chickarina: the melissa kirsch blog

Archive for the 'personal' Category

Media Consumption Update

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Blogging! It’s so 2007! But this site needs an overhaul. I know it, you know it, it’s getting obvious even to those who have been in deep denial about it. Until then, because I know you’re dying to know what you should be reading, listening to, watching, &c.

What’s Consuming Melissa/What Melissa Has Consumed Lately:

Commencement, by J. Courtney Sullivan
My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor
Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill
This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
The Heart of the the Buddha’s Teaching, by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, by Joseph Goldstein & Jack Kornfield
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore

Laura Marling
Florence + the Machine
Gossip (Music for Men)

Friday Night Lights
Peep Show, Series 6
Mad Men
Glee (”You know what Sue Sylvester’s never done? Paid income tax.”)
Project Runway & Top Chef (even though I can feel the inanity brittling my bones)

Slim pickings lately. I’m excited about a screening I’m attending today, but it’s a surprise for a friend so maybe I can post about it later. Also anticipating The Fantastic Mr. Fox eagerly.

I’ve become one of those people who makes a lot of smoothies since Lynn gave me a Vita-Mix and it changed my life forever.

I’m going to be blogging occasionally on The Interdependence Project blog at Beliefnet. I’ll try to update here when I do. I meant to blog about A-Rod’s Sudden Buddhism, but, Q.E.D., I’m not the most consistent blogger. Still, it’s a good blog to add to your feed if you’re feeling like you don’t have enough to consume already.

Eggs! Get Their Due With James Beard Award Nomination

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Yay! The Breakfast Manifesto, New York magazine’s breakfast extravaganza to which I contributed the piece on eggs has been nominated for a James Beard Award.

I love eggs. I love that the whole cholesterol/fat stigma they used to bear has been proven inaccurate. I love a hard-boiled egg more than maybe any other food. I love a farm-fresh egg and yes there is a difference between the supermarket eggs and the greenmarket ones, in taste and nutrition. If I had anything approaching a green thumb, I’d move to upstate New York and be and be a farmer and raise chickens. Maybe.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Yes, I know. Where have I been?

1. France

2. Greece

3. Thinking

Not doing much of 3 in 1 & 2 but today, jogging because it’s not cold, for four blessed days at least not cold, it is over 70 and the horrid grayness abated, while jogging I did think okay, Melissa, come on, you can post something short on the blog each day. We will get more involved as the weeks go on, because there’s a lot to talk about, but oh right:

4. Writing

That’s important, 4. 3 led to 4, as it does if you’re lucky. If I’m lucky.

Don’t call me “your friend,” I am not your friend. Don’t call me folks. Don’t tell me that calling Sarah Palin stupid is sexist. Speaking of which, who can explain the new Genius function on iTunes to me? It does seem vaguely genius, but I’ve only created one Genius playlist. It’s probably the most depressing playlist on earth as I told it to start with a Colin Hay song and it dug up 25 Songs to Sob To.

5. Sobbing

Which inhibits 4, of course, but 4 is a good stay against 5. Not that much of 5, but, you know, tomorrow’s another day.

I think this is a good start. To being back. And to say to the readership, the wild & raging readership of Girl’s Guide and beyond, that I’m fast at work. Watch this space.

Dear Springtime, You Matter

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

The work is coming very slowly, refracted, refractory. I hear my name like it’s coming through water. I left the blank page and went uptown.

I looked up “refractory” after I typed it because I didn’t want to confuse it with “refectory.” OS X’s Oxford American Dictionary offers the example his refractory pony. I love this.

I hadn’t been to the Cloisters before. Almost one year ago Ben & I rode bikes over the George Washington Bridge and back and then went to Fort Tryon Park. It’s one of those memories that’s still very present, I see the day crisply, it felt like leaving New York. I wanted to get away from this and go to that.

Really I wanted my own cloister. The Cloisters themselves are lovely, but they’re a museum, and filled with people, babies, shovers. The atrophy of experience: digital cameras trained on pietas, dry fountains, unicorn tapestries. There is a terrace that wraps around the building from which you can see the Hudson and I guess New Jersey. I was looking for quiet. I found it in the Heather Garden of the park outside.

