Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I love to travel. Rather, I love to see new places and people. That isn’t tied merely to a trip. Anyone who knows me well, knows I can sit at a table near the sidewalk and be happily distracted for hours watching the people go by. I always have loved that, and this city feeds this distraction like few other places, of course.

Here I can watch hundreds of countries, heritages, customs swirl about me as I stand still at any corner of the city. The orthodox man, dressed fully in black, careful not to touch me as he navigates past. The Indian woman, herding her children before her, her skirts and rings creating a magical music and dance in her wake. It seems there is no country, no point of view, no precious custom overlooked here. We are all thousands of miles from where we started here, making a home amidst the wonder and strangeness of a new foreign place.

And while I do love my home here with all my heart, I do know the only way to truly see the world - where all these beautiful people and their customs come from - is to actually go. To traverse the miles the city has misleadingly condensed to the lands across the seas, across the continents.

When I was first out of college that was my goal, to reach the point where I could fly to Rome as easily as to LA. I was lucky enough to have jobs where I could (and often did) hop a plane whenever I felt the urge. But I never made it past the borders. I flew to California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York (so many times I lost count) to name but a few. I adored going places, exploring new cities and towns.

That, of course, came to an abrupt stop when I decided to move here. Going to school full-time, working full-time and living alone in this uber-expensive city made it next to impossible to travel anywhere but home for holidays and an occasional trip to Chicago to visit old friends.

But now, thankfully, Sam and I are in the blessed position to go places. To travel. To see the world as I had wanted to all those years ago. But things have changed, somehow. Where I used to blindly and gladly jump on a plane, bags barely packed, book in hand with no more thought than if I had remembered perhaps my ID; I now hesitate. I now take deep breaths while waiting in line, get horribly nervous on take off, cross my fingers and close my eyes as we land.

I have so much more now to lose, is the difference. Before, there was nothing but the next destination, the next adventure. I was living a good life. I was happy. And I figured if something went wrong, that good life was enough.

It's not anymore. Flying has never been my favorite way of traveling from place to place, but these past couple years it has truly become something I only do because I need to. Because it's easy and time efficient. Because it's necessary. Now, today, I have so much to lose. My life is better than I had ever imagined it could be, but I'm not ready to accept my fate anymore. I find myself increasingly saying a silent prayer to the gods that be, "Please, please, keep me safe. I want more time with this man - we have so much more to do and see. Please keep us both safe."

I chide myself, of course. It's silly. Selfish, ridiculous to think such things. But I know, that never will I board another plane without closing my eyes and saying a silent request. Our map has just been started; we have so many more pins to put in. This world, so small out our window, is so vast. And I want us to see every bit of it, together.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I feel, often, that I can never be grateful enough. I'm awful at saying thank you's, writing them, giving them. I never feel they sound sincere enough, gracious enough. I stumble on the words, I pause and repeat myself.

Not because I'm not overhwelmingly grateful, but because I feel so unworthy. So undeserving of the love and generosity and wonder of those that surround me. Words cannot describe, cannot tell how blessed I feel that they have noticed, that they have seen, that they have taken interest . . . in me.

But 'tis the season, and I want to write a huge thank you note to the world, because after this spectacular year, it would be remiss not to.

Thank you. Thank you for giving me my family and my friends. A husband who never tires of me, and of whom I never tire. For letting me be so lucky as to fall in love and marry my best friend; to share a life with him, in an amazing, fabulous, ridiculously awesome city. Thank you for giving us a warm, cozy and lovely apartment to make home, and an even more lovely garden to grow outside. For our jobs, mine especially, which has provided me with some of our very best friends; that challenges me creatively every single day and pushes the limits of what I'm capable of in an environment where I'm not afraid to fail.

Thank you for the friends who come quickly with jokes and stories and small ones' messages on my voicemail whenever I falter. Who love me for me, and do nothing but encourage me to try an' figure out where to go, who to become next. Without agenda.

