Footloose + Fancy

For your summer shin dig:
http://tape.ly/summershindig

This, and the last minute, loud and clear is a good way to start a Wednesday.

(Source: Spotify)

If you know me, you know I love Maine. It is where I’m from, my favorite place on earth, it is the heart and soul of my being and I’d like to keep it that way. Recently while researching an idea for a new screenplay, I stumbled upon these images in the Time LightBox by Steven Rubin.

To me – these photographs are the epitome of the Maine I grew up with and have come to know through my own family’s history: rural, bizarre, welcoming, hardworking, tough, funny, creative and desolate. There is a fundamental link between the ups and downs of life –the good and the bad, and these images explore that theme and then some. No one is ever solely happy or solely sad. Things ebb and flow and that is to be expected. In Maine we “chop wood and carry water”, we don’t complain and true Mainers don’t expect their “bread to be buttered on both sides”.

The duality and complexity of life is what gets me– I tend to gravitate towards things that reflect on how hard life is sometimes, but still values the beautiful things that pop up and come about when living a real life, one of grit and purpose and honesty.

My favorite photograph is the one of the little girl in the back of the truck, Liza and Uncle Kendall on the way to the swimming hole, 1990. It acts as a punctum (see below), striking me with numerous complicated feelings, feelings about Maine and my family and history and poverty and personal joy. It almost evades language – something else is communicated here and I can’t quite put my finger on it.  

Punctum and Camera Lucida

You could do a few things with your weekend: 
1. You could clean your room, in your birthday suit. 
2. You could read a book, on a train, headed to a place you’ve never been but always wanted to see. 
3. You could make homemade jam, a jamboree, marmalade, lemon preserves. 
4. You could spend some quality time with someone you love. Or build sand castles with someone you don’t. 
5. You could practice your pout and put it to good use. 
Whatever you do, enjoy. 
Oh hello again. It’s me. I haven’t done much since the last time we spoke, other than eat Cheese-Its and day dream about owning a puppy/cheese farm. 
How have you been? Well, I hope. Maybe you’ve bought a new pair of shoes since the last time we met, or you are trying out a new fruity perfume, listening to a new band, giving Vegan-ism a go. Whatever it is, I hope you’re happy and healthy and embracing spring and drinking cocktails on rooftops. 
The weather is finally getting warmer in New York. Tulips are popping up as if on cue and people are starting to dine outside more, making the walk through my neighborhood enjoyable. Strolling past the brownstones, the smell of coffee grinds, salty bagels, lavender scones filters through the air — frequently driving me into shops to purchase a sweet treat or afternoon pick-me-up. 
One of my favorite springtime habits is to look forward to summer, to plan ahead and “get it together”. Lists and lists of things to do, places to eat, people to see and experiences to have fill my journal, my notebooks, scrap paper in my purse. A word that often graces these pages every year is “swim”, and the goal is to do it as much as possible. 
As a kid, one of my favorite things about camp was Free Swim. I thrived in the water and lived for that very first dive — the one where my skin was hot from an afternoon of sunbathing, where my nails were coated in dirt and body tired from running around outside. The one where the water would wash away the day’s stress and fatigue with a quick brush of silky coolness, the underwater silence ushering out all sounds, if only just for a moment. 
Swimming, for me, is like a re-birth, a renewal — as cheesy at that sounds. We spend so much time connecting to one another, talking, moving, working that it feels so unique and utterly special to just close that all out, shut it off. Under water we are weightless, and the worries and never-ending stream of emails, complaints, texts, calls just slip away, for a brief second. 
So, here is to welcoming back this blog (again), and to you, for coming back (again) to read all things, anything (s) I might have to say, and to spring, summer and that first dive of the season. 

Photographs and poem above: 1, 2, and 3: me, age 7, under water.
Poem

Oh hello again. It’s me. I haven’t done much since the last time we spoke, other than eat Cheese-Its and day dream about owning a puppy/cheese farm. 

How have you been? Well, I hope. Maybe you’ve bought a new pair of shoes since the last time we met, or you are trying out a new fruity perfume, listening to a new band, giving Vegan-ism a go. Whatever it is, I hope you’re happy and healthy and embracing spring and drinking cocktails on rooftops. 

