29 June, 2009

a riddle to myself

Today became a very, very happy day because I got to see and talk to my parents (suspiciously jumping around on Kelsey's bed upstairs) AND Guion, after nearly three weeks without hearing his perfect voice. Skype may rival Google Reader as the best invention of the 21st century.

I think I have become more adventurous this summer. Living alone creates this sense of tenacious self-sufficiency. I say yes to every invitation to do something. I am not afraid of getting lost, because then I might see something I've never seen before. I am willing to befriend almost anyone (except the two very drunk men who harrassed Claire and me at the pub). I am not afraid to go, see or eat things alone. I speak fluidly about world politics. I am more talkative and socially gregarious. I parallel park on the street.

I miss writing news stories, but I'm really thankful I'm not a reporter. Being a reporter stressed me out so much.

You should read this utterly beautiful short story by Salman Rushdie that I read last night. When Junior and Senior speak to each other, you're not sure if they're actually speaking audible words, or simply speaking themselves. I love that. And this plain, perfect line: "Junior's life had been a disappointment to him. He had not expected to be ordinary." And how he calls Mumbai "the legendary bitch-city." He's funny! And brief! Although this is the first thing of Rushdie's I've read, from what I can gather, I love his sense of style; his intuitive knowledge that one need not write flowery prose with long, compound-complex sentences to be a powerful and graceful storyteller. Now I need to read some of his novels.

Top 10 states I would never live in:
1. South Carolina
2. Florida
3. West Virginia
4. Texas
5. New Mexico
6. Indiana
7. Ohio
8. Arkansas
9. New Jersey
10. Kentucky

Also, speaking of South Carolina: Mark Sanford as Jude Law? Hilarious. And, I would like to give Jenny Sanford a high-five. I just really approve of her conduct in general.

My new favorite Web site is Mental Floss. I spent almost an hour there yesterday, absorbing the kind of random knowledge that I love and is only useful when playing old versions of Trivial Pursuit. I thought this quiz was brilliant--Lit Slits. I missed two questions, the Harry Potter one (of course) and another one I don't recall. But check it out.

Jobs I am morally opposed to having:
Broadcast journalist
PR representative
Beauty pageant contestant
Oil refiner
Tanning salon employee

I loved this, from St. Augustine this morning: "For in your sight I have become a riddle to myself, and that is my infirmity."

27 June, 2009

happy birthday, guion!

All the warmest birthday wishes to my favorite boy, who turns 22 today in the Irish countryside. He brings light and joy to my life and I couldn't possibly have imagined or wished for anyone better.

26 June, 2009

how coolness comes

What will happen to Blanket now? And will the children still wear scarves and masks on their faces?

I really need a good crafternoon with Emily right now. Or at least an episode of "Cranford."

Grace is in India now and we have heard from her, now that she has located the Internets. I am hoping for some great photographs very soon. And Kelsey is having the time of her life in the great mountains of Peru. I got to chat with her on Skype for about an hour the other night. Kelsey's biggest concerns right now are battling altitude sickness and debating which townsman she should make out with. It's a tough life.

I unleashed a torrent of reminiscing with this album, which I discovered yesterday in my down-time before work, leading me to gales of laughter. I have no shame.

Kandyce, I am going to plant the basil you gave me this afternoon. Jackie told me that the dill has apparently died, and so I can replace it with more glorious basil. Excited about this.

I have been writing and receiving lots of letters lately and this makes me very happy. Thanks for taking the time to write on a piece of paper, friends!

Catherine, I watched "In the Name of the Rose" the other night with Jackie. I think you had to watch this in the belly of the UL for a class or something, and I remember how much you hated it. It was pretty bad (Christian Slater does not change the expression on his face for a good hour and a half), but Sean Connery is so endearing in just about anything. It also made me wonder why I don't have more discipline in my spiritual life.

"The view repeated in its own way what the tune was saying. The sun was sinking; the colours were merging; and the view was saying how after toil men rest from their labours; how coolness comes; reason prevails; and having unharnessed the team from the plough, neighbours dig in cottage gardens and lean over cottage gates." -- Between the Acts

I really like drawing on bananas with ballpoint pens. And I miss Chapel Hill. Davidson, too. The faces of familiar, well-loved humans. The sun on our kitchen floor and the patches of sun and shade on Country Club Road. It will be nice, some day, to come home.