Thank you for the doorman who wishes me good morning as I pass every day, the security guard who asks how I am. For Jose, our maintenance man, who wishes me a lovely day (or I imagine that's what he says) in Spanish when I leave for work, from our front stoop.

Thank you for beautifully illustrated children's books, dense, intriguing fiction books and iTunes. For fluffy pillows and kittens to cuddle with. For holiday music and wreaths and ornaments and ribbons and bows and the smell of fresh-cut pine from the bodegas on the corner.

Thank you for Christmas movies and a husband who lets me watch them tirelessly without complaint.

Thank you for cherry coke, chocolate cupcakes, koala yummies and paninis.

Thank you for good friends, poker nights, and long rides home on the train with his arm around me late at night. For kisses in the morning and again and again and again throughout the day.

For trips to Kansas, Florida, Ireland and Hawaii. For a new home in Hawaii. For all the trips we've yet to take.

For this life. For the hard times that make the good ones all the sweeter. For the laughter that cuts the tears, and the joy that is ever-present. For all of it. All of this.

Thank you. For each and every moment, each and every breath - I am grateful. Grateful.

Truly grateful.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


The apron Sam got me last year for my big cooking days . . .

Fresh! Baked! Bread!

Sam carving the crazy whiskey/honey glazed turkey breast I made this year .

Sam's favorite stuffing. . .

Mmmm . . .whiskey turkey . . .

And now, as Sam cleans up, I sit listenng to carols and thank the gods for such a wonderful, fun, awesome year,husband - life.

I hope you all had wonderful days as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


How do you become an artist? Is it something you just *are*? Part of your soul, your make-up, your being? Or is it chosen, learned, practiced, skilled? How do you come to the point where when someone asks what you do, you answer them straight-forwardly and confidently, "I am an artist."

It was never so easy for me, that answer. To this day I'll qualify it, state my title in hopes it sounds legitimate enough, quickly pass over the phrase "I'm a painter." To me, to the girl who looks back in the mirror every day, I am an artist. I want to answer proudly, solidly. Yet, to the outside world, I fumble in my response.

I have friends who are professionals. Who make their livings from their drawings and paintings. Who have galleries that show their work, who teach others how to master such skills.

I, 40-60 hours a week, design. Is that artistry? I waiver on my definition. I do not waiver, however, on my ability. There are few things about myself I am certain of, one of which is that I am a brilliant designer. (Was that too much? Hm. "Brilliant." Nope. Just right.) But Design, to me, is about solving business problems visually. Meeting objectives, planning use, leading the consumer. While I am invested, while I give nothing but my utmost to every project . . . it is not my passion. It is not what I would do given hours of free time to create anyhting I want. But I am paid for it, I am rewarded and recognized for it - and that often leads me to answer "designer" when everything in my mind is yelling "artist."

I enjoy designing, of course, but not as I enjoy painting. Holding the brush, mixing the colors, smelling the turpentine. So much of our world, my world, is digital. Holding something in my hands, envisioning it for days at a time - and then somehow getting it onto a canvas (never board or paper, I love the give of the material too much) is a rush I can compare to little else. I remember wanting nothing more than to create worlds, draw pictures, when I was child. Sitting on the floor of our tiny kitchen - my looming football player of a father helping me construct giant drawing pads from old football schedule posters; flipping them over, giving them cardboard covers, tying them together with string . . . it was wondrous to me to have a book of empty pages awaiting me and my stories.

It still is.

I remember running home after school to visit Mrs. Beth Quigel. She and George lived directly across the street from me when I was in grade school and often looked after me when my parents were still at work so I wouldn't have to be home alone. I thought Mrs. Quigel was magic, looking back now I realize Mrs. Quigel was really just the first artist I had ever known. She painted dolls and Russian eggs, she painted flowers and landscapes. Their house always had that tinged smell of chemicals, of paints and porceline, mediums and turpenoid. I loved how her brushes were so soft, how the paints on her palette so weirdly sculpturesque.

When I was in third grade she let me paint, on a small round board, a small pink rose. All by myself with oil paints.

And my life changed.

