Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The only thing worse* than working on Christmas Eve is

(a) going to work on Christmas Eve in the rain
(b) going to work on Christmas Eve in the rain and not getting a seat on the subway because apparently a lot of people are going to work on Christmas Eve in the rain
(c) going to work on Christmas Eve in the rain and not getting a seat on the subway and having one's boss (the only other person, seemingly, in the building) say to one, "Oh, you don't mind staying till we close at three, right? I have to leave at 1:30."
(d) going to work on Christmas Eve in the rain, not getting a seat on the subway, having one's boss leave early, and then having one's boss EMAIL YOU WORK SUGGESTIONS--FOR TODAY--FROM HER BLACKBERRY
(e) all of the above.

*Obviously there are many things worse. Not having a job, for example. I'm not COMPLETELY insensitive. Anyway, it's Christmas! Happy holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trying not to become a wedding blog, but:

I developed a soft spot for these until Chris informed me he wouldn't have his wedding invitations looking like an Urban Outfitters poster. I see his point, but I can't help loving their elegant simplicity. However, considering that we don't need to send invites till July, and there are a lot (a LOT) of weightier and time-relevant things on the wedding to-do list, I think I'll postpone my browsing...but post them here for your enjoyment.

Chestnuts roasting...

I like being the little mama duck--my brother came to visit this weekend and the four of us tromped around Brooklyn and Manhattan, going to the subway museum (v. cool, btw), B&N, Trader Joe's, and every store in Soho on an exhausting Christmas shopping expedition. Then we all retired to the home fort to play board games, drink eggnog, and watch Monty Python episodes on DVD. Isn't family the best?

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Year's...I will be here working for the most part (except for this weekend when I will be playing with my other family including two super cute kiddies), so comment away! Tell me your favorite Christmas present.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A rose is a rose is a rose.

I'm nervous to post about this but I can't not when I've been thinking about it for so long.

This was a thoughtful post, with many thoughtful comments, on the decision to change or not to change your last name when you get married. I'll be honest: I haven't made up my mind yet. I see pros and cons to both sides. But what hurts my feelings is when people assume there's no decision to be made--like with monograms. So what this commenter said really resonated with me:

"I understand the feminist issues with changing, or not changing your name when you get married, but I don't think the solution come from women making one decision or another, I think equality comes when we start asking men whether or not they're going to change their names."

Actually now that I reread it it's even more radical than when I first glanced over it--I thought it said "when we start asking women." I still agree with the even loftier sentiment, that equality will only truly arrive when we habitually ask the guy if he's going to change his name. But we're not even at the stage where everyone asks the girl . Whichever decision you made or plan to make, I respect that. But I think it is just that: a decision, and not a given.

Monday, December 8, 2008


After dinner on Friday night, Shelby left to go to a friend's birthday party in Manhattan. At 10:00 I got a text: "i am the hospital right now. had some nut".

My sister has battled a nut allergy her whole life and is very accomplished at avoiding things that might potentially have nuts in them (she doesn't eat European chocolate because it has traces of nut from the kitchens; she turns down desserts all the time "just in case"; she doesn't eat Thai food or Middle Eastern food because the waiters don't understand that "pine nut" counts when she asks them if something contains nuts), but apparently this birthday cake looked innocuous. She only had one bite.

Her reactions to nuts are always severe but can usually be fended off by rapid application of Benadryl. Not this time. After she began to black out in the street, her friends put her in a cab for the New York Downtown Hospital. I'm especially grateful to her work friend Simon, who rode with her in the cab and waited with her in the ER until I could get there (luckily, we have a car, and luckily, the hospital was right across the Brooklyn Bridge).

I stayed with her until about 1:30 in the morning, when they let her go home. I've never seen a person's face be a literal shade of green, and I've never seen my sister so ill--convulsive shivers, an inability to speak above a whisper, a violent loss of stomach contents. I'm just glad I live in the city and was able to be there. Chris picked us up (he hadn't been able to find parking or would have stayed with us) and we installed Shelby on our sofa bed with lots of pillows, blankets, movies, and my stuffed monkey Ned, and she stayed there all day Saturday while we were at the bridal shower.

My public service announcement is this: if you must bake with nuts (which, why? Trust me, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, carrot cake, it ALL tastes JUST AS GOOD without the nuts. Flavoring with almond extract, grinding up nuts to give density to the flour--it's fine if you must do it but please warn people) please, please chop up some walnuts to garnish the item or somehow indicate that the product contains nuts. Nut allergies have increased in not only number but in severity in the last decade, and people DIE. Thank God my sister's body's reflexes are so fast and she could tell instantly that she had consumed something with nut. If she'd had one more bite, who knows what might have happened?

You hear a lot about peanut allergies (note: peanuts are not actually nuts, they are beans, and Shelby is, ironically, not allergic to peanuts), but nut allergies are just as severe, and I hope that this story will erase any impatience with food restrictions you may have previously rolled your eyes at.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Gallows humor is the order of the day."--My boss.

I just looked at the invitation for the bridal shower I am going to tomorrow and realized it is slated to be four hours long. (The shower, not the invitation. Bad grammar, sorry.) Four hours! That's a long time to watch someone open gifts. Wow.

I can handle it as long as there aren't any GAMES. :)

Just kidding, I am very touched to be invited and look forward to getting acquainted with Chris's relatives. (Um, I'm paralyzingly shy without Liz there to squeeze my arm, so we'll see how this goes. But Chris spent an entire week on a road trip with my family, so I need to be more like him.)

Tonight my sister is coming over to see our tree and Chris is making homemade margaritas in the blender Dorok and Tara kindly got me a couple of years ago. Hooray for Fridays, especially Fridays following "Black Wednesday" in the publishing world...Basically every day I still have a job is going to be a celebration, woo hoo!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I hope everyone had wonderful Thanksgivings--mine was nice and I was thankful for many things, not least of which was a smooth and peaceful flight/graduation/move/drive from Florida to Virginia. Oh, and my brother's winning honors and being one of only two riggers to have his demo reel shown in the demo reel exposition.

Today I'm home sick from work, battling the cold I inherited from my dad and brother. It started Thursday night and you'd think it'd be done by now. It's the kind of thing where I managed to get out of bed long enough to take a shower and then I felt so worn out I had to lie down for five minutes and the next thing you know it's two hours later.

My head hurts too much to find something funny to say right now :) I think I'll go take another nap.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kind of worried.

In the past couple of months, I've been calling people by the wrong name--like, I'll know that it's "Mary" that I'm talking to, but I'll say "Joanna" (the other assistant, or a friend of Mary's who's also in the room, or something).

Just now I caught myself mixing up a book by the same author: one's called, say, "Soccer Giant" vs. "Lacrosse Champ." Now, I know they're similar titles, but I'm VERY involved with these manuscripts. I've usually been the one person who doesn't mix them up.

I know these are mistakes that it's easy to make, but I've never done this before, as far as I know. What's the matter with me? I'm only 26.

Also, for a long time I've noticed that I forget things really easily. For example, if Chris and I have an argument, I'll be boiling mad over something, and then ten minutes later I can't remember what he said at all. I don't know if that has any bearing here.

Monday, November 10, 2008


On days when I bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to work, I can never make it to 12. I'm proud of myself if I don't break it out before 11:35.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Audacious hope.

When they called Pennsylvania for Obama, I finally stopped knocking on wood, allowing myself for the first time all month, despite the blazingly favorable polls of late, to feel confident.

When they called Ohio for Obama (ironically, our remote control had alighted on Fox just as they made that declaration), in my head, I realized that McCain simply couldn't win.

But I was so fixated on Virginia--wondering what was taking so long, analyzing the county breakdowns, waiting for my home county of Fairfax to finish tallying and turn the state blue--that at 11 p.m., when Charlie Gibson counted down the seconds and then called the election for Obama so calmly that the three of us watching did a double take before choking up and slapping hands, I was astonished and taken by surprise.

What an incredible, historic night. To see the people of America energized and uncynical and HOPEFUL is a moment I will remember as long as I live.

John McCain's concession speech was so gracious and heartfelt that it reminded me just why he has been so admired for most of his career, and why my grandmother insisted to me in September that "he is a good man." I believe he is, now. A truly moving and inspiring speech.

(Not so inspiring were the sour reactions of his supporters, who booed like frat boys when they should have been applauding the pro-American sentiments of unity their candidate was espousing.)

And Obama's speech, of course, was an oration that put tears in the eyes of people AROUND THE WORLD.

I am so proud of my sister, voting absentee in Virginia; of my brother, standing in line to vote in Florida; of my friend Sarah, mailing in her Iowa ballot from the other side of the world. I am so proud of Chris, who has been getting out the message for months, unafraid of political conversation. And I'm proud of myself, for reclaiming my passionate interest in the country I'm proud to call home, an interest that had been in bruised retreat following the betrayals of the past eight years.

I'm so excited to get involved and to make a difference in shaping the next four!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Election Day!

Can you concentrate? I certainly can't! I'll tell you what, I've never been so cheerful to stand in line at 7:00 in the morning.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Barista? Waitress? Receptionist?

Sorry for the lack of posting. I'm hitting a real lowpoint at my job. I know, at least I still have a job, right?

I can't think of anything better to say about it and I've been sitting here for five minutes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I tend to agree with going against the homemade route (thanks commenters! You cheered me up) BUT I gotta say I was floored by these photos of a $68 dress from Target and a very talented bride:

Via the $10,000 Wedding.

Me too.

