Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adonde vamos

Where have we journeyed this year? The usual haunts and new locales.

-la isla de Puerto Rico
-la isla de Culebra
-El Yunque
-Alexandria, VA
-WaWa! and
-Stewart's! (Both of these are worthy of exclamation points, trust me.)
-Amtrak, north and south
-a resort in Florida -- an unusual turn of events for me, but by no means a bad one
-the ESPN Wide World of Sports
-Wildwood, New Jersey
-New Paltz, New York
-a return to the ice skating rink. Beyond a random day in college, that hasn't happened since I was, oh, say, 12.
-a return to the college classroom (oh, snap!)
-Central Park
-FAO Schwarz for the first time since I was approximately 10. It was, in fact, more outstanding as an older person (and late at night, sans crowds).
-Wing night, many an eve
-Emeline's pimping apartment/Christmas tree
-Storm King
-Scranton, a metaphysical sense

More interestingly, where to voyage to in 2012?

I don't feel fatalistic about the coming year, as interpretations of the Mayan calendar would have me feel. As opposed to the way I feel when my birthday arrives, it is but a day. Another year. Things will happen. We go on.

So for 2012, I can anticipate the following:

-Journeys to the southwest, specifically El Paso, land of my dreams.
-An undisclosed locale for a potential half marathon?! Lord help us all. 
-If not London for the 2012 Olympics, another country in its place. Spain? Germany? Un lugar en Sud America? Si, I say, a todo.
-At some point in life, I'd like to catch these in person:

See you there!

Before the year runs out,

I will sneak in my final songs!

What have we learned about the music? Apparently I really like country music these days, although I'm not afraid to try something new.

However, when it comes to choosing music to listen to as I run, I'm as picky as I am with meals: Something particular at a certain time and no deviations. I want a particular song or genre, be it slow and nostalgic or fast and dancy, and I will not stop pressing the "forward" symbol until I find it.

Next year's memes? I don't forsee one. However, I will occasionally keep track of movies, books, and songs that strike my attention, or that I want to keep track of. I look back on 2011 and while I know that I read a number of books, I can't remember any of them outside of Captain Corelli's Mandolin and those I banged out in the past month (oh, and Interview With the Vampire). I want to remember.


#361: Florence + The Machine, "Shake It Out"
#362: EWQL Symphony Orchestra, "Sherlock" (potential floor music, Emeline?)
#363: Sherlock BBC, "Moriarty Suite"
And to conclude the year in Coach Kim's honor:
#364: Girls' Generation, "Gee"
#365 (the grand finale!): DJ Earworm, "World Go Boom" (if you have any interest in pop, worth checking out)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ewan and Harrison

"Don't let Tony back on the market, or I'm going to scoop him right up." -Dan

Christmas: amongst typical present-like activities, reading the IMDB trivia section on each LOTR film. Merry day!


In the twilight of still-sleeping and swimming awake, I was struck by this:

Nothing is going to change unless I actively do something about it.

There's nothing hanging over my head like graduation or the end of funding (one hopes) or an otherwise obvious end point which will force a transition.

I need to take control.


#359: The Twilight Singers, "On the Corner"
#360: The Twilight Singers, "She Was Stolen"

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Usually I throw on a sparkly sweater or long denim skirt for Christmas Eve, something that I break out once a year, along with a suede jacket that's actually rather nice but also participates in the once-per-annum dance.

This evening, I dressed like I was heading out for a business meeting with God. We'd sit across the desk from each other, maybe share a few laughs, shake hands at the end of it. "Email me that paperwork, would you?" he'd say on my way out. "I seemed to have misplaced the hard copy."

In other years, I walked down the hill to the church with the satisfying clack-clack-clack of heels on pavement, already uncomfortable despite the lovely sound and already fantasizing of sweatpants and bare feet. Tonight, no discomfort. I could walk up and down that hill several times if I had to. I could break into a jog. I could duck away just as God said, "There is the matter of your attendance."

I am becoming real.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Real or not real? I am on fire.

A little of this action for your holiday Friday:


I crept onto what's visible of Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook last night and came across this quote:

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up." - Pablo Picasso

It sums up everything I've noticed about musical friends who turned to careers in auditing, writing friends who look back at their old work with a heavy sense of past tense, acting friends who became just one version of themselves. 