22 June, 2009

spare oom

Grace has been here for the past few days before she jets off to India for a month. Here she is being ineffably cool.
We went to the Denver Art Museum for about four hours on Friday and had the best time. She's definitely my favorite person to visit museums with. When we play the game of "Which painting/sculpture/whatever would you rather own?", we always have the same answers.
I got a really lovely and thoughtful present from Kandyce yesterday: a real, live basil plant! I can't wait to put in the backyard garden. It smells wonderful.
Other than that, I don't have much to report. I'm trying not to wish my days away. It's so hard being patient sometimes, though. And sometimes I get lonely. But having Grace here for a few days has certainly staved off some of those feelings. And I think I might be going hiking tomorrow with Sonya, an intern from the Denver Business Journal. There are always bright spots.
Yesterday, we went to a church picnic at Wash Park and played Frisbee, got burnt and ate snap peas. The park was nearly bursting with people being outdoorsy--playing soccer, volleyball, Frisbee, running with their dogs, biking, even rollerblading (I don't think I've seen someone rollerblade in North Carolina since I was in middle school). Everyone seemed so ALIVE.
At the picnic, we were befriended by a local artist, David Shingler, who later took us to his gallery downtown. Very inventive and labor-intensive work! Check it out. His drawing machines were fascinating; I really wanted to see the one with the live finches in action.
I am reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" now, which Angela gave me as a going-away present. Thanks to her, I may never eat beef again. It's absolutely terrifying, what industrial agriculture does to food. And corn! I am also viscerally afraid of corn.
"Empty, empty, empty; silent, silent, silent. The room was a shell, singing of what was before time was; a vase stood in the heart of the house, alabaster, smooth, cold, holding the still, distilled essence of emptiness, silence."--Between the Acts. How Woolf loves bare rooms!

18 June, 2009

tsk, william carlos williams

From Married to the Sea (click on it to enlarge if your screen is small)

15 June, 2009

oh, hail no

This is where I work: the Denver Post building on the corner of Broadway and Cleveland.
I visited one of Denver's Acts 29 churches yesterday, Fellowship Denver. As soon as I walked in, I knew I was in a familiar place: a congregation composed of bearded young men in flannel shirts and girls in bright dresses with nose rings? Yep, this is an Acts 29 church. The people there were so friendly and welcoming; that definitely makes a great first impression. I met three young women, who invited me to sit with them, and then we all went out to lunch afterward with the "church crowd." Really cool. Made for a great start to my Sunday.
One of the great benefits of being a copy editor is keeping up with the world. When your job is to proofread the whole paper every day, you are naturally forced into knowing what's going on. I love that. I love that my job requires me to read the newspaper every day, to know what's happening in the Department of Education, in Iran, in Colorado state government.
The weather has been batty lately. Every afternoon for the past week, we get torrential rain, some hail and maybe a tornado warning or a funnel cloud. It rages for a little less than an hour, and then the blue skies come back.
I can't wait to have a house of my own to decorate. I think it's going to be one of the most rewarding life undertakings. And a kitchen! To populate with cooking utensils and pretty food! On Saturday, Simeon kindly let me assist him throughout the day. We built boxes for the backyard garden (my first time using a power drill!) and then spent hours in the kitchen, making a beautiful apple pie (if I do say so myself), pasta from the farmers' market, 18 banana-apple-chocolate muffins (that were killingly good) and three loaves of bread. That was a lot of fun. I also need to buy "The Joy of Cooking." And one of the first things I'm going to make when I come home is challah bread; I grabbed a recipe from Simeon and can't wait to make it; it's divine.
I finally finished "Within a Budding Grove." It was good, but I'll confess that I'm kind of glad to be done with it. Jackie wanted me to read John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany," and I started that a few days ago. It's good; I like books with characters you've never met before. I'm not a huge fan of the narrator, but I do really like Owen. I think I'll also start my going-away present from Angela, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," later this afternoon.

11 June, 2009

the wrong thing

Eating that same salad again. I find that, to save money, I will buy one thing and eat it for a week. Sometimes this gets tiresome.

I am planning to get one of these bags for groceries. Also, I really like this wild idea from the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz of replacing reporters with poets and novelists. The results are wonderful!

But that is not what I was going to write about.

