August 19, 2006

New York moments

Yesterday I took Damian into the city for a visit with his friend C, in from California. The train conductor charged me for one adult, no child. This is the second time that's happened.

When we got into Penn Station, I wanted to stop at Staples. As we stood on line to pay, Damian was chatting a mile a minute, probably something about meeting C or about outer space (his current fascination) or even about the logistics of train travel. The man behind us smiled and started chatting with us. Before I knew it, he'd pulled out a wallet photo of his two blond boys, ages seven and nine. When we left, he waved goodbye.

Much later, after an enjoyable six hour play date with C and family, Damian and I ended up on the east side of Central Park. We needed to get to the subway on the west side. I didn't want to walk on the traverse road right beside the cars racing to get across 72nd Street, so I took a meandering path instead. Damian pointed out after about ten minutes that we were now passing the back of the Metropolitan Museum. Which is around 80th Street on the, um, Upper East Side. Not a good sign. I hailed a woman, who pulled out her iPod earbuds and cocked her head. "Are we heading north?"


"How can we get west?"

She showed me the path heading west, which happened to be BENEATH us. Short of parachutes or bungie jumping, that wasn't about to happen. But she gave me an idea how to actually meet up with said path. I thanked her. She said, "But you look like a New Yorker." Yes, with one hell of a long gap between, but yes. We chatted. Damian told her he wasn't a New Yorker but now is, or rather, lives in New Jersey. (What does that make us? New Jerseyans? Weird.) We parted ways with smiles and nods as Damian and I set off across the grass, heading west (but only a little west -- not, say, back to California).

On our way back home, I proffered the punched ticket, saying "I thought we'd be coming back off peak, but..." The conductor waved at my ticket and moved along the car. Not charging me the extra $1.50.

The moral of the story? None, really. Except: I still look like a New Yorker, apparently. And my belief in the innate goodness and genuine warmth of my clan (ie: New Yorkers) remains intact.

hi? maybe?

I'm contemplating renewing/revisiting/restarting this blog. Not sure. I'll fly under the radar for a bit, see if I mean it.

April 07, 2006


It will come as no surprise, I think, if I tell you that I've been struggling to justify the continued existence of this blog.

Struggling and losing.

I still read blogs. Still like them and understand the allure of writing one. I just seem to have lost the mojo myself.

When I began writing online in 1999, I wanted to craft stories from my life, from my observations, from my thoughts. Well, guess what? I do that now, in my fiction. Oh, my characters are not me, and the world they inhabit is not my life, but it all seems to draw from the same well.

When I began writing online, I wanted something else too, though I didn't know it at the time. I wanted validation. Readers. Responses. I wanted my words to mean something. And they did. I was nominated for awards, received some. Sometimes unexpectedly, from unusual sources. I loved my referrer logs, loved the me I saw reflected therein.

But now? I'm not who I was then. The blogosphere, too, has changed. I hate to let this slip away, dribble through my fingers like sand, merging back into online anonymity, so very many grains of worn-away pebbles tumbling with every pull and surge of the tide.

But blogs, even personal ones, have clumped into like-minded clusters and I can't figure out where or how I would fit. Mommy blogs? My kid is almost eight years old. No cute toddler stories here, and at a certain point, I believe, his life is his own and not mine to tell (except for the autism-pertinent bits, and at some point maybe not even those).

Writer blogs? I read some of them. Other times I wince and move on. How interesting is it to read about a writer's internal process when said writer isn't even published yet? And really, how many blogs giving tips on writing can – should – there be? And I've recently come across more than one wannabe writer blogging about the agent search, about rejection letters and hope and oh, it's painful. Not to mention raw. Not to mention perhaps a trifle inappropriate to post online.

Moving-across-the-country blogs? Well, there are, um, not so many of those. So yes, maybe so. And certainly there's a lot to document. Sounds good, anyway. But here's the truth of that: I haven't moved to a new city. I've moved to a town just outside my old home. And therefore many of the friends and all of the family I connect with, they're longstanding, with sometimes complex relationships and perhaps secrets and lives that aren't mine to share online.

