Monthly Archives: June, 2012

On Finding Your Calling And Changing Your Plans

I’ve known that I want to be a writer since I was six years old. I’ve often told the story of winning a state-wide writing contest about children’s rights, traveling to the capital to shake hands and collect my $50 savings bond and thinking “Whoa! You can make money doing this? I’m in!”  (the essay for the record was pretty bad)

Of course, that dream has taken many forms over the years, and while I’d still like to be a best-selling novelist someday, I know that it’s never as simple as “someone liked something I wrote so now I’m going to make a living doing this.” Especially now.   Over the last decade I’ve become a master of adapting my expectations, and thinking about my goals and plans in different ways.  I wanted to write novels when I was 6 years old, I wanted to write for magazines in high school and college, I wanted to be an investigative journalist. I wanted to win a Pulitzer. OK, I still want all of those things. But I also know that the end game isn’t that important. I know that I may or may not accomplish those things, and I’ll probably accomplish a lot of other things.

When I was a little girl I had an image of myself at 23 (because that was the age that I considered “adult”)—I was essentially “Career Barbie.”  In this vision I lived in New YorkCity, owned a home, had a briefcase, a husband, and was the Editor in Chief of a magazine. You should be laughing at this little girl version of myself (or at least patting her on her head). I am. At 23 I was living in London,  sharing an apartment with 4 other women, dating the wrong guys, making no money at a job I didn’t really like, and loving life. I’m glad my little girl vision didn’t happen (also what magazine is hiring a 23 year old as EIC?)

All of this is to say, a successful life happens when you let go of your vision of what a successful life is. I read a quote today in an article about a yoga teacher who filed for bankruptcy: “The #1 difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is their willingness to fail over and over again.”

This is really hard for a lot of people—especially me—I have this deep need to be “the best” at things. I’ve always known what I want to do and I work really hard at it.

But that willingness to fail and to look like an idiot and keep trying—or keep trying something different is the key to an interesting and successful life (also re-defining what “success” is, is an important step)

There’s a fantastic article on Forbes by Jessica Hagy called ” 20 Ways to Find Your Calling”  she makes some great points and illistrates them with awesome hand-drawn charts. Here are a few of the ones that resonated with me the most and my 2 cents.

1. Ignore the future, deal with the present.  
“The question, ‘What should I be when I grow up?’ is wrong. Ask instead, ‘What is next today?’ We become adults one hour at a time, so what we do today matters.”

I mostly agree with this–I think it’s still important to have long range goals (see my list of life  goals) and think about the future, just not get hung up if it doesn’t work out. But the “work backward” advice is something I’ve read in a lot of career guides–you can’t accomplish any big goal if you don’t take small steps everyday.

3. Say yes to odd opportunities.
“Say yes to the things that intrigue you, instead of the ones that bore you.”

A friend of mine is very creative and is a huge risk taker–as a result she had the most interesting life of anyone I know. Her singifigant other is the same way and is a very sucessful artist. Once when we were talking about how he got where he is, she said: “he literally never says no to anything, even if it seems like a waste of time.”  I like the above spin on that because  not everything is worth a yes, but I certainly do need to need to think about why I’m saying no before I say it. Almost all of the interesting and valuable things in life come from a “yes.”

 4.  Find a problem to solve.
Most great ideas are also things that are useful–plus it feels great to make something (anything) better. What do you think needs to be better and can you do anything about it?

5. Burn your plans.
“Your life will not go according to plan. Nobody’s ever has. So don’t worry if you get off track. The track was imaginary anyway.”

What’s that line? “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” or “You want to make God laugh? Make a plan.” I have so many plans for things in my life and of course things almost never happen the way I planned–and it’s both wonderful and horrible. I love her line “Don’t Worry if you get off track, the track was imaginary anyway.” Someone needs to put that on an inspirational poster!

8. Seek out people you actually like. 

“It’s more satisfying to dig a ditch with friends than to design a skyscraper with a team of sociopaths.”

