On the Agenda

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peace and Warmth

I didn't have a title in mind for this post, until I found the photo. The title is taken from it. And I think it best describes what I'm looking for right now, and what the waiting of Advent is about.

Life is crazy, with good news and bad news, with frustrations and new adventures. But it's somehow always crazier at this time of the year. I just got a job, a real-life, grown-up job, at Montreat. And I'm thrilled, and so excited to be learning new things and going out there and getting things done. It brings up its own set of questions and stresses, but it's still good. (I apologize for being vague here... sometimes typing "out loud" even in vague terms can be useful.)

On a more concrete note, I was watching Mary Poppins last night on ABC Family (their 25 Days of Christmas ranks high on my marathon list, up there with the Bond one that Spike usually runs around New Years), and it occurred to me how much of that movie was stamped into my memory. The songs, the words, the tone of voice, the images especially. (Which also makes me a little frightened to wonder what we are stamping into children's minds these days.) But I remembered all of it, and also recognized that I had never fully understood much of it before. Even though I am no longer a child, this story holds a certain magical quality, and was a perfect thing to watch before bedtime.

A few of my friends are carrying on quite wonderful blogs these days, and I am inspired by their insight. Check out Kara's blog and Bruce's blog (he's not a real friend yet, but he is the moderator of the PCUSA and quite an awesome presence on the Web).

Peace. And warmth. And please send some my way, too, if you will.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Smoked Out

Have you ever had a smoke alarm go off in the middle of the night for no apparent reason? If you have, you'll know about the adrenaline rush, the terror of the noise and the unknown of the cause behind it. It's awful. And that's how my night went last night. I did, however, manage to complete Monday's USA Today crossword in less than 15 minutes, at 3:00 a.m. Fun? Not so much.

So it was pretty easy to convince myself that I deserved to sleep in this morning, making Operation Rise and Shine a no-go.

In other news, my morning job will be serving lunch for the next two weeks, taking a lot of stress off of me, and tonight is the second installation of our Young Adult Intentional Community Advent Dinner. I'm bringing lentil soup, which I'm pretty excited about. Yay hearty winter bowl food. Peace.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Holly Jolly It Up

The early riser failed miserably this morning, but the sleeping in was nice. No use punishing myself this early in the game. But I guess for it to work well, I will have to hit 7 on weekends too.

First alarm: 7:04 a.m.
Got up: 9:30 a.m.
Extra activity: n/a
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast

Last night was an evening of new experiences. I went to the Rankin Vault after work to send off a coworker who has found a real job and will be moving away this weekend. Then a bunch of us wandered over to the Asheville Arts Council opening of Jonas Gerard paintings (very bright, very expensive, but great).

The town of Black Mountain was having their Holly Jolly event, where all the shops stay open until 9 p.m., and the whole town comes out to mill about and "shop." The sidewalks were teeming with high schoolers: Think American Graffiti in winter, without the cars or any of the coolness. We also checked out the new White Horse venue in town. It has great potential, I think, especially since it's nonsmoking and serves hotdogs.

This afternoon is the Black Mountain Christmas parade, in which Montreat Conference Center will be making it's debut appearance. I think it will be a whole lot of fun, I only wish it were warmer out.

Grateful for a non-traveling, non-busy weekend. With basketball. Peace.

Friday, December 05, 2008

On the Sunny Side

This morning was better still. Day 3 of Operation Rise and Shine, and I have decided there is really no harm to the snooze button. Getting up the moment the alarm goes off is great and admirable, but if I find comfort in snoozing, then why shouldn't I allow myself 5 or 10 minutes of it? The important thing is to break the hold it has held on me for the past few years. This morning I succeeded in getting up after two snoozes. Good number.

First alarm: 7:04 a.m.
Got up: 7:15 a.m.
Extra activity: Cooking
Breakfast: Omelet of mushroom, green onion and feta, with skim milk and a multivitamin

For tomorrow: Make coffee. Beginning on Monday I will set the alarm a little earlier so I can still hit 7ish, accounting for my two-snooze time.

I also remembered that I hadn't posted my slideshow of engagement photos. They're pretty awesome, and Regina did a great job. Peace.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Paper Eccentricities

Why are blank journals so much more appealing to me than filled ones, or even the potential of a filled one?

I love lists, and I love my own handwriting, but I hate making these lists or writing down notes on the go. If I'm going to write something down to keep for perpetuity, I like to take the time to sit down at a clean desk, stretch out with plenty of elbow room and write slowly and intentionally. Writing like this is one of the most intentional actions I perform, I think, and yet I hold such high expectations of it that I rarely actually do it.

