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At the Louvre

A Paris

02/06: Winter is back

turn sound down: Cat Fight!

MOMA with Carm

June 24, 2006

What a crazy couple of weeks. I went from being a put-upon soccer widow to a nascent fan to a staunch U.S. supporter to -- and really, quite suddenly -- back to a put-upon soccer and now heart-broken soccer widow. I'm most assuredly not going to watch more games NOW, unlike some of my girl friends who have successfully identified the hotties to watch on various teams... the only thing that will work is if I'm on the treadmill at the gym -- now there's motivation. If they can go for (how long?) a really long time running full-out -- unlike me -- without a liter of water (fruit-flavored, vitamin-enhanced or other) well, certainly I can muster up a 20 minute mile or two.

Dined with C. last night. The subject of ring-tones came up.

C: So you how much would you pay for a ringtone?
K: Maybe five dollars, depending. Like if it was a great version of "Guantanamera."
C: Wow. I guess it's true. I had no idea. I figure if people will barely pay $.99 for a whole song...
K: Yeah, but this is a one time thing, kind of.
C: True. True. But then I have a friend who has a different ring-tone for everyone he knows.
K; That's nuts. Well, I guess, if it's important for you to identify a caller WHILE your phone is in your pocket...
C: My ring-tone for you would be the Peanut Buttah Jelly song.
K: Nice!
C: And your ring tone for me would probably be George Costanza's "Believe It or Not, George Isn't at Home..."

May 29, 2006

Please go see "An Inconvenient Truth," the movie. Just... go and see it.

Interesting New Yorker piece on "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan, who posesses an "uncanny ability to rehabilitate canines and teach owners to be the loving "pack leaders" their pets need them to be" last week or thereabouts. Then today I flipped the TV channel accidently to the National Geographic show about him and was amazed at his abilities. Now, of course, I need to know what he can do for cats who bite. And who don't like leashes. And who are rude and unpredictable.

April 16,2006

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."
The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."
-- Wallace Stevens

So begins Lewis H. Lapham's last essay as editor -- for nearly three decades -- of Harper's Magazine, in a wonderful piece which skewers the language of business and television, the "key performance indicators" and other vapid phrases of a society focused more on "data points" than story.

These gems jumped out at me from this months Harper's, as well:

  • Changes that an unprotected PC will become infected with a virus within an hour of being on the Internet: 9 in 10
  • Percentage of white-collar Chinese workers who have personal blogs: 52

  • and most depressing: Ratio, in the U.S., of the number of Wal-Mart employees to the number of high school teachers: 1:1

    I started out today, Easter Sunday, by walking down to Starbuck's on Seventh Avenue and Spring Street, where I ordered a grande with room, and spotted the largest cockroach I've ever seen, crawling up the cabinets behind the counter, toward the coffee dispensers. It had to have been 3 inches long. I didn't say anything but I'm not entirely sure I'll ever be able to go back.

    In an effort to avoid going to the gym, Kit reminisces about the storied literary career she might have had and a few literary luminaries she hasn't met.

my digital interpretation of the view of Notre Dame from the back if it had been painted in pastels. Thank you, Photoshop. March 19,2006

J'aime Paris. I landed in Paris on Air France at 10:30 am, got on the RER train into the city and after a small snafu in Chinatown (where I was supposed to have found the gardien -- super -- and gotten the keys) I got mad and jumped in a cab and asked to be taken to the Hotel De Ville in Le Marais. I meant the Hotel De Ville metro stop of course... where I found small and reasonably priced hotel, Le Grand Hotel du Loiret (nothing particularly grand about it) on the Rue des Mauvais Garcons (the street of naughty boys - ha). According to Lonely Planet, the street has had that name since at least 1540 when brigands congregated there.

I can't describe the feeling I had, getting ready to go out and find lunch. It's a particularly Kit-in-Paris feeling that is something like one part pure anticipation, one part frisson of fear (de quelle?), and probably one part hunger. Upon leaving my room, I met Lane, an attractive American woman in her early 50s, in the lobby.

How to describe this creature? Here's how: "Hi. I'm Lane. I'm originally from Connecticut, well, that's where I live, though I've been living here in this hotel for seven months, except for a trip to Egypt because I had to get away, I mean really away, and why I'm still here I don't know, well I do know actually, mainly it's because of the awful doctors in Connecticut who can't find their asses from their elbows and who did a sonogram on me and somehow managed to miss a gigantic gallstone, which the French doctors found right away and of course there's my phlebitis, here look how fat my knee is, but anyway, you really should go to BHV the department store and you must go to the seventh floor to get your discount card, just show your passport, and look at the amber pin I got for almost nothing and oh how I love cats." All without taking a single breath.

After a delicious croque monsieur at Le Pick Clop's, I went and shivered by the Seine which still brings me great joy. They're renovating the Pont Neuf, sadly... happily. I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping and walking around Le Marais and ended up at the Louvre. Click here to see what I saw.

So that was Sunday. I met up with P. on Monday, which was so nice, and off we went to the apt. on Rue Cailleaux, which was huge and filled with exotic stuff from around the world. Peter Beard has nothing on these people. Since I still have jetlag, I'm going to sort of bullet-point the rest. I'll probably add more details later... and for now, here are some pictures (forgive the dorky transitions which make the photos blurry at first).

  • Best meal: arguably at Le Coude Fou (the crazy elbow) in the Marais, an astonishingly good goat cheese salad followed by salmon tartare with mango and a couple glasses of a nice St. Estephe red; but possibly my duck a l'orange at another place a bit further north.

  • Best new friend: B., from Columbia, South Carolina, friend of P., an adorable 26-year old student. [sorry, Lane]

  • Best view: Sacre Couer in the distance, viewed from the top of the Musee Dorsay.

  • Best shopping experience: one of a kind crystal clip on earrings suggested by the artist OR the 7 euro green scarf with pink roses. NO! Best purchase was the bottle of Annick Goutal's Grand Amour parfum: "This intriguing, captivating scent unfolds with each passing hour. A perfect balance of carnal flowers, lily, hyacinth, honeysuckle. A hymn of sensuality with notes of amber, musk, myrtle. A perfume of rare subtlety." Indeed.