I was walking to my car about midnight, had just finished work. I get childishly jittery when I walk alone at night. Even though I was parked about a minute's walk away, I was moving quickly and looking around me like a wild animal. As I walked up the stairs to cross over to Lincoln Street, I was thoroughly spooked by a shady-looking man who stopped walking to stare at me. I kept moving, feeling relieved that I saw a woman walking a dog at the top of the staircase. But when I passed her, she suddenly moved very close to me--I think my heart froze--and began whispering to me. She was very tall, with sunken eyes under the brim of a hat.

She spoke slowly, as if she did not know what she was saying. "I am truly homeless," she said, stepping closer to me. I felt like a rabbit in an open field. "I have nothing. And... I've found women's shelters," she paused again, looking down at the black Pomeranian on the leash, "but they won't take me because of my dog. And I'm not a bum, I'm not..." Feeling panicky, I interrupted her and blurted out, "I'm sorry, I don't have any cash," and fairly dashed off in the direction of my car. But that was a lie. I did have cash.

After I drove for about a mile, still feeling shaky, I had the sudden urge to turn back and find that woman and give her my $20. But I didn't. I think I did the wrong thing. And it's been bothering me all day, the first thing I thought about this morning.

I acted out of panicky fear instead of out of courageous compassion. Part of me hopes that I will run into her again, so I can make amends. But the other part of me hopes I never get confronted by a homeless person again. It's unsettling--facing poverty. And I proved that I'm not big enough or loving enough to handle it. It's a difficult thing. I'm not sure what else to say about it, except that I feel a confusing mix of shame and self-righteous security.

10 June, 2009

an unstable element

Lunch today. Spinach, blueberries and feta (I think goat cheese would have been better, but I couldn't find it at the grocery store here) topped with raspberry vinaigrette. My mother would be proud of me.

About to head out for my second day of work at the Post. Everyone on the desk was so kind to me last night--answered all of my little questions, gave me advice on how to write better heads, what DP style is for this and so on. It's hard to believe I'm actually working there. The newsroom is bright and modern and has an amazing view over the city and off toward the Rockies.

Seeing family this weekend (Dad, brother, aunts, grandmother, uncle, cousins) was just perfect. I needed a taste of that warm, comfortable feeling that comes from the company of relatives--people you don't have to impress or charm. I was sad to see them go, but so thrilled they could be here for a few days.

I like that my shift is from 4 p.m. until midnight; it gives me time to chill in the morning and enjoy the daylight. MK (the cat) sneaks into my room when I wake up and sleeps at my feet while I read or catch up on Google Reader. It's very peaceful.

Simeon offered me a part of the plot in the garden they're starting in the backyard. I need to do some reasearch, but I'd really love to grow basil. I also couldn't find it at the grocery store (lame Safeway) and I've had a hankering for it over the past few weeks. Basil on just about anything is divine, but it's especially amazing on pasta, and I have a forlorn, unopened box of it sitting in the pantry.

A dash of Proust for your day:

"We are, when we love, in an abnormal state, capable of giving at once to the most apparently simple accident, an accident which may at any moment occur, a seriousness which in itself it would not entail. What makes us so happy is the presence in our hearts of an unstable element which we contrive perpetually to maintain and of which we cease almost to be aware so long as it is not displaced. In reality, there is in love a permanent strain of suffering which happiness neutralizes, makes potential only, postpones, but which may at any moment become, what it would long since have been had we not obtained what we wanted, excruciating."

Frankly, I'm struggling through the last 200 pages of "Within a Budding Grove." After eight hours of copy editing, it's very difficult to pay attention to words on a page that are not choppy, journalistic lines, but sentences that literally go on for pages and pages. To remedy my distractions (I am going to finish it, though), I started Heaney's "District and Circle" and Augustine's "Confessions."

What should I do on my day off (Saturday)?

06 June, 2009

dover street

Hello, room! This is where I'll be living this summer. Isn't it nice? The photo doesn't show it well, but it's very spacious. I really love the windows and their panes. The house was built in the 1950s, so it has a lot of cool features. My room is adjacent to the giant lilac bushes, too.