I'm still looking for a good way to keep track of things, like books I want to read or crafts I want to make or movies I want to see. And it seems like there exists a fairly good mechanism for each of these things (GoodReads, Ravelry, Netflix) but that as soon as I start listing, I get bogged down in the generics, when I really wanted to list only the special. I know I need to read To Kill a Mockingbird (I know, I'm weird), but that book is not the reason I want the list.

I want to make scrapbooks of ephemera, which I feel might express my experiences even better than photogrpahs. Peace.

Another Morning

Day 2 of Operation Rise-and-Shine was somewhat more successful...

First alarm: 7:04 a.m.
Got up: 7:20 a.m.
Extra activity: Dishwashing (there were many)
Breakfast: Yogurt & granola with a few pages of the new Esquire (not eaten)

I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I can get up the moment my alarm goes off, but I'll keep trying. I did notice yesterday that I felt a little more productive overall, even getting extra things done in the evening before dinner, so I hope that continues.

Oh, and the photo is nicely displaying our everyday china, which we registered for at Belk. I don't think either of us will ever use it for chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce, but the photo does illustrate one of the many varieties of bowls in the pattern. Peace.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Best & The Brightest

A wise Scottish publisher, whom I still feel very honored to have met during my time abroad, was shocked to learn I had not read David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest, and I'm sorry to say I still haven't gotten around to it. But I feel that what I learned at that beautiful kitchen table in Islington, and what I know in an anecdotal way about the book, is that we reflect those who surround us.

Would Kennedy have been so revered without his star-studded Cabinet? Does it really take a village to raise a child? or a teenager? or anyone?

I know that when I spend time around people with negative attitudes, I find myself pulled down to that negativity, and life seems less enjoyable. My bubblier friends make me feel happy, and those acquaintances whom I suspect have deep faith lives, or meaningful friendships, make me wish to pursue those happinesses that much more.

I want to surround myself with more creativity. I feel this can be done without snobbery or arrogance of any sort. I just need the words and images and music of creative people. I want to surround myself with more books, more art, more music, more food. It doesn't have to be my physical surroundings, but I want it to be my intellectual surroundings.

I feel I already do this a lot, except that I wish I read more and knitted more. I'm already surrounded by so much: NPR, Design*Sponge, Malaprops...

More of a wandering post I know. Maybe an update later. Peace.

Old Years Resolutions

So I guess it would be safe to say I have a sizeable designers-crush on Julia Rothman. Evidence: The wallpaper below and the prints above. If anyone reading this were also trying to come up with a Christmas gift for me. This would be a hint. (Kidding. But not.)

Anyway, Julia is not the point of this post. The point is kinda a way-early New Year's Resolution. I think we pile too many expectations on ourselves come January 1, so I'm going to start now.

Goal #1: Get up early EVERY DAY. Day 1 of Get-up-at-7 was about a 98% failure. But we're going to keep at it anyway. I did manage to make a hot breakfast before coming into work.

Goal #2 (more long-term): Get better stuff, not more stuff. I think that's pretty self-explanatory. I like nice things, so I want to remember this when looking at less-nice things that I don't really need. And the things I get should be useful. I'm going to start reading the Unclutterer blog I think.

Goal #3: Cook more real food, eat less food out of a box. I made chicken-noodle-lima bean soup last night that happened to be delicious. And easy. If only I had a light over my sink and if only the faucet didn't have explosive air bubbles in it.

We'll start with three for now. Peace, love and Wednesday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bright Mornings

The heat was out (again) when I woke up this morning. This picture of Julia Rothman's new wallpaper was on a Design*Sponge post this morning and it warmed me right up, on the inside. I love the colors, though I have no idea where I would put this wall paper. Maybe in a bathroom?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Getting in the Holiday Mood

One of my good friends, with whom I had the great pleasure of catching up this week, told me that she checks my blog often and that I don't update very much. So this is for her.

Things are getting chillier here in the mountains, and we had the first school snow day this week. It's all very cozy as long as my heat is working (which isn't always).

Had a nice visit from the parents today, with a tasty lunch at Veranda and a fun trip up to the Grove Park Inn. The whole place is decorated for the holidays and they had the winners of their gingerbread house contest displayed in the lobbies. All very festive.

Tonight looking forward to a night in with some How I Met Your Mother, and Tuesday we leave for Tallahassee.

Also got back our engagement photos this week. Check out the beautiful slideshow that our photographer, Regina, put together here.

Don't rush into those holidays too quickly, but enjoy them while they're here. Peace.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Peace, Juicy Salads

The title today came to me from the closing of a blog post by David Lamotte. I think in Spanish it's supposed to say "Peace, Justice and Health" (or something) but when I saw it my immediate translation was a little different.