  • Best might-have-lost-an-eye shopping experience: High-end supermarket Bon Marche during a riot (protesters marched for the abolition of a new law - known as the First Employment Contract and set to take effect in April - that allows employers to fire new workers under the age of 26 without cause for two years).

  • Best phrase that we tried to teach B: "tarte tatin."

  • Funniest moment: when a French child mistook me for her mother in our local coffee shop OR watching B. try to say "tarte tatin."

  • Best deal: In exchange for a mere 2 hours of my time, Air France gave me a 500 EURO credit for volunteering to take next flight (mine was, of course, overbooked). So there it is. I have no choice but to go back to France again next year. A bientot!

March 5,2006

So, Paris again next week. Should be fun, traveling with two other women (younger than me, naturellement) and staying in the apartment of a French Ambassador in the 13th arr. while he's away.. I'll arrive a day before P.and two days before B., so I'll have some time to poke around.

February 12,2006

Winter is back.

February 5,2006

A wrecked ancient Greek merchant ship from the 4th century B.C. was found, loaded with olive oil and wine off the coast of the island of Chios in the Aegean Sea. According to MIT, a photographing robot was sent down to capture the images of the sunken vessel. Great stuff. More here.

Meanwhile, back here in Manhattan, winter is behaving wierdly. We experienced the fourth warmest January ever. EVER. Or since the beginning of recorded time, I suppose. OK, actually it was tied for fourth with 1913. Still pretty impressive. Not sure we can call it global warming -- but it certainly sure FEELS like it. In fact, the Central Park average for January was 8.8 degrees above normal for the month, which actually doesn't sound all the exciting. But tell that to the little trees along the river who keep blossoming by accident.

Some interesting and somewhat scary factoids courtesy Harpers Magazine:

Percentage change since 1995 in the U.S. trade deficit with China, as a percentage of U.S. GDP: +202
Percentage change with all other countries: +147

Percentage of British adults who are members of any of their countryís three major political parties: 1.2
Percentage who are members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: 1.9

Date on which USAID launched an Internet campaign asking Americans to help pay for the Iraqi reconstruction: 9/9/05
Amount it had raised as of early October: $1,400

Number of Alabama state senators co-sponsoring a bill last summer to ďprotectĒ public displays of the Ten Commandments: 10
Number of them who could list the Commandments: 1

I bought an Oxo brand mandoline yesterday at Broadway Panhandler. I sprung for one of the more expensive ones in hopes that might help prevent me from losing a digit on the super-sharp blades (this one has a special safety feature). So far I've sliced: one cucumber and one yellow squash. I used the ruffle function and boy, the cukes tasted better than normal, all texturized and all. The squash medallions were waffled; I then sauteed them in a teensy amount of olive oil, basil and marjoram. They were delicious as well. Today is Super Bowl Sunday so I'm going to think of new things to slice for C. to eat during the game. I'm going to try making some baked potato chips I think (drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and parsely or garlic). What fun.

I told my friend S. a while back about how Petey my boy cat backs on to my overweight female cat (MeMe)'s head while she's on her back. He didn't quite believe me, so here's some proof. The lighting is terrible... but somehow it makes it even easier to believe that Petey is fighting a small black bear on my livingroom rug.

January 8,2006

Happy New Year. New music: Charlie Hunter Quartet, Deathcab for Cutie. New food obsession: homemade popcorn from Lifetime store on 6th in pesto flavor. New fitness regime: actually getting to the gym five days in a row. New attitude: no attitude. New plan: plan more trips (and try to take some). New funding source: Ameritrade (god help me). New scent: Chanel Cristalle (ok that's not true; I've used it for years but just in case someone forgot to get me a Christmas present... one can always use more). New religion: agnosticism (vs. atheism). New politics: embrace my powerlessness and pray (yes, pray!) for the impeachment of George Bush and the destruction of his cronies, co-horts, and cabalistic christian cowards. Renewed obsession: the Daily Show (how can it just keep getting better?) Ok, I'm tired now.

November 28, 2005

Another Thanksgiving come and gone. A good one, all in all. Great food (I made apple/parsnip soup -- recipe courtesy Petra -- which was somewhat popular. P. even poured it on his mashed potatoes but only accidently). Mom's bird, stuffing and side dishes were, as always, stellar, and her apple pie in particular was too good. NO, really, too good. So good there was something wrong with it. Or too right with it. Or something. Anyway.

Other highlights of the weekend included a four-mile run to Route 1, all the while hoping I wouldn't get shot, as it was the last day of hunting season. I didn't get shot, as it turns out, but it was a nice distraction along the way, trying to imagine how it would feel, where I'd be hit, how I'd get to the hospital in time (or if) and if I could get them to perform a little lipo if I was shot in the gut.

A late night reading Annie Proulx's Close Range: Wyoming Stories -- or, rather, and better, being read to by T. Kind of magical, sitting by the fire trying to parse that really short story/poem about the man who killed himself and marveling in horror at The Half-Skinned Steer.

A night of no sleep because of squirrels (chipmonks?) throwing a party above my head in the rafters somewhere. I could just see them doing the Charleston and drinking and smoking and stuff. OK, that was not a highlight. That pretty much sucked. But hey.

Here are some random pictures.

November 20, 2005

The crazy warm weather recently caused some young (and apparently naive) trees along my walk from work to home to blossom -- dear little white puffs like air-popped popcorn that made me inexplicably sad. Dumbass trees -- haven't they heard about global warming??

So I'm the proud owner of a single ticket to see Yo-Yo Ma in May at Lincon Center. This is ridiculous. I really don't have the means (lovely recent promotion notwithstanding) to subscribe in order just to get the good tickets without having to be totally prescient -- and I'm just not organized enough to keep track of who's where when on my own. Well, anyway, I feel blessed. Yo-Yo, May 11, Front Orchestra (which I believe means get ready for a serious neck-ache).

I was happy to find Dexinger recently, a site that makes me feel more tuned in then I have any right to be..

