Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Melanie Yarbrough

Melanie and I first "met" when she started a book blog with a friend of mine from high school.  That blog has sadly fallen to the wayside, but Melanie actually started one I like even better: The Things They Made.  Melanie seems to find the beauty in everything, from a warm knit to a weekend trip, and her blog lets us in on these brief moments of light.  Her daily thoughts feel so comforting and quiet, and every time I read them, I feel a little bit more at peace.

Melanie Yarbrough


Who are you? Melanie Yarbrough. Baker, blogger, aspiring creator of things.

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? I have a blog! The things they made. It’s where I share the things I make, which usually consists of baked goods, haphazardly sewn clothing, and most recently, knitted items. Mostly it’s where I write about my daily life, the things that are getting me out of bed each morning. I’ve read so many articles on how to be a successful blogger, and I’m pretty much ignoring all of them, but I’m enjoying it, and I’m glad I’m documenting my twenties.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I used to have a Xanga and a LiveJournal, so I’ve been blogging in some form—whether or not I understood what that was way back when—for a while now. My current blog has been open for a couple years now, but writing has always been a part of my life. I have so many journals from growing up and notebooks filled with stories; blogging is just the latest iteration of that passion.

Why do you write? It’s really the only way that I can make sense of things that happen to me, the people I meet, the reactions and feelings I have to the outside world. When I was younger and I’d get in arguments with my parents, I’d go in my room after and “think about what I’d done,” and I’d always end up writing a letter to one or both of them apologizing for what I’d said or done. It’s always just been the best way I know how to communicate.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Thank you! I’m most inspired by people out there doing what they love. Artists like Rebekka Seale and Elise Blaha are constantly following their passions and finding a way to share it with the world. Sometimes I feel like there’s so much—too much!—that I want to do, that there isn’t enough time to do it all. I’m inspired by people who prove me wrong and challenge me to try harder.

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? Oooh, well, my boyfriend and I have officially booked a trip to Europe next year: Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon. So I would say, since that’s taken care of, I’d want to go to Iceland or Alaska! A place I might not be able to convince someone else to go with me and pay for.

What is your favorite place on earth? My home, wherever that is at the time. It is a luxury to go out into the world knowing that I have someplace to go back to.

Anything else you'd like us to know? It officially feels like winter here in Massachusetts, so you can expect a lot more yarn on the blog. [Editor's Note: Melanie was interviewed in November, but this obviously isn't posting until spring.  Once you're back in the mood for some knitting, though, definitely take a look at some of her incredible creations for inspiration!]

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Throwback Tuesday


Remember this? I was so excited about the royal wedding. I guess I'm still pretty excited about the whole thing. I think Prince George is really taking care of business in the Baby Boys Fashion department and I still think Kate is gorgeous and Will is fairly dapper.

But you know. Some things are different. I don't live in that office anymore (though if I took a picture of this one, you probably wouldn't be able to tell). I have a masters degree and a new job. I don't live at my parents' house anymore and my commute is a lot shorter.

But any way some things are the same and I still wish I could get it together to lose some weight, dress well and do my makeup on a daily basis, and attend a damn shooting party at Balmoral.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - All Around Brooklyn

This was a lovely weekend, but one that turned out a little differently than planned! On Friday, we were supposed to clean the giant mess of a house we have right now, but we were exhausted and ended up looking for apartments online instead. Shelby texted me because she realized the Walt Disney World Marathon was already 75% full, even though it had only been open for a few days, so we both signed up and then panicked about the undertaking we had in front of us. I'd intended to sign up in May or June, but we just dove in and I'm so excited to run it in January! Courtney let me know she signed up for on Saturday morning, so I'm really excited about running it with our little team; even if all of us live hundreds of miles apart, I am looking forward to having some long-distance support.

On Saturday, I woke up at the crack of dawn (okay, 7:30am) to go on a short run and met up with Alana and Mered for yoga and breakfast. After heading home for quick change, I met Roger in Sunset Park and looked at a few apartments with him. Since my experience, the move really feels like the right thing and a fun one. We've decided to spring for movers, and although it sounds like we can expect to drop a pretty penny on it, I think it will be worth it. I liked all the apartments we saw, though Roger wasn't thrilled with any of them. He'd seen some nicer ones earlier in Crown Heights, so right now, it looks like that's the neighborhood we'll be settling in, though we're still looking at Lefferts Gardens and South Slope, as well.

After, we were going to meet up with Susan at the Cherry Blossom Festival, but she was running late in the Bronx and it started raining, so we decided to hang out at the Brooklyn Museum instead. They have an interesting piece by Swoon up, called Submerged Motherlands, which I really liked, and a few pieces by Ai Wei Wei.

Brooklyn Museum

We walked through Crown Heights a little bit to get more of a feel for the neighborhood but it was raining and cold and pretty empty, so we headed up to Williamsburg for a quick drink before my friend Dann's book launch. The launch was really great, featuring some lovely poets, and I'm so excited to have picked up a copy of American Barricade. Can't wait to read it!

