Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Stories for Your All Hallow's Read

I wrote a bit about past Halloweens I have loved here, so rather than cover them again, I figured I'd do something a little different.  As I'm writing this, we don't have any plans for tonight, but I think it would be nice to tuck into some pumpkin soup (I love this recipe) and a good old scary story or two.  Here are my top candidates if you want to help me celebrate All Hallow's Read.  (We never get any trick-or-treaters, but if we did, I would certainly be handing out books.  I think it's a glorious idea.)


Ghosts in the Machine by Neil Gaiman: This isn't a horror story at all, but I read it on the day it came out while I was cold in Oxford and maybe a little culture shocked from the way they celebrate over there.  The piece comes from the exact opposite perspective, but it felt as if everything my heart needed to say was in that one little article.  Like Gaiman's poem "Locks," I've come back to this one again and again.  It haunts me.

1408 by Stephen King: Everything's Eventual is one of my favorite books by Stephen King, behind The Shining, which is incredible but too long to read on one Halloween evening.  1408 was certainly the most terrifying story in the whole book, though the title story was also pretty creepy from what I remember.  In fact, at this writing, I actually can't say for certain how good and scary this story is because Roger isn't home and I'm too afraid to read it while home alone.  So, take this as a recommendation from 16-year-old Kristin: it is very scary.

The Girl with the Green Ribbon: This is maybe the most horrifying story on the list, and it's definitely the shortest.  It is so scary that I stopped talking after I first read it in kindergarten.  Proceed with caution.  And if this isn't terrifying enough for you, you should also read Schwartz's masterwork, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  All I can say is, shit's about to get real.

And, if you're not much of a reader (if you're not much of a reader, what are you doing here?), I'll just say that my favorite horror movies are The Sixth Sense, The Others and Silence of the Lambs.  I'm also a huge fan of The Walking Dead, and tonight would be a good time to start on it if you've never watched it before. Popcorn feels almost as festive as pumpkin soup.

Happy Halloween! Do you have any fun plans for tonight?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writer Wednesday - Kristin Maffei

After gazing at my blogroll last month, I realized that not only was it sadly out-of-date and not terribly informative, it also couldn't hold all of my awesome friends by its nature.  Many of them aren't bloggers, but are still incredible writers, and I wanted a place to feature everyone.  Enter Writer Wednesday.  I emailed all my nearest and dearest, my favorite bloggers and writers and people, and asked if I could bother them with six questions.  I was overwhelmed with the positive response, and I can't wait to start featuring the interviews next Wednesday.  In this space, you'll find poets, food bloggers, playwrights, fitness enthusiasts, fiction writers, and a whole host of other people I love to read.  For the inaugural post, though, it seemed only fitting that I answer the questions myself.  I hope you enjoy, and if you're interested in submitting an interview, I'd love to hear about it!  The questions are all below, so all I need are your answers and a photo to feature with them.

(c) Erica Quinn 2012

Who are you? I'm Kristin Maffei, and I like to describe myself in 140 characters or less as a reader, writer, wanderer.  I spend most of my free time doing at least one of those things, and they're where I feel most at home.  Hand me some paper, a book, or a ticket to someplace new, and I'm a happy lady.

Where can you be found online?  Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work?  If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation?  Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you.  They want all the details.  If not, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. First, I should note that I actually really hate talking to strangers in hot tubs, but I like hot tubs so much that I'll bear the conversation for more time soaking.  

I blog here at Not Intent on Arriving, which is really where I keep all my personal thoughts.  It's not quite a personal as my livejournal was back in 2004, but it's also not as professional as my writing website.  I like to think of it as a place where I can be a better version of myself, without having to impress anyone.  It's my very own Adventure Book, too, since I like to record the details of all my trips on it. 

My writing website holds a record of all of my publications, and I've started posting information about my writing life there, as well.  You can find samples of my writing in my portfolio there and read for yourself, but because you asked, hot-tub-stranger, my work focuses on liminal spaces.  I first came across the idea of the liminal while reading Derrida at Oxford, and I realized almost instantly what I'd been striving for in my work.  My poems cover the seashore, the museum, the airplane, and also early American history.  The town where I grew up used to be a resort town, so the suburbs of my youth feel liminal in more ways than one, too.  As someone who feels frequently in transition, writing into these spaces allows me to explore emotions that might otherwise feel trite.  I also write what I like to call "humanist journalism," or nonfiction with a focus on the human story behind any given event.  Finally, now that I've written this all out, I'm going to challenge myself to write a sentence more pretentious than "I first came across the idea of the liminal while reading Derrida at Oxford."

What inspired you to start writing/blogging?  When did it happen? Poetry's been my drug of choice since fourth grade, when I had a much greater appreciation for rhyme than I do now (though slightly less nuanced, I'll admit).  I've been "blogging" since I had a geocities website in 2002.  I've always been slow to catch on to new things, so when all my friends got livejournal, I wrote everything on the geocities site I'd set up, and deleted it when I was ready to write something new.  I've always been a terrible hoarder of my own work, and so it felt liberating to delete something forever.  Since then, my blogging has taken different forms, from the excruciatingly personal livejournal to my brief stint reviewing everything with friends in 2009, to the masterpiece you have in front of you.  This one started when I visited Iceland and wanted a place to share all the adventures there.