November 13, 2005

I had the most disappointing Eggs Benedict today, at (why am I embarrassed to say this?) Silver Spurs on LaGuardia. The company, fortunately, made up for it. S. and his lovely and funny friend C. and I sat in the insanely strong November sun laughing our asses of at each other's cat stories. Yeah, you had to be there. On a more urbane note, S. and I hopped on the A train and visiting The Cloisters, which never fails to inspire. Photos here. I found the 190th subway stop visually interesting but I was pretty tired, so I may have been hallucinating.

October 30, 2005

I have finally regained my strength after the hoopla and houseguests of last last week. I had a wonderful time with C. from France, who manages to get me going, even on the weekend. I think we went to my gym, like, 4 times in two days and even caught a class (arg and ouch) at 9 am on Sunday. C'est impossible! Beyond the pure joy of seeing my dear friend, the weekend offered exquisite challenges and accomplishements: buying curtains, finally, at the amazing Harry Zarin's (even though I was mean to the shopgirl when I couldn't return the FIRST pair I bought. I felt bad.) Then, miracle of miracles, we went out on Friday night to the Lower East Side. Wow. That neighborhood ROCKS. If you are under 25, that is. Insanity.

The next day we took in MOMA and the new Safety Dance exhibit (ok, it's really called "Safe: Design Takes on Risk"), which annoyed me. The very idea makes me think of baby-proofing one's house (something I may never be called upon to do, thank god), or the heinous aspirin bottle lock (guaranteed to bring on a migraine). It was mildy amusing (and I'm pretty sure that's all they were shooting for). We enjoyed the rest of the museum and an amuse bouches at the lovely cafeteria-style restaurant -- delicious and affordable. We walked and bussed home and got stuck temporarily in a Peruvian Saint's Day parade. Incense and short people as far as the eye could see. Some pics here.

That night we went to Kin Khao, the fun Thai place on Spring Street that I had forgotten existed. I must remember: it's soooo good and if you go straight to the bar overlooking the kitchen you'll get seated and served faster AND get a GREAT show. The chef that mans the two-wok stovetop is simply amazing.

Shortly after C. left, Pete and Jean arrived for what must be the briefest trip to NYC ever. They came by train from Maine, stayed for dinner and a breathtaking Cecilia Bartoli concert at Carnegia Hall, a brief night's respite chez Kit, and then they were on their way back.

Then a few days later, my old friend Mike blew in from Cali. As befits the pattern of my previous visitors, I only got him for an hour or so. We met on my lunch hour at the Museum of the American Indian, which was not, as I had expected, dusty and musty but rather quite elegant, modern and beautiful. My pictures didn't come out all that well, but here's Michael. And a hat I covet.

More excitement tonight: the Moscow Cat Theatre.

October 10, 2005

Nicest thing to happen to me in months: Caught Robert Smithson's Floating Island from the view from my gym out over the Hudson. The first time I thought I was merely hallucinating, having done too many squats or something. But the second time the small, humble floating island, I just felt overwhelmed with happiness at the small wierdnesses this city unexpectedly bestows on us from time to time. Photo below courtesy

A wierdly disgusting banner ad here. Why is he on his knees? Why does he, um... vibrate? Why does this banner ad have to greet me everytime I open my Yahoo! mail?? Ew.

October 1, 2005

I need more money! "Tiffany & Co. has signed an agreement with architect Frank Gehry to design an exclusive jewelry collection, making him the first designer hired by the retailer in 25 years," reports Crain's New York Business. I am hoping for a ring shaped like the Guggenheim (Bilbao, not NY).

Not much new to report. Except that my sister got married in one of the more beautiful ceremonies and settings ever. It was simply lovely. I had to read a poem. People seemed to like it.

Via Bob D.: a fun article about those despicable corporate sayings that you can't get away from, from Fortune's Ask Annie column. And here's my little late Saturday afternoon exercise for myself -- use all of them in one little would-be memo. I feel slightly nauseated now... but here goes:

At the end of the day, we hit the ground running and the bottom line is that going forward it's a no-brainer that our core competencies will ensure our role as thought leaders with mission critical skills to identify the pain points of our customers and to offer the gold standard in value proposition. I'm sure you'll agree -- so shoot me an email and let me know your thoughts; I'll ping Bob to make sure he's on board and he'll circle back with you and the team to make sure it's on everyone's radar screen.

Someone once asked for a recent picture of me. Well, this is about as close as I can handle. Is this art? Or just really bad composition?

Stumbled across this gem of a site, on UI patterns and techniques, the very length and breadth of which is clear proof that UI is simply not something to be done by amateurs; there is discipline, logic and vast amounts of research that need to be understood before one can actually go about the business of user interface and information architecture successfully. I say this because I've recently had arguments with not one but two people who fail to grasp the concepts behind web design and presuppose that anyone can do it. Not that I necessarily can do it, or can do it all that well, but as with any undertaking, knowledge is power and the more you know, the better you can create, in any area. So. So there.

Way cool navigation.

August 13, 2005

Favorite items from this months Harper's Index:

  • Ratio of the projected U.S. ad revenue of Google and Yahoo! this year to that of NBC, CBS, and ABC in primetime: 1:1
  • Number of New Orleans bars visited this spring by an undercover team investigating racial discrimination: 40
  • Percentage of the bars that charged black customers more than white customers: 40
  • Estimated total number of tons by which American adults are overweight: 1,180,000
  • Total weight, in tons, of the population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area: 883,000
  • Fine levied last year on a restaurant in China for serving sushi atop naked women: $242

Shocking, simply shocking. All of it. Except maybe the sushi one. That's just... well, not a bad idea. Incidently, we're going out for sushi tonight at Blue Ribbon. Life is good and I am blessed.

Even more dear to my heart is Harper's Findings, a seemingly random compendium of scientific findings, some of which fall into the "well, duh" category (and makes you wonder who's paying for these studies) and some are awe-inspiring. I believe that reading these improves the brain, makes those little neurons work, connecting the dots or trying to make connections between such proclamations as:

  • Geneticists succeeded in giving fruit flies a gene that makes them gay.


  • Scientists studying the endangered Devils Hole pupfish in Nevada accidentally killed eighty of them, about one third of the remaining wild population.

