Monday, March 29, 2010

Conference In Chicago

Because my mom came along, we stayed in the nicest damn hotel. No crashing on futons for me.

Also because my mom was there, we took a lot of cabs (Chicago is windy!). But we also took the El. That damn train feels like it's going to tip over. I prefer my trains underground, thank you.

And because my mom was there, we ate deep dish

But we also ate tapas and sangria and crab salads and prosecco

Finally, because my mom was there, I got to do wonderful touristy things and not just conference-y things (which were, admittedly, also great), like check out the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park

And have a drink at the top of the John Hancock building, and then wander through downtown

Now, my mom came with me a conference once before. The very first time I got a paper accepted to a real, grown-up (non-student) conference, she and my dad flew us all down there, and rented a car, and got a hotel room (and stocked it with wine), and even sat through my talk - my mom, in her gold sketchers and gold earrings and leopard print top, my dad in his Nexen Engineering promotional windbreaker and his Colt Engineering promotional golf shirt. It was absolutely lovely.

Now admittedly, we dowdy academics dress like caricatures of ourselves too. But not this time, friends. Because this time, when I arrived to find myself underdressed for the cold, my mom went and bought me scarf. And the only one she could find (SO SHE CLAIMED) was loud gold paisley just like hers.

The two of us walking around with our big, Texas beauty queen hair and our gold scarves? We were several El stops away from the University before I put that thing on, lemme tell you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Going to Chicago

Email conversation between me and my mom:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Manhattan vs. Brooklyn

Some of my friends live in Manhattan, but more live in Brooklyn, because it is cheaper, on account of being a little to the right of the centre of the universe, and not having quite the same vibe, or energy, or number of coffee carts. Don't get me wrong, living in Brooklyn involves very little sacrifice. You can live in the cute hipster Brooklyn neighbourhood, or the quirky warehouse neighbourhood, or the gentrified, family-populated neighbourhood, or the somewhat sketchy neighbourhood, or the really homogeneous ethnic neighbourhood. In fact, people who live in Brooklyn will go on and on about how great (charming, convenient, homey, interesting, up-and-coming) their neighbourhood is. Sure. But when someone invites you to their birthday drinks at their neighbourhood Brooklyn pub, and you're at the mercy of the single goddam train that goes there, and unable to hail a cab back, all you can think is "pay the extra two hundred dollars and live in the city, asshole."

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I filled out my census form. I opened it and filled it out and mailed it right away like it was Christmas morning. I like the idea of there being a record that I lived here. In 200 years, someone mining data will happen upon this and wonder, "There used to be a Lower Manhattan?"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday was cold and rainy

It's still the case that our good friend passed away on the ides of March. I don't think either she or we realized we'd think of her this much.

Haha this is video is terrible, and I can picture the two of us arguing about it.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen

People here are pretty creative with their panhandling spiels. Obviously. You need a good narrative and a good gimmick to grab the attention of most cynical, iPod-sporting New Yorkers. There's the guy who imitates the train announcements and bells (his wife died in a fire ten years ago and he has three kids to support), the kids selling candy for their sports team, the mariachi bands, the veteran hobos who really work the crowd and make dirty come-ons at the female passengers.

And then there's this sort of recursive honesty that goes on: I'm not selling candy for a basketball team, I'm just trying to get some money. There's the guy with the sign that says he's collecting money for beer. Or the woman who says she's tired of prostitution. (Okay, that woman gets to me. I want to set her up with an apartment on Park Avenue.) Or the guy who plays bongos on the subway and says that he used to walk the streets with a gun, now he walks the streets with a drum. I always love that. The veiled threat of pointing out "Hey, I'm not out there beating people and robbing people and stabbing you in the fucking gut if you don't give me a dollar please?"

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Spoiled. Rotten

This keeps happening: I go to dinner with a friend or colleague and they pick up the tab. And good food, too! Steak tartare and creme brulee and lobster bisque. Multiple course affairs with preprandial cocktails and wine with dinner and coffee after. I cannot even describe how much I love this. In fact, I try - I sort of squeal and clap and it makes the other person uncomfortable.

So that's the graduate student Lebensform, you guys. I'm either cleaning out my pockets for a $1 hotdog or choosing a wine pairing for my gigot.