Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

As every radio station in American features Best of 2011 countdowns, I've decided to make a countdown of my very own. Here's my list of the best songs of this year. A disclaimer: they haven't all been released in 2011, but they've all helped define 2011 for me.

Without further ado,

The 15 Best Songs of 2011 (according to me)
15. Resta Cu' mme- Pino Daniele
14.By Your Side- Tenth Avenue North
13. Talking in Code- Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos
12. Hello- Martin Solveig & Dragonette
11. Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)- Lady Gaga
10. If I Die Young- The Band Perry
9. Farther Along- Anthony Reese
8. Fidelity- Regina Spektor
7. You and I- Ingrid Michaelson
6. Mean- Taylor Swift
5. Rocks and Daggers- Noah and the Whale
4. Somewhere With You- Tyler Ward
3. 5 Years Time- Noah and the Whale
2. El Camino- Amos Lee
1. Umirem 100 Punto Dnevno- Perpetuum Jazzile

Auld Lang Syne by Dougie Maclean is a runner-up. I chose not to include it because I haven't been obsessed with that all year, just recently.
Perpetuum Jazzile took number one by a long shot.

Happy New Year to you!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Apologies All' Improviso

We had an improvisation workshop in my creative writing class today. This came out of it. Nothin' like some improv to fuel my creative writing.

I'm trying to be strategic. Ten stubby fingers dancing across eighty eight keys. This is what it feels like to be on display, I think, even though I'm in a stuffy closet filled with pianos, just me and my Asian piano teacher.

There are a million ways to go. Eighty eight times eighty eight amounts to 7744 possibilities, plus 7744 times 7744 more when you add in grace notes, trills, passing tones and suspensions. A million little hammers sending vibrations through a million little strings to create sound, as a million doors open to a million possibilities, all painted white and black, alternatively. It occurs to me that I'm not choosing any of them particularly well.

At some point, you just have to go. When everything comes to a halt, all of my blood cells and tendons at once resting, all six nameless figures in the dark room stopped, impulse takes over. A hand raises. A foot jolts forward. My fingers begin to dance.

"Fuck!" I scream when I mess up, and my piano teacher winces. One of the figures falls forward, all bones swathed in blue. A friend once suggested to me that I ought to own my mistakes, never apologizing for them but celebrating them instead. "I'm sorry," the blue figure inside of me says, as she recomposes herself off of the wooden floor that has risen out of itself. She heads toward another door...

Doors. Doors rise out of the floor now, long wooden panels bathed in black. And the figures inside of me are hastening to make their way through them, worlds of possibilities: a seventh chord here, an augmented chord now.

What would it be if we understood the world through music? All of our fingers dancing across black and white keys, constructing black walls from impulse, maneuvering around obstacles suddenly risen.
Creating worlds of harmonies and dissonances in spite of ourselves.
Never apologizing when we fall.

More improv-inspired writing after the jump.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Something I've Lost

"Really, Gina?" Chris said, interrupting our club meeting to call me out on the two-liter Sprite bottle I had just pulled from my purse and began drinking.

I'd had a huge crush on Chris Smith since freshman year, and this was the most he had spoken to me yet. And it was about my two-liter Sprite bottle.

"Oh,  it's not Sprite, it's filled with water," I said nonchalantly, raising the bottle to my lips and motioning to Peter, our leader, to continue with the meeting.

"Still," Chris replied, still looking at me without blinking, unphased.

The Sprite bottle was a last resort...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Laura George's Things I'm Thankful For print, available on Etsy
Yep, this pretty much sums it up.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reasons to Love Rosa Mexicano

  1. It has a wall adorned with flowing water and little statues of naked men.
  2. It was awarded “Best Restaurant 2000” by Interiors Magazine.
  3. Frank Bruni of the NY Times had a successful dining experience there with his nephew Gavin, 7, and his niece Bella, 5.
  4. Did I mention the water wall covered with naked men??? To be specific, it's a 30-foot iridescent blue tile water wall that spans both levels of the restaurant and is adorned with 240 miniature cliff divers.
  5. Yes, that's 240 naked men.

Rosa Mexicano (Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times)
There's also good food, a guacamole cart that delivers fresh-made guac to each table, plentiful portions, and fair prices. In the end, Rosa Mexicano's good enough to go back to, but not special enough to frequent. Honestly, the best part was the Coffee-Kahlua ice cream, which I'm thinking I'll have to order to-go every now and then. It was pure heaven, and I don't know where else to get it.

   6. Alcohol-infused ice cream and naked men. Now that's a hook.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Photo c/o
I saw this on the web today and thought it was a nice contrast to my recent, longer posts. It's so true, and just in time for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Literary Death Match

Literary Death Match, a performance that "marries the literary and performative aspects of Def Poetry Jam, rapier-witted quips of American Idol’s judging (without any meanness), and the ridiculousness and hilarity of Double Dare," turned 40 episodes old tonight, and I, along with my creative writing classmates, was there to celebrate.