Other gems:

  • Scientists found that subliminal happy faces can persuade people to drink more, and that compliments can make women feel better about their bodies.
  • A British charity concluded that Aka Pygmy men are the best fathers.
  • Microbiologists discovered that some pollution-eating bacteria can generate electricity.

July 17, 2005

Today a bottle of carrot/ginger Asian salad dressing literally blew up in my kitchen. It HAD been refrigerated (for nearly a year, by my reluctant calculations) so it really sh ouldn't have behaved that way. The funny thing is I ate some (in a nice whole wheat wrap with spinach, shredded carrots and low-sodium turkey) BEFORE the whole thing exploded - and it tasted just fine. Oh well.

July 7, 2005

A sad day for Londoners... and the world.

On a lighter note, I just got back from Maine. I'm a little too tired to describe all the fun-filled events but here are some nice pictures taken with my new Sony P-200 7.2 megapixel baby (hey, I've never had a digital camera so I'm kind of enthralled...) vacationing on the Maine coast. And a little movie, starring my niece Alice. To view a slideshow (Windows only, I'm afraid) click here.

June 22, 2005

Me at the gym now: 45 minutes of intermittent high-intensity cardio, during which I envision myself looking more and more like one of those horses that gets spooked: eyes rolling, expression of "exCUSE me what the $@%!^!.." the open mouth gasping up for breath like that Guernica horse. Then, afterward, me outside, on the gym's roof trying to catch a breeze with which to cool down, like a dog leaning his head outside the window, whipping around to catch the air on the back of his throat. Is this a pathology? Mentally, visually comparing myself to domesticated animals? Kind of scary. So okay, exercise works. I shrunk in 5 days of this torture from an 8 to a 6.325 I swear. Well, we'll see.

Just when I think I'm ahead of the game, I find out I'm not... and not even close. I was so proud of myself for making a mental note to order tickets to see Cecilia Bartoli at Carnegie Hall in October. October! It's still June! So on the day after the day tickets went on sale (what's the rush, right?) I go to the Web site only to find out that I can only get balcony seats! I figure, oh. Well, clearly the best seats just go on sale later or... something. But then I call and am told they're sold out! Sigh. And I just really, really like her, from the one CD that I just happened upon somehow and which, over time, became one of my all-time favorite classical CDs (Live in Italy with Jean-Yves Thibaudet). There's probably a groove worn on my iPod's hard drive at the Hai Luli point, if that's possible). [Click to download that one song, illegally, I'm sure and I can't guarantee it'll play...]

May 9, 2005

This lovely bit from Harpers gave me some stunningly graphic nightmares involving goats, Dracula, baby birds, Led Zeppelin, lawyers and Taco Bell.

I'm sure you won't notice or care but I've deleted from my pub list (right). After one sits through an ad to get to their site not only is the content oddly enervating but you can't go back > back > to the previous page (mine) -- you're stuck in ad hell. Goodbye, good riddance. Compare that to the wealth of free AND brilliant content on and well... there simply is no comparison.

So I just received a huge, glossy brochure for the new 455 Lafayette Street building (someone certainly has a screwed-up mailing list) complete with floor plans. Since the building is (or will be?) in my old neighborhood (East Village) I figure I can weigh in on it. I think it's a joke. Judging from the picture, which has this odd-shaped all-glass monstrosity towering over quaint Astor Place, Cooper Square, etc. What's more funny is the idea of whoever is a sucker enough to buy an apartment here has no idea what they'll encounter as they leave the fabulous building and attempt to stroll out for a latte: drugged out teenage runaways, pooping dogs, skateboarding hoodlums, and the odd crack dealer among the normal (read: not fabulously wealthy) denizens of this wildly eclectic area. Details from the building's management: "We are pleased to inform members of the Related Sales Inner Circle about the newest addition to Related's distinctive portfolio of properties, Astor Place "Sculpture for Living." This dramatic 21 story luxury residential tower, designed by world renowned architects Gwathmey Siegel and Associates, features a limited collection of 39 museum quality architectural loft residences which will soon be available for purchase."

Someone has nicely captured the building's rise, and without editorializing.

May 6, 2005

The dogwood tree is blooming outside my window and the leaves are out all over New York City.

I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'm getting new magazines in the mail and shortly thereafter phone calls asking me if I liked the magazine. Usually, as is the case with the current one, Domino, "the shopping magazine," I won't have even opened it yet. This Domino one looks dangerous.

"Sure it's a shopping magazine, said Deborah Needleman, the editor in chief of Domino [in a San Jose Mercury News article]. But she wants to "connect the dots" for readers -- offering not just bits of inspiration and this month's must-haves, but a guide to putting together the things we buy. "In my parent's generation, people bought a suite of furniture for a room and it stayed there for 20 years. Then they redid the whole thing," she said. "That's not the way people live anymore."

I'm looking at my furniture and thinking, well.... Also, the phrase "this month's must-have" strikes fear in my wallet and reminds me how much of consumer culture we live in. Yuck.

Speaking of not paying for stuff (sort of) I gratefully accepted 2 tickets to see Itzhak Perlman at Lincoln Center last week. As always, I could find no one to go with me; no matter. I had great orchestra seats and it was nice to finally see the legendary Perlman in person (he makes the funniest faces) but I didn't feel the music was all that wonderful. Mozart's Sonata in e minor, K. 304 (his only sonata in a minor key; apparently, there may be some connection to his mother's death) didn't really move me and though I enjoyed Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, I wasn't unhappy to leave at intermission (I had no choice, I had a dinner date with C. who was going away). It seems the Times music critic agreed with me, pretty much (see excerpt below). Nice to know I have at least a smidge of musical acumen.

Throughout the evening, there were plenty of moments that clearly reminded the listener how he first achieved such popularity, but they were not quick in arriving. Mr. Perlman seemed less committed to the first half of his program, particularly the opening work, Mozart's Sonata No. 21 (K. 304), which had a certain uninspired frankness to it. Mr. Perlman rallied his energy for Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata, though blurry passagework and the odd intonation problem crept into the first movement. Mr. De Silva's playing was technically accomplished, but one wished for both a more supple and electrically charged give-and-take between the two musicians.

April 16, 2005

Apologies to Firefox users - I hadn't realized how hideous my colors here render in that browser. I'll try to fix.