The weather is finally getting warmer in New York. Tulips are popping up as if on cue and people are starting to dine outside more, making the walk through my neighborhood enjoyable. Strolling past the brownstones, the smell of coffee grinds, salty bagels, lavender scones filters through the air — frequently driving me into shops to purchase a sweet treat or afternoon pick-me-up. 

One of my favorite springtime habits is to look forward to summer, to plan ahead and “get it together”. Lists and lists of things to do, places to eat, people to see and experiences to have fill my journal, my notebooks, scrap paper in my purse. A word that often graces these pages every year is “swim”, and the goal is to do it as much as possible. 

As a kid, one of my favorite things about camp was Free Swim. I thrived in the water and lived for that very first dive — the one where my skin was hot from an afternoon of sunbathing, where my nails were coated in dirt and body tired from running around outside. The one where the water would wash away the day’s stress and fatigue with a quick brush of silky coolness, the underwater silence ushering out all sounds, if only just for a moment. 

Swimming, for me, is like a re-birth, a renewal — as cheesy at that sounds. We spend so much time connecting to one another, talking, moving, working that it feels so unique and utterly special to just close that all out, shut it off. Under water we are weightless, and the worries and never-ending stream of emails, complaints, texts, calls just slip away, for a brief second. 

So, here is to welcoming back this blog (again), and to you, for coming back (again) to read all things, anything (s) I might have to say, and to spring, summer and that first dive of the season. 

Photographs and poem above: 1, 2, and 3: me, age 7, under water.

Poem

Someone asked me the other day if I have a favorite word. The question both amused and stumped me. At the time I tried to call forth a word from the deep parts of my brain, the back of my tongue, to whisper out, to share, to answer with. But I couldn’t think of one word that I consider to be my favorite.
Instead, I was overwhelmed with words I love, words in other languages, names of foods, babies, foreign countries, types of liquor and cake and so on. It didn’t seem fair to give the prestigious title of “favorite” to just one of them. I didn’t have an answer.
A few days later, I thought about the question on my subway ride home, climbing up the stairs to my apartment, reading in bed. Words and syllables filled my brain as I made my way past the city lights and skyscrapers, past the bins of trash and hordes of people. 
It was of course, this question, that inspired me to start yet another weekly addition to this blog, this time, le parole (the words, in Italian). This addition may be less interesting to some and more interesting to others. It may not be as put together and will certainly be more conceptual.
Today’s feature is the word ebullience. It is a lovely word, one that rolls off the tongue with the tiniest hint of a pout.
To me, the word sounds like a fancy restaurant in Spain, the twist of a French silk scarf, the sound of the air settling after it rains, the quiet ringing in one’s ears after the final note of a Broadway show. It is graceful and expresses happiness with every vowel and consonant. It is a pleasure to say. 

Images: 1, 2 and the best of all, 3

Someone asked me the other day if I have a favorite word. The question both amused and stumped me. At the time I tried to call forth a word from the deep parts of my brain, the back of my tongue, to whisper out, to share, to answer with. But I couldn’t think of one word that I consider to be my favorite.

Instead, I was overwhelmed with words I love, words in other languages, names of foods, babies, foreign countries, types of liquor and cake and so on. It didn’t seem fair to give the prestigious title of “favorite” to just one of them. I didn’t have an answer.

A few days later, I thought about the question on my subway ride home, climbing up the stairs to my apartment, reading in bed. Words and syllables filled my brain as I made my way past the city lights and skyscrapers, past the bins of trash and hordes of people. 

It was of course, this question, that inspired me to start yet another weekly addition to this blog, this time, le parole (the words, in Italian). This addition may be less interesting to some and more interesting to others. It may not be as put together and will certainly be more conceptual.

Today’s feature is the word ebullience. It is a lovely word, one that rolls off the tongue with the tiniest hint of a pout.

To me, the word sounds like a fancy restaurant in Spain, the twist of a French silk scarf, the sound of the air settling after it rains, the quiet ringing in one’s ears after the final note of a Broadway show. It is graceful and expresses happiness with every vowel and consonant. It is a pleasure to say. 