Why do you write? This is the easiest question on here.  I do it because it's what I do.  I've had periods where I didn't write very much, but since authoring my very first book, a wallpaper-bound volume about visiting Sea World and touching Shamu in first grade, I don't think I've ever gone more than six months without writing something creative.

Your writing inspires me.  Who inspires you? Well, duh, everyone who is about to be featured in this space.  And I feel very inspired by my family, who in addition to always being supportive of my weird dreams, has modeled tenacity in every way possible, and my partner, who bought me the very first book of poetry I loved.  It made me feel as if, oh yes, this is a life I can have.  And, as I mentioned above, Derrida. ;-)

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I'd certainly go somewhere I'd never been for an extended trip.  I love the shorter trips we've been taking recently, but I miss two-week and six-week jaunts to far-flung places.  With the way paid time off works in this country, I don't think I'll have another one of those trips for some time.  But, if I can dream, I think I would backpack around the world for a year or two.  I'd love to see Norway, India, Tanzania, and China, among, of course, many other places.  Also, if we could do anything about letting me see the Aurora Borealis, that is something I've been thinking about since 1992, kthnx.

What is your favorite place on earth? Home.  I seriously love being at home with my kitchen table and my couch and my books and not a lot of pressure to do anything I don't want to do.  Related: my parents' home.  Semi-related: Rhode Island, home of my childhood summers.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Just that I'm incredibly excited to start this feature! And, that like all parts of my life, I wanted to fill this interview with all poetry, but it ended up being less about that than I'd hoped. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gratituesday: Earl Grey Tea

Becca and I in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral
Sitting here with a hot mug at my side, I am struck by how powerful the memory of my first mug of Earl Grey Tea remains.  It was during Michaelmas term, and we'd been drinking endless cupfuls of PG Tips at our flat, long afternoons of studying.  My friend Becca and I decided to spend a weekend with our friend Darla in Dublin, where she was studying at Trinity, and we were in the middle of it, having a wonderful time.  We'd gotten back to Darla's adorable flat, fresh from some bar and exhausted.  She made us each a mug, no doubt served it with some digestive biscuit, and it tasted like nothing I'd ever had.

I remember being almost frantic about it, asking Becca if it was normal, and she said, "Yes, all Earl Grey Tea tastes just like this" and it was as if I'd come home.  Moments later, everyone we'd met at the bar somehow rambled into the living room where we were just about to tuck in for the night, and we ended up staying up even later, talking to Darla's Irish friends, who felt so warm just then.  Just then, it all felt so warm.

Friday, October 25, 2013

{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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Weekend Wanderings - Hoboken Housewarming

Or, at least that's where all the photos in this post are from.  The weekend overall was a varied and great one - Friday we visited Rob's new place in Queens and after making a dinner of burritos, we checked out a local jazz festival at Single Cut, which was a lot of fun, even though I'm trying not to eat or drink out for the forty-five days before Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, my (now former - so sad!) colleague and friend Christina came over to our place and I made a simple brunch for us.  I really thought that not eating out until Thanksgiving would be difficult, but it really hasn't been so hard.  In general, people have been happy to meet me for other things (manicures, museum-visits) or to have me cook for them.  We'll see how it goes for the next month, but so far I'm really proud of my progress.  I really love eating out, so it takes some effort, but I'm really enjoying the challenge.  On Saturday evening I headed to Hoboken for Heather's housewarming.  I'd never been to Hoboken, and I'm a total convert.  Hanging out there for a few hours really made me love the area, which is just adorable.  On the walk along the Hudson to her apartment, I just about keeled over from how gorgeous the view was.  I don't love the idea of moving right now, but after that evening, I could almost be convinced!

Sunday was spent mostly doing laundry and watching The Walking Dead.  Oh yes, I love me some Rick Grimes.  If you're not watching it, you should be.  Seasons 1-3 are on Netflix, and Roger and I just discovered that if you know someone who has a Verizon account, you can watch the new episodes online.  It's so much more complex and beautiful than the graphic novel, and I think it's the perfect Halloween show.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekday Wanderings - Fall in New York

I've been trying to get in a little extra exercise during my day by doing simple things like walking the long way around the office to refill my tea or getting off the subway a few stops early and walking home.  I did that today, and walked about a mile home during sunset, which was really beautiful, if a little cold for my dress and leggings.  The leaves are finally starting to turn, and while they aren't quite as vibrant as the ones we saw last weekend in New England, it was still lovely to see them.

One of the playgrounds in Central Park.

My runs recently have been short (and sometimes inside, god I hate the treadmill), so I haven't gotten much of a chance to enjoy it.  But I'm looking forward to a nice long run this weekend to take in some of the sights.  Maybe I'll take it along the river instead of on my usual park route!


Friday, October 11, 2013

{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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jillian!

My little sister turns 24 today.  I can't believe it!  In my mind, she's still just a little kid.  But no, now she's an adult who lives in Orlando and works at Disney World.

Just two cuties.

