Thursday, September 29, 2011

Worlds of Wonder: Our Apartment!

So, after all your really nice comments this weekend about how no one's house is finished and how everyone understands that it won't be perfect for a long time, I was all set to take and post some pictures of our very-close-to-complete apartment.  I told Roger about my plan after we'd spent about a half hour putting up our honeycombesque mother-of-pearl lamp.  In the ceiling.  By ourselves.  I was proud of us, and thought that the apartment was really basically done, and that it was time to take some pictures.

Well.  You should have seen the look of horror on his face.  "Pictures?!  On the blog?!  It isn't ready!  You can't do that!  We haven't even put shelves up!"  So, friends, we're going to delay the real pictures until next week, when we've moved one of our paintings and put shelves up over the butcher's block and hung up our coat rack and can really and truly call the living room and kitchen done.  (You'll also get pictures of the bathroom, which has been totally finished since day 3; the hallway, which is pretty much mostly done; and our bedroom which is done as far as furniture goes but will also most likely be repainted green in the next few months.)  Sorry for the wait.

But, you know I wouldn't leave you hanging.  Or, erm, wouldn't leave you hanging after a month of leaving you hanging.  So, without further pause, here are the before and after pictures from the apartment.  On the left, you'll see a photo of the apartment as it was when we put down our deposit.  On the right, we'll have an image of the apartment as it was the day we got the keys, after a pretty basic remodel of the kitchen, a refurbishing of all the floors, and a repainting of all the walls.  It will hopefully give you an idea of the layout of the apartment, and show you what we've been working with for the past six weeks.  Enjoy, and if you have any suggestions for what you'd do, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

The entrance to the apartment. Note the fancy light fixture and long, long hallway to the bedroom.

The living room, pictured from the kitchen.

A closer view of our little kitchen.

Our bedroom, on the other side of that long hall. Note the double closet + linen closet.

The other side of our bedroom, with a lovely window gate. We are so hardcore/eyesore.

No "before" pictures here, but they are: kitchen/living room; long hallway; 2 views of our bathroom.
And there you have it - doux chez soi.  Join us back here next week for some pictures of the place wearing its fancy clothes!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gratitudesday: Graduate School

When I first arrived at Sarah Lawrence in 2004, I'd already decided to get an MFA afterward.  I walked into my Don's office at her first meeting and told her that was my plan.  I remember this clearly because she said, "Well, that's fine.  If you were going to stay in English, I'd tell you to make sure you took at least one language and start making sure your courses vary widely enough.  But if you're getting an MFA, just take whatever interests you and make sure you have a good portfolio at the end of it." 

Admittedly, two years later, in Oxford, I had a change of heart, and felt like all I could possibly do was get a PhD.  I went through a lot of steps to get there (like learning a language in three months and reading the better part of the entire Norton Anthology), and for a lot of reasons, it didn't work out.  And while I think I would have done really well in one,* I don't regret not trying again after I was rejected the first time, and I'm glad I had time to think things over after college before jumping straight into something. Applying to the MFA wasn't a last resort - it was a return to my first choice.  I didn't do it because I couldn't get into a PhD, or because I was unemployed and couldn't think of anything better to do, or because I have too much money and not enough sense to invest it, or for any of the other reasons people have actually suggested to my face.**  I did it because I believe it is going to get me to where I want to be.

I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this, but the MFA is a terminal degree.  I'm getting it for two big reasons: to improve my poetry through practice and because it will qualify me to teach at the college level when I'm done.  I probably won't get tenure at Princeton as soon as I graduate, but I do feel confident that I'll get an adjunct position somewhere, and that I will eventually publish a book, and that I will somehow be able to cobble together a career, and a life, by doing the things I love.  And for now, without teaching?  My first class felt like coming home.  I'm feeling inspired, not just exhausted, by life in the city, and while the poems are coming slower than I want, they're still making their way here. I love the people in my program, I love my professors, I love going to readings and getting invitations to submit things and most of all, I love being surrounded by poetry.  I love feeling like this thing, this big, wonderful thing, is real.

