sucker for Christmas that I really do think it's the most wonderful time of the year, excepting September (my birthday month), May (spring), and any time I'm out luxuriating in one of the parks on a sunny day, when I'm convinced that's the most wonderful day of the year.

In any case, I have been thinking about ways to extend the holiday joy to you, my dear readers, and I think it's easiest just to offer this: Send me an e-mail between now and December 1 and I will send you a Christmas card in turn. No hoops to jump through, no odd vocabulary to include in the message, just a simple e-mail with your postal address to chavela_que at yahoo dot com and a little envelope of good wishes and good cheer will come to your mailbox. Many of you friends-and-relations will of course already be on my list, but I hope also to hear from you strangers who post occasionally or who have lurked on the blog up to this point. And it would be lovely if anyone who receives a card from me would send me one in return, but it's certainly not an obligation.

Ten points to the first non-Katy reader who identifies the source of the new headline (author and book).

And the small signs of the season changing:

  • I put my comforter on my bed last night, after months of sleeping with only sheets and blankets;
  • I linger under it far longer than I should;
  • I bought a new hat and gloves (magenta and striped, respectively) and a new pale teal winter coat;
  • the snowflakes are up on the lightposts along Seventh Avenue, and light-and-tinsel stars strung across the streets of Williamsburg and Little Italy;
  • grocery-store specials on stuffing, yams, pumpkins, and cranberries;
  • I'm planning craft projects for Christmas;
  • socks curled up in odd corners of the apartment;
  • I have an afghan on my lap as I sit here typing;
  • the electric teakettle bubbles and clicks all day long.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Happy List: November 17, 2005

  • I went to bed around 11 last night, so when the alarm goes off at 6:20, I feel well-rested and ready to get up
  • I get inspired and write over 2,000 words on the Bad Novel
  • And crack the 100-page mark!
  • The sun is shining
  • My Thomas Pink shirt doesn't require ironing
  • And I wear it
  • (And I own a Thomas Pink shirt)
  • There's a lovely autumn nip in the air
  • I read The Brothers Karamazov on the train
  • On Five Bucks to Friday, Ron and Starbucks Girl (the Little Red-Haired Girl of the strip) have a great date at last
  • A good game of Internet Scrabble ends in my victory (but it's close)
  • I think long and hard about a manuscript, and eventually write and send revision notes
  • The Acquisitions committee approves a picture book I want to acquire
  • And I get to make the offer
  • I read the blues for The Valley of the Wolves -- the last manuscript stage of a book I've been working on (on and off) for two years
  • I have a hot ham-and-cheese sandwich, potato chips, and a chocolate-chip cookie for lunch
  • While eating, Rachel and I discuss the usual: her upcoming birthday party; her books, my books, books in general; how much we love food; our families; friends; men; and work (those last four semicolons could also be commas)
  • The very sweet Olgy Gary of Children Come First tells me that her e-book of "The Rules of Engagement" is getting a lot of requests and nice comments

  • The National Agricultural Library asks us for a copy of Food for Thought: The Complete Book of Concepts for Growing Minds for their collection -- which is "What the hell?" but also terrific and hilarious
  • Katy and I get to talk
  • My family is going to have a huge Thanksgiving dinner with all of my favorite dishes (including, especially, Jiffy corn casserole)
  • And we'll play croquet
  • My cold is dissipating
  • I listen to the Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, and Alanis Morrisette while doing dishes
  • I drink my first hot chocolate of the winter
  • I register for the domain name for the Talking Books site, so there is now a website with my name on it, which is odd but cool
  • And having written a blog post with all of these felicities (and hoping I don't sound too smug -- I'm just delighted to have had such a good day),
  • I am going to go to bed before midnight and read Saving Francesca.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Goblets & Glamour