So it comes back to that again. What's appropriate to share in a space like this? I think it depends wholly on who you are, what you need from this kind of forum, and how much of a support network you have in your offline (or at least off-blog) life. It's all about censors, about drawing a line in the sand (yes, that again). This I will tell, that I won't. John Scalzi is brilliant at this, he writes his thoughts rather than his feelings, opinions rather than his life, and what you get are his often incisive, nearly always witty editorials on politics and current events, mixed with some bits and pieces of the writer at work and occasional snippets – never too up-close, though – of his own life. Could I do that? Maybe I could, but I've never been much for editorials. They don't play to my strengths as a writer. I'm all about the sensory world, all about relationships. All about the intimate life as it unfolds. So what happens when that canvas feels too personal?

I think it's time to shut this blog down. Hard to say, hard to decide, hard to do. It – and you, my readers – have meant more to me than I can express without getting horribly cornball. And I do try to avoid that.

But it's time. If I come back, it'll probably be in a new configuration. A writer, maybe, telling of her first book tour on her eponymous blog. Or a photographer deciding that Flickr is not enough after all. Or, well, who knows, really?

But for now? It's time. I'm done.

March 22, 2006

business etiquette

There's a guy. A nice guy, I think I'd enjoy socializing with him. I've been dealing with him about a freelance gig. This involves phone conversations and emails. Every time I call him (or, more infrequently, he calls me), he asks how I'm doing. Seems to want to know. Asks leading questions. So we chit-chat, shoot the breeze. And all the while, I'm sitting there in my desk chair, looking out across the driveway to the grassy slope beyond, and thinking, "When are we going to get down to business?" Far as I'm concerned, the chit-chat is white noise. I'm impatient. I called about something specific and I want to deal with that, not chat about our kids or the weather or my transition to New Jersey.

This, by the way, is not a slam on him. Or his style of doing business, which is very friendly. Companionable. Warm. It's simply not mine. If you're going to chit-chat, save it for the end, when we've gotten the tricky stuff out of the way.

I got an email last week from a friend of a friend of a friend. Her son is on the autistic spectrum. She wanted to pick my brain. This happens a lot. Because of my web presence and a certain number of years (and level of success) with this, people sometimes email me asking for guidance, information or just a sounding board. I try to respond as best I can. I know what it's like to be scared and lost and trying to help your beloved child. But this email was, well, brusque. "I want to know about X." Not "Hi, I appreciate your taking the time, my kid is thus and such and I'm feeling this way about it and I hear your kid is this other way and that's so great and here's what I was wondering…" but "I want X, what do you know?"

I felt taken aback. To the point where I almost didn't respond. I am not an institution, I am not an encyclopedia of autism, I am a person with a life and feelings and I do this, not for money, but because I care. So care about me. Or at least be polite enough to go through the motions.

Maybe I was reading into her note something she didn't intend. Or maybe she's just so focused on her own panic, she forgot to be nice. I can understand that. I don't have to like it.

Do my reactions seem contradictory? In one case, I want the guy to cut to the chase. In the other, I want the chitchat, the warm-up. Which is it?

Somewhere in between, I think. I believe the level of desultory small talk that feels natural to you at the beginning of an interaction depends partly on where you grew up, the social constructs you accept as a given but that aren't in fact universal. Part of the reason I liked coming back to the New York area, in fact, was about this. There's usually less chit-chat here to mask the fact that it's really business. On the other hand, if it was just raw business, that would feel strange to me too. I think this is more about tone and content than about the length of the preamble.

I got a business-related email from someone yesterday. Very short, to the point. But her language was friendly and personable and even though she certainly didn't inquire into the wellbeing of my cats and my son, it felt like a comfortable communication. That’s the middle ground. That's what I prefer. It can sometimes be tricky to find, but I know it when I see it.