It's not easy to make a living in such a way, and that's fine. We all get that. Real jobs have real use. But when I talk to some of these folks, it's clear that they've left those crafty days behind. No dabbling in the old screenplay or novel after hours. They sound a little wistful, they say they really should start something up again, but those embers are reluctant. 

I beat against it. I still burn. 


#358: "Safe and Sound," Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars

Thursday, December 22, 2011

y eso me hace feliz

"Miss Diana?" says Valentina, looking up at me. "Why..."

Oh, boy.

"...Do we have the best coach?"

"Aww," I say. "Now try that one again during strength."


I've been doing this magical thing lately called "lying around in my free time and reading." There has not been nearly enough of it.

I use activities as a means of checking out from the world. Reading and otherwise. I say I've got plans, prior engagements, but really I'm just tapping the glass screen periodically and the page turns. I'm sitting at the desk in crisp gray pants with the attendance book and the pencil raised, but really I would rather hide in other words--especially if I've read them before--instead of stringing my own together.

Occasionally I shower just out of boredom, because water is a better means of filling time. I still think while running, but everything feels distant and pleasant and I create this mental heroic narrative for myself. When I started coaching during grad school, I used to tell people that it gave me a new set of problems to worry about, ones that distracted me from the new school setting and all that follows such a situation (and at this particular school, 'twas a unique setting indeed). I dip in and out of the world.


Apparently I'm more or less caught up on the songs, though I wouldn't be surprised if I tripped up somewhere along the way.

What did I learn musically this year? That I'm still not inclined to sit down and listen to music as I write and surf about. It can feel like sensory overload. But sometimes, it works.

Also, it would seem that a sudden but strong love of country music has swept the soul of one who used to say, "I like everything, but really just alternative because I sound cooler that way."

#345: Coldplay, "Paradise"
#346: Jo Dee Messina, "I'm Alright"
#347: Keith Urban, "You Gonna Fly"
#348: fun, "We Are Young"
#349: Noisettes, "Don't Upset the Rhythm"
#350: Cascada, "Pyromania"
#351: Chino y Nacho, "El Poeta" (The rare song that earns an instant download from one D.M.G. Spanish and writing! What more could you want??)
#352: Willow Smith ft. Nicki Minaj, "Fireball"
#353: "Snow Miser & Heat Miser," The Year Without A Santa Claus
#354: Skillet, "Awake and Alive"
#356: Breaking Benjamin, "I Will Not Bow"
#357: Skillet, "Don't Wake Me"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Car wash songs

We meet again, 12/18 and I.

This year, I went from questionably employed to having a juggling act of jobs. I’m grateful for all of them. I returned to the college classroom as professor, not student. I walked into the gym in the navy blazer, not the leotard or the warm-up jacket (though certainly there was plenty of the latter, too). I re-dabbled in journalism, that old chestnut. I gained an office and also started watching The Office, which means that my Dundie Award has a loving home.

My gymnasts made me especially proud this year. All-around champions in abundance. State and regional victories. Two weekends ago, their first-ever first place trophy as a team. Every day, their humor, their resistance, their successes, their incessant commentary that rolls the story along.

I survived air travel post-blizzard, which is more difficult than you’d expect. A fall journey brought me back to a Spanish-speaking land, place of my roots, and although I am not from there nor from that language, it felt right. Sometimes I think that your roots choose you.

There was a great deal of soul-searching. I felt bitter for a while, or maybe a watered-down version of the emotion. But still, I did not look well upon some aspects of the past until recently. Then it loosened. The water broke through.

I finally did that thing I claimed I wanted to do, which was to run ten miles, and it was a pretty horrendous experience. I was trained and ready, but sometimes, it comes down to the day and an overabundance of Gatorade post-race. But I rebounded. I still run. Maybe even farther in this coming year.

There were small successes in my publishing world. I finished the story of Katie/Savannah and continue the story of Nick in Mexico, walking the streets at night in search of the right words.

Right now I am having my typical anxiety about aging (let’s not forget the mental drama when I went from nineteen to twenty), but as always, I feel the old age slipping away like the snakeskin, outgrown, ready now for the new rawness.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


This morning I am my own earthquake. I wake up before the light and tremble. A small dance that grows in vibration but not in warmth. I step over the puddles of sleeves and hoods. Keep moving.