 This is so true–liking your work environment and co-workers is almost as important as liking the work that you are doing. I’ve had some not so great jobs that were made better by good people, some not so great jobs that were made worse by not so good people and thankfully some great jobs that were made even more awesome by good people.

12. Seek support, not tolerance.
“Make sure you have people in your corner who do more than just nod and say, “that’s nice,” when you tell them your dreams.”

Huge and hard to come by, even the most loving family and friends may find it hard to get as excited about your dreams as you are, especially if it’s not something they are passionate about themselves. But finding a partner (in any form) who really listens and offers advice and feedback and is there for both your highs AND lows is so important. I’ve gotten a lot of “that’s nice” over the years, starting when I announced my intentions to be a novelist at 6 years old. Will Smith of all people said something great along these lines: “If you weren’t present during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success”

13. Spend time before you spend money.

Good advice–feel out a new career as much as you can before diving in to a degree or move. Thinking about becoming a teacher–spend some time in a classroom.

17. Don’t keep score.
“No one will be at the top or bottom of their game forever, and who you perceive as your competition is a constantly changing cast of characters. Keeping score can become a full-time job if you let it, and that’s an awful way to spend a day, much less a lifetime.”

This is a big problem for a lot of people–myself included. And you ever notice you only seem to keep score when you feel you are on the bottom? When things are going well, people rarely say to themselves “wow, look how good I have it!”

18. Change course if you find yourself coasting.

Right now I think most people are just happy that they have jobs, and thoughts like “Am I coasting at this job? Could I be doing something more challenging?”  seem luxurious but the people asking those questions are the ones doing great things.

20.  Relax.
“There’s no right answer, but there are thousands of viable options.”

Again, put this one on an inspirational poster, stat. There is not one thing you can “be,” happiness and success aren’t only achieved one way.


New Fitness Trend: Take Anything and Just Add Yoga

Here’s a fun experiment. Pick something, it could be anything. Say it’s babies that look like Winston Churchill. And you’ll start seeing that thing everywhere and you’ll think to yourself–“Wow there sure are a lot of babies that look like Winston Churchill in my general municipality…” But they have always been there and you just haven’t noticed.

After renting a Mini Cooper on our honeymoon, I am now noticing Mini Coopers nearly every other block in our neighborhood. I don’t think more residents of Park Slope have all decided to buy awesome cars in the last 3 weeks, it’s just that I’m more aware of them now.

So, maybe it’s just a product of being a yoga teacher, but I think I spy a new fitness trend in our midst. Combining yoga to other activities.

I submit the following as evidence:

1) Yoga and Cycling: There are numerous options for this  indoor (spinning classes that combine 30 mins of cardio and 30 mins of asana here, here, here, and probably a bunch of other places).  And outdoor bicycling trips that stop for yoga breaks (you can even do it all over the world! or here )

2) Yoga and Hiking or Running: Notorious purveyors of Ayn Rand philosophy and overpriced yoga clothes Lululemon Athletica have a yoga and running club (plus there’s several others). Yoga and hiking trips are exploding all over the place, there’s even one in my beloved Prospect Park.

3) Yoga and Kickboxing: Sounds like someone was inspired by Billy Blanks! This place offers yoga and kickboxing, or um…”Koga”

4) Yoga and Laughing: This has been around for awhile, and is equal parts heartwarming and cheesy, but I think it could be fun but I think I’d have to close my eyes to not feel silly.

5) Yoga and Karaoke: This is the newest yoga trend (in a world where “trends” are less then 100 people doing something). “I’m on a mission to spread joy and have people feel good,” says the teacher Jennifer Pastiloff–in her Karaoke yoga classes students sing and dance while they do yoga. I have nothing snarky to say about this because it sounds like something I would really enjoy.


6) Yoga and Drinking: Okay so I don’t think anyone is suggesting drinking while doing yoga, but there’s a new yoga studio/bar that’s opening in Brooklyn–it’s a yoga studio by day and a bar by night. And some yoga studios offer special wine tasting and yoga events.