In the grass on the hill I read the The Last Life by Claire Messud, and the gears slowed. I didn’t have any expectations for clarity. Vague hopes that The Project (there’s always a project, but this time it’s a large looming one) would crystallize or stand down or make a tenuous promise to stop confounding, but I read and looked at the river and thought some about my block, where I would have been had I not caught the train.

Something broke. I had one of the tiny Field Notes books with me and things started to make sense. I diagrammed ideas, wrote myself notes for later concerning the manageability of the work in case I was seized by anything resembling doubt masquerading as procrastination.

Oh! The last time I scribbled about museum-going, Lynn & I went to the Dia:Beacon in the Hudson Valley. I took these pictures on our trip, which I’m honored to report are featured in the latest issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, accompanying Lawrence Wechsler’s (one of my favorite writers) article on Robert Irwin. You can’t see the photos on the VQR site, but you should consider checking out the hard copy for Wechsler’s always riveting prose. Here are the photos:

Now I’ve got spring fever. I’m a mess of allergies and sunlight and already mourning summer’s passing. This winter was kind of the pits. Better things are drawn to summer, they want to happen then. When I finished a perfect 70-degree run last weekend, Lance Armstrong’s voice came eerily on via my Nike+ iPod thingy and congratulated me on my longest run to date. Which is not true, since I’ve only had this gadget for about a year or so and I just recently allowed it to talk to me. Am I inclined to run farther to win Lance’s love again? Yes. Yes I am. Why am I so easily seduced?

I think it’s spring. The construction has abated, the days are long and therefore manageable. There is enough space in them for coffee on the corner and walking to the cleaners in Gramercy and getting A Moveable Feast from the library and seeing a movie about people who won’t feel whole until they’re paralyzed. Yeah, I saw that movie, Quid Pro Quo, tonight. Nick Stahl is aging strangely but attractively. Vera Farmiga is several varieties of troubling. The movie’s got some moments. But then it’s got some moments and you’re just like who greenlit that.

Days wide and warm, in which I wander listening to back episodes of the Fresh Air podcast. Springtime, you count. I will wear a daisy in my hair.

This Week in New York Magazine

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I wrote about where to dispose of your old electronics in NYC.

You know it’s amazing how much time & toil can go into something like this. The amount of fact-finding research that goes into something so seemingly straightforward is never visible to the eye after it’s published. I’d venture it’s easier to write a long, expansive feature than it is to write a no-full-sentences chart.

The info is quite useful. I just saw an air conditioner on the street outside my apartment yesterday. I’ve become more of pious recycler since researching this. I wonder if I was subliminally influenced to use the word “pious” because I’ve been up since 6am and am on my second round of Morning Edition and they are going nuts over the Pope’s visit. And the airline merger. And taxes.

Dump Your Junk [NY Mag]

Chickarina Hacked!

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Friends. Do not be alarmed. Chickarina has been viciously hacked. In the worst way. You might see some dirty gross weirdness showing up in blog posts. The site itself may look like it was crafted by a 3-year-old out of Legos. I assure you this is temporary and we will soon be back after some serious maintenance. Until then, please bear with us.

Let it be known, welcome visitors from Google Reader (where all the filth that has been weirdly appended to the regular posts is made visible, the Huffington Post, Gawker and all points non-New York, that we at the Chickarina blog are not typically peddlers of smut. In fact, we peddle it not at all, but are at the mercy of some pernicious spam outfit determined to bring down the juggernaut that is this blog.

Presently, unable to post directly to my Wordpress blog, I am availing myself of the lifesaving free trial of MarsEdit, which I may have to actually purchase if the whole pernicious hate criminals continue to spam and defile the driven-snow purity of this poor, ailing, hacked and sent to a chop-shop blog.

Alas, poor Chickarina! I knew her, Readers: a blog
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy!

Which is worse: dirty porn spam, or lame Shakespeare appropriation for feeble attempt at dramatic effect? I kind of nauseate myself. Not as much as the dirty porn, but close.

