Thursday, August 28, 2014

Five Ways to Shave Money in NYC

I was recently contacted by Dollar Shave Club, who shave time and money for anyone needing razors, and asked to share some of the ways I shave time and money in my own life. Since I live in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world, I'm all about finding ways to shave a little money here and there. Here are a few of tips for doing just that!



Cook for Yourself (or at Least Eat Cheap)
After rent, my biggest expenditure every single month is eating out. It's no surprise: NYC is a culinary capital of the world, and I'm a big fan of eating delicious meals. It's one of my favorite ways to socialize. But, it can be just as delicious and just as fun to make your own. With tons of specialty grocery stores and a flourishing farmers market community, no ingredient is out of your reach. Or, if you must go out, do it smart. NYMag has a great annual list of Cheap Eats and NYHappyHours.com allows you to sort through some of the best happy hours in the city by date. There are great places to go out on the cheap - find them!

Avoid Taxis
This town has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. Use it! For $2.50, you can get to the beach, to major art museums, even to major airports to carry you off to the skies. And, to work. Not only will your commute likely be significantly faster, it will definitely be significantly cheaper if you take the subway or bus. Unless your company is paying for it and the roads are empty, there's pretty much no reason to take a cab in New York. (No, not even if it's raining!)

Go to Free Events
I think it's common to feel like everything in NYC costs a fortune. Broadway tickets can cost well over $100 each. Going to the top of the Empire State Building costs almost $50. The MoMA charges $25 per person to see their incredible collection. BUT. There are ways to avoid this, and if you're going to live in NYC and you don't work on Wall St., it's imperative that you do. The trick is to do a little research. Almost all museums in NYC have a free day or hours when you can visit without paying a dime. You can see so much theater at great prices with a student ID or rush tickets. All the libraries offer free lectures and classes. Many parks have free movie nights. If you can take the time, you can easily find something free and fun to do every night of the week. A good place to start looking is ClubFreeTime.com.

Shop at Thrift Stores
One of the benefits to being surrounded by the ultra-rich is that eventually, they have to get rid of their clothes. That's where you come in. Scour the thrift stores in fancier neighborhoods. It might take some time, but you're sure to find some gorgeous wares for a fraction of the cost of the originals. Focus on getting the highest quality you can, because you can often have minor repairs and adjustments made, and still save tons. My top picks are Housing Works and Buffalo Exchange, but there are many, many more to sift through for gems.

Save on Your Gym
I'm slowly becoming a bit of a health nut, so my gym is a major priority for me, and it definitely comes at a cost. I've budgeted for it (and I use a discount offered through my employer - definitely check to see if yours does the same), so I'm okay with how much I spend, but there are definitely some ways to get your fitness on at a cheaper price. At a NYC Recreation Center, gym memberships are only $150 for a whole year, and there are a number of Planet Fitnesses where you can join for $10 a month. For completely free workouts, many churches have free sessions, and there are a number of pay-as-you-wish yoga studios around town. My personal favorite exercise, running, can be done for free in any of our 1700 parks, or plenty of running stores offer free running groups you can join.

With a little effort and time, you'll find you have more money in savings, even if there's not much you can do to lower your crazy rent! How do you save money in your city? Do you use a subscription service like the Dollar Shave Club?  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Natalie Giarratano

Originally from small-town Southeast Texas, Natalie Giarratano received her MFA and PhD in creative writing from Western Michigan University. Her first collection of poems, Leaving Clean, won the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry and was published in June 2013 by Briery Creek Press. D.A. Powell selected her work for inclusion in the 2011 edition of Best New Poets, and she won the 2011 Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from Southern California Review. She co-edits Pilot Light, an online journal of 21st century poetics and criticism, teaches writing at American University, and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Zach Green, and their pup, Miles. After you read this interview, I hope you'll check out some of her poems, because they're just incredible. I'm still reeling from reading "Asena, the Gray Wolf, to Tu Kuëh after Many Years."