I’m sure there’s a lot more things yoga is being combined with, archery? bowling? scrapbooking? Any ideas for the next yoga-combo trend?

Why Didn’t I Think of This: The Rory Gilmore Reading List

I am really kicking myself for not thinking of this first, but hot damn is this a brilliant idea that’s right up my alley. The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge: reading every book the Rory read (or talked about reading) on The Gilmore Girls.

I love reading, I love The Gilmore Girls (on a related note Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new show “Bunheads” is pretty good so far), so this is kind of tailor-made for me. Here’s the list with which books I’ve already read noted (red is read, blue is read part of), I may just add completing this to my life long goal list.

1984 by George Orwell–read (It’s my favorite book of all time!!) 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain–read
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank–read
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan–read
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin–read
Babe by Dick King-Smith–read
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – read–loved this book as a 14 year old
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita–read for my yoga teacher training
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley–read
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – read
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White–read and LOVED IT
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – read
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown – read
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – read – 2009
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves– I’m not reading an outdated travel guide.
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – read
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore–I think this is just a movie not a book…
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger–read
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen–read
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck–read (one of my favorite books!)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – read
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – reading now
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers–read
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby–read (I think..)
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris–read
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss–read
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg–read
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis–read
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding–read
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson–read
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – read
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris–read
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka–read
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides–read
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich–read
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – read
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck–read
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac–started and couldn’t finish
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey–read
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez–started and couldn’t finish
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton–read (isn’t it required reading for Middle School students?)
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky–read
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe–read
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – currently reading for Book Club!!
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR)
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare–read
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf–started and didn’t finish
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition–OK this one is kind of silly–I’ve read plenty of travel guides, I’m not going to read an outdated one…
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir–read (isn’t it required reading for liberal college women?)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – read
A Separate Peace by John Knowles–read twice
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut–have read most of, or I have read it all and can’t remember it
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron–saw the movie
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White–read (very strange and not as good as Charlotte’s Web At All)
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger–saw the movie
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway–read
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – read
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith–read twice and LOVED
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – read
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann–read
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides–read 
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau–read most of but haven’t finished
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson–someone bought this for me years ago and I found the gesture annoying so I never read it–might give it a second look..
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

What Really Happens When you Donate Clothes

At least 1/3 of my clothes came from thrift stores. I come a long line of thrifty people–“garage sale-ing” , salvation army’s 50-cent night, and “fill a bag for a dollar” church sales are family outings (even now when I fly back to Michigan to visit my family there is both a pile of clothes on the guest bed for me to look through and at least one trip to goodwill planned.)

Thrifting in NYC is different, it’s mostly stores like Housing Works, Beacon’s Closet, Monk, and Buffalo Exchange (yes there are several salvation army and good will stores but they aren’t as plentiful as they seem to be in the corner of the Midwest where I grew up), since New York is such a fashionable and expensive it follows that used clothes would also be more fashionable and expensive (although don’t get my started on the  idiocy of $30 t-shirts from some defunct softball league).


Still financial limitations, habit and fun have led me to be a life long thrift shopper. In the grand circle of life I’ve also been a life long donater of clothes and household goods. I’ve written before about how hard it is to donate items in NYC, but thankfully since that post, a clothes drop off bin has gone up a few blocks from our apartment, and I’ve become more vigilant about keeping my neighbor from throwing things that I put on the curb in front of our building (aka the Bermuda Triangle), my book club has also become a kind of a swap meet–although I’ve benefited more from that than I’ve contributed…

Anyways, because of my deep thrifting roots it was with great interest that I read this article about what really happens to clothes when you donate them. (also on Jezebel) The common naïveté that when you donate something there will magically be someone nearby who wants it , is exposed. I knew that a lot of our cast off clothes (like all those t-shirts of the losing team super bowl teams) go to Africa. But I had no idea about that the turn around time is so short, that there’s a “rag bin” since some things no one wants, and that soon the Africa won’t want our mountain of cheap tacky clothes anymore.