I spent the next decades learning, practicing, reliving over and over again that small, pink rose. That feeling of the plainess of the board, the mess of the paint somehow - under my own magic becoming a rose in bloom. I do it to this day, stand back from my canvas, lean away from my easel and marvel . . .


I'm not myself when I'm not painting; thinking of painting, planning my next painting. I'm not as happy, as at peace, as balanced. I am an artist. Not because I'm a greatly skilled or outrageously talented, but because I can do nothing else that feels as wonderful, as spendid, as natural.

When I'm painting, when I hold that brush in my hand, the whole world drops away: and my world, my thoughts and dreams and stories rise up. To this day I'm unable to understand or describe it. Other than to say, that it's my best magic. And it's what I offer up to the world.

It's all I have. I'm an artist, after all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

One Day past our Propose-a-Versary

We celebrated the coming Holiday season and the two year anniversary of when Sam asked me to be his wife last night. It seemed almost too much joy for one to have on one occassion.

We went to the Bronx Zoo, under the cover of moon and stars, and walked through their holiday lights show. It was amazing, seeing thr tigers fed, walking past light decoration after light decoration. We roasted smores and road the Bug Carousel. We held hands in the dark listening to carols and made faces at the camels. . .

It was a perfect night for a perfect occassion.

I to love
and you to be loved,
we have,
no matter how,
by our wills survived
to keep
the jeweled prize
at our finger tips.
We will it so
and so it is
past all accident.

The Ivy Crown
by William Carlos Williams

Saturday, November 18, 2006

New York in the Autumn

People say when they visit that New York makes them tired, that there's a pace about the city that's unrelenting. We are, after all, the city that never sleeps. But, when you live here it's much, much different. There are places in this city that are unerringly quiet, beautiful and serene.

You just have to seek them out.

This city and I, we have our problems. Like anywhere I've ever lived, there are things I'd like to change. But, unlike anywhere else I've lived - this has become home on a level I cannot explain. My heart is here. Among the bustle and crowds; up at the rooftops and pointed skyscrapers, down among the trash and cracked cement. Sam and I have made this home, and, wonderfully we have the most amazing and wonderous backyard ever - don't ever pity us for living in the city and all it's robbed us of green and nature's loveliness.

We have it in abundance, just in our own way. And a bit of me believes it makes all the beauty and wonder of every season all that more spectacular.

And, Les, if I could package this up and ship it to you, please know I would in a second . . . )

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Favorite Houseguests

Work's been crazy, and I've been a bit crazier, winding up the semester at school. But here's a quick pictoral recap of the beginning of our weekend with the infamous . . . Having them here was spectacular - if I could have barred the doors and made them stay, I would have in a second.

Dave and Amy.

So, um - Amy? Dave? I know you have super cool jobs and all . . .

But just so you know, there's two apartments in our building which just happen to be open . . . .

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Geography and Genes

I believe that we are all inclined to live among certain geographic circumstances. I believe there are places on this earth that draw upon our very make-up; that exist within us as well as without. That it is in these places we find our most natural home.

Not our only home, mind you. But those places in this world that call to us on a very primal level, that don't demand compromise of a very basic comfort level. These places are those places where you breathe easier, where you open your arms and take in the wind, sun, and sky around you - where there is no you and it. Just, well, there.

I also believe that this geogrpahy that exisits in us on this very basic level defines us in a very real and deep way.

I am a girl of the sea. In my heart I am most at peace with the sound of wind and water nearby. When I stand at the shore, smelling in the salt and bowing before the awesome power and grace of the water I am at home in a very tangible way. I can't explain it, but I can say I will spend my life running from the car - my shoes flying off and my skirt hitched up, to the surf and stand; watching, waiting, breathing. Being.

I am moody and tiresome. I am loyal and constant, while often being caught unabashedly and unexpectedly acting harsh and demanding. I will as easily support you in your travels, as desperately try to pull you out to join mine. I am indescribably tied to the moon, and will reach up with all I have to her turns.

I have the ocean in my heart. In my bones. I believe it is one of many reasons I love Kansas so. I believe she has the ocean in her heart, too.