So Saturday I attended the New York premiere of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." It was held at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 54th Street, and when Rachel and I arrived early that afternoon, we were surprised and delighted to see we got to walk down the red carpet -- not with the stars, who were on the press line and separated from us by a movie-poster barrier, but on the red carpet nonetheless. Hundreds of fangirls were lined up across the street from us, shrieking at every black-windowed car that passed by, and we admired their homemade posters and enthusiasm as we waited in line to get in. Once inside, we met up with the other Scholastic people and found our seats in the theatre. After an hour of celebrity-spotting (our genius creative director David Saylor was seated next to Jon Heder from "Napoleon Dynamite," and Rachel saw James Gandolfini and Tim Robbins) and easy HP trivia questions while more important people made their way inside, it was time for the main event.

(Note: major spoilers ahead, and all opinions are of course only my own.) So, "Goblet of Fire." It's quite good, very pacey, and it manages to be both the funniest and the most intense of the HP movies so far. The focus is very much on the big action scenes: the Quidditch World Cup (though we see only the introductions, none of the game), the tasks, the Yule Ball, Voldemort's resurrection, the aftermath. The film does an excellent job setting up the Crouch/Moody plot, and I very much liked Brendan Gleeson as Moody; they managed to drop the house-elves entirely while still keeping the story clicking along, which is an accomplishment. Voldemort in the graveyard is as terrifying as it ought to be, and the Malfoy-as-bouncing-ferret scene is here in its entirety! (We once got a letter at work from a woman who kept pet ferrets and was upset that Buckbeak ate them in OotP -- I hope she isn't too distressed when the ferret goes down Crabbe's pants.)

But what's missing in the focus on the big scenes is the connective material that makes those scenes matter, particularly any sort of emotional transition from scene to scene or emotional context for the events. At the live Pottercast afterward, John Noe said that he felt he was watching an unfinished movie, and while he can't have been right -- thousands of rolls of film must be on their way to theatres this very moment -- I knew what he meant; it seemed a little jumpy in its hurry to pack everything in. (It reminded me of "Elizabethtown," actually, in the sense that both are good movies that feel as if pieces have been forcibly removed from them for reasons other than the filmmakers' vision.) It's hard to know if the movie is aimed at people who have read the book or not; the script takes the trouble to foreshadow Moody's secret identity through his endless slugging from a flask, and yet I don't think it explained "Priori Incantatem" fully (I could be wrong about this), which means the graveyard scene must have been absolutely baffling for some viewers. And while the romantic triangulations leading up to the ball are handled nicely, and Neville especially gets a wonderful not-in-the-book moment to shine, the Ron/Hermione tension doesn't snap the way it could -- particularly when the big "You should have asked me first!" scene ends with Hermione shouting "Go to bed!" at the boys. (Mrs. Weasley? Where did you come from?) But it's always hard for me to judge the HP movies on first viewing, and on the whole I very much admired the filmmakers' work at packing a big, bursting, rumbustious book into two and a half hours of efficient, enjoyable film.

After the movie, I said goodbye to Rachel, and it was on to the live Potter/Mugglecast at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. Melissa had reserved a seat for me, so I walked past the fangirls (who seemed to have migrated down en masse, switching their undying devotion from Daniel Radcliffe to Emerson along the way) to a place near the side. The MuggleNet boys all look about twelve, but they'd be the smartest and smart-aleckest twelve-year-olds I know, and Andrew especially had many intelligent things to say about the film. Afterward I met Emerson, John Noe (for the second time), and the super-sweet Sue Upton from TLC.