Natalie Giarratano - Poet

Who are you? I’m Natalie Giarratano—poet, editor, teacher, animal lover. My first collection of poems, Leaving Clean, was published in 2013 by Briery Creek Press, and I’m co-editor of Pilot Light: A Journal of 21st Century Poetics and Criticism. Or: I’m the something that flickers in the periphery when you’re out walking at night; the divot in the sidewalk waiting to trip you awake; the not quite black sheep of the family but more like the platypus.

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 your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. Some work can be found at www.nataliegiarratano.com. I’ve never been much into blogging, but I love reading others’.

My most recent poetry publications can also be found online. “Big Thicket Blues” is up at TYPO and “The Translations” is in the newest issue of Tupelo Quarterly (these are both fairly long—2014 seems to be the year of finally getting the long poems published). The former poem is an eight-section meditation on place and not belonging and racism and what happens when we ignore violence and other injustices done to human beings. The latter is more personal and deals with what it’s like in a partially-deaf person’s mind; how she has to find music in her surroundings even when she can’t make out individual voices in groups of socializing folks.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? When I was all of eleven, I asked my mom for a journal—one in particular that had a stuffed bear wearing clothes and pretending to write at a desk (I have never claimed to have good taste)--in which to write poems. Not sure why then or why poems. I definitely read all the fiction I could get my eager hands on, loved to get lost in those worlds/characters and pretend to be someone else for a while. My parents were pretty over-protective/conservative, so imagination is where I hung out quite a lot.

Why do you write? Looking back, I think that poetry meant tackling the big questions I had about the world. My first poem in that clothes-wearing-bear journal was then aptly titled “What is the World?” Ha! Still figuring that one out with every poem I’ve written. My world has gotten larger instead of smaller, which makes learning/understanding more complex. Instead of writing solely about autobiographical incidences and hang-ups, I’m writing on buried news stories about the warring in Iraq or giving voices to characters or people that I see as voiceless, many of which are women. My concerns have grown up even as that basic question evoked by my first (freakin’ awful) poem has not disappeared but evolved.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Yusef Komunyakaa and Lynda Hull—the way they have snake-charmed jazz and blues onto the page; CD Wright—that she’s not afraid to engage with unflinching anger; I could go on and on, but here are a few more whose work I do not want to live without: Virginia Woolf, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Walt Whitman, Muriel Rukeyser, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, Mary Ruefle, Tracy K. Smith, Khaled Mattawa, Jake Adam York, Major Jackson.

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’m lately obsessed with genealogy. I’ve traced my Acadian Louisiana relatives from my mother’s side back to France via Nova Scotia (where they were uprooted/kicked out of by the British in the mid-1700s). I’d love to make the backwards version of the trek they made.

What is your favorite place on earth? Right now it is a tree house in Moloa’a Bay, Kauai.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I’m currently working on a chapbook of poems very different from my first two books/manuscripts. These poems confront the current state of Iraq and the lack of network coverage of the issues there. I don’t think I’ve ever written about a place in which I’ve never set foot—it’s tricky, to say the least.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend Wanderings: A Brooklyn Weekend

We had a very Brooklyn weekend. It's been harder than we expected, I think, to settle in and really feel like Brooklyn is home, and our friend Danielle pointed out that we haven't really been taking advantage of the things that make this borough special, so we can't really say we don't like it yet. (To be fair, when I'm living in a place, I tend to care a lot more about having a great grocery store and beautiful running routes than I do about having adorable coffeehouses and artisanal gift shops, but she had a good point that we haven't been exploring the way we should be.) Since then, we've made small efforts to find and enjoy new things (walking through Greenwood Cemetery to visit the parrots, indulging in Brooklyn bridge views and ice cream, spending more time than ever with all the friends we have here), and it's definitely helped assuage my Harlem-homesickness a lot. On Saturday, I even went on a long run and didn't spend the entire time hating my route for being too "urban" -- a major complaint from me lately.

