Friday, January 29, 2010


They’re kind of important, which is why I decided to get myself dental insurance. I figured if I go get them cleaned twice a year it will be worth it. Since I’m paying for it, I’ll make sure I go at least twice which is many more times than I’ve gone in… oh, I don’t know how many years.

The problem is that I’m afraid that once I go, I’ll have to keep going. I’ve been doing my best to keep them in good shape, but I know I might have a couple of cavities and one cave in there. I suspect a small family of troglobites has taken up residence.

Once a dentist gets wind of that, I suspect they’ll want me making weekly appointments and start excavations post-haste.

And then there’s the case of the missing teeth. My front teeth, they’re not really mine. I was born with no lateral incisors and no wisdom teeth. I had incisors as a kid, but when those fell out there were no new ones to replace them. And the wisdom teeth are never going to come out – they’re just not there.

Incisors are for holding, grabbing, and gnawing. They say we don’t need them as much anymore thanks to technological advances in silverware and chopsticks. Wisdom teeth are even more useless and tend to cause more trouble than they’re worth.

Six teeth down, I’ve been told I’m more evolved than you.

Except that I like looking like I have incisors, so I have porcelain caps. Permanent cosmetic caps usually last a little over a decade. Mine are now closing in on two and I half expect the dentist to tell me I need new ones.

The only thing not worrying me about this appointment is my lack of wisdom teeth. There’s nothing they can do about that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A call to arms

As mentioned earlier, I bailed on running the NYRR's half-marathon last weekend. Friends who ran it did well, and I'm glad for them (congrats Kate & Jim!).

Application for guaranteed entry for the ING New York City marathon opened yesterday and I'm ready to launch phase 1 of my marathon training program in which I will continue doing what I've been doing (running!) and combine it with more of what I need to be doing (running!) in order to develop the necessary strength, stamina, and fitness to keep running.

So what's new?

The Armory.

News and rumors about a new indoor track had been floating around Park Slope for months. When Fucked in Park Slope announced in its gleefully profane way the Armory was opening soon, I knew I had to get myself there and check it out.

Boy, oh, boy! It is lovely. I had to force myself not to drool on the track, and as if that weren't enough, they have most things that any gym has (who needs a shower anyway?).

I've already signed the dotted line and I'm so excited about it I had to make this video for you. (Make sure the volume is on.)

You can find my two seconds of blog fame here and here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

No-half, please!

Running two bridges was fun
. I did seven miles. My knee held up, but it was giving me not-too subtle hints that I needed to be careful. Eight miles was surprisingly peaceful and my knee didn’t hurt. I thought it would be smooth running from there on to the half.

The following week I ran the New York Road Runner’s Fred Lebow Classic. It was 5m. I don’t know if it was the cold or the maclessness, but I was struggling through everything I was doing that week. It was the coldest, hardest five miles I have ever run.

I knew it wasn’t just the temperature – I’ve run outside when it’s been colder - but that didn’t help. My knee and now my hip too were complaining. Though I managed to drag myself to the finish line, at 13:27 minutes per mile I might as well have walked.

A big part of the problem was fear. I had a busy weekend that included a five mile race and a nine mile run. A friend suggested I run the race then continue for four more. I knew it would be hard: it would require not carrying a bag with me and skipping the bagel.

Ditching the bag meant not having a dry change of clothes to look forward to, but the nine mile stopping point left me right by a subway entrance which made the cold less of an issue. A change in the routine was scary, but I thought I could handle it. The bagel was another matter.

One of the city’s best-kept secrets is the New York Road Runner’s bagels. Sure, everything does taste better after a good run, particularly when it is free, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the bagels they hand out after races are the best. If you want proof, just go stand past a NYRR finish line and watch: you’ll get to see people wearing expensive running gear elbowing each other to get to the free bagels and greedily grabbing as many as four at time. I wouldn't be surprised if many people ran NYRR races only for the bagels.

As I ran my five miles I couldn’t get the bagels out of my mind. My favorite is cinnamon. They make them without raisins. Thinking of skipping it made my heart heavy and my feet along with it. I was dragging in a sorry way – freezing and barely shuffling along.

