white plains

This is Your Brain on a 5K

On Saturday I did a “virtual 5k.” It was to raise money for the Dick Beardsley Foundation. It was called the Against the Wind 5K, it was for an awesome cause, and it was just kind of nice to do a race on my own time, without anyone else around me.

Here is a brief list of the things I thought about during my longer-than-I-wanted-it-to-be run. You can follow along on the map below.

1. Holy crap, I’m hungry.

2. I really like this campus. I wish it were bigger, so I could spent all of my time looping it, instead of taking Route 22.

3. Oh, look, we are starting to go downhill.

4. Can I cross now? The light says no, but there are no cars…do I stop my watch while I wait for the light? Oh well, I’ll just go.

5. Would I enjoy this more or less if there were masses of people around me? Less, I think, although I did always love race day.

6. Hm. I have always wondered if this deli would make as good a prosciutto sandwich as they make at the Iron Tomato.

7. That can’t be my turnaround already, can it? It is! Boy, that’s a slow first half.

8. Boy, am I snotty today. I can’t stop my nose from dripping.

9. I always liked these apartments. They are called Juniper Walk. Isn’t that sweet? I do like juniper.

10. Maybe I will even mix myself a gin and tonic before we go out tonight. No, I can’t. We don’t have limes.

11. Even if I had just eaten that Cadbury egg for LUNCH instead of for BREAKFAST, I wouldn’t be starving like this now. Stupid, stupid!

12. What should this week’s stew be? I have chicken, chickpeas…I think that’s about it. Uh-oh.

13. What is that curious twinging pain in my hamstring?

14. That can’t be the road to home, can it? It is! Goodness!

15. I have just under a minute to make it if I want to pull negative splits.

16. That there is an old woman with a cane and some really wide shopping bags. I do not think I can squeeze between her and the telephone pole.

17. Home! God, I’m slow. Reverse splits, my ass.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Good citizenship

This is Sprocket.

 

Well, that’s Sprocket and me, anyway.

Sprocket likes to run and play, like any other dog. And, like any other dog owner, I will say that he is probably the best behaved dog I know. His recall is pretty much 100%. He waits when we get to a street, until I tell him it is okay to cross. If we see someone coming with another dog, or children, we pull off the sidewalk and he sits until I tell him it is okay to say hello, or he waits until they go by. If we see another dog in the park, I make him sit and wait until I have walked up and greeted the dog and asked the dog owner if it is okay for Sprocket to say hello. If not, then I return to Sprocket and release him from his sit. If it is okay, I call him to come play.

We made sure he learned all of these things because Sprocket is primarily an off-leash dog. And I should say that in every city we’ve lived in, the local law enforcement seems to have become used to seeing him off leash. They largely turn the other way.

White Plains has been a challenge. It is by far the most dog-unfriendly city I’ve ever seen. Everywhere there are signs like this:

I am not proud of the fact that law enforcement has to look the other way. I do not ordinarily flaunt the fact that Sprocket can be walked off-leash when most other dogs can’t be. But I am saying this now because I have been made genuinely curious by something that happened on Saturday morning.

It was beautiful out, and Sprocket and I walked down to the local schoolyard to play. There is a track there, one I’ve written about before, and there were kids riding their bikes on the track and people walking around it. Normally, people are having lunch and playing soccer or volleyball and lots of kids are rollerblading around the track or riding their bicycles. Today, though, it was mostly just walkers and one or two bicycles. Sprocket and I were in the middle of the field in the track oval, playing fetch.

I was on my knee, saying something to Sprocket, when I noticed a man coming over. He was not smiling, but he was walking doggedly towards us. Usually people want to say hi. But this man’s face was not friendly. So I stayed where I was.

He got to within a few feet of me and pointed. “There are two signs, one there and one there, that say ‘No dogs allowed,'” he said. He’s right. They look like this:

“I know,” I said. “We’re not bothering anyone.”

“The signs are right there,” he said.

“Uh huh,” I said. “When you see people riding their bikes, or rollerblading, or drinking booze in here or playing soccer or volleyball here, do you go up to them and tell them they’re breaking the law?”

“So you’re saying that their wrong makes you right.”

“No. I’m just asking if you treat them the same way you’re treating me.” Here I point. “That little girl has been here on her bike for awhile. Are you now going to tell her she can’t be here?” [Here I was erroneous. I thought the sign included bicycling too, but it doesn’t, for some weird reason. Bikes on a track are much more dangerous than skates.]

“I’m going to call the cops,” he says. “You can argue with them.”