"I'll be watching the election returns clutching a Bible in one hand and a bottle of scotch in the other."--work person

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stupid economy making bargainhunters out of other brides...

Bummer--there was the most beautiful wedding dress on eBay, by my favorite wedding dress designer, at an amazing price, and I went in at the last minute to bid and I bid up and I bid up and whoever else wanted it wanted it, I guess, more.

I have a friend who designs dresses and I'm open to the idea of a custom dress, but it also makes me hugely nervous. What if I don't like it and it ruins the friendship? What if I'm not brave enough to tell her I don't like it and I wind up wearing something I don't love? Does one offer to pay someone for doing something like that, and if so, how much? What if it winds up LOOKING handmade, my worst fear of all? There are so many unknowns; it makes me very nervous.

I can't afford the dresses I really like, heh. And I'm too snobby to be happy with something that's not truly special. So I guess I'll keep looking, and comfort myself by reminding myself that the dress on eBay was a few sizes too big. I know things can get altered down, but with the many kinds of delicate fabric involved in this particular dress, I was worried about the alterations. And I still have almost a year to find the dress. Wah, you can tell I'm sad, but I'll get over it :)* My presentation went exceedingly well this afternoon, and in the grand scheme of things, that's more important (since an author's, you know, career depends upon it).

*In case you're wondering, I DID try the traditional "go to a bridal boutique with your mom" route, and it was one of the more disheartening experiences of my life. It's really awesome to be lectured sternly on the price of lace and basically shaken out the door with the rug after forty minutes. Trying on wedding dresses was supposed to make you cry in a good way, I thought, not a sad way.

In actual earthshattering news, the election is only seven days away. Discuss.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Daddy dearest.

I've been meandering my way up to writing a post about the economy, saving money, planning a wedding in this economic climate, visitors, etc, but then I saw THIS and it jarred me out of my lazy blogging torpor:

"A new father has named his baby girl Sarah McCain Palin as an endorsement for Republican ticket...and without his wife's consent. Mark Ciptak of Tennessee says he picked the name to "get the word out" for McCain-Palin because he can't give a lot of money to the campaign. "I took one for the cause," he said. He wrote the name on the documents for his daughter's birth certificate, ignoring the name his wife picked, Ava Grace. “I don’t think she believes me yet,” said Ciptak. “It’s going to take some more convincing.” Yeah, it'll probably sink in when she sees the name written in the divorce documents." [The Knox News]--via Jezebel

WHAT an ASSHOLE. Even if he named the kid Michelle Barack Obama, I don't care. SHE DID ALL THE WORK! Holy crap, someone should punch that guy in the face.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


We have a date and a venue, a beautiful farm in Virginia:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nine to five.

Last week I moved offices and now not only do I have a window and a printer and speakers and two lamps but somehow I think they switched out my mouse so it's the kind that CLICKS in the most satisfactory way. Life is good.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This is why I don't like cell phones.

I’ve been secretly and not so secretly dreading today for a while: first race ever in the morning, when my lackluster training attempts haven’t led to me running farther than 30 minutes and 2.7 miles as a personal best; and moderating a book panel with some highfalutin’ authors in the afternoon, when public speaking and being in charge are two of my least favorite things.

Well, the race was fantastic. So exhilarating! I kept running the whole time and in fact beat Chris and Shelby, who were parking the car and didn’t expect me to be done yet, to the finish line. A personal best, distance and length of time. And the book panel went fine, despite 90 degree heat, glaring sunlight, and a crazy lady with a shopping cart strolling up and interrupting the proceedings with a broken-English yelling match.

After the panel was over, we went out for lunch to celebrate. I parted ways with my companions at the subway and, strolling home in a pleasant margarita haze, decided to call my grandmother, who’d donated to my race-fundraising efforts, to let her know I'd finished it successfully.

We chatted cheerily. I was almost home when the bombshell dropped.

“Now, you remember that my cousin has a daughter who works for Senator John McCain?”

“…Oh. Uh, how nice!”

“And she says to me, she says, “Norma, John McCain is a good man.”

“That’s very nice, Nanny.”

“I mean, I’ve never met John McCain. But when Barbie—I mean, Barbie’s daughter Amber, who works for him—says he’s a good man, doesn’t that give you great confidence?”

“…I’m really glad, Nanny.”

“Now—I just hope…I mean, who—well, I hope that helps you with what you’re thinking. Have you been following it much?”

“Nope, not really. I mean, I just … I don’t like to get into politics too much, I like to keep family things … I just don’t like to get into it.”

“Well, just as long as you’re not going to vote for someone who’s going to raise taxes!”

That’s when the tequila—or, I prefer to think, a hitherto-untapped source of bravery based in deeply felt convictions—kicked in.

“You know, Nanny, under Obama’s tax plan the middle class will benefit MORE from tax cuts than under John McCain. Under McCain the middle class will have to pay more taxes than they would under Obama.”

“That is not true! Obama wants to raise taxes for the middle class!”

“No, that’s just Fox News rhetoric. If you look at the facts, if you actually look at Obama’s tax plan side by side with McCain’s, the middle class will benefit more from Obama’s, and that has been reported by the Wall Street Journal, which is a conservative newspaper—“

“Obama is going to raise taxes for the corporations and for the rich people. And when we have to buy groceries, buy clothes, from these corporations, we are going to be suffering and paying more.”

[Blink.] “…Nanny, I just don’t like to talk about politics with family; I love you guys so much and I just want to keep it—I just love you guys so I don’t like to talk about it.”

“Okay, well…I’m just going to pray that you find the conviction to vote for the right candidate.” [The Right candidate?]

“Okay Nanny, I love you. Bye bye.”

So now my sweet grandmother, who was clearly so alarmed about my (never stated by me in family settings because I detest conflict) political standing that she brought the topic up at all, as indicated by her nervous laughs throughout the conversation, is going to be even more disappointed in me than she already is (because I live in sin); and I have to sit here and actively think about something I generally try to ignore which is that my entire family is so brainwashed that they are willing to ignore plain facts and vote for John McCain because he’s “a good man,” as my grandma’s cousin’s daughter (whose paychecks are signed by him) says, the man who will—if we let him—drive this country even deeper into the ground. There goes my high for the day. I’m throwing my cell phone out the window and watching it smash.

If they lived in Kansas, I’d probably be more able to let things slide. Naturally, they are--ALL--swing state residents.


I truly hate giving my grandparents distress. THIS coming after YESTERDAY’s lunch at which Chris had to intone “I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it.” in the face of HIS grandfather’s repeated attempts to compare Sarah Palin to Teddy Roosevelt. Grandparents, listen up. We are TRYING to respect our elders. Please don’t make it hard for us. Allow us to respect your life experiences and don't get in our face with viewpoints that will force us to lose that respect.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bear with me.

It's been a little nutty around here...big reorganization at work, office moves going on all week, a race and a book festival on the same day this weekend...please forgive me if I haven't responded to your email or phone call recently.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Barack the vote!

I've been feeling so distressed that I'm on the verge of physical nausea. Finally I went to the Obama campaign website and made a donation.

I feel so much better!

Update: Well, I've calmed down, I'm sure you'll be glad to hear :) I think what gets to me is not the prospect of losing--I survived the past eight years, I'll survive four more if I have to. Instead it's the physical disgust I feel at the scurrilous techniques the Republicans have been using. Nothing new there, but just brought home forcefully.--Although I'd like to be firm and say I don't think we are going to lose. The Republicans were always going to vote for the Republican, after all. It's the swing voters who are being fought over, and I don't think they're going to fall for the wild reversals Jon Stewart among others has kindly pointed out.

What bemuses me at the end of the day is how someone so rigidly evangelically Christian in her viewpoint can possibly think it's acceptable to get up on a stage and tell blatant untruths. Isn't "Thou shalt not lie" a commandment from God?

A down coat was already on my shopping list...

You know, all those times in 2000 and 2004 when people would say, "I'm moving to Canada!" I'd think to myself, But I don't really like Canada. But then this morning I remembered that MONTREAL is in Canada, and I LOVE Montreal.


I couldn't bring myself to watch the speech last night, but Chris gave me a full report:

"It was frightening. Because you can totally see how a large swath of this country sees her as another "maverick" and some women see her as the embodiment of female empowerment, both of which blow my mind. She really went on the attack. To me she sounded canned and defensive-angry. But a lot of reporters are saying that she was strong. I don't think she'll hold up as well in interviews and debates but she is positioning herself as criticism-proof, laying the case that she's a simple woman with big ideas that's going to get after the DC elite. And shame on anyone for saying something bad about such a nice gun-toting hockey mom. The more Obama and Biden attack her, the more they'll get portrayed as bullies and cosmopolitans. The best thing for them to do is ignore her. Totally ignore her. Because her bite is very limited on her own. You missed the pitbull quote and it sort of sums up everything...At the beginning of her speech she said "You know the difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom? Lipstick." And the crowd erupted into cheers...We are doomed if this happens."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Look, I'm going to leave aside all the fascinating details that have made this story the most absorbing public train wreck since Britney Spears shaved her head. The fact of the matter is, this person is not qualified to be vice president. I'm quoting from the Wall Street Journal, which is a conservative newspaper:

"She has been cramming on Sen. McCain's positions in preparation for a debate against Sen. Biden, who has been involved in national and international affairs for over three decades."

"'She is used to doing politics one on one and with small groups and with people she, in many cases, may already know,' Mr. Muller said. 'It's very personal.'"

