owning my siren self

"Doing all the little tricky things it takes to grow up, step by step, into an anxious and unsettling world." - Sylvia Plath

Right now, I'm on the Atlantic coastline of Newport, Rhode Island and it's lovely - one of the most genuinely charming and surprisingly vivacious towns I've been in a long while. Steve Martin is down the street, strumming a banjo, my skin is burnt from a half-hour of direct sunlight, and I'm about to watch one of my best friends walk down a beach aisle and say, "I do" to a guy who realises how lucky he is to have her - nice.

Also nice is an epiphany I started circling around today - all about recognising my place in the world enough to be confident in it. To allow my age and bird's eye perspective to bolster me from my groundling status to instead take hold of the paddle and start flexing the strings in the grand design of my life. Traces of this thought of my yet-to-be-realised potential struck me more than once today - in relation to different universal themes. A burgeoning sense of my womanly empowerment that I will also blame on Steve Martin and the 75 pages I read today of his (unreleased) novella, An Object of Beauty. Coincidence? Hmmm....

Photo is by Sarah Moon.

la, la, red rover... and where will she land?

most people aim to minimise the number of unknowns in their lives... sometimes, it seems, i do my best to maximize mine...

Illustration, which very much captures the way I feel at the moment, is by the lovely Rebecca Dautremer.


"Love is a drama of contradictions."
— Franz Kafka

Photo is by Spanish duo Jorge Alvarino (photographer) and Ali Larrey (art director).

the baroque & the marvelous real

"In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine."
— Milan Kundera

I don't know how I missed the movie Everything is Illuminated when it came out five years ago. Surely, if I'd seen a trailer, I would have taken note - the film brings together so many different elements that resonate quite deeply with me: magical realism, Jewish history, a distinctly Slavic style, a quest into the past... Where was I when it was released? What was I doing? How did it so entirely escape both my sister's (a Slavic film buff) *and* my attention? I don't feel that I was even remotely aware of it.

Equally curious, is that while I was oblivous of its existence for 5+ years, as of about a month ago, I haven't stopped hearing about it. References, questions, mentions of "everything is illuminated" has been *all over* - even the Kundera quote above was something I just stumbled across.

I took the universe's hint and it became something of a quest to watch the film, which, after multiple set-backs, I *finally* managed to do a couple nights ago.


Highly recommended. Set in the Ukraine about an American boy searching for the truth behind an old photograph of his grandfather and "Augustine"... it's heartbreaking, and funny, and surreal, and an all-around charming movie. Go see it if you also happened to miss it. Though I still don't know exactly what I was supposed to get out of it yet... perhaps that bit will come later... or maybe I also ought to read the book - ha - is that gauche?

Photo is by Tim Walker - appropriately, I thought, of a Russian household interior.

enjoy this. this one moment. right here.

"Why didn't I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future." — Jonathan Safran Foer

Photo is by Mike Brodie, The Polaroid Kid, who has done a masterful job of documenting life of modern rail jumpers - people who are likely better at doubting the future than the majority of us.

twopenny island

On occasional weekends throughout the summer, New York's Governors Island transforms into a Jazz Age Lawn Party where fellas and flappers wistful for the Charleston era congregate to dance, peacock their retro duds and generally get swept up in the nostalgia for a roaring decade they never knew.

Kasey, Malena and I packed a gourmet picnic (and attempted at dressing up) and joined them.

1920's style tip: when you've got great socks, show them off.

Malena made this caramel apple masterpiece for the "pie bake-off." She won the Hobo's Choice prize - as in, the pie a hobo wouldn't be able to resist absconding with if he spied it cooling on a windowsill.

The Baby Vamps. (Available for bookings.)

This kid's going to be a foxtrotting maestro.

rash acts

late last night, while standing on the platform waiting for the A train to the upper west side... i nearly turned right around, headed to la guardia, and boarded a plane.

Photo is from Danish photojournalist Joachim Ladefoged's Shanghai 'Neon Revolution' photo essay. (Thanks much to Inge08 for pointing me in his direction!)


