Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Moon and the Yew Tree

By Sylvia Plath

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky --
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness -
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness - blackness and silence.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Time for a Slow Down

When I'm at home for various breaks, I work at a small bar in a small town called Staplehurst. I do whatever they need, some nights I wash dishes, sometimes I wait tables. Today I waited tables. Saturdays are always pretty quiet. A few men will come in for lunch, some kids will come in to buy candy or pop, and there will always be a couple customers in to buy $5 cigarettes or chew. Today, like every day but Sunday, around 3 o'clock the old men of Staplehurst come in. They trickle in slowly, one or two at a time, hobbling slowly. All of them wearing their caps and blue jeans. They shoot the shit for a while, waiting for everyone to show up. Talk about the weather, the upcoming farming season, the weather, whatever so-and-so did...when everyone has made his way to the bar they move to a round table in the corner to play cards. There they sit with their beers, whiskey and waters, root beers, and play. They play until supper time, talking low and moving the cards quickly. For me, used to the speed of the city, its exciting to watch something so slow moving and deliberate. I enjoy the change of pace, it keeps me on my toes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Longest Night

Winter Solstice
"Since the event is seen as the reversal of the Sun's ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures using winter solstitially based cyclic calendars, the year as reborn has been celebrated with regard to life-death-rebirth deities or new beginnings such as Hogmanay's redding, a New Years cleaning tradition. Also reversal is another usual theme as in Saturnalia's slave and master reversals."

The days will only get longer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

E.B. White-A train of thought

"There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New Yrok of the cummuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something ….Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion."

When I read that in the subway one day on my way to one New York Event or another, it made me really happy to be in New York. To feel like even me, a girl from Nebraska, has a place in this grand city. Grand it is, perfect it is not. But that doesn't make me love it less.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I found this game a few years ago when working on an essay about escaping from people and places. It is the first thing that comes up when you search the word "Escape" on Google. I like it because I think it is a good analogy for escape. You are a red square in the center of a black box and you must dodge the blue squares floating around without hitting the edges of the box. There is no exit and no actual way to win the game. Its all about how long you can dodge the blue squares. The blue squares travel in a distinct pattern so as you learn the pattern of the blue squares it becomes easier and easier to dodge them.

In the same way we can't actually escape people or places or our history. We must learn to maneuver around them but there is never a clean escape from anything. Most of us learn that the hard way. I know I did.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Iodized Salt

Check out this NYTimes video on the benefits of funding the incorporation of iodine into the salt of poor countries.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

National Day of Listening

So I got so excited about the Husker game yesterday that I forgot that yesterday was the first annual National Day of Listening. So instead, let's make it the National Weekend of Listening. Check out these websites:

Story Corps

Radio Lab

This American Life

or just turn on NPR.

Happy Listening!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Football Fan Far From Home

One of the things I miss the most during the fall here in New York City is the unavailability of Nebraska Husker football games. I grew up watching the Husker football team play every Saturday, every fall. If the game wasn't on TV, which wasn't very often in the Osborne glory days of my youth, we listened to the game on the radio.

Often, my parents' friends would host a game-viewing party complete with game day snacks and a large freezer full of Busch and Bud Light. When I was really young, I spent most of my time playing with the other kids who had come with their parents. I didn't understand the came and throwing a ball around in the front yard was much more fun than sitting with my parents in front of the TV.

But as I got older, I started to understand the game and enjoy the game. The strategy was fun to watch, each play effecting what play would be called next. College games were more intriguing to me because although the players were much more likely to make mistakes, when they did something extraordinary it was much more rewarding.

I also started to understand and appreciate the culture around watching the college football games. The camaraderie that is found among Husker fans is unlike any other I've encountered. People all over Nebraska watch the football game on Saturdays. They dress in Husker T-shirts and sweatshirts or at least something red and white. (Heaven forbid you where the colors of the opposing team.) There are even corn heads and other crazy items fans find fun.

A game at Memorial Stadium becomes the 3rd largest city in the state. The stadium has sold out 297 consecutive times as of today. After the games, if the Huskers win, Lincoln's downtown bars are flooded with jubilant fans ready to celebrate. if we lose, the bars are full of people looking for consolation.