"'She has to familiarize herself with every position John McCain has held over a number of years. That takes work and briefing,' one McCain aide said."

The town she was mayor of in Alaska--you know, before that time two years ago when she became governor of the nation's most isolated state--has a population of 7,000. And this is who we're supposed to put our trust in to potentially step in as commander-in-chief?

I am REALLY looking forward to the vice presidential debate.

Are they SERIOUS?

Dorok's been a lot more eloquent and articulate on the subject than I've managed to be, in part due to the fact that each new revelation leaves me increasingly speechless, but this photo sums up our potential vice president pretty well, don't you think? A MILF with a bear on her couch.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Detour into zilladom.


Wow. It just hit me the other day. *Happy dance.*

I'm almost as excited about planning the wedding. I've gone from being ostrich-head-in-the-sand overwhelmed to hurry-up-and-book-the-date so I can start planning in earnest. My current state of waiting has led to an unhealthy perusal of wedding blogs. However, it's all good: I'm building up a list of things I won't have at my wedding.

I won't:

Pose pressed up against a mirror making a pucker face at the camera. It's my wedding day, not a glamor shot session at the mall. After hours.

Have a bird cake-topper. They are super cute, you are right. All 5678 of you who have displayed them on your blog-featured wedding cakes.

Smear cake on each other after the cutting. I just don't like it and never have. You know what, I also don't think I'm going to have a garter removal and toss. I don't want to offend those of you who did have that; I just don't think I'll be comfortable with it.

Have cupcakes instead of cake. It's sweet, but too trendy. Plus, I like cake. A lot.

Have all-black bridesmaids dresses. Nothing against them; just have seen them frequently.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Taking advantage, for once, of the city.

Saturday was Chris's birthday, and on Friday night I surprised him at dinner with tickets* to the Tony- and Pulitzer-Prize winning play August: Osage County. We haven't been much of theatre-goers, despite living in NYC**, but after that show it just might change. Drama? Comedy? Soap opera? Who knows! **I think one reason we haven't been into the theatre is that most of the last several things we've seen, separately or together, have been terrible: near-amateur productions, drama class recitals, horrifically bad comedy improv, Young Frankenstein. August: Osage County made me realize just why the art of theatre has stuck around at all, and just how far a play is capable of carrying you. If it comes to your city (unfortunately, I think it's going to London next), I recommend it.

On Saturday we went to Jones Beach and I fell asleep on my back with my arm over my face and now my entire front (sans two blindingly white spots where my swimsuit was) is purplish red. It hurts to put on deoderant. It hurts to BREATHE. That'll teach me!

*I used a work discount and my cc points...I'm not totally spendthrift, yet :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Surrounded by flowers.

I needed a happier post at the top of my page. As I write this I was greeted at my office by a beautiful bouquet of creamy roses, orange lilies and daisies, and purple...fluffy flowers (I did not inherit the green thumb that runs through my maternal line) that Chris's mom kindly sent to me, not to mention I left a similarly gorgeous bouquet also from Chris's mom as well as his sister on my living room mantel. Not quite sure what the occasion is, other than just a general "Happy August!"

Happy August back!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

That's just sad.

Just now I thought to myself, "Why don't you send yourself an Outlook invite and set up an appointment to sit down in your apartment with yourself, a notepad, your wedding magazines, and some scissors and glue?"

My mouse was moving to click my work computer's calendar before I realized what I was doing.

You might be disturbed by the fact that I have internal discussions with myself.

Me, I'm more sorry that half the reason I DIDN'T set up an Outlook invitation wasn't because my brain doesn't have Microsoft Office uploaded into it but because I don't know when on earth I could schedule it for.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Email from LB-L.

"Another sign I work in a small town. The crop duster is getting too close to our building."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Publishing job applicant advice.

There is a difference between "editorial assistant" and "assistant editor"--usually a minimum of two years as the former and above-and-beyond hard work to achieve the latter. Don't use the two phrases interchangeably when you are applying for the former.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Fug Lady.

I had a great time in Iowa! Erika and I watched girly movies, ate ice cream from the container, played with Punkin in the park and at the children's museum, took him to see Wall-E, went to the Daiquiri Factory (sans Punkin, who had a sitter) for her birthday...all in all it was just what the doctor ordered, at least for me.

But then I came back and was dismayed to see this:

You know, I'm one of the few staunch Keira fans I know. I thought she ... didn't excel in Atonement, but that's like the harshest thing I've ever said about her. I'm the lone person who even bought both of the Vogues she appeared on the cover on in 2007.

Um, if this is the best they could do for the cover photo, I don't think I'm buying this one...

Update: I knew the fug girls wouldn't let me down.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breaking brain cells.

Gag me.

Don't even get me started.

Instead, just think: my three a.m. wakeup time is totally worth it since I'll be in Iowa with Erika before lunch!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


After a few weeks of Googling, Chris found a wedding location online that we REALLY liked the looks of, and my mom and stepdad did us the favor of driving over and scoping it out yesterday. They raved about the grounds. It's in a beautiful historic town in Virginia, easily airport accessible. Even the price isn't so bad.

BUT (of course there's a but) the venue not only requires you to go through a specific wedding planner, the wedding planner requires you to use their vendors.

Perhaps I'm making things overly difficult for myself, but after those initial weeks of not having a wedding vision, Chris and I now have a very strong vision, and it involves doing a lot of things ourselves. We don't want to be strong-armed into our choice of a photographer, caterer, or florist. I think imported stone columns, three terraces, and a boxwood maze are just going to have to be the elegant backdrop to some other couple's nuptials.

We're still thinking about it, but it might be back to Step One in terms of locale-hunting...


I shrugged to myself.
I nodded and said...
I winced.
I shivered at the thought.
I shook my head and said / I shook my head to myself.
I shuddered.
I raised my eyebrows.
I rolled my eyes.

I can't speak to books for adults--my non-required reading has recently been confined to re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the countless time, a book which commits none of these crimes (nor, let's face it, any other)--but when I find these phrases in a manuscript, my red pencil leaves bloody slashes across the page.

You could argue that once in a while these sayings are necessary, and I can see that it could be true. "Once in a while" being the operative phrase. But even then I'm still going to try to persuade you to get rid of it. (It's not just the first person use of these cliches that I object to; one could argue that "She shrugged to herself" is even more obnoxious. Have YOU ever shrugged to yourself? I didn't think so.)

The manuscript I'm reading now, while otherwise promising, used all of these and more within the span of ONE CHAPTER.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Behind the curtain.

Today my boss took an author and his wife to lunch and I got to tag along. Well, actually, it's one of my new authors, or I should say, I'm his new editor. Anyway, I was a little nervous. I'm his sixth editor at this publishing company in the ten or so years he's been writing for us. He asked me to stick around, please. But he was so nice, and so was his wife, and I went from feeling apprehensive to warm and fuzzy by the end of the meal.

We went to a hotel on the other end of our block. It's a schmancy hotel on the corner of Fifth Avenue, with doormen and a roof terrace and potted palms. They sat us in four pink armchairs at a small round table in the corner of the upstairs lounge, rather than in the dining room. I should have had a salad, but Caesar was the only option, and it's not my favorite. Instead I had grilled chicken with goat cheese and roasted red pepper on toasted ciabatta.

In the opposite corner a twentysomething woman sat by herself with a magazine, eating her own solitary lunch. A waiter in a white vest served her a Bellini from a tray. Must be nice, I thought.

Then I turned back to my own table and thought, This is as nice as a work meeting could possibly get.


I'm not an artist...I don't often create anything besides memos...but for some reason I find arranging items in my home (I guess I have to call it "decorating") to be profoundly satisfying.

When I was setting up the bedroom, I was really inspired by these photos. Now I'm wondering if I want to be even more of a copycat and pull together white, cream, and beige bedding. We have a purply blue duvet cover and a green throw, which makes the room looks cool and springlike; but I just love the peacefulness in this photo. (I've also been on the hunt for those striped pillows, to no avail.) Chris's mom just gave us a cream fleece blanket, so it wouldn't be hard to test.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recommended reading.

A fascinating glimpse into the early years of children's literature and the power struggle that almost squashed Stuart Little.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How sweet it is

I swore I wasn't going to do this, especially given the fact that since the last post absolutely nothing has changed on the update front (thank you all for the kind comments--they were vastly reassuring!), but this is too cute not to post: I think I found my flower girl's dress, thanks to her pretty mom's Etsy resourcefulness.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wedding March (to the wall).

The first question on everyone's lips is "Do you have a date?" followed by "Where's it going to be?" followed, oddly, by "Do you have your colors picked out?"

The short answers are no, maybe Virginia, and omgnopleasedon'tstressmeout.

My mom is doing the legwork and researching locales, which is so nice of her. She doesn't know it yet, but she might be planning the whole wedding, because every time I look at (which is all of once) I have a heart attack. I'm fine with looking through wedding magazines because so many of the things I see I DON'T care for so it's easier for me to feel inspired by what I do like, but whenever I browse the Internet I come away feeling totally discouraged. This morning I spent twenty minutes on that blog Brooklyn Bride and there were SO MANY gorgeous, unique, stylish color combinations, invitation samples, bouquet ideas, etc that I feel like weeping. How will I ever decide? How in this plethora of fabulous options am I going to be able to choose something that both reflects Chris's and my personalities and won't leave me feeling like "But I could have also chosen that, or that, or that..."