Part of that is that I'm just getting used to my basic route, which takes me around Greenwood Cemetery. It's not the route has gotten nicer (it definitely hasn't), but that it's feeling more familiar, so even though it's not lovely, it goes by fast. And on the longer runs, I can go into Prospect Park pretty easily, and it is lovely in there.

Running Path in Prospect Park

After the long run, which went pretty well despite some tightness in my right ankle and calf, Roger kindly filmed me taking my ice bucket challenge. My reaction in the video is exactly what I would say now: It's a lot worse to dump cold water on yourself, even after a hot, sweaty run, than I would have expected.



After a quick shower, we were off to Park Slope for a delicious brunch at Fonda, which I'd highly recommend. The food was delicious and only $12 (or $25 if you want unlimited drinks with them), and it was a very chill atmosphere.


After brunch, we wandered up 7th Avenue, stopping in a bunch of little shops and enjoying the gorgeous weather. Brooklyn Industries was giving out free mimosas, which was lovely:


And we also stopped into two different Sterling Place shops, which were a lot of fun. I *need* a candelabra and a silver serving plate, don't you think? We wandered through the Park Slope extension of the Brooklyn Flea, one of the things I really loved to do when I lived in Clinton Hill five years ago, and saw some great furniture and hats that we didn't buy. Another highlight was Lion in the Sun, an adorable little paperie, where Roger bought a few small note books and I perused the lovely personalized stationary. One day when we're wealthy, everything I own will be monogrammed as if to say, "I was here. I existed."

After a brief rest at home to watch Blackfish, which was really upsetting of course, we headed to Dinosaur BBQ with Danielle and Rob. I'm trying to eat vegetarian, which was obviously a massive success there (not), but it was really delicious.

Dino BBQ Brooklyn

Danielle is so Brooklyn that she bikes everywhere.


We had dessert at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, where I had the birch beer float (not as good as the salty honey pie, but still quite tasty) and took this amazing picture:

 
After that, Danielle bid us adieu and we wandered over to Union Hall for drinks and to meet up with Erica, who is still one of my very favorite people even though she lives four hours away in Pennsylvania now. Also, I always forget how great that bar is.


And on Sunday, we recouped from the busiest, most Brooklyn day ever by doing a bunch of long overdue work and trying to maybe finally one day kind of get the house the way we want it. Almost. 

The closest we got was re-finishing one of the two chairs we were going to re-finish, and putting a cover on an outlet that was previously exposed. Admittedly, the one chair we finished *does* look great.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Visiting from A Practical Wedding?

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet! Not Intent On Arriving started while I was vacationing in Iceland, and while I'd always meant for it to be just a travelblogue, it turned into something a little more personal along the way.

If you're interested in reading about some of my travels, this is where you want to be, but if you'd rather read my interviews with some incredible writers, this might be more your scene. And if you'd like to read more of my nonfiction work or some of my poetry, my website is a place you might like to find yourself.

I like to think of NIOA as the internet equivalent of my country house: A cozy fireplace, some lush carpets, and long dinners at a big old farm table. In actuality, it might be more like my real house: A converted commercial loft space in Brooklyn filled with a lot of books, a lot of photos, my partner's textile collection, and more than enough cat fur to go around. Either way, I hope you'll make yourself comfy, sit a spell, and let me send you a postcard if you're into getting mail the old-fashioned way.

And, in case you're wondering what I looked like with the beehive, you can see it in my most recent {This Moment} post, below.

