Monday, March 31, 2008

Quote of the Day

Boy: "You're the Ashley Alexander Dupre to my Eliot Spitzer."

Girl: "Ew! That is so not fair. I'm from Connecticut!"

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Stupidest/Best Idea Ever?

Backpacking through Central America for 6-8 weeks come June.

My freelance/project work is ends in a few months. Sure I have little money and even less sense of where to find it, but when can I do something of this magnitude again (answer: when I'm staring out the window of a cube and my "imagination takes flight" or whatever they said during Reading Rainbow)? My roommate and I are going (it's really her trip I'm hijacking) and other people will float in and out, depending on how well I can talk them into it. It's really exciting and not just a little scary to think about.

My mother has begun sending me horror stories from the Center of Disease Control. My father is shaking his head. Is it really true that as a girl, or even two girls, we're just not allowed to see certain parts of the world? Even if we fancy ourselves smart and plan, there are so many unknowns. I hate that the final bastion of inequality is at the center of what I want to do with my life, which is explore, be intrepid, feel free to be solitude and silent or just blow where the wind takes me.

I hate that the last time I did this, I was with a guy, so it was all okay, and that I'm not allowed to do it doesn't seem right...but maybe it is...

Have any of you done this before? Am I out of my mind?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

Editor: “I have an addition to your story on Palm Springs.”

Me, trying to sound excited: “Sweet.”

Editor: “The property has an old lab named Mr. Biscuits that they loan out to rich clients to walk. He’s so popular he’s booked months in advance.”

Me: “Uh.”

Editor: “The {insert prestigious hotel here} is really excited to have us include it editorially. People have been known to get really upset when they can’t walk him.”

Me: “If he’s so popular, why don’t they get another one?”

Editor, looking befuddled: “Because there’s only one Mr. Biscuits.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There Will Be Links

When he says "acroooosss the room," I nearly got fired from laughing. Someone give this kid a movie contract.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter in the City

There was a lamb shoulder stuffed with swiss chard and the swish of a country dress, a clean one-bedroom and flutes of champagne, a forkful of lemon cloud and my own sore fingers from lifting a pan of too-hot Easter cookies.

The sun streamed in from a wall-less moment, the wine did nothing to dissuade the devolving of conversation: transsexuals, our brackets, gossip.

An intimate and beautiful Easter, the likes of which I have not had in a long time; no stress, many hands to clean the mess, and feeling not just full, but simply satisfied all day long.

And then I went home, peeled off those swiss dots, and tried to reinvent a word for “the indie set” for my article due this morning…

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Last night I remembered a time shared over bottles of wine and smiling glances, where we would restore the holes left by questions unanswered with a flourish of our hands, we would talk of books, teachers, life lessons, her parties, my illicit moments of hilarity that could never have been made up, our loves lost and our lives found, and she would pick the wine and I might pick the restaurant, but other than that it was more of an exchange, our ideas, our minds, our inspiration and our readiness.

The waitress would linger over us, our order not yet put in, and we would let her stand because catch-ups like these don't come around that often, summer is but once a year, our time as girls both under thirty is limited, marked, and we're the unmarried counterparts of our suburban college friends, those with houses, those no longer renting, and it was simply all okay, no, more than that, it was beautiful and we were part of it, as luck would have it...

Monday, March 17, 2008


It's not just around the corner, outside a pane of glass. It's close, so close you can feel it between the blinds of your room, in your temporary jobs to fund backpacking books, reunions, new beginnings, bare shoulder prospects. When cover refers to the clouds, when you wake up by the sun's cycle, when you feel lucky to have been given even just one moment to feel lucky, when your hands aren't idle, they're moving together, they send something out and they take something back in.

When being alone is a gift, you swell and it's not with sentiment this time, you smile and it's not for show, you understand without speaking, you get to speak without consequence.

When the sounds of November sound different because of context, the arrangement is only the song ahead, new freckles, missed messages, the hunch beginning to lift away. The pictures peel from the wall because the tape can't hold in the burgeoning heat and it's all right because you don't need them any more.

When soon is now.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I tend to laugh. A lot. Mostly, at my own expense. Sometimes, at websites. Here are my old standbys which I’m revisiting today:

These guys will probably be famous in six months, but I don’t know if they’ll ever do anything better than this.

Possibly this.