I think the answer is going to have to be, no web browsing allowed. I want this wedding to be beautiful and fun, but I think by necessity it's going to have be eclectic and funky, because Chris and I are eclectic and funky, and because we don't want a cookie-cutter wedding--not just because that's not totally us, but also because if I tried to pick my favorite elegant combos out of the millions of options I'd wind up in a psych ward. We are blessed to be two creative people and to have families filled with creative people whom we plan to utilize (Shelby: invitation design! Liz: engagement photos! Mom: flower arrangements!). So here are my wedding priorities, and you can all help me remind myself of these over the next year or two (depending on when we find a location and can book it) whenever I'm spazzing out:

1. Have fun. This is going to be my only wedding and I want to enjoy the process, not become a basket case.
2. Don't turn into a bridezilla. Because I want it to be fun for my fiance and family, too.
3. Organize a wedding at which guests will have fun. Because it doesn't matter how exquisite are your tuberoses if everyone leaves early.
4. Have good food. Can frequently contribute to #3.
5. Have a setting and decor that leaves me feeling happy and satisfied, and that I come up with in a way that doesn't make me yearn for something I saw on design*sponge, and that doesn't break the bank.

This last, if I am to be realistic, should maybe move to the top. :)

Anyway, my point is, I'm taking this all with a huge grain of salt and a sense of humor! So please feel free to send me ideas, I won't be offended. As long as you come and dance the night away.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Souvenirs from Maine.

Our last night in Maine Chris's reunion with his childhood buddy Matt and Matt's bride Jen turned into a pub crawl that had its penultimate stop at an arcade where Chris's "Deal or No Deal" and hoops skills won him this sweet wristlet.

He also won a couple of mini Care Bears for me, but my real keepsake came the first evening of our vacation, at Mount Katahdin.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I'm not procrastinating...I have a backlog of posts in my mind...but first I need Chris to give me the camera!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Clown car!

Q: How many elephants can you fit into a Volkswagen Bug?
A: Four: two in the front, two in the back.

Q: How do you know if there's an elephant visiting your house?
A: There's a Volkswagen Bug parked out front with three elephants in it.

Fitting nine people into our one-bedroom for four nights was a challenge of nearly mathematic proportions, but we persevered, overcame, and had a fantastic time seeing New York City. Kathy, Erin, Traci, Alison, and their husbands/boyfriends (except for Kathy's) piled in for a fabulous fun-filled birthday weekend. We saw the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Central Park, a thunderstorm in Central Park (I would say this was "experienced" rather than "saw"), shopping in SoHo, what else?? I feel totally refreshed and invigorated from all the good girl-time.

And tonight I leave for eleven days in Maine, where I will have no Internet and not much cell reception. This delights me, as the deadlines at work have neared BIBLICAL proportions these past two weeks.

Clearly, I'm rocking the "proportions" references in this post.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A sad day.

Yesterday my NYC roommate of three years mom's lost her battle with breast cancer. Her mom was a really sweet lady; I still remember how cheerful she was pulling up in a hot, sweaty U-Haul that first late August move-in.

Also yesterday I found out that another one of my friends' mom has just been diagnosed with the same disease.

It seems like cancer is everywhere now, and those of us who have been lucky enough to not have to face it directly yet had better stop living in denial.

I had signed up for the Race for the Cure last month in support for my former roommate, but now I no longer feel diffident about asking for financial support. Even a small amount would help. If you can, please make a donation. And if you can't, please keep my two friends in your prayers.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I don't often take taxis, but took one this evening, and after, literally, spending nearly the entire cab ride mentally calculating what would be an appropriate tip and how best to pay utilizing a combination of a twenty dollar bill and a handful of ones to make for the simplest amount of change, I handed over some money, got out, shut the door, walked five steps, and realized I had

He had already driven away, and I was laden down with bags and couldn't run after him, and I felt--still feel--HORRIBLE and am wondering if any of you have a solution for this massive karma failure. Tip the next cabbie inordinately? Offer $2 to the next homeless person I pass? Pray that his next fare tipped him double?

I'd feel bad in any case, but this cab driver didn't even complain that I was going to Brooklyn--and THIS is how I rewarded him?

I know I was an English major, but this is math duncery of the most remedial sort.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Frame store after work!

I really have to wean myself from interior design blogs on my lunch break (while it's better than reading celeb gossip blogs or catty fashion blogs, it's driving Chris crazy when I come home every night and rearrange things again...speaking of, have new idea for corner bookshelf, babe), but this post was so pretty I had to that's the kind of home I like to look at.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Take a memo.

When you're so sick with a cold that your voice sounds like a croak, don't come in to work.

When you're so sick with a cold that you hack up half a lung every twenty minutes, don't force your wall-mate to listen to the phlegm parade--don't come into work.

When you're so sick with a cold that you sniffle pitifully through each phone call, don't play the martyr--don't come into work!

When you're so sick with a cold that in one day you've already made your boyfriend catch the same cold, don't come into work--and don't ruefully tell your coworkers this story. If you insist on relating it, please stay in the doorway--don't come any closer.

And when you're so sick with a cold but you've done us all this huge favor and come into work because you feel the company will stop functioning in your absence; and when everyone your superior has told you not once but multiple times in genuinely concerned and then increasingly irritated voices to go home--GO HOME!

If not for your health, than for OURS, both physical and, at this point in the day, mental.

This PSA brought to you by someone who probably will have to call in sick to work tomorrow.


Today marks one more month of being 25. I don't know how I feel about that.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Chris came home and smooched me, and heated up some more leftovers for us, skinny jeans or no skinny jeans. Also, I didn't have any cavities (I have never had any cavities), and I don't need my wisdom teeth out yet. You know, any OTHER dentist would have patted me on the head for that.

Laura and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

3:12 a.m. Wake up to pee. Crawl out of sofa bed (we have guests), do my business, flush the toilet. It overflows. Have the presence of mind to get the rug up off the floor, but am unable to successfully utilize the plunger. Near tears, kneel and start mopping the floor with bath towels. Thankfully, Chris wakes up, despite his earplugs, and fixes everything.

6:10 a.m. Wake up when I hear one of the guests go into the bathroom. Lie in rigid terror that the toilet will overflow on her. It doesn't. Thank goodness. But it's too late to go back to sleep.

7:09 a.m. Alarm goes off. Get up, shower, floss teeth. Remember I have dentist appointment this afternoon. Cringe.

8:01 a.m. Leave for subway with Chris. Love our guests, but am so happy to get some alone time with him. We board train. Friend I don't want to talk to is on our car. She removes her iPod earbuds. She has a cold and is clearly equally enthused about Monday morning pre-coffee chit-chat. We go through the motions regardless. Chris is quiet. He exits train at 14th Street. Friend leaves at 42nd. I get stop before mine.

8:42 a.m. Depart train. Enter line for 56th Street Starbucks. Stand behind fashionista who looks really good in skinny jeans. Mentally calculate how many pounds less than me she weighs, and opt for skim milk and no breakfast.

8:51 a.m.-3:36 p.m. Rat race. 'Nuff said.

4:01 p.m. Arrive half hour early for dentist appointment. Want to tell receptionist I'll come back at 4:30, but she is explaining the intricacies of payment plans to a non-native English speaker. Take off sweater coat and sit in corner. Wonder why I thought cashmere under-sweater was a good sartorial choice. Swelter.

4:28 p.m. Enter torturer's cell. Beautiful blond German sadistic hygienist pauses one row of teeth in and says, "Oh, now I'm going to start the lecture." Think to myself that entire reason I procrastinated so long on scheduling cleaning was because I dread the sermon much more than the pain.

5:01 p.m. Dentist enters. Hygienist gleefully informs him that I disregarded the three-month follow-up I was supposed to come in for a year ago. Uses the word "bloodbath," three hundred times. Dentist and hygienist fold arms and talk at me. I nod, apologize, promise, smile, look sad. Finally I utter, "Look, I'm sorry that I did a bad job, but you don't have to get ... adversarial with me." They apologize. I feel like shit and smile and promise some more. Schedule three-month follow-up even though my insurance won't cover it. Walk 14 blocks to subway and feel like terrible person, both for being inconsistent flosser and for calling them out on their excessive browbeating. Think to myself it wouldn't have been a bloodbath if she hadn't dug into my gums with a hacksaw, but diligently set mental daily-flossing goal. Call Chris and promise to pick up groceries for dinner.

5:20 p.m. Enter subway station, thinking to myself, "I always have to pee when I wait at the 2nd Avenue stop." Sure enough, today is no exception. Dash down stairs only to see an F train pull away.

5:43 p.m. An F finally arrives. It is too full to board.

5:51 p.m. Another F arrives. It is almost equally full, but I squash on. Ponder to myself this post that I am going to write. Plan to include positive addendum in which I will praise John le Carre for writing gripping books that fit in my purse, and Steve Jobs for the iPod.

6:04 p.m. Exit train. Debate going home to pee, but think shudderingly of precarious toilet and head one block past home to the Italian supermarket. Examine meat in glass; look up, terrified, at friendly butcher; feel unable to perform human interaction. Walk six blocks in other direction to organic supermarket. Their meat selection consists of prepackaged turkey slices and $13 chicken breasts. Purchase $5 chicken thighs, $4 Indian eggplant in a box, and $4 salad (also in a box). Wait in long line behind rich mommies.

6:24 p.m. Toilet flushes without incident. Hurrah! Curl up on couch with John le Carre and wait for Chris to call.

6:30 p.m. Text message from Chris. "Hey got sucked into work meetup sorry will call in fifteen." Write back, "Ok xoxo!"