Images: 1, 2 and the best of all, 3

I love a lot of ladies. For starters, I love my Mom. She’s my favorite human. In addition to that, I love my childhood friends, Liz, Stephanie and Maya. I love my step-mother, Wendy. I love ladies who lunch, and brunch and talk about politics. I love ladies that wear cool hats and have really strange looking coats, and who walk the streets of Brooklyn. I love ladies who know what they want and order it at a cake shop (“I’ll have one of everything please. Yes, it’s for one.”). I love historical ladies. I love ladies who filibuster. I love ladies that cook, walk marathons (yes, walk), design handbags, and write mystery novels.(But I DO NOT love ladies who exhale way too loudly in yoga class). 
And so, with all that love I thought I’d start a weekly “column” or gathering or showcasing of the ladies that I love. Here is today’s group (a very special one indeed).
Kathleen Bennie. I have known Kathleen my entire life. I met her on the day that I was born and I try to call her every morning to ask her what she had for breakfast (usually French toast or a toasted fish sandwich, these days). She is the strongest woman I know, and by far the most intelligent person I’ve ever come across in my twenty-four years. Her collection of books and wealth of knowledge are inspiring—if not completely intimidating. She refuses to put up with disrespectful and ill-mannered people—a trait she has graciously passed along to me. She is gentle and kind and loving in the most honest way. And she makes the most wonderful scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese and cups of tea. I know that I am lucky, in so many ways, but I feel even more lucky and grateful that I got to grow up with a grandmother like Kathleen. She is someone that I loved from the moment I met her, and a person I will try to emulate as I grow older. She’s the greatest there is. Truly.
Julia Child. This one is a tad cliché, but then again, I can’t really see a world in which a person doesn’t love Julia Child; everyone loves Julia Child. With her infectious laugh, her unapologetic attitude and delectable recipes, love for her overflows from kitchens and homes around the world. I first learned of Julia and Mastering the Art of French Cooking in college, when I was still eating from the salad bar and stale boxes of cereal. The summer of my sophomore year, I was an intern at a local newspaper and I worked closely with the food editor, expanding my palette and widening my waistline. Julia’s name was thrown around a lot, and it was her recipe for Potato Leek soup with which I first impressed friends at an intimate summer party. A few years and a new address later, Julia and her recipes have followed me to Brooklyn. I keep her close by—for I know who to turn to when I need to cook for a dinner party, console a friend with a comforting dish or make a meal that will remind me just why I love food—and Julia, so much.   

Jane Campion. More people may know who Jane Campion is now that her new series, Top of the Lake, is available for streaming on Netflix. But I have loved her for at least a few years prior to the new show. The first Campion film I saw was The Piano, which sparked in me a love and fever for her work and dialogue. I respect her films enormously, and enjoy watching them as they usually have a component of mystery, of passion, of female desire that I find particularly curious and realistic. It is as if Campion examines not just what her characters think, but how they think, delving into the world of the human psyche, particularly the female psyche. Top of the Lake, which stars Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss, is bold and stylistic and interesting and extremely compelling—I watched it in a weekend and have recently begun re-watching it. It’s worth the time you will spend in your bedroom, huddled under a pile of blankets, ignoring all calls and eating copious amounts of Annie’s mac n’ cheese. 

I love a lot of ladies. For starters, I love my Mom. She’s my favorite human. In addition to that, I love my childhood friends, Liz, Stephanie and Maya. I love my step-mother, Wendy. I love ladies who lunch, and brunch and talk about politics. I love ladies that wear cool hats and have really strange looking coats, and who walk the streets of Brooklyn. I love ladies who know what they want and order it at a cake shop (“I’ll have one of everything please. Yes, it’s for one.”). I love historical ladies. I love ladies who filibuster. I love ladies that cook, walk marathons (yes, walk), design handbags, and write mystery novels.(But I DO NOT love ladies who exhale way too loudly in yoga class). 

And so, with all that love I thought I’d start a weekly “column” or gathering or showcasing of the ladies that I love. Here is today’s group (a very special one indeed).

Kathleen Bennie. I have known Kathleen my entire life. I met her on the day that I was born and I try to call her every morning to ask her what she had for breakfast (usually French toast or a toasted fish sandwich, these days). She is the strongest woman I know, and by far the most intelligent person I’ve ever come across in my twenty-four years. Her collection of books and wealth of knowledge are inspiring—if not completely intimidating. She refuses to put up with disrespectful and ill-mannered people—a trait she has graciously passed along to me. She is gentle and kind and loving in the most honest way. And she makes the most wonderful scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese and cups of tea. I know that I am lucky, in so many ways, but I feel even more lucky and grateful that I got to grow up with a grandmother like Kathleen. She is someone that I loved from the moment I met her, and a person I will try to emulate as I grow older. She’s the greatest there is. Truly.

Julia Child. This one is a tad cliché, but then again, I can’t really see a world in which a person doesn’t love Julia Child; everyone loves Julia Child. With her infectious laugh, her unapologetic attitude and delectable recipes, love for her overflows from kitchens and homes around the world. I first learned of Julia and Mastering the Art of French Cooking in college, when I was still eating from the salad bar and stale boxes of cereal. The summer of my sophomore year, I was an intern at a local newspaper and I worked closely with the food editor, expanding my palette and widening my waistline. Julia’s name was thrown around a lot, and it was her recipe for Potato Leek soup with which I first impressed friends at an intimate summer party. A few years and a new address later, Julia and her recipes have followed me to Brooklyn. I keep her close by—for I know who to turn to when I need to cook for a dinner party, console a friend with a comforting dish or make a meal that will remind me just why I love food—and Julia, so much.   

Jane Campion. More people may know who Jane Campion is now that her new series, Top of the Lake, is available for streaming on Netflix. But I have loved her for at least a few years prior to the new show. The first Campion film I saw was The Piano, which sparked in me a love and fever for her work and dialogue. I respect her films enormously, and enjoy watching them as they usually have a component of mystery, of passion, of female desire that I find particularly curious and realistic. It is as if Campion examines not just what her characters think, but how they think, delving into the world of the human psyche, particularly the female psyche. Top of the Lake, which stars Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss, is bold and stylistic and interesting and extremely compelling—I watched it in a weekend and have recently begun re-watching it. It’s worth the time you will spend in your bedroom, huddled under a pile of blankets, ignoring all calls and eating copious amounts of Annie’s mac n’ cheese. 

You could do a few things this weekend. You could: 

1. Catch the new, and fabulous, film Blue is the Warmest Color, and love it so much because it is so good. 

2. Celebrate a week of good living by living it up (Ja Rule style) in a room filled with giant disco balls.

3. Leave someone you love, or hate, a gift. In this case you would be leaving someone you love some flowers. I’ll leave the hateful gift up to you. 

4. You could take a trip to somewhere extra fancy, or diplomatic, and pose in front of small buildings. 

5. You could don a pretty blouse, and head to an art gallery opening, a new restaurant, a roller derby or a book club meeting. 

We are headed to the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, to see some galleries in Chelsea, and throwing a house warming party in our new digs. Whatever you do, I hope it’s grand. 

I’ve been reading the Best American Short Stories, edited by Salman Rushdie and last week on the train I read one story that really resonated with me. The story is called “The Year of Silence” and is written by Kevin Brockmeier, and it is so well-written and the concept behind it made me feel like the many issues I’ve had about living in New York have been validated.
It begins in a city, and this city is like every other city in the world: busy, bustling and full of noise. But in this case, the people of this metropolis experience something like a phenomenon in which a moment of silence passes through their lives—a moment where everything stops and all is calm and no noise is emitted. Nothing moves or breathes or makes a sound. Rocked by the hush, the people of the city begin to long for another moment of noiselessness, so much so that they decide to manufacture their own city-wide silence.
By using their wits and their skills and putting their heads together, the people are able to silence nearly everything that makes a noise. In the story, they live like this for quite some time, reveling in their quiet environment and taking in their own thoughts and feelings without the burden of sound to interrupt them. But then, something funny happens—a rare moment of noise passes through their day—a blip of vibration, where everything makes the sound it used to make before it was silenced.
Rightfully so the people of the city are shocked. They are so shocked and moved by hearing the sounds that they used to hear that they begin to long for the lives that they used to live. Underground clubs that promise “live sounds” of water rushing and leaves crunching pop up all over the city and people crave the daily disruption of noise they used to call living.
By the end of the story, the people have removed the noise hindrances that they put in place and they once again live in a city filled with noise.
What I love so much about this story is how it seems to get humanity—we experience something exceptional and we appreciate it and like it so much that we have to recreate it or duplicate it and then, once we’ve done those things our duplications are never as good as the real thing. It’s almost always better to wait and to experience these rare and delicate moments in life rather than attempt to reconstruct them.
It’s funny—but this sort of theory of waiting is how I’ve learned to cope with the noise levels in New York. I cringe at the sound of the subway’s wheels scraping on the metal rail and to quiet my stress I think about how later, I will take a quiet walk down a street in Brooklyn or sit on my roof top and watch the airplanes fly high above. Amidst the hustle and craziness, moments of stillness are hard to find but I like to remind myself that they are usually always there, waiting for me, and for you.  

This story is just a story, of course, but it illuminates a part of my life that I find particularly difficult and it reminded me that at times it’s better to just settle for the real thing and to never take for granted moments of respite and silence. They exist for a reason—to balance everything out. 

I’ve been reading the Best American Short Stories, edited by Salman Rushdie and last week on the train I read one story that really resonated with me. The story is called “The Year of Silence” and is written by Kevin Brockmeier, and it is so well-written and the concept behind it made me feel like the many issues I’ve had about living in New York have been validated.

It begins in a city, and this city is like every other city in the world: busy, bustling and full of noise. But in this case, the people of this metropolis experience something like a phenomenon in which a moment of silence passes through their lives—a moment where everything stops and all is calm and no noise is emitted. Nothing moves or breathes or makes a sound. Rocked by the hush, the people of the city begin to long for another moment of noiselessness, so much so that they decide to manufacture their own city-wide silence.

By using their wits and their skills and putting their heads together, the people are able to silence nearly everything that makes a noise. In the story, they live like this for quite some time, reveling in their quiet environment and taking in their own thoughts and feelings without the burden of sound to interrupt them. But then, something funny happens—a rare moment of noise passes through their day—a blip of vibration, where everything makes the sound it used to make before it was silenced.

Rightfully so the people of the city are shocked. They are so shocked and moved by hearing the sounds that they used to hear that they begin to long for the lives that they used to live. Underground clubs that promise “live sounds” of water rushing and leaves crunching pop up all over the city and people crave the daily disruption of noise they used to call living.

By the end of the story, the people have removed the noise hindrances that they put in place and they once again live in a city filled with noise.

What I love so much about this story is how it seems to get humanity—we experience something exceptional and we appreciate it and like it so much that we have to recreate it or duplicate it and then, once we’ve done those things our duplications are never as good as the real thing. It’s almost always better to wait and to experience these rare and delicate moments in life rather than attempt to reconstruct them.

It’s funny—but this sort of theory of waiting is how I’ve learned to cope with the noise levels in New York. I cringe at the sound of the subway’s wheels scraping on the metal rail and to quiet my stress I think about how later, I will take a quiet walk down a street in Brooklyn or sit on my roof top and watch the airplanes fly high above. Amidst the hustle and craziness, moments of stillness are hard to find but I like to remind myself that they are usually always there, waiting for me, and for you.  

This story is just a story, of course, but it illuminates a part of my life that I find particularly difficult and it reminded me that at times it’s better to just settle for the real thing and to never take for granted moments of respite and silence. They exist for a reason—to balance everything out. 

I know that it’s not really possible, but at times, I think that I can feel myself getting older. I don’t mean gray hairs, varicose veins and an inability to hear—what I mean is, I can feel myself developing and moving away from the person that I used to be or the things that used to occupy my time in college, in high school, or even last year. Of course there are the obvious behaviors that have faded from my day-to-day—less drinking, Cheez-It eating, Ebay shopping for “fancy face cream”, but there are also behaviors that are not as tangible that have up and left the building, like worrying less about where my life and career is headed.
The last one is the one that gets me—it is the trait that has defined my personality and how I have dealt with things for most of my adult life. For the past five years or so, I’ve always fretted about whether or not I’m on the “right path” or, what the “right path” is, or if I’m smart enough, talented enough, cool enough, attractive enough. Re-reading that sentence, my fears and worries are so trivial, so seemingly juvenile and, I’ve noticed that now that I have a year of actually living and doing and surviving on my own, I worry about what’s right and if I’m doing it, infrequently.
Maybe getting older isn’t about forgetting to pick up your dry cleaning or not knowing who Rihanna is, maybe it’s just forgetting to worry about the shit that is absolutely meaningless when it comes to living a good life. I just don’t have enough time these days to worry about why I didn’t know this shade of lipstick was a beauty trend last year, or how my life would be different if I would just give juicing a try.
November in the city is a cold month. Most of the leaves have fallen from their respective branches and the residents tend to walk a little faster, with a little more intention, as if they’re headed home to a warm fireplace and good book. This autumn, I’ve noticed a change in my perception of the things around me. It could be the bareness of the season or the acute sense of change, but whatever it is, it has imbued the way I listen and interact with others with a kind of quiet, of ease.

Instead of interrupting my boyfriend, my parents, my colleagues, I hush myself and listen to arguments, monologues, and opinions. I accept the things on my life to-do list and take them one day at a time, worrying not about whether or not I will get them done or if I can afford a house with a sauna/raise a show pony, but instead just trying to enjoy them as they come and know that someday things will all work out. Because if they don’t I have a backup plan: move to Italy and open a cake-by-the-slice shack/margarita bar and raise golden retrievers with French names like Croissant, Chouchou and Crème Brûlée . 

I know that it’s not really possible, but at times, I think that I can feel myself getting older. I don’t mean gray hairs, varicose veins and an inability to hear—what I mean is, I can feel myself developing and moving away from the person that I used to be or the things that used to occupy my time in college, in high school, or even last year. Of course there are the obvious behaviors that have faded from my day-to-day—less drinking, Cheez-It eating, Ebay shopping for “fancy face cream”, but there are also behaviors that are not as tangible that have up and left the building, like worrying less about where my life and career is headed.

The last one is the one that gets me—it is the trait that has defined my personality and how I have dealt with things for most of my adult life. For the past five years or so, I’ve always fretted about whether or not I’m on the “right path” or, what the “right path” is, or if I’m smart enough, talented enough, cool enough, attractive enough. Re-reading that sentence, my fears and worries are so trivial, so seemingly juvenile and, I’ve noticed that now that I have a year of actually living and doing and surviving on my own, I worry about what’s right and if I’m doing it, infrequently.

Maybe getting older isn’t about forgetting to pick up your dry cleaning or not knowing who Rihanna is, maybe it’s just forgetting to worry about the shit that is absolutely meaningless when it comes to living a good life. I just don’t have enough time these days to worry about why I didn’t know this shade of lipstick was a beauty trend last year, or how my life would be different if I would just give juicing a try.

November in the city is a cold month. Most of the leaves have fallen from their respective branches and the residents tend to walk a little faster, with a little more intention, as if they’re headed home to a warm fireplace and good book. This autumn, I’ve noticed a change in my perception of the things around me. It could be the bareness of the season or the acute sense of change, but whatever it is, it has imbued the way I listen and interact with others with a kind of quiet, of ease.

Instead of interrupting my boyfriend, my parents, my colleagues, I hush myself and listen to arguments, monologues, and opinions. I accept the things on my life to-do list and take them one day at a time, worrying not about whether or not I will get them done or if I can afford a house with a sauna/raise a show pony, but instead just trying to enjoy them as they come and know that someday things will all work out. Because if they don’t I have a backup plan: move to Italy and open a cake-by-the-slice shack/margarita bar and raise golden retrievers with French names like Croissant, Chouchou and Crème Brûlée .