McCarren Park

Roger and I closed out the evening with Rob and another Dan at the Bellhouse, or, as I like to call it, a club. There was a lot of dancing and drinking and a good time was had by all until I turned into a pumpkin at around 1am and felt like I was actually going to fall asleep on the dance floor. Then Roger and I both fell asleep on the subway but somehow managed not to A. get robbed or B. miss our stop. Pretty amazing end to the night if I do say so myself.

Sunday was all about cleaning the house (finally), grocery shopping and cooking, and hosting my first clothing swap, which turned out to be a blast. Here's the set up before everyone arrived (so, yeah, just my clothes. I've got a lot.):


Once the guests started rolling in, we ended up really covering all the surfaces, and after all was said and done, we have three garbage bags to bring to Goodwill this week. I found a nice sweater, a dress, and a cute scarf, and I used up most of my willpower by not taking any more than that, because the point of this was to clear out my clothes before moving, not get a whole new wardrobe.

People stuck around for a few hours after all was said and done, and it was awesome to catch up with everyone, many of whom were my coworkers and former coworkers. It's been so lovely to meet so many great people through work, and I really enjoyed seeing everyone. I think everyone found a few things they liked, and I know most people are probably relieved to have some older things cleared out of their closet!

Friday, April 25, 2014

{This Moment} A Peek Inside the NY State Pavilion

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


Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:

Do you have any plans for this weekend? I have a busy Brooklyn Saturday ahead of me, and then on Sunday I'm hosting a clothing swap!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Great Shakespeare Project

One of my life goals is to read all of Shakespeare's works. I've already read 17 of them, which is a little less than half. Since the world celebrated Shakespeare's 450th birthday yesterday and will celebrate the 400th anniversary of his death two years from now, this seemed like an auspicious time to begin the undertaking in earnest.


I'll be posting my musings on the experience of reading and re-reading each of these, along with some of the papers I wrote on the bard during my course in Shakespeare at Wadham. What you can expect: Some analysis and commentary, but probably not a whole lot of intensive scholarship. A little pop culture, since the main reason I want to read the whole canon is for its influence on the art that came after it. And probably a lot of me mooning over The Tempest. I just will. I love it a whole bunch.

An astounding fact of my life regarding Shakespeare: I have only seen it performed live twice. Once was The Comedy of Errors at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in 2011, and the second was King Lear in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was honestly the best theatre I've ever seen, and which gave me a new appreciation for the work. So, over the two years, I'd like to make it a goal to see The Tempest in at least one performance, and also to see an original pronunciation version of a play, since I've been fascinated by original pronunciation since taking a course on the history of the English language in 2005.

Finally, if you're interested in joining me for all or some of the journey, that would make me very happy! I'm posting my schedule of reading below. The order I decided on is an approximation of chronologically, as it appears in The Oxford Shakespeare, because that's the copy I have and that's the company I worked for, and that's the university where I first studied Shakespeare. BUT! You can read any old version you'd like, in any order you'd like. The Arden Shakespeare is quite good, and I love my Norton Critical Editions, so I bet The Norton Shakespeare is also great. And, there are about a million online versions if you're an e-reader type person. It's certainly more comfortable than carrying around a complete edition on the subway!

I'll be posting my thoughts on the second and fourth Thursdays, so depending on how things go, these dates will be different, but they should give you an approximate idea of when I'll be reading what, if you want to join along. Feel free to comment on each post with your thoughts, or write your own post and comment with a link. I'd love to have a multitude of voices here, so don't be shy! And don't feel like you have to read every single piece. I'm just as happy to hear what you thought of Romeo and Juliet in 10th grade as I am to have your in-depth criticism of every line he wrote.

Happy reading!