And then began the surreal portion of the evening: Melissa had secured tickets to the premiere afterparty, so we shot uptown to an old church near St. John the Divine that had been converted into a party space. The Goblet of Fire stood on a pedestal outside, and the Triwizard Cup just inside the doors; the main space was decorated to look like the Yule Ball, with waterfalls of shiny silver material flowing from the balconies to the floor, where tables stood covered with white tablecloths and spindly ice sculptures. By the time we arrived, about 10 p.m., the party had moved downstairs to the dance floor and bar/lounge space. We saw Melissa's lovely mother, the all-powerful Mrs. Anelli; she and Melissa introduced us to Jamie Waylett (Crabbe), then Rupert Grint (Ron) and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy). Melissa, John, and Sue met Daniel Radcliffe and the beautiful, beautiful Robert Pattinson, but I was feeling shy because of my lingering voice-warping cold, book-and-not-movie background, and not-very-swanky clothes (I feel I can safely say I was the only person at the party wearing something from Old Navy), so I circulated around the room by myself, thinking "Oh! That's Hermione. Oh! That's Fred or George, and there's also Fred or George. And that's Neville Longbottom, he did a great job . . ."

Eventually I came back to where Sue was talking to Jason Isaacs (and trying not to faint), and we three chatted for a few minutes about the books, "The West Wing," and American electoral politics. I excused myself to use the bathroom, where I found myself standing in line in front of a pretty Asian girl in a black dress -- Katie Leung, who plays Cho Chang.

"You were very good in the film," I said.

"Thanks," she said. "I'm excited."

"Is this your first movie?"

She nodded, then put her hand over her mouth and said, "Excuse me, I have the hiccups."

"I always try to hold my breath and take a drink," I told her. "That gets rid of them."

"Oh," she nodded again, and at that point a stall opened and I went inside. Then I thought, "Oh, my lord. I just advised a movie star how to get rid of the hiccups" -- and the incongruity, the unlikelihood, the sheer goofiness of that made me smile: for these stars were all people like anyone else, and they certainly acted like anyone else, getting hiccups and hating George W. Bush. And yet there is something about stardom that makes them seem more real: They are more seen than I am, and therefore more important in the world, even if they get hiccups too. But to the credit of all the stars of the party, none of them acted like this fact existed; I smiled at Katie as I came out of the stall, and she smiled back.

Then it was back to the main room, to observe, to listen, to chat with Mrs. A. and fan Sue (who was still recovering from her time with Jason Isaacs), till the three TLC'ers and I left for the PotterCast afterparty. I didn't stay for this -- the clock had struck midnight, literally, and my head felt like Cinderella's pumpkin. But I relished the memory of the whole night on the ride home, as I probably shall for a long time to come: my brush with glamour for 2005.

Enjoy the movie, all!

Because Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Are *So* Not Hot

Another excellent forward from my uncle.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sniff Sniff

I woke up yesterday morning with a knife-sharp sore throat and a stuffy nose (no doubt the result of wearing summertime running clothes to a November marathon), so I decided to spend the day working at home. It was actually a nice day, as I finished reading/made notes on two novel manuscripts and edited the text for a rhyming picture book from a French publisher: "Clever orange fox--tell me, who are your friends? / Not the tall farmer but her tasty hens." I wrote my assigned hour for NaNoWriMo (over 58 pages/16,625 words of crap now!); I listened to the rain chatter on the roof; I drank endless mugs of green tea with honey.

  • But it's a good thing my uncle didn't send me the link to this website until today, because then I would have accomplished nothing -- it's more addictive than Minesweeper. I've gotten up to 17 seconds three or four times now, but I can't break that 18 barrier. . . .
  • And I managed to keep myself from goofing around on the Talking Books page till tonight, when I added a few new links and created an annotated list of books I've edited.
  • Because of my cold, I will not be working the baked-goods table at Park Slope United Methodist Church's Hollyberry Fair this Saturday as I was supposed to; but if you're in the Park Slope area, you should definitely stop by to see/buy beautiful crafts by Brooklyn artisans and get started on your Christmas shopping. Saturday from 10-4, just behind PSUMC on 8th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues in Park Slope.
  • Oh! And at the Hollyberry Fair, you can bid in the silent auction on a "manuscript consultation with a professional editor," that is, yours truly. I edit, I copyedit, I'll strategize with you about getting published. . . . Opening bid is $40, I think.
  • I keep forgetting to say: On my HP&SS analysis, thanks to all the people who advised me that the "Privet" in Privet Drive is a hedge and not a toilet. That line has been cut.
  • Anthony Lane reviews the Keira Knightley "Pride and Prejudice," which I have no choice but to see sometime in the next week. Really, I will try to resist, and I will fail utterly. It sounds like it truly is Austen's story with Brontesque throbbing and precipitation, and even then maybe it's not so big on the story part; but at least it should be pretty to look at. If any of you see it, let me know what you think.
  • The life of Charles Dickens, "South Park" style. (In animation, not content, thankfully.) (Link from Katy)