For you regular readers who have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my post on A Practical Wedding here!

http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/08/waiting-for-engagement/

{This Moment}

Photo by Frank and Telmo of Natural Expressions NY (http://www.naturalexpressionsny.com/)
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 wrote about my weekend of meals, meals, more meals, and a little long run with a friend.
  • Tuesday I posted pictures from my oldest friend's wedding. It was beautiful
  • This week's Writer Wednesday featured another very old friend (and an incredible playwright!), Theresa Giacopasi
Writing Elsewhere:
  • On Tuesday, I posted a drawing from my first workshop at Sarah Lawrence over on my website. It's part of a new series, Ephemera from the Museum of Myself, wherein I am cataloging my own papers as if I were someone famous.
  • Yesterday, I wrote a quick first post about that same old friend, and how she made her own wedding cake, over at The Chowder Box.
  • Today, a piece I wrote about hair, love, and letting yourself live as you are is up on A Practical Wedding. Being able to say that makes me thrill with joy!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! This is our first weekend in ages without any plans, so I'm really looking forward to a long run and some relaxation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Theresa Giacopasi

Today I'm featuring someone I've wanted to feature for ages and ages, my dear friend from high school, Theresa Giacopasi. (For having been a very normal and run-of-the-mill public high school, we really produced quite a number of interesting and good human beings.) We've been buddies since the days of Drumbeat. Theresa is a ridiculously talented playwright, who is studying at Iowa right now. Her plays are touching, funny, and subtle. I can't wait until she moves back to New York and starts getting me comp tickets to all her plays on Broadway starring James Franco. (Or, like, Patrick Stewart. That is your post-grad plan, right, Theresa?)

Theresa Giacopasi by Matthew Posorske
Photo by Matthew Posorske

Who are you? I’m Theresa! I’ve known Kristin for ages now, since we were wee fellow poets on our high school literary magazine. Kristin, thank goodness, followed poetry (she knows, I hope, how dearly I love her work) – I moved on over to playwriting. I studied it at NYU for undergrad, and am now getting my MFA at the University of Iowa.

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? You can find a barely-passable website for me at theresagiacopasi.com; it’s just a headshot and bio, but it’s a place to hang my internet hat. You can also read an excerpt of my play Chicken. here.

I’m always trying to articulate a specific feeling or thought I have, usually intangible or barely a sentence long, and often by smashing incongruous things together. In The Monster Play, I’m placing fairy tales and monster stories alongside autism to explore fear; in Chicken., depression and surrender of agency with playing chicken with cars. I’m currently doing rewrites on Order Now, a play where I’m exploring the recent celebrity of SEAL Team Six and what that means by placing it alongside infomercials.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I’ve never not written. I started dictating stories to my mom around three, and apparently was very bossy about it. I went through a lot of writing “phases” as a kid and teen: journalism, prose, poetry. It didn’t occur to me for a long time that I could write plays, even though I loved theater and acting (although I wasn’t very good at it). The light bulb finally lit up around 17 or so. It felt like finding the perfect size in a dress you’re madly in love with, or eating the perfect meal when you thought you were too hungry to know what you wanted.

Why do you write? I write plays because theater is, I think, the best tool we have to experience and teach empathy. You can turn off TV or the internet. You can put down a book. You can walk out of the movie theater. I guess you can walk out of a play too – but the fact that it’s real live people up there, who can see you doing it, changes the interaction. That immersion and awareness is important to me.

On a larger scale, I write because if I don’t, I become intolerable. I think other people experience this with exercise; I know athletes that become absolute monsters without physical activity. I do the same thing, only with writing. But just like exercise, I do dread it until it’s over, often.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? Oh goodness: everyone. I don’t read established playwrights to get jazzed to write; they just bum me out with their success. But anyone in my playwriting “cohort” is a superstar to me; the members of my writing group in New York, The Cockpit, knock my socks off. I like my peers. I like reading what they’re writing: poetry, long form journalism, weird unnecessary memoir, short stories. That’s what gets me inspired.

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? Bhutan. Australia, because I don’t think I’ll ever justify the expense otherwise. I have a long-held yen to spend a month or so in Argentina, so that would be swell, too.

