Downs and Ups

17 04 2008

This post is a combination of two categories I started and then neglected. It’s a list and book review in one. After a brief explanation:

Last week was a hard one for me. I have blogged before about the joys of travel writing, but there are many unjoys to it as well (and it goes without saying that being able to make up words goes under the joy column). Since I’ve been back in New York there have been many of both, and last week marked a period of frustration with the struggles of worming my way into the giant clique that is the editorial world.

I found out I had a connection to the Editor in Chief of my dream publication and immediately drafted an email to said editor, only to hear back the following day in a two line email that thanked me for my interest in the publication but unfortunately this editor was too busy for even the briefest of informational interviews. This was disheartening for many reasons, not the least of which being that part of the reason I love the publication so much is that the editor seems like such a cool person. Needless to say I ended the week feeling rather glum.

And so a list of things that are annoying and crappy:

  • Editors who don’t remember what it was like when they weren’t editors and knock your favorite publication down a rung or two.
  • Being a waitress with a Master’s degree.
  • Allergies.
  • Sitting next to a man on the subway who is picking his nose.

And to balance it out, a list of things that helped me out of the weekend blues:

  • An exceptionally warm and lovely Saturday with music, a saint bracelet, and the smells of spring.
  • The nice man at Barnes and Noble that let me exchange my large photography book (which I bought online for my thesis much longer than 14 days ago) for the three very exciting books I got instead: Swann’s Way, Up in the Old Hotel, and Poet in New York.
  • A surprise encouragement email from a friend and one of the most inspiring women I know (who, it should be told, has had her share of travel adventures, and also has a fantastic sense of style).
  • Lo Tengo Torrontes, the wine I brought to my own pity party. I bought it because it was $9 and from Argentina, but it turns out it was quite good, a little fruity without being too sweet. And it has a label with hologram tango dancers.
  • Friday Night Lights. (I’m obsessed. I admit it.)
  • My good buddy J.D.

This last is the book review part. Because, though I’m still in the middle of several other books, I dropped everything thing this weekend to return to Franny and Zooey. I’ve read it so many times there are parts I know by heart, but I keep going back to it. It’s a once a year thing, I guess, and it’s also what I do when I’m feeling really bad. And every time it helps, and every time I notice something new. This time, for example, I realized how ridiculously funny Zooey Glass is, and how much Mrs. Glass is my mother.

But mostly I just love it because it’s a story about love, about a family supporting each other and about loving what you do. Because I could never say it any better than Salinger, I’m just going to go ahead and quote what Buddy Glass writes to his brother Zooey (who is, incidentally one of those characters I wish were real because I’d like to be friends with him): “Act, Zachary Martin Glass, when and where you want to, since you feel you must, but do it with all your might.”

I have two fragmentary comments about this quote, the first being that only Salinger (or the Glasses) can over-italicize and pull it off, and the second is that if I replace “act” with “write” I have me some pretty strong inspiration, especially when you throw in the Fat Lady. (No, I won’t explain the Fat Lady. Read the book and find out who she is.)

And in addition to all these things that have always made this book great, there is the additional fact now that it is about New York, or a New York family. And it may sound bizarre, but I think it might be one of the reasons I always wanted to come to New York. I simply had to see the city that made the Glasses. So reading it this time around not only provided the above inspriation. but filled me with the distinct and comforting instinct that I came here for good reasons, and that I am in the midst of greatness, even if it’s fictional.

And on that note, a 1961 review I found from the New York Times—by John Updike, no less. It’s “cool factor” was slightly diminished by the fact that it’s a bit infuriating, but I still think it’s a fun find. Also interesting is that I never even dreamed that Franny might be pregnant. Those who haven’t read the book, I warn you not to think too much about what Updike says, because, frankly (and in my expert opinion), he’s way off. I have always liked “Zooey” better, and it’s because of, rather than in spite of, the great Glass world. And with that, I close my rant. In the words of Buddy (from my other favorite novel Seymour, an Introduction): “Go to bed. Quickly. Quickly and slowly.”


14 03 2008

It seems like the whole unemployment thing should render me plenty of time to get everything done, yet somehow as each successive day comes to a close I seem to have more unchecked boxes on my to-do list than I had when the day began. Where does the time go? Well, to job-hunting, mostly, but since the job hunt is mostly done on the internet, that means so many other distractions and influences. There are emails to be sent, companies to be researched, news stories to be read, and the list goes on.

Each new email (or blog comment) I get, each new site or article I find, adds about five things to my to-do list. And that’s to say nothing of the windows that stay open across my browser of sites I’ll look at, articles I’ll read, things I’ll do (when I have the time). Example: yesterday my dear friend Rachel—who has always been ridiculously creative and talented—left a comment on my blog with a solution to my llama sweater problem (I pause here to acknowledge the hilarity of the notion that I in fact have a llama sweater problem): I should felt it and make it into a bag so that it still remains useful and a memory of my trip, and I never have to wear it (thank you, by the way, Rachel, for adding that bit about my never having to wear it). I love the idea, so immediately I google felting, and now have woolcrafting site open on my browser.

And so, though every day feels wholly productive, I’ve now been home a whole month and still haven’t organized my photos to share. And that’s to say nothing of my book list. I came home with grand notions of diving into Borges and other South American writers, not to mention finishing the stray novels I never go the chance to finish during my hectic Masters program (not school books, of course). But it’s difficult to come out of a year and a half of intensive, non-stop reading and tackle the task of finally finishing One HundredYears of Solitude. This is to say nothing of all the books I’m now reading or hearing about, making my book list grow as exponentially as my to-do list.

Not that I’m complaining. Because each new check box I add to the list is a new eye-opener, and thousands of new thoughts to think, so every day I find myself a little further enlightened, like for example, learning that “felting” is actually a word. And one of these days I’ll even go so far as to discover what it is and how to do it. For now, I’m going to content myself with another list. I love lists.

Top things on my to-do list (besides the obvious finding a job):

  1. Organize my 700-something photos (this without pictures from the first two weeks—still waiting for my firend Liz to send me hers since my camera was stolen) into a manageable size and create a slideshow to share with those who care to see it.
  2. Learn what felting is and then attempt it. Then figure out how to do something equally creative with all the other useless souvenirs and memorabilia I have from this and other trips. Oh, and take a picture of my gold stilettos (also a Rachel comment).
  3. Finish reading The Ghosts of Spain (since it’ll take less than 100 years) and then pick up some Borges.
  4. Start working on my novel so that one day I might actually complete it, and because I have to have something to show at my next writing group meeting.
  5. Read more about my latest obsession, green travel.
  6. Start a blog category of lists. Oh wait… a check mark!