"You may not remember the time you let me go first.
Or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn't that far to go.
Or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up.
You may not remember any of those, but I do and this is what I have to say to you:
Today, no matter what it takes,
we ride home together."
— Brian Andreas

Photo is by Heri Cartier-Bresson - an artist who made it his aim to capture life's "decisive moments."

le misanthrope

"I have the fault of being a little more sincere than is proper." - Moliere

i recall, once, someone very dear, shouting at me, "are you really that naive?!" concerned that i was feigning some simple observation i'd had, some idealistic attitude, some uncalled-for and unsophisticated reaction....

as my eyes widened, stung by the accusation, he realised, not without some horror, that yes, yes i was... at that age, and in spite of all the experiences that should have left me hardened, calloused, wizened... i was as willfully delicate as ever.

this weekend, i spent some time with a group of guys who, once again, rather painfully reminded me that compared to run-of-the-mill joes, i take living, too gravely. our brash treatment of each other, too sensitively. i can't help it - the acceptable norms, the glib flippancy where people seem to meet on common ground, are waters laden with sharp scissors in which i do not comfortably tread.

how is that people do it? laugh at one another - in the most tragic and cutting way? say things that they surely cannot mean? or if they do mean it, how can they actually stand it? to participate in those supposedly friendly encounters so thoroughly saturated with contempt?

i'm incapable. of digesting such maliciousness; it makes me ill. of welcoming the dispensing of acidic grime, which i'm sure i taste with greater amounts of toxicity than it is intended, since i can't separate words from their meaning. i survived the weekend, albeit with a grand and shocking finale of tears. but the fact that this was not an anomaly, that people ladle this out, with disturbing regularity - oh, i hate humanity for it.

Photo is by David Bailey.

so spaketh my sage mountains

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day."
- A. A. Milne via Winnie the Pooh

Touched down in Utah just long enough to hike to Secret Lake, catch a Modest Mouse show and dine at Takashi (my favourite sushi restaurant on the planet) as well as catch up with some of my favourite *people* on the planet! It was a lovely break... full of whispers from the mountains I so revere... the ones I pilgrimage to and try to heed whenever they send me potent rumblings about my potential next steps.

Am in New York City now... arrived yesterday... and already life is as weirdly manic as ever... but this leg is more optimistic... am wondering if the river is right - that I shan't worry about lost time, nor write off things simply because they did not happen yesterday.

Photo is one I took from my night hike to Secret Lake just above Alta ski resort... do you see that one lone light in the sky?? It's Venus! x

night lights

I adore fireworks. As in, *love.* They may just be my Holy Grail... despite my age, I still find them downright magical and will gleefully adopt any foreign holiday if it means I get to see a show. Which is why, what I may hate *most* about being an expat is the absence of star spangled spectaculars on July 4th. I mean, really? You think the Brits are going to launch celebratory rockets in honour of our violent succession... probably not. And let me tell you, the holiday is a horrible let-down without them. It's been a consecutive three years of firework-less 4ths... and I simply couldn't bear to repeat it again this year.

Luckily, the surround-sound fire fest on the lake this year more than made up for all the barren holiday nights of the past few summers. My uncle's house is on reservation land, and he and his neighbours clearly delight in taking full advantage of all the generally-illegal pyrotechnics possibilities this affords them.

Bona fide Roman Candles...

...or light sabers, as you will.

My dad and cousin Taylor, crouched to ignight our explosives... before quickly backing away in anticipation of...

Trails of incadescent sparks and dense wafting clouds of sulphur *everywhere.* Honestly, couldn't have asked for a more perfect night.

Happy belated 4th of July!

off the grid

i'm quite certain that if there's anyone who needed a break from the rat race (especially the monstrosities i tend to compete against, you know, the sort that not only run you ragged, but also yearn to eat you whole) it was me. so i felt very *very* fortunate to be invited to my uncle and aunt's house on lake coeur d'alene, in northern idaho (about 100 miles south of the candadian border), for a few days.

i don't think this family retreat could possibly have been better timed. and while i thought it sounded relaxing, i really had no idea know what i was getting into - that i was headed to a place so remote that not only would wifi be unavailable, my *mobile* would be out of signal range - an escape from modernity that i haven't even been able to achieve in as far flung places as turkey, egypt, or belize - and let me tell you, it was *wonderful.*

our drive in: 45 minutes of this... on a gravel road... a long long way off from the highway.

our little dock: the central hub of the water action.

my cousin taylor, trailing us on the jet ski, just before the storm hit and he had to traverse 10 foot waves high to get back to the shore!

my room's view. vista parfaite for writing - non?
and honestly, with the shade drawn, i haven't slept so well in.... ummm... have i *ever* slept so well??

just look at that - and imagine... completely out-of-your-hands nothing to do, but marvel at the very existence of such a scene.

i dare you to try it some time.