Traveling in Style…

Holidailies 2012I’m a pretty laid back traveler.  I don’t need much.  Enough space not to feel like I’m suffocating, preferably a window seat (to lean on for napping) something good to read, some music, and maybe snacks.  I always say that I’m the person you want to sit next to if you are traveling with small kids.  I don’t mind them, in fact I love them and will often be glad to play with them and distract them if you need help.  And I can usually sit companionably next to most anyone, as long as they aren’t a complete jackass.  I’ve even been known to forge friendships on long airplane flights or bus rides or train trips.

So, this morning, at the butt crack of dawn (7am), when I set out on the bus, on a (not so) well rested ninety minutes of sleep, I was only concerned that the person sitting next to me not be too fidgety.  Sizing up the people getting on the bus, I was hoping for the diminutive woman rather than the very tall man, who was likely to take up a lot more room.  Be careful what you wish for.  The woman sat down next to me.  It started off inauspicious enough, but before too long, my seatmate was telling me her life story in a stream of consciousness, off kilter tear.

She started with her terrible experience during Hurricane Sandy, and I felt for her, because she’s been out of her home since it happened.  Then she moved on to her gallbladder surgery that she had the day after Thanksgiving, which would have also been okay, until she started telling me about ever little detail of her surgery and her after care and her scarring and having to be bathed and…you get the point.  She told me in no uncertain terms that she was very annoyed with her cousin, at whose home she was staying, because she “just needed her space.”  She then somehow transitioned to a discussion of President Obama and how she needed to go to Washington, DC to visit him because she had a lot of things she needed to tell him.

It was at this point that I realized she wasn’t just a talker (I mean, I’M a talker), she was a little off.  By the time she started talking about god and how children were rising up to kill their elders and all of it was foretold, I knew I was in trouble.  Up to this point, I had been a vaguely active participant in the conversation, though relatively quiet — and you know if I’m the quiet one in the conversation, the other person is a world class talker.  So, now I’m sitting in my seat thinking, “Okay, how to gracefully exit this conversation?”

Fortunately, at some point, there was a lull and I took that moment to put on my headphones and feign sleep.  Before I knew it, I was actually napping.  Phew.  Crisis averted.  I kept my headphones on for the rest of the trip for fear of getting sucked back into it.  The good news is, because we left so early in the morning, there was no traffic.  We arrived a half hour early into Boston and I was able to make my escape and head for the commuter bus to New Hampshire.

All in all, though, I can’t really complain.  Bus travel is the cheapest way to go and it means that I get to see my sister and her family on short notice for the holidays.  And, if I’d never sat next to her, I would have had nothing to write about tonight, so bonus!

On Procrastination…

Holidailies 2012So, I’m leaving on a 7am bus to spend a few days in New Hampshire with my sister and her family.  I’m excited because as a Jew, I don’t usually get to spend Christmastime in a house that celebrates Christmas (my brother-in-law is Christian).  So, I can’t wait to be in a house with a tree and lights and all the fun Christmasy stuff that comes with it.

Did I mention I’m leaving at 7am?  It’s 11:51pm and I’m waiting for my second load of laundry to finish drying, so I can finish packing.  I still have to straighten up the apartment and make sure I have everything in order before I go.  Yes, I’ve been doing stuff all day today, (like make sure that gifts were finished being made, etc.) but at a rather leisurely pace and between naps.  And have I mentioned lately that I’m unemployed and have an overabundance of free time on my hands?  So, yep, right down to the wire.

I know logically that this is a side effect of ADD, that it is a form of self-medication, that waiting until the last minute is a way to increase the stimulation in my brain so that I can get organized enough to do everything, but it’s still annoying that this knowledge isn’t usually enough to change the cycle.

As these things go, though, I’m doing okay timing-wise.  I’ll probably be in bed by 1am, rather than 4am.  So, there’s that.  And I guess I should get back to it now, before I get distracted by something shiny…


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?

And I feel fine…

Holidailies 2012About the end of the world…

Some days are truly crappy and not worth getting out of bed for.  Some days it feels like it doesn’t really matter what lies on the other side of awake because, really, how is it going to make a difference?  But, some days are good.  And some days are even great.  Some days it doesn’t matter that I’ve been unemployed for ten months or that I’m not sure when things are going to change or that the days are stretching out in front of me without any sure steps because, despite all of that, I know that it’s going to be okay.  It has to be okay.  There is no other choice than for it to be okay.  For ME to be okay.

