Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Catch-up

So it’s the second to the last day of the month, and I’m dejected to report the obvious—after a week of unbridled enthusiasm, all motivation to complete NaNoWriMo evaporated and I completely blew it off. Yes there was job stress and travel and a head cold all mixed in there this month, but I certainly could’ve accomplished more. While I do have a lot more written than I probably would have if I hadn’t started NaNoWriMo, I still feel a big fat “Fail!” slithering around in my head. I resolved that I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to finish since I feel like I already have plenty of that negativity to spare, but maybe a little pressure wouldn’t have hurt. Especially if it made me feel a little better now. Ah well.

So, anyway, on to the catching up:

It’s really been a lovely month other than the lack of creative wordsmithing. The New York visit was very good, starting with dinner with the Manhattan Madhu-Caiola clan on Sunday. I was grateful my trip overlapped with Aunt Janice and Uncle Madhu’s. And later, I was even more grateful that I saw everyone else that evening since Mr. Caiola’s passing later that week took the family out of town. That was the one sad and poignant part of my visit—he was an infrequent but very significant part of my experience of living in NY. One more change for me to absorb.

The conference went very smoothly but I did catch a bit of a bug. I made it through the event and forced myself go out for dosa one night but it kept getting worse into the weekend, unfortunately. My cold made for a very perspire-y trip overall. I did meet my friend Cathleen at Trestle for a delish dinner and extended conversation on Thursday and hope I didn’t infect her. Likewise on Friday, my first free day after the show ended, after transferring my stuff to Kam and Jim’s pad (what a wonderful base to have!), I dragged myself out to see my friends at the new Martha Stewart digs and walk the High Line as the sun set over the Hudson, but it was a bit unpleasant wandering around with a runny nose, sweaty, and feeling a bit guilty that I might be germing up my friends.
The west side has changed quite a bit, lots of new, very modern buildings going up amongst the old brick structures. I’d like to explore that neighborhood more next trip.
I had a difficult time gathering the energy to go out on Saturday after spending a mostly sleepless night trying unsuccessfully to breathe through my nose (made me appreciate M’s situation much more!) but I was glad I did. I wandered down the east side of Central Park, stopping on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum to listen to an a cappella singing group and having a pleasant time people watching—a mixed group of twenty-somethings playing football, lots of families out and about, a race in the park attracting women in their running togs. I stopped in for a (perspire-y) bento box lunch at Takishimaya and then headed to MOMA for a few hours. It was pretty crowded (a theme during my visit—from being smashed into the 6 train to fighting currents of tourists in Times Square and SoHo, it seems like there were more people than ever in NY) so I stuck mostly to the Bauhaus exhibit and photography floor, though my visit wouldn’t have been complete without a spin around the room with Monet’s Waterlilies paintings and the sculpture garden. And the museum shops.
I continued down Avenue of the Americas where I finally found just the right color of deep purple pashmina from among the myriad street vendors, my only entertainment purchase other than meals and art this trip, that’s how sick I was. I caught the subway downtown at Bryant Park for Washington Square and encountered a big wave of nostalgia during the long climb out of the subway to the corner of 3rd Street—the stop where I first stepped above ground in Manhattan when I started college years ago. The basketball courts were full and the street vendors were still out selling bootleg movies, now in DVD format, but most of Washington Square was torn up and fenced off, so I didn’t spend much time there. I wandered on through SoHo to Spring Street, tiring of weaving through the crowds up Broadway and stopped for a (sweaty) slice of white pie at Two Boots.
Much of my internal monologue this trip was reminding myself that it was OK to be “glowing” since I would never see these people ever again, particularly the ones I shared the incredibly long line with in the CVS pharmacy that I stormed out of after waiting ages for the poor harried cashiers to unsuccessfully get the line moving, leaving my pocket tissues and Advil in the school supplies shelf like a high water mark.

Anyway. After another sardine-can-like subway ride uptown, I strolled down to Dean & Deluca for a restorative takeout dinner and ate it in with episodes of Chuck on Hulu for company.

I’m sorry I didn’t make it down to the new home of Poets House this trip and that I didn’t see more friends and more of the Madhus, particularly since I won’t be back in February, and that I didn’t take more photos, but there it is.


M very very kindly came all the way down to SFO to pick me up on Sunday evening. We stopped in San Rafael for an odd dinner. I can’t really say precisely what was so off about it, but all of the places we cruised by that evening just did not seem to have a good dining ambiance, including the place we chose that was too bright and too…flesh toned. If that makes any sense. It was like we were sitting in a diner in a different dimension or decade. I was just so glad to be back home and not dealing with impersonal transportation to be deterred from gratitude, however.