Sam, of course, is the mountain to my sea. In more ways than I have words to explain.

I believe that is one of the reasons Kauai captured me so. It's the first time I've seen mountain meet sea . . . where the sea reaches straight up to the foot of the towering rock.

I'll hold that image in my heart forever. The place where the sea meets the mountain.

What geography is embedded in your genes??

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Only Daughter

I piece you together in my mind, knowing that no matter my skill with design, no matter my skill with color and composition - what you will ulitmately be will be far beyond my wildest dreams. You will put my visions to shame.

I see his smile and wonder, will you be so lucky? Or his eyes - or best: his laugh. I see he and I together and sometimes it makes me pause. I can see you. I can see where you'll be coming from and I find myself already feeling blessed. I find myself already hoping and wishing for you.

I take all of our best (and worst) qualities and cannot help but imagine what you will do with such things. WIll you see visions, too? Will you be haunted by images, will you be haunted by songs that need pictures? Will you run run run? Will you have an endless energy, an endless capacity for exploring? How will you take who we are and make it good? How will you mimick us? How will you leave us behind? What long lost relative will be refelcted in you?

You are years from now. Tissue paper sketches from canvas. Lists of word from book. Passing reflections and echoing laughter. But I await your arrival like the robin enjoys the snow; with spring in his heart.

We will both, ultimately, be blood from a Stone. And it is that connection to my family - to the parts of his I will never meet - that strange ability you will have to stretch across generations in your eyes, your hands, your wit, that is one of the things I most look forward to. The thought of it is hard not to dwell on, the magic of it. The gift.

And so, Wylie Venkmen, Jackson Bell, Henry Stone, Samyra Alice . . whomever you choose and come to be . . . know that you were anxiously anticipated. This only daughter shall treasure you for the family you will create, both past and present . . .

'Cause it runs in the family, it's coursing through our veins
It lingers and gets caught in our hearts
Running in the family, it's a little like insane
The trimmings and the trappings of the artist and the art

Blood from a stone, wine from water
I'd die here alone, only daughter
Blood from a stone, wine from water
I'd die here alone, like a lamb to slaughter
-- Jonatha Brook

And, PS - just to be absolutely crystal clear - we're totally not having a kid anytime soon. I just think of it sometimes, and wanted to share my thoughts . . . so no one call child services or start planning baby showers just yet. :)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Consent

"That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

I believe in the power of one voice.

Of the notes of one tone echoing throughout a space and changing the very nature of it's being.

I believe in the power of a single act. The ability of a mere moment changing the course of history.

One word disspelling fear; one smile invigorating hope.

A glance can quiet clamor. A touch can call out courage that was before lost.

The smallest of acts hold the largest of potential. We all have that power. What do you choose to do with yours?

"Mankind will never see an end of trouble until... lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power... become lovers of wisdom." ~Plato, The Republic

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New York Adorned

What do you think? I love it! And, well, almost as importantly, Sam does too. :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hawaii - The Intro

I know I should be chronicalling our journeys and adventures, but I've been truly just enjoying my husband and home these past few days. That and we took 536 photos, and uploading them all to Photoworks is taking, well, a while. Not to mention I'm still looking through all of Sarah and Phil's photos, and man, we had a lot of fun.

So much so that we've now prepared for a lifetime of family vacations together, having officially become neighbors at the Hanalei Bay Resort. That's right. Sam and I now share a home with Puff the Magic Dragon. Go on, I know you're jealous.

That's the crazy part. On top of having an amazing, wonderful kickass time with the Schambergers (I mean, seriously, a whole week solid and I think we all would have stayed another together without a second of thought, and that says something of our friendships) but Sam and I bought something that will be ours forever. Forever, people. As in, we'll be willing this to our KIDS.

On our first anniversary we made our first major purchcase together, and it was something that years from now we will take our kids and THEIR families. Words fail me at how cool this is.

So, yeah, it's a lot to take in and even more to share. I'll get to it, though, I promise. Til then, a few more pics.