while browsing my photo library the other day, I discovered a funny thing: I take lots of pictures of my feet. very silly, yes, but it’s interesting to see all the places I have my feet have taken me that I have photographed. I rounded all the “feet portraits” (that almost sounds obscene) into one folder—there are nearly 30 of them. when seen together they make a funny little collection of stories.

here are a few:

new orleans, LA: a day exploring, hence the need for sneakers in the summertime

fountainebleau state park, LA: toes to lake pontchartrain, a day of hiking and animal-sightings

destin, FL: vacation and new shoes

muir beach, ca: drinking coffee after a morning walk

chalmette battlefield/mississippi river, LA: getting too close to the river and sinking in the mud

prospect park, brooklyn, NY: walking on the icy patches and through knee-deep snow

muir beach, ca: tidepooling barefoot in december

14th street subway stop, NY, NY: waiting for the train home after class, favorite oxford shoes


been awhile

well, hello.

it seems I have been absent for some time. well, here I am, alive and well. but the 3 people who read this blog probably already knew that.

I am in the golden state, the place of my birth, the place from which I have been absent for a long time, the place about which joan didion wrote:
“in at least one respect California—the California we are talking about—resembles Eden: it is assumed  that those who absent themselves from its blessings have been banished, exiled by some perversity of the heart.”

no comment, as my own heart resembles something like a ‘perverse’ blend of half California poppies, wine, and ocean water, half crawfish heads, jazz, and Louisiana river silt.

but enough about that.

here is what I am currently reading:

– “listen to this” by alex ross (non-fiction): the new yorker’s music critic on, well, music, from classical (a term he hates) to bjork.

– “st. lucy’s home for girls raised by wolves” by karen russell (fiction): a delightful story collection in the tradition of marquez and katherine dunn. it only mildly depresses me that this book was published when russell was only 25.

– “the purity myth” by jessica valenti (non-fiction): a righteous political powerhouse about america’s (namely the christian right’s) obsession with young women’s virginity, and how it reduces and sexualizes young women’s worth and morality to passivity and virginal “goodness.” valenti kicks ass. this book, in my case, is definitely “preaching to the choir,” but as my sister reminded me recently “even the choir needs practice.”

– “the new kings of nonfiction” edited by ira glass: a collection of essays by glass’s favored writers from malcom gladwell to susan orlean. published a few years ago, and something I’ve always meant to pick up. so far, it’s excellent. of course my love of ira glass is documented.

– “p.t. barnum: america’s greatest showman” by the kunharts (a father and two sons–nonfiction): an awesome illustrated biography of p.t. barnum. as far as historical figures go, I may or may not have a mild obsession with barnum. what’s not to love? insanse hubris! the circus! freak shows! animals! ridiculous (if not exploitative) business-savvy! I’m loving this book, especially all the awesome photos, posters and ephemera from barnum’s circuses and museum in NYC (which burned down in 1865—oh if only time-travel were possible!).

– “the partly cloudy patriot” by sarah vowell (nonfiction): I LOVE sarah vowell, and since her new book “unfamiliar fishes” (about the 1898 annexation of hawaii, which I cannot wait to read) has a library check-out wait-list from hell, I am biding my time by reading through her back-catalog. this is one of her more well-known books, a collection of essays about this here country, and I’m, of course, enjoying it. her piece about visitng disneyworld with david rackoff  is particularly hilarious.


completely unrelated, here is a picture of the cake I made last weekend of father’s day:



very soon, I will be moving across the country. I started on packing my books today, the majority of which will be in storage for a few months on the other end. of course, I can’t be cut off from my *whole* stash for months, so I am allowing myself one small box of handpicked special, “must-have-keep-accessible” books for the limbo.

it is not full yet (YESSSS!), as I have yet to pillage my poetry shelf, my current reads shelf, and cookbooks. but here is what will be the bulk of the box—I thought they all looked so nice together, I had to take a (shoddy) photo:

top row: the house of the spirits by isabel allende, the torturer’s apprentice by john biguenet, jitterbug perfume by tom robbins, gabriel garcia marquez, collected stories of vladimir nabokov, the passion by jeanette winterson

second from the top row: interpreter of maladies by jhumpa lahiri, bird by bird by anne lamott, the world and other places by jeanette winterson, lust and other stories by susan minot, bad behavior by mary gaitskill, collected stories of carson mccullers

second from the bottom row: the complete stories of flannery o’connor, the little prince by antoine de saint-exupery, don’t cry by mary gaitskill, the bloody chamber by angela carter, famous fathers by pia z erhardt, reasons to live by amy hempel

bottom row: like life by lorrie moore, nine stories by j.d. salinger, cathedral by raymond carver, fifty famous fairy tales, even cowgirls get the blues by tom robbins, to kill a mockingbird by harper lee


2010 in review: the first half

I’m a week and a half late with a “reflections on 2010” post, but I decided to write one anyway. at the very least it’s good for my memory, and I never said I wasn’t sentimental.

it was a good and challenging year, full of big changes and even bigger surprises in terms of my feelings about those changes. it was a year with some heartbreaks and also some seriously good time.

to recap the first and (definitely much more fun) half…


saints football was good.
it was carnival again.
and I took a fun (but tiring, cold, and foot-hurting) business trip to the city I now live in that included a marathon music showcase, the improv everywhere pants-less subway ride and 16 hours in the same pair of boots.
I baked a failed king cake (still sore about that).
I had a party the night of krewe de vieux (my beloved and dearly departed teacup apartment was one block from the parade route… can you hear my wistful brokenhearted brooklyn sobs from where you are?!)



saints players in their victory parade

a truly fantastic and fun time.
then it was mardi gras! and a particularly good one at that, FULL of parades, biking, champagne, zulu coconuts and brilliant costumes.




another good one. (spring of 2010 was pretty awesome.)
my beloved and adored sister came to visit me. we had a fantastic time! we biked to the st patty’s day parade, which was a blast (and we caught beaucoup cabbage), we played with kitties, we drank fancy cocktails and too much rosé, we went to the UCM museum with E.

fierce competition with the UCM’s vintage arcade games

also, E and I somehow ended up hitting the louisiana crawfish festival and it was so fun! we ate copious amounts of crawfish, rode carnival rides (which he is not really a fan of, incidentally), saw a (very old school carny) live collection two-headed reptiles, played carnival games and took photos.



mardi gras indians at the first weekend of jazzfest

another good one.

