Thursday, November 13, 2014

I wish I wasn't so infuriated.

You guys. If you stop posting about her, and clicking on every article about her, her butt, or her fame-mongering family, and buying her app, and hashtagging her  - she will go away, eventually. Your clicks drive advertising dollars which drive the generation of content on sites that post about her which drives her publicist to keep cranking out the nonsense. Just... slowly back away and let us not speak of her again so we don't have to see her bare ass all over every single (formerly reputable) news site in the world so we can get back to the important stuff like how badly it's snowing in Portland, or who's leaving Spotify or...the risk of Ebola in suburban Iowa or... uhh... nevermind.
Where do I get an issue of Paper?

Monday, July 14, 2014

We are at Edgefield in August.  I'm wearing that yellow dress I bought when I was alone in Madrid for a day.  We're listening to The Decemberists cover a Fleetwood Mac song.  I could die happy, right now.
I'm glad I didn't.  But I could have.  There's a picture of the three of us and now we're scattered around the world and I miss you both so much every day.

I bought that yellow dress during the summer rebajas while Samantha was stuck on a ferry in Strait of Gibraltar and I was tired of feeling ugly in my thick travel sandals, of being sweaty in the same skirts I'd worn all summer in Morocco.  Every tile and flag and wrought-iron rod was regal and formidable, every woman with a feline mane and a sexy lisp and I with my backpack, those terrible sandals.

A yellow dress with a woven rainbow belt, a red sweatshirt dress with an opossum pouch, a yellow tank top made of less fabric than some underwear.  I'm too old to wear any of them anymore, but I keep them and their tiny holes-at-seams in my closet here, in Austin.  When I see pictures of myself wearing them from that summer - my tan back, exposed in that tank top waiting at an ATM, posing in that yellow dress all over Paris, hands happily stuffed in the front pocket of the red dress in Sorrento drunk on limoncello and white wine- I feel so centered, so sure of myself.  I feel that way listening to The Decemberists.  I miss that print I bought in New York at The Decemberists show I went to by myself at the Beacon Theatre.  I spent money I hardly had on getting it matted and framed so that it would feel at home in my tiny morning-sun facing Upper East Side bedroom, so that I'd feel like an adult having some framed art when I stumbled home alone night after night at 4 AM with dollar pizza slice grease on my fingers.  The print is of a doe wearing a dress and it specifies the date and location of the concert, commemorating my date with myself.
It's wrapped in brown paper waiting for me in Buffalo.

The days I don't feel like myself I want to gather all these things up in a pile on top of my body and lie under it and draw the past out of them into me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goodbye to All That. Again.

I took a train from one end of New York to the other last week, starting in the west and working my way towards a city I hadn't seen in 9 months.  For me, trains evoke something romantic and sad, so it was the ideal form of transportation to get to this place I've left and since put on a pedestal.

The fact that the city can still smell so strongly of urine after all those days was a weird comfort to me.  It changes all the time and I was so relieved that, of course, it hadn't changed at all.  A favorite restaurant on Bowery had closed, but I knew that, from my obsessive NY news stalking.  Since moving away, I keep all the local news outlets in my social feeds, to feel any tremor or vibration of the life of that place from afar.

Once, in college, my high school boyfriend made a visit to my campus during his fall break.  I was eager to see him, to see if our breakup was the right choice after all, to see how he'd grown without me, for him to recognize that I was doing well without him.  I am sure I fidgeted with my outfit, nervously provided all the necessary background information to my roommate, changed my shoes a few times.
It was great to sit in the sun by my dorm for a little bit, introduce him to my new friends, see him in a new light  and enjoy his company.
It was also clear, that despite a hint of his lingering interest, we were a sealed enveloped. All of his pencil drawings of small monsters, the notes we'd leave on one another's windshields in the student parking lot, both our junior and senior prom photos - it was all in that envelope, and time had taped it shut and it was just better that way.  But it was still nice to sit by him to remember it all.

You can see where I'm going with this.

