When you tighten your belt, it means you’re probably losing weight.

October 14, 2009

When I started this blog it was a knee jerk reaction to a sudden decrease in income and the stresses and emotions that went with that. Over time, however, it’s becoming a way for me to really think about money, finances (not the same thing), work, and ways to extract maximum value from what I do have.

The latest development in this arena is that I’m moving, and getting a roommate, in one of the coolest neighborhoods I know. We get our keys tonight.

Even though I love my apartment and I’m going to miss it, I won’t miss things like the commute- which has gotten longer since my train stopped Running express a few weeks ago, or the sense of being too far from the rest of the city to really enjoy it.

Right now, I’m working on selling or giving away the furniture I don’t need, and it’s turning out to be a cleansing experience. Every time I decide something can go, I feel a little lighter. After all, possessions should exist to improve your quality of life- not to be burdens that bring increased stress and responsibility. There are maybe three pieces of furniture I’ll be keeping, and I’m doing my best to keep from loading up on too much else until my roommate and I have a better understanding of how we want to live in our new space.

So the belt has tightened- metaphorically, at least- and I’m shedding a lot of excess poundage. And that, in turn, is freeing me up creatively, like some kind of mental laxative. And as an actor in a show I wrote once said, “There’s nothing as primally satisfying as taking a really good shit.”

So I guess we can call this move a kind of psychic enema. Which isn’t the most attractive metaphor, but certainly feels accurate.

By the way, if anyone needs a couple of chairs, a beat-up coffee table, an oak dresser, some ikea bookshelves, blender, a wooden breadbox, some cooler packs for picnics and lunch boxes, an old Clamshell iBook with a dead battery but otherwise in perfect working order, a room fan or two, or
any othr odd bits and pieces, let me know.


Personal legends – Cat reads The Alchemist

September 23, 2009

I spent my commute yesterday reading The Alchemist. Yeah, I’m a little behind the times with this one, but it spoke to me, so I wanted to share.

There is a certain reasonance for me, right now, with the idea of following a personal legend – the author’s term for destiny, and one I like a bit more – to it’s conclusion. In this case, the boy of the story finds that it is the journey that makes him who he was, and which leads him to his eventual treasure. But the treasure is closer to where he began his journey than he ever suspected

And this is the question that poses itself to me now. When is it time to return to a place to complete your personal journey or legend? When you have achieved the thing you set out to do, or when you have completed your personal legend? The boy becomes sidetracked along his journey but he always returns. And what about when your personal legend might be best pursued through a return?

My mom sent me a link to my horoscope today, and it reinforced some things I think I already realized. This is a time of transition, a time when things are going to change. For some people, spring is a time of renewal. For your humble narratress (naratrix?) renewal always seems to start to happen in the autumn. So it seems this season, yet Again and in an entirely new way.

Poetry is alive and on your subway.

September 11, 2009


Guy on the train this morning trying to sell his poetry books – he has two of them. He gave a good pitch but neglected to give us the price of the books. Too bad – if they’d been five bucks I’d probably have bought one. I liked his style.

Anyway, check out the site if you have a moment, I think I will later tonight.


September 9, 2009

Many things have been changing recently, among them the configuration of my living room. I’ve moved my desk so it sits just below the window in the living room, and can now look out into my funny little courtyard as I write. It’s a lovely view to have, and it means I tend to enjoy the act of writing more. Unlike when my desk faces a corner, this new configuration means that in moments of thought, or distraction, I can glance up at the scene outside instead of wandering around the apartment losing time.

I haven’t been to the gym in over a week – two now, maybe – but I plan to start up again this saturday. Until then I’m giving myself some time to relax and write and enjoy the early evening as I go.

Process has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s a funny thing, process. The moment when you realize an idea might work well, that you think it’s executable, and then the moments that start to fill in as the project goes along, give a strange taste to events that unfold at the same time. Figuring out the process that works for you is an important step; determining what has worked well not just because of what took place on one occasion, but finding the process, the ritual that works to help you create in such a way that it is repeatable every time you need it – that’s tough. Stephen King talks about his process, and any writer’s need for process, in his literally life-changing book “On Writing,” which if you don’t already own, you should go buy. He talks about how when you want to be a writer, the most important thing to do is to write.

At some point in the book, he also talks about how you can’t let yourself give yourself excuses. You can’t be tired, you can’t have run out of time, you can’t need more sleep. You just have to make writing your priority and go to it like a piecework job. Five hundred words a day. Ten pages. Whatever your measure, a little every day – whether you feel like it or not.

I managed to get that way about exercise for much of the last year and a half. It was the priority. And then, sometime back around March I started thinking about writing again and why I wasn’t pushing myself to do *that* every day. And so now I’m trying to switch them off, in my scant evening hours, and do both.

Which takes some re-arranging, both of familiar thought patterns and of pieces of furniture, as my newly-arranged living room can attest. But I’m working on it.

Keep on keepin’ on

August 12, 2009

I keep looking for news about the impending B line shutdowns and you know what? It’s NOWHERE.

I want to print out millions of flyers and post them up all over B trains and the B line and make people sit up and take notice.