Reminds me of this excellent documentary from a few years ago about our addiction to cheap disposable crap and how we are drowning under all of the crap we feel the need to buy constantly. To this end I’m taking a sewing class (which fullfills another life goal) so soon I’ll be able to make new crap out of all of my old crap rather than add it to the “rag bin.”

This picture is why we like the Oxford comma

A great writers/readers nerd post–though I’m not sure what kind of party this is…


Courtesy of Sasha by way of Alan May on Facebook, we came across this lovely literary nugget this morning:

View original post

Why I Loved Lying on the Ground in Times Square on the Hottest Day of the Year

Yesterday was the first day of Summer, and the hottest day of the year so far. To celebrate, there was a (free!) massive (and massively sponsored) yoga event  in Times Square–what started with 3 people a few years ago grew into 14,000 participants this year. It was a unique yoga experience to be sure.

I took the 3:30pm class, and when I arrived at 42nd street and Broadway (aka Hell on Earth to any New Yorker) the line for registered ticket holders winded around the block while a yoga clothes fashion show took place on the stage and blasted from the dozens of speakers. After a short wait, I was given a free yoga mat (!) and a bag of goodies from the sponsors (hummus, water, magazines, yogurt, etc)  and then ushered by the NYPD to a spot of pavement smack dab in the center of it all (and unfortunately right next to a heat blowing vent for one of those flashy electronic signs).

There were peppered amongst the thousands, some hardcore yogis (there was even a couple showing off some acroyoga when the class ended), but at least around me, it seemed a lot of first timers or at least people who don’t practice regularly. Which is pretty awesome, if I was new to yoga I don’t think I’m choose a 95 degree day in Times Square with thousands  of other people to try it out. And while thousands preregistered, there was also a sizable line of people (some dressed for yoga, some in business or street clothes!) that just walked up and decided to do some yoga in the middle of the hottest and longest day of the year.

The event was called “Mind Over Madness” with the tag line: ” Anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain.
Can you find it in the middle of Times Square?”  And yes, it was more distracting than a quiet zen studio class, but I’m kind of used to classes with noise coming in from the hallway or weight rooms, or  from the street below, or practicing in the park with lots of noises, or in my living room with the cats going crazy and the birds chirping. And there was nary a moment of silence in the room when I taught a bunch of 5 year olds yoga.  Yoga is a practice of drawing your senses inward and noticing but not attaching to the distractions and thoughts vying for your attention.

More distracting than the noise of Times Square was the spectators–dozens of people lined the barriers and just watched and took pictures and a giant screen projected the class and the instructor. I was towards the center but off to the side, so my mug never made it up on the big screen, but I’m sure I’m sweating  in a lot of strangers’ photos.

It was a unique and fun yoga experience, and even if you’re not into yoga at all it’s kind of a once in a life time experience to lie in the middle of the road in Times Square and stare up at the clouds in the blue sky past the buildings.

Kid Crusaders Stick it to the Man, Give Me Hope for the Future

Of course I’ll love my  future hypothetical child no matter how they turn out, but man I really hope I get a little social crusader like one of these kids. They are enough to give you hope for the future.

First,  9-year-old Martha Payne from Scotland: she thought her school lunches were gross and unhealthy so she started a blog, NeverSeconds, featuring a daily photo and review of that day’s meal. Jamie Oliver caught wind, blew up the “Twitterverse”  and in less than a month Martha was getting millions of hits, raising tons of money for an awesome charity, Mary’s Meals, and changed the food the school served adding healthy and fresh foods. Then the local paper picked it up and the council tried to shut her down, but she had waaay more supporters than detractors and the photo ban just got her more attention, more views, and raised even more money for her charity–and the ban didn’t even last a day!