I hosted a party and had fun at it. (may not sound like much but it was sort of a grownup and less-antisocial-and-introvertedthan-usual move for me). huzzah!

E and I took a wonderful vacation to florida. we ate, swam, relaxed, lit sparklers on the beach, saw dolphins from our balcony and had a great time. I read. he fished.

the gulf


we also took a really great day trip to fontainebleau state park where we observed and photographed lots of plants and wildlife on a beautiful breezy day:



first and foremost, I had the pleasure of traveling to washington state (where I had never really been before, if you can believe it!) to cheer on my aforementioned fantastic and brilliant sister as she graduated from college! I got to see family, and do all kinds of fun graduation-y stuff with K. good times.
my nearest and dearest pal, F, moved away from NOLA… ouch! sob! major.bummer. but alleviated slightly by the knowledge that we’d reunite on the eastern seaboard.

oh, and Nemo caught, killed and presented me with his first mouse:

(not that it was nearly as notable or important as the aforementioned may highlights. and yes, I photographed it.)



was one month ’til moving day and was decidedly less “light” than previous months… it’s when things started to get real. but, I have an excellently honed procrastination meets denial meets indulgence complex, so I did still manage to have some fun.

the moon over lake pontchartrain

I tagged along on an impromptu night sailing trip on lake pontchartrain on the boat of a friend of a friend (I’m not picky when there’s sailboats involved), which was lovely despite some light rain.

E and I had the good fortune to venture to a lake house in Mississippi with my amazing pal S, her hubby, and our cute friend A. it was a wonderfully fun time and included lakeside rambling, canoeing, swimming, blueberry picking, a bunk bed, and an unfortunate incident involving E’s car, fried chicken and a swarm of ants (an incident he gentlemanly allowed me to sit out, despite it being my fault. what a guy!).

E and I also spent a night in a fancy suite at the uber fancy roosevelt hotel, which  was like a dream.
all in all, a pretty good month, despite the occasional crying jags, copious amount of packing tape, and bidding adieu to my wonderful writer’s group.

the sand, part two: critters

along the beach in baja, I saw many little animals (and the remains of some others).

there were a lot of sea urchins in the tide pools that were visible when the tide went out daily at around 4pm:

tidepooling is one of my very favorite things to do

tiny hermit crab



mudskipper, waiting for the tide to come back in


multi-armed starfish


there were flocks of the most wonderful pelicans


we saw many, many dead fish on the beach in various states of “undress.” I suspect many were caught by fisherman, filleted, and tossed overboard for the birds, who brought them to land. some looked as though they’d been cleaned by other fish and birds.

there were also many spiky pufferfish washed up on certain parts of the beach, though I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures. they were crazy looking! nothing seems to eat them (for obvious reasons) so their puffed, thorny bodies just sit in the sand and look all kinds of creepy.


this one looks like it should be in a cartoon.


perhaps a cousin of the above skeleton?


I like his fancy pectoral fin


the fish above was particularly odd looking, as its meat was all removed, skin still on. very buffalo bill. E tells me it is a type of sheephead. it had interesting pointy little teeth.



yes, I might be a weird nature dweeb. this is one of my hobbies. there was talk of whale sharks, killer whales, manta rays and sea lions, but unfortunately they were not visible from the beach. and in a way, thank goodness… because if I saw a whale shark I think I would just about die on the spot (due to, you know, magic and wonder, not fear. they don’t even have teeth!)

the sand, part one

I had the good fortune to travel to a somewhat remote part of mexico over the christmas holiday. I had a lovely, restful time with M&J and the siblings: hammocks were swung in, margaritas were imbibed, magazines were read, kiteboarders were watched and occasionally given silly nicknames (such as princess peach and the green goblin), beaucoup shells/rocks/beach-glass were collected, sun was savored, horses were ridden, board games were played, swims were taken, salsa and hot sauce were eaten with absolutely everything.

on the second or third day there, I woke up early (oh how I love being on eastern or central time and traveling west!), put on my swimsuit and clothes, and went for a walk on the beach. the water was like glass before the wind kicked up for the day, the sun was high and warm.



I walked less than 1/4 mile before I just had to get into that water. I hadn’t planned on swimming, despite donning my suit, and hadn’t brought a towel or put on sunscreen (which I most always do). so I ditched my shorts, watch and the shells I’d collected on the beach and headed into the not-so-warm-but-oh-so-gorgeous water. it was “brisk” to say the least, so much so that I actually gasped when I dove under. but I am from northern california and will swim in pretty much anything (see: the san francisco bay, the pacific ocean, frigid marin country creeks, alaskan glacier run-0ff that was quite literally the coldest water I have ever felt in my life). for me, the joy of being in the water always outweighs the coldness of the water itself—I’ve just got to get in there! true, it may take be 10-15 minutes to slowly immerse myself to avoid total shock (I’m no glutton for punishment, after all), but I am going in!


it was, of course, totally fantastic. to be alone at 9am and neck-deep in the sea of cortez a few days before christmas… well, that’s somethin’.