8:35 p.m. Many text messages later, am not mad at Chris, but am livid at his boss (a twelve hour work day is, in my opinion, pushing it), and also starving. Pour glass of red wine. Put groceries away. Attempt to heat leftovers. Try all four burners of new stove. Each leaks gas. Eat saucer of cold leftovers and a Milano cookie. Okay, two Milano cookies. Stupid skinny-jeans-wearing-girl.

9:25 p.m. Try flopping in bed with book. Read for five minutes. Realize that bedroom is not only located under building staircase, but that new upstairs neighbors are apparently moving in. Try to look on bright side: they sound young, and nice. Hope this means they are given to sleeping in on weekends, unlike whomever was tromping around at 7:30 on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, it sounds more like they're given to parties, and clompy shoes. Tell myself I'm being overly pessimistic, and return to couch.

10:01 p.m. Writing this post. My living room is cute, but empty of people. So is my glass. Contemplate flossing, then gargling with vodka; am dismayed to realize I, unlike le Carre's characters, am not in Communist Russia, and thus have no vodka. Floss anyway. Going to bed. Some days, it doesn't pay to get out of bed in the first place.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I love our new apartment.

I can't wait for you to see it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Moving day eve* email exchange between L & C.

L: Should we move the metal shelving unit to the new apartment and use that for a TV stand/bookcase for now?
C: Totally, we should keep that. I can put my baseball card collection up on it!

Big pause.

L: Oh...I didn't know you had one.
C: Yeah, they are in nice glass cases. And then we could put up some of my old action figures too. Would be like an homage to youth. If fact, maybe we can turn that brick room into a hobby room?

Another pause.

L: I can't tell if you are kidding or not.
C: I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Exhale. Sorry babe, I couldn't resist!

* In other "eve" news, a shout-out to little Taylor Eve who gave her mom the best Mother's Day present of all on Sunday just by showing up.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Let's face it. This is not the worst thing you've caught me doing."

Sorry I have been MIA. Although the apartment hunt was not as stressful this time around, it was still pretty time- and thought-consuming. But I am happy to report that it is OVER--as of yesterday we were approved for a very sweet apartment that we saw on Friday evening. It's one extra subway stop further into Brooklyn, but well worth it for the beautiful wide, tree-lined block and the quiet neighborhood (as opposed to the, while-eclectic, quite loud in terms of car stereos block we live on now). Also, it has been recently renovated, so the wood floors are shining, the bathroom is sparkling, the walls are glowing, and the kitchen is fresh. WHAT A RELIEF!

Next we are turning our eyes to packing (good thing a sixth sense kept us from throwing out ALL the boxes we re-bought in January) but our moving day will depend on Miss Saucier and when she decides to make an appearance. I was geographically so far away from the Other Lion when Punkin was born, and I really regret not being there for his arrival (although I was thrilled to be there for his baptism when he was about a month old). So this is the first new-newborn I'll get to meet. ... Um, I hope I don't drop her.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Girl talk.

"I'm stopping by Target on my way home," I told Chris on the phone as I left the gym last night, "because I want to get a cute workout outfit. I think it will encourage me to work out more."

It turns out that Target's workout clothes are for crap. The only pair of stretchy pants I even semi-liked were $29.99. If I'm going to pay $29.99 for something made of Spandex, it better have a Puma logo.

I did walk away with an utterly useless dress, $17.48 on clearance from Jovovich-Hawk. This was a GO International collection I'd breathlessly anticipated and then been madly disappointed in. The frilly dresses make you look like a cast member of OKLAHOMA! who ran away and joined a strip club. But this creamy lace dress looked cute on in the dressing room, and actually made me feel like my one gym session of March and April had done something. And it has pockets, how useful!

Who am I kidding, this is the girl who has a hard time making herself go to the gym because her ratty, unflattering athletic pants, Gap clearance circa 2002, make her feel so beyond any help the gym could give her that she burrows into the couch in depression yet has so many dresses she could wear a different one to work every day without having to do laundry for two and a half weeks ... I forget where I was going with this sentence except to say the other wardrobe staple I don't own is a pair of jeans that fit me. Because is there a woman alive who enjoys shopping for jeans?!

Do YOU have shopping roadblocks and weaknesses?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tiptoe through the ... living room.

The other weekend Chris and I had a huge spring cleaning to rid our apartment of the construction dust that had reaccumulated. To take a break from scrubbing after several hours we went to the Brooklyn Lowe's, where we bought, among other things, a grill for our fire escape, herbs and soil to plant on our fire escape, and a tall peace lily that absolutely pulled the dining room together and made the place look downright homey. The next day we strolled over to the Brooklyn Flea Market, only two weekends new and already a caricature fit for Stuff White People Like. We didn't buy any of the overpriced antiques but I did get some new ideas for decorations. We had spent the three weekends prior either traveling or entertaining people and so I drifted off to sleep Sunday night happily rested and admiring the graceful contours of my (temporarily, no doubt) dust-free room.

Tuesdays are movie night, and Shelby came over. We grilled rib-eyes on the mini grill with asparagus, eggplant, and salad. After dinner Shelby and Chris adjoined to the living room to pick the DVD (and for Chris to check his fantasy sports scores), while I washed the dishes--only fair, considering when I said "we grilled" I meant Chris did.

When I came into the living room Chris was staring at his computer in shock. "We have to move out by the end of May," he said blankly.

This didn't even sound like English to me, but over the course of the next day it became clear. I won't get into the details. Suffice it to say that the construction of which we have been so accommodating has resulted in undermining the foundations of the building, and rather than making it safe for tenant occupation, the landlords have asked us to leave. We are being compensated, but since the only reason we agreed to move upstairs in the first place was in exchange for a two-year lease it feels a bit like cold comfort. This will mark my fourth move in eight months! Thanks to the funds, though, we can afford to pay a broker, and the search process for the past week has been considerably less painful than it was last summer and fall.

We may have found a place tonight; the price and neighborhood are certainly more than right--ideal, even--and the apartment itself is newly renovated, bright, clean, and utterly charming. It's also smaller; plenty big enough for a couple--but is it big enough for the STUFF of a couple who for the past several months thought they had three extra rooms to play with? So we're going to see a few others in the next couple of days, but the sparkling apartment (and the building's laundry room) are still holding sway over me.

For the first several days since we found out and even now and then I get really sad at the thought of leaving this apartment. I loved it--I thought we'd live here until we left New York City. It's two blocks from the subway and walking distance to every desirable thing Brooklyn has to offer. But the circumstances have begun to poison it for me--as have the newly-noticed slant in the staircase and cracks in the walls. I don't know where we'll wind up next, but as long as it's for at least twelve months, I feel sure it will be a step up.

On Saturday we took a break from hitting "refresh" on craigslist and headed east to visit Chris's mom for her birthday. Before we left we put the peace lily on the floor by the dining room window; it looked a tiny bit peaky and we thought it needed some sun.

When we got back early Sunday morning, it was dead, its stalks sprawled on the floor like the limbs of a noir murder victim. Somehow, its corpse summed everything up.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mmm, lemon raspberry...

It's yet another grey, cold day. So far the monotony of winter has been interrupted only by a blissfully sunny and warm Saturday, which we spent in the country. Chris, Shelby, and I took the train out to the East End for Liz's baby shower. Guess what--Chris and I are going to be the godparents to this beautiful baby girl, due in a month and two days! I am so honored and thrilled. Her name is still a secret to everyone but her parents and her big brother, who tried his best (unprompted) to spill his guts to us on the car ride back. Fortunately for those of us who love a surprise, his two-and-a-half year old's enunciation left us more puzzled than before! So don't worry, Mom and Dad. Your secret is still safe.

After the shower, which was relaxing and fun and filled with good food, we took Austin to the bay, where we threw rocks into the water for over an hour as the sun set. There's nothing like the satisfying ker-plunk of a smooth stone plopping into rippling water to cleanse your mind of the workweek's stresses. Shelby collected a few of the more beautiful stones for her miniature zen garden.

Last night Chris and I celebrated our second anniversary with Mexican food and margaritas, after which I fell sound asleep at the nice late hour of 9:30. I'm starting to think if the sun continues to elude New York I'll be going to bed at 6:00 within the month. To brighten up my Monday, I'm sporting my favorite color combination: grey sweater, lemon tee, raspberry shoes. I might look like a Dannon yogurt or the inside of a wedding cake, but at least when I look DOWN I can see something sunshiney!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

America's next top book cover.

Today I'm taking the train down to Chelsea and walking far west over to 11th Avenue to attend a model casting for the jacket of an upcoming novel I've edited. It's the first time I've ever been to one of these, because we don't hold them for every book.

Everyone keeps saying "How exciting!" and I AM excited but I'm also sort of nervous. I think I'm just worried that the designers will pick one girl and I'll think she's wrong and then I'll have to speak up. There's nothing in the world that makes me queasier than the prospecting of an impending conflict. Of course, nine times out of ten these conflicts are solely in my head.

It's probably a result of the overarching nervousness I feel about this jacket in general. A book cover is so incredibly important--to say it can make or break a book is such an understatement. So far I'm thrilled with the photographer they've hired and the concept they've come up with, so there's no call for me to worry about the model selection, the dress selection, the pose, the palette, the title type...but, of course, it's me, so I do anyway.

I'm a little superstitious. Most everything about this book has been charmed so far, so I ought to relax. But I've always felt that if I stopped worrying about something that THAT's when the hammer falls.

If I can worry about this book up until it's on the NYTimes bestseller list, I'll have done my job well.