Being back felt like I had never left the best version of it. The weather was unfairly perfect, all of my friends’ apartments impossibly cool. I spent afternoons on rooftops overlooking Central Park, mornings walking through Chelsea to get doughnuts. I worked from a coffee shop in Fort Greene, cheered for the USA’s world cup chances in Williamsburg, and spent 7 hours drinking wine with an adoptive book club in Park Slope. It was like everything was conspiring to break my heart for leaving.
I’d never lived there as an artist, but finally got it, in my joints, in my tendons, in my blood pumping veins, what it means to pursue art in a place that full of energy and story. Every sign, every face, every menu - each stroke of graffiti and conversation overhead. I wanted to make stuff and learn. I wanted to sit and absorb. And then I wanted to push it of me, with my own mark on it.
Part of me wishes I’d given myself that chance, to create a life of creating there. The other parts of me know I was not convinced nor dedicated enough to this cause until I left. I still don’t even believe I’d be able to make it there, doing what I do now. I’d be distracted, discouraged, dismissed.
It all worked out. It’s all working out. And I can always go back for perfect visits with my perfect friends. 
I just wish it was a shorter train ride from Texas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time is A Flat Circle

Nostalgia is a real, powerful drug.

This resurgence of all things nineties lately has felt in some ways like a wave of vomit that you can feel rising with horror - a feeling I am sure my parents felt when they witnessed the revival of bell bottoms during my middle school years.   First the Spice Girls reunite, there's a Boy Meets World spin off coming, now eyebrows and scoop back one piece swimsuits are back.

And thank god for all that, amirite?

Right now I am wearing my favorite outfit from 3rd grade: black suede ankle boots, long floral print dress, giant sweater.  I've got a bouncy new haircut to go with it - it's almost summer, everything feels like popsicles and brown paper bag crafts.  I just ordered a pair (my second) of Saltwater sandals.  Maybe it's my recent return to art that's revived my own inner nineties human.   Nothing makes me feel more like myself these days than when I look up and realize I've been drawing for a few hours, oblivious to the minutes that have ticked by.

Nostalgia is "everything was better then."  Except we know it wasn't necessarily, or, it was, and while it was happening I wasn't old enough to know it, but now I get amazing technology AND I'm old enough to live with my awesome boyfriend and wear Cindy Crawford-red lipstick.  Nostalgia is great when you get to pick the best old parts to pair with the best new parts.  Nostalgia for me these days is taking the form of, "man, now I'm 27 and I wish it were 1996 again."  But I don't want to be ten years old again.  I want it to be 1996 so I could be 27 during 1996.  Just for a little while!  To see what it would be like to listen to Toni Braxton for the first time, as an adult.  To watch Friends for the first time as someone who was looking back on her early twenties, not forward to them.

Last night I watched Dave Chappelle's Block Party - which is now eight years old, but documents the party he threw in Bed Stuy about ten years ago.  And the musicians who participate were so powerful at the time of that party because they were already a little bit past their peak of popularity (except for you, Kanye). Their performances felt like a way to bring a neighborhood together over a shared love of music they already knew well and loved well.
Here's a way to put this in perspective for my peers:  this concert was so long ago that The Fugees had a REUNION to be in it.  

One of the things that struck me the most about this block party was that when Lauryn Hill joined Wyclef Jean and Praz on stage at the end of the night, you could count the number of cell phones raised high in the crowd on one hand.  People were present.  That almost made me more jealous than the fact that they got to see The Fugees live.

Have you ever actually heard Lauryn Hill sing?

You guys,  don't tell her I wrote this because she has made it pretty clear that she doesn't want me to love her music the way that I do, but I can't help it.  When I was about ten years old I discovered pop and R+B music, as you do.  And The Fugees' "Killing Me Softly" was. My. Jam. 
I remember vehemently fighting with my mother when she told me it was a cover.  I had no room in my pop culture worldview for it to include an old woman named Roberta Flack, nor could I fathom that my mother had heard and loved this song first.
It was my song, it was my generation's song, and NO ONE NOT NO ONE could have an afterschool dance party in their bedroom with their friends to this song like we could.  I remember my mother and her friend walking in on us, bangs plastered to sweaty foreheads - we hadn't heard them calling for my friend from the front door over our wailing the "LAAAA LA LAAA"s with help from the boombox I'd gotten for Christmas.