“I’m not arguing with you,” I say. “I’m just curious.”

After that the situation disintegrated. Sprocket and I left the field with me yelling something about ruining everyone’s Saturday and then I believe I said very loudly that the man was a terrible citizen and that he should be ashamed of himself and that it’s always dog owners who pick up after the riff raff of White Plains.

And it’s true, too. The first sign I posted above, the brown one, is in the park across the street from us. When we first moved here Sprocket and I would go very early in the mornings and play ball or frisbee when there were fewer people. Now, no matter when we go, there are dogs in there. They run here and there while we owners keep a sharp eye out for glass 40s or food containers with leftover fried chicken in them, where people who are stoned or drunk will leave them after they’ve eaten off their binge drinking or whatever.

We pick up after ourselves every time. Sometimes I will pick up after errant dog owners…maybe they didn’t have a plastic bag with them.

Despite our poaching the park, I still feel like a good citizen. But after I’d told the guy out loud that he was being a bad citizen, I had to take a really hard look at myself: Am I being a good citizen?

What do you think?

 

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

White Plains at Night

I like photography a lot. When I have a visual record of things, I feel much more complete. Because I’m a writer professionally, I sometimes feel confined to my chosen medium, so it’s nice to step out of it some days.

On my way home from a day in the city the other night, I snapped a few photos with my Blackberry that I think evoke a side of White Plains that most folks never see. At night, White Plains virtually shuts down. Except for the water fountain in front of the Starbucks and the traffic lights, there’s very little that’s moving.

Last Wednesday night it was misty and foggy and I was a little bit drunk, which added to the mysticism of the whole thing. Here’s what I saw.

Main Street, just after the train station.

The aforementioned water fountains, with police cars adding a little something.

The passage and street beneath the Galleria Mall.

The gaudiest storefront on the planet.

I always liked this logo and evocation of a favorite sammich.

Streetlights and trees.

A normally busy thoroughfare goes utterly abandoned at night.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

The People in My Neighborhood: The Track Rats

These are people in my literal neighborhood, not people in my imaginary neighborhood. I know a couple people already, like the crossing guard who says hello to Sprocket every morning (she says it makes her day) and the woman with the delicate Italian greyhound who plays like it’s a much larger dog.

But it wasn’t until I spent two hours on the track, two weeks in a row, that I felt a part of the neighborhood. The track is 1/5th of a mile long. It sits right below Eastview Middle School, which was built in 1929 and still retains most of its architectural charm. Jim and I have run around the track before, in the summertime, but we were not partaking of many of the activities that were going on. Rather, our activity–the dull pounding of pavement in a loose oval, around and around–seemed downright odd, and totally unpleasant, compared to the fun going on in the center of the oval. Families picnicked. Friends brought volleyball nets to play what my brother, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in South America, fondly calls “Ecuaball.” Kids rode their bikes around the track, dodging boring people like me and Jim. Soccer was had, and rubber balls were bounced, and even though there was a big sign saying NO DOGS ALLOWED, there were one or two who ventured onto the field and gamboled about with the children.

It was a community space, and we felt like intruders, robotically moving around, and around.

But recently, as the days have been getting shorter and I have found myself with no safer option than to put in two hours at the track, I have discovered another set of people. They are another type of authentic neighborhood person, and being there with them has helped me to feel more a part of this community.

I have run into them each once, and some of them twice.

  • The Boxer. The Boxer is pretty amazing. When I got there, he was already on the track, and he didn’t leave until an hour later, I don’t think. He wears a heavy sweatshirt and leaves his hood up, and he runs on the outer side of the track, which might account for why I am able to lap him. He jogs loosely, arms sort of flopping. He never sprints. What he does that absolutely makes me want to stop and watch, though, is use the straightaways to practice a few footwork moves. He jabs and spins, stays on his toes. In the deep dark of the night, with snowflakes falling all around and the wind whipping them into a fine smoke at your feet, there are few things more magical.
  • The Loner. I’ve seen this guy each time I’ve been to the track at night. He’s OK with two people on the track, but when the number boosts to three, he vanishes, and you think he’s gone, until you see his grey hooded sweatshirt on the turfed level above as he completes his lap. Each time, you can see his face turn towards the track–the point at which you can see him is also the only point at which he can see the track–and you know he’s checking, either to see if you’re still there or to see if the track has become less, um, crowded.
  • Le Flaneur. An older gentleman, he arrives in a car coat and a fedora. He wears a red plaid scarf and walks a mile or so, five laps. He executes a very slow jog sometimes, slow even by my standards, presumably when he gets cold. He waves when he arrives and waves when he leaves if you’re within sight.
  • The Hooligans. They are inevitable. The first time, I arrived on the track at 6PM and predicted someone with nothing better to do would show up around 7. They did, right on the nose, screaming and pushing each other around in a shopping cart, which they then left. As hooligans are wont to do, however, they left within fifteen minutes.
  • The Football Star. He takes up only one part of the track. He runs on the grassy part of the track just inside the oval and sprints hard, running drills, with an imaginary football under his arm.
  • The Heartbroken Greaser. He wears a leather jacket, motorcycle boots, clomps along the track. Huge on-ear headphones. Moping. Lots of hair. He walked a good two miles before he left, and that was only to run down into the parking garage, where they were ticketing cars and his, apparently, was wailing. I guess he hadn’t had enough of soul-sucking walking in the dark beginnings of snow, because he came back to do another two laps before he left.