This is Miss Kitty (presiding over a photograph of Guion). She might be one of only two cats I've ever sincerely liked. It's only been a day and we've already bonded.
Jackie and Simeon, my landlords/hosts, are great. They have been very welcoming and generous. Simeon made an excellent Shabbat meal last night (the bread he makes is fantastic). Jackie took me to Target today so I could buy a cheap phone to use this summer and a few other things. As we drove, I was astounded at the SIZE of these mountains. They would have the Appalachians for lunch.
Oh, and they're not kidding about altitude here. I went for a run this afternoon. I literally went half a mile and thought I was going to DIE. Jackie warned me about this. But if I can keep training out here, I'm going to be awesome when I get back to N.C.
Dad is arriving here tomorrow with the car, with Sam, Gran and Aunt Shelly in tow. I'm very excited to see all of them. Orientation starts Monday! I am mostly terrified.
Also, check this out: my amazing friend Lauren is doing a project she calls "Love + 100 Strangers." She takes fabulous photographs of strangers on the street and asks them to define love. The results are superb! Check it out.

04 June, 2009

denver, here i come

Another brief lull at work. I am flying into Denver tomorrow at 4 p.m. But I'll be in transit for most of the day, since I'm leaving Columbia around 9 a.m., taking the two-hour shuttle to the airport and then flying out of St. Louis around 2. I'm a little stressed about how to get from the airport to meet Jackie and being phone-less, but I keep telling myself, quietly, that it will work out, that it usually does.

I get off work at 6. I'm going to get some vegan food at this super-cool restaurant downtown, Main Squeeze, and then walk back to my room to start packing to the sound of Joanna Newsom and St. Vincent.

Also, I would LOVE to have any of these kitchens.

After lunch today, Aaron and I sat in Peace Park and talked about farming, living simply and the entitlement generation (which he says is mine. I'm inclined to agree with him). We watched the brown finches bathe in the creek and then fly over to the sidewalk to roll around in the dust once they'd finished bathing. It was nice.

I'm excited and scared. I think Denver is going to be lovely.

03 June, 2009


Animals I would like to own one day:

- Three dogs (Australian shepherd, German shepherd, Great Pyrenees)
- Goats
- Rabbits
- Hens
- Horses (preferably one Arabian mare and one trusty quarter horse)
- One cat that acts like a dog
- A canary or parakeet in the reading room

I talk about animals a lot and Guion says, "Why don't you just have a zoo?" And I answer, "That's the plan..."

I think I inherited a quality from my father--this insatiable compulsion to point out wildlife whenever I see it. Dad was great about that when we were kids. He would interrupt lunch to show us a hawk in the tree, a baby possum on the back porch or an enormous bullfrog on the patio. I've become the same way. I do it subconsciously. "Look at that baby cow bathing! Hawk! I want that baby goat; it's killing me..." Aaron, one of my fellow interns, noticed this penchant of mine and came to my desk today to tell me that I would have liked visiting the Lake of the Ozarks because they saw lots of wildlife. "I thought, 'Abby would like to see all these animals,'" he said. I told him I definitely would have.

Colleen and I looked at The Daily Puppy for about 30 minutes today during a lull. Bliss.


In the morning, before going to work, I drink my English breakfast tea, read my blogs on the Reader and listen to/watch La Blogotheque's Concerts a Emporter (this morning: Beirut, Yeasayer and Andrew Bird). It is quite nice.

I've almost finished Three Guineas, Woolf's answer to the question, "How shall we prevent war?" It is occasionally dense, but surprises you with moments of purely beautiful prose. I think I made the right choice for my honors thesis. And I am about 260 pages in to Within a Budding Grove. I think of Francine Prose (aka, the woman I'd like to become one day) whenever I read Proust, and how admirably pretentious it was of her to read the entire À la recherche du temps perdu in French.

I got to talk to Guion, fresh in from NYC, last night on Skype. Big bonus to the week. 

I should start walking now, but I just wanted to say, briefly, that I am pleased to have fallen into this daily rhythm, while set on edge at the thought that it shall soon be disrupted when I arrive in Denver and must create a new one. I am, perhaps above all else, a creature of habit. I like routines and plain food; I am boring at the heart? Or maybe only too easily satisfied?

01 June, 2009

on the copy desk

Google Reader may be the best thing that has ever happened to me.

It's 10:38 p.m. here on the copy desk of the Missourian, and I'm loving my first day of work. (I've been here since 4 and will leave at close, around midnight.) The seasoned editors are making fun of me for being so gleeful about it, but I can't help myself. The speed, wit and fraternity of the newsroom is intoxicating. I'm getting more pumped about Denver, about continuing to hone these abilities and come out on the other side as a moderately-experienced editor.

Many waters cannot quench love...