Anything that carries The State into a new generation.

Swoon, Ben Schwartz.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is more better

They had warned us that in Argentina, time passes slowly, things don’t quite get done in the same way. That is, people enjoy their lives more, some municipal jobs only require five hours of work a day, dinner is late and all-night talks aren’t the product of bathroom nose candy, not even close, it’s clusters of friends rallying around a solitary soda on a wooden table til dawn. Important notes are on little scraps of Post-its, the urgent need to get right on it doesn’t seem to be a priority. Arranged rides are sometimes late, receipts are sometimes lost, you get the idea.

It is, for lack of a better word, utterly charming. That feeling of wistfulness. The need to check a cell phone each minute begins to lift (the fact that it doesn’t get service here is quickly pushed out of mind, it’s far better to assume that I’ve evolved enough not to need it after a day of withdrawal). We start to breathe slower, our walks meander, if we get lost, we’ll find our way back.

Of course it also means your order won’t arrive in time for you to meet a deadline, clarifications are slipped, lost in translation. More than once we were met with a hurdle of our American nature pushing up against Argentinean sensibilities.

She asked our concierge to book tickets to see a Tango show (stop laughing, I know it’s cheesy! But we had to). We asked his opinion. What was the best show for a couple of silly tourists? He immediately named one that he deemed superior above all others.

He said he’d book it. We thanked him, but pressed a little. Didn’t he need our names? Our room number? Our credit cards? He waved his hand away. We left unsure of what to do. It’s not that we thought he was incompetent. It’s just, we’re high strung from a few years in New York. We’re OCD. When I leave my apartment I stop to make sure I have my keys more than once. I just don’t trust myself to take care of things. Let alone anyone else.

We spend the day with our feet in the water when no one is looking, calling out to lemurs on the reserve, and causing a feeding frenzy among giant coy. We return, and politely ask the concierge if he was able to book.

He looks like he hasn’t seen us before. Then, with some poor attempts at saying the right tense in Spanish and my oh-so-helpful injection of “Es necessita?” about three times while waving my credit card in the air, he remembers and says to us that the one we wanted to go on was fully booked. But another one was so easily booked that we could change it at will, apparently it was in desperate need of more patrons and was half-empty. We look at each other and silently say that we’d rather change the date than to go to an inferior show. She attempts to say this.

He shakes his head. It’s not what we think. We look confused. He switches to English.

“No. This other show. Is more better.”

She attempts with a variation of, “So you’re saying the show you didn’t recommend and is empty is actually better than the one you did recommend and is full?”

“Si. Is. More. Bet-ter!” He says jollily, his inflection curling up at the end.


“Eeess more beeeeeet-teeeeer, chicas!” He smiles and bats his eyelashes. We swoon a little and don’t argue further.

We tell him thanks and then change it when the night concierge starts his shift….and today, I’m in an office and I’ve just handed in a draft.

And I find myself hoping. For my editor to come back, with my page bleeding red from her marks, her firm hand and head shaking no, her regret for ever hiring me plain on her face, her fierce belief that this draft is crap, so much worse from the last, that I didn’t do what she wanted, that I didn’t listen at all.

And I’ll smile wide, the last of my sunburn just now turning to tan, wave my hands in the air as a diversion and sing, “Chica! No! No! No! Is more better!”

Think it will work?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


We arrive excitedly, fanning our palms against the thick glass of the airplane windows, elbowing each other and pulling at our shoes smashed under the seat in front of us. We tear through the airport, past the girls spraying perfume, the child crying for no reason, the airport filled with light and din and those rubbing sleep from their eyes. Not us. We did not sleep. We’re disheveled and have no mastery of the language and couldn’t be more ready.

There is nothing like the promise of the first day of vacation.

We’re down to one travel book (hers left on the plane) and a handful of notes from friends, and friends of friends, and those far more cultured to have experienced all of Buenos Aires before (and all have their favorites, all contradicting each other, go here it’s local, no, that’s too local, you’ll get stabbed, and the like).

She makes me toast a big, Argentinean red to our vacation and when we finish the bottle and only half our steaks, it’s not quite two PM and we fall into the nearest travel office.

We just got here and we’re eager to plan. The man behind the counter is an hour away from clocking out and is not.