It's never been too difficult for me to get where I'm meant to be, so long as I get out of my own way.

*And by "done really well," I mostly mean, "stuck it out."  I don't have any delusions that I would have won prestigious fellowships and done totally brilliant work and been a star student at Cornell or Rutgers, (my top two choices) though it was possible.  I mainly mean that I wouldn't have dropped out the way most of my peers seemed to.  Seriously, of the ten or so friends I have who went into PhDs straight out of college, only three are still in them, and one of those three is probably going to drop out after he gets his Masters.
**Everyone's a critic, but not everyone sees the intrinsic value of poetry in contemporary society.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: Classic

Yesterday, I was sitting outside the laundromat, as one does when it's sweltering and crowded inside.  Reading some Sophocles for class, I had my head down, and heard a car pulling up, blasting Beyonce's latest hit.  I looked up and saw what may be the cutest thing in the world:

The little boy pulled to a stop, yelled into the laundromat, "Mommy!  Mommy, we're here!" and opened his car door before running inside, leaving his little sister in the car, crying.  I thought the adorable would kill me, but it only got cuter.  Soon, a group of little kids, none older than six or seven, had gathered around the car, asking the same questions I've seen adults ask at those Classic Car Cruises they have in our McDonald's parking lots on Thursday nights in the summer.  "What kind of a car is that?"  "How does it run?"  "Can I drive it?"

Jill and I had a similar car when we were growing up, but I'm pretty sure that rolling up on a city street in it makes it about a million times more awesome than going up and down your driveway (which was still really awesome).  This, along with a little kid I saw watching a cockroach crawl down the sidewalk, has made me decide that the only way to really write about New York City is through the lens of Little City Boy, my newest character.  I'm pretty sure he has a balloon.  Just saying.

So. Much. Cute.

Other than that, the weekend was pretty wonderful.  I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear our super never came back, but I did get some work done, do a ton of laundry, go to the farmer's market (finally!) manage to get in a good run (though, my, isn't it frustrating to start again after a long absence?!), and drink at more bars in two days than I normally would in two months (a total of ten different places - you can see my thoughts on each one over at Yelp).  Plus, Roger hung our lamp up, so we're getting dangerously close to finished in the living room.  Overall, I'd say it was a pretty-successful, very laid-back, much-needed weekend.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blog Update

We spent last night eating and drinking way more than we normally would, thanks to NY Craft Beer Week and $3 beers.  We stopped at Good Beer, Rattle n' Hum, The Ginger Man, and Jimmy 43, in addition to X'ian Famous Foods, Pommes Frites, and Kornet Pizza.  This decidedly uncharacteristic for us, but we had a great time, and plan on trying some more places closer to the apartment tonight.

Needless to say, I woke up feeling less than my usual perky self, particularly cranky because the super was supposed to come and fix our window at 10am.  It's 1pm now, so I'm going to assume he's not going to make it, and leave for a run in a little bit.  But, in the meantime, (and instead of doing homework) I've been twiddling away at this blog, customizing it for the first time.  Mostly I've used templates straight as they come, but after deciding to put together a real header, I went hog wild and created the masterpiece that you see below, complete with customized colors:

Some tabs I have open: Hill Figure, Plague Doctor Costume, Little Ice Age; Jen's Vegetarian Chili

I know.  "Wow" is all you can think.  Pretty snazzy stuff.  I even edited the HTML on my snazzy new Goodreads widget to make it all fit where I wanted it!  And now, there are a few sidebar pictures of me because I've decided that I'm going to embrace myself a little more this fall.  Obviously this isn't the world's greatest design job, but it's about a million lightyears away from where I was at 10am, so I'm pretty pleased.  I'll probably continue to tweak a little (I sort of want shades of white, not blue), and I'm planning to update the header on a semi-regular basis. If you guys have any suggestions for design changes or content changes, let me know, and in the meantime, say goodbye to those little birdies in the upper right hand corner.