April 5, 2005

Goodbye, Saul Bellow.
Philip Roth listed Bellow with Henry James, Joseph Conrad and Fyodor Dostoevsky as "the great inventors of narrative detail and masters of narrative voice and perspective." [Chicago Tribune]. I just liked his books.

April 3, 2005

Images... France trip. one panel of the Tapestries of the Apocalypse, Angers, France

Just finished reading Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon which, while a good read generally, has cured me of my need to go back to Paris anytime soon. It was just a little too precious and it's difficult to not slightly loathe anyone who has the means (or connections) to up and move to Paris with a 5-year old.

I had a wonderful time in France. Pictures here. Click on tapestry to view pics as Windows Movie (may take a while but there's French music...) My dear friend C., who's been living in France for five years, picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to Tranche sur Mer, on the Atlantic coast, just south of Brittany and Nantes, near La Rochelle.

On the way, we stopped for lunch in Angers and went to see the tapisseries de líApocalypse of the 14th century. Very, very impressive.

It was a bit odd not going straight to Paris but it felt OK, knowing I'd get back there in a few days. The long (4 hour) drive was a nice introduction to France outside Paris, which I had not experienced. The drive was actually fun -- I was suffering from sleep deprivation but there's something soothing about being a passenger in a car in a strange land. For four hours we caught up on each other's lives in between chateau-spotting -- a bittersweet activity (I love being in proximity to the grande chateaux but I also REALLY WANT ONE for myself). I was also particularly interested in the Dr. Seuss-like leaf-balls in the trees -- there are literally balls in the trees. Supposedly it's some kind of parasite thing going on, which sounds pretty icky.

C.'s house was a real French beach house in a nice, still winter-sleepy town on the Atlantic coast about 45 minutes from La Rochelle. We took a walk to the wide, expansive beach, through a wood that was filled with wild boars, though we didn't see any, thank god. I collected a nice bunch of shells which of course I left when we left. Oh well. The weather, by the way, was phenomenal -- 75 degrees by noon and sunny. Every day. What luck. C. took me driving around the countryside to check out the Stonehengian minhirs and dolmen of the region - megaliths that randomly (it seems) populate the farmlands.

Other highlights included a wonderful dinner in La Rochelle, endless seafood: langoustines, oysters, strange fried sardine-like fish, and a delicous fish entree. Tilapia maybe? We also drove to Ile de Re, the resort island off the coast. If Rockport, Maine had a fortress it might be similar. We ate seafood in the sun and then went horseback riding. Which, of course, sounds better than the actual experience (I was hot, in pain, and on a horse deemed "capricious" and was he ever -- he kept walking THROUGH bushes and periodicaly breaking into a gallop unexpectedly.)

I took the TGV train to Paris on Saturday alone, as C. had an appointment. I arrived around 1 pm at Montparnasse and immediately set out toward the area of C.'s husband's mother's apartment in Le Marais, near the Rue de Rivoli. It was a bit uncomfortable (too warm for what I was wearing) and it seemed to take me forever to 1) make a phone call to C. to tell her where to meet me, as I had left the address for the apartment back in her car and 2) find a street map, which I never did. I roamed around Les Halles, caught just the merest glimpse of the Louvre and remembered I had promised my mother that I'd stop by Shakespeare & Company, the old-world bookstore near Notre Dame. Having accomplished that (and had the requisite picture taken for proof) I needed a moment. I wandered back to the Quay and sat, in the late afternoon sun, at a cafe along the Seine.

That evening C. and I sat at the edge of the Seine with our legs hanging down the stone of the Quay and drank a bottle of champagne while watching the bateaux mouches go by. I found it funny that, as C. told me, apparently the kleig lights shining off the sides of the boats are annoying enough to apartment dwellers along the Seine to the point of lowering property values. We stumbled off to dinner once darkness fell and I ate yet another immense and immensely delicious feast at a wildly popular "traditional" country-style restaurant with communal tables and French musicians.

I was scheduled to fly home on Sunday but was bumped (long, typical airport story) and had to spend another night in Paris (pauvre moi!). C. had to go back to the Vendeť (as the region around La Roche-Sur Yon is known) and I was lucky enough to be able to spend one more night at the apartment. There's something special about having a night in Paris all alone; I didn't mind at all. Though I was at first completely paranoid about losing the apartment key, I soon relaxed enough to get to an Internet cafe to warn co-workers that I wouldn't be in to work on Monday and then to have a nice dinner (a felafel on the street in the small Jewish district of Le Marais) and a nightcap at Le Philosophe. I went to sleep hearing the bells of Notre Dame ring out across the Seine.

The next morning C.'s husband kindly drove me to the airport and I was on my way home, with a glass of champagne and Gerard Depardieu (bien sur).

March 13, 2005

I feel bad. I told yet another person wearing that yellow rubber Lance Armstrong band that I always assume that anyone wearing one is semi-retarded. I didn't really mean it, of course, but I do find most of them (excepting children of course) to be gullible, fashion sense-deficient, sheep-like, and weak. Go Lance, and all, but we can't all be mega-super athletes and wearing a yellow band that's probably a "fake" (like who cares, as long as everyone's giving as much as possible to charity) just seems so so fad-ish. And you know I hate fads. Ugg boots make me CRAZY and if I see one more poor quality "broach" masquerading as a vintage pin, I might plotz.

Especially significant events: sister got engaged (YAY), I did NOT (whatever) and I am now the proud owner of contact lenses that actually don't feel like suction cups. My eye specialist (who is treating me for idiopathy as far as I'm concerned (oh, go look it up) and elevated intraocular pressure and fun stuff like that, ordered me to go to one Dr. Farkas for a lens fitting. I dutifully, had a lovely experience with the wry Dr. Farkas (oh so dapper in a dark, pin-striped suit) and, at the end of an efficiently executed 2 hour examination, was presented with probably the first correct fit and prescription ever given to me -- as well as $677 bill. OUCH!!!! But I'll never have to entrust my weary eyes to Joe Optometrist again....

CORRECTION: It's not Dupuis Charente but Poitou Charente. Mon dieu. How embarrassing.