Some characters, right? I’m rarely alone on the track. I guess that’s why I don’t mind it so much. Why would I ever consider a treadmill again???

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Photo crazy

Is it art?

Sprocket doesn't think so.

I call this one "study in noodles"

We went to the PepsiCo Gardens with Jim's family.

I like this sculpture of a bear crawling out of the pond.

I also like the filagree pattern this tree casts on the ground.

Wow, look at the pooch on me. Not the dog, the belly.

Lillies! I like!

big fat tadpoles were on every stalk of the lily pads.

Love this angular tree trunk. Dunno what happened to it.

I went to Philadelphia last Wednesday. Nice city. Great clients.

The sky over White Plains on Friday evening was wonderfully Hudson-River-School-like.

I caught Jim mooning over this deluxe edition of Stratego.

We took our friend Anna, her soon-to-be stepsons, and her fiance on a hike in Harriman. Here are the stepsons.

Here's crazy dog Sassafras, Joe, Anna, me, El Jefe, and Sprocket,

Sprocket got wet.

I went into the city yesterday to meet my friend Alexandra for lunch. She was in from Chicago. We had a picnic on the High Line and I got a burnt nose.

The MTA set up a TV in Grand Central so everyone could watch The World Cup finals. Beat sitting in a sweaty bar.

Perfect clouds again over White Plains

Look! The Ritz-Carlton building is the same color as the sky! Or maybe it's just a reflection. 😀

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled ‘blog

Hi there.

Coherency will now fly out the window as I update my life to my three followers.

First, some photos and a small comment on friendship:

I have known Kelsey since October 2008, when we went through our ShelterBox 3-day assessment together. Our paths diverged from there, but we stayed friends, mostly because we have the same sense of humor. Kelsey has since lived in Texas, Hanoi, Budapest. This September she will be studying in London; this summer she will be stateside again, in Boston, I think. I am lucky to have such friends through such a tenuous connection. Kelsey came to visit just before I left for Haiti.

When I returned, spring had happened. All of the trees were green and budding, and the flowering trees and shrubs were in full bloom. The park across the street from us has these gorgeous flowering cherry trees. They make lovely carpets of soft pink petals all over the ground.

Here is a gratuitous Sprocket photo.

There are lots of other pretty flowering plants in this park, including this purple one.

I wish I knew what it was. Is it wisteria? I don’t think so; somewhere my visual memory tells me that wisteria is much more delicate-looking.

Elsewhere in the park, there is a dogwood. The blooms were hanging too high for me to get a good photo. There are also dandelions.

Shortly after I got home from Haiti (and after my meander through the  park, taking photos that I have to explain because they are too bad to be explicit), I realized that I needed to write a column for the newspaper, and that my credit card bill needed to be paid, and that I had missed the deadline for registration for the MFA program I’ve enrolled in (yes, yes, more on that later), and also that…oh, God, I have to drive to Pittsburgh.

Kara got her doctorate recently, and her family and I went to see her walk. We almost missed her; there were many many students. But before that we had a day to mellow out in Pittsburgh. I bought a vintage dress to wear to a wedding later this year; and we had lunch at Enrico’s on Ellsworth, where I took this photo:

I liked the light. It didn’t seem to come through in the photo, though. Kara’s had this camera bag for awhile, and it just gets prettier with age.

Also there was this:

I really like these metal flames. There is something very primeval about it (I know, duh), and I just like the idea of an Italian joint with wood-fired pizza having an oven covered in flames.

I also liked this:

This is probably the best-tasting BLT I’ve ever had. It was very, very messy, but the taste made up for it. Alas, it was too big for me to eat all at once.