March 19, 2006

two pages

I'm not sure how it happened. I can certainly tell you I had no intention whatsoever of doing this so quickly, I know it's not proper and besides it's a bit, well, dumb. Or at least foolhardy. But I couldn’t help it. I started a new novel.

See, I'd been trying really hard to develop the outline, the characters, the whole milieu. Working to create the world inside my head. The twists and turns and emotional heart of it. The backstory, the guts, the midpoint, the story of the story, the why of the what, the meaning of life, or at least an approximation thereof in the form of a slice of fictional narrative of a person going through an event. Y'know, working.

At first I couldn't. Just stared at the screen. I know something should go here. I know I can do this. I've done it before. It's not the idea-generating that's hard in writing. It's what comes after. What that idea generates, as it were. The story that grows from that seedling. And my brain wasn't having any. It was flat out refusing to brainstorm.

Stress will do that. I'm trying to do too many things, generate freelance work (or, well, think about doing it), prepare for tax time, look for an agent (a story for another time). Pressure. Hopes and fears. Not good for storytelling.

A friend said forget it, put the other stuff aside, don't worry, just write. So I decided to give myself a week off from fretting and planning and marketing. And lo, it flowed. Plot points, chewy character dilemmas, point and counterpoint, theme and structure. The stuff that draws me to novel writing.

So that was good. But I had a long way to go before writing "Chapter One."

Except my brain, that recalcitrant, irritating writer's brain, it had another agenda. Thursday night I lay down, head on my pillow, relaxed and ready to sleep. I heard the first sentence of my novel, how it could go. Good, nice. But go to sleep. The exact words don't matter, I'll remember well enough in the morning. Then the second sentence wrote itself on the inside of my eyelids. And the third.

By the time I sat up and grabbed pen and paper, I'd written the entire first page. Of a novel that shouldn't be ready to write.

On Friday I transcribed that page and wrote another. I don't know if I'll go back to plotting or move ahead with the actual pages of the actual story.

I'm not altogether sure it's up to me.

March 12, 2006

six months in stages

Six months ago today we were in Minneapolis, halfway across the country, midway through our drive from California to New Jersey. Six months. A breath, a hiccup, a sigh.

So what's it like, landing back in a place that's so familiar and yet not? How does it feel to be here and not there?

First stage: We're here? Wow, we're here, we're really here, wow, here we are, look, there are leafy maples and pretty Victorian and Colonial houses and oh, I can get into NYC on the commuter train, wow I'm walking around my city again, wow we're here, we're here, are we really here, wow did we do this? Is this real? Is this my life? Wow, we're here… (etc. on an endless hyper loop)

Second stage: Where is here, exactly? And oh my god, Damian needs socks, where do you go to get socks around here? I feel so lost. Do I live here? But how can that be? Me, I live in a place far away, a place smack in the middle of a teeming city with all the teeming city amenities. Damn, I ran out of conditioner. Is there an Aveda store around here? I swear, if I turn left out of my driveway, I'll be on Melrose heading toward the Beverly Center, except somehow when I turn left, I'm just heading up a leafy street lined with pretty Victorians and Colonials. So where's the Beverly Center? Very confusing.

Third stage: Okay, yes. Here is here and not there. I get it now. Sure. And here has good pizza and bagels and chopped liver and ravioli and cold sesame noodles and apple cider, did I mention the fresh apple cider? Because oh my. And here has people -- or at least the extended metropolitan area version of here has them -- and I keep meeting up with them, people I like and know, people who are family and friends and this is oh, yes, it's good and right and yes.

Fourth stage: I feel so isolated. I feel so alone. I feel like the last person on earth. Why did we do this? Can I hide under the covers until I wake up after having magically, mysteriously created a community in my new hometown? Or slink around in my sweatpants and never venture out the door? Pretend I'm a bear in a cave, yes, that would work. A depressed, lonely, unfriendly, paralyzed sort of bear. Hey, it's snowing! Pretty.