January 31, 2005

Travesty Central and Il de Rť

As I mentioned earlier, all my favorite pop songs have been co-opted for commercials. Fine, I can deal with that. But my childhood?! Yes, i nearly fell off the Fitball* upon hearing the Sesame Street's Manamana ("a tee-peteepee") song on a diet Dr. Pepper commercial. This must MEAN something, and it can't be good. It reinforces my reluctant acknowledgment that everything I've experienced is so NOT unique, so PLEBIAN, so disgustingly universal that I may as well just lie down and call it a day (seeing as how I'm not really incorporating any new songs into my life, so basically the clock is ticking. Ask not for whom the commercial tolls...)

Or not. Don't want to be too negative. I'll just hang back and wait for the Adjective Song (my all-time #1 favorite ditty) to be perverted for commercial use and then I'll... well, we'll see what I'll do. On the upside, I'm going to France in March -- and clearly NOT A MOMENT TO SOON. I love the idea of going to a place I've never heard of or, er, somehow missed, ok, I'm a stupid American and I've pretty much only been to Paris and Nantes and Bordeaux and somewhere in the Pyrenees. This time it's my dear friend Carmella's adopted hometown of La Rochelle, in the Dupuis Charente region of France, on the Atlantic coast (and possibly the darling little island of Ile de Rť -- can we, Carm? Can we?). Can't wait.

* Yeah, since I hurt my back doing like 8,000 crunches (why?) I sit on a big fitball instead of the couch and it feels much better plus I burn calories, maybe, as I wriggle to stay upright.

January 10, 2005

Went alone to hear the Philharmonic last week: Rachmaninoff's The Isle of the Dead; Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major; and Musorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The highlight was definitely the guest pianist, Olli Mustonen, who was truly mesmerizing through the Prokofiev piece, gesticulating wildy and exuberantly, wiping his forehead with his forearm every fifth measure or so. The Musorgsky -- one of my favorite classical pieces -- was phenomenal as well. Kurt Masur is such a genius and so interesting to watch. He's tall (I think) and wore a 3/4 length black jacket that made him seem kind of creepy and old-fashioned. So animated, but in a wierd, stilted way, shuffling his feet and reminding me of that scary guy in the movie Phantasm. I didn't know that he is also the lifetime honorary guest conductor of the Israel Philharmonic. And speaking of Israel, by the way, thank you again, David L. in Israel, for introducing me to Olli Mustonen with that wonderful CD.

December was an interesting month. Parents came to visit the week before Christmas. I wouldn't let them stay with me (they're allowed to separately but not together.) I found a hotel for them... The Carlton Arms. OK, it used to be a brothel and then was "renovated" by a series of artists who each took a room (or a hallway, or foyer, apparently) and just went to town. Crazy place. My parents' room had a gigantic papier machť rhinoceros sticking out of the wall. Pictures here. They loved it - and I loved them for not running away screaming like most normal parents would have. Took them to MOMA (my second time since it reopened) and then to Grand Central and the Oyster Bar, where I had planned on letting them buy me dinner. It was closed. This has happened at least three times now, whenever they visit.

"Actually, the frontier between prose and poetry has become more and more permeable -- unified by the ethos of maximalism characteristic of the modern artist: to create work that goes as far as it can go. The standard that seems eminently appropriate to lyric poetry, according to which poems may be regarded as linguistic artifacts to which nothing further can be done, now influences much of what is distinctively modern in prose. Precisely as prose, since Flaubert, has aspired to some of the intensity, velocity, and lexical inevitability of poetry, there seems a greater need to shore up the two-party system in literature, to distinguish prose from poetry, and to oppose them."
-- Susan Sontag, Where the Stress Falls, 2001.

I will miss her, even if I barely ever understood what she was saying. End of an era.

I'm deeply touched by the tsunami disaster -- truly the stuff of nightmares. But something gives me pause... something about many more silent deaths in the Sudan... the power of the media to focus -- or distort -- our sentiments...

Getting this in just under the one month mark. I do have an excuse: mental paralysis due to lack of nicotine (yeah, I quit smoking over a month ago). I've felt varying degrees of derangement and depression, about which there's nothing I can do. It's like having low-grade fever all the time. Or something. I assume that will pass.

December 13, 2004

Never been a huge John Ashbery fan but maybe he's getting more real...less annoying. I cannot explain why I like this one and would hesitate to even hazard a guess as to its meaning.


Music, food, sex, and their accompanying
tropes like a wall of light at a door
once spattered by laugher

come round to how you like it --
was it really you that approved?
And if so what does the loneliness
in all this mean? How blind are we?

We see a few feet into our future
of shrouded lots and ditches.
Surely that way was the long one
to have come. Yet nobody

sees anything wrong with what we're doing,
how we came to discuss it, here, with the wind
and the sun sometimes slanting.
You have arrived at this step, and the way down

is paralyzing, though this is the lost
youth I remember as being O.K., once.
Got to shuffle, even if it's only the sarcasm
of speech that gets lost, while the blessed
sense of it bleeds through,

open to all kinds of interpretations.

-- CourtesyThe New Yorker

Time to go torture the cats.

November 22, 2004

I'm pretty sure every song on my iPod has been (or is in the making of being) the score for some commercial. I should just carry a TV around with me. Er, maybe not.

Endured another birthday (November 7, for anyone who missed it) that went by quietly and rather painlessly. This new decade, my fourth, is just humming along and I need to do something to slow it down. I've started writing again, which seems to help. If I write a sentence a day, I figure, I will be accomplishing something, and by my calculations, should have a novel ready by 2018. OK, I didn't really do the math (duh) but it sounds reasonable.

I won't comment now (late) about the 2004 Presidential election; it's simply too depressing. Loved Maureen Dowd's latest: "Trapped in their blue bell jar, drowning in unfulfilled dreams, Democrats are the "Desperate Housewives" of politics." Indeed. And how utterly topical, tho I can't watch that show -- and anyone who watched Melrose Place and Thirty-Something a while back probably can't either. Enough is enough...