And even at my most panicked, even at my most miserable and hopeless, I wouldn’t wish for the end of the world or imagine the end of the world or even consider the end of the world.  Because as far as I’m concerned, the point of life is this.  The stuff we have here and now.  Friends and family and laughter and love and art and music and books and nature and small moments.  The way the air smells when it’s about to snow or how quiet the city is at 4am or an unexpected phone call from a friend that lasts for two hours or a delicious meal made from scratch.  And even the crappy stuff.  Heartache and panic and loss and a good long cry, because the good stuff can’t happen without the bad in the mix too, it’s just how it works.

So, no matter if things are bad, even when I’m at a moment that feels like it may never turn around, there’s a tiny little spark of something that tells me that it’s all going to be okay.  And it’s that spark that I hold onto when things get really dark and doubt starts to settle in for the long haul. So, today is an okay day.  Not a great day, not a horrible day, but good.  I’m here.  I can write and I can talk to friends and I can laugh and I can cry and I can contemplate tomorrow, because the world is not ending.

Not even close…

Lost in a good book (or twelve)…

Holidailies 2012After finishing the fantastic Gone Girl this morning, I went to the library today (something I do about once a week), and it got me thinking…

I’ve always been a voracious reader.  One of the best things my parents have given me is a love of reading and books.  Even as a kid, the bookshelves in my room were filled to overflowing.  And the rule in our house was if you could understand it, you could read it.  Which was truly a gift.  There were trips to the library and trips to the bookstore.  There were lots of discussions of what we were reading and lots of lazy afternoons spent reading.

As an adult, my father and I, in particular, have made many trips to bookstores that always result in stacks of new books to read.  And my father, a man who doesn’t really ever buy much for himself, has always indulged in books.  There were memberships in the Quality Paperback Book Club and the Book of the Month Club, a way to bring in a new haul of lots of books for not much money.  And his favorite place for discount books, Daedelus.  It’s where we’ve often found some of our family cult favorites, like Tom Mix and Pancho Villa and Checker and the Deraillers and Flicker.

And we are a family of book neurotics.  None of us can travel without plenty of reading material.  And that means books to spare.  It’s always necessary to calculate how long your trip will be and how far into the book you are currently reading, in order to know how many extra books you’ll need to bring with you.  My father always has at least one book in his car, along with several magazines.  I always have to make sure there’s something to read in my purse, whether commuting to work or going to the movies (need something to read while waiting for the movie to start!)  Though this has become somewhat easier in recent years with the Kindle app on my phone, having enough to read is still always a nagging concern.

The ability to buy books as I wish has been a luxury that didn’t feel so much like a luxury, but more like a necessity.  But, the reality of limited space, especially in a New York apartment, has over the years made it a challenge.  When I was working, it wasn’t really about curtailing purchases, it was more about deciding which books were worth keeping and which to donate, in order to conserve space.  Now, though, with my shelves still overflowing, it’s about the fact that books are expensive.

Thankfully, in the past 10 months I’ve rediscovered the New York Public Library and have made great use of my library card.  Amazingly, checking books out of the library or downloading them, pouring over my lists of holds and list of books to read later, has continued to feel like a luxury, but also, an absolute necessity. It’s an essential ingredient in keeping my head on my shoulders and my perspective intact.  When things are really bad, I can’t manage to read — and that just makes everything worse.

Which is why I know that right now, I’m doing okay.  I’m continuing to read.  I’m reading books and magazines and newspapers and online articles and I’m losing myself in fiction and educating myself with nonfiction and aggravating myself with fiction masquerading as journalism (a thought for another day), and I count myself lucky.  Another moment to be thankful for the time to read and the gift of access I have to just about any book I want.

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.

Ups and Downs…

Holidailies 2012Inevitably, after there are ups and ups, come the downs.  Today, after a weekend filled with activity and all kinds of good things, I woke up pretty down.  And then I found out I didn’t get the job that I had the interview for last Thursday.  Frankly, I wasn’t holding out a great deal of hope for that job, but it still hurt to know for certain, because the job itself would have been really great.