Today I wish to say "peace" to my grandfather who passed on last night. And for that I would like to share a poem I wrote about three years ago. After she read it, my mom remarked that she didn't realize I had picked up on so much, which just goes to show for the memory and perception of children. And for the general amazing quality of life.

Moore County, NC
by Catherine Williams

I am from the dust,
built up from time and bees and cobwebs,
in the garage where the tractor and the old RV go to rust.
I am from the bare ground around the blue porch
and the round sycamore pods that fall there to unleash their furry futures.
I am from the tadpoles in the mason jar that shattered on the porch
and sliced my little thumb.
I am from dog lots and wandering canines
and the far-off bursts of shotguns on holidays.
I am from ‘Bless her heart’ and coconut cake, cut sideways so you can see all the layers.
I am from brown-and-serve rolls in a silver serving bowl
and the frog on the edge of the sink holding a dish scrubber.
I am from counters packed with too much food and kitchens packed with the consequences.
I am from the burnt orange chair in the corner that spins ‘round
and the State Fair dolphin, blind, worn, and battered, in the closet.
I am from blue boys’ bathrooms and uncle-carved bed posts,
butterfly bathtub slip guards and a glass Christmas tree with lights.
I am from four generations of Christmas cactus, late-blooming on the back porch.
I am from years of sand piled up around hills where tobacco once grew.
I am from the tobacco and every worm my Daddy pulled off it
and every blister he got working it.

His blood, my blood, runs in the veins
of half of the men and women rooted in the sandy hills.
I am from a house whining with leaky plumbing
and the tinny sounds of Wheel of Fortune,
slipcovered with dust and monotony; but I know
that once it was alive with dancing and the music
brought home from the roller rinks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two Scoops of Peaches, and Other Blessings

One of my best friends in the whole world is serving in a church in Mobile, Ala. I think sometimes she gets kinda discouraged because she's not sure what she wants to do next and because she misses being around people her own age. But her ministry is so amazing it's impossible not to see it and to see the doors that have been opened to her. I wanted to share her experience here because it has inspired me for today, so read on here…

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Brand New Party Barn

Grace from Design*Sponge (only the best blog in the world) mentioned this story from House Beautiful in a post earlier today. Gotta love the 18-foot kitchen table and the pure simplicity: kitchen, dining area, fireplace, bedroom, bathroom. Check. Maybe I need to add this to my "million dollars" list too. Don't forget to look at the slideshow.

If I had a million dollars...

(resisting singing the song)

I was thinking on this post for a while earlier today. When you're out of college and job-hunting in an economy that makes for a better Steinbeck novel than a meal ticket, that whole winning-the-lottery thing allows for some pretty good dreaming.

But after work I wandered into my favorite indy bookstore in Asheville (and also the place with the best coffee in all of downtown), and I picked up Inspiration Sandwich by a woman who goes by the name SARK (her initials turned into a clever pen name). She writes inspirational, creative, hand-lettered-and-illustrated books such as Eat Mangoes Naked and Fabulous Friendship Festival, and if my sweatshirt hadn't been making me uncomfortably toasty I probably would hav taken a closer look. Her writing/illuminating style makes it look like Lynda Barry and Mollie Katzen got in an illustrating mind warp. Somehow I think her handwriting would be distracting, but further research will be required.

Anyway, as I was flipping (seriously flipping, not even reading a page here or there) I flipped past something that made me go back. It was a segment were SARK was explaining one of her favorite games to play with her journal. The game was simply, "I want." This is an iteration of that:

If I had a million dollars...

- I would freelance to do what I want on my schedule
- I would call my Mom to tell her she can stop worrying about me
- I would make the most beautiful books, like the kind people would want me to initial and hand-number
- I would get a couple of dogs and a rabbit
- I would buy the most beautiful letterpressed wedding invitations
- I would get myself a set of these reindeer café au lait bowls
- I would learn how to roast coffee and pull and excellent shot of espresso
- I would do all my Christmas shopping at the Renegade Craft Fair
- I would rent a cute loft apartment and make it look like something out of Ready Made
- I would sew "for a living"
- I would blog "for a living"
- I would invest in microloans to women in underdeveloped countries
- I would invest in green plants and unadulterated land
- I would support local business
- I would become a local business
- I would learn how to screen print
- I would buy my fiance a studio/cafe/venue of sorts
- I would knit all my socks
- I would buy an old diesel car so I could use local biodiesel
- I would buy from independent designers
- I would listen to independent thinkers
- I would live to make Eve proud
- I would love forever

An interesting experiment. I may have started out with things that need money. But I certainly didn't end that way. And so it is. Peace.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tweets of the Day

00:54 Girls night at the 'Shed. Good times.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tweets of the Day

10:24 Not sure about this whole radiator thing. When the heat comes on I feel like I'm inside one of those rainsticks at the nature store.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tweets of the Day

13:28 Montreat actually smells like Montreat this week.