All right, I must take myself and my poor beleaguered nose to bed. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tell Me, Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

My uncle recently sent me a link to a website called Family Watchdog US. It's endorsed by John Walsh, who established "America's Most Wanted," and designed to "let you see where registered sexual offenders live and work around you." You enter your zip code and get a map showing all of the sexual offenders in your area:

The Brooklyn Sexual Offenders Map

The red dots are people who commit "offenses against children"; yellow dots are rapists; blue is sexual battery, and green is people who committed the ominously huge category of "other offenses." The whole thing is topped by the alarming and ungrammatical notice, "There may be additional offenders who cannot be properly displayed on this map."

Scrolling around to see all of New York City, I'm fascinated to see where these people live -- primarily poorer, denser neighborhoods, as might be expected of people who have spent serious time in jail. There are a lot of rapists, child molesters, and "other offenders" in Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, and Williamsburg. Quite a few rapists and other offenders in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The sexual batterers appear to have settled down en masse in New Jersey -- three times as many as the rest of the entire metropolitan area. Queens as a whole seems to be the most sexual offender-free borough, but most of the rich neighborhoods are clean: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, TriBeCa, Soho, midtown, the whole Upper East Side.

And I was indeed relieved to see that there weren't any rapists or child molesters in Park Slope. But an "other offender" lives right on 12th Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues, about three-fourths of the way down the block. And when I clicked on his dot, his name, address, mug shot, and offense popped up: Michael Hands, 243 12th Street, "Sodomy-3rd degree Male, 14 years."

Oh God. The poor, poor boy -- such an awful thing to have happen to him, if it was forced, and I hope, wherever he is, he's gotten the help he needed to recover. And yet I can't help feeling a twinge of pity for Michael Hands too, who will be stalked by this offense (and Family Watchdog US) the entire rest of his life. . . . There is no allowance for the individual story here, that the boy consented, that Michael repented, that it was one time fifteen years ago and he has a partner now and two safe, happy kids of his own. (Yes, I know how unlikely these scenarios are, and about sexual-offender recidivism rates. But I hope.) There is no mercy, after he has, after all, paid his time.

But I admit that, knowing this, if I lived in the apartments at 243 12th Street, I'd have a harder time saying hello to him in the lobby. And if I had a child, by God, I wouldn't want mercy, I'd want safety.

So I am fascinated by this map as a sociological tool. I am troubled by it as a supporter of the right to privacy and a believer that people can change. I am grateful for it if it helps prevent even one sexual offense.

I am conflicted. And now I'm going to eat dinner.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Marathon Mania

This all began with a bridge. Two years ago, I made a New Year's Resolution to walk all the bridges linking Manhattan to the mainland and other islands. I have always loved bridges -- the beauty, the height, the connection, the betweenness -- and in 2002 I had crossed the Brooklyn, the Manhattan, the Williamsburg and the George Washington; in 2003, I decided, I would finish them off. The effort turned out to be one of the great joys of that year, as it took me to parts of the city I'd never seen before (the Bronx, Roosevelt Island, Inwood Hill Park) and provided many wonderful walks, stories, and views.