What is your favorite place on earth? A quiet bar, made mostly of wood, with good people in it drinking good things, on a cool summer day with the water nearby and trees visible from the table I’m sitting at.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I’m teaching playwriting to ages 4-14 this summer, and you know who gets structure and clear storytelling the best? The youngest kids. Those guys have Freytag’s Pyramid DOWN. If you ever have an opportunity to have a bunch of kindergartners shout “exposition!” at you, take it, for god’s sake.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Wedding of Emily and Taylor

My oldest friend got married to the man of her dreams last weekend, and I couldn't help but share some images I took at their wedding, which was a very traditional Episcopalian ceremony. It's rare that I'm truly moved during wedding ceremonies, but I found myself choked up during the reading of Corinthians 13, which feels trite in NSRV translations but profound in the KJV, and during their incredible minister's sermon, which was just beautiful. Now Roger and I are thinking of joining the church. The traditions and translations felt perfectly matched to their personalities, and the simple reception with friends and family that followed was relaxed and such a blast.






Emily and her beautiful mother, Mia, the first woman I knew who wrote poetry.

Emily made their incredibly delicious cake the day before the wedding, and wrote about the experience here: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/life/2014/08/19/wedding-cakes-baking-diy/14303051/. She's completely right - sometimes homemade is absolutely perfect.

Cake!


Emily and Taylor reacting to the best man's beautiful speech and song.

Hula-hooping!

Pixie cut twins!

Best wishes for a long and healthy life together, Emily and Taylor! I see many years of joy and love in your futures!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Meals Upon Meals

This was a very good weekend for eating. It began on Friday at J'eatJet, which was very tasty (we had the macaroni & cheese balls, and I had gnocchi while Roger really loved their burger), but a little pricey and very cash-only. Sigh. At least having to run to get cash meant we had cash to pay the cash-only pizza place that let us buy a pie from them the week before on trust and store credit. Brooklyn: It is cash-only, but it is also full of very incredible people.

On Saturday, I woke up early and cleaned, and then ran twelve miles with Jennifer. It was probably the most productive morning I've had in months. And the twelve miles were great! I was definitely sore afterward, but I was so glad I had her there to push me along. We finished our run along the Brooklyn Bridge and then headed to Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for a victory cone. This has me looking forward to Trail Running Camp even more than I was before.


View from the bridge.

Really love Jennifer's shirt here.

That evening, we had Alana, Mered, and Sarah over for dinner, which, because I ran 12 miles that morning, was a TJ's chicken package with polenta and veggies. Have I ever told you that my mother is the most laid back person I have ever known, and once threw a mini-dinner party for long-lost friends that consisted entirely of Italian take-out? And it was such a blast and a definite high-point memory of mine? So basically every time I have a dinner party I try to channel her and feel good about the very fact that my house is clean enough to open the door to let them in and that there is food they can eat, whether it is good or homemade or not. Anyway, we had a good time. Sarah handmade buttermilk puddings, which I really enjoyed. They tasted a little like yogurt, but with the texture of flan.

On Sunday, we had Danielle and Beth over for brunch (quiche, plus mimosas courtesy of Danielle, plus amazing muffins that Beth brought over), and it was also a great time. 


We decided to start a food blog, called The Chowder Box, to record our weekly food salon. It turns out we all love to eat. There aren't any posts up yet, but there will be soon, and in the meantime, you can check out our About Page to see what all the hullabaloo is about.


My hope is that it really takes off and I get to move to a cabin in New England one day soon.

Friday, August 15, 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:
  • This week's Writer Wednesday was Julie Schwietert Collazo, a talented writer and author of Pope Francis in His Own Words and Moon New York State.
  • Yesterday, I posted a little Weekend Wandering, pondering the upsides of always living so close to the place I grew up.
Writing Elsewhere:
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I'm looking forward to a nice long run with a friend, and then we're hosting dinner and brunch!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Friday Night

Kevin Carter, Will Fleming, Chelsey Morar, Kristin Maffei, Roger Arnold

I just really love this photo, taken by one of my favorite people, Alisha Levin, who refused to get into the picture, and instead captured each of us perfectly.