At around mile four, I decided to put myself out of my misery and give up on the idea of running nine miles. My knee was hurting. It made no sense to continue. I crossed the finish line and grabbed my bagel. I even dropped a couple of tears as I bit into it.

Not one to leave well enough alone, I tried to go for nine miles the following day. My knee and my hip were both worse. I ran about four miles and had to walk home.
I haven’t run since and I’m not running tomorrow’s half-marathon. Though it pains me to skip the bagel, I don’t think I’m strong enough to run a half-marathon right now and I’m not willing to risk my knee and possibly my hip to find out.

Besides, what matters the most to me is not tomorrow’s race, but the one in November. And I'm sure that's going to be the best bagel ever!

For now, rest. But soon, I’ll be running again. The Park Slope Armory opens next week. With an indoor track, treadmills, and machines it has everything I need to supplement my long runs and get ready for the marathon. Best of all, with YMCA charter prices and a co-op discount I have no reason not to join.

Can’t wait!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Books have been keeping me busy this week. The other kind.

This is a busy time of the year for bookkeepers. As a freelance bookkeeper for photographers and photography agencies, right now I'm up to my elbows in 1099's and finalizing 2009 numbers for my clients. Things should go back to normal in about a week or so, just in time to get ready for tax season.

Bookkeeping is a good job for those who like attention to detail, and working freelance helps me make time to write. But that's not my favorite thing about this line of work.

I've gotten all my clients through referrals. Two of my of clients are photographers, two are photography agencies, and they're related. I work for photographer A, and I also work for Agency B who happens to represent photographer A. The same goes for C & D.

What I love best about this arrangement is I get to indulge my inner schizo and send myself emails like this:


Dear Majo,

Thank you very much for the agency commission invoices. All the amounts are correct, but you forgot to include the artist invoice numbers for last week's shoots. Please include and re-send.



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Roommate

For three weeks I didn't have to worry about being ambushed with homemade meals, Brooklyn wildlife moving in, or Santa taking up residence in my planter. Then last night it all started up again: my neighbors are back from Australia.

When I got home late from the broomball game against the Secret Agents (3-1 loss), I found this little guy waiting for me, begging for shelter. I let him in and showed him to a cozy spot in the bookcase where he could sleep nestled by my wayward gloves. We shared a cup of hot chocolate before tucking in. He was still wired from the jetlag and wanted to hear all about the game but I told him he'd have to wait because I was tired and had to get up early for work.

I have the best neighbors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Effective Habits

They say it takes weeks if not months to create a new habit. Those whose yearly New Year's resolutions include flossing daily know this. To get used to doing something every day without fail is hard.

I must be a genius because in only two weeks I've managed to develop a brilliant new habit.

Since I work for several different clients and have keys to their offices, my key style best approximates janitor chic. For a while I was carrying all these every day. When my back started complaining about the extra twenty pounds in metal, I decided to use two carabiner hooks so I could easily move keys around and take only the ones I needed that day.

For years I've kept a magnet hook on my door. The minute I walk in I hang my keys there so I can always find them on the way out.

When I started using the two carabiner system I'd get the keys ready while I was packing up my bag for the day. I'd separate them then take the keys I needed, place them somewhere in my bag or in my coat, and hang the rest by the door. I'd finish getting ready, put on my shoes, and head for the door. I'd reach for the key hook but my keys weren't there - at least not the ones I needed.

So I'd to start frantically rummaging through my bag for my keys, which had to be somewhere in there. I'd start doing a headless chicken dance around my apartment looking for them until I managed to make myself late for work. After minutes if agonizing search, I'd finally find them in a coat or bag pocket and be able to head out. And I'd do this every day. For weeks!

Yeah. Some kind of genius.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Dream

Today I realized that though I did know the "I have a dream" quote, I had never heard the speech it came from. In my defense, I should say I did not go through the American school system and that Martin Luther King is not as well known in other countries as he should be.

My knowledge of Mr. King is hazy at best, but I wonder how many of you know what Simón Bolivar's dream was.