May 8, 2014 - The Two Gentlemen of Verona
May 22, 2014 - The Taming of the Shrew
June 8, 2014 - The First Part of the Contention of the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster (Henry VI, Part 2)
June 23, 2014 - The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York and the Good King Henry the Sixth (Henry VI, Part 3)
July 9, 2014 - The First Part of Henry the Sixth (Henry VI, Part 1)
July 23, 2014 - The Most Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus
August 9, 2014 - The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
August 23, 2014 - Venus and Adonis
September 9, 2014 - The Rape of Lucrece
September 23, 2014 - The Reign of King Edward the Third
October 9, 2014 - The Comedy of Errors
October 23, 2014 - Love's Labour's Lost
November 9, 2014 - Love's Labour's Won: A Brief Account
November 23, 2014 - The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
December 9, 2014 - The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
December 23, 2014 - A Midsummer Night's Dream
January 9, 2015 - The Life and Death of King John
January 23, 2015 - The Comical History of the Merchant of Venice
February 9, 2015 - The History of Henry the Fourth (Henry IV, Part 1)
February 23, 2015 - The Merry Wives of Windsor
March 9, 2015 - The Second Part of Henry the Fourth (Henry IV, Part 2)
March 23, 2015 - Much Ado About Nothing
April 9, 2015 - The Life of Henry the Fifth (Henry V)
April 23, 2015 - The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
May 9, 2015 - As You Like It
May 23, 2015 - The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Hamlet)
June 9, 2015 - Twelfth Night, or What You Will
June 23, 2015 - Troilus and Cressida
July 9, 2015 - The Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint
July 23, 2015 - Various Poems
August 9, 2015 - The Book of Sir Thomas More
August 23, 2015 - Measure for Measure
September 9, 2015 - The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
September 23, 2015 - The History of King Lear
October 9, 2015 - The Life of Timon of Athens
October 23, 2015 - The Tragedy of Macbeth
November 9, 2015 - The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
November 23, 2015 - All's Well That Ends Well
December 9, 2015 - Pericles, Prince of Tyre
December 23, 2015 - The Tragedy of Coriolanus
January 9, 2016 - The Winter's Tale
January 23, 2016 - The Tragedy of King Lear
February 9, 2016 - Cymbeline, King of Britain
February 23, 2016 - The Tempest
March 9, 2016 - Cardenio: A Brief Account
March 23, 2016 - All is True (Henry VIII)
April 9, 2016 - The Two Noble Kinsmen

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Lauren from Better in Real Life

I first found Lauren when she was interning for a website I was reading.  Her posts there were some of my favorites; they were always heartfelt and had a casual voice that I just couldn't get enough of, even once I started reading her blog, Better in Real Life.  She's one of my favorite voices on Twitter, and was one of the first people who made me feel at home on there.  Whether she's talking about life as a new mother, her experiences as a young writer making her way in the world of literature, or the adventures she takes everyday, Lauren is open-hearted and full of joy.  I was lucky enough to meet her on our recent trip to California, and while I didn't think it was even possible, she really is better in real life.  I wish we lived next door instead of across the country because I know I'd be stopping by her house for chats constantly!

Lauren on one of her many adventures, rock climbing!


Who are you? I am Lauren! I am 28 and live with my husband, named Kamel (like Camel but with a different emphasis), and baby, named Gabe, in the Bay Area (for now!). I am a writer trying to meld a professional life and a creative life. I try to be as honest as possible while still being tactful and hopefully funny. I am an only child with few (hopefully!) of the only-child-traits (I mean, only the really endearing ones, right?), I grew up in Seattle, and I have my MFA. I am a lot of things all at once and I like to tell stories.

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? I have a lifestyle blog at www.betterinrealife.com. I say lifestyle because it involves my journey with food, clothes, adventures, family, and all of the big big big life events (wedding/pregnancy/baby) as they happen to me. I am an over-sharer, so this is how I get it out of my system and not embarrass my coworkers. I have also written a book, which very few people have read in its entirety and I will not attempt to have published, but it can be found in the library at the University of San Francisco. It's about death and taxidermy and family. And then! I have a couple short stories/poems published in university collections that no one has ever heard of. Right now I'm trying to find a way to balance having a baby, a job, a life outside of my computer AND a creative writing existence. It is harder than I thought. Oh! And for money, I write hotel descriptions for an online travel agency. It does no good things for my eternal travel bug.

Lauren and Kamel with their friends Margaret and Jeff after a hot air balloon ride.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I think.... I just needed an outlet. It was 2004/2005 and I was sitting in my then boyfriend's living room and I had thoughts and I wanted somewhere to put them. I started blogging on Myspace (covers face with hands) and I actually had a pretty good amount of readers for a system that wasn't blog-gy in any way. During that time I was getting my Rhetoric degree at the University of Illinois so my writing world was very multi-faceted. I don't think I have ever been more prolific than I was in college. Probably because all I did was work at a coffee shop part time, and think about writing (when I wasn't in some sort of drama involving friend betrayal or lost love... it was all very opera when I was in my early 20s). I think back on that time and I wonder if I will ever have that kind of creative flow again. Hopefully I want have so much of the heartache that surrounded it.

Why do you write? I don't feel like I have a choice. If I didn't write I would explode on the inside. I think I would be voiceless. It would strangle me.


Lauren and her son, Gabe

Who inspires you? YOU! With your amazing view of the world, and your amazing experiences at NYU and how utterly gracious you are. A lot of the online world I have experienced through the work I've done as an editor of the internets and my own blog has been incredibly inspiring. There is a lot of kindness out there - and not just kindness, but smart, well read, interesting, and diverse people all willing to share bits of themselves. It is jaw dropping.