Fifth stage: How is this different, living in New Jersey instead of LA? No, really. Dan's working late. Damian's yelling about needing more time before homework. I scorched dinner and the writing gig I thought I had in the bag came with a draconian contract I can't sign. Life sucks. Doesn't matter where you live. Palm trees or elms, the landscape is secondary to the life.

Sixth stage: No, I love it. Love meeting up with friends at the Metropolitan Museum. Love running into another friend on the front steps as we're leaving. Love finding a fantastic hole in the wall sushi place in suburban New Jersey. Love the drive up the Garden State Parkway to visit Dan's parents and make them my miso salad dressing. Love a leisurely brunch with old friends who now live just up the road as the kids play hide and seek in their country club's huge dining room. I love being here and not there. Love the city after a rain, love the town in the sun, love the sense that life is more full, ripe with connections. All those years in Los Angeles feel present and distant both. A funhouse mirror reflection of a life that was, or was it? This, here and now, is reality and that's just memory, a life someone keeps telling me I once lived.

Seventh stage: Great. Okay. Now how do we make it work? How do we shift our careers enough to make the money to stay? Dan's job is over, how does he get another? How does he build a career? How do I? I've had three writing gigs so far, all handed to me. I have one more potential offer and then I have to go looking. How do I do that? is this really going to work? Because, damn, I want it to. This is where we belong. But how can we stay? We have to. So we will. But, um, how? I'm scared, anxious, nervous, and all synonyms in between. We took the leap and now we land, but our footing remains uncertain, our landing still slippery.

(Note: these stages are approximations of the voices inside my head, roughly chronological but sometimes the stages collide, exist simultaneously even when they're in direct contradiction to each other. Because that too is reality.)

March 08, 2006

new Hidden Laughter entry

Called by hand. About how unaccommodating we are. Um, kind of.

March 06, 2006

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

Our first year watching the Oscars from a vantage point far away from Hollywood, how ironic is it that this is the year we knew the most nominees? (Three, for the record. One who won.)

Oscar night last year: helicopters overhead all day, traffic congestion like you wouldn’t believe, parking at the farmer's market (a few blocks from the site) a mess. Order in pizza, do it early because everyone else is doing the same. Streets are quiet, everyone at a party.

Oscar night this year: quiet surrounds us in this hilltop aerie of ours. It's late here, past dinner time. Damian's asleep. We zip through TiVO, pause to watch speeches and clips, zip some more. Not so far from the film business, maybe, but far from the all-enveloping industry mindset.

I don't have a rundown of the show, no analysis of the documentary short subject choices nor extended critique of the dresses. (Though, what was that thing on Charlize Theron's shoulder? Did she put a snack in there, in case she got hungry during the show? A microphone to record snarky commentary from producers to use for blackmail fodder? A pet dog? Enquiring minds want to know.) I have just one main thought:

Crash beat Brokeback Mountain for best picture. Huh. Who'd a thunk?

I haven't seen Crash yet, though it's on our Netflix queue, so I can't comment on its Oscar worthiness. I'm a Paul Haggis fan, though, dating back to his eerie, disturbing and utterly brilliant short-lived TV series EZ Streets. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.

But I did see Brokeback Mountain. I didn't find it romantic, exactly, but rather an exquisitely observed and heartfelt portrayal of human nature, of the choices we make – or are forced to make, by circumstance and our own psychology – and the repercussions of those choices. Which is to say, I thought it was a great movie. The parade of pre-Oscar awards says I'm not alone in this.

So why the Oscar snub? Homophobia? Brokeback just a little too real, with its single, non-graphic but nevertheless visceral sex scene? Somehow I doubt that. This is Los Angeles, after all, not South Dakota. This is the film industry, a creative magnet. There are gay people in this town, folks who are comfortable in their identity as such, people who don't feel the need to bury it six feet under. If a majority of the Motion Picture Academy members are secretly squeamish homophobes, well, they better look in their own mirrors, is all I'm saying. And across the table at their dinner companions. And across the desk at their business partners. And I'm not buying it.