Yeah. That's what I thought. So get off my case and enjoy the day off.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Haitian cousins

My mom has a painting like this one hanging over the living room couch. It’s Haitian Primitivism art and one of her favorites. Thanks to my cousin’s accounts, while growing up I imagined Haiti as a no-homework paradise where candy flowed freely.

Of the thirteen cousins that plagued and hounded my life as a kid, there were two I didn’t see much. They lived in Haiti. They rarely visited. We never visited. The family spoke of their dad in hushed tones and I never managed to find out why they left Colombia suddenly.

When they visited they brought with them larger than life paintings and even larger stories. My cousins spoke of their mansion and their swimming pool while they complained about having to share a room with us and asked us how we could live without air conditioning. They talked about Aristide and the things he did as if they knew him personally. They looked down on our food and switched to Creole when they wanted to make fun of us. I would have abandoned my family and all my books behind without a drop of guilt to get to go back to Haiti with them.

They don’t live there anymore. My aunt split up from her husband who now lives in a state run facility in Florida. My cousins grew up and stopped bragging about Haiti.

Even though I eventually smartened up and figured out Haiti was not the utopia I imagined, I always think of Haiti fondly.

I’ve always been skeptical of donations. You can’t give everywhere and there’s always a cause, a disaster, a catastrophe needing money. Who am I to play God and decide who should get my help? Since I can’t give to all, I give to none. Besides, with all the necessary bureaucracy tied to getting my money from my wallet to where it is needed, of the $10 I might give, only 10c might make it to those I’m trying to reach – if they’re lucky. And I’ve always thought it’s better to help locally.

So I don’t give. Ever. Except this one time.

Because the situation in Haiti is so sad and so desperate that even if they only get 10c, if there are enough others giving, it might amount to some help. And they need the help.

If you’re not sad enough to give, go read Richard Morse’s hourly account of the earthquake and the days that followed.

There are many ways to help - from texting donations to dropping off supplies at collection centers (wanna drop off stuff in NYC tomorrow?). I don’t know what's the best way to give. I don’t know if our meager efforts will be any help at all. But I can hope, and hope provides a relief to sadness.

If you haven’t donated, take a look at this article. It includes a long list of the many options there are to donate funds for relief.

Good luck, Haiti. I hope you come out of this and get to build yourself a stronger and even more beautiful country.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Picasso goes for a walk

Yesterday morning I was at the Atlantic/Pacific station waiting for my transfer. As the crowded train approached I realized I wouldn’t be able to continue reading and I looked for the bookmark to put it away. It wasn’t anywhere in the book.

I flipped the pages front to back. Nothing. I opened up my bag and poked and rummaged through it while getting my head almost all the way in. No sign of it there either. I lost it the way I always do – it must have fallen off the book when I took it out on the platform while waiting for the earlier train.

There it would be, lying on the ground waiting to be trampled or getting coffee spilled on. Or maybe it had been blown on to the tracks by the swish of wind that precedes the coming of trains where it would end its days flattened and sliced by the power of the machine and its hundreds of commuters or be electrocuted by the third rail.

The poor bookmark didn’t deserve it. A gift from a friend who had recently been to Barcelona, it should have been kept safer. I’m a careless bookmark keeper and now the poor Picasso cats would suffer the consequences.

I grabbed a receipt from my wallet, stuck it in the book, and got on the train to go to work

It was a long, slow day with nothing exciting to report, but when I got home I found the Picasso cats bookmark back on my bed.

Every once in a while we get a glimpse at the secret lives objects lead while we’re not looking. It’s because of a hint of that knowledge that we repeatedly lift the couch cushions looking for a remote that wasn’t there the other three times we looked – because sometimes we find it the fifth time.

Just like I found this.

Every time I went to the co-op I would check the lost and found bin for the glove I lost in late December. It wasn’t there any of the other times I checked, but when I saw it last time I went grocery shopping I couldn’t contain letting out a noise like a cat who’s found a fly on his side of the window.

The two gloves are happy to be back together, but I wonder when I’ll hear about what happened between when I lost it on 12/29/09 and when it decided to make its way back to me and join the other forlorn inmates of the co-op lost and found bin on 1/02/10.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Infamy. Definitely.