Update: The casting was actually really fun, although sort of anticlimactic. Turns out there is a real shortage of redheaded models, who knew! But it was fun seeing inside the fashion world, and talking to the photographer and the stylist, and seeing the girls (the photographer was also casting for a perfume commercial at the same time). Models are really pretty, but not as tall as I was expecting. Most of them wore platform shoes, too. Maybe I can get platform shoes after all? Hmm.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Because insect diagrams are more manly than birds or botany (?)

Work's been quite busy--too busy for me to take time to blog during the day and busy enough that when I get home I'm so pooped that the last thing I want to do is turn on my computer. But I'd always rather be busy than bored, and some of the projects are either already exciting or are well on their way.

Weekends have been full too. My mom and her husband drove up for Easter weekend, and my brother flew in on his spring break. Between the sofa bed and the air mattress we had accommodations for everyone, although aside from a trip to the Brooklyn Museum and a big Sunday dinner we mostly relaxed around the apartment.

At the Brooklyn Museum I picked up a poster of one of Van Gogh's pen and ink drawings for his cypress paintings. I already have a canvas reproduction of my favorite cypress painting but I don't display it anymore; Van Gogh seems such a staple of dorm room decoration that I had to put it away. But this poster, on sale for $2.95, seemed like a nice compromise. The ink colors are browns, and its big size--23ish by 30ish--will fill up the remaining empty wall in our dining room nicely, as soon as I can find a frame for its unusual size.

Financial restraints and a general discontent with most of my wardrobe have led to a moratorium on fashion pursuits, a hole being filled by baby items for my coming-in-six-weeks niece and by a desire to finish decorating the place. In fact, on the bus home from visiting Chris's sister family (including Little Miss Likes-to-Kick) this past weekend, I finally came up with a scheme to tie the bedroom together. I had a whole paragraph describing my grand plans but I think instead I'll just ask if you come across any leftover Cavallini butterfly wall calendars to pick them up for me and I'll send you money? I'm going for an A.S. Byatt / Angels and Insect-y theme, but everywhere online seems sold out of 2008 calendars, and I don't feel like waiting till December for the 2009 edition. Oh, also empty Victorian-type picture frames, preferably round or oval. But only if they're cheap.

If you need me between now and my next post, I'll probably be at the flea market.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier...Editor.

I've recently become obsessed with the novels of John le Carre.

When I was a young teen I read The Russia House, spurred by an inherited affinity for Helen MacInnes (The Salzburg Connection, my dad reminded me on the phone tonight, was her best book; I had forgotten it entirely till he said anything but I find I still remember its antiheroine's name: Elissa Lang. How glamorous!) and a six-month devotion to Michelle Pfeiffer. Come to think of it, both the book and the film version of The Russia House passed pretty much entirely over my head, such is le Carre's complexity.

More recently, after my sister and I saw and loved The Constant Gardener at a Brooklyn cinema, I read that book (subsequently lent to Dorok, whose Howards End I'm holding ransom until he returns the le Carre and Lolita I lent him ages ago)* in a similarly incoherent gulp.

(*Just kidding / padding out this entry to make it more amusing. Chris brought to our household an identical copy of Lolita, so you can keep it. I think I still have one of your Philip Roths, anyway, which considering it and the Forster are trade papers and the Lolita and Gardener were mere mass market pbs means I owe YOU--oops.)

But the other week I devoured A Perfect Spy, which was not only an excellent spy novel but one of the best novels period I've ever read. Subsequently I googlearned that it's his most autobiographical book, making me rather wish (I'm feeling British) (Cold War British, if you want to get specific) I had left it until later as a prize.

Today on my lunch hour I finished Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the first in the Smiley trilogy, which I'd been reading on the subway on my way to and from work; 50 pages from the end I dashed headlong through the morning until noon when I shut my office door and turned off my monitor in order to finish it. It wasn't until my empty subway ride home that I realized dismayed that the neighborhood used bookstore I rely on for my le Carre fix closed--yesterday!--for a month while its proprietor vacations. Probably to Greece, where he'll meet up with Czecho agents and dodge intricate internal double agent betrayals. Just kidding. But such is my current mindset.

I read earlier this week that le Carre sold his newest book (A Man of Worth, I think it'll be called) for Fall 2008 publication, and I couldn't be more excited. Is March through September enough time to work my way through his entire oeuvre? Doubtful, considering le Carre is one of the only writers I don't (this is a confession) jet through; skim over a le Carre paragraph and you'll find yourself at the end of the book not knowing what just happened. (Who are the other writers I read with care? Hmm. Nabokov is another, purely for the beauty of his writing; how could you miss "the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth"? ... but I'll have to think about that one.)

But in any case you may be certain my eyes are peeled for the next teen spy story, primed this time, ten years later, not by MacInnes and Pfeiffer but by Bristow, Bond, and, of course, le Carre.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Maybe it was the four-leaf clover charm I was wearing around my neck.

Last night around 11 p.m. we were driving back from visiting Chris's mom on Long Island in a car borrowed from Chris's buddy when ... the car ran out of gas.

Chris was talking on the phone to his sister when he said, "Oh [no], the car is running out of gas!" and he hung up and pulled over into the right lane and started driving more and more slowly. I didn't fully understand what was happening and I was like, "Don't drive slower! We have to get to a gas station! Speed up!" He said, "No, honey, the car is doing that on its own." Aha.

So he pulled off onto the shoulder and tried to restart it but to no avail. We had just passed an exit and we could see it on the other side of the highway so he was like, "I'll walk, you stay here" and I was like "No way what if a cop comes it's not our car and it still has California plates!!" He was like, "Oh yeah, and it's not insured." I was like, Greeeat. So we both got out and hopped over the guardrail and we were lingering nervously about to make a run across four lanes of traffic when ... a cop car pulls up.

So the cop rolls down the window and Chris says, "We ran out of gas" and the cop's all, "Hop in." He drives us to the nearest gas station which it turns out, is not near at all, and is also not at the exit we were heading for. "Yeah," the cop said, "You're very lucky I came along. You would have been walking a looooooooooong time."

So we get to the gas station and the cop lends us a can out of his trunk and Chris is filling it up and I took a photo of the dashboard with my cell phone and texted it to my sibs all, "I'm in a cop car!" Meanwhile Chris is trying to make small talk with the cop and he spills gas all over the can, which is the one thing the cop asked him not to do but I think sort of endears him to the cop, who just laughs.

So then the cop is driving us back to the car and he asks, "Is the car registered to you?" and Chris has no choice but to say, "No." And now my heart is pounding, pounding in a way it hasn't yet had time to do, even when we hopped over the guardrail, because it's literally only been ten minutes since this all started.

So the cop pulls up behind our car ("our" car) and turns his flashing lights on and takes down Chris's name and address on his notepad. I'm praying really hard while trying to maintain a cool, friendly facial expression, although I'm sure I looked totally agonized. And then ...

... he lets us out of the car and sits watching as Chris pours the gasoline into the car. Chris shakes the can free of gasoline and gives it back to him and the cop tells us the next gas station isn't until exit 49, so don't use the next two exits. We say thank you so, so, so much.

We drive away, and I pray a lot more that we won't run out of gas AGAIN as we drive what seems an enormously long distance to the next gas station, and the car is starting to coast on fumes literally as we turn into the Sunoco. But we made it. And made it home and to bed by midnight.

The whole adventure took less than twenty minutes. And restored my faith in both the friendly constabulary and guardian angels.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On top of things.

Hmmm. I wonder where my tax returns from last year could be?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Birkel is going to kill me, but ... I saw Juno and ... the scales are coming down on the "liking it" more than "loathing it" side.

I know I know! I too was annoyed by the loudly shouted message of "If you're a young smart person you HAVE TO LOVE this movie!" I think I was irritated before the film even opened because one day in December I was standing on a corner in Union Square and a whole bunch of dudes dressed up in the track suits from the movie jogged by in a silly marketing ploy. And then as the hype built and as annoying people of my acquaintance started using "wizard" in their daily vocabulary and referring to Paulie Bleeker as some sort of cult hero, I secretly determined that I Would Not Like this movie. After all, I've been burned in the past by Sundance glorybabies: both Thank You for Smoking and Little Miss Sunshine were big, fat, letdowns.

And for the first half hour of the movie, my skepticism was justified. The oh-so-carefully chosen music, the Converse-heavy credits, the hipster handlettering, the DIALOGUE: I rolled my eyes so many times that today they're sore.

But then the movie stopped being (quite so) self-conscious and became more serious...and as a result, more genuinely funny. By the end, not only had I laughed out loud several times, but I'd even wiped a tear or two away.

I think the praise lavished on Ellen Page is actually completely deserved. With another actress as Juno, I don't think this movie would have been a success (either commercially speaking or as a film in itself). She brought a lovability and a poignancy that absolutely grounded the movie in a way that it wouldn't have worked without. You know, she was really irritating and flippant in parts, but that was the point: her character is THREE-DIMENSIONAL. As a former three-dimensional teen girl myself, I can't tell you how much I appreciated seeing one for once portrayed on screen--and not only portrayed, but carrying the movie. If Juno's profitibality leads to more filmmakers exploring girls and women as deserving central film subjects and not just as eye candy, then I can handle guys in track suits cluttering up Union Square.