19:28 Mmm... Indian Food.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tweets of the Day

11:17 I wish I was a morning person; I really do. I think I need snooze alarm rehab.

17:03 @rachaeloehring, go to 35 for me!

18:55 Great Target run... And a very nice day out. AND it was pay day, which i had forgotten about! WOo hoo!

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Tweets of the Day

08:41 No movie out (did watch The Sting in honor of Mr. Newman), but still a good weekend. We have dishes!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tweets of the Day

23:08 Missing New York, a little bit.

09:36 Feeling like I need to go to a movie this weekend...

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tweets of the Day

09:36 Going on the Christmas list: yoga. I've forgotten how much of a difference it makes.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tweets of the Day

08:51 In case anyone was doubting, Aaron Sorkin is still magic.

10:27 For some reason, I've got "Lost in a Supermarket" stuck in my head. You've got it now too, right? At least it's a quality band.

10:30 @chris_coletta, that article totally made my Sunday morning. Then I watched American President yesterday and it completed the missing.

13:15 I love 70s music, and I'm OK with 70s fashion and home decor coming back, but couldn't we have left the gas lines in the past?

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Tweets of the Day

09:15 Just another... Monday. But I do have cute shoes. From Target.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tweets of the Day

15:34 Someone needs to invent the paperless sitcky note. And I don't mean the kind on your desktop. Until then, the office will never be paperless

16:21 Lusting after yarn and new knitting projects. Must. Not. Buy. Yarn. Until. After. Christmas. ::whimper::

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tweets of the Day

09:38 @josephrschwartz, Congratulations! that's super exciting!

21:32 Why can't I go to bed at 9:30?

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Tweets of the Day

08:44 I like half-day Fridays with a paycheck. :).

11:16 Happy 21st Birthday Waldo!.... wherever you are...

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tweets of the Day

11:42 A month and a half in and I'm finally official enough to be listed on the door.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tweets of the Day

13:55 Found out what happens when you're the last intern to the office on Wednesday... you end up sitting at the media kit table on your laptop.

13:56 @saragregory, Looking for a photo from the DHT archives... who ya gonna call?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tweets of the Day

  • 08:02 Signed up for LoudTwitter. We'll see if it works. Trying to increase my presence in the blogosphere, blah blah blah... #
  • 08:35 Just a rainy Tuesday. But there's staff lunch to look forward to. #
  • 20:56 Fringe is a weird show. But kinda refreshing. #
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Innocent Little Hats

Sometimes a good blog post just kinda falls into your lap (figuratively speaking) over a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a good cup of half-caf Starbucks coffee (that last part is much less figurative).

Anyway about a week and a half ago I joined Ravelry.com, an awesome online networking site dedicated to knitters and crocheters and otherwise fiber-crazed people. It's a great site, and as well as connecting its users to one another, it's also a great tool for keeping track of what, for many of us, is a quite complex web of yarn and patterns and needles and projects. Everything is connected to wikis, and the site makes it really easy to, say, look at a pattern and see what yarn other users have used for the same project. Then you can see pictures of how that project turned out in the alternative yarn. This is particularly helpful to me.

The search function is also great, because you can say, "I remember seeing these awesome knitted cupcakes in XYZ store. I wonder if I can make them." Then you just search for "cupcake" and you get this. (I realize that you might not be able to see these links if you're not a Ravelry user, but just trust me, it's cool.)

Anyway, I was reading the user-created Ravelrly weekly newsletter this morning and found out about the Big Knit campaign by Innocent Drinks, who make the best bottles juices and smoothies in all of England. I miss them like crazy, and I miss their labels which said things in the ingredients list like the number of cranberries used and that there was a big woolly jumper (think: sweater) in the juice bottle. Ha.

So every year Innocent sponsors a hat drive, and everyone knits tiny little hats that fit on the smoothie bottles. Innocent sells the bottles in Sainsbury's and donates 50p for each hatted smoothie to a charity, this year it's Age Concern.

It's a funny little idea, but totally cute. So check it out:


In other news, I went to a Cookout for Change yesterday, sponsored by the Obama campaign. It was crazy hot outside (for September in the mountains, what gives?) but there was free food and free beer and general coolness.

We also booked our wedding photographer, which was a really exciting step. You can see her photo blog here. She was referred to us by one of our friends who used to work for her, and I'm so psyched about our coming engagement shoot and having her shoot our wedding. Her work is gorgeous and so are the albums she puts together and sells.