I thought about that moment last night during the movie.  I thought about The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and how fervently I listened to it at the bus stop in the mornings on my Discman.  I thought about the first time that "Ex-Factor" broke my heart, after my heart broke for the first time.  I look forward to "To Zion" breaking it again when I have a kid.  I thought about "Get Out" - the MTV Unplugged version when Ms. Hill gets so choked up in the middle that she has to take a second to gather herself, listening to that in my dorm room, windows wide open, heart and mind open wider for the first time.  

I heard "FU-GEE-LA" the other day and it started all of this thinking - how I wanted so badly to unzip my past, and walk into it at a different age.  To hear that song for the first time as a teenager while I got really high in a parked car with friends after school.  

That's all, really.  I'm glad it's not 1996, and even more glad that it's having a little resurgence right now so that those of us who missed some of the more grown-up opportunities at the time (including fashion not intended for little chubby bodies) can relive it, and think about the good old days.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2013 - A Year for the Books

Subway rides, cozy apartment time, and almost two months in Costa Rica turned out to be highly conducive situations for knocking out a bunch of reading.   The final count was somewhere around 30 -   it's hard for me to always finish nonfiction titles- even as much as I tried to emphasize quality over quantity in my reading this past year.

The final 2013 list, with favorites listed first - and then in no particular order:

East of Eden - John Steinbeck
The Orphan Master's Son- Adam Johnson
Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell
Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver
The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard - Chip Heath
Thirteen Moons- Charles Frazier
Wild- Cheryl Strayed
Slouching Towards Bethlehem- Joan Didion
The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway
The Year of Magical Thinking- Joan Didion
A Dance with Dragons (#5)- George RR Martin
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas - Tom Robbins
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World- Haruki Murakami
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami
Dance, Dance, Dance- Haruki Murakami
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood- Margaret Atwood
Paula- Isabel Allende
The Cat's Table - Michael Ondaatje
Hell's Angels- Hunter S. Thompson
Hate List - Jennifer Brown
Alcatraz from Inside: The Hard Years - Jim Quillen

Bossypants- Tina Fey
Just Kids- Patti Smith

Nonfiction started and still intend to finish:
The Worst Hard Time- Timothy Egan
Stuffed and Starved - Raj Patel
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health - Marion Nestle

    Fiction started, abandoned, with no intention of finishing:
    War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

    To much and more in 2014!

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    Learning to Tumble Rocks

    There is no way to overstate how much material there is on the internet.

    More and more when I want to write about something, I think, "Nope. Not worth throwing it into the landfill."  So I don't - I save it as conversational barter for dinnertime, or a shared subway ride, trade it for a morsel of what he did and thought about during the day, and then I move past it, onto dessert or into a tunnel. 

    And I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd been able to save it up and lay it like an egg.  Fully formed and new and capable of taking on a life of its own, maybe. Instead, it's like I took someone else's egg and cracked it open into a hot soup or a skillet where there was already a lot going on.  I poached the egg.

    I had a neighbor growing up for whom I'd fish-sit when they went to Mazatlan.  They had a whole glass table in their living room covered in really shiny, smooth rocks.  The rocks fascinated me with their glossy stripes, their marbled curves, reds and greens and grays.  They were edgeless, and dirtless. They weren't even really rocks anymore - they were objects worthy of the glass table in the living room.

    I liked them so much that I got a rock tumbling machine for my next birthday.

    Rock tumbling is a fairly involved process, I learned: there is a multi-step procedure involving variations of sand of varying grit and multiple rounds of sending the rocks around and around in their little rock washing machine. The box came with the tumbler, plastic bags of the required sand, and even rocks. 
    For my birthday, as a kid, I got rocks in a box.  Because I asked for them.
    Dad helped me follow the instructions, and before long, dozens of little ugly rocks were getting polished in our garage. 
    To be fair, I am not sure we tumbled for the prescribed amount of time.  Or maybe we did, and the tumbler wasn't powerful enough to do the job, but regardless, my rocks came out with sand splotches, their colors still dulled, gunk in their grooves. They were still just rocks, and now they looked like they had a disease.
    Definitely not glass table in the living room material.