So what then? Just a fluke of voting? Everyone assuming other people will vote for Brokeback Mountain so why not vote for their own favorite? But why was Crash their favorite when so many awards shows leading up to the big night singled out Brokeback Mountain? Whose favorite was it?

Dan pinpointed it last night, after we turned off the TV and went upstairs to the bedroom. It's all about the Academy. Which has members who are producers, members who are directors, who are cinematographers and writers and editors and production designers and costumers and animators, yes, all those. But the biggest voting bloc by far? Actors. And something I've learned from my years around the film business: people see movies through the filter of their own particular interest. Go to a movie with a writer, you'll hear about story and structure, inciting incident and character arc. Go to a movie with a director, you'll hear about pacing, staging, and camera placement, about subtext and context and coaxing meaning out of the story. Go with a composer and sure enough, you'll hear all about the music and how it dominated the scene here and gave the wrong tonal quality over there. If you see a movie through the eyes of an actor? Sure enough, it's about the acting. Admittedly, Brokeback Mountain had some brilliant acting. I thought Heath Ledger was amazing in his choked-back emotional restraint. But it wasn't showy and it wans't chewy and it wasn't a big ensemble.

That may be why Crash won. Because, from what I hear, it is all those things. Plus, Don Cheadle, an actor who has won a lot of respect and goodwill, was one of the producers. It sounds like it's a good film. It may be brilliant. I'd like to see and judge for myself. But the fact remains, Brokeback won the critic awards. Crash won the actors awards. Best ensemble cast at the SAG awards, which is their equivalent of Best Picture. And now this, the big kahuna, the shiny gold man.

People forget, but the Oscars are a company town's way of showing appreciation to their own. Which film fits the bill better? It's not about objective bests. How can you judge that anyway? What makes one beautifully written book better than another, one stellar meal more worthy? Contests are always about something other than choosing the best of anything, because subjectivity and personal filters always enter into the equation. So it was last night.

That's what I think, anyway.

February 22, 2006

drum and life lessons

The drum lesson was in the back of a music store, the kind of place that's too small for its contents; cymbals and guitar strings spilling over into the aisles, a sense of darkness and clutter everywhere. The teaching room was all the way in the back, a walk-in closet of a space, barely big enough for a drum set and two people.

It didn't matter; when the teacher met us in the back of the store, I knew right away. The tenor of his "hello" told me: this man is not the right person to teach my son. But it would have been rude, an insult, to say, "This isn't going to work out, thank you and goodbye," it would have implied a kind of ethnic or class-related profiling, a kind of stereotyping.

It wasn't. Yes, he was large, with a strong Joisey accent, yes, his black hair was clearly dyed and coated with an oily sheen, but that mattered not at all. What mattered was that he was ten years older than me and exuded a work-weary affect, that he spoke with a kind of brusque heaviness, that he didn't take a moment to let Damian warm to him before entering the jail cell of a drum room. What mattered was that he checked his watch every five minutes while we stayed in the room with him. What mattered was that he was clearly on the defensive from the first moment, explaining and then explaining yet again how he always, but always, has his students work on the practice pad for the first ten or fifteen minutes, that's how he does it and if you don't like it, you shouldn't be there.

Which, y'know, is fine too. Everyone does indeed need room to do his job the way he thinks is best. But it bordered on hostile, this bristly defensiveness, and that's not so fine. Especially when you're teaching my sensitive, shy, anxious child. Who picks up on aggressive, defensive, bristly emotions. Who closes up like a clam disturbed by the rough tide.

He had Damian sit at the practice pad. Had him play quarter note beats. One-two-three-four. Just seeing if he understood rhythm, no problem. Then he had him do two on each hand, left-left, right-right, left-left, right-right. Damian played left, right, left, right. The guy illustrated, playing the beats himself. Damian played it wrong again. Skipping the second beat, sometimes doing it in a half-way sketchy almost-beat not hitting the pad. Blowing it.