We also saw this curious substitute for a guard-dog. Hey, if you could have a dinosaur guarding your home, wouldn’t you?

The next day we putzed around the house, and we went to see the marathon go by, which has inspired me to Do Another. I love race day. I get all teary.

Then there was this:

And then there was this:

and that is the end of Kara’s long journey to her doctorate degree. V. V. exciting. Our Pittsburgh journey would take me 18 hours of driving altogether. It was not pleasant. But I got to eat Cracker Barrel meatloaf, and I also managed to leave only one peg remaining in that idiot game they have at every table. It is the first time I have ever done that (I am usually a two or three or even four-pegger), and here is the proof:

I can never duplicate this, because I was listening to Kara saying something and I wasn’t really paying attention to what I did. [Insert left-brain/right-brain commentary here.]

Ohoh. Also in Pittsburgh we saw an awesome exhibit featuring artists’ renditions of teapots. Yes, teapots, that wonderful form that instantly evokes comfort and prettiness. No, not beauty. Teapots are not beautiful. They are pretty to within inches of beauty. But they are not usually striking. These, however, were:

Tea set made entirely of cockle-burrs. Called “Tea for Sudan.” Owtch.

And I like this one. Total polar opposite of “Tea for Sudan,” it is comforting and very very easy on the eyes.

Er. I think that might be it, except ohOH on the way home I received this e-mail, as a comment on a book review I’d done earlier:
Hello, I’m [Txx Nxxxxx] and I’m a Student i need some information about Elijah of Buxton , i need background information, conflict, Rising action, falling action, climax and the Resolution. (THEME)! Thanks

First of all, student, you are lucky I am kind and am not revealing your name and e-mail address here. Second of all, you need lots of help with your capitalization. Second of all, hell, call me old-fashioned and whatever, but dude. Read The Book. And then sit and have a good think about it.

Third, man, I really have no idea what you’re asking me for here.

So here’s a neat little segue: I am not going to get my MFA because I want to teach students like Txx. I am going back to school so I can be a better writer, specifically in long-form fiction. Eventually I am sure I will teach, but I would like to publish first. And when I do teach, I would like it to be older students, who have lived a little and who need a little push. I will probably end up engaging in some kind of writing coaching, if there is such a thing.

So I’ve chosen the Whidbey Island Writer’s Association for my school of choice. After much waffling and back-and-forth, I am happy to report that I am very very excited about this. Learning things is always good. Learning things that will help you to become what you have wanted to become for years is incredibly exciting.

It is going to cost me an arm and a leg. I am a little bit worried about that. But life has been busy lately and I see no reason to slow down, really.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

In the mud

I have read a lot of words these past few days, working on the local paper doing some copy-editing and writing for them, and then reading a working draft for a friend of mine. Busy is good, but the past few weeks have left me with very little inspiration for my own work, or even my essays, which are due in a work or so for the MFA applications.

So here’s a photo dump.

We went home on the 22nd for the hols and spent the night before going back to Claremont with my brother and his fiancee, Laura, making sugar cookies.

They were not the most perfectly shaped things:

Xmas trees, not shrubs.

Xmas trees, not shrubs.

And then we frosted ’em.

finishApparently I enjoyed myself.

pigI also got smacked down for making this cookie, which was, in Laura’s words, “Not your best work, Yi Shun.” Hmph.

To be fair, Laura added the weird white drizzling.

To be fair, Laura added the weird white drizzling.

Then we went home to Squaremont on the 23rd. We went to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, where I’d only been once before. I thought it absolutely gorgeous. There is something really magical about a desert garden and the sheer variety of desert plants.

I've forgotten what this is.

I've forgotten what this is.

This is a manzanita berry shrub. Isn't it gorgeous?

This is a manzanita berry shrub. Isn't it gorgeous?

Winter sage, paired with manzanita berries. Love the contrast!

Winter sage, paired with manzanita berries. Love the contrast!

Fishbowl!

Fishbowl!

My town is best known for Mt. Baldy, which serves as our everyday backdrop and has nice bowl skiing when it’s not dusty and dry out. I haven’t been there in years, but the view of it is always in my head.

memtbaldy

Adrianna spent the night on Christmas Eve (we banished mom to the living room and Jim, Adri and I cooked). Mom got drunk later. I didn’t get nearly drunk enough.

testing the tonality of her wine glasses.

testing the tonality of her wine glasses.