    My patience exhausted, I scurried on to softball practice or swim lessons, my novelty eraser collection. Roller blades.

    I didn't really love the book Gone Girl but, the narrator and main character, Nick Dunne, is an out of work writer who struggles with the transition to a digital media dominated world.  A world in which, he gripes, writers don't write well and often give their work away for free.  And that as a writer, he prefers to work slowly and build a story or arc and that he doesn't think or work fast enough for what modern journalism and authorship has become.  (Was that from that book?  Or did Joan Didion say it?  Did she say it, too? Or first?)
    Regardless, I am beginning to understand this.  The internet is full of half-tumbled rocks. 
    And so is my head.

    With getting older, I am learning to enjoy sliding into a bathtub of liquid knowledge, lips bubbling below, soaking in the warmth of learning something deeply - of loving it deeply.  Of loving a subject enough that I pick up another book about it.  Of loving an author enough to read their bibliography. Of loving myself enough to go to the gym when I don't want to. Of loving an idea enough to still, over a year later, be committed to not eating meat. Of loving a man long enough to let him love my raw scrapes and silliness. 

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Super Bowl Ads: Why I'm #notbuyingit

    I made a huge personal choice last July and decided after a lifetime love affair with meat that it was time for me to try to commit to a vegetarian diet.  That deserves its own explanation, but, succinctly, it was largely inspired by the book Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I came to a conclusion through his research that -given the current state of industrial farming and the way consumers have been hogtied by Big Farm(a) with no transparency or honesty into the fuel we are feeding our bodies- the only way I feel I can express my frustration and disapproval is to not give them my money.  I have not bought meat, poultry, or fish in seven months.  

    During this time, I have seen an evolution and a dynamism in my opinions on meat.  My reasons for not eating it now are augmented by no longer having a craving or a taste for it.  I am lighter, and thinner, and overall healthier, and am proud of the deliberate nature with which I approach my meals.  But at the heart of it, my protest is one of economics:
    I don't want to share my hard-earned money with companies that don't respect me as a consumer.

    Which is why this Sunday during the Super Bowl, under missile attack from highly trained commercials, I will be actively participating in the #NotBuyingIt movement on Twitter, and if you're a woman, or care about women, encourage you to do the same!

    Completely unrelated to meat consumption, but 100% about being a responsible and thoughtful consumer, the #NotBuyingIt hashtag on Twitter is a way to call out sexism in the media.

    "We're empowering people to use their consumer power to fight misrepresentation of gender in the media during the most watched television event of the year..This is not only an opportunity to challenge advertisers and brands to do better, but an opportunity to educate the masses on gender media literacy and why it matters."

    85% of consumer purchases are in the hands of women... but 91% of females don't feel like advertisers understand them.  What is going on, here?

    Caveats:  I work in digital media sales. I love football.  I love Super Bowl commercials.  I would not identify myself as a Feminist.

    But where we spend our money says a lot.  So, I am going to try to choose to spend mine with brands and companies that view me as a valuable source of their income, and not a dumb, pink, sexual commodity.
    Join up on Twitter if you're #notbuyingit either!

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    A Letter of Note

    I love handwritten letters.  This is no secret, it is not unique, it is not surprising.
    What is surprising is that pretty much everyone loves handwritten letters, but so few people actually write them anymore.

    One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2012 was to "Send one letter a month." 

    I am not sure how that ended up shaking out, but, a few weeks ago a mailed out a bunch at once, so maybe the averages are on my side.  
    Regardless, I love writing them, I love to get them, and they are such an easy way to reflect, to thank, to make a day better.

    One of my favorite websites is dedicated to this craft- Letters of Note. They are producing a book that I have pre-ordered and am anxiously awaiting.
    In the meantime, I will continue to write my own, and read old ones like this, that I absolutely treasure. 
    It's a card from my great-grandfather, written to a 2 year old me.  

    November 16, 1988
    Dear Jessica,
    Thank you very much for sending me a birthday card last week when I had my eighty-ninth birthday.  And will you thank daddy and mommy for the card they also sent me.