The moods of Nebraskans during the fall are deeply affected by the record of the team. A win leads to a good week with plenty of hope and optimism. A loss leads to a week of confusion and sadness. Even young children growing up in Nebraska understand what it means when the team loses. Touchdown is one of the first words uttered by most toddlers in the state.

Now that I am in New York City, game viewing is extremely limited. There is a bar in Midtown that plays the games every week but I'm not 21 yet and probably couldn't get in. Even if I was, who would want to go with me to watch the game? My friends here don't understand Husker football. In fact, most of them don't even understand football. NYU doesn't have a football team, we haven't in nearly a century and no way will anyone root for let alone attend a Columbia game.

Sure I can watch NFL games, they come on all the time and plenty of people are interested in how the Giants, the Jets, or the Eagles are doing. But NFL isn't the same for me. College football is something special to me.

So on days like today, when the game is on a network station, I cheer on my Huskers alone, wishing if just for today, I could be back in Nebraska surrounded by my fellow fans.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ants and Adam Smith

Apparently, specialization doesn't make ants more productive according to the NYTimes:

My results indicate that at least in this species, a task is not primarily performed by individuals that are especially adapted to it (by whatever mechanism). This result implies that if social insects are collectively successful, this is not obviously for the reason that they employ specialized workers who perform better individually.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Origin of OK

According to a blog I was reading this morning, the word OK became popularized by President Martin Van Buren who was born in Old Kinderhook, New York. Old Kinderhook became a nickname for him and he incorporated it into his campaign slogan, "Old Kinderhook is OK."

Now its a word used all over the world, in many different languages.

Isn't that fascinating?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My New Blog

I just wanted you people reading this to know that I have a new blog called Nebraskan Thoughts. It is a more journalistic style of blog so it's a bit different than this one. I am going to continue to write on this blog and it will remain similar to what it is already. But I strongly recommend that you check out my other blog too. :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote For....

independent thinking
well informed decisions
a chance to remember the good ol' days
the excitement of days yet to come
self expression

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bike Polo

Last year, I was trying to get more in touch with New York City while working on an assignment for a radio class I was taking, when I heard about this Bike Polo game every Sunday in Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side. I decided to check it out. It turned out to be a small group of friends playing bike polo on a large cement section of the park. I watched for a while and interviewed one of the players while he was on the sidelines. He explains the game in the audio. (Just click on the title of this post!) He said that every once in a while they have tournaments but most of the time its just a small group of people playing.

I went back a couple weeks ago and it just happened to be a tournament day. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, but what a sight it was to see. There were two teams "East Coast" vs. "West Coast." One team was wearing black, the other was in red. Someone was standing up on the railing above the cement court and blew a horn every time a goal was scored. Someone in a silly superhero mask had a PA system and acted as commentator and scorekeeper. The bikes were decorated and some of the players were wearing costumes. One girl was wearing a pink costume dress and leggings while she played. Another guy was wearing pink striped socks, a pink polka dotted skirt and black rabbit ears on his head. The players weren't the only ones dressed up. A spectator sitting on the railing wore a blue Cinderella dress and sat under an umbrella. 

Not only were there 25 players for each team but at least 75 spectators avidly watching the tournament. Loud music blared over the noise of the game and the sound of the street on either side. It was quite a sight. One I will remember for a while. Seeing stuff like this makes me so happy to live in this city. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Art Speigelman...Revolutionizing Comics

I have admired Art Speigelman's work ever since I read his graphic novel Maus: A Survivor's Tale as a senior in high school. Published in 1991, it was a graphic rendering of his parents survival of World War II and the Holocaust. That someone could portray such harsh realities and deep emotions in a comic was a great surprise to me, but Speigelman does it in a way that seems so simple. It is one of the most effective reflections on World War II and the Holocaust I have ever encountered. It is completely deserving of the Pulitzer Prize it won in 1992. He has just published a new book called Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@?*!. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it is another memoir, this time documenting Speigelman's comics over his career. The politically charged, emotional graphics are definitely worth the time. Check both out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New York Parks