We had a very active Christmas Day. We all exchanged presents and then we went for a walk in the hills with like, a gazillion other people who all had the same idea.

pneguinparents

My parents look like bookend penguins in this photo. adorable. I look like a treetrunk.

And then we picked up Kara and went to Laguna Beach to sample some incredible Japanese food. First we had more exercise in the form of a nice walk along the beach.

I love this photo! Two of my favorite people are smiling!

I love this photo! Two of my favorite people are smiling!

When we finally got back to New York, our friend Dave was happily ensconced in our place awaiting our arrival. Then Dave left and Jody arrived. We spent a lot of time doing this:

sitting on the couch in our PJs, I mean, not picking at split ends.

sitting on the couch in our PJs, I mean, not picking at split ends.

And then there was New Year’s Eve. Alan and Helene came up to a very loud place in White Plains. We ate a lot of food and had some margaritas and then we exited the madness, but not before this photo was taken.

NYE2And then the next day we went to Jen’s for a New Year’s Day party

NYD

And I think that’s quite enough photos for today, don’t you think? Meh.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009: Place

December 11 The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

I really had to think about this one. In the end, I picked the most mundane of places: our current apartment. Back in Chicago, we lived in a huge, drafty 1400-square-foot spot. It was a ton of room and badly put together, and, frankly, I didn’t want to be there. Chicago, I mean. I got to like it by the time we left, but it wasn’t my idea to move there and it took me a good long while to just shut up and live in this terrific city for however long I got to experience it.

It's huge! This room isn't even the bulk of it! (New Year's, '05)

It's huge! This room isn't even the bulk of it!

It was in an awesome, post-Victorian-era greystone that had been gutted and re-done. We liked it, but it had so many elements already built in, like an original sideboard dating from 1912, when the building was built, and pocket doors. High ceilings and poor insulation made the place super-chilly, so we ran the fireplace a lot. Perhaps the thing I hated the most was the fact that it was so big that Jim and I just spread out. Things got lost and hidden, and, with the addition of basement storage just below us, it was a recipe for way too much clutter.

We lived on the first floor, where the front door is, of this house.

We lived on the first floor, where the front door is, of this house.

Also, I had a terrible habit of walking around without either my contacts or glasses in, so I probably didn’t see the clutter part of the time. It was awful.
Before the move to Chicago, we lived in a small place in Croton Falls, New York. It was about 750 square feet. It was Jim’s place; I moved in when my Manhattan roommate got married. It felt tiny, expecially for two people who owned two bicycles apiece and, eventually, a 19-foot kayak. But we loved it. It was Sprocket’s first home.

Our back door was arched and exited onto a massive porch. We loved it. So did Sprocket. (Fuzzy!)

Our back door was arched and exited onto a massive porch. We loved it. So did Sprocket. (Fuzzy!)

Anyway, in May this year we moved from Chicago back to New York State, to White Plains. It’s a weird place. The social divide here feels tremendous at times. But our apartment? I love it. We’re back down to 1100 square feet, and the missing 300 square feet has allowed us to regain some of the efficiency we had when we were living in 750 square feet.
Now, when we’re done cooking, we put things away. We store extra things in the storeroom. We keep most stuff stores away in cabinets. It’s not perfect. But it’s closer to the way we want to function.
Perhaps best of all, this new home was a blank slate. Aside from the obnoxious radiators, which stick out of the wall and reduce the published living space by something like 20 square feet in each room, it had no quirky features whatsoever. So it’s truly become a place that we’ve made our own, and in full partnership.

our couch in Chicago was big enough for three hounds & three people! 98 inches!

our couch in Chicago was big enough for three hounds and three people, all at once. 98 inches!

So this is the place I call home. Really, really and truly. Not “Jim’s place, which I crashed into,” or “our Chicago apartment (we had to move for Jim’s job),” but “our place.” Great things will happen here.
Oh, and there is a spare bedroom and a spare bath, and spare keys. Our friends are always welcome.

I have wanted an Arco lamp forever. it's too big for the room, but whatev.