However. Where I do in the end object is to the idea that Juno is somehow a deeply insightful or profound or groundbreaking examination of teen pregnancy. No, it isn't. This movie would have been successful whether it was about Juno's summer job in the zoo or Juno in a beauty pageant or Juno writing a history paper. Juno herself is the reason it's memorable, and not her circumstances. In fact, it's in its treatment of pregnancy that I thought it showed its shallowness the most. It's no "cautionary whale" as some groups have hailed it; one reference to cocoa butter and one spring prom missed in no way provide some sort of lesson to teens contemplating protection-less sex. (WHY no protection, Juno? And why was this point never really discussed, Diablo?) I'll cut the movie some slack because I don't think it was setting out to teach a message, and nor should it have--it set out to tell one girl's story. It's the media I won't excuse; for in this age of Hollywood motherhood-fetishization and Spears-sisters fertility obsession, to greet Juno as somehow bravely illustrating the realities of teen pregnancy is irresponsible. At the close of the movie Juno cheerfully goes on with her life. For many girls, no such ending is possible.

Monday, February 25, 2008

80 years later, a big yawn.

I was going to allow the Oscars to fade without dignifying them with remark (not because I disagree with the winners--I'm sure No Country for Old Men is as wonderful as Chris says it is, even if I personally don't think my stomach is ready for a viewing any time soon; but, rather, because I'm still offended by the obscene number of commercial breaks),

but this, THIS, cannot be allowed to pass without comment.

Now, I too despised J.Hud's be-pocketed, be-boleroed ensemble from last year, but when I saw this I yearned for its return. This dress makes her boobs look like a ... Mack truck. And I think the bare arms were also a mistake. I think she's BEAUTIFUL; I just don't think this dress is flattering. In general I feel empire waists should be reserved for the pregnant.

In further sartorial disagreements, the New York Times called Marion Cotillard's fish-scale mermaid gown a mistake, whereas I, on the contrary, thought it not only the loveliest dress of the night but the only one with any fashion gumption. Also, she was gorgeous, and gave an adorable speech; and I'm generally in favor of her because I had picked her on my office Oscar poll, which I will not, however, win because I did not predict that The Bourne Ultimatum would be so unexpectedly successful. Silly me.

All in all, a dull show with even duller dresses, but I will close by telling Katherine Heigl to go once and for all away; and if she insists on remaining inexplicably in the public eye can she never preface her Teleprompter reading with the disclaimer "I'm incredibly nervous so please forgive me," thereby making all one billion viewers intensely uncomfortable? You're an ACTOR. Public speaking is the one thing at which you, by definition, are required to be competent. Take a Toastmasters class or something.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The other shoe drops.

"This week was like a cold overcast day and I was the only kid who decided to go to the town swimming pool and it was the first day it was open so the surface was covered with dead bugs and I was swimming with my mouth open and a piece of dog doo that was floating along floated into my mouth."--Chris, two minutes ago

Chris and I coincidentally took the same F train home tonight and waded through slush on the sidewalk and sleet in the air to unlock our door and discover our beautiful big high ceiling apartment that we moved into one month ago and love is covered from top to toe in a fine layer of grit--cement dust, we think, and are just hoping it's not lead-contaminated. I'm leaving a butt-print in my chair as I type.

The landlords are demolishing the bottom two floors, renovating them into a duplex for their family, and this morning was the first we'd heard the construction start up, although last night when we came home we were confronted by a new interior door in the hallway separating our staircase from the rest of the building, destroying my fondly-held delusion that I had a beautiful brownstone all to myself. "It's not like I own the building," I told myself. "The nice landlords deserve some privacy for their family." Even when we felt the floors shake as we put our coats on and left for work this morning we maintained a cheerful attitude about it all.

And we don't blame the landlords, who called us right away after receiving our frantic email and have already offered to pay for our laundry bill and put us up in a hotel (we don't THINK we're being poisoned, so we said thanks but that's okay).

Now Chris is on the phone with the contractor, amazingly friendly considering his fury when we first walked in and his subsequent desolation--see above quote. Oh, update: apparently the theory is that the workers opened the windows, creating a vacuum in the building and sending all the dust...well, you guessed it.

Anyway. We're off to find some vodka--I mean, dinner, Chris, Shelby, and I. I'll feel much more equipped for Swiffer-shopping after I've had something to, um, eat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Who could ask for anything more? Who could ask for anything more!

For Chris's Valentine's present I got him An American in Paris, in part because of my secret scheme to get musicals included more regularly in our Tuesday movie night line-up, and in part because it's one of my favorite movies of all time. We watched it last night. I hadn't seen it since my early adolescence when I would kick my younger siblings out of the basement so I could pause, rewind, and rewatch every dance sequence and attempt to reenact them myself. This obsessiveness apparently stood me in good stead, for last night I mentally anticipated each time step, each airplane roll, each inside-out fouette as though I was placing my hands over a keyboard after a long absence away from a computer.

God, it's such a good movie. The layers of backstory, not necessarily spoken, just understood: Milo Robbins, the poor little rich girl, simultaneously supremely confident and crushingly insecure, swooping in to "sponsor" (read: devour) hottie artist Gene Kelly because she likes his, uh, "work." Nina Foch's performance is SO GOOD, and something I never noticed or appreciated in my younger days. Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron in her first film, in a role that Michelle Williams should play if they were to ever, God forbid, update it), a young girl who has grown into exquisite beauty with absolutely no awareness of it and consequently no self-consciousness, engaged to a man she loves deeply as someone who's raised her and cared for her since her parents' death when she was a child, unexpectedly in love with a brash young American. Jerry Mulligan, peacocking around Paris with his muscly forearms and his paintbrushes, overly cocky and under-talented yet somehow still lovable, I think because he is so unaffected by Milo's patronage and passes at him and instead is wholeheartedly focused on his work and the girl he so desperately wants (and also because the filmmakers intelligently gave him a dance number with a flock of French schoolchildren). Adam Cook--why is he in this movie? Yet Oscar Levant plays him--is him--as so wry, self-loathing, self-deprecating, and honest that he becomes an integral character when really he seems there for little more than to provide piano accompaniment. I found myself laughing hysterically watching him light multiple cigarettes and drink his companions' coffee--he's transparently, frantically hoping those same companions, Jerry and Henri, will not discover the knowledge that he alone possesses that the woman they are both declaring their love for is the the same one. And Henri himself, the other man, the older father figure to whom Lise is engaged: how can you hate him? Even Jerry likes him. When Henri so enthusiastically introduces his fiancee--Lise--to Jerry, not knowing that Jerry and Lise have said a bitter goodbye earlier that day, Jerry swallows his heartbreak and makes the occurrence a pleasant one, not wanting to hurt Henri perhaps even more than he doesn't want to hurt Lise. And then when Henri and Lise's taxi pulls away and her eyes are overflowing with tears and he's watching her, his own heart breaking for her rather than breaking for himself (even though it must be). Of course he tells the taxi to go back. Of course!

The 17-minute, ground-breaking ballet at the end is the highlight. The best moment--of the ballet and of the entire movie--comes when the cheerful traffic scene suddenly evaporates and Kelly and Caron are silhouetted against a smoky background. The music changes, elongating into horns and strings, and they melt into each other in a slow, rapturous duet amongst the fountain's statues. The camera swings, following them; Gene Kelly is dragging Leslie Caron, arching, through the statues and her leg swivels in a wide circle that magically echoes the camera's swing and the swing of the music. It's one of the most spine-tingling moments in cinema.

Here, I found it. The moment I'm thinking of comes around 1:38-1:40, 41, but the whole excerpt is so gorgeous; watch it all (WITH THE SOUND), or better yet, rent the film.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I am an old fart.

I am sort of addicted to the blog Sweet Juniper...and after a weekend away from the Internet I was absurdly heart-warmed to see that their second baby finally arrived, a couple of weeks past his due date.

Seriously, just call the nursing home; I'm an old, soft mushie.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mysterious ways.

When I was seventeen, I desperately wanted to go to a certain college in my home state, so much so that I only applied to three others--one backup state school, one stretch private university, and one random, Midwestern oddity. Everyone around me was confident I'd be accepted at my first choice--my grades and intelligence were perfectly in order with its standards, and despite its being selective it was also a state school so I thought I had more of an in.

I was wrong! When the thin envelope came bearing its indifferent news, I was devastated; not just disappointed that I couldn't go to the college I had daydreamed of but burningly crushed and humiliated that I hadn't been judged good enough. Every time I heard the school mentioned I cringed; if I learned of someone else I knew going there I hated them passionately; when I had to tell my coworkers that I hadn't gotten in, their genuine shock and sympathetic outrage at the admissions decision was faintly cheering, but didn't protect me from my own intense mortification.

I didn't care any longer where I went to college or even if I went at all. What did it matter? I was rejected at the stretch university--not really a surprise considering I had whited out part of my handwritten application, perhaps subconscious sabotage--and accepted at the backup school (judged that year the second party school in the nation by Rolling Stone, which was not cheering to my dad) and at the little school in the Midwest, which not only granted me an academic scholarship but also bore a scribbled note on the acceptance letter from the admissions director: "I LOVED your essay!"

My mom, who had persuaded me to apply in the first place ("It's IOWA, Mom. I'm not moving to Iowa." "Just go to the interview, honey, it'll be good practice!") determinedly bought plane tickets and we went out one spring weekend to tour the campus.

Our plane (the first one I'd ever been on) touched down in a cornfield. It was snowing. In April. The air on the drive from the airport to the hotel reeked of something pungent and indefinable--the Quaker Oats factory smell that I would later come to know intimately. I see some of you nodding as you read this.