One of the things I love most about living in New York City is the parks. I grew up in a very rural part of the United States where trees and grass and wildlife are a regular part of life. Every morning I would wake up to hear birds chirping outside my window. Now I am jolted awake by car horns and sirens. I miss the nature that I grew up with when I'm in the city but  I have to admit that I took it for granted. It wasn't until I moved to Manhattan that I realized what a wonderful thing nature could be. I think the reason for that lies in the difference in the way parks are treated here from the ones at home. In Nebraska, everyone has a backyard. Even the apartment complexes have huge central courtyards. We have the room for that. My own family has 8 acres of grass and trees behind our house, without mentioning the large pasture and pond where we keep our small herd of cattle. So in Nebraska, there's no reason to go to the park. Why go spend time on community grass when you can walk out your back door? But here in New York, those parks are our backyards. We share our backyards with the entire community. And for that reason there's a feeling that I get in New York City Parks that I've never felt anywhere else. A feeling of commonality among people who may have nothing else in common. We come to Washington Square Park, Tomkins Square Park, Central Park, Riverside Park and all of the others for all sorts of different reasons. It could be to bring kids to the playground, or to meet up with a friend or two, to eat lunch, to take the dog for a walk, or to just enjoy the fresh air. But we all come to the park because we want to get a bit of nature: smell the grass, sit in the shade, whatever it is. And thats why I love New York Parks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Sunday Outing

It rained today. This morning really. It was mostly a humid mist, a condition where the air was so saturated with water it couldn't keep it up anymore and so it spit on us all morning. All I wanted to do today was walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from my place south of Chinatown. Walk across the bridge, dodging tourists along the way, to end up in Brooklyn. I wanted to walk down between the old warehouses across the river and down to the Park and look back at my Manhattan. It's my Manhattan now. I've claimed it. Living here off and on, but mostly on, for the last two years makes it mine, I've decided, mostly because it feels right. But walking in the rain, across the bridge was not appetizing. I'd planned this day out in advance in the hopes of walking across the famous bridge with the sun shining and the smell of that dirty, salty river water filling up my nostrils. I was laying in my bed with a book on my lap staring out the window...waiting. The rain had to stop sometime, right? And finally it did, and the sun even popped out for a minute. And I jumped up and out of bed, rushing outside as fast as I could. It wasn't the day I had envisioned for myself, but maybe it would be better.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Its Been A Long Time

I haven't written in a while. I regret this. There have been so many events and happenings in the last 2 months and its a shame that I haven't documented my feelings about them. This summer has been a learning process for me. I guess anything thats worth it is a learning process but this summer especially. I spent 3 weeks at home after being in Paris for a semester and I realized that was far too short a time at home. Leaving was hard. But getting back into the groove of New York City after being in Paris and then in Nebraska was even harder. The pace was faster then I remembered and my mind was slow. New York felt different after living in Paris. Living abroad changes perceptions but I didn't realize how much until I was back in what I thought was my favorite city. Eventually, I fell into place but it took much longer than expected. Just as I felt like New York and I were fitting together again, I uprooted to move to DC for an internship in the Senate. Now here I am being the public service wonk, commuting everyday and working the 9-5 in a government building doing menial tasks that are boring but necessary. Of course that work is interrupted by visits and lectures by the most important people in our government. But all of these changes and this constant moving has taken its toll on me. I am ready for stability more than I ever have been. A home, I place where I feel like I can let everything go. I just wish I knew where to find it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Things that have changed:


Things that haven't changed:

* The reek of Jack Daniels in Dad's pickup truck
* The flat, boring 12-minute drive between my house and my old high school
* The sound of the water as the wind blows it up against the banks at Smith Creek
* The long straight rows that line the fields as the corn pops up from the ground
*The bright yellows, purples, and blues of the wildflowers growing in the ditches of the gravel roads
*The smell of hot dogs, popcorn, dirt, and sweat at small town summer softball games
*The dirty sunweathered faces of the farmers that winkle when they smile at you
*The taste of an ice cold Busch Light enjoyed on the porch while watching the sunset after a long hot day

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Of Course There's A Beaver Crossing, Nebraska!

Being abroad for 4 months, I didn't realize how much I missed my hometown. But oh how the memories of the first 18 years of my life came flooding back as I drove through town for the first time since January. When I left there was snow on the ground, now the grass is green and summer is edging its way in. The smell of the grass and the wild flowers and the dirt being churned by tractors, the smell of diesel engines and river water remind me of what it was like to be a kid when Beaver Crossing was my world and I knew nothing of what lay beyond. No New York City. No Washington DC. No Paris. Driving thirty minutes to Lincoln was a big day and visiting family an hour and a half west was a vacation. It feels good to remember the innocent child I used to be when I played on the streets of this town. Oh Beaver Crossing, how I missed you!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


by Carl Sandburg

The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.