    The picture on this card is of a buffalo.  There were several millions of these great animals all over the country a hundred and fifty years ago.  But as people settled on the land where the buffalo roamed they got rid of the big beasts.  The result was that the buffalo were almost all destroyed.  Then people said, "We must save the buffalo from extinction."  Extinction means that there wouldn't be any at all.  So the few hundred that remained were proctected. They have grown in number and now there are a few thousand.  Some day you may see one.
    The next time I see you I would like to hug you.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    How a Hurricane Hit Me

    I sat down to write an email to some of my best best girls and it turns out I had some stuff to say.  The following came tumbling out of my fingers into a Gmail draft one evening and when I looked up, it was 12:30 in the morning. This is even an edited version of how Hurricane Sandy hit me personally.

    It's two weeks to the day since Sandy came to town.

    Things are still not "back to normal" in a lot of ways: the city has sanctioned gas rations (if your license plate ends with an odd number, you can fill up on odd days.  If it ends in an even number, you fill up on even days), the trains aren't fully functioning yet - many buildings even in lower Manhattan are still without power or hot water.  In the center of civilization; the hub of human culture; the "best city in the world" there are people without basic human needs.  It's unsettling.  

    I have contracted a severe bout of survivor's guilt, as I am sure you can tell from my social media outpouring.  I just felt my heart being tugged to be a good neighbor to my neighbors - if I am going to live in New York, I want to earn it, and I want to be part of the community, so I've been trying my best to get involved.

    The first weekend, I clumsily took a new bus line out to Red Hook.  It's the only place that was badly affected that I'd been to before (and only because that's where the IKEA is) and that was easily reachable from my apartment with the way public transportation was affected.  I went alone, mostly because I felt this needling sense of urgency, and also, I desperately needed some time to myself after being in an apartment all week with my roommate and two male refugee guests of ours.

    Red Hook is a surprisingly "beachy" town.  It is embarrassing how little I knew of my new borough until the last couple weeks, to be honest.  Like, you could live in some of these cozy, outlying neighborhoods of New York City, and, aside from the stunning views, have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
    There are brownstones and bungalows, cafes and antique shops, overgrown parks and a crab shack with faux lawn and picnic tables year round.  Then, on the piers, big brick warehouses - the IKEA, a Fairway grocery store (entirely flooded, the contents of which were strewn across its suburban sized parking lot - the aisles dismantled and set out to be washed and dried, amid literal tons of ocean-logged food), and a community of artist's studios.

    The Occupy movement has actually been the most incredibly efficient, first-responding team in many affected neighborhoods. When I got there a line of volunteers wound down the block, waiting to get to the front to get an assignment.  The assignments were mostly being delegated to indiscriminate teams of 10-15 people who just happened to be standing next to each other in line, and were coming from canvassing teams who were walking around the area and asking neighbors and businesses what their immediate or long-term needs were. I got assigned to a canvassing team, and, this sounds silly, but, after a beat of group silence when asked, volunteered to be the Team Leader.  I had no idea what I was doing and had never been to this neighborhood before, but, I volunteered and split the group according to the map, and sent everyone on their way with instructions to come back to me with neighborhood requests, at which point a runner would take it back to the headquarters station, where a team of 10-15 would be dispatched out with proper supplies,and so forth.  It has been a while since I took any sort of leadership role, and again, it was so arbitrary and small and lasted for like, an hour, but it woke something dormant in me: "Oh, yeah.  I used to love to organize and motivate people.  I forgot that I love this- that I am good at it."

    After our group had thoroughly taken care of our designated blocks, a bunch of people had to leave, but, a guy named Billy and his girlfriend and their friend and I stuck around for another task and got sent out to one of the studios on one of the piers.