I go to Maine tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Taking Amtrak-pokey-train this time, which by my calculations (and again, you know I'm not so great at math) it should get me there quicker than flying. Seriously. In preparation (dread) of the long imprisonment, I accidently spent over $100 at B&N on Sunday (oops). Specifically: John Updike's new Villages, which I'm already half way through (he's STILL obsessed with sex, what fun); Nobel prize-winning J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello; Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake; Terry Gross's All I Did Was Ask (with her NPR radio interviews with the likes of Johnny Cash, Michael Caine, Gene Simmons, John Updike (!), etc.); and The Bug which apparently "takes the techno-novel to a new level of literary excellence." We shall see...

Reunited with the eChalkians (from two jobs ago) on Thursday at Dylan Prime and had a blast including eating fondue (thankfully, I didn't have a skewer so I kept to my diet pretty much), burning my coat on a candle, and feeling so happy to have people that are as smart, happy, and irreverent as they all are in my life.

Time to pack. Happy Thanksgiving, all: Jeannie and Bruce and Mom and Dad and Betsy and Lily and Alice and Ann and Al and Gannie and Bob and John and Mike and Ann and Michael and Devin, Charles and Cleo and Nicole and Meery and Jeff and Jeff, and Stash and Charlene and Al and Margaret and JC and Gabrielle and Torrance and Daniel, and Robbie and Ann and Arty McCute and LK and Shannon and Heidi and Pete and Todd and Ann and Sayeed and Mike and Howard and Scott and Charles and Cheryl and Charles and David and Tali and Philippe and Maura and Maura and Tina and Arliss and Monica and Robbie and Christine and Petey and MeMe.

October 18, 2004

I miss Maine. Even with all the crime going on...

October 17, 2004


Just Call Me Martha*

Oh. Looks like I've skipped a whole month, three presidential debates [whoops, no I didn't], and, well, Columbus Day. Sorry. So yesterday I bought a lamp at Housing Works. They promised me it worked. So I lugged it home (17 blocks) and of course it didn't work. So I fixed it. Yes. I bought the fixture thing and pulled the old one apart, examined it from every angle, unscrewed the screws, wrapped the wire around them, put the whole thing back together and voila. I'm so very proud. My first lamp fixing. Wow. The lamp is insane: lime green glass in the shape of a vase with a bowl on top, claw-footed, and sporting a big white brocade and fringed lampshade. Oh, and it WORKS. I put it atop a new table thing I also bought. It too is insane: a barely 6" square tabletop above crazily long, thin legs. The lamp and table together with a small, wooden Mexican guitar make my newly painted (dusky rose) bedroom into something altogether otherworldly. I like it.

*Okay, maybe not...

What fun: my dear colleague Ann turned me on to Naturally, I had to see if I could get my favorite word in. Yay! Victory! More people need to know that word. It's kind of addictive for people like me, so I had to try for a second favorite word. Yay! I think I wrote that one way late at night after maybe three glasses of red wine. Just goes to show... er... something... Anyway, not to be outdone, my dear, dear friend Jeff (who I've never met but who lives in Minneapolis and is a great writer and a greater wit so he can't be all that bad), successfully placed a word too. OK, it may well be that the webmaster is putting up all and any entries ("Joy"? "Freedom"? "Cute"?) But so what.

After my successful experiment of the summer (find out if it's true that if you don't exercise at all AND keep eating whatever the hell you want, you will gain weight. Yes, it IS true), the second half of the experiment is well under way (if you eat one-seventh of your normal intake and exercise vigorously five days a week, you will/won't lose weight). So far, it seems to be working. The litmus test will happen sometime in early December when, after three months of this nonsense, I fit into my old size 28 501's. Meanwhile, I'm heartily enjoying my workout sessions with M., an extremely persuasive and utterly appealing personal trainer. He's less appealing when he's making me do pushups, but I do understand that it's in my best interest.

Other new developments: the best boss I ever had is leaving to take a new job in London. That's not good, and is, quite frankly, extremely depressing. Oh well. Also, in the same timeframe, C. moved out, which is a good thing, I think. The idea of having six -- count 'em!! -- SIX actual dresser drawers is thrilling. And to have my closet double overnight is a miracle. Not having someone to do the cat litter box is just something I'll have to get used to...

Oh - my mother came to visit. In a whirlwind weekend, we shopped (Soho), dined (Union Square) and were entertained (six amazing panelists at a New Yorker magazine festival at the Alliance Francaise, celebrating the late Russian dissident poet Joseph Brodsky. No matter that I had thought it was going to be about Harold BRODKEY - it was a very moving hour and a half. Before that, we had Derek Walcott sign our Prodigal's. He was one of the speakers at the event; David Remnick was the moderator.

Then I put mom back on the Fung Wah bus (yes, I know) and sent her on her way. $30 Boston to New York and BACK - not a bad deal. If my 70-year old mother can do it, why can't I?

September 5, 2004

Labor Day Weekend. Everything seems back to normal. CNN is covering Hurricane Frances non-stop. It's Sunday and I'm typing from my new couch. Not exactly new-new, but refurbished. I'm very proud of it - ordered a slipcover in sage green "hobnail chenille" with matching pillows ($180) and yesterday bought customized foam to replace the back pillows, whose down filling was losing its will to live. Another $100 dollars and some sweaty moments (more like a half an hour) wrestling the slipcover (which shouldn't include the word "slip" as that implies lightness and/or slipperiness) since they neglected to include instructions - and bingo bango - new couch. New couch, new livingroom. New livingroom, new attitude. And to think people spend upwards of $2000 on a couch. Ouch.

Here is a mish-mash of Maine photos, taken during the party for my dad's 70th birthday. Note to self: don't bother buying the more expensive Fuji throwaway cameras, and don't drop it off at Eckerd's.