The poster behind him says “Adventura” and has a happy family with idiot grins flailing in rapids as their raft fights waves. She jumps into her middle school Spanish and I stare out the window until a passing teenager makes a kissy face.

“That’s what we want!” She’s saying. She's pointing behind the man, to the poster, to the family, “We want to go to Adventura!”

I’ve never taken Spanish. But it sounds a little funny. I look to the left of the poster, and another one boasts a Japanese garden and says “Exotico”. The one to the right has a beach and says simply, “Relax”.


“Hey, um,” I lean towards her so the man doesn’t hear, but in my giddy stupor my whisper isn’t in an inside voice. “Uh. I don’t think Adventura is a place.”

She knows what she’s doing, she presses. She speaks Spanish, remember? I don’t speak Spanish, remember? Shut up, okay?

Yeah, but…

“K, stop. I've heard of people going to Adventura. I know what I'm doing!” She’s got a fine crust of red wine at the corners of her lips. All of a sudden everything is really, really funny. And so hard to articulate.

“But…” I manage, between choking giggles. “Okay. Uh. No. I don’t think it is.”

“Yes it is!”

I point to the signs but the words won’t come out. I'm trying to say is, I think Adventura is a descriptor. What comes out instead is, “I think you’re thinking of Ace Ventura.”

The man behind the counter bursts into laughter. This, he understands.

We leave shortly thereafter.

As it turns out, there was a whole lot of adventura...but only after we napped off the bottle of wine between us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Updates! Updates!

There were:

Sunburns, six hour meals, rooftop bars, a town for the dead.

Fights over the map, too much neon bought, foie gras creme brulee, the best and most involved pickup line we'd ever heard.

A drink described as "heaven", broken Spanish, steak and Tango.

Three pieces of incredible art between us, chasing lemurs at the wildlife preserve, my driving a golf cart on the highway.

A whole lot of "Hoooola chica!", a marmalade farm, a paddleboat which I drove very slowly into a group of ducks (no one was harmed).

Revelations, sneaker boots, dragging feet, rolling eyes, laughing hysterically.

Stray cats taking over certain streets, a levitation picture in which I would wear a mustache (thwarted).

Inside jokes, meeting up with three different groups of American friends, sashimi hats, five disposable cameras (mostly of pictures of us looking like idiots and pointing to empanadas).

Shopping, dropping, monuments, the rose park, a hundred coffees a day.

The book I read and the book I meant to read.

A grand total of 20 hours of sleep in 7 days.

Introspection, internet and cell phone withdrawal, the thought that I might go back to Australia this summer, alone this time, and just figure out a thing or two...

Stories to come! Sleep for now...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Last Minute Rant

Right now I am engaged in a very serious and distinct kind of psychological warfare. I’m deep within a bunker—alone, without clean clothes, it’s hot and florescent buzz is bringing on a wave of migraines. I’m fighting against the red countdown of machines. When the countdown comes to zero, I have to run for my life, dislodging the contents of two of the machines on a crappy wooden table, throw in my own, not jam my money card or spill bleach in my face and run the hell out of here before anyone has seen what I’ve done.

Some jerk has used all the washing machines at once, at two PM on a Monday, to wash, from what I can tell by the stacks waiting to also go in, his DOG CLOTHES (his dog must be huge) when I’ve finally managed to pick what I’m wearing for Argentina and find, at three hours away, that I need to wash. Like my beach towel that still smells of St. Maarten. The audacity.

There are so many questions raised:

1. Why is this guy home right now? Why?*
2. Why fill all the machines? Why does your dog have multiple dog beds? Why do you have a Great Dane in the city?
3. Why is there no ventilation in the laundry room in our apartment building?
4. Why am I so terrible at packing that I’ve left this for the last minute?

*Note, if he is unemployed, er, “freelance writing” like me, then I understand. If so, jerk—can you give me any tips on how to grow up to be a successful jerk like you?

UPDATE: Mayday! Mayday! I have been caught! Red-and-full-of-someone-else's-underwear handed! And he was a really nice, cute guy who lives upstairs that I've never seen before and came in immediately after his stuff finished washing. It seems the jerk-caller has become the jerk. Big time. It also turns out that he's washing dog beds for a charity to save mistreated puppies. Just kidding. But he apologized for so much laundry. And then proceeded to ask me about my day and wish me a good trip. See, this is why I need a vacation. I'll come back much nicer...right? Right?