    It was late afternoon and already starting to get colder down on the water.  We walked as a group, chatting a bit about our stories (the girls work directly for the designer Nicole Miller.  Billy owns a bar in the West Village - The Brooklyneer. I've never been, but have heard of it) and found the studio - cavernous and cold, built of brick, and already in the process of being demolished by another volunteer team up front, busy with activity.  We learned quickly that it was an architecture studio, owned by Ben and his wife, Chrissy, who also used the place as a personal storage facility.  She was crouched over a plastic tub full of water, with hundreds of old pictures bobbing around in it.  One by one she'd peel one out, look at it, speak the memory aloud- ask her husband if he remembered such and such or where so and so was these days.  Their best friend was there, too, and seemed to be the only one with any kind of anchor in reality - he assigned us to tasks, and was audibly trying to keep Ben and Chrissy on task: "is this bag okay to throw out? "  "Have you had a chance to go through this?"  "You already looked through this one, I am going to put it in the Final Trash pile, okay?"  Ben wandered around in a daze, kind of staring at the 5 1/2 foot water marks on things - the brick wall, a plywood shelving unit, a wall of tools - while Chrissy pored over every minute of the last 40 years of her life.  It was so sad.

    Billy and I got assigned to, of all things, rinsing the negatives of those pictures off, and hanging them to dry. In case Ben wanted to reprint any of them. Someday.  
    It was evident that we both thought this a silly waste of time even without saying anything, because we reminded each other lightly, unprompted, that "isn't this just the nature of volunteering!"  Meaning, you show up with your arms widespread, no ego and no agenda and you just have to say, "what will help you the most right now?"  The temperature was dropping, and our job was to dip our fingers into cold water, over and over again in this negative-washing process. We strung them up onto paperclip hangers that I bent into shape, and clotheslined them up to dry all around the studio like creepy party decorations. A garland of memories of negative space.

    We had no cell phone service and when I realized it was already 5, excused myself and said goodbye to everyone, with a half-assed promise to get to The Brooklyneer soon.
    Leaving the warehouse was a shock: there was still no power, aside from generator-run electricity, in Red Hook, so it was DARK.  The IKEA glowed off in the distance, a beacon of normality and safety, so I clomped over there in my squeaky clean Danner boots and waited for a bus while I checked my phone with frozen fingers - my 2 best guy friends had made it there too, and I learned from texts had emptied out someone's basement that had suffered a sewage leak, but were already home and showered and did I want to go to dinner?
    Yes. I did. More than anything.
    Nothing feels as safe and relaxing to me here in NYC as a night with these guys.
    We had a typical The Three of Us dinner at a great Italian restaurant, Lil Frankies, and talked about the day, about how the dinner was a nice way to wrap up our week together, and how it felt weird to know we had to go back to work the next day.
    Last Week: Back to "normal" 

    In our Monday morning status meeting, I suggested that we all go as a group on Saturday to volunteer somewhere, and that I'd be happy to coordinate it, and that we should invite our clients. It was well-received, and then I stressed out about it endlessly.  This was really important to so many people, but needs were changing daily, and part of the problem with volunteering is that you get all these volunteers and no one to lead them.  So, of course I signed up and attended a Disaster Leadership Training on Tuesday (after VOTING!), spurred largely by my experience the prior weekend in Red Hook and reminded myself that I could do this, and be good at it, and help people all at the same time. (I made the mistake of going from the emotionally intense training to a very drunk election night party and left in a horrible mood, so mad at everyone... except Drunk Diane Sawyer.  Drunk Diane Sawyer is my power animal and my buddy).

    Finally by the end of the week, an opportunity perfect for our 17 confirmed volunteers presented itself!  We were going to team up with a media agency who happened to have an extra 15 passenger van for us, and caravan out to the Rockaways to help sweep the sand off of...everything, essentially.  

    This past weekend: Back to Sandy, nothing is "normal"

    We had an awesome group of people head out to the Rockaways, which, if you look on a map, is pretty much as far East as you can get from Manhattan, and in the summer, is a lazy, old timey beach town you can take the train to for day trips. I had never been to this beach before yesterday, so I couldn't tell how different it looked, but, the fact that the ENTIRE wooden boardwalk was just.. missing... off of the concrete pilons was  jarring in itself.   Even on the way out there in the van, we passed small communities, one after another, surprisingly far inland, that had boats piled up in the middle of the street, cars parked wonkily because that's where the ocean had unceremoniously dropped them.  And really, nothing is sadder than shit that is spray painted onto plywood: "Broad Channel: the forgotten town" or "Sandy, you broke our hearts" and "Looters will be crucified" (I am sure you saw some of those images going around online).