NYC 5th grader Kameron Slade wasn’t quite as lucky as Martha, in that his school never changed their minds. He won a speaking competition in his class with an speech he’d written on the importance of teaching kids about same-sex marriage. But just before he was going to deliver the same speech during a school-wide competition, until his principal stepped in and said that Kameron could not deliver the speech because the topic was “inappropriate.”  He wrote a new speech about the prevention of animal cruelty, but he was far from silenced . The local and national news picked up the story and my favorite news channel NY1 give Kameron the air time to read his full speech on TV! His  wise and brave message of acceptance now has an audience much bigger than the one his principal was trying to keep it from.

Are there any other awesome kids out there sticking it to the Man?

Making Eating Local and in Season Eaiser

There are so many reasons (health, taste, cost)  to buy fruit and veggies that are locally grown and in season. That is assuming that you are eating fruit and veggies at all–according to an  NPR report, generated from Bureau of Labor Statistics data,  we spend almost 30% of our grocery dollars on processed foods and sweets (compared with less than 12% in 1982), and less than 15% on produce.

There are tons of factors that go into that shift, the least of which Mr. Bloomberg is the size of soda (you are treating the symptom not the disease). The first steps are making these foods more available in all areas and finding ways to prepare them that work with your taste buds, but  it’s also helpful to know what is in season where you live at what time of year.   There have been countless articles written on the topic, but unless you cut them out, pin them, or commit the information to memory, they do you little good when your shopping or planning your menus.

My husband and I plan our meals for the week and make the shopping list every Sunday, but it’s more driven by our favorite roster of 15 or so meals and the weather (i.e. It’s too hot for chili) than what’s in season. I’ve been wanting to change that for a long time–especially after I unwittingly spent $7 on a bunch of asparagus. The chart below is helpful, but even more handy is the Local Foods Wheel  (it’s $13 and is available right now for New York Metro area, San Francisco Bay area, and Upper Midwest).  (You can buy the New York one at the McNally Jackson Bookstore in SoHo–a great independent  non-chain, non-amazon bookseller!) *

*note: these are not paid promotions–I just like these things!

This Month in My NYC

There is so much happening in My NYC in the next  few weeks, so instead of  another “this weekend in my NYC” post, this one will feature all of my plans for the rest of the month. I’ll likely follow it up with an overall what I’m doing this summer post. But for now, here it goes, (what’s left of ) My June 2012 in NYC:

Thursday 6/14: Mark and I entered the online lottery for Shakespeare in the Park and won tickets to see “As You Like It” last night. I’ve lived here for 7 years (Mark has lived her for 13) and this was the first time either of us went to Shakespeare in the Park–people wait in line all day for the free tickets for these shows and I can see why–it was amazing. I really want to get to see “Into the Woods” in July or August as well.

Friday 6/15: I don’t know if we’ll actually make it to this tonight, but no matter because it’s offered every 3rd Friday from June-September: the Down & Derby Roller Disco at Dekalb Market. Last year we went to the pop-up roller rink under the Highline, and it awakened in my long lost love of having four-wheels on each foot. I picked up a sweet rainbow striped pair of skates for $9 at a thrift store and now I can’t wait to roller disco it up to 70s and 80s music. Also you should shop and eat at at the Dekalb Market at anytime during the summer–it’s an awesome market made in shipping containers with lots of great stores and yummy food (I got a cool little red riding hood teapot and a had one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches of my life there during my birthday weekend in April).

Saturday 6/16: It’s our friend Bryan’s birthday and he has planned a ridiculous 19-stop food tour..I can’t eat that much but we plan to join him for a few of the stops like brunch at  Two Boots (514 2nd St. near 7th Ave in Park Slope) and ” Life Altering Doughnuts” at Doughnut Plan (379 Grand St. on Norfolk). We also plan to go for a long bike ride, stopping at various thrift stores and if we get hungry again, stopping by the Smorgasburg at the Brooklyn Flea.

Sunday 6/17:  This will be our first of at least two visits to the amazing Governors Island  for the Jazz Age Lawn Party. I’ve become something of a Jazz Age enthusiast in the past year. I wrote an article about  Jazz Age art for Time Out New York a few months ago, and since then have gone to several 20s-themed parties. This party is not only at a beautiful location, but has great music, old timey cars, dance lessons, and so many awesome outfits. We’ll be back to dance it up 20s style again for the August 18 & 19 event. Plus I plan to cross another life long goal off my list there this summer by renting and riding a bicycle built for two.