The specific people who push me to be a better thinker, person, mother, writer, everything are:

Margaret LaFleur - http://margaretlafleur.com/
Rebecca Woolf - http://www.girlsgonechild.net/
Margaret Atwood
Joan Didion
Alice Bradley - http://finslippy.squarespace.com/


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? That is so hard because I want to go EVERYWHERE! Right now I am obsessing over a trip to Italy via a flight to London and then taking a train through the Alps to Rome. Then seeing the Cinque Terre and a few other spots I've been dreaming about since I was 10 watching Rick Steves on PBS. But! I feel like I will eventually be able to afford that .... I would really like an all expense paid trip to Bora Bora and stay in the 4 seasons for 10 days... in one of those huts over the water and then have people in boats deliver our breakfast to us each morning. I would also need someone to watch the baby... I need some grownup away time.

Lauren and Kamel in Barcelona!

What is your favorite place on earth? The rocky beach at Lincoln Park in Seattle. It is a beautiful hidden gem with views of the islands and bald eagles and whales and ahhh it is the greatest all times of the year.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I think I'm going to make this my life motto and continue to say it until I'm blue in the face: Anyone can have adventures and do great things! It doesn't take gobs of money or a sponsorship or great talent or anything. It just takes.... doing it. Being afraid, taking risks, etc etc. From small things to big things, I want everyone to go beyond their mental limits and be AWESOME!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I think this is the first time I've ever posted twice in one day, so I'll keep it short:

Happy birthday to the best father on earth! I don't know that there's anyone out there luckier than Jill and me. Can't wait to see you tomorrow in Queens! (Also, just as I'm posting this, "Piano Man" came onto Pandora. Coincidence? I think not...)


Weekend Wanderings - An Experience

On Friday, we met up with Rob for drinks and sandwiches at Astoria Bier and Cheese, which was incredible. They had some amazing beers on tap for really great prices, and their cheese plate and all their sandwiches were awesome. I would definitely go back. While we were there, we saw a Good Friday processional crowding Ditmars Avenue, which was also really interesting. We stopped by Martha's Country Bakery on our way home and devoured a really delicious berry Napoleon cake. After brunch last weekend and our Friday night, I give Queens dining an A+!

On Saturday, we headed upstate to our hometown for the weekend. That afternoon, we drove out to my friend Tess's house in North Salem to hang out with her and her family. They have a gorgeous deck and it was lovely to sip some wine (or in my case, water - I may have overdone it on the beers the night before!) and look out at the lake. I'm looking forward to more afternoons there this summer!

Justin, Cooper, and Tess

One of the most amazing things about the afternoon is that we got to witness Cooper's first steps! I'm sure he won't remember that we were there for them, but it's definitely a moment I'll never forget. He was happy and peaceful the whole afternoon, and it was so great to hang out with him and catch up some with Tess and Justin.

Lake views!

That evening, we celebrated my father's birthday with dinner at a Chinese restaurant (always a favorite with the Maffei family), and then Roger and I headed to Peekskill to see our friends Jess and Greg, and their new house. It's incredible to me that we're at the point where many of our friends own their own houses! Jess and Greg's is a really nice 1850s era woodframe, and they're doing a bunch of improvements on it. I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's finished!

On Sunday, Roger and I went for a 3-mile run together on the bike path. I really love running with him. Especially now that we've been so busy, it's a great time to catch up and talk things over. I dropped him at his parents' house and then headed back to my parents' neighborhood to finish the last 6.5 miles of my long run. I really love running the route near my parents' house, because it feels so familiar. I drove over those roads every day for the 13 years I lived there, and it feels like they're a part of me. My parents are planning to sell the house once my mother retires and move somewhere warmer, and I didn't take to the idea very well at first. But on this run, I felt like I was perfectly at peace with the idea. As if I'd have an incredible childhood growing up there, but that that part of my life was over now, and it was fine. It was a good thing. Now, the idea of them leaving feels almost liberating.

I haven't really talked about it much here, but I've been feeling a really intense pressure to settle down lately. My friends are all getting married, buying houses, having kids. And I felt like that was what I needed to do. I felt like it was the "next step." But on this run, I realized it was just so ridiculous to put this pressure on myself when none of that is actually what I want. It's just what society is saying I want. But in reality, I want to grow my career. I want to publish my book. I want to travel more and live somewhere new. I don't actually feel ready to settle down in any of the normative ways I've felt like I wanted to settle down. What I feel ready for now is a real destabilization. We're moving sometime this summer, and I've been heartbroken over it. It was our first place together, and I love our apartment, I love our neighborhood. But, it was time to move on. After a winter with no heat and the rent going up again in August, I knew it was time, even though my heart was fighting it. But on this run, I just let it go. I'm so excited about finding a new apartment. I'm so excited about going to Mexico. I'm so excited about so many parts of my life right now, and none of the things I'm excited about involve settling for anything. I've had an experience, guys. It's all going to be good.

Roger hanging out with some Easter tchotchkes at his parents' house.

Anyway. Roger's parents apparently thought I was crazy because I was a little vocal about how amazing everything was at the lunch we had at their house afterward. But I really just feel like I've been striving for all the wrong things, and now I'm back on the right path again. Lunch was lovely, and coming home afterward to our disaster of an apartment was even better.

Friday, April 18, 2014

{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.


Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:
  • A rare Sunday post wished the best partner in the world a Happy Birthday.
  • On Monday I recapped our weekend, including a great little day trip to New Haven, CT from NYC, and our day wandering around Queens.
  • Tuesday's Weekday Wanderings was a little post about the first fire drill I participated in at work. Silly, but I had such a great time during it.
  • Writer Wednesday featured one of the first bloggers I read, Steerforth from Age of Uncertainty. It was so great to be able to feature someone I've been reading for almost a decade and I hope you'll check out his interview!

This weekend we're heading up to Putnam County. I'm looking forward to visiting my friend Tess and her family, kayaking, and seeing our families. I don't celebrate Easter or Passover, but if you do, I hope you have a blessed one!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Steerforth from Age of Uncertainty

I can't say exactly when I started reading The Age of Uncertainty, but it was, I'm almost 100% sure, the very first blog I ever read.  I think I somehow stumbled upon it when I was living in the UK, and because it is, at its very heart, a love letter to books, I was instantly hooked, and I've been hooked for going on seven years now.  My very favorite features are the Ladybird Books and the Derek Diaries (or you can find it a bit condensed at The Dabbler here); both are at turns funny and sad, and both have haunted me for years.  In addition to the books and ephemera he finds in his business as a bookseller, Steerforth writes about his daily life and travels.  His writing style is unassuming and careful, and I hope you'll read more after you finish his interview, below.

"I resisted the strong temptation to add a photo taken 10 years ago and have attached a recent one."

Who are you?  I’ve been asking myself that question for many years. The simple answer is that I’m a forty-something Englishman, born in SW London. In my 20s, I got a job in a bookshop as a temporary expedient, while I decided what to do with my life. 25 years on, I’m still selling books.

If I could live my life again, I’d concentrate on composing, as the most enjoyable thing I’ve done was writing the music for a Lorca play.

I’m married with two sons, one of whom has ‘special needs’ – something that has made life rather complicated during the last ten years.

I have many interests but can’t stand sport, which rules out a lot of male small talk.

I grew up surrounded by people born in the 1890s and still catch myself using words like ‘jolly’ and ‘chap’, but I’m also fascinated by contemporary culture and am very wary of nostalgia, even though my blog is largely about the past.

My idea of happiness is going on a long walk in the countryside which ends in a teashop that serves the perfect fruitcake. My idea of unhappiness is being stuck in a business meeting with people who have no sense of humour, which is one of the reasons why I became self-employed.

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.  One of my ambitions is to spend a winter afternoon in a hot tub drinking champagne, but under the stars would be even better.

If I had to describe my blog –
www.ageofuncertainty.blogspot.co.uk - to my tub companion (preferably not an overweight, middle-aged man), I’d say that it’s a book-related blog that frequently meanders off in different directions, with features on old photographs, historic places, amusing anecdotes and, occasionally, personal stuff. The range of subjects may seem a little random, but they’re all things that I’m passionate about. 

Its main aim is to amuse, because I think that’s the best way of engaging people’s interest in often serious issues. I generally assume that readers don’t want to spend more than a couple of minutes reading a post, so I try to keep them short, with plenty of images to break up the writing.
 
What inspired you to start writing/blogging?  When did it happen? Seven years ago I had an extremely unpleasant bout of food poisoning after eating some bad oysters. My wife and sons were away for two weeks and I was becoming increasingly bored with being stuck in bed all day. After hours of surfing the internet I stumbled on Blogger and wondered how difficult it would be to create a blog. I wrote a post, with no intention of actually becoming a blogger, but then somebody read it and posted a pertinent comment. From that moment, I was hooked.

Why do you write? I like the sense of being part of a global community of like-minded people. In the past I wrote as an act of catharsis, with no expectation that anyone would ever read my words. I didn’t mind that, but occasionally felt frustrated that I couldn’t share my thoughts, particularly if I’d just read a book that I felt was unjustly neglected.

Blogging is a benign form of self-publishing that doesn’t involve any harm to trees or booksellers. It also demands a new style of writing, in which less is definitely more. I particularly love the multimedia aspect of blogging, in which the words can be complemented by photos and videos.

Your writing inspires me.  Who inspires you? My favourite blog is www.newgreyarea.blogspot.co.uk The writer is a self-employed graphic designer who lives with two dogs in a house that sounds as if it’s on the brink of collapse. Many of his posts are just gripes about daily life: the lack of money, the stupidity of his neighbours, his incontinent dogs and the frustrations of dealing with clients. In the hands of a lesser writer, it could be a depressing, monotonous read, but Grey Area sparkles with wit.

I remember a post in which he wrote about a piece of slightly burnt toast and marvelled that someone could make such a trivial incident amusing and significant. I love lines like this:

"I've just made the most disgusting cup of tea imaginable - but in the spirit of austerity - I've drunk it."
It takes courage to write about toast or a cup of tea. Grey Area pulls it off.
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 don’t know why, but I’ve become terrified of flying, so I’d probably opt for a trip on the Trans-Siberian Express, or a train journey to the far north of Norway. However, if I could get over my phobia, I’d like to explore Australia and New Zealand. I also have a hankering to explore islands like Kerguelen, Pitcairn, St Helena and the Azores.