But it also created a thorn in my side: the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island. The V-N is the tallest, highest, longest, bridge in the New York City area and the sixth-longest suspension bridge in the world, 4,260 graceful feet from span to span. Even though it was out of my Manhattan-bridge purview, it was so big and so beautiful I longed to cross it on foot, and I felt I couldn't say I'd walked all the major NYC bridges until I conquered that one. But the V-N doesn't allow pedestrian traffic and never has, which means I've been talking disconsolately about it for years.

Until finally, this last September, Rachel brought up the one exception to the pedestrian rule. She said, "Why don't you crash the Marathon?"

"I don't want to run the Marathon," I said. "I'm not in shape, I'm not registered, it's too late--"

"You crash, idiot," she said. "You don't register officially. You sneak into the starting area, you run across the bridge, and that's it."


The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. If I were officially registered, I'd be taking a place away from another runner who could actually go 26.2 miles, and I'd feel guilty cutting out without completing the whole thing -- I could just picture my ancestors with their Protestant work ethics frowning down on me for leaving a job unfinished. Running unregistered avoided those problems and provided an attractive air of minor illegality. And I would finally get to cross the Verrazano-Narrows.

So I researched the requirements to enter the starting area (a timing chip and a number) and procured the chip at a NYRR race last week. I consulted Jimmy about his 2004 Marathon experience; Melissa Anelli offered me the use of her apartment in Staten Island (which I had to decline); Katy and Rachel encouraged the skullduggery. Most crucially, the most excellent Jeremiah scanned his number and, through the miracle of Photoshop, made it mine:

(He changed the number and removed his name from the left side so it now reads "Cheryl Klein.") On Saturday he even nobly took time out from the Notre Dame game to help me fake a decal for my timing chip. That night I laced the chip on my shoe; laid out my new running top, t-shirt coverup, and favorite shorts and socks; reviewed the plan; and went to bed in a state of high excitement.

Sunday morning I was up at 5:30, on the subway by 6, on the S53 bus by 7, and at 7:30 I was lying through my teeth to a nice man from Dallas who wanted to know how long I'd been training and what my pace was. "Oh, about four-thirty," I said.

That is four hours and thirty minutes, for the record. Who's crazy enough to run that long?

The answer is 37,000 people, and all of them were in Fort Wadsworth at Staten Island. I tried to be inconspicuous, but I wasn't enough of a runner to know that you always wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to a run to keep your muscles warm, so I stood out a little in the 55-degree cool. . . . I kept my number covered and my chip out of sight. I was supposed to be in the green group, which was relegated to the bottom level of the bridge, but fortuitously I met up with Jeremiah and his friend Mike (Jeremiah's on the right in the picture), and we decided to join the blue group instead. We hung out for two hours (much of it in line for the Port-A-Potties) before the Powers That Be finally began to move us to the start.

This was where it got exciting. People yelled, whooped, did team cheers. Clothes flew through the air as runners stripped off their warm-ups and threw them into the trees. Jeremiah and Mike peeled off for one last bathroom break. I streamed forward with the crowd through a few bends, down toward the toll gates, around a big U, where I tossed away my t-shirt . . .

And there was the Verrazano. It was gorgeous, but I was almost too caught up in the energy and exhilaration of the morning to appreciate it: We were running now, all of us, up the long straightaway to the first anchorage, with volunteers cheering on the sidelines and TV cameras capturing our first enthusiastic sprints. I loped two hundred feet, took a picture, ran another two hundred feet, took a picture, and kept that up pretty much all the way across the bridge, trying to preserve as many memories as possible. (I discovered after about ten pictures that my memory card was full, so I started running and deleting old pictures from my camera at the same time, which must have looked incredibly goofy.) The morning was bright and cool and the spirit was electric. I whooped as I crossed under each anchorage, the Verrazano mine at last.