Which one will you pick today?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday Evening

I sit here in the petite kitchen of my 8th arrondissement apartment eating a 2 minute dinner, drinking a glass of cheap red wine, and reading Le Deuxieme Sexe by Simone de Beauvoir. As I sit, I start to contemplate the last 4 months: Living in a foreign country, learning a new language, separating myself from everything that I knew and took comfort in. Learning what it means to be on my own all over again. I feel good when I think about it. I feel content when I look back. But now is a time for changing, and I must look forward as well. What is to come? I have plans but no definite answers. Only time will tell whether my assumptions will prove correct. Will I be as content looking back 4 months from now as I am right now? 

I hope so.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Taste of Home

There were seven of us crammed into my tiny french kitchen. We were grilling burgers and enjoying a completely American kind of get together. We had brought our "steak hache" and our 10-packs of Kronenburg and Heineken and now we were crowded into the kitchen, watching our friend cook up our hamburgers just the way we liked them, medium rare. We turned my laptop into a makeshift TV and found a Mets-Brewers baseball game to cheer for while we savored our sandwiches and chugged our beer. We laughed at stupid jokes and sang silly cheers as we rooted for the the Mets. Not all of us were Mets fans and many of us don't watch baseball but that didn't matter because this night was not about the baseball; and it wasn't really about the burgers or the beer either. The night was about us. We are American and even though we are here in Paris right now, fully engulfed in a new culture and a different way of life, every once and a while we need to celebrate our silly American traditions and remember home...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Favorite Poem

A Pity. We Were Such A Good Invention.

They amputated
Your Thighs off my hips.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all surgeons. All of them.

They dismantled us
Each from the other.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all engineers. All of them.

A Pity. We were such a good 
And loving invention.
An aeroplane made from a man and wife.
Wings and everything.
We hovered a little above the earth.

We even flew a little.

-Yehuda Amichai

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cowboys....A Universal??

Maybe the South of France and Nebraska aren't so different:

Apparently, cows need to be herded all over the world!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Breakfast in Paris

Nobody does breakfast like Americans. Nobody. Its quite a treat to find a diner in Paris that serves a good ol' fashioned American breakfast. 

But what happens when the Parisian diner makes better American breakfast than the American diners do....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Existentialism in Paris

One always dies too soon--or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are--your life, and nothing else.

-Jean-Paul Sartre

A hard thing to contemplate but I have been contemplating it a lot recently. Good or bad, I'm not sure.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dirty Water

I love the dirty grimy river water
slapping up against the manmade banks
The way it slithers 
through the metropolitan bustle
constantly cleansing with its filth
soothing with its stability and perpetual adaptation

Sunday, January 27, 2008


My phone was stolen last night. I still don't have easy access to internet. My favorite and most common forms of communication are inaccessible to me. Its jarring to be so isolated in a country where the language barrier is another constant struggle. Its making me feel uneasy. Alone. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I am sad to admit that I have become addicted to the internet. I didn't realize my addiction until just recently. I have been without easy access to the internet for the last week and it has been quite a wake up call to me. The part about the internet I have been missing the most is the communication aspect. I am away in a foreign country and I am realizing how important the internet has been in connecting me with the people I love. Maybe this idea of ever being connected to people is a good thing but at some point in my life it wasn't important. Why has it become so vital? I care greatly about many people but do I need to be constantly connected with these individuals in order to continue to care about them? Am I afraid that they will cease to care about me if I don't keep in contact? What fuels my internet cravings and why won't they stop?

Saturday, January 12, 2008


1. a short interval between the acts of a play or parts of a public performance, usually a period of approximately 10 or 15 minutes, allowing the performers and audience a rest.
2. a period during which action temporarily ceases; an interval between periods of action or activity.

I am stuck in an intermission right now. All that was has come to an end. All that is yet to be has not begun. I'm not here or there but somewhere in between just waiting for the next period to commence. This period of rest was nice at first but it has lasted a bit too long. I'm ready to move into the rest of my life. If only it would start.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How to Begin...

How does one start a blog? What do I say first? Do I mention what I want this blog to be? Or what my theme will be? Well, I think that's boring, especially because I have no clue where this will be is an experiment. A wicked experiment...