January 30, 2005
I met Jean, Fumiko, and MK for A Very Long Engagement
, which was, well, very long. Afterwards we went to Minca for ramen. As we walked in, the waitress placed menus on our table, Japanese text face up. As we sat, I made a comment to MK, and the waitress turned mine over to the English side.
January 29, 2005
Asian language support
I spent last weekend speaking Chinese. Xiaoying was in town. I had met her in China, and speaking Chinese to her seemed more natural than English (we've never spoken English to each other, though we write in English). She just im'd me today to say, "it is funny that i thought i couldn't do a good job in english while you thought you couldn't in chinese." I was going to tell her her English was fine before I realized we hadn't spoke English all weekend.
January 28, 2005
A woman stopped me while I was reaching for a can of crushed tomatoes at the supermarket yesterday. "Stop," she said. "I've tried them all. You should buy a can of DiNola's. They come in a can bigger than that. You can just crush them in your hands. Throw out the core so they won't get bitter. If you make your own sauce there's nothing better. $2.19 at the pork store on Bleecker and Cornelia." I thanked her and promised to go there there this weekend.
January 27, 2005
I don't get it. I made an entire box of fusilli this evening. The box said that it contained 8 servings. It was barely enough for three.
Rhythm 'n' Gangsta
Last night I followed a group of firefighters around the supermarket (they seem to be permeating this week). It wasn't a conscious decision; we just happened to be shopping for the same items. One didn't offer much help to the others, but walked around droppin' it like it was hot. "Snooooooooooop."
Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello.
Snow has made the sidewalks into narrow lanes. On the way home from lunch I walked in a line single file across Spring Street. A man coming the other way said hello softly to each person he passed. None of the people in front of me responded. When he came to me I looked up. "Hello," he said. "Hey," I replied.
Kuo can cook
I've become addicted to cooking lately. It started two days ago with fried rice. Then yesterday I made a tofu vegetable stir fry with shitake mushrooms, snap peas, and carrots. Today I made salmon with a soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and ginger glaze on top of a bed of spinach sauteed with garlic and couscous seasoned with cilantro. It probably sounds better than it actually was.
January 26, 2005
Wednesday morning 10 a.m.
I awoke at 7.30 this morning. I wasn't awake long, but I woke to almost perfect silence. It took a moment before I could hear the hushed sound of a passing car. The morning was overcast; the room was dark.
Walking to work, a wet light snow fell.
January 25, 2005
Fire in the building!
This afternoon at five, I heard a woman's voice out in the hall. "There's a fire in the building. We have to evacuate." I didn't react at first. Then people in the office started moving towards the closet to get their clothes. I packed my things and grabbed my coat., following Christine down the stairs. It felt like more than six flights.
Outside, fire trucks
lined the road. Firefighters walked into the building. One woman tried to convince them to let her back up to the seventh floor where no one was moving. A man explained that the carbon monoxide levels were elevated. We gathered and waited. I asked if there were alarms, or if the only warning system involved criers in the hall.
Eventually, I went home. I stopped by the grocery store and bought vegetables and made tofu stir fry. Later, I asked Guillemette
about the proper way to clean mushrooms. She laughed and wrote back, "this is a very cute question," then called to explain.
I found a dollar
I picked it up. I may not be as lucky as Jean
, but I've never before found so much money lying on the street.
January 24, 2005
Shinji asked me yesterday where I lived in New York. When I told him SoHo, he told me that he grew up on Green street. He's visiting in a month or two and said I'd have to show him around. I told him that he probably knows the area better than I do. He said that when he lived here it was all machine shops and Italian grocery stores. The only thing he knows is Canal Jean Company. I had to tell him it's now a Bloomingdales.
January 22, 2005
It's a quiet night tonight
I just got back from Soba-ya. Xiaoying is visiting from China. I had met her two years ago, and she's passing through on her way back from Philadelphia. This morning we went to the Met. We walked for a bit in the park through the snow. She had never walked through falling snow before and we made our way part-way around the resevoir before the wind got the better of us.
The Met was quiet; the crowds were sparse. We walked through the Asian galleries and the new China exhibit, which is to close tomorrow. We sat in the Temple of Dendur and watched the snow fall through the windows.
To come back south we took a bus. A line formed to board, and the operator had to turn people away. She said we'd drive at five miles an hour down Fifth Avenue.
At Eighth Street we alighted and walked to the restaurant. People sat at only a handful of tables. We had noodles and then ice cream. I asked Xiaoying if she wanted to take a subway home or to walk. She wanted to walk. The snow piled up on the sidewalks and we slid our way home. The flakes were dry and sparkly.
January 19, 2005
And they shall call him . . .