And then we were off the bridge, following the curves, descending into Bay Ridge. The good people of Brooklyn greeted us with shouting and signs and applause and encouragement. Here I came to my big dilemma: I had thought that I would come off the bridge, run to Fourth Avenue, and catch the R straight back to Park Slope -- I had to be at church to count the offering at 12:30 and I definitely needed to shower before then, so that was surely the most sensible thing to do. But it was only 10:30, and I was curious about how far I could go. . . . I passed the 92nd St. station and thought, I'll just run to the next subway stop.

By 89th Street I'd decided: I was running home, all the way to 9th Street in Park Slope. And it was a glorious happy four miles after that, waving to the spectators, humming along with the bands, grabbing water, taking the occasional picture, all the time forward forward forward in that blind runners' drive. Everyone yelled or yodeled as we crossed under the highway bridges. The shop signs changed from Italian to Spanish to Arabic to Chinese to English. I watched the street numbers count down and thought about how much I loved New York. Is there a greater city in this world? No, there is not.

I turned off at 9th Street with regret; I had gone nearly seven miles, my longest distance ever, but I was still so hyped up I wanted to run even farther -- to do the entire marathon, if I could. There was one picture left on my camera, and I asked a passersby to take my photo before I removed my wonderful number:

And then I walked up to 5th Avenue, went straight into a Dunkin Donuts, and ordered a Boston Kreme. Best. Doughnut. Ever.

Next year, I'm running the whole thing.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot!!!

Today is the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes's arrest in the cellar of Parliament House with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder. I encourage you all to take this opportunity to play funny BBC trivia games and shout "Gunpowder, treason, and PLOT!!!" in the middle of random conversations -- it's fun! And just in case you can't find a bonfire tonight . . .

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Projects Update

In case anyone is curious:

  • Knitting: I'm still figuring out some of the stitch patterns (and I need to buy the right yarn), but I think I'll be able to start my first real scarf in the next week.
  • Wardrobe Refreshment: I've acquired a lovely new winter coat and a couple of swanky shirts. Now I'm in the market for a new LBD (Little Black Dress), as my current one feels a trifle nunlike, and a pair of pretty black heels to go with it. (This last makes Rachel ridiculously smug, as she's been as loudly in favor of heels as I've been loudly in favor of not breaking an ankle -- grace not being my strong suit. So they need to be stable black heels.) Prada has some gorgeous LBDs in its window on Prince St. right now, but I need to pay rent this month, alas. . . . If you're in the city and you spot a great dress or a sale, please let me know.
  • Keeping a Plant Alive for One Year: After ten months of health and happiness, my philodendron has suddenly decided to have half its leaves turn yellow and droop. I cut off some long-dangling branches and gave it lots of Miracle-Gro, both to little avail. Fingers crossed it can make it till January 1.

NaNoWriMo: I've gotten up at 6:20 each of the last three mornings, stumbled to my hot water pot, brewed a cup of tea, and sat down at the laptop promptly at 6:30 to write for an hour before work. The first morning was backstory; the second a vague attempt at action; and this morning, in an effort to get myself excited about the thing, I decide to go the William Goldman route and write the Good Parts. It worked. It is utter crap, most of it, and if my editorial brain were functioning at all on this project it would probably be perfectly appalled; but since the entire point of NaNoWriMo is to turn off the editorial brain, I'm having a great time. And with 5,076 words, I'm on track with my word count too (I need to write 1,666 words a day to make 50,000 by the end of the month). Yay! We shall see how this continues to go.

  • Editing: Many things, chiefly Lisa's Emily Ebers Explains Everything.
  • Reading: Currently The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie (a reread, because goodness it's good); The Freshman by Michael Gerber (book group selection for November); The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber (still).
  • Crashing the Marathon Just Long Enough to Cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: Plans are in place, and I am excited. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Three Joys of Apartment Living

1. The guy in the apartment below me is apparently blasting an AK-47, swinging a lightsaber, driving a motorcycle, knocking down and sanding walls, and occasionally speaking in an echoing, soulless female voice. I am not sure what video game he's playing, but it sounds like a good time.