Monday 6/18: The first of the summer outdoor movies in Bryant Park: Psycho (we will visit many of the others like Movies with a View in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Hudson River Movies, later in the summer)

Wednesday 6/20: In the afternoon I’ll be doing yoga in the middle of Times Square as part of the Solstice in Time Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga, then that evening I’ll laugh for free at the Comedy Central: Indecision in the Park at the Central Park SummerStage.

Thursday 6/21: If I didn’t get enough free outdoor yoga on Wednesday I’ll go to my first of many free yoga in Prospect Park from Bend and Bloom Yoga this evening.

Saturday 6/23: This will be my 2nd year marching in and 7th year attending the Coney Island Mermaid Parade–it’s one of my favorite events of the Summer.

Monday 6/25: Our first Yankee game of the season. My husband is a huge Yankee fan and since knowing him I’ve gotten slightly more into the sport–I don’t know that I’ll ever enjoy watching it on TV, but going to a game in person is always a fun event.

Tuesday 6/26: The Ultimate 90s Trivia Night with NY1 Pat Kiernan at the Bell House.  There are 4 things that make this perfect for me: 1) I love the 90s–it was my hay day, 2) I love Trivia and am married to a trivia know it all 3) I love NY1 and Pat Kiernan 4) the Bell House is one of my favorite venues for shows.  We are going with two of our friends that also love 90s and trivia- it’s going to be legendary!

Thursday 6/28: I’m going to the Marvel Premiere of the new Spider-Man movie, because I have connections..

Also happening this month: 1)My Little Sister graduates from High School, we were matched almost 5 years ago when she was in 8th grade–I’m so proud of her (she will be pre-law at John Jay College in the fall), I am going to take her out to brunch to celebrate! 2) We are going to try to get back to our favorite warm-weather restaurant: Habana Outpost  3) A friend of ours in doing an improv show at PIT 4) we might also try to make it to the Met rooftop, another summer tradition, 5) a lot of other fun stuff!

Would you take Yoga from Barbie?

So, Barbie is a yoga teacher now. Would you take her class? I think I would just out of morbid curiosity.  It would be fancinating to see how a  six foot tall woman with a 39″ bust, 18″ waist, and 33″ hips could manange any balance pose without toppling over or a back bend without snapping in half.

Further more, what’s with the chihuahua? Who brings their dog to a yoga studio (besides Ryan Gosling, who let’s face it would be forgiven even if he was the one who peed in the corner)?  And yes, in true Barbie fashion she’s saturated in pink and teal and as YogaDork points out resembles Paris Hilton more than any real yoga teacher I’ve ever seen.

She’s part of the “I can be” series, which features Barbie in various professions such as world’s easiest  hurdle jumper, the most sparkly engineer, and a “kid doctor” (it’s called a  pediatrician Mattel).

But still this is kind of a good thing, right? For one it’s a step up from the “math is hard” talking barbie–she’s likely mastered algebra if she’s become an engineer. I’m all for encouraging girls to enter into male-dominated science and math professions, but why can’s she do it in normal clothes? And the enginner and “kid doctor” seem like an anomolgy among the babysitter, cheerleader, ballerina, dancer professions. Plus there’s the whole implication that we still have to tell girls that careers, while boys’s dolls (er, “action figures”) just get to blast things and have super powers.

I digress, aside from telling people you somehow need a dog to do yoga, there’s nothing wrong with the yoga teacher barbie doll that isn’t something that’s wrong with Barbie herself (the pink, the body proportions). And as someone who has spent much of the last year teaching yoga to 3-5 year olds, I certainly think that introducing yoga to kids is really beneficial, even if they have to “play yoga” with this doll. After all when I was 5 I “played” workout with a naked doll along with my mom’s Richard Simmons records and it didn’t turn me into some nudist aerobics instructor.