What is your favorite place on earth? 
I don’t really have one and I’ve noticed that if you return to a much-loved place, it can sometimes feel very different on the second visit. I’d say that Yosemite National Park is the most beautiful place I’ve visited, Chile the most appealing country, Stockholm the nicest city and Iceland the most extraordinary. But some of my happiest moments have been closer to home.
Anything else you'd like us to know?  Just a quick recommendation for anyone who loves ‘Revolutionary Road’. Try David Karp’s ‘Leave Me Alone’, which is one of the most unjustly-neglected novels I’ve read for a long time. Secondhand copies are still available on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekday Wanderings - Fire Drill

Clearly a little into panoramas at work lately.

We had a fire drill and evacuation at work last week. It was pretty amazing. Even though we do this annually, I have somehow managed to be out of the office every time we've done one in my previous five years here.

It's silly to say it was so cool, but it was so cool. We wandered down the 12 flights of stairs, and it was really interesting to see where our part of the building connects to the other organizations we share it with. I'd always expected our emergency exit stairs to let us out on the northern side of the building, but actually, we came out of what I'd always thought was a wall in the library!

It was disorienting and fascinating and I'm really glad I got to participate in it. It's funny, because I used to hate fire drills at school, but this one led me on an interesting little tour and then out into the beautiful sunshine. Our building is a New York City Landmark, and once housed one of the very first department stores on Fifth Avenue, B. Altman. If you're as interested in our history as I am, you might be interested in reading this description of the building and its past.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Day Trip to New Haven

We celebrated Roger's birthday with a day trip to New Haven. Roger's wanted to go to see the Yale University Art Gallery for years, and we finally made it up when Danielle suggested she'd like to go to the birthplace of the hamburger.

New Haven is about two hours outside of New York City, and easily accessible by MetroNorth. A round-trip off-peak ticket cost $32.50, and once we arrived, we found it easiest to take a cab into town, which cost about $8. We arrived in Union Station at around 11am, and it was just gorgeous. I ride the MNR in Westchester a lot, and I don't think I've ever seen such a lovely station outside of NYC.

Union Station

We took the cab to the free Yale University Art Gallery, which was more impressive than I could have expected for a university collection. The museum has four floors and such an incredible collection. My favorite section covered the modernists, but each section had really stunning pieces. My only disappointment was that the African and IndoPacific galleries were so crowded with art. The pieces were incredible, but they were practically stacked on top of one another. I understand wanting to show off a great collection, but the curator of the modernist galleries really understood that it's easier for the public to process a few very good examples than multitudes of them, and that was something that didn't come across in the other galleries as much. We wandered around the museum for about two hours, at which point I was incredibly hungry and getting a little cranky.

So, we walked down Sherman's Alley, which Danielle claims was named for her:


And arrived at Louis' Lunch, the birthplace of the hamburger! As the story goes, "One day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly walked into Louis' Lunch and told proprietor Louis Lassen he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run. In an instant, Louis placed his own blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast and sent the gentleman on his way. And so, the most recognizable American sandwich was born."

We each ordered a cheeseburger sandwich with tomato and onion (served on the most delicious white bread toast!), a potato salad, and a birch beer. The wait was long, but we had a nice little corner seat, and the food was delicious. I'm not sure if it was because I was so hungry, but it felt like I'd never tasted something as wonderful as that white bread before!


Satiated, we headed on a bit of a walk through the city, stopping for a delicious honey brandy vanilla cake at Maison Mathis. It was pretty nice to rest for a bit, and the coffee shop was open, light, and beautiful. It was so easy to find a table, and we even had an outlet to charge Roger's phone! Basically, it was the opposite of all the coffee shops in NYC.

We tried to get into the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which has enormous panels of mother-of-pearl to let the sun shine into the building in the most beautiful way, but sadly it had closed just a few minutes before we arrived. Next time, New Haven!


We continued our walking tour, passing the original J. Press (closed for renovations) and a lovely church, and ended up walking through some of Yale's lovely quads. We took a rest outside this particularly beautiful residence hall:


I love this photo of us.

Our final stop was a little rushed. We ordered a pitcher and an apizza at Bar, but quickly realized we could make the 6:46 train back if we rushed a bit. I wasn't totally in love with the drinks or the food, but since apizza is apparently a New Haven tradition, I was glad to have tried if. If we'd had more time, I think we would have gone to Modern Apizza, which I've heard is one of the best places there.

Overall, it was a fantastic day trip, and a wonderful way to start the first really beautiful weekend of spring!