There's no way, I thought to myself.

But the tour the next day changed my mind. The cute little campus was welcoming, and the school pulled out all the stops for its potential freshmen, for this was Scholarship Day. We talked to history professors and art lecturers; looked at the theatre; toured the dorm I would, as it turned out, live in that fall. Still stinging from my rejection and not feeling terribly invested in my immediate future, I told my mom, "Okay" and we flew home to begin the Bed Bath & Beyonding that new eighteen-year-olds all over the country were doing.

That decision changed my life. The four years I spent at that school were indescribably happy--not every minute, of course, but even the lows were experiences I wouldn't trade, for they made me a bigger, fuller person. The friends I made there are to this day the ones I count my best--you'll notice that they're the only ones outside of family with whom I share this blog. By the time I graduated, I was so happy that my life took the path it did, even if I did still toss my head when that other, not-to-be school was referenced.

This is the Internet, so as much as I want to I won't get into the funny "coincidences" that upon moving to New York caused any lingering regret over that long-shredded thin envelope to evaporate completely, heartily replaced by a deep, devout gratitude and an urge to turn up the radio whenever a certain Garth Brooks song is played.

Along those lines, on Saturday night Chris and I took the subway into midtown for a cocktail party at which many of the other guests were alumni of the school in question.

This post is just to say--Dear God: Thank you. So much.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Well THAT was pretty much the most exciting game in the history of football.

The pandemonium in my living room last night--as three elated Giants fans, one horrified Patriots fan, and one sympathetic neutral alternatively jumped up and down screaming and slumped over on the couch in shock and disbelief--was no match for the wild honking and cheering from the streets outside.

Parade on Tuesday!

And now, back into the breach. I don't think "one day at a time" is doable. Maybe "one hour at a time" or even "one email at a time." But I do have a fun weekend with Katie to smile over as I wade in.

Further: People around here can't stop beaming. You know, I'd never watched football until I met Chris, who made me turn my back on my half-hearted Redskins loyalty for his lifelong Giants devotion, but games like last night make me realize just why people watch. I mean, did you see this????

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rescue me

Every time I take a deep breath and calm myself down from wondering how I'm going to get through all the work,

eight more things land on my plate.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sentimental journey

My job in high school and summer job in college was one I'll always remember fondly; I worked in the ticket office of a concert theater with outdoor shows in the summer and a nationally renowned opera company in the winter. I started there when I was sixteen: although they usually preferred to hire college kids, it was early spring and they needed help with the mail order rush. For several mornings a week I'd address postcards letting customers know their order had been received.

Aside from the salaried, year-round staff, my part-time companions in this task were two elderly British men (coincidentally--they hadn't known each other previously). They sometimes lapsed into a sort of code between themselves but one day, overhearing, I can't recall, a reference to "Bluebottle" or "Neddie" or some such, I suddenly interpreted and called out, "Oh, I love the Goon Shows!" They were astounded that an American teenager would ever have heard of these 1950s BBC radio shows, much less be able to quote from them (the explanation is that my dad had cassette recordings our family listened to on road trips), and after that I was one of the crew.

In late May the college employees began arriving and with them I was trained on the (ancient) selling software run on IBMs from what seemed the 1980s. Two or three years later, I became a supervisor, and even after I graduated college, just before I moved to New York, I worked there for one final month. By the end--well, let me be honest. By the middle--I, with my three or so fellow long-term alumni, liked to gripe about the shabby trailer which housed the offices, the inane stupidity of the customer service phone calls we fielded, the crankiness of the Peter Paul & Mary audience, the fact that Riverdance was on the billet again. But the fact is I loved it; I loved knowing exactly what I was doing, I loved being in charge, I loved the feeling of being behind the scenes. Working there made the experience of attending a concert, there or anywhere, somewhat less pleasurable in that to this day I can't walk up to a box office without analyzing the display or battling the compulsion to identify myself to the seller as a fellow veteran of the trenches. But both in retrospect and at the time I thought I had the best summer job of anyone I knew.

This morning* I fell back asleep after disabling my cell phone alarm, into a vivid dream. In it my contemporary self returned for a ticket-selling shift. I was no longer a supervisor, of course, so they put me out in the window with a college kid who was faceless and voiceless in my dream. To my eager small talk he responded in monosyllables and buried himself in his book. As I'm writing this I'm remembering how I used to watch the schedule in terror of getting stuck for a four-hour shift out at the window with an incurable chatterbox; and how later when I drew up the schedules various things had to be taken into consideration, like when "Michael C." came to me in private and begged me not to schedule him with "Marissa S.," who had confessed to him her (unrequited, as it turned out) love.

In my dream I was trying to sell a pair of orchestra tickets for a country star named "Kevin Mardus" (???) to a middle-aged woman. I knew exactly how to pull up the show: select "Calendar," move over four spaces, type the date, numeral first, hit enter and control-x. But for some reason "11JULY" wasn't bringing anything up. I began to feel panicked; had they implemented a new system since I'd been gone? I looked over at my anonymous colleague, whom a moment before I had been bossily informing, "Don't give them those seats, there are two in center Row D open;" but he was busy with his own customer; in horror I saw a line developing. Soon our shift replacements came and were forced to stand to the side in the narrow aisle, holding their metal cashboxes to their hips as I frantically tried to complete the sale.

The dream skipped ahead and everyone else had finished and departed. I printed out my ... what were they called? Impossible that I can't remember now. At the end of each shift you pulled up your sales history; they printed out on ticket stock which you took back to the office for the supervisor to count you out.

I had a pair of tickets in my till that I'd accidentally "sold;" these would need to be released back into the system by the manager and torn up. Once upon a time that had been my job; now I was a 25-year-old ticket selling has-been. I was beginning to wake up. In my dream I grabbed a pad of paper from the counter. The trailer looked exactly the same--battered wood plank walls, green countertops, musty beige carpet, mismatched stools with duct-taped vinyl seats. It was important to my dream self that I get every detail written down to tell you about, so I moved through with my pad and pencil. On the back wall hung nearly a dozen mirrors with ornate frames: some black, some gold, one reddish, differing sizes, all with intricate molding. It seemed very natural for them to be there and for me to describe them to you, but of course as I came fully awake and groggily climbed out of bed for a pen, I realized that anything so elegant had never been present. In real life, the back wall hosted a lightbox with a blown-up photo of a picknicking lawn audience at sunset. We liked to pick out our boss in the photo, recognizable by his pot belly.

One of those original British coworkers died a few years later--not so elderly, it turned out, but cancer took him quickly. My other English gent was the one who told me, when he heard. We were both silent.

He himself has become a grandfather three times over since then, and still works there part-time, as far as I know. I owe him a postcard.

* I dreamed this Saturday night and scrawled this post down upon waking Sunday morning, but haven't had one second to type it up until now. Work has been rath-er busy; but I hope for it to calm down (ish) soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend update.

Fashion forecast! I'm guilelessly excited for the florals trend for spring, even if it does mean that all of NYC will be wearing the flowery dresses I already love; but can the ongoing obsession with platform heels go away? Like, who is so short that they have to make platform shoes, even/especially hidden-platform, the only ones available? Those of us over 5'6" could use a break.

Chris and I went to see Atonement on Friday night. It was about what I was vaguely expecting: gorgeously shot, to the point of Anthropologie-esque porn (those floral wallpapers? Keira's green satin gown? Wow); many of the touches--various close-ups, the score, which echoed the typewriter theme that is so central to the story--were similarly beautifully executed, despite a lack of subtlety; and mostly well-acted, particularly by Romola Garai and Saoirse Ronan, both playing Briony at different ages. But, also faintly unsurprisingly, it left me emotionally cold; I teared up at the very end imagining what it must be like to be Briony and to have lived a lifetime under that burden of unimaginable guilt, but otherwise I felt mostly untouched by the central love story, and even, guiltily, by the surrounding war themes. The famous sevenish-minute scanning shot had me enraptured BECAUSE it was such an extraordinary, one-camera shot, NOT because I was horrified at the tragedy of war, and that conceit was a mistake on the filmmaker's part; likewise, loath as I am as a since-Bend It Like Beckham-Keira Knightley fan to admit it, but she did a terrible job, and her performance wasn't just a minor weak link in the film, but THE weak link that led to me not feeling anything for these war-torn lovers. How can I believe in their already tenuously-based passion if when James McAvoy was being carted off to prison (spoiler alert, sorry) Keira's standing there with her arms BEHIND her shoulders to make sure her (lovely, lovely) green dress still falls perfectly? I read an interview after Pride and Prejudice (same director, same star, excellent movie) came out that said the director had various folks on "pout alert" to make sure they reshot any scene in which she pouted too much; did these fellows not get hired this time around? Listen, I still really like her (Chris hates her, he thinks I'm insane) but she really dropped the ball on this one, I'm sorry to say.

I don't entirely blame her. The writers didn't give her character ANY backstory, and since she is so central to the plot, this was unfortunate. All in all, I thought it was a decent, even good film; I'd recommend it, and if it was playing on TV I'd watch it again, and I'm going to B&N tomorrow to buy the book and belatedly read it (anathema! A book person saw the film without reading the book!). But I wouldn't give it a Best Picture Oscar, even if I can't think of any other film that particularly deserves one either.

Today Chris and I hung our curtains and some of our pictures, and now we're watching the desperate Giants-Packers game and hoping New York makes it to the Super Bowl. I'd say "cross your fingers," but why do I have a feeling some of you are rooting for Wisconsin? :)