Damian was so hesitant, so silent. I knew the guy was thinking, "And she says this kid can play advanced, complex grooves? Man, is she kidding herself or what?" Because right then, Damian not only seemed like a novice, but like a slightly slow one, someone who simply didn't understand the concept of body movement, who didn't process your words. And I think he didn't, in that moment.

They switched to the drum set. The guy asked Damian to play something he knew. He thought about it a bit, then played an 8th note groove. Bumpy, with some faltering beats, but the sound was basically right. The guy's reaction? "He shouldn't be doing such advanced stuff before learning the basics." But he does know the basics! He just froze because you have no ability or desire to create a welcoming environment.

That was the first lesson. Also the last. With this guy, anyway.

The second drum lesson was at our house. The teacher came a few minutes early, walked inside. Soft spoken, young, with long blond hair and a thoughtful demeanor. We – that is, he, Damian and I – chatted for a bit down by the door. Damian introduced him to the cats. We went up to Damian's room and settled in. Damian played from his sheet music. Played quite well, considering how little he's practiced in the past five months. Played quarter note beats with fills, played eighth and sixteenth note grooves. The guy encouraged him to come up with his own fills between eighth note measures. He raised his eyebrows and smiled at me while Damian was playing. He told me, "He's really good, he has a lot of potential. He's doing things easily that students twice his age have trouble doing."

Damian pointed out how two grooves were different from each other (one had an extra snare drum beat), the teacher asked him how a third differed from those two. He was engaging him, he was asking him to think analytically about the music, he was encouraging and warm, though in a quieter way than Damian's wonderful LA teacher. And Damian responded. Sometimes he was confused by a question and remained silent, but once I translated for him, he answered readily. One time he didn't know how to do what the teacher asked, so the teacher illustrated. Damian got it after that. He was the kid I remember from his LA lessons with the ineffable drummer Dan.

This teacher isn't as exuberant, as delightfully enthusiastic, as Dan was. He's a different person with his own style. But what struck me – what strikes me – is how very different Damian was with each teacher. And I'm not just talking about a quiet, shy boy versus an engaged child, because he was pretty shy with the second teacher too. But his playing. With the first guy, Damian – well, frankly, he sucked. Not an iota of talent visible. With the second, he showed himself: a kid with a natural gift for rhythm.

How much of our lives, our identities, our self-definition results from the ways we do or don't reflect light from other people? The first guy wasn't overtly negative; he praised Damian for getting things right and didn't scold him for his mistakes. But something about him shut Damian right down. The second teacher allowed Damian to be himself. And that makes all the difference.

February 16, 2006

four things

Yes, a meme. What, you want to make something of it? Diane tagged me. It's fun. Why not?

(Maybe it'll get me posting again. We'll see...)

Four jobs I've had:

1. Heath food store employee. My first paid job, aside from occasional babysitting gigs. On my very first day, I said I'd do anything except sweep the floor. Guess what I did at closing time? Yup. Should've kept my mouth shut.

2. Payroll clerk. I also kept the books for various parts of the mostly-student-run business. Lots of camaraderie in that small basement office. A mix of college students with two middle aged accountants keeping us honest.

3. Dorm crew, cleaning up after students go home for the summer. Also cleaning bathrooms. Tip: Do not take a job which involves cleaning the bathroom of the freshman football team after a home game.

4. Assistant film editor. My previous career trajectory. On the first day on my first low paying apprentice job, I broke my pinky on the rewind, got it caught in a spoke of the take-up reel. Wrapped my hand up and kept going. Wondered why it never stopped hurting. Unwrapped at it at 7 pm. It was bright red and HUGE. Went to the emergency room. Owie.

Four movies I can watch over and over again:

I don't generally watch movies again. How about movies that resonated when I saw them? Movies I saw more than once back when I had the leisure to see movies more than once?

1. Gallipoli. I love Peter Weir's early films. They had a lyrical, poetic quality to them. And even though Gallipoli has a war at the heart of it, it's really a gentle, heartfelt movie about friendship.