Also: If you find something amiss, like a 500-line garbled list of dirty words in a blog post, could you email the authorities? Thanks.

An Open Letter to the Democratic Presidential Candidates

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Dear Hillary & Barack:

The emails are getting out of control. I’m on both of your mailing lists and you and your “surrogates” are totally spamming the crap out of me.

Related: I know you and Tim Russert like to vacillate between calling you by your first names during debates. But you really need to stop signing your emails with your first names. It’s totally unpresidential. I like when you call me “Friend–” or use a mail merge to address the email “Dear Melissa,” but we are not dating. Nor are we pals. You want to be the leader of the free world. I want you to sign your mash notes “Senator.” Because once you’re elected or not elected, I have a feeling I’m never going to hear from you again. All this chummy , one-way epistolary affection is going to cease, and I’m going to feel abandoned.

That’s it. For now. I’m freaked out by a lot of other stuff going on in the campaign, but I thought I’d start here, since the Huffington Post’s reporting and much of the Times’ opinion page are much more incisive. By the way, you’re still on my list, MoDo.

Ms. Melissa Kirsch

Previously: I work myself up into a (gentle) lather over email signing.

In The Middle of the Night It Occurs to Me I Am Not Asleep

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Let me just be frank with you. I am a late-in-life addict of Gilmore Girls. There’s not even anything quietly subversive about that show that would make this a fake confession. I did whisper that I had been watching it to my lunch date the other day and was informed that that was not something I had to hide and everyone watches it. I don’t think anyone should admit to liking this show so freely. It’s got this “Hey I’m kind of edgy what with my whippersnapper banter and teenage mom gone mild” affect, but then it turns out that the show is about white people (and one token Korean friend) in a fake Connecticut village (and I know from Connecticut villages) who are so obsessed with coffee! And they have a lot of town pageants! And people dress up like soldiers and got to DAR meetings and when the weird daughter misses her mom’s community college graduation she apologizes so profusely that you would think she knifed someone. But I digress.

I spent Saturday afternoon to last night completely indoors working. (I know that’s horrible. It was indeed horrible. What can I say? What can I say besides: flow. Just kidding. I’ve been to Stars Hollow more times than I’ve been in a flow state.) It was important. I had to get about ten things done and it was the culmination of a week of worrying about deadlines and avoiding them and even having Leigh come over to sit with me while I worked which helped a little but not enough. I missed Amichai’s Oscar party. I missed the two days of sunlight. I was inside typing and so I decided it would be a good idea to watch Across the Universe, that Julie Taymor Beatles movie, which it was not. Then I decided I could not go wrong with some GG. I dozed off immediately. I am sure the plot had something to do with the town green and a fair or a pageant or a snowman-making contest.

I didn’t sleep well. You know when you think you’re sleeping and then you realize you are not asleep and you are kind of using all your energy to try to be asleep and you toss and turn in the dark and realize you are so very awake? That is what happened. And of course it was then impossible to wake up this morning. Even though the hoist thing on the construction site has developed a totally superfluous creaky wheel so it makes extra, non-essential noise now on top of its groaning and rumbling and the saw noise that you feel in your brain, you hear it but it also hits your brain metalically.

All work and no play makes me a dull boy. Seriously. I’m a boy now. No one warned me.

So I’ve had time to discover that I don’t hate celery anymore! I cannot brook one chunk of it in my tuna salad, but I’m cool with it by itself raw or cooked in a melange of steamed vegetables. I used to not be able to eat anything that had been in the same room with celery. Now I can tolerate it. All work and no play makes me ridiculous.

Did I mention my skin is still shit? Also that I am strangely fascinated by Diablo Cody? Even though I know I’m supposed to hate her and be jealous of her and feel somehow like she’s treading on my turf because she’s a wiseass and is working this rockabilly thing (that I am so decidedly not working, but girls tend to hate on other girls, and girl writers–forget it.). Anyway, I don’t hate her. I liked Juno. As I said, I’d walk a mile in the snow in uninsulated boots to see Michael Cera sneeze. And I think her blog is kind of amazing and certainly entertaining. I don’t suppose it really makes one whit of difference what I think of a famous screenwriter. But I’d just like to say that I am not interested in taking part in the Diablo Cody Backlash. Not that anyone’s tapped me to join in any convincing way.

