kitchen table

take a walk
November 28, 2006, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Buffalo, City life, Growing Up, work

My boyfriend worked as a banker for almost four years before he went back to school. Four years in a cubicle, which is a hell of a lot worse than my sunny, quiet office in an old ministry. Even still, I get hella fidgety from time to time. I know it’s bad when I find myself checking the Entertainment tab of Yahoo! more than once in a one-minute time frame.

His advice? Take a walk.

And so I do. One of the nice things about working in an office in a city is that I have more to stare at on this five-minute diversion than a parking lot and some office park landscape. If I turn right at the door, I walk past a beautiful old church before reaching the corner where Italian delis mingle with barber shops. If I take a left, I stroll by the incredible red stone structure that is Lafayette High School and inevitably find myself at one of the many traffic circles of Buffalo’s West side.

And after that? It’s back to the grind.


billy boy, billy boy
November 21, 2006, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Buffalo, Literature

Originally uploaded by I Sing

Meant to write about this over the weekend. Boyfriend and I went to see poet Billy Collins read on Friday night at UB. It didn’t take much convincing but we both acknowledged that Mike was hesitant to jump for joy. He wanted to go because I was excited but otherwise, I believe he felt indifferent at best.

He majored in business and finance. I majored in English.

And it’s not that a business major–and now, a law student–wouldn’t find joy in literature, but I know from past conversations that poetry has intimidated Mike. He feels about as connected to it as he does Saturn: it’s out there, it’s untouchable, it doesn’t really matter. What’s more, can anybody really blame him? With the exception of four or five poets, I feel fairly distant from the craft and art of poetry myself. In fact, I often feel like a fraud for not “getting” the Great Poems of All Time. Or for just not being interested.

They’re out there, they’re untouchable, they don’t really matter.

But then we saw Billy Collins on Friday night and we learned, for what felt to me like the first time for both of us, that it is touchable and it does matter. It’s also fuckin’ funny.

Before Collins went on stage, award-winning poet Carl Dennis gave the introduction and I grabbed Mike’s arm with one hand and gripped my seat with the other, fearing we’d both jump ship. Dennis’ speech was well-intentioned–probably even brilliant–but also excruiating and the epitome of a stereotypical poetry reading: white, male scholar droning into his sweater vest about the truths and mysteries of humanity. Blah.

Billy saved the day though and from the moment he stepped up to the podium, the mood in the auditorium was light and open. The very first poem he read, the name I cannot remember, made Mike laugh. And so did the second, the third. The fourth. He read from past works as well as new poems. I turned to Mike many times throughout the night, so delighted to see him smile–he was enjoying a poetry reading! When I wasn’t looking towards the stage or to my side, I was scrawling ideas for poems in my notebook. The kind of inspiration that comes from hearing other people read, by being reminded of how the craft works–from the pinprick of an idea to the excessive sweating of its birth to the polished neatness of its completion, the clean up, the end.

As we were driving home Mike asked me if I had any of his books so we could read them that night, in bed. When I finally got my copy of Sailling Alone Around the Room into his hands he read it like he was hungry. I told him about Billy Collins’ project, Poetry 180, and his other, numerous attempts at making poetry accessible. We both agreed that Mr. Collins was successful within our small world and reread our favorites of the evening, “Forgetfulness,” “Snow Day,” and, of course, “The Trouble with Poetry.”

P.S. Billy Collins is totally Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

two day nap

Dismay uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

I’ve sort of jumped ship these past couple weeks, been so busy with my two jobs & all the campaign work. It’s all over now though–the campaign, that is–and I am so, so please with the results.

After leaving the party at Democratic headquarters last night, a bunch of us headed down to Founding Fathers, a bar. We attempted to place our campaign stickers on the backs of unsuspecting Republicans–a fun game when your drunk on alcohol and exhaustion. Anyway, I’m ready for a two-day nap.

Follow all the news & updates here…

Lindsay Beyerstein photographing the faces of defeat in Virginia.

Buffalogeek has local analysis and some videos up from the after party.

South Dakota rejects the abortion ban.

Storm update from Buffalo
October 18, 2006, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Buffalo, City life


Still without power in the Queen City but checking email and working from Spot Coffee on Delaware. This is what I kept thinking over the weekend as people came together to clean up their blocks and help their neighbors:

I believe — indeed, I know — that whatever is fine and beautiful in the human expresses and asserts itself in spite of government, and not because of it.   Emma Goldman, “What I Believe”

wool coats & gloves
October 12, 2006, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Buffalo

It’s snowing. Already.

the game
September 26, 2006, 6:25 pm
Filed under: Buffalo, Growing Up, love

We are only particles of change, I know, I know.
-Joni Mitchell

I just started a new job this week and it has me playing the game, “What would the Whitney-from-10-years-ago think about this most recent venture?” I like this game, in part because I try to imagine what version I’ll be playing ten years from now.

In the year or so since I graduated from college, I’ve done things my younger self would probably find surprising, maybe even unappealing. They include working on a dairy farm, teaching English in South Korea, and managing a political campaign.

Sometimes I feel the panic I imagine most people feel: Shit! Am I really doing this? We tend to psych ourselves out by believing that once we sign up for a job or a change or an apartment lease, we’ll be there forever. This is another reason why I like playing the game: it reminds me of how unlikely those fears actually are.

Even if we do stay in a job or a city for a long period of time, I take comfort in knowing that our areas of focus change, our friends move on and move closer, our families split and heal and split again.

I’d love to hear about other people’s surprises—what have you done or what are you doing now that a younger version of yourself would find hard to believe or understand?

nice, little get away
September 20, 2006, 11:30 am
Filed under: Buffalo, City life, friends, Growing Up, love

“One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary, has ever happended to anyone before.”

Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That”

Somerville station, NJ

I flew into New York last Thursday morning, early enough to almost fall asleep on the subway. I made a friend though, an Argentinian woman who wanted to go to “Can-nan-nal” Street during her layover, and our small talk kept me half-alert until I could reach my friend’s apartment and promptly fall asleep in his bed.

The city was filled with rain and strangers who shared with me umbrellas and other sweetness.

Flung back into the life of a vagabond–where am I staying tonight?–both fun and excruiating. Now that travel has become a short thing of the Getting Away nature, and not my lifestyle as it was when I hopped from plane to plane, country to country, I am feeling its affects differently. As expected, I appreciate it more immediately for what it is: luxurious, an escape.

But there’s this other piece too, and I’m afraid I’ve got little choice but to be vague as I work through the feeling: I’m learning how a simple vacation–especially when you visit a place where you spent a few nights asking yourself hard questions or a few mornings waking up in bed with a lover or a few evenings walking with a blank slate of obligations–can shake the whole foundation of the place from where you departed.

I don’t know how to let something devour me slightly.