Last month I mentioned having participated in a shoot. What I didn’t say was that Glenn Glaser and Nerve were shooting two different features that day. I was hoping they wouldn’t run the second one, or that if they did my picture would not be chosen. No such luck.

On Thursday I got an email from a friend who noticed it on Nerve. Since I was not blogging and had limited computer access, I had some time to think about whether I wanted to mention it or not. Was leaning towards not. Then yesterday Lizz reacted with surprised expletives at finding my mug on Jezebel.

Both the original feature and the abbreviated version on Jezebel have sparked not so much discussion as sharing. Virginity, having it, losing it, giving it, is something we can all relate to in one way or another. Even the briefest of comments hold stories that speak of what we all have in common – moments of vulnerability, dreams, fears, and the desire to love and be loved.

I can’t remember if I was eighteen or nineteen, but I remember everything else very clearly. I fancied myself an independent free thinker not bound by the demands of society and tradition. Having grown up in a strict Catholic household and spoon-fed daily rosaries at vespers, I was determined not to wait until marriage.

Oh, no sir! I did not wait. I did it weeks, maybe even months before we got married when I was nineteen and he was twenty-one.

And that was ex-husband #1.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Home is where the Mac is

It was a rough week for us in both expected and unexpected ways. I thought I’d miss blogging and feel disconnected, which I did. What I didn’t realize was that my apartment would feel empty without Mac. This was mostly because of the silence left behind by the absence of iTunes, but there was also the element of having one of my preferred modes of communication - my link to the outside world - severed.

While I was home pining away, Mac was received in Soho then promptly whisked away to Memphis.

I almost didn’t recognize Mac when we were reunited today. Mac ended up getting a makeover and came back with a new case and logic board. Mac looked so good I thought it would be like meeting a stranger, but after powering on I realized it was the same old Mac. Same sweet Mac, but we had a lot of catching up to do.

Once we got home Mac told me all about the trip to Memphis. While getting cozy and having some tea, Mac shared memories of adventures on the road. I got to hear stories of pink bubble wrap, miniature purple unicorns with Philips Head horns, a compressed air fly-through, and a FedEx guy with hairy calves.

Mac told me the logic board change had been traumatic because identity and keyboard are tightly linked. The new keyboard is just like the old, so I told Mac not to worry about it, that I’d type away as I always have.

Welcome home, Mac. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

All out of Love

Sometimes a relationship develops and you have a hard time imagining yourself apart from each other. Maybe you don’t spend every single waking moment together, but when you’re together things just click, everything is magical, and you go places you previously hadn’t imagined you could go –without leaving the bed.

Then, with no warning, it can be gone. Sure, there were signs, but you wanted to ignore them. That quick response to the touch is not there anymore and you want it back. You know it’s expected after three years together, but you do what you can to salvage what you had.

So you make an appointment with a specialist, you go over your problems, and he tells you it will be all right.

“We’ll have it shipped to you in three to five business days,” was what he told me last night.

“Did you back it up? Is it ready to go?” he asked. I responded with a weak nod and reached out to pat the case. He laughed. “Everyone does that,” he told me.

I walked out lost and confused. I have a loaner from work, which is how you’re hearing from me. I’m glad not to be completely on my own, but we have the awkwardness and hesitancy of forced intimacy between strangers without the joy of a new beginnining.

We both know this is just to satisfy a temporary need and not the real deal.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

8 Miles

Back before it got too cold to think, I decided to sign up for a half-marathon in January. I had just come back from an X-Country race and still giddy from the run and the medal, I registered for races all the way through March.

Having to train for a half-marathon would help me run during the holidays. It was a good plan until the temperatures dropped low enough for the Central Park polar bears to start missing the summer.

Last Sunday I was scheduled to do an 8miler. My knee had been cranky since my last long run. It had been sore for the New Year’s Eve 3miler, and I was worried about going for 8. But if I didn’t, I’d have to call it quits on the half. I wasn’t ready to do that without at least giving it a try.