Oh and make no mistake: I am jealous of her. Where did “make no mistake” come from? I think it was George Bush. Presidential candidates say that. They also refer to all people as “folks” and Ben says it’s a Bush cowboy thing and Catherine says it’s an effort to be folksy but I say what the hell, what’s wrong with people? What is wrong with you people? That packs a much harder punch than “What is wrong with you folks?” I see. If I say “folks” you think I like you. It’s gentler. What I hate is when they say “There’s folks.” As in “there’s folks in Ohio who don’t have a pot to piss in.” Yeah, they say “pot to piss in” too. Presidential candidates.

It may interest you to know that I am multitasking, i.e. waiting for the Chelsea Clinton Nightline interview to happen which means I have the TV on and I have twice seen this repulsive NYC Health commercial about smoking that shows disgusting rotten teeth among other disgusting things. Probably a black lung in a jar. They always show that. I cannot see anything gross involving teeth. I can see a lot of gross stuff like people eating grubs but I cannot see teeth getting ripped out. Like how they keep showing Joanie getting her teeth ripped out on America’s Next Top Model? Or the moment at which I stopped watching that horrid Ashley Judd movie Bug when the paranoid boyfriend starts pulling his teeth out with pliers. Ugh. I’m sick. I will watch someone vomit his/her guts out but I will not watch you pull your teeth out. Please. Stop making me watch you pull your teeth out. I beg you, folks.

If you were to assume I have been shut inside my apartment for the entire season watching bad TV and bad movies, you would be mistaken. I go out a lot and I hate every second of it. Because it’s cold and rainy and I take this personally, folks. Oh! If I address you as folks, I’m breaking some bad news. If I refer to others in the third person as folks “There’s folks in Afghanistan…” or “Folks just want someone to be a a uniter, not a divider,” I seem gentle.

It now seems that the Chelsea Clinton interview is on and I have never heard Chelsea Clinton speak before. Have you? Chelsea’s in Lubbock, Texas. She’s got a folksy way about her! She just said “Forgive my voice, I’ve been workin’ hard.” Droppin’ your Gs is very folksy. Chelsea’s boyfriend is very good looking. Gossip columnist Lloyd Grove is awful. I think Chelsea’s long layers must take a lot of blowing out and flat-ironing. And then sometimes a curling iron.

Okay. I am not going to live-blog Nightline. That would be terribly depressing. I’d like to announce that things are happening. The work has not been for naught and I’m making progress. Someday I’ll emerge, like a Chelsea Clinton from an Applebee’s in Lubbock.

PS I am actually going to Texas!!! This weekend! A light (literally) on the horizon!

PPS I made a dermatologist appointment. Of course she can’t see me until the end of March. At which point I will probably have magically flawless skin.

PPPS That Chelsea Clinton interview was lame. And not an interview.

The Daily Special

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

So Conde Nast has this very fun online TV show called The Daily Special and today I am a guest on it. If you go to their site and leave your favorite bit of advice, you can win a signed copy (this time a real book included!) of TGGTAE.

In other news: It’s wet, winter continues, MoDo irks, acne resurfaces, deadlines are met only to be replaced by new ones, blogging frustrates, Pilates offers some relief, or at least connects mind & body, so oft at odds these days. These days.

I Never Listen to Myself

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

If you delve into the archival folders of your computer, you (if you’re me), find the darndest things.

In a Word document, all by itself on the page, just this sentence:

Avoid reference to an adult female as girl; to women collectively as the distaff side; or the fair sex; to a wife as the little woman; to a female college student as a coed; to an unmarried woman as bachelor girl; spinster; or old maid.

In a folder labeled FRAGMENTARY which is housed in a folder labeled CANADA SEPTEMBER 2002. What was I trying to tell myself? It’s like sifting through someone else’s subconscious.