This past weekend was one of old and dear friends. I've known Alisha for twenty-one years, since she was in my second-grade progression class. I met Will and Chelsey and Roger in high school, over a decade ago now, and Kevin I met for the first time in college, and knew instantly that this guy Alisha had been talking about for ages was a keeper. After dinner - the best kind, enormous and long and filled with drinks - we met up with Danielle and Rachel, also dear high school friends. I'd managed to get drinks before all this with three of my cousins and one of their friends who is now one of mine. On Saturday, I celebrated the wedding of my very oldest friend, the first person I met in Mahopac, Emily, and was surrounded by a family that feels so familiar they're almost my own. And on Sunday, I did celebrate with my own family: my parents and my mother's best friend and Roger's family all joined together for a barbecue.

Sometimes it can be hard, being so close to the place I grew up. It can feel as if I've never left, never rooted myself in unaccustomed earth as Lahiri and Hawthorne would say. But sometimes, it's feels like New York, with all its personal and public histories, is exactly where I am meant to be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Julie Schwietert Collazo

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer based in New York City. Her work on a wide range of subjects—from food and farming to art, technology, and human rights—has been published by a variety of magazines. She is also co-author of Pope Francis in His Own Words and sole author of Moon New York State.

Julie Schwietert Collazo
Julie Schwietert Collazo


Who are you? I've never been a fan of the clever bio, so let me just shoot straight: I'm a writer (non-fiction; fiction has never been my interest and definitely not my forté) who, above all, is interested in stories about overlooked people and places, especially if they're in/about/related to Latin America. I'm someone who feels a certain urgency about collecting and disseminating stories so that they don't get lost forever. It's a losing battle, of course—there are just too many stories to tell—but I think every one makes a difference in some small way. Which, by the way, is not to say that everything I write is serious and ponderous and significant. I have many interests (as Walt Whitman said, "I am large, I contain multitudes") and not all of those lend themselves to serious expression, which is fine; it keeps my work days varied and interesting.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would youdescribe 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 your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. Online, I can be found a few places. My two blogs: www.collazoprojects.com and www.cuadernoinedito.wordpress.com. The former is a bit of a hodge-podge, an online repository (my own little sandbox, I suppose) where I can post those pieces that I either haven't pitched and placed successfully or which I'm not interested in having published elsewhere. It's also a spot where you can find a list of all my published work, with links to clips available online. The latter blog isn't written in Spanish, as the name suggests. It's a blog about the writing and editing life, and I give honest, transparent takes on the ups and downs and pros and cons of this profession.

I'm also on most social media platforms as @collazoprojects.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I've been a writer forever, but before I was a professional writer, I was a creative arts therapist and psychotherapist who specialized in the use of writing (memoir, poetry, creative writing) with clients. So in a way, I've always been doing the same work—namely, using myself as the platform or vehicle through which people can share their stories—but I've just gone about it in a variety of ways.

Why do you write? I don't have an "off" switch as a writer; I guess I just wasn't born with one. I see everything as a story (or, at least, a potential story) and so I write because I don't really have a choice—there's no switch I can turn off to stop seeing the world as one big, tangled, and fascinating narrative, with millions of subplots begging to be pulled out and polished.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? I'm inspired by anyone who has a fine eye for granular details. I love Pablo Neruda and, in particular, his odes, for this reason; he looks at the most ordinary of objects and, through his observations and words, renders them extraordinary. Anyone who can do that has a very special gift. I'm equally inspired by writers who exhibit two similar traits: insatiable curiosity and absolute respect for their subjects and the stories that are entrusted to them. I just finished reading Craig Childs' Finders Keepers, a book about archaeology, and I was so inspired by the example he set of treating every person he interviewed for the book—people who had extreme conflicting opinions and beliefs—with the same respect, the same belief that they would teach him or share something with him that would enhance his understanding of the subject and, by extension, would enhance ours as readers.