Too cold for a bus tour
Walking home for lunch I passed a Big Apple tour bus. I could hear the tourguide announcing sites through its outdoor speakers but when I looked up, I saw no one seated on top of the bus.
On being an uncle
It's a funny thing. I get congratulations for doing absolutely nothing other than being related to the father. So far all I know is that the boy was born at 11.24 am yesterday morning. Really, Irene. That's all I know.
January 18, 2005
I'm an uncle!
To a nephew! I just found out! How exciting!!!
January 17, 2005
A day at the park
There's snow on the ground; a light snow continues to fall. The apartment is cold. The Empire State Building has faded. The morning is quiet.
Saturday I met Guillemette
and Catherine for a walk in the park. They were writing stories on Christo and we went to see the progress of the Gates. We met at 96th and Madison and ate brunch at a nearby diner. We entered the park at 102nd street. Steel blocks lined the pathways. Orange cones marked their placement. We wandered back and forth down to the boat basin. At one point we walked around the resevoir. The sun was setting, the cold winter light was beautiful. I had left my gloves at home and my hands were freezing, but I took a few pictures.
At the boat basin, the offices were closed. A woman sat in one trailer and told us that no work was done on the weekends. Guillemette was disappointed. She wanted to see the uniforms worn by the workers. Now she had nothing to describe for her story.
We walked out of the park and down Madison. Passing Hermes, Catherine mentioned that they had a scarf commemorating the Gates project. A huge replica hung in the store. Inside, the saleswoman said they hadn't arrived yet. But she showed us a similar scarf. The only difference would be the addition of Christo's signature.
It's stopped snowing; the day is clearing.
January 14, 2005
Tomorrow I'm planning on touring Central Park with Catherine and Guillemette
. We're going to watch the installation of Christo's "Gates." In preparation, Guillemette sent me a link to his site
and pointed out the "common errors" section.
My favorite error? The distinction between wrapping and surrounding with respect to his work in Florida: "Christo and Jeanne-Claude never wrapped
any Islands. They surrounded the islands. Most journalists do not understand the difference between wrapping
even though they should know that England is surrounded by water, it is not wrapped in water."
January 12, 2005
Overheard in an elevator
A girl, about ten, talking to her father:
"Daddy, are you tired?"
"No, *sigh* . . . Not yet."
January 9, 2005
At the Korean deli:
"Do you have any bok choy?"
"No, no bok choy."
With exaggerated understanding: "Aaaannnhhhh."
Guillemette du roi
celebrated her 29th birthday with a galette du roi party. For the occasion she made dinner and four cakes. Each contained a fevre. As tradition dictates, s/he who finds the fevre buried within his or her piece of cake is king or queen for the day. Tradition also dictates that the youngest member of the party sit under the table and call out the names of guests to whom each piece is served. Jenny 8 did the honors.
We waited until all the pieces were served before digging in. Jean
peeked at her slice and said she might have won. She did, and said that it was the first time she had won anything. She chose Patrick as her king.
This evening marked the first time I had met Guillemette's new roommate. Befoer I realized who he was, I fell into a conversation with him about Keren Ann and Francoise Hardy. He said he had Hardy's new album and asked me if I wanted to hear it. (Jean mentioned that she picked up Keren Ann's album partially because she wanted her hairstyle.) He lead me to a room at the back of the apartment and started rifling through papers on a desk and then flipped through CD's on a shelf. I was wondering who this guy was that he was treating someone's property so cavalierly before recognition dawned.
After the wine had been drunk and the champagne poured, Guillemette made coffee. I was feeling tired and dehydrated and said my goodbyes. Patrick said we should get coffee soon, but I feel cowed. I haven't progressed on any projects since we last met. But maybe tomorrow I'll look through my color photos from the Middle East. In the meantime, here are pictures
from this evening (click the back button to see more).
January 8, 2005
The problem with things that last forever
Is that I always lose them. Last year at the Superflirt
book party, I found lip balm in my goody bag. (Rachel
had invited me; she was promoting the book.) It was blue and fruit flavored. I never used lip balm in the past because I found it too oily, but I loved this one. Last week, I lost it at MoMA.
I emailed Rachel to see where she had filled the bags. She told me that they were mass-produced by some specialty company, then recommended Kiehl's lip balm. She told me it's only $5 and it lasts a looooong time. Unfortunately I have to go to 3rd and 13th to get it.
Broome Street Bar
I never run into people I know in New York. It's a small place, but either I'm never paying attention or I don't get out enough. This evening, Lin stopped by and invited me to join her and Ed for drinks. We went around the corner to the Broome Street Bar. As soon as we sat down, Mo entered. I had worked with him at Candide, but hadn't seen him since I left. We chatted for a while before we joined our respective parties. Five minutes later, a couple entered. I looked up and recognized them from Sandra Cameron where they take dance lessons. Only two more people entered before we left, but I didn't know them. For a moment, I felt almost like I was being John Malkovich.