2. I made this very good spaghettini with blue cheese for dinner tonight. It's insanely easy and intensely flavorful -- so flavorful that indeed my mouth is numb. Recipe courtesy of the cookbook Vegetarian Pleasures via Ted; serves four.

  • Cook 1 pound spaghettini (or any long, thin pasta) until al dente in a large pot of boiling water.
  • Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter with 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup minced fresh parsley.
  • Drain the spaghettini, pour on the parsley sauce, and toss well. Sprinkle with 1 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese and toss again. (Option: Add pine nuts or diced cooked chicken for texture and taste.) Serve immediately.

3. Wireless DSL. God bless it, everyone.

What's a Modern Girl to Do?

Well, this article is depressing as all hell. I don't think it's meant entirely seriously -- Maureen Dowd cares more about being provocative than she does about being right -- but the statistics she cites in the "Power Dynamics" section are enough to make any thinking woman gag (particularly since for every 16 extra I.Q. points we use to think about the statistics, we're becoming 40 percent less likely to get married). I don't have any idea what to do about that.

But I do know that the feminist movement was not designed to limit women's choices by telling us that we have to keep our maiden names or always wear flat shoes or go to law school and then make partner. Rather, it was designed to open those choices up so that they were as wide and varied and full as men's, so our lives could be as wide and varied and full as men's. We feminists sometimes condemn more traditional female roles (as Dowd implicitly does in this article) because it's hard to see a woman choose not to take those hard-won freedoms; but choice, possibility, is really what feminism is all about. No more, no less.

So here is what I think we Modern Girls should do:

  1. Know what will make us happy. For some women it's a husband and family. For some women it's job satisfaction. For some women it's sexual liberation. For some women it's a Prada dress. For some women it's intellectual work. For some women it's a clean house. For some women it's a really good book. For some women it's religious service. For most of us it is all of the above, or several of the above, or some of the above plus a bunch of things I've left off.
  2. Go after that. Or as much of that as we can.
  3. Let go of the need to have all of it. We probably cannot have it all perfectly, but we can have a lot of it badly, and if it makes us happy, that' s more than good enough.
  4. Recognize that every woman has the right to make different choices, just as every man does.
  5. Support each other. Or at least, if we can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
  6. Wear the clothes and makeup that please us and suit whatever situation we find ourselves in. Sometimes this will involve dressing to look sexy, because that is a perfectly acceptable thing to want to do and to do. I quote Bootsy Collins: "You have to bring some funk to get some funk." But sometimes this will involve sweatpants. Both have their time and place.
  7. Use birth control.
  8. Protest the Samuel Alito nomination. However one feels about abortion (and my own opinion varies wildly), it is a personal question, not one for the Supreme Court to decide. And the moment he gets confirmed, it's decided.
  9. Take care of ourselves. Physically: Sleep. Eat right and exercise, with occasional dark chocolate. Emotionally: Communicate. Rest. Spiritually, if so inclined: Be quiet. Pray. Mentally: Read Jane Austen as well as Us Weekly.
  10. Love deeply -- our friends, our boyfriends, our parents, our husbands, our lovers, our siblings, our children, our work, our communities, our activities, our pets, even our things -- and value all the love in our lives, not just the kind we get from men. I get frustrated sometimes when I read a novel and a character decides that his or her career success really doesn't matter because s/he doesn't have anyone to share it with (particularly when this is the big personal epiphany leading to the romantic climax) -- privileging romantic love over every other kind of love that exists. God knows romantic love may be the most dizzying and dramatic and intoxicating love there is, and the most satisfactory when it's reciprocated and fulfilled; but it is likewise the least predictable and the least controllable, and often the hardest to find. So let us love our friends (particularly our girlfriends), who will be there in every circumstance; our work, especially if it offers the pleasures of service or accomplishment or creation; our families and homes; our lives, with or without romance. The loving, the emotion, is what gives meaning.
  11. Feel free to disagree with me -- and make our own rules.