Be Your Company’s Brand Ambassador

August 12, 2009

There is so much information out there on the tendency of brands to over-control their image online, from Waterstones’ firing of an employee who blogged about his experiences there to a close friend who has to check every twitter update she posts to her company’s social media site.

I had a long conversation with my uncle, who manages a number of children’s fitness centers in addition to being a highly intelligent person who talks about fitness, about the ways in which (and reasons why) companies should be embracing their employees’ tendencies to express themselves online.

I’d like to be able to post about the goings on at my day job every time I post to this blog. I feel like I work with people who are human and interesting and who are trying to contribute to a greater social good as much as they can, on a daily basis, and I feel like these are values that a lot of readers here will share. But the fact is, I can’t feel free about posting details that might connect my job to my website, because even though I feel very positively about my job and the enjoyment I get from it, my company doesn’t have enough understanding in the ranks about social media to understand how this can only be a positive thing.

Since the owner is out in the Hamptons for the summer, maybe she’ll take the time to reconsider her position and learn more about just how big a bubble is passing her by. Then again, maybe not. Only time will tell.

B line shutting down for two years

August 10, 2009

Found out earlier today that the b line is going to be shut down as of September 28. Am furious, here’s my complaint letter.

Dear B Line Customer:

Thank you for taking the time to write. Your comments are important to me and my team as we work together to improve your commute and meet the high standards you expect. Each letter or comment that we receive is treated like a “”Rider Report Card”” on our efforts. I want to assure you that your comments will be investigated, analyzed and changes will be made where possible. I will personally oversee implementation of changes that will make your ride safe and smooth. We welcome your comments, suggestions, concerns and compliments. Thank you for your continued input and support.

Jim Leopard
B Line, Q Line and Franklin Avenue Shuttle General Manager

Discussion Thread
Customer – 08/10/2009 02:47 PM
I was just informed that the B line will be shut down, as of this September, for TWO YEARS of work. During that time it seems we will only have local train service on our line.

I am a commuter who works in SoHo and depends on the B train to get to work from my home near the King’s Highway B train station. A few weeks ago, when B trains were suspended during the weekdays, this led to huge crowds and significantly longer commute times.

I hope the MTA is aware that by shutting down B train service they will chase out people like me, who bring money home from Manhattan to spend in the neighborhood. I will most likely be forced to move apartments, and consider this action (especially with so little advance warning) a breach of trust by the MTA. How can you justify closing an entire subway line for TWO YEARS with just under TWO MONTHS’ notice?

I hope that the MTA reconsiders their decision. We already do without the B train on weekends and this is a huge inconvenience. Not to have the B train available at all, especially during the week, will make living in Midwood and the King’s Highway neighborhood a difficult, if not impossible thing. I am very upset and hope you will reconsider this decision, or offer some kind of solution for long-distance commuters to Manhattan.

Out of the city

August 8, 2009

TGIF weekend I headed up to my home town for Saturday and Sunday. Apart from eating my own weight in pizza and wings and hanging out with my younger cousins, I didn’t accomplish much, aside from completing some errands. Like getting my hair cut.

Now, everyone knows New York prices are extortionate, but every time I go back home I remember just how extortionate that are. In Williamsburg, a haircut rubs $125+ at woodley and bunny. Even the dive on 14th st is like, fifty dollars plus tax, with haircuts of varying quality. Not so at my hometown hair place, where I get trendy, well done haircuts for, you will not believe this, 30 DOLLARS. Crazy, right? So i can give my hairdresser huge tips and still be paying less for the over all cut, which is great. Plus I get in a trip to seenu family.

It would be nice if the time wasn’t being spent on a tiny lakeside summer campsite with a bunch of snooty siburbsnites at their “summer beach house.”


Sweet revenge

August 5, 2009

This eve I’m meeting a couple friends at Sweet Revenge, one of the cutest and tastiest cupcake cafes in manhattan. They do cupcake and wine/beer pairings at reasonable prices, plus the owner – a woman named Marlo, is very present in the shop, which makes me feel good about spending my money here.

Contemplating the menu, I’m tempted to go for my standby favorite- the “pure” cupcake, a simple vanilla and buttercream cupcake that reminds me of the ones my mom used to make from scratch. That’s the problem I have with most cupcake places here, (and quite a few restaurants in general) – they just don’t serve anything that tastes better than what I could cook At home. Or, in the case of baked goods, they just taste like they’re from a store. I guess I’m lucky, my mom is a hell of a baker.

Not so at sweet revenge, so I might be adventurous tonight and try a different cupcake. 🙂

(Edit: In the end I had two: one pure cupcake, and one zingy, lime-flavored bird of paradise. YUM.)

Finding new ways to survive

August 2, 2009

In mid may, I was put in a position of not being paid enough to live on. Thatnks to some web reasearch, I found alternative part time work in a field I love (and eventually want to work in full time) to supplement my income, and midway through summer thanks to the approach of a good friend, I was able to start saving significant amounts of money on rent by having her come on board for the year as my roommate.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that lesson is proving to be exceptionally true for me this spring. Interestingly, none of the steps I’m taking feel like compromises- just very natural progressions toward the goals I’ve already wanted to achieve.

The world works mysterious ways. As I once said to a friend as she tried to make a difficult series of career choices, you have to have a plan and know what you want, if only so you recognize a good opportunity when something completely different comes along.