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 know I should probably say something grandiose like a round-the-world journey or, at the very least, to a place or region that is far-flung and financially not as accessible to me, but really, I'd just like to be sent to Mexico and explore the country for the rest of my life...with no intent of arriving anywhere in particular.

What is your favorite place on earth? Mexico City. It's my former home and I have a really hard time explaining it, but the first time I landed there, I knew it was "my" place. It's chaotic and crazy and contradictory and I feel like it's the physical, geographical embodiment of my own interior. I guess that's the best way to put it. Plus, the food is exceptional.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Nope. :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

{This Moment}

Walk on the RFK/Triborough Bridge
 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:
Writing Elsewhere:
  • Nothing this week, but something very soon!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! We're headed upstate to celebrate my oldest friend's wedding!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My 500th Post! (Plus a Giveaway!)

This is my 500th post! I'm a little shocked to have come this far, but so grateful for everyone who has followed along on this little blogging journey. It all started about four and a half years ago with a trip to Iceland, and since then, I'm excited to have covered a number of other trips, big and small. (Check out that link! I'm not done, but I've very slowly started to get my travels page in order to make it easier to follow each of the trips.) I'm also really excited about my Writer Wednesday feature, where I've had the great pleasure to interview writers from all walks of life. I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me over in this little corner of the internet. I love you guys.

To celebrate and really thank you, I'm giving away postcards to anyone who asks! Last time I did this (to celebrate the blog's 1-year anniversary, way back in 2011 when I was in France for New Year's), I sent out ones I'd made using my header image. This time, I'm taking the opportunity to share my postcard collection with the world. I've been collecting them for years, so you may get one from Colonial Williamsburg (1996) or Hawaii (2004) or any other trip I've taken in my 28 years. Just leave me your name and address, and I'll put one in the mail for you straight away! (And, if you wanted to share a picture of you with your card when you get it, I wouldn't hate that. I wouldn't hate it much at all.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Jillian Brall

Jillian Brall is co-editor of Lyre Lyre, a poetry and art journal. She's also the first person to ask me to give a reading without me applying for it (and thus introduced me to Abigail Welhouse), which let me tell you, felt extremely special. Her poems have been published in Connotation Press, The Tower Journal, Unshod Quills, Ping Pong Magazine, Ragazine and others, and are forthcoming in Yes, Poetry. She is also a saxophonist and visual artist, currently focused on abstract painting and collage. Some of her work can be viewed at venusspinsbackwards.com.

Jillian Brall


Who are you? A stranger in a strange land.

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 post new poems at zoewo.blogspot.com. My poetry is observational, reflective, filled with questions, and is simultaneously both very heartfelt and very cranial. I often meld real life experiences with the experiences I have in my vivid dreams. I write with concern and with despair and with desire and with prayer. I naturally notice and deliberately draw attention to the interconnectivity of sound and meaning. The musical and linguistic elements of rhythm, rhyme, and sound are never out of my mind when I'm thinking and writing, and, to me, they can not be separated from the meaning, gravity, and depth of words and language.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I started keeping a journal when I was about six years old. It was a combination of a diary where I would house and analyze my thoughts and experiences, record the dreams I had, and where I kept lists and notes. I had pretty severe OCD as a child and felt compelled to write down almost everything that came to mind. Over time, as I got older, I learned to quiet the anxiety. The compulsiveness never really went away, but I gained the control I needed in order to function with less stress. In my pre-teens, I feared that quieting all of this noise might stunt my creative expression, but it really freed me up to focus. In third grade, I had the most amazing teacher, Mrs. Petruny, who gave us abundant and varied writing assignments, including writing poems and stories, in addition to writing descriptive sentences in order to practice grammar and parts of speech. I loved it so much, and I began writing creatively on my own that year and have never stopped. I wrote poems, stories, essays, and even at one point created a newspaper for my family. I've been fortunate to have many excellent English and writing teachers throughout my life who encouraged me to write, and who introduced new concepts, styles, and voices to me. Writing poems and recording my dreams are the main types of writing I've been doing for the past decade or so.