On Sunday, after my long run (finally, I got in a good long run!), Roger and I headed out to Astoria to meet Rob for Roger's birthday brunch at Queens Comfort. There was a wait, and I was pretty hungry after that run, but this little BYOB place was 110% worth it. Every dish we ordered was incredible. I tried a little of everyone's (of course), and the chicken and waffles Rob ordered were better than any chicken and waffles I've ever had in my life. Roger's "Hobbit salty pork" eggs benedict were also delicious. But, I think my dish, the biscuits and gravy, really took the cake. I've been a big fan of biscuits and gravy for years and years, but nothing has ever tasted this delicious before. The gravy was maple cheddar sausage gravy, and it puts all other sausage gravy to shame. We shared a bottle of cheap champagne and ordered one orange juice, and I swear it's one of the best brunches I've ever had in my life. Highly recommended!

After that, we wandered around Astoria and Long Island City. We stopped at the Socrates Sculpture Park, which seemed cool, but was between exhibitions at the moment:

View of the East River from Socrates Sculpture Park.

And then wandered and wandered for what felt like hours (okay, for what actually was hours) until we arrived at Dutch Kills an hour before it opened. Everything around that area is closed from 4pm to 5pm on Sundays, it seems, so we ended up sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine (and a really awkward view of a couple making out on a park bench across the way) until the bar opened. We enjoyed a few birthday cocktails, and then Roger and I headed home to have one final birthday surprise: Fudgy the Whale cake!


Overall, I can't think of any way I would rather have spent this weekend. It was just perfect.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Roger!


Today was Roger's 26th birthday, and as you can see from the picture above, we had a whale of a celebration! I hope he enjoyed the weekend, with its long, sunny walks around New Haven and Queens, as much as I did.

This is the tenth birthday we've celebrated together. When he turned 16 and I had a massive crush on him, I bought him Candyland, since he'd told me once he had always wanted it as a child but never actually played it. I'm pretty sure it sealed the deal for our relationship, since he was so pleased when he opened it and we starting dating a few months later. Since then, he's mentioned about a million times how much he wanted a Fudgy the Whale Cake, so a decade on, I finally made that happen. I think he was pretty happy with it.


I can't imagine having a better partner in life than this guy. He's brilliant, incredibly hardworking, and hilarious. There isn't a day that goes by that isn't better because he's in it.

To my favorite art historian, dining companion, and cat-parent, happy birthday! I can't wait to spend another 365 happy days with you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

{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.

That's right! We booked our next vacation. These little ducks are flying to Mexico for five beautiful days of sun, sand, and ruins in May. If you have any suggestions for things to do in and around Playa del Carmen, they'd be most appreciated!

Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:

Writing in other places:
  • Beth at 3Up Adventures was kind enough to let me guest post while she's away #tryingstuff in Jordan with Columbia Sportswear. I wrote about cross-country skiing on my birthday. Hop on over and let me know what you think!

This weekend we're going to be celebrating Roger's birthday! We're taking a little day trip to New Haven to visit some museums and try some delicious food. Do you have any exciting plans for how you'll spend yours?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Kathryn Guarino

 I met Katie Guarino through our mutual friends from St. Rose when Shelby invited me to J.K. Rowling's book signing a year ago.  We kept in touch and discovered we have quite a few things in common, including a love of writing and many favorite children's books.  I really hope she does start her one-stop-shop for book reviews soon, because I know I'd add it to my Feedly right away!




Who are you? Kathryn Guarino

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?  As of yet, I don't have a blog. I'm toying with the idea of starting a one-stop-shop for book reviews and recommendations of historical fiction. There have been some brilliant (and not-so-brilliant) additions to the genre recently. I love the idea of having a community where we can all talk about our favorite authors and why we find their work so compelling, be it their depth of research or their good old-fashioned storytelling.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging?  When did it happen? I actually have a story for this! I've enjoyed writing since I was little, but a long time ago I decided to focus more of my artistic concentration on music. After I graduated college, I had a few frustrating years trying to bang at the gates of my chosen industry with very little success. Last summer, I decided to take a break from the whole process. On a four hour flight west I began reading a history of the British Isles, and I paused over the section about the Boudican Rebellion of 60-61AD. I'd remembered studying this event in college, and I'd always thought it'd make a great novel. I started going over the story from different angles in my head, to see if anything struck me as interesting. I ended up spending the rest of the trip over writing my first outline for the book. Not a bad way to get through a flight.

Why do you write?  I write because I have stories buzzing around in my head, and I want to see how they end.

Your writing inspires me.  Who inspires you?  
 In terms of other authors? The writers who inspired me growing up were Madeleine L'Engle, Tamora Pierce, Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling. Neil Gaiman is just brilliant. I'd like to write like him when I grow up. George RR Martin helps me check myself. Anytime I start to feel overwhelmed by attempting to juggle too many viewpoint characters, I glance over at the ASOIAF series and I feel better about my life. In terms of inspirational people in general? I was blessed with two intelligent, good-hearted parents. My mom and the memory of my dad inspire me every day.