She's always been a firecracker, and this year more than ever, she's proved just how hardworking and tenacious she can be.  Jill works long hours making magic for all the guests at Disney, and I know she helps build their memories even when she's tired.  We're all so proud of her for making this huge move and being so successful at it.  I wish I could be there to help celebrate like my parents are, but I can't wait to come visit in December!

Jill's 21st Birthday
I love you, Jill!  Happy birthday!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weekday Wanderings - The Nose

Last Thursday, Roger and I were lucky enough to get complimentary tickets to see The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera.  I've only been to see an opera one other time, when Shelby bought me tickets to La Boheme on Broadway for Christmas when we were in high school.  That production, directed by Baz Luhrman and set in the 1950s, was incredible, but I was still very excited to see an opera at Lincoln Center.  The buildings there are so beautiful (I was in this theatre when we went to the J.K. Rowling signing, and in another one in the complex for my graduation), and it felt like a big event to get dressed up and head over there.

The opera was written by Dmitri Shostakovich and is based on a short story by Gogol, about a man who loses his nose.  The opera follows the exploits of the man and the nose, and it was really a lot of fun.  South African artist William Kentridge put together this staging, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  It's been so many years since I've seen a big theatre production, and the fact that I wasn't expecting that at all here made it all the more breathtaking.  I did feel it depended a little too heavily on digital effects, particularly to achieve shadows that might have been more beautiful if created authentically, but overall, the staging was absolutely beautiful and felt like any of the best big-budget plays or musicals I've seen.  While I can't speak to how well the opera was performed, I can say that it was a wonderful evening and I really enjoyed the whole experience.  Really lovely.  If you have a chance to see it, do!

Have you ever been to the opera?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend Wanderings: Rye Bridal Shower

After a lovely evening spent at Toast with old friends on Friday, I woke up early on Saturday to get in a run and catch the train to Rye for my cousin-to-be's bridal shower.  It was at Morgan's Fish House, a fantastic little nautical restaurant with a killer brunch and adorable decor.  I'd definitely go back there; it really fits my aesthetic lately!  The shower was a lot of fun, and I got to meet the newest member of our family, baby Hailey!  She turns a year old on Wednesday, and I'd still never seen her, so it was great to spend a little time with her.  Wandering around Rye for a bit after my train got in early was wonderful.  It's an adorable little town, and other than trips to Playland in middle school, I'd never really been there before. 

Me and Hailey
After the shower, the bride had one of her two bachelorette parties, and we celebrated first at her and my cousin's gorgeous apartment, and then at Alta.  I'd walked by Alta so many times when I was studying at NYU, but I'd never been.  It's just beautiful inside, and every single item we got was delicious.  I was particularly in love with the short rib, but honestly, everything was a huge hit, and since we were a big group and it's a tapas place, we ordered close to 20 dishes!  The atmosphere would be perfect for a date (very intimate and beautiful), and while it's not cheap, it's not exorbitant and I think I'll be back.

The beautiful bride!
Sunday was spent mostly on errands (is anyone else sick of weekends being engulfed with chores?) and reading, but Roger and I did manage to slip away for a little bit for brunch at Kitchenette early in the morning.  We really do need to cut back on eating out on the weekends!  Still, it's one of the few ways we really spend time together now that he's so busy with school, so I'll take it, diet be damned.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cooking with Kristin: Lazy Girl's Pumpkin Feast

As I mentioned earlier, we had a lovely fall feast this weekend.  Our main dish was cous cous from The Kitchn, but I also made two simple, pumpkin based items that I would highly recommend for your next gathering, potluck or even simple dinner at home.  They're easy enough to make at 11:30pm on a work-night.  (Which is, you know, my way of determining the ease of a dish.)  They taste perfectly of fall, and I hope they help you celebrate autumn this year.

Pumpkin Whip (from All Recipes)
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree (I like Libby's best)
  • 1 package of instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 package of cool whip
  • Pumpkin pie spice (or, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice)
This recipe could not be easier.  Just stir pumpkin and pudding powder together until combined.  Fold in thawed cool whip.  Season to taste and let chill for two hours.  Put it in some fancy glasses, and ta-da! You've got pumpkin whip!

It's not the most natural of desserts, of course, but it's simple and makes a huge batch.  We used sugar-free pudding and fat free cool whip, and it still tasted fantastic.  (I'm on Weight Watchers, so the substitutions helped keep this reasonable in points.)  I bet you could also try butterscotch or chocolate pudding, and it would be great.  We served it with graham crackers, but it would also be lovely on apple slices.

Pumpkin Beer & Apple Cider Cocktails (adapted from Brit & Co.)
  • 1 bottle of pumpkin ale (I used Harpoon's UFO, but I also love Southern Tier's Pumking)
  • 1 cup of apple cider
  • 2 lemon wedges
  • Cinnamon
Divide the beer evenly into two glasses.  Pour half a cup of apple cider onto each. (So, the proportions are about 2:1 beer to cider, though adjust as you see fit.)  Squeeze in a little of the lemon (then use the peel as a garnish) and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon.  This would work just as well with sparkling cider, so give that a try too.  Bottoms up!