I have wanted an Arco lamp forever. it's too big for the room, but whatev.

galley kitchen; dining table under bar, funky lighting.

galley kitchen; dining table under bar, funky lighting.

elements of a bedroom: lamp, ratty old bear; books; lint brush; 400-count sheets.

elements of a bedroom: lamp, ratty old bear; books; lint brush; 400-count sheets.

elements of an entryway: a Sprocket and a ShelterBox. Um, yeah.

elements of an entryway: a Sprocket and a ShelterBox. Um, yeah.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009: Challenge

So Gwen Bell is doing this project, okay? It’s not really about getting people to read your stuff, it’s more an opportunity to reflect on all of the things that have happened over the course of 2009.

http://www.gwenbell.com/blog/2009/11/30/the-best-of-2009-blog-challenge.html

http://www.gwenbell.com/blog/2009/11/30/the-best-of-2009-blog-challenge.html

We already know that I’ve been terrible about blogging this year–yes, yes, let’s face it–and that’s largely because a lot has happened. So I’m going to take up Gwen on her December project. I’m late (they started December 1), but I think this will be good for me. Perhaps I’ll fill in days 1-8 as bonuses later.

In the meantime, although it’s December 10th, I’m starting with her December 9th question: What was your greatest challenge of the year?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Was it Ironman? Was it moving? Was it ShelterBox, or the only really honest novel I’ve written of the four currently gathering dust on my desk and in my hard drive? I have been turning all of these things over in my head, and the winner is ShelterBox.

But you know, it wasn’t the extensive interview and training process, or the fact that I think training for the physicality of the thing was worse than Ironman training; or even that I’m finally a part of the disaster-relief community at large, that makes this stand out. It was more the fact that I learned to trust myself.

Something I haven’t really spoken about when I talk about ShelterBox is that when our teams hit the ground, we’re autonomous. We make the decisions; we tell HQ to send more boxes or keep them back; we deal with whatever problems arise. Obviously, this mean you need to carry around a certain amount of trust in your own decisions and actions.

This is not something I am good at. I mean, I know I’ve done good things and made good decisions; it’s just that, much of the time, I do the thing first and then spend an inordinate amount of time fretting over it, rather than just saying, “Right, okay, you did the thing, so just shut up and carry on.” I don’t know what excuse to offer for this lame, hunted-rabbit-like behavior, but then again, the time is long gone for excuses.

some days i feel like this. sheepish AND nervous in a rabbity way.

some days i feel like this. sheepish AND nervous in a rabbity way.

I don’t know how ShelterBox HQ eventually saw through the fluff, crap, and mutterings I go through while I’m reaching the right decisions, but they did. More embarrassing still is the fact that I *knew* when I was in a place where I didn’t feel secure. At those moments, I was loudest, most strident, uber-aggressive. Awful, and not the way I want to live my life.

The whole experience has taught me an invaluable lesson: If you waste time faffing about with should-I-shouldn’t-Is, well, you’re not only wasting time, but energy, too, and I need all of that I can get. Also, that you are your own worst betrayer: even if you think you’re exuding confidence, if you’re feeling insecure, it will show. This isn’t pleasant for anyone, and it’s absolutely awful to recollect.

It’s hard to learn to trust yourself. Sometimes it takes nine days in the woods with angry British people screaming at you to pack up your kit before the tsunami hits to help you figure it out. But it’s worth it in the end.

Shelterbox SRT Training 113

My graduating class, and the day I learned not to bark at people.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Manatees are far more interesting than green beans

Certain things make a girl happy. To wit:
1. The children’s section at The White Plains Public Library is the best I’ve ever seen. I loves it! Witness “The Trove”:
p6230072
And here’s what you see when you walk into it:
p6230073
2. A few days ago there were perfect clouds outside my window. I love the views from my apartment. I wonder how it’ll be in the wintertime, when there isn’t very much foliage and you can just see the highway and the Nordstrom’s.
dsc06781
3. About a week ago I made a shrimp-and-green beans dish that called for the beans to be sliced on an “extreme diagonal.” Do you know how annoying it is to be told to be extreme in your cooking? At some point I got so extremely diagonal I went vertical.
dsc06778
4. It’s the last day of school here in New York. The high school across the street is lovely to look at on any day, but the noise of happy kids is hard to beat.
5. My friend Erica is a remarkably talented illustrator. I had her do this piece, of manatees shopping for lettuce, for me. I just got it back from framing. I loves it.
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6. My friend from junior high school, Jo Smith, came to visit with her Grammie Lucy. Lucy is 88 years old and sharp as a tack, nay, sharp as a sharpened tack. She is wonderful. I hope I’m as engaging and as confident as Grammie when I am 88.
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7. My morning glory plant is an idiot. I keep on threading it around my balcony railing, but it insists on making knots around itself. Time for a trellis.
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8. Today the skies are more threatening. I like this weather, but I’m sure the kids would rather a nice sunny day to play in.
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9. Today: reading, writing, a short swim at the end of the day. Nice, nice day. GoooooOOOoood day. Stay. Sit.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.