Why do you write? It's my default. It's one of the mediums I feel compelled to use as a means of expression. Poetry enables me to process and articulate my thoughts and feelings in a way that normal conversation does not. And I love language, sounds, etymology. Normal conversation is often like an IV providing fluids to the body, and poetry, in comparison, is like actually drinking a cool glass of water. They both serve the same purpose of communication and conveyance, but poetry does it through different means that are often more experiential. Although, it's a pretty wild experience to be hooked up to an IV, so maybe this analogy is not the best. Plus, normal conversation is peculiar and telling in its own right. Forget the analogy, I'm just going to quote William Burroughs: "Language...an awkward instrument." I enjoy investigating and exploring that awkwardness.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? If you're asking what the inspiration for my poems is, everyone and everything. If you're asking who inspires me to write, it comes from within.

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 would go to Iceland to see the Aurora Borealis.

What is your favorite place on earth? Somewhere quiet and peaceful where I am looking up at the night sky.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I'm working on getting a show together for my abstract paintings, some of which can be seen on my website, venusspinsbackwards.com. Venus Spins Backwards is the name of my poetry manuscript that I am currently trying to get published. I named the website after it because my paintings and my poetry are very interrelated. I'm also putting together another manuscript of dream stories. Basically, it's flash fiction, although it's not really fiction because I really did have these dreams.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Golf Range

These summer weekends are just slipping through my fingers like all the sand I haven't been laying out on all season! I remember summers felt like they lasted forever when I was a kid. Although, what season didn't last forever, then?

Friday was all about the errands. After work, I finished sewing the edges of my quilt, and brought the topper to have it embroidered. Then, I headed up to Harlem to retrieve some of our mail (our neighbors in Harlem were seriously the best!), and buy cold cuts for a picnic. Of course, by the time I got to the park for the picnic, it was just starting to rain. Alas, we ate sandwiches in the kitchen instead. I did see this very cool sidecar on a bicycle, though:


On Saturday, after spending all morning trying to figure out how we should spend the day (the picnic was again ruled out because of impending rain), we decided to try our hand at the driving range on Randall's Island. Turns out, we're not great at golf (or, at least, at hitting golf balls), but it is a lot of fun!

Driving Range at Randall's Island Golf Center

Driving Range at Randall's Island Golf Center

Driving Range at Randall's Island Golf Center

Driving Range at Randall's Island Golf Center
My lips are pursed in concentration.

Roger and I were pretty majorly shown up by Rob, the Fieldston boys next to us, and pretty much every single other person at the range, but we still had a great time, and now I'm considering taking lessons. In order to ... further my future in business, I guess? One of their instructors didn't start playing golf until she was 30, so that gives me a lot of hope.

Just as nice was hanging out on the Golf Center's patio, where they had cornhole, ping pong, and a nice little bar with some food.


After a little time on the patio, we decided to walk to Astoria, where Rob lives, to meet up with Cece and check out Bohemian Beer Hall for drinks and dinner. We walked across the RFK Bridge, which was shockingly unprotected:


And had a gorgeous view of the Hell Gate Bridge:



We had a great time at the beer garden, and then headed back to Rob's for a little bit to charge Cece's phone and play Octodad, which is hilarious.

Sunday was all about resting and playing catch up. I went on a short run, watched about a million episodes of House, and then tried to get a little productive. I'm still no where near Inbox 0, but maybe I'll get there one day. We ended the weekend with a nice walk around Greenwood Cemetery and some ice cream. I've wanted to visit the cemetery since we moved, so it was really cool to walk around it, finally! In fact, I'm pretty sure we're going to cancel our housewarming so that we can go to a whiskey tasting there on August 16th...



Friday, August 1, 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:
Writing Elsewhere:
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! We blissfully don't have any plans this weekend. I see a bit of running, home improvement, and time outside in my future!