Last weekend we went to Charlotte to take care of some wedding plans, and we got SO much done: wedding dress picked out; bridesmaid dress picked out; invitation design initiated; dishes chosen; guest list discussed; centerpieces rehearsed and approved; and photographers narrowed down (and then chosen on Wednesday). As much as I really want to show you pictures of the things we chose, that would be cheating and I want everyone to be surprised at the event. I'm getting more excited every day.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

GoodReads: Slam by Nick Hornby

Slam Slam by Nick Hornby

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nick Hornby continues to be brilliant. He writes in the way that people actually talk without making the dialogue feel dumbed down or vulgar. Reading Slam made me feel like I was in England again, which drew me in immediately. It's unusual for me to find engaging books written from the perspective of young men, but I became an immediate fam of High Fidelity, and Slam did not disappoint.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to see Nick Hornby on campus. In a Q&A session with a handful of students he said one thing that has always stuck with me, and I think it's deeply reflected in his work. He said: In order to be any sort of artist, you have to maintain a certain amount of immaturity. You have to be immature enough to believe that the world actually wants—or really, needs—to read/see/hear what it is you have to say. The protagonist of Slam maintains this immaturity through the nature of his youth and through his candor, and it happens seamlessly and beautifully.

Even the slightly magical aspects of the book—the time travel and the talking poster—fit into the framework without showing any work.

A great YA novel that expands on the mind of the young father, Slam is great for Nick Hornby fans and general YA readers alike. Bottom line: Nick Hornby could do more to fix sex education in American than our government ever will.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here Now, and...

I don't have to miss the mountains anymore, because I live here now. I have a job and a little apartment, and I'm about to have a part-time internship at an amazing magazine. And now I'm only 25 miles away from that guy I really love, you know, the one I'm going to marry.

Between my new job and my freelance Web site project and trying to get this internship, I've been pretty busy. About five times in the past two weeks I've thought to myself: "Hey, that's really interesting, you should blog about it." But the moment passes and then I can't remember any of the subjects that were so great. I'm sure there was something about books, or food, or design, or the mountains. Or maybe the Olympics.

Sometimes its hard to remember this is here, but really I've always had this problem with journals -- so wonderful when I use them, but often forgotten in the busiest of times. As my very busy friend once reminded me: the more there is to write about, the less time there is to write it. I'm sure I've used that before too.

So here's to the coming Labor Day resolutions, and to whoever out there is willing to help me stick to them. Peace.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New York Minutes

More than two weeks have passed, and so much more. I love this city, but I miss the mountains. I wonder if I'm just being a little bit of a coward, choosing to go back to what I know, to a life that will certainly be less interesting in some ways but may well be richer in others. Every time I seem to be sure, my certainty slips away like the cool surf on Rockaway Beach, or maybe it jerks away like the swinging motion of the A train driving south from Harlem. I don't always want to wonder what might have happened if I had gotten the big job at the big company, working with big writers on big titles, slaving away in that famous building on a street that's a household name. If a seven-state commute was a possibility, I'd be there (or here) in a heartbeat. I hoped this would be one of those decisions that I could just tick off after I made it. It decided instead to take the trick candle path.

In the past two+ weeks I've eaten much good food at everywhere from Cosmic Cantina (right across the street) to Fiamma, a très chic establishment in Soho. I've seen the Brooklyn Pride parade in a total downpour (fortunately I was inside with some fantastic sangria and even better empanadas), and I've been to a wonderful craft show at the McCarren Park Pool, also in Brooklyn. I've done some shopping, alone and with my maid of honor, and I've gone to the beach. I've been to Sunday afternoon "parlor entertainment" off of 160th Street, and spent evenings in the cheapest (and certainly not the trashiest) bar on 3rd Avenue. I've HopStopped more times than I ever thought I would, and I've joined Shelfari.com.

The best news is that my magazine launch group (the one with the food) won "best launch of the afternoon session," which—according to those people who saw it all—actually means something pretty significant. I've watched a lot of movies and read a lot of magazines. Now that the book segment of the program has begun, I'm getting a lot of free books too. Comments will be posted later.

All this going and doing and living calls for much sleeping. It's difficult to move forward when I always feel like I'm catching up. The beginnings of wrinkles (two of them) are on my forehead,
and I'm too old to sleep when I'm dead.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Rack and Soul

The name of one of the booths at the Barbecue Festival at Madison Square Park today, which is where I had lunch. I met a good friend from school and we had a good time just sitting in the sun and breeze and discussing work and life and the city. It was so windy (a good thing, given the heat) that from time to time a napkin would wrap itself around my ankle and I would have to take a moment or two to shake it free.

It wasn't quite as hot today as yesterday, but it was still pretty toasty as I wandered down 6th Ave., in and out of well-air-conditioned stores, all of which were packed with people. I had a nice wander, and at least one successful shopping venture before I made it back to my now-chilly dorm room.