We were chez nous just a few days and then off to Mom’s on Wednesday afternoon for Thanksgiving. The Axtell-Mardesichs of Chico came over too so it was an even more festive holiday than usual. There were walks on the beach (the first day we were abraded by rain and hail, the next by sand), admiration of the enormous vat of bread M prepared and of baby Myla who may very well be the most charming baby ever and of Mom’s latest pottery production, card games, a scoche of TV, naps by the fire. We had a little pioneer days excitement when the power went out on Friday evening due to high winds and we dined by candle light after returning from Mom’s very successful craft sale opening. But that was as exciting as it got, which was fine by me.


And now it’s Sunday evening and there’s work tomorrow. I feel like Rex must have felt yesterday—he curled up into a ball in the back seat on the ride home then came inside and leapt onto our bed and continued the pose into the night, his little eyes clenched shut, dreaming of his beach adventures no doubt. I haven’t checked my office email in days, not having connectivity while at Mom’s and then stupidly leaving my laptop there. I’m now waiting for a special delivery of it from friends, but it’s so late now I’m not sure it would be advisable to look at work email at this point anyway.

On the bright side, we did have some productivity today. I couldn’t sleep so got up at 4am--made soup, finished another Richard Sharpe book, paid bills by the time the sun rose. We hung two of Grandma’s paintings in the living room; went to Costco and decided to wait to pull the trigger on a new TV til after the New Year.

It was a gorgeous, warm day today and as the sun set in a sapphire sky I sat out on the deck and looked at holiday dessert recipes and the reddening hillside while being strafed by the hummingbirds fighting over fresh sugar water and listening to NPR and thinking about all of my wonderful recent experiences with family and friends.
Yes, I have so much to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hello, New York. Almost.

I'm on the plane flying east, regretting that I didn't charge the laptop battery up to 100%. I've seen the in-flight movie already (Up--it's a good one) and I consciously didn't bring any reading material, the better to focus on my NaNoWriMo project, which has fallen seriously behind. I did get in a few words this week, but I figured that more sleep was the better part of valor given that I'd be putting in long hours surrounded by thousands of germ-bearing people for most of next week. And am I using this "up" time to work on my novel? No. Of course I'm blogging instead. Project commitment, where art thou?

I'm excited about my trip, even the work parts. Tomorrow night I'll enjoy a lovely dinner with many of the Manhattan Madhu clan, including Aunt Janice and Uncle Madhu who are in Manhattan until Monday morning. I'm hoping to get to the new Poets House for a reading on Wednesday night. Thursday night I'm dining with friend Cathleen and Friday I'll pop over to see my old pals at Martha Stewart Living in their new office digs. I've applied for tickets to see a taping of the MS TV show that day too, but who knows if I'll get in at this late date. I did pack an outfit according to their suggestions in case I do get a seat. I'd like to go to the MOMA and the Cooper Hewitt or maybe the Frick. I'm grateful to have the use of Kam and Jim's apartment so I can stay a couple of extra days and work in some fun since I won't be back in February for our publishing conference (unfortunately!).

In other news, with the finishing of our laundry "closet," I think our handyman's jobs for home improvements are officially done. We've started hanging the art, but are taking our time. I still have some new furniture to purchase (who knew that finding the right bookshelves and TV cabinet could be so difficult?) as well as actually finish re-organizing the craft room, but we're still loving the improvements and still happy with all of our choices. As we anticipated, however, now that the weather has gotten a bit chilly, the bamboo floor is pretty darn cold.

M had joined a local gym and went every day this week. He bought a few sessions with a trainer too to get him off to a good start, and we're both looking forward to his improved health.

I've started a new coffee routine. Or should I say, ritual. I'm now using a stainless steel French press and though I really like the end result, it's a longer and more elaborate process.

We were supposed to have a little work field trip earlier this week to an olive oil company to see how olio nuovo is pressed and have a tasting, but we had to evacuate our offices early that day due to a gas leak, so we'll be rescheduling. I've never had olio nuovo before, so I'm very excited to try it.

OK, battery is running low. More, probably in the form of pix, after I land.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween 2009
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
OK, enough messing around, time to get down to the first day of NaNoWriMo! Thank goodness it started on the day the clocks turned back...