Unsurprisingly, I dealt with it in my usual way.  I napped.  And I woke up and felt a little better, and then my mood crashed again, and I started to feel hopeless.  I’ve been applying for jobs, I’ve been interviewing for jobs, I’ve been practically promised  jobs and nothing has panned out.  It beats you down each time it happens.  I’ve widened my search, I’ve lowered my expectations, and still, nothing doing.

I wallowed a little bit more and then I decided to go back to someplace familiar.  I had that interview in April in California, for that really promising job at a company that I really, really like.  It didn’t work out because they went with an internal candidate who they promoted.  I then interviewed for yet another job with them in August and that one didn’t pan out because hiring me would have frankly been a leap of faith, since there was some supervisory experience I was missing and they then found a candidate who had it.  But the VP told the recruiter that he didn’t want to let me go.  My response was, “If you don’t want to let me go, then find a job for me.”

So, tonight I went back to their website and saw another job for which I’m qualified.  I know it’s at a little bit of a lower level (and hence a lower salary) than the last one for which I interviewed, but I was really excited that there was a position available again and as I said, I’ve lowered my expectations.  I need to be working.  I would like to be working for a company that I like and I know that I really like the culture of this one.

So, I sent an email and I said as much.  And I asked them to consider me.  I put it out in the universe.  I’ll continue to apply for jobs and I’ll continue to hope that the perfect job, with the right salary, and the right people, comes along, but I’m trying very hard to keep myself open to possibilities that will at least get me back in the world of work.  This could be a good place to end up.  Since they knew where my salary was before, I’m hoping they’ll still consider me.  A good job, in a place with people I like, with a salary that isn’t what I wanted, but far more than my unemployment, would be a good place to start.  I’d just like to get in the door.  And then I’ll figure out the rest.

So that’s where I stand now.  I hope that it pans out.  I hope that I can keep my head up and keep fighting.  Otherwise, I’m just not sure where I go from here…

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…

Guns do kill people…

Holidailies 2012I’m sick and tired of the NRA’s ridiculous argument.  It simply abdicates any responsibility for the fact that the more guns that are out in people’s hands (and often in the hands of those who should never have them) the more gun violence exists.

The fact is, the easier it is to get a gun, the easier it is for them to be used in the perpetration of violent crimes.  Certainly, there are other ways to commit murder, say, for instance, with a knife.  But knives don’t allow distance from the act of killing. Knives are personal and messy and inefficient. They require you to get up close to your victim.  They give your victim more time to respond and to fight back.

The likelihood of a knife-wielding mass murderer taking out a movie theater full of people or a high school or an elementary school full of children is practically nonexistent.  Of course someone determined to cause mayhem will often find a way, but high powered automatic weapons make that mission far easier, especially when there are few limits placed on the ability to procure such a weapon.

Yes, people kill people, but weapons, and guns in particular, make that act far easier.  There are those among us who are mentally ill, who are angry, who are prone to violence and rage.  There are those among us who in the heat of a moment will wield a gun to feel powerful or frightening or even funny.  But, imagine how different the outcomes of many gun crimes would be if those people had not so easily gotten their hands on that weapon.

The right to bear arms should not mean the right to bear arms without any legal restrictions.  The right to bear arms should not mean that high powered automatic weaponry should be available to the public at large.  The right to bear arms should not mean that it’s easier to get a gun than driver’s license or allergy medication.

For those who say that making sure more people are armed (like security guards) would prevent such episodes as today’s school shooting in Connecticut, I point you directly to the tragedy at Fort Hood.  A military base, full of armed and trained personnel, and a single man wounded 29 people and killed 13 others.  More guns is not the answer.  The answer is that we should make it more difficult to procure them for those who would do ill.  (The answer is also that we need better, more affordable mental health care with less stigma attached, but that’s a whole other rant.)

For now we need to grow up as a nation and recognize that the wolf is not at the door, we are not living in revolutionary America, where the threat of freedom means we should all be armed to the teeth.  We are a modern, civil society and we need to acknowledge our culpability in the gun violence that surrounds us and take action to mitigate future tragedies.

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…