At first I felt a bit guilty about sleeping in this morning, missing any opportunity to see the city. But I think it was a good day after all.

Accomplishment of the Day:

I figured out how to turn on the air conditioning in my suite. Today it got up to about 94, and with the thermal properties of a city comprising who-knows-how-many square miles of concrete, I'm sure it felt much hotter. I spent much of the afternoon in my room, much too hot to walk anywhere and definitely too hot to go down to the subway platform. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember thinking that these rooms were supposed to have AC, but I probably dismissed it in part because I've lived in non-ACed houses for the past three summers, and I just feel like the sticky hotness is the way summer living is.

Not anymore, thanks to my finding a really grimy switch in the "off" position, on the equally grimy AC unit hidden behind something once used as a whiteboard, as evidenced through the unerasable beer pong tallies on the front, left courtesy of the previous (male) tenants.

Anyway, the past couple of days have been good ones, and full ones. Highlights include an absolutely enthralling (no sarcasm, it really was amazing) presentation by David Granger, the editor of Esquire magazine, one by the creative director at Gourmet and another by the ad sales director at Condé Nast's Portfolio. I also got to tour the Good Housekeeping Research Institute and pitch a magazine idea (along with a group) for a publication that I truly would love to see get made. The roomie and I have been continuing our evening strolls around the neighborhood, and last night some new friends and I went to the Rodeo restaurant and bar, where there was great food and drink and an excellent band.

Twice this week I've gone to a little pan-Asian restaurant on 8th St. called Cafetasia. I found out about it in the Time Out New York student issue, and it's perfect because it has a great trendy, fancy ambience, but the prices are incredibly reasonable. The food was great both times, and it made me feel like I was having a really upscale restaurant experience without the price tag.

Tonight, after the second visit to Cafetasia, I went to go see War, Inc., the new film starring John Cusack (and Joan Cusack by default) as well as Marisa Tomei and Hillary Duff, with some smaller appearances by Dan Ackroyd and Sir Ben Kingsley. It was playing at a little place in Soho called the Angelika Film Center, which has a full coffee shop with ice cream upstairs, and six theaters and a concession stand downstairs. The theaters were tiny, but it meant they could show lots of independent films at a time. Of course the price was high ($12 a ticket), but it was overall a good experience.

The movie got kinda lukewarm reviews, and although I really liked it, I can kinda see why. John Cusack plays an assassin (again) who is hired by a Halliburton-like company to kill an oil magnate in Turaqistan, with the premise that the war at hand there has been entirely financed and planned by big business. The over-the-top nature of the metaphor earns some laughs as tanks fitted with Financial Times billboards roll past piles of rubble and Cusack has a therapy-session conversation with his personal navigation system, GodStar. But the film probably could have earned some points with subtlety or depth, but its in-your-face tactics will probably draw some attention. Duff and Tomei both have good performances, and overall I think it was a good film.

John Cusack is a great actor because of the films he chooses, but I have to say I feel that he hasn't chosen the best ones lately. Martian Child was good, but it was no High Fidelity (my favorite movie ever, pretty much) or Say Anything. Must Love Dogs had the perfect part for him, and the perfect part for Diane Lane, but the two together just did not make a believable couple. It would have been two good separate movies. "Is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins, is it better to burn out or fade away?"

Monday, June 02, 2008

"Sex, it sells in the single copies…"

That would be in reference to Cosmopolitan. Today was crazy. We got up early and I had a chance to make coffee before we hopped on the subway to be at class at 8:30. There was a bit of an intro and we would put into the groups will will be in for our simulated magazine launch, which will be fantastic and a ton of work. I think we have a good group.

Next came a panel discussion with top editors from Essence, People Stylewatch, the Magazine Publishers of America and Meredith Corporation, which is one of the big magazine companies. That was pretty interesting, and after that we had a nice lunch break when we found cute salad/wrap/sandwich place to eat.

The afternoon was a little rough, but incredibly informative. First a woman from consumer marketing at Time, Inc. talked to us about marketing, and then the managing editor from In Style came to talk to us about the financial side of the magazine. It was two and a half hours of numbers and economics, but the speaker was incredibly knowledgeable and engaging, so we survived. After a brief freeforall at the sign-up table (about which more later) we met back with our magazine groups, and spent two grueling hours hammering out a concept, mission statement, market position and reader audience. How long does it take 10 college graduates to come up with a two-sentence statement? Too long.

I won't disclose the nature of our magazine right now, but it is pretty awesome. At this point everyone was exhausted, so JS and I came home and then went back out for Chinese food, softserve, and a wonderful walk around the neighborhood. It was warm and nice out, even with the sun down, and there were a ton of people around Union Square.