January 7, 2005
What we talk about when we talk about love
I met Guillemette
at the opening of Bombay Talkie, an Indian-themed restuarant on 9th. We didn't get there early, but did arrive before they ran out of glasses. We sipped a champagne and grapefruit out of flutes. The food was also in short supply. Guillemette suggested it was because we were on the second floor, hidden in a corner.
We talked about the rise in popularity of cheese in America and about journalists missing in Iraq. We caught up about friends we have in common and then talked about friends in our pasts. And then we talked about relationships, which lasted until we had to part. She said she found it surprising that Bush or Kerry would introduce their wives as their best friends. She said that in France, to call your significant other a best friend would be considered an insult. Friendships and relationships are viewed separately and are so treated separately.
At eight, we left the party. Guillemette noted some shabbily dressed people and surmised they were journalists. She had a dinner party to attend, and I have a night of work ahead. I walked her to her dinner as we finished our conversation. As we parted, she said that she its hard to talk about current relationships with people. She said that the emotions, and the ideas contained therein, change so rapidly that it's impossible to stay consistent when talking with friends about them. And yet, sometimes it seems so hard not to talk about them.
The night was clear and cold, but I didn't notice the chill. Maybe it was the alcohol keeping me warm. I walked home for the excercise and to let the air clear my head. It took less than an hour.
January 6, 2005
Snow falling on Spring Street
There are three pine trees sitting on the sidewalk outside my apartment. They await disposal. Until this morning one was still standing in its tree stand. A passerby commented on it.
Usually, the sight of thrown-out Christmas trees makes me a little sad for the passing holiday season. But this year I am excited for the new year. And in the rain, the needles gave off a scent that seems to permeate the entire block. Closing my eyes, I could be transported to the Pacific northwest.
January 5, 2005
Happy New Year, 2005
Last night I had dinner with Evan at Salt. The food was . . . salty. He told me he had no resolutions. I had made some the other night while talking to Yukwah. Or, rather, I suggested room for improvement on my part. One of them obviously wasn't to blog better since here it is the New Year and it's taken me five days to post. And the the title of this post sounds like some new Rubben Studdard song.
Last night I had the strangest dream. No boats, no China. I was working at a job, where a friend was my boss. He seemed sad. I had just started but I was going to leave. It wasn't what I wanted, but the people were nice. It had the feeling of a college dorm room. We seemed to be hanging out watching the big screen tv and eating pizza more than working. Most people seemed younger than I was.
One day, while sitting around the tv my friend asked me if I had worked there before. I said no, and a person sitting next to me told me that I had. And quit after one day. I told him I had no recollection. He filled me in; I told him I'd bring him chocolates the next day.
The office was set in a building in the mountains. I could see snow on the nearby peaks, but near the building it was warm. I sat outside with my friend and told him I wanted to leave.
That afternoon I took the bus home to New York. I got on the same bus as everyone else and was surprised when we didn't take the highway. I saw one bus use the ramp up to the highway; another bus climbed a gravel road up. I turned to the person next to me and made a remark on the safety of that gravel road. We veered right.
After a while I asked whether the bus was heading to the city. No, they all said. It was going to Schenectady. They all wondered what I should do. I said I could sit on the bus to the end and then catch another bus back. I thought of how much easier it is in third world countries to catch buses this way and that. Finally we passed a gas station of sorts and I got off.
I crossed the road, where there was a safari attraction. Animatronic figures jumped out of the fence, pretending to shoot. Children were behind the fence as people lead animals dyed wild colors onto the street to parade them by. I stood by the fence. Figures lept out and shot at them from behind me.
When it was over, the crowd dispersed. We were near a castle, and stone steps lead down to another street. Crowds started climbing the stairs and I moved up the street to be away from them and to flag down a passing bus.
My bus hadn't left. I chatted with co-workers and saw a bus approaching from the opposite direction. I tried to flag it down, but it didn't slow. It was in danger of colliding with our bus. Finally it swerved, and as it came broadside, it started shooting snowballs. A sign on the side of the bus advertised snow sculptures.
When the second bus came to a stop, upright, everybody unharmed, I went to ask for a ride. My coworkers crowded around me. The bus was roomy and half-full of showgirls heading to Manhattan.
I forget the exchanges made, but I waved goodbye and boarded the bus for home. The last image I remember was from above. The bus I was on pulled away. In the foreground I could see, the back of someone's head, his or her hair blowing in the wind, watching over it all. One girl had remained from the Manhattan-bound bus. She looked about and ran towards the Schenectady bus. There, she fell into a tight embrace with someone I couldn't see, and I awoke.