The all-stars of the evening included New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, Moth StorySlam champ Angela Lovell, along with Rick Meyerowitz, co-illustrator of the New Yorkistan New Yorker coverSean Kelly, former National Lampoon editor and Heavy Metal magazine founder, Danny Abelson, author of The Muppets Take Manhattan, comedian Jena Friedman, who writes for Late Show with David Letterman, Teddy Wayne, author of the novel Kapitoil — a 2011 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize runner-up, and Jillian Lauren, author of New York Times best-selling Some Girls.  Said participants read their work, recited lists, described encounters with Jesus, and ultimately competed in a Cyrillic-Off,  in which they fought to de-code the names of Pulitzer Prize-winning authors that had been phonetically "cyrillic-ized."

For a detailed account of the energetic match, visit the Literary Death Match Website.
Photo c/o
Stay classy in Orlando, LDM. Until then, we'll be keeping Drom warm for you here in NYC.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Midnight Run

It was sixty-two degrees yesterday and got as low as forty-three degrees at night, but you wouldn’t know it from Alice, who resides in Verdi Square in Manhattan. I use “reside” generously, as Alice is homeless and has been for the past three months. Her demeanor was anything but that which I would expect from a homeless woman; she was friendly, comical, even gregarious, and utterly willing to discuss her current state.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble, I don’t have sex, I don’t do any of that stuff,” she told my partner and me during our Midnight Run. “I want to live a wholesome life with good people. I may be homeless, but I still have my dignity.”

Not exactly what you’d expect to hear from a woman on a bench with a cart beside her.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dream Dancer

Some fiction for this Sunday:

I'm on a stage, a big stage, the kind where people gather to see spectacular shows on Friday nights. I'm wearing a tight, purple button-up shirt. My hands coalesce with the darkness. The air around me is cool, vacant. And then a gleam of light.

There are curtains in front of me, curtains of dark blue, and they part, the ray of yellow spotlight becoming thicker and thicker. My fingers feel chilled but I lift them, slowly, and I swipe my right foot against the sleek, wooden stage chick-ah. My left knee bends and my foot brushes the wood faster: chickah chickah; and then a new rhythm: chicka chick-AH, chicka chick chick chick chicka chickAH AH AH AH. Both of my feet are moving now. I know how to tap dance. So I spin in a circle, my feet creating rhythm that rises up all around me, the beam showering me in yellow light.

Before I know it, I am flying to the front of the stage, sashaying, a series of perfect kickball changes, and I look out to greet the enticed eyes of the audience, but I am faced by a sea of dark blue. The auditorium is empty. I am alone. Clomp. My shoes meet the floor. As if by a strange hand beyond my will, the curtain closes, encasing me in darkness once again.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I learned this weekend that I got accepted onto Fordham's GO Adirondacks trip!! Before I continue, I guess I should explain that GO stands for Global Outreach, a student-started student-run cultural immersion and service program. GO sends groups of approximately ten students to over thirty international and domestic locations each year, for anywhere from one to three weeks.

Having said that, I know very little about the Adirondacks trip, except that we're working with Native Americans and that we'll be in the Adirondacks. The website says that we will "learn about the culture and history of the Native American tribes, namely the Mohawk and Abenaki tribes, and...focus on issues of the environment and sustainability through their work with various grass-roots organizations." Sounds good to me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Village.

There's nothing like an afternoon in the Village to help me appreciate the sunshine. My camera, comfy shoes, a pear-and-Gorgonzola salad in a cozy cafe, a glass of Riesling. My week was made.

I also ducked into the Cornelia Street Cafe for a screening of the Weimar-era silent film "Mysteries of a Hair Salon" complete with live music. Produced by Morningside Opera, the show was an exploration of the way film competes with, and sometimes upstages, opera. The soprano of the evening was not happy to be upstaged and kept trying to draw the attention away from the movie and unto herself. At one point, this included her musical rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It was pretty entertaining all in all.

More photos after the jump.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I already knew that I live with a bunch of hooligans. Halloween just served as confirmation.

But they're cute hooligans, which makes all the difference.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Over the Weekend

Over the weekend, campus went from this:
Photo c/o Clare Gray Lewis

to this:

This is a blizzard aggressively attacking NYC, for those who
may be confused by/too stunned to process this image

It was the most prolific October snowfall since before the Civil War (meaning that the most snow stuck). Needless to say, we're all like, "What the Whaaaaaaaaaa?"

Also, I would like to award the Best Snow-Related Facebook Status award to Ms. Audrey Perez, who so eloquently wrote, "Just woke up and am realtime upset that it's snowing. How am I supposed to dress like a ho in the snow?"


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I attended a silent retreat this past weekend with Fordham's Campus Ministry, and it was wonderful, so filled with meaning and reflections of God's love. Fordham owns a retreat house in Goshen, New York that is absolutely gorgeous (it's both creatively built and large) and it was the perfect place to a break from busy life. Of course, silence didn't hurt, either. It was good to spend a weekend without my own yammering! I spent a lot of time reflