A new day…

Holidailies 2012A lazy New Year’s Day, sort of.  Up early and then read for a while before falling back to sleep until about 11:30am.  Spoke to my sister and then up and hanging out doing a lot of nothing today with Gen.  Somewhere about 2pm I started making zucchini pancakes — my mom’s recipe — and one of my favorite holiday traditions.  They are absolutely delicious, but I forgot just how much work they are.  I had intended to shred the zucchini in the food processor, but discovered that part of the shredder attachment was missing, so hand grated zucchini it was.

We started our Downton Abbey marathon at about this time.  As it turns out, Gen had actually seen most of the first series — with me (amazingly I didn’t recall), and so we picked up with the final two episodes of the first series.  Several hours later the zucchini pancakes were demolished and we were well entrenched in Downton.  It definitely holds up on repeat viewings, but despite it’s refined air and period costumes, it bears more than a passing resemblance to many a modern soap opera.

We are now, finally, finally, at the series two Christmas Special and Gen’s patience with all things Downton is wearing a little thin.  As much as  I adore every soapy moment of it, I can see what she means.  I mean, if they would just tell each other the truth to begin with, it would save so much drama (which, obviously, is the point).  We’ve taken to yelling at the screen and mocking the characters (which, for us is par for the course).   But, I honestly can’t wait for the third series to begin on Sunday!

All in all, not a bad way to spend the first day of the new year, hanging out with my best friend, a little cooking, some entertainment and a lot of laughter.

Tomorrow, back into the thick of things…


Holidailies 2012Have I mentioned that I’m a lightweight who doesn’t drink much?  This is why.  It’s New Year’s.  The ball just dropped, I’m half way through a large glass of champagne (actually prosecco), full up on pasta and lots of sweets.  And I’m a wee might tipsy.

I spent the evening with Gen and our friend Jim and we laughed through the evening.  We mocked Jenny McCarthy’s plastic surgery (what is with that?), Taylor Swift’s singing, laughed along with the best New Year’s Eve comedy duo the world could provide — Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper, and listened to the fireworks exploding in Central Park (though we didn’t see them — that would have meant looking out the window).

Now we are minutes into the New Year.  Jim is running lines with Gen for her role in Steel Magnolias, and I am mellowing into a nice sweet new year with hope for good things to come.  Nothing like good friends, good food, and an adult beverage to bring you positive feelings for the year to come.  Please forgive the brevity of this post.  It’s time to finish this delicious prosecco and get 2013 started.

It’s gonna be a happy new year…

An Ode to Moderation…

Holidailies 2012I’ll let you in on a little secret (that isn’t really one): I have a problem with chocolate.  Screw alcohol and drugs, give me chocolate every single time.  You think I’m joking, but I have literally sat in my apartment late at night and spent hours having a conversation back and forth in my head about whether or not I should go out to Duane Reade and pick up a bag of Hershey’s Kisses or Rolos or Riesen.  Fortunately, inertia usually outweighs the pull of the chocolate, but sometimes I do actually go and buy some chocolate, because you know, it’s calling to me.  And don’t even get me started about Insomnia Cookies — they make it way too easy, what with nighttime delivery. Whoever came up with that idea is an evil genius!

I can usually ignore the allure of chocolate during the day — or at least moderate my intake.  But my sister and I have figured out that we are nighttime snackers, a habit that was learned from our parents, who perfected the art of nighttime snacking.  So, I try not to keep chocolate in the house if I can help it, because I am not to be trusted around it.  But, I brought back a sizable haul of goodies from my trip to New Hampshire, including a nice bag of Lindor Truffles, which might just be my all time favorite.  And somehow they aren’t all gone yet.

I’m not sure how, but I’ve managed to not eat them all in one sitting and make myself ridiculously ill.  I’ve amazingly kept my truffle intake to one per day.  They are a delicious treat that I eat after dinner and I’m shocked that I’ve been able to keep from tearing through them.  Maybe I’m maturing.  Maybe I’m learning to be more disciplined.  Or maybe they are just so delicious and I can’t afford to buy more, so I’m stretching them as long as I can.  No matter what, I am savoring them.  And if I make it into the New Year with some truffles, I’ll consider it the first miracle of 2013.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in here somewhere, but the only thing I can think of right now is “mmmmmmm, chocolate.”


Jewish Christmas Eve…

Holidailies 2012Today was a good day.  Woke up at about 7am and read for a couple of hours, then fell back to sleep until about 10:30am.  Had a leisurely morning and late breakfast and then my sister and I went for a four mile walk with her friend Ket.  Always good when I am motivated by company to exercise.  A brisk (sort of freezing cold) walk through suburban New Hampshire.  Not a bad way to spend my time on “vacation.”

After a shower and some reading, we headed out for dinner, to a rare thing in these parts…a decent Chinese restaurant.  After the traditional Jewish Christmas Eve meal (I had Chicken and Broccoli), we headed to the other traditional part of the evening festivities, the movies.  We saw Skyfall, which for some reason in my head I keep thinking of as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (a movie which I never saw and don’t know the plot of).  Another Bond movie that didn’t disappoint.  I won’t spoil anything, but was completely shocked by the turn of events, though not unhappy with the outcome (vague enough?)

We’re back at the house, the beautiful tree is lit up, the stockings are hung (there’s even one for me!!!!) and my nephew has just put chocolate chip cookies in the oven to bake for Santa for us to munch on.  Now we’re getting ready to play a very competitive (as Blutsteins competitive is the only way we roll) game of Scrabble.

Next stop, Christmas morning…

Easy Money…

Holidailies 2012So, late this afternoon I went by the pottery studio to pick up the money I made in our holiday sale a couple of weeks ago.  I had my last class for the year tonight, but hadn’t intended to stay, because I wasn’t feeling great.  However, Kate, who runs the program, had asked me to bring some of my earrings and ornaments, because she still had a few more gifts to get, so I brought them along.

She gave me the cash from the sale (about what I expected  to make) and then she bought a couple more pieces from me.  More cash (yay!)  Then I was sitting and chatting with a couple other people in the studio, and they wanted to take a look at my earrings too, so before I knew it, all of my earrings were spread across the table, and they had each bought a pair.  Two more sales, thank you!

I figured that I’d at least stick around until Matt (my teacher) arrived, so I could wish him a happy holiday, and then before I knew it, the rest of my class was there and there was food and there was dessert and there was more looking at my jewelry and more sales were made.  Somewhere in there, I started to feel better — not sure if it was the food or the company (or the cash), but I rallied.  I ended the evening feeling pretty good.  Belly full, mood lightened, and $100 more in my pocket than I’d even expected.  Not a bad haul and not a bad way to spend a Friday evening.

Now, if I could just figure out how to make every day like this, I wouldn’t even have to look for a job.  A girl can dream, can’t she?

Inside my head…

Holidailies 2012Tonight’s entry will be very short, because frankly, I forgot about it until the last minute, but also because a repeat of last night’s would be a snooze and sort of depressing to boot.  So, I’ll just say this…

Trying to find strength and inspiration where I can find it and that can often be from the most surprising places.  I’ve sung the praises of Facebook before, but I’m still amazed at how my virtual community manages to lift me up when I most need it and distract me from my own worst self.  From encouraging reminders to keep the fear at bay to private messages with job postings to pictures of kittens (who doesn’t love pictures of kittens) to fierce games of Words with Friends, sometimes it’s just one small thing that gets me out of my own head.

Today was pretty rough, maybe rougher than yesterday, but it ended okay.  It ended with a phone call from a friend (thanks, Sue), laughter, and cats playing patty cake.  Hopefully tomorrow won’t require the silly video, but it’s good to know that it’s there if I need it.

On a day well spent…

Holidailies 2012I’ve been spending an awful lot of time lately talking about how difficult it’s become to  fill up my days meaningfully while I’ve been unemployed.  Well, thank goodness for December.

Every year, the month of December becomes a headlong rush towards the new year, with too much to do and it often feels like I’m hurtling forward without the ability to slow down and enjoy it all.  But, I figured that this year, because I’m not working, I have more time in my days and therefore everything won’t feel so crazy rushed.  Only partially true.  I still am the mistress of procrastination and things get done at the last minute, so today happened…

Earlier this week, I was invited to participate in the Holiday Artist Market at 25CPW Gallery today, to be part of a table of four artists from the West Side YMCA Artworks program.  Of course, I felt like I needed to make some more earrings, to replenish my stock and so after I got home from the pottery studio last night (at about 10:30pm) I began to work.  The thing is, when I get into an ADHD hyperfocus groove, time seems to pass without my realizing it.  The next thing I know, I looked up at the clock and it was 5:30am.  By the time I got to bed it was 6am, so, I slept for a grand total of 3 1/2 hours.  Oops.

Got up, got dressed, ran over to the Artist Market and set up our table for a 12pm start.  Each of us took a shift (mine began at 6pm), so I ran home, ate a quick lunch, changed clothes and then met up with my friend Oona to go to the theater.  My wonderful bestie, Genevieve, bought tickets for us to go see Grace on Broadway at the matinee this afternoon (thank you, Gen!)  Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it to town this weekend, so Oona went with me.  It was truly wonderful, not just because the show was so great (it really, really was), but because after, we got to go backstage and spend some time with Ed Asner in his dressing room.  Ed and my mother have been friends since he was a young, unknown actor in New York City, and she was an assistant casting director at CBS.

He and my parents stay in touch and see each occasionally, usually when Ed is in Florida performing, but I hadn’t seen him since I was 18 years old and he was starring in the pre-Broadway run of Born Yesterday in Boston.  He got me a house seat and then took me out to dinner.  So it was truly lovely to see him 24 years later, after a wonderful performance in a great show and to have him be just as I remembered — funny and foulmouthed and effusive and feeling like family.

If that’s all the day had in store, it would have been enough, more than enough.  But the day continued on and after a quick coffee with Oona, I headed to my shift at the Artist Market and spent the evening talking to interesting people and looking at some fantastic art, and even selling a few things along the way (thanks Oona and Moe-Swe!)  It went longer than originally intended, but there was terrific live music and it felt like just the place I needed to be.

But the downside of so much good stuff in one day (and so little sleep) is that I am overtired and overstimulated, and decided to skip a friend’s holiday party in Park Slope (sorry, Liz, hopefully next year!) that I really wanted to go to, because I’m practically useless at this point.  This post is happening partially because I promised myself that I would not miss a single Holidailies this year, but also as a brain dump to help wind me down.  And it’s happening on fumes.  When it’s done, it will be lights out on the Upper West Side.  But before I end up unconscious, I just wanted to reflect on a very good day, after a strange and sometimes difficult week.

It’s good to be busy again…

Small Pleasures…

Holidailies 2012And now a fluffy post to balance the downers that have preceded it.

I make it no secret that I am a voracious consumer of television and movies.  And although my movie theater viewing has been curtailed severely over the last year (THIRTEEN DOLLARS IN NYC!), looking at the upside of unemployment, I have a lot more time to feed my movie and TV habit and I’ve taken full advantage of it.

So, tonight, a list of some of my favorite TV and movie viewing of 2012, including (unsurprisingly) some guilty pleasures (but don’t think I actually feel guilty about them).


Best in the Movie Theater

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – one of the most beautifully rendered and delicately acted movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Part fractured fairy tale, part modern commentary, all heart and soul.  Highly recommended!
  • Lincoln – There’s nothing that I can say about this that hasn’t already been said.  I’ll just marvel again at how Daniel Day Lewis disappears into every role he inhabits and how he most certainly IS Abraham Lincoln.

Best from Netflix/Amazon/Video on Demand – Documentary Edition

  • Marley – It doesn’t hurt that Bob Marley’s music is part of the soundtrack of my youth, but this wonderful documentary delves into the many layers of his life and music and is so rich with never before seen footage and conversations that I will likely watch it again.
  • The Queen of Versailles – Expecting a movie that mostly pokes fun at the wretched excess of wealth (particularly the nouveau riche variety), this documentary about the rise and fall of Jackie and David Siegel as they embark on a quest to build the largest (and tackiest) house in the country, was at turns, funny, sad, pathetic, and always deeply fascinating, especially in light of the way David Siegel chose to interject himself into the Presidential electoral process this year.

Best on TV – Zeitgeist Edition

  • Homeland – I mean seriously, who isn’t watching this?  I don’t even have Showtime and I manage to watch it, every single week.  Replacing the first season of 24 as the crack cocaine equivalent of TV viewing.
  • The Newsroom – Come to think of it, this has a strong standing in the crack cocaine equivalent of TV competition too.  The best that Aaron Sorkin has been since the very early days of The West Wing, maybe even better.  And so timely and so smart and so much more enjoyable than the actual news!
  • Scandal – as far as I’m concerned, Shonda Rhimes can do no wrong.  Grey’s Anatomy may not be what it once was, but it’s still on my regular viewing list. However, for a political junkie, conspiracy theory, thriller loving girl like me, Scandal is the ish!
  • The Walking Dead – Totally in withdrawal and it’s been just over a week since the midseason finale.  Bloodier and better than ever, this show (and its companion commentary show The Talking Dead) make Sunday night the best of TV.  Currently consoling myself by reading the comics from which it was created.
  • Sons of Anarchy – Never fails to be violent and bloody and shocking in the best possible way.  And fearless in its narrative decisions, even when it means killing off beloved characters. (RIP Opie!)
  • Revolution – Give me a smart, engaging, post-apocalyptic series with a fascinating mythology and you’ll have me at hello!

Best of TV – Another Country Edition

  • Twenty Twelve – Mockery of the London Olympics in the style of The Office?  Starring Hugh Bonneville?  Yes, please!  Though the series was limited, it’s brilliance looking at the absurdities of office life, elevated to the world stage is absolutely HILARIOUS!
  • The Hour – Called the British Mad Men, resemblances end at dapper costumes, lots of cigarette smoking, toppled stereotypes, and high quality storytelling, BBC News has never been this interesting, in a 1950s set thriller about TV journalism.  Series two just started on BBC America and I can only hope there are more episodes than series one.  Love it!
  • Downton Abbey – Shall I just say, Duh?  Even the theme music makes me happy.  Some of the best period drama to ever grace the small screen as far as I’m concerned.  Series three starts on PBS in January and I’ve managed to restrain myself from seeking it out on the ITV website and wait for the US premiere (though I do quite enjoy watching “adverts” from the UK.)
  • Copper – Gritty New York City set tale of rough and tumble policemen and Tammany Hall politics. Think Gangs of New York with better accents, a more attractive main character, and a distinct lack of  Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Being Erica – The final season of my favorite, hip, smart, Toronto singleton figuring it all out (while traveling back in time to revisit her choices).  Sad to see it end.  Erin Karpluk, you need a new job that will treat you as well!

(Note: I may or may not have watched some of the above on their home country broadcast websites via a beautiful technological invention that allows me to be in those countries virtually while never leaving my living room)

Best of TV – Teenybopper Edition

  • Girls – Okay, not quite “teenybopper,” but I’m far enough away from my early twentysomething angst that it almost feels like it.  That said, hilarious, smart, awkward, and not all shined up for glossy TV viewing.  Lena Dunham is the real deal.
  • Dance Academy – Soapy, sweet and a dancer’s smorgasbord, I discovered this Australian show about aspiring professional ballet dancers on Netflix and cannot wait for the next series (and if it doesn’t happen, I may be crushed!)
  • Teen Wolf – Not your mother’s Teen Wolf (nor mine either).  MTV has brilliantly taken a goofy, 80s comedy about a cute dude (aww young Michael J. Fox) with a werewolf curse and turned it into a moody sci-fi tale of teenage angst and ruthless killers, plus it co-stars Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica‘s Saul Tigh) as a grizzled loose cannon (shocker!).  What’s not to love?
  • Awkward! – If Square Pegs and My So Called Life had a baby, added edgy humor, serious snark, and lots of bleeped profanity, this would be it.  You’re Welcome!
  • Bunheads – Sutton Foster.  Dancing.  Small Town Hijinks.  Snappy, snarky dialogue.  Yep.  I’m in.

Best in Guilty Pleasures

  • Breaking Amish – Probably not a moment of “reality” in this reality show, but it certainly fed my fascination with religions and subcultures.
  • Man vs. Wild – discovered thanks to my sister and nephew and devoured in multi-episode Netflix marathons filled with mockery from the peanut gallery. Plus Bear Grylls = adorable (though slightly insane).
  • Intervention – What is it about watching alcoholics and drug addicts spiral out of control, have their families rally around them and then turn their lives around (or not)?  I guess I love a good redemption story.
  • Investigation Discovery – Yes, pretty much the entire network.  I’m weirdly obsessed with true crime, and I guess since there’s a whole channel focused on it, I’m not alone.  Mostly, though I love 48 Hours Hard Evidence, Dateline on ID, On the Case with Paula Zahn, and Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?

Looking forward to in 2013

  • SMASH – The return of my theater fangirl favorite!  The addition of Jennifer Hudson!  And locations shoots at the Westway Diner!  And singing and dancing and Broadway show geekery!
  • The Following – Serial killers, cults, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy.  I’m in!
  • The Americans – 1980s set tale of KGB spies who are the All-American couple next door.  And it stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.  Again, I’m in!
  • Mad Men – Though it may not be what it once was, I’m still a sucker for Don Draper and company.  Awaiting their return. Oh when, oh when will it be?

Tomorrow we’ll likely return to our regular navel gazing program.  But until then, enjoy…

An Honest Day’s Work or Something Like It…

So, today was one of the most active and productive days I’ve had in a while.  The Artworks holiday sale at the YMCA started yesterday and I felt it was a good sign that I sold a bracelet before it ever started, on Wednesday night while I was setting up.  And when I walked in this morning to work my shift, someone was paying for one of my new necklaces.  Not so bad as these things go.  I worked the morning shift and then went home to finish assembling a dozen new pairs of earrings that I wanted to add to my inventory this afternoon.

The proof of the fact that I operate at my best and most efficient when I’m scheduled and structured is that I had a two and a half hour window from the time I left the sale at 12:30pm to when I had to be back for my next shift at 3pm.  In that time I had to finish putting together those earrings, create stickers for the back of the earring cards that provided information I refer to as “care and feeding of your wearable art,” card the earrings and get back to work again.  And I did it, just under the wire.  I literally live across the street from the Y, so I had just about the full amount of time, but still, cutting it close.

So, back at the sale, priced my earrings and added them to my display, spent the next two and a half hours working the sale, then down to the studio to makes sure the piece that I’ve been working on but haven’t laid eyes on in about four weeks, is still workable (it was, just sprayed it up with a bunch of water).

Once that was done it was back upstairs for the opening reception.  Lots and lots of people (yay).  Lots of yummy food (yay).  Shmoozing with a couple of buyers, selling some of my new earrings and getting some interest and positive feedback on my work in general (yay yay yay).  Then it was back downstairs where my work in progress (above) awaited, asking me to actually make some progress on it.

I forgot to take pictures before I left (usually I’m better about it), but it got painted and silkscreened and scruffed up and is now sitting on the shelf waiting to go into the kiln.  I had time to catch up with my classmates and teacher (some of my favorite people in the world) and to really feel like myself for a few hours on a regular (yet extraordinary) Friday evening, at the end of a wonderful (FULL being the operative word here) day.

And now I am home, updating Holidailies, the most consecutive days of posts I’ve had in (possibly) years.  My back is killing me, I’m utterly exhausted, but I’m feeling elated and inspired, in a way I haven’t in a very long time.

Keep getting shit done…

P.S.  Still haven’t managed to go grocery shopping this week.  Good thing there were delicious things to eat at the reception tonight…