With a -6 wind chill and a moody knee, my expectations for that run were very low. I did what I could to prepare. It was the first time I had ever run in that temperature and I was glad I had read Steve Stenzel’s article about keeping your feet comfortable while running in the winter. The red duct tape kept my toes happy. (Thanks, Steve!)

Maybe it’s all about expectations - have them too high and you’re bound to be disappointed. I expected to hate the run and have to bail either because of general misery or out of concern for my knee.

What I got was eight miles of joy. The first few minutes hit me hard but after a couple of blocks I was ready to take off a top layer and wrap it around my waist – which my butt appreciated.

I kept a modest pace and my knee didn't hurt. It was cold, I had to remove my neck gaiter which froze from my breathing through it, and there were droplets of ice hanging from my eyelashes. It was so windy the trees in Prospect Park were roaring.

And all that made it beautiful. Somehow. It sounds painful, but it wasn’t. It was peaceful.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Last week I lost my dear glove and I was sad. I had another pair of city gloves, but I couldn’t find them. It was the one I wore when it was colder - fun tweed and leather with grenade shaped buttons. I knew I hadn’t lost them. I only wear them when it’s really cold, and if I had lost them while out and about I would have noticed, or at least my hands would have.

I couldn’t find them anywhere in my apartment, so having lost my black leather gloves I had to recruit my running gloves for general use. They weren’t happy about it and my hands weren’t happy about it, but it was temporary solution while I figured out what to do about gloves.

Before the week was out, a friend who had been gone for the holidays gave me a pair of gloves as a gift for taking care of her cat. (Thanks D!) Hers was woolly pair with cut fingers and a flap to cover them and my hands were happy when they tried them on.

So Saturday morning I headed over to the community garden on 6th Ave & 15th Street to compost. I take my compost down to the garden about once a week, depending on how much and what I cook that week. I was wearing my new woolly gloves. I was having a little trouble with the locks even though my fingers were exposed so I took them off. Gloves, not fingers. I was holding the gloves smushed in one hand as I struggled to open the gate.

After I finally got the locks off, I held them in my other hand and headed to the table near the entrance to leave them there. Since I’d rather not have my gloves on while composting, I was thinking of leaving them on the table with the locks to pick up on my way out.

As I approached the table I noticed there was a pair of abandoned gloves already there. They were covered in snow and frozen solid. Someone must be missing these terribly. I was thinking I needed to be careful not to leave mine there on the way out as this other person had, when I noticed they were tweed and leather gloves with grenade buttons.

I managed not to forget either pair this time. Thank you fellow garden members!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dancing in the Street

First there was the race. My fourteenth of the year: a 3M through Prospect Park starting at 11:15. Rain had turned to light sleet and traces of ice floated by as we ran. The blue moon reflected on the whiteness that covered the park's roads which were sometimes slushie, sometimes deliciously crunchy. It was an aptly named fun run.

Some friends met us after the race. The car and how close it was to midnight kept us from making our way to Grand Army Plaza. Since one car towing a week is enough, we kept the car doors open. We meant to plead the we-just-stepped-out-of-the-car defense if needed.

There was no traffic cop around to give us a hard time, but there were plenty of people who hadn’t quite made it to Grand Army and were enjoying the view from 9th St and Prospect Park West: runners leaving the course, teenagers trying to scrounge up a snowball fight, families enjoying the fireworks away from the crowd.

All of us in the mood to celebrate. Everyone full of joy.

The car became an oversized boombox, Manisha called a Soul Train, and we all danced. The teenagers affected reluctance for less than a minute before throwing themselves in. Little girls danced in the middle holding hands. Runners in tights and top hats flaunted their race numbers. Women with lavender and creamsicle colored up-dos danced gingerly. The group of dancers grew and shrank as people walking to and from Grand Army joined us for a song or two.

We caught the attention of a photographer. He said he was from the Post. Or maybe it was the Brooklyn Courier he said. Who knows. I was too busy dancing to pay much attention. Besides, I’ve got Ming’s photos to help preserve an unexpected moment of magic between strangers in Prospect Park.

Forget what I said yesterday about resolutions. Here's one for this year: dance more in the streets.