2. Spirit of the Beehive. I adored this movie as a young teenager. It still haunts me. I want to see it again. Finding beauty in the heart of a terrible time in Spain's history. It has a quiet magic.

3. Midnight Run. Light fluff but perfect tight plotting and tons of fun.

4. So many choices…. How about Bringing Up Baby? That was a fun one.

Four places I've lived:

1. Brooklyn, NY

2. Somerville, MA

3. West Hollywood, CA

4. Montclair, NJ

Four TV shows I love:

1. Veronica Mars. Got involved late last season. Got thoroughly hooked. High school noir. It's sometimes uneven but always sharp and sassy and, at its best, brilliant.

2. Homicide. Andre Braugher rocked. So did the writing of Paul Attanasio.

3. thirtysomething. Or, well, just about any series produced by the remarkable Zwick/Herskovitz pairing. My So-Called Life, Relativity, Once and Again. They impart more subtext and truth in their work than anyone.

4. Homefront. Short-lived but wonderful.

(What? You wanted all current shows? I don't watch much TV these days, but okay, I get a kick out of Lost, I'm getting hooked on Gray's Anatomy and am extremely intrigued by the episodes of Prison Break I managed to catch.)

Four places I've vacationed:

1. Germany. Munich and surrounding towns. I was traveling solo, I was 20, and I was homesick, but I had fun anyway.

2. California central coast. Something I'll miss about living in LA: easy access to Cambria, Big Sur, Point Lobos, etc.

3. British Columbia. Vancouver, Victoria, and a close encounter with a black bear.

4. Louisiana. To visit Toni, of course.

Four of my favorite dishes:

1. Bread pudding. The best ever was at Mother's, a no-atmosphere dive in New Orleans with great red beans and rice and absolutely sublime bread pudding. Cooking Light has a less lethal but extremely tasty version.

2. Brisket, cooked slow and juicy, falling off the bone. Yum.

3. Fresh-caught steamed blue crab right from the shell. Dipped in butter, of course. Just blue, no Dungeness or King, thank you very much.

4. Sushi, particularly yellowtail, albacore, and toro. When it's stunningly fresh, it gets almost buttery.

Four blogs that I visit daily:

1. Daily Kos

2. The Housing Bubble

3. Baristanet

4. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (What? They're fun. Smart. Snarky. Shut up.)

Four places I would rather be right now:

Is "nowhere" a legitimate choice? No? Ah well.

Okay, call it four places I'd like to visit soon.

Oh hell, let's split this. First, four places I would like to revisit:

a1. Zion National Park in Utah. One of the two highlights of our cross country drive this past September.

a2. Cinque Terre, four tiny fishing villages perched among the hills right on the Italian coastline. Picturesque and charming without being cloying. Great hiking and Italian friendliness.

a3. The Berkshire mountains in western Mass. My childhood summer home. Haven't been back yet. Looking forward to it. Birch trees, gentle hills, Tanglewood concerts and outdoor Shakespeare.

a4. Rome. Second to New York, the city that most intrigues me with its layers of history and vibrant life.

Okay, now four places I've never been but would like to visit:

b1. Greece

b2. New Zealand

b3. Grand Tetons

b4. Japan

Greece and Japan have always intrigued me. History, culture, natural beauty. New Zealand? Lord of the Rings, wow, it's gorgeous. Grand Tetons? Our cross country trip. Didn't care that we missed the Grand Canyon, etc. Did wish we'd been able to visit western Wyoming instead of the dusty eastern edge.

Four bloggers I'm tagging:

My mom
Tiny Coconut


With my spouse, my son, and my cat, I just moved back to the New York area after 17 years of self-imposed exile in Los Angeles.

I'm a freelance writer, my husband's a film editor, my son is 7.

More of me

Hidden Laughter (journal)
Postscript (old blog)
Postcards From LA (old photolog)
my Flickr pictures (new photolog)
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