First call

On Saturday at the gym, Gia inquires as to which Disney Channel shows I watch, then offers her recommendations: "You should watch Victorious. And Shake It Up. And--"

"How old do you think I am?" I ask.

"Seventeen," she says, with complete confidence.


Man, I love epic music.

#337: Pierre Gerwig Langer, "Call for Heroes"
#338: Shattered, "Trading Yesterday"
#339: Linkin Park, "Iridescent"
#340: Short Stack, "Jack the Ripper"
#341: Lana Del Rey, "Video Games"
#342: Hunger Games trailer song that doesn't appear to have a title yet
#343: Vitaliy Zavadskyy, "Hunger" (Emeline will enjoy the second half of this.)
#344: Groove Addicts, "Mercury"

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Empire Strikes Back

The best part of reading blogs and online articles? The comments.

The crazies, the armchair academics and experts, THOSE WHO TYPE IN CAPS come out in one cyber playing field at all hours of the day to have at it. There are run-on sentences and typos. There are insults and rebuttals.

But once in awhile, someone says something interesting.

I've read interviews with actors who talk about how excited they were to perform in a play that they've always loved, or to take part in the film adaptation of a beloved novel. They know the story. It's become internalized in some fashion.

Tonight, I read comments that bemoaned The Office's subpar eighth season, and one person suggested that the new staff writers had probably been fans of the show before they joined, "and that's never a good thing."

I wonder: why is that? No problem if the actor has long admired a work and then has the chance to play the role, but an issue if a writer is a fan of the show's previous seasons and has watched previous arcs unfold?



Has an ample amount of time passed? I say yes.

#326: Fanny Lu, "Fanfarron" (Laurel, pienso que vayas a disfrutar esta cancion.)
#327: Milly Quezada y Juan Luis Guerra, "Toma Mi Vida"
#328: Mikail Aslan, "Xatune" (who can say no to a song whose name begins with "X"?)
#329: Pitbull ft. Kelly Rowland and Jamie Drastik, "Castle Made of Sand"
#330: Ahmed Romel, "Only For You" (Arctic Moon Remix)
#331: Further Seems Forever, "Snowbirds and Townies"
#332: 30 Seconds to Mars, "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)"
#333: The Gaslight Anthem, "Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts"
#334: Kate Nash, "Habanera"
#335: Girls, "Honey Bunny"
#336: Karmin, "Crash Your Party"

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Space debris

Recently, I used the term “space junk” in conversation. I’m not sure why. But it’s pretty applicable to my organizational skills.

Spreadsheets, I can handle. Essay and story organization, I’ve got it down.

Physical stuff?

That’s about right.

For lack of better word, “stuff” occupies small piles on my floor. It rests in the backseat of my old car, hanging out like an old man on the porch with a brew. It’s not going anywhere. My email accounts are filled with useless messages that I keep anyway.

Somehow, I find the sentimental value in everything. A receipt, a note someone left tucked into my windshield wipers, the one-line email from a friend or teacher. A T-shirt I haven’t worn since ninth grade. Pants that I *might* wear one day. People on Facebook that I’ll never talk to again but leave them on my Friends list anyway, just because.

But now, I’m fighting back.

Folders, folders, folders. Move those emails and push that paper. “My Documents” never looked so tidy, cover letters now in their own space and drafts of articles in another. The documents left in the main folder are the strictly creative ones. As it should be.

I deleted or moved over one hundred emails last night. Old meet line-ups and memos: balled up and thrown away. I finally worked up the nerve to toss out the yellow poncho from Puerto Rico, which I would have kept had it not ripped as we walked/ran through the hours-long downpour.

(There’s still time to yank it from the garbage.)

(Now, from writing this, I probably will.)

Because sometimes, the softer side gets the best of me.

I drove up to the church drop-off bin for clothing donations. The plastic bag waited in the passenger seat, ready to go.

I took it out of the car. Hesitated.

Pulled out a pair of periwinkle flip-flops, tossed the rest of the bag into the bin, and drove back.

You never know.

Friday, December 02, 2011

La Ley de Laurel

Y para ella? El mundo, senor.