It was the worst domestic trip I've taken. I dutifully called the airport ahead of time and was told my flight was cancelled. The possibility loomed that I might miss my father's 70th birthday party in Edgecomb (Maine). And the party had been scheduled a full week after his actual birthday - to accomodate ME. Eeek. So I told the airline woman that I had a wedding to attend at noon the next day in Maine and I simply had to get there. (Hey, I didn't say it was MY wedding - now that would have just been wrong.) She found a flight that went first to Cincinnati and would only take a total of six hours (I politely declined). I asked about flights to Boston, figuring I could catch a bus from there. An hour later I was on the plane to Boston, a flight during which we circled Newark or Boston (still not sure which) for a good hour and a half, rendering me half an hour late for the last bus to Maine out of South Station. Yikes! I had to get a hotel for the night in Bean Town and the only one not full (apparently Hurrican Floyd had driven everyone in Florida to Boston) was the nasty Logan Airport Embassy Suites. I arrived there at 12:30 am. After a forgettable night in a room with windows that don't open -- what's up with THAT???) I went back to the airport and caught the bus to Portland where J. picked me up and brought my sorry ass home to Edgie.

On the way back, I had a surreal time in the Portland Jetport going in and out of Security FIVE times and got in a fight with an ex-military security guard who made me check a bag with my newly purchased jewelry crimper in it. They have no ATM beyond security so I had to leave again. Then I left my laptop at the checkpoint and had to be paged (very embarrassing). Anyway.

We've been suffering the ignominy of being caught between the apartment management and Time Warner for the last TWO WEEKS. Cable out. High-speed down. Apparently, management decided to re-do the roofs along our block with landmark improvement money. The smelly, uncouth non-union Ukrainian roofers keep tearking out the cable lines and now TW refuses to come back until the work is done (can't really blame them). But if I have to call them and listen to the LOSER automated voice again I'll die. She sounds like a heavy smoker on crack and pronounces "" "DOT.calm" in a way too perky voice and brighly emphasizes every THIRD word in a really wierd way, like a female Christopher Walken. It's incredibly annoying.

To put it all into perspective and to keep me laughing, I must relate that my next door neighbor, a pleasant 20-something Asian guy commiserated in the hall with me for a few minutes and, when I informed him that the roofers were responsible for the lack of cable, he said, "Oh. Well, I haven't reported the problem 'cause I just figured that with the Republican Convention in town something just blew." What?!? Wow, didn't know they made them that naive anymore.

Democratic National Convention

No energy to write about the oddly enervating '04 DNC but I've captured for perpetuity my real-time simultaneous conversations during the event, with B. and P. (IM-names changed to "Jack" and "Penny" to protect their identities).

August 31, 2004

It's Giuliani time again. The city is definitely a wierd place to be this week. Apparently, according to NY1 sources, petty crime is sharply down! Well, imagine that. Guess even the petty criminals have left the city to make room for the GOP and attendant insane security.

After marching on SUnday against the RNC, the war in Iraq, President Bush and his minions, the ignorant delegates, the very idea of having the RNC in New York City, the Patriot Act, and other despicabilities brought about by the current administration, I'm exhausted. The march itself was grueling - slow and hot. But I feel very gratified to have done it, and with good friends. Pictures to follow. Kit's Republication Convention Survival Guide

Glad I wasn't arrested (not that I even came close, as a highly - almost nauseatingly - law-abiding citizen). From the UPJ site:

At 15th Street on the West Side Highway, the City of New York has set up a temporary detention center on Pier 57 for people arrested during the RNC protests. Conditions in this former bus garage are appalling: the large holding pens are made of chain link fence with razor wire on top; each pen has only two portable toilets and very few benches; most people have to sleep on the floor; arrestees have gone for many hours without access to food, water, phones, or lawyers.

Of course, the morons who do get violent during this convention deserve what they get... On another note - thank you, CNN, for having Bill Maher on just before the RNC coverage. That's huge. I want to vote for him and Jon Stewart for President and VP. Articulate and angry, and scathingly funny, respectively

July 18, 2004

Public statements made by George W. Bush and his official spokesmen since 1997: (from Harpers Magazine)

Iím not a statistician.
Iím not a numbers-cruncher.
Iím not one of these bean counters.
Iím not very analytical.
Iím not a precision guy.
The President is not a micromanager.
Iím not a member of the legislative branch.
The President is not a rubber stamp for the Congress.
Iím not a censor-guy.
Iím not a lawyer.
Iím not a doctor.
The President is not an economist.
The President of the United States is not a fact-checker.
Iím not a stockbroker or a stock-picker.
Iím not a forecaster.
Iím not a predictor.
Iím not a pollster, a poll-reader guy.
Iím not a very good prognosticator of elections.
Iím not a committee chairman.
Iím not of the Washington scene.
Iím not a lonely person.
Iím not a poet.
Iím not a very good novelist.
Iím not a textbook player.
Iím not an emailer.
Iím not a very long-winded person.
Iím not a very formal guy.
I am not a revengeful person.
Iím not an Iraqi citizen.
Iím not a divider.
I am not a unilateralist.
Iím not a tree, Iím a Bush.

Not sure why I'm still writing this log. Time between entries keeps extending and my readership has dropped to about 3. Oh well. As long as it's moderately therapeutic I'll continue. In the weeks leading up to the Republican convention, it's becoming more and more difficult to watch the news about it. What a horror - why NYC? I cannot imagine the annoyance to people who have to commute into Penn Station. Should be interesting, at least, and I just hope the organization (United for Peace and Justice)which staged the last two major anti-war rallies I attended will prevail in getting their way to march - not along the Westside Highway (what's the point?) but in Central Park.

Very pleased to receive my ACLU card, even though it says "Mr. S. Kit Thompson." I've notified them that I need another card with my name spelled right and won't be laminating this one just yet.

Latest urban horror story: I was walking home on Thursday, up Warren Street toward Greenwich. It was raining; head down, under my umbrella, I momentarily admired a tiny sparrow poking around in the detritus on the sidewalk in front of me. At that moment, it flew up - right into my umbrella where it - and I - freaked out. In less than a second it orbited my head while I screamed and waved the umbrella wildly, hopping up and down. The little bird escaped unharmed, as did I, but it was a very odd experience.

I have little more to say, except that yes, I spent the Fourth of July in Maine and had a lovely time. Actually caught the Damariscotta fireworks on a balmy, buggy night, which was a first - not too bad, actually. I kayaked in the pond and was ready to attempt the Eskimo roll but unfortunately fell out on my own twice - once while getting in the kayak and once when I took off too fast and forgot that I'd have to turn at the edge of the pond. Plop.

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