    When we got to the sort of "town square"/main intersection of Rockaway Beach,  I was surprised to see Home Depot there doling out free shovels, brooms, and buckets but there was really no overarching organization who seemed to be directing anyone.  It didn't matter, because within minutes we'd started a conversation with a guy who was like, "how many people do you have?  Come with me to my street. We have a few basements that need to be emptied out."

    So we went with him to a cute street, one side of which was fruit colored condos - like something you think you would see in Miami- the other side of the street bungalow style homes we were told were totally flood-damaged, the residents displaced, their homes ruined. 

    A big guy met us at the front door of his home- Ron, an NYPD sergeant- and thanked us for coming and warned us that his basement hadn't been touched yet. We said no sweat, let's f-ing do this, and so, for the next 4 hours, we trudged through his mud-blanketed basement (which wasn't just a basement, it was just the lower level of his home: his son's bedroom, a bathroom, the laundry room, closets) full of all the things that are in all of our homes, and it was all absolutely destroyed.  We got right to work, first getting the waterlogged mattress and box spring, then the broken tv, then the washer+dryer, out.  We shoveled at the floor, 7 of us, for hours, scooping up bedding, action figures, family photos, Christmas decorations, bits of the boardwalk, mud, sewage, reeds, remote controls... just, you name it, we shoveled it into 5 gallon buckets and hauled them up the stairs, out the door, and dropped it on the sidewalk.  Their mound of possessions and memories, now rendered junk, just sat in an evergrowing heap, drowning in mud, waiting for the National Guard to come by and pick it up, and haul it off to who knows where.

    By 1:30 we had the basement completely emptied out, and you could see the floor all the way around.  We had gotten started on their first floor, which wasn't as bad, but much of the furniture had sustained water damage so, out went the leather couches.  Out went the pillowtop mattress and boxspring.  "OH MY GOD." Ron's wife, also NYPD, wailed from her bedroom. "OH SHIT YOU GUYS. Oh my GOD!"

    She emerged to all of our stricken faces holding a shoebox.  "Look at this, oh my GOD, bone dry." and as she pulled off the lid, we saw a first communion ribbon, her marriage certificate, graduation and birthday cards.
    The stuff you can't replace, and it was all fine.

    I walked up the street to tell some other members of our group who were helping in another house that we had to get going, and I just started heaving tears.  Totally snuck up on me, didn't mean to cry, it was just an adrenaline crash, and too much emotion I didn't know what to do with.  I was SO proud of my coworkers - one Long Island native, whose Marc Jacobs sunglasses had gotten trampled into the mud and bless her heart said not a word until we got into the van.  Our male fashion editor, who showed up to volunteer in skinny jeans and a denim jacket, was indefatigable with a shovel and even helped big Ron carry a watery mattress up the stairs.  My two best boys, one of their brothers, a girl from my softball team who works in media and saw on Facebook that we were heading to the Rockaways and asked if she could come with us, and brought a friend.
    Even now, recalling it, I am tearing up at the total love that came pouring out of these wonderful people.

    When Ron and his wife said goodbye, they got all of our names and contact information, insisted on taking a picture with us, and have already invited us to a summer barbeque once they get back on their feet.
    We all rode back to the city mostly in silence, reeking of God knows what, feeling really grateful, and sad.

    I got into bed at 6 PM and didn't move until 10 AM Sunday morning.

    This week, we got the go-ahead from our VP to take a day off at our discretion to use in further Sandy relief efforts.  Everyone is still checking on each other- every cab I get into, the driver asks me if I'm okay, if the storm hit me.
    I lost no power, no electricity, was lucky enough to have a big enough apartment to host 2 extras, but yeah - it hit me.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012


    Here are the women who are currently making this day smileworthy rather than just barely passable:

    Sam Gordon

    No big deal, just a 9 year old girl beasting her way through a boys' football league.


    Okay, so we all make mistakes and get married to R Kelly when we're 15 from time to time, but,  I am memorializing her awesomeness with what is currently my #3 favorite Pandora station of all time: Click to listen to Aaliyah Radio

    Drunk Diane Sawyer

    The only watchable part of the atrocity that is Presidental Election Night tv "coverage".  God bless her... and if I had to choose which god, I'd go with Dionysus.