Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Bazaar Around the Corner

Last night, despite paralyzing jet lag, I grabbed dinner with a friend at a Moroccan restaurant on the UWS: Shalel Lounge. 

Rose petals lined an iron stairwell down into the lounge, which was really a cross between a bomb-shelter and a middle eastern bazaar. We sat side-by-side on velvet cushions, facing three, French-kissing couples. I sipped Tempranillo and grazed on tuna bric, leaning back onto my elbows from time to time, relaxed by the dimly lit laughter.

Intimate, strange, savory. 
A New York Tuesday kind of place.

Friday, August 22, 2014


“You shall leave everything you love most: this is the arrow that the bow of exile shoots first."

-- Dante, “Paradiso”

Great feature on NYTimes Opinionator on Exile.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Love by Urdu

Urdu poem...

"I have loved you my whole life
And while I have waited for you,
Oh how many people I have loved."

-Told by professor Singh

Singapore Visit, Feeling Lushy

I'm in sunny Singapore, learning a lot about services operations management. My notes are littered with one-liners from the prof.

Fuschia orchids are drooping from every corner of this place.
Green palm branches stretch up into the blue sky, against a background of other green, full, tall trees. No matter where I go here, I feel like I'm standing in the middle of a lush forest.

All My Stories Are Told

"And ten years later, would I have been compelled to write a memoir about that time in my life? Or would I have felt that I’d already told the story by posting it as my status update?"

From "A Memoir is Not a Status Update" by Dani Shapiro, The New Yorker

That's a good question. 
When Facebook and Instagram give us immediate relief / comfort / encouragement / excitement,  what's left to write about in 50 years. 

Our stories have all been told.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Nevermind the Leg Room

You can't predict the future.
I read a great story today, written by a woman in her 60s. She was vivacious and full of fun. 

I'm in the Emirates Airlines lounge, headed to Singapore via Dubai. My boss and I are an incredible duo. We can solve anything, just give us a few seconds and a few iced cortados.

I'm thinking of him, a lot, as I prepare to embark. We talked about this trip. Can't help wondering what he's doing this weekend. It's hard to leave someone you care about in an instant.

It's easy to say goodbye, though. You just decide (cock the gun), begin to speak (aim), and deliver the words (shoot).

But the weeks after can be strange. The heart is full of mischief. Burdened with longing and irresponsible loyalties. I only get nostalgic at dusk and when I eat sushi or think about email.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Creative People as Friends

I hate relying on creative people for deep friendship. Because they're simply not going to be there when I want them to be.

But then again, when I need's like they are waiting for me, right where we left off.

Funny as ever.
Bringing out the best in me at the worst of times.

Le sigh.

Diary of a NYer : Rainy Days and Wednesdays

Things you learn on subways:

When you get on the train, if there is enough space to not sit next to someone, you cannot--I repeat--you cannot sit next to someone.

Current Issues in Contemporary Manhattan Life:
Heat rash in the crook of my right elbow.
Singapore trip in 3 days.
Uncooked cauliflower sitting on the bottom shelf of my fridge.
Rain that smells like garbage.
Handsome guy at Starbucks pouring half & half into my cup for me.
Bad hair on a good hair day.
New mascara that looks like a Bebe advert.
The end of things - the beginning of things.
Water water water.
To do listings.
A deep and insatiable desire to explore the internet.
Google +

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Last Thoughts on the Permanence of the Temporary

 Francois Mauriac said:
No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Remembering Existentialism, With Some Regret, Ministered By An Observant Me

Step outside
Gonna step outside,
I'm gonna step out
Heart's on fire, leaving all behind you
Dark as night, let the lightning guide you
-Jose Gonzales, Step Outside

I turned Jose on, reclining back on too many beige and white pillows.  "I have never ventured beyond..."the words in the novel said. What have I never ventured beyond? Harlem, for sure. Beige, at least in this room.  

Laying back, staring at both myself and the wall opposite me, my coral colored shirt begins to float away from me, and swirls into the walls and carpet. Finally, I see that this room is missing the color coral, and decide to cover the windows and the closet with coral cotton and paint. 

I can't ever forget the Tibetan village I stayed in at Xiahe; Oh!, the striped bedspreads and tablecloths--- so garishly red, green and then heaven-white in surprising places. .

I lay my phone on my chest with the speaker pointed at my chin.

Dark as night, let the lightning guide you...

I lay the weighty pages of my latest summer reading down on my forehead, and the gushing notes of the music fill the little triangular space between the speakers, the book and my self, until I squeeze my face up into a ball of emotion. 

Then I relax, as I see the girl who has let the emotion swell into her and knock her off course. By seeing her, I have anchored her. 

Then, finally, I resent that I ever became an existentialist. And wish that I had skipped from youthful naturalism straight to Christianity. How much less would I watch myself, I wonder?

Weekends on the UWS

I stuffed coconut shrimp and dolmas and guacamole-coated chips into my mouth.

It's been one of those celebratory weekends, I guess. 

Hamas, Israel, 3D printing, Amazon, Happy Hour, Self-discipline, CS Lewis, Jean Paul Sartre.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Guess Who

Another contradiction:

We put parts of our full selfs into closets, along with our ill-fitting, trendy dresses and decades-old business pants. There is something embarrassing and too loose about our accents, the way we eat when no one's in the room, the way we overreact when our siblings tease us...

It's not the self we're offering to the others we want to bring close.

But when relationships get tense and there is too little freedom in our shared mental space, how easy it is to put on our old strange self, that one we hid from sight all this time.

Oneness in "The Left Bank"

It's true, you know, neither of us can be explained without the other.

--Kate Muir

Friday, August 8, 2014

You Can't Always Get What You Want (A Process Primer)

Most of the people in the middle class want the same things, value the same things.

And yet we talk as if the key to finding meaningful relationships and good business partners is aligning with people who want the same things.

Real crises in partnerships don't come from what you want, but from how you go about getting what you want.

What you sacrifice.
Or who.
When you wake up.
When you sleep.
How you treat your body.
How you treat your soul.

How you deal when you can't get what you want...and when you can.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cepvaci and Other Morning Delights

Bosnian Hurmasice

A very special coworker brought in some Bosnian desserts today. Nutella cookies, hurmasice, hairy cake...mmmmm.

One of them, the hurmasice, seemed like what you would get if baklava and an old-fashioned donut had a baby. Gooier than baklava, crispier than donuts.

I'll be wearing a moo-moo, saying mooo mooooo, soon.

But in the meantime, I'm in sugar heaven.
You know the place I'm talking about. It's like Hotel California: you can check out any time you like, but you can't ever leave. Sugar knows where you live and drunk dials you from a block away.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm Not Exactly Who I Appear To Be (Who Is?)

We can choose to surround ourselves with people who couldn't possibly understand where we've come from, and in doing so, we can create a barrier between ourselves from the past and ourselves in the present.

This strategy breaks down if we then feel a great loneliness because we are not somehow "fully" accepted. 

Monday Morning Coffee

There's a middle-aged Chinese man sitting on the bench outside Joe Coffee. He has the tiniest shoulders, which are neatly tucked inside his blue-grey polo shirt. His right leg is flopped over his left, and his right foot, tied too-tightly into a worn, black leather boxing shoe, flexes up and down. 

A middle-aged husky woman, turns into the shop. Her hair is piled on top of her head, with different tones of gold and brown knotted messily on both sides of a stretchy, black head band. The edges of her bulky calves glitter--a Lululemon logo, reflective silver against the black. 

An older man in an old, red running shirt checks his phone while a demitasse of espresso waits half-sipped to his left. His running shoes are electric blue, with that reflective detailing. His ankle socks are black, with orange. The back of his head is clean-cut and still wet with sweat. His upper arms are matted with soft, dark hair. He jerks up, slides Bose headphones up from his collar, over his ears. He turns, walks out the door, looks left, looks right. He waits for it. Then leaves.

After he's gone, the espresso and its plate and spoon remain for less than a minute before a young, fleshy boy in a salmon-pink tee takes them away.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

This Friend's Taken, Move Along

Heading into new friendship territory. Anyone else feel like the mid-30s are a repeat of adolescence? The ease of the early 20s are long behind me and people have settled, more or less, into distinct groupings (which we used to call cliques).

I'm new to town. Hi.

In the beginning of adulthood, every person was a new adventure. And every new adventure showed me something thrilling about the world. I grew into a thousand different versions of myself and explored the type of person I wanted to become.
15 years ago.  

At 35, in New York City, I'm finally settling down. But...with whom?

I was recently talking over the problem of finding friendships in my 30s with a potential new friend from LA. We met in Union Square at one of those artsy coffee joints that has the wood interior of 1980s skate park. She's very similar to me: good-natured, respectable and hard-working.

She is just like a Nashville friend. Like Betsega or Jen M. But I already have a Betsega. I already have Jen M. I asked her about that. About feeling like all of my 'best friend' spots are full. Let's be real, my friendship real estate is like a vacation property; the owners visit irregularly. But it hasn't bothered me that the spots aren't getting used.

Why hasn't it bothered me?
Probably because I'm so busy.
Maybe because it's less demanding of me.
Could be more convenient.

Alex Williams expressed the same thing in his popular New York Times article on the challenges of making friends in adulthood:
As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.
No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.
What if I have more best friends out there, waiting for me to stop hanging on the edge of the pool?

Williams added that the three things sociologists say are necessary to making friends:

  1. Proximity;
  2. Repeated, unplanned interactions; and 
  3. A setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other
New York definitely can nurture these things, if I let it. I met my best NYC friend at a diner across the street from my house, and we see each other all the time. Church is another place that would facilitate this, of course.

I guess I've got some friending to do.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

PlayWorld in "The Left Bank"

Currently reading Kate Muir's "Left Bank," a book which begins with a sardonic couple's trip to "PlayWorld," a Disneyland-esque theme park. Regarding the place, Muir writes:

"[It] is so good at being good that it manifests an evil: so uniformly efficient and courteous, so dependably clean and conscientious, so unfailingly entertaining that it's unreal, and therefore is an agent of pure wickedness."

Much could be said about pretense, masquerading as the real thing, and how after eating it, one might wake up with a mouth full of cankers and a tongue that's lost its taste.

Speaking of taste: I followed up cafe reading with a quick quinoa sorrento salad, topped with shrimp, avocado and tomatillo salsa. Saturdays are so...dependably good, that they're bad.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Urine My Bad Book Now, Whoever You Are

I'm not one to complain about big city life.

That being said, to whomever peed on the bus seat before I sat down: you're a real louse.


How Relationships Begin (End)

Romantic relationships are half prudence and half foolishness.

Which comes first is everything.