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? Oh God, it's Sophie's Choice, isn't it? Honestly, if I had an all-expenses paid trip right at this moment, I'd use it to travel Europe. I'd love to go North and see the Aurora Borealis, see the canals in Amsterdam, taste chocolate in Belgium, explore Romania, stand open-mouth at the beauty of Dubrovnik, and connect to my roots in Greece and Italy. I can't think of anything more I'd like to be doing.

What is your favorite place on earth? Right now, I'd have to say New York City at Christmas. There's an energy and music that emanates from the city this time of year. You can't help but love it. 
Anything else you'd like us to know? I'm fairly new to the writing scene and learning more and more every day. I want to thank Kristin to sending me this survey. I admire and respect her writing, and I can't wait to hear more from her in the future! Hopefully I'll have a few more things to plug the next time one of these rolls around.

Friday, April 4, 2014

{This Moment} Blurry Coworkers Edition


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


Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:

  • On Monday, I talked about my weekend wandering around Harlem, complete with a dressing-room selfie.
  • On Tuesday, I posted about my awesome experience taking a private class at the Morgan Library & Museum. Even if you don't read the entry, you should click through to see one of my favorite pieces of art I've ever seen.
  • There was a little scheduling confusion this week, so there's no new Writer Wednesday post up. But if you're interested, you can visit this page and click through to some of our past writers. I personally loved seeing everyone's photos all in a row!

Writing in other places:
  • Nothing's up online this week, but April marks National Poetry Month, so I've been writing a poem-a-day to celebrate. After months of not writing very much at all, it feels good. The poems are, so far, pretty terrible, but writing anything at all has been such a relief.

This weekend, I have to run a lot further than I'm ready to run (8 miles). I think I'm probably going to need to trim it back a little, and adjust my training for the half-marathon somewhat. I just haven't been getting the miles in the way I needed to. But, I'm looking forward to the warm weather and to getting outside and hitting the pavement. Do you have any fun plans for this weekend?!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writer Wednesday

Due to some scheduling issues, there's no Writer Wednesday post today, but in case you're missing your weekly dose of interviews, you can revisit some of our past ones today. And don't forget, if you're interested in being interviewed, just shoot me an email. I'd really love to feature a multitude of voices in this space, so yours is more than welcome!

Shaelyn Amaio

Amanda McConnon

Liz from Liz Takes the World

Danielle Martin

Peter Longofono

Liz from Happy Sighs

Erin from The Familiar Wilderness

Chad Arnold

Kate from Nautical by Nature

Courtney Mirenzi

Jennifer Hanks

Erica Quinn

Sara Strauss

Roy Holm

Beth Bault

Tune in next week for an interview with the lovely Kathryn Guarino!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Weekday Wanderings - The Morgan Library & Museum

http://www.themorgan.org/collections/collections.asp?id=83
Two Elephants by Ibn Bakhtīshū

One of the blessings of having a partner who works at a museum is that sometimes I get to see amazing museum things. Yesterday was one of those days. Roger and his coworkers took a few of their interns on a field trip to the Morgan Library & Museum, and because I work across the street and one of the interns couldn't make it, I got to accompany their little group during my lunch break.

William M. Voelkle, the curator and department head of Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts there gave an incredible presentation about the history of the manuscript, from papyrus scrolls to vellum codexes. To illustrate the talk, he brought us an incredible number of illuminated manuscripts, each of which was just gorgeous. He explained why fancy books now have ridges in their spines (when books were still sewn together, the leather bindings bumped over their stitches) and said that the most beautiful manuscripts, the ones with jewels in the front, were kept in the treasury of their monastery, and weren't actually read. All books were items of enormous value, but the inlaid ones were especially valuable, of course.

We saw an illuminated manuscript that was only half-finished, which showed us the incredibly painstaking process of hand lettering and painting each page, and then Voelkle explained how each book was bound. It was incredible seeing the logic to the different pages, even if you couldn't tell from just looking at it right away.

My very favorite piece, though, and the one we spent the most time on, was The Benefits of Animals, a Persian book by Ibn Bakhtīshū from the 14th century. It's part of their Islamic collection, and absolutely stunning. The book talks about the natural history of animals and the illustrations of animals are just gorgeous. (There are also some imposter drawings of humans, that were added in the 19th century to make it more interesting to potential buyers.) The elephants above are my favorite piece from the whole book (someone get me a print!), but all of the illustrations are incredible, so take a look through the pages if you have a chance. There is also a great pair of mountain goats and some beautiful deer.

As a writer and someone who works in textbooks, I am constantly thinking of the next thing for the book. Yesterday afternoon, I was lucky enough to spend some time thinking about the past of the book, and what incredible objects they really are. I do think that as electronic media continues to grow, print books will slowly move back toward their original state as art objects, and I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. It's humbling to consider the longevity of these books in a world of immediate consumption, and I can't think of a better way to have spent my time yesterday. Thanks to the Morgan for hosting us and giving me such a great education in manuscripts!