In other news I have a dinner invite, a magazine tour, and a design class coming up this week. The excitement begins. Cheers.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Highway 9

It occurred to me yesterday, as I was packing and listening to Springsteen's "Born to Run," that there was a reference in that song to a Highway 9. This is not the Highway 9 of my blog title... unless Springsteen has spent an untold amount of time between Black Mountain and Bat Cave, NC.

If I can make it here

Welcome to New York. More specifically, welcome to the small desk in the small bedroom of the decidedly dorm-scented apartment that I will call home for the next six weeks. It's getting a little homey already, now that we've put us maps on the wall in place of any sort of real poster that costs money.

I arrived in New York this morning after an altogether uneventful trip, which is the good kind, there's just not much to say about it. The most interesting thing that happened is that I had to call my car service to ask where they were and I couldn't understand my driver over the phone at all. Once in the car, though, there were no problems and I safely arrived at the Palladium Residence Hall, home to almost 1,000 student-aged persons, some of whom are taking classes and some of whom are doing other things. (It's also right on top/next to a Trader Joe's.)

My apartment is made up of two double bedrooms, each about the size of a rear South Campus room, but plus the luxury of a small walk-in closet. Furnishings are what one would expect: extra-long twin bed, desk (with shelves), desk chair and a dresser (with inexplicably shallow drawers). In between the two bedrooms is a small sitting room with one of those ridiculously uncomfortable wood-framed couches with weird stains and a matching chair. There is a small dining table and four more desk-type chairs, again with the weird stains. On one side of the main door is our bathroom, which is fairly spacious given the size of the bedroom, and our small kitchen, complete with sink, gas stove and a smallish fridge/freezer combo. No microwave, which means we might actually need to invest in some cookware before this is all over.

Given nine months or so, one could make this space pretty nice, with some carpet and posters and nice lamps, but for six weeks it will be mostly white and fluorescent-lit with good ol' tile floor (nice and dusty) and stained upholstery. It's really not bad, though.

After I arrived this morning and retrieved my student ID (with the classy photo I took using my laptop) I dropped my things upstairs and met my roommate, JS, who is from outside Philly and is really great. We seem to have a lot in common. Just before I left to run some errands, I met LR, one of the girls in the other bedroom, who is from Dallas. The final suitemate showed up after shopping, JK, who is from Eugene, OR.

If I leave my building and turn left, I am walking toward Union Square, and within two blocks or so, I pretty much pass any store I could need or want, including Walgreen's, Whole Foods, Circuit City, Starbucks (of course), Virgin music, Staples, you name it. I'm set. I went to Filene's Basement this afternoon to find linens that I wasn't able to pack, and it was a decent experience, though partly ruined by the awkwardness of carrying home a huge fluffy bed pillow. The giant windows in the front of Filene's look out over Union Square, which was full of people lounging on towels in the grass and vendors selling all sorts of things. It was really quite beautiful.

This afternoon we took a walking tour of the neighborhood and the main NYU campus, most of which is down in the Washington Square area, but it really just made me more confused. There's really now way to give a tour to 25 people in a crowded city. It just doesn't work. When we arrived at the Woolworth Building, where all of my class sessions will be, we recieved the obligatory nametage, a messenger bag with a BIG (can't say huge, because I've experienced the Eats binder) binder of magazine section info, and a bag lunch, which was really quite delicious. (A plus: I get to walk past the Brooklyn Bridge every day, and there are TWO Starbucks between the subway stop and the class building.)

The course is 92 people = 87 gals and five guys, and it will be intense. There are five UNC grads
here, none of whom I expected to be here (apart from myself, of course), and two of whom I actually know. Weird. Anyway, tonight was a general introduction to everything, including a personal introduction from almost all the students. There are people here from some 26 states and four or five foreign countries, and it seems like a good group.

After orientation my suite found our way back on the subway (thanks to the express trains it's only one stop away), and we did a little minor grocery shopping at the Whole Foods. It's amazing how congested the store was, made even worse by the fact that it was three stories in a fairly narrow space. But hopefully now I won't starve, or stuff my face with pretzels from street carts.

So far New York is really beautiful in the summer. I'm sure it will get hot—thankfully the subway is air conditioned—and I'm sure I will be even more tired and overwhelmed than I am now. But all the program directors are very encouraging, and I feel like it's an excellent opportunity to hone my networking skills and actually make some great connections.