Bye, little birdies, they sang.

Friday, September 23, 2011

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Everything Advantageous to Life

It's been so long, I hardly know where to begin. Since we last spoke (because I really do think of all these little blogs as a dialogue), we:
  • picked out a couch (the Rowley, for those of you who were held in suspense this whole time)
  • moved into the new place (an experience that, despite going as well as it could possibly have gone, and as quickly, and as smoothly, was so painful I've decided that unless we are leaving New York City, I am going to die in this apartment - that is how little I want to move every again. Or at least for the next two years.)
  • spent a long time painfully setting things up with no table, no couch, and no internet
  • purchased a huge amount of "necessary" stuff for the apartment, like fancy blinds, fancy dishes, and not so fancy frying pans.  (Newly necessary item: a black/silver microwave to replace the one I broke a few days ago.)
  • got into our first "living together" fight
  • got over our first "living together" fight
  • realized we had flies in our apartment because there were no screens in the windows and they were coming in from the scaffolding outside our apartment, moments before realizing there were flies on the scaffolding because our neighbors throw their food and trash onto it
  • survived a hurricane, family reunion, and wedding in our first month of living together
  • opened our first joint bank account
  • started school (which is just wonderful.  More on that in the coming days, undoubtedly)
  • got Roger a job (well, that was mostly Roger's doing. But I helped by asking useful questions like, "What's the salary?" and "How much does it pay?"  Repeatedly.)
  • helped Shelby pick out a wedding dress (well, this was mostly me.  But Roger did a kick-ass job at arranging pastries for us to eat afterward.)
  • eventually got the couches after much wringing of hands, and filled their wonderful drawers with knitting supplies, DVDs, and Roger's papers.
  • instituted a date night and started writing Yelp reviews of every restaurant we go to
  • and finally, oh, finally, got the internet yesterday, along with our first electricity bill.  We truly are real people now.
So, I think we're mostly caught up on my end!  On your end?  Well, I still haven't had much time to read any blogs, but it seems that everyone is getting pregnant, moving moving moving, or making otherwise similarly large-scale life changes.  And you know what?  You all seem to manage to keep blogging through it just fine.

Not me.  I'm having more difficulty finishing the apartment than I thought I would. (We're so close, but we need to print and frame a few more photographs and buy one more big print for the bedroom and get one more bookshelf so we can put away our last box of books. Oh, my. So many books. And also, we might still paint.  We decided against it, and we have tons of stuff on the walls, but it still feels really barren to me.)  I'm adjusting really well to city life, better than I thought I would, and I'm resisting the feeling of "I am wasting my time if I'm not doing everything all at once!!!" But, I've mostly stopped running, haven't been to the farmer's market yet, and my writing feels really strange to me right now.  I'm still trying to get myself on a schedule that includes everything I love, and also lets me sleep for a few hours a night.

And what I was really hoping was that a week into moving in, I'd have all sorts of lovely pictures to show you of our lovely place with our lovely furniture and our lovely selves.  But, what I had instead was one sweaty couple, eating cereal out of mugs on the floor with nothing hung on the walls.  So, I thought, okay, two weeks.  Which turned to five, and which still isn't really done.  I've been hesitant to post any pictures, to have anyone visit, because it still feels like a work in progress.  The sort of work in progress that I am right now, where I'm reading a lot of poetry and thinking a lot about my work and my positionality, and also not really doing the dishes or wearing anything but the same pair of jeans.  But, guys, you're going to get pictures soon, and they aren't going to be perfect.  And that's okay.  Because I'm not perfect either, and I think you're all okay with that.

Plus, if there's one thing we do have, that's perfectly lovely bookshelves.  And who doesn't like a good bookshelf picture?

Oh, guys.  I missed you.  Now, since you're all totally brilliant: any suggestions for affordable black or silver microwaves? And more importantly, for a nice, sort of artsy print to put between the two windows in our bedroom?  The space on the wall is about 3' wide by 4' tall, and we'd want to put a frame around it.