For now I will take my swiveling fluorescent desk lamp around to my bed, complete with a brand new Wamsutta Egyptian cotton blanket and jumbo Ralph Lauren synthetic-stuffed pillow, both a bargain from the place the brings you the running of the brides. Peace.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I am officially finished with my undergraduate education. And it's a strange feeling. I don't feel any different in particular, but it's beginning to sink in that I won't be going back to Chapel Hill, at least not for anything longer than a football weekend visit. That makes me a little sad because I love that town, and I love the area and the ambience and the people there. But I suppose that just means it's time for me to find a new niche, a new locale to call home.

I head to the Big Apple in a couple of weeks, just for a short time, so we'll see how that goes. The time I spent there should give me plenty of opportunities to explore the area and my own head. It's the beginning of a new part of my life, one I'm looking forward to very much.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My heart will go back to these mountains...

Last night I had the good fortune to see David Lamotte perform on my campus. I'm graduating
in three weeks, and he's retiring in seven months, so it was a bit of a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. And it was fantastic, as it always is. The difference was that this show I cried during almost every song, beginning with "Shadows" and ending with a late-night "Song for You."

The first time I ever heard of David Lamotte I was in the living room of Sylvan Heights lodge in Montreat. I don't remember if I was on one of the ancient couches or sitting on the floor that still is slanted enough that spilled drinks run to one of the walls, but I know it was 1998 and I was on my first-ever youth retreat. The song was "New Lullaby," and although it was probably eight years before I heard the story behind the song, it was immediately obvious to me that there was a giddy joy hanging from the line, "If the Lord should come see me before I awake, we'll run up to heaven and eat chocolate cake."

I saw David perform for the first time less than a year later in a church in Charlotte, and I think it was quite a long time after that before I saw him again. You can't not love David Lamotte, and about three summers ago I went to four or five shows in a span of two weeks. Over the years I have accumulated CDs, a DVD and a fantastic T-shirt, but it's been more than that. Listening to his stories and attending a "World Changing 101" seminar, he has touched something real. Real enough to bring tears to my eyes multiple times in one evening, just by sending out songs from a "real idealist," as he calls himself on his blog.

This label makes sense to me. Not only is he actually changing the world through his PEG projects and his shows, but he is also very real. I've met the people he talks about in his stories, and I've spent endless evenings at the Velvet Moose where he lived for a summer. I've seen David at the Morning Glory Cafe on a Sunday morning and I've grinned so big when he greeted one of my best friends as "Hey beautiful" at Lake Tomahawk park.

David's retiring in November to study peacemaking in Australia, and I couldn't be happier for him and his wife. It seems to be the right next step, but I would be lying if I said I won't be mourning a bit for the hole he'll be leaving on all those stages. Although it won't be an empty hole; it will be filled with the memories of people like me and with all those rich, guitar-spanking chords he sent out to wash over the people he loves.

I hope I won't have to leave these mountains for at least a couple more years, but when my heart does go back there, as it certainly will, they will remember David. Thanks David, for all of it.

First Note: I decided during the show last night that "Song of Peace" will have to play a part in my wedding.

Second Note: David had a lot of fun with his layering machine last night, and I found this YouTube video of another time he had similar fun. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A new look, a new life

I got engaged about a month ago… to be exact it was 41 days ago, minus about 5 hours. And it was fantastic. So needless to say I'm looking at some pretty big changes in my life, with graduating and finding a real job and getting married. I'm hoping for a geographical change too, even though right now I'm not sure if that will be toward NYC for publishing, toward Asheville for a hippe-esque life of mountainous bliss, or toward the West Coast for a lifestyle transformation I can't possibly imagine. Who knows?

This Lent season I gave up television, which I realize now was a fantastic decision. I read a lot during those six and a half weeks, and since Easter I've spent much too much time watching CSI and the like. I enjoy them because they're interesting and yet not too engaging. So I turn them on for background noise and end up watching for several hours. I'm hoping this will stop now that my roommate has taken the futon out of my room. I've also discovered that when I feel like watching TV I would really much rather listen to NPR. Yep, I've become one of those people that begins every sentence with, "So I heard this thing on NPR…" Instant plus in the dorkdom department.

I've also been watching a lot of movies this semester. I've been taking a class about identity in European cinema and have watched I-don't-even-know-how-many films for that. Plus I've been writing film reviews for The Daily Tar Heel, so that adds another one or two films each week. You learn a lot, watching so many films and reading so many books — not that that's any sort of profound statement, I have just come to appreciate my rediscovery of it all.

This week I discovered (without the 're,' because I'm being honest) the music of Joe Strummer and The Clash with the film Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten. For a full review you'll have to wait until Thursday's issue of the DTH. But I will say that the film was fantastic and quite eye opening, and I just bought the whole soundtrack. Like the film, the soundtrack is arranged in a sort of radio-show style, using recordings from Strummer's New Hour show.

This month has been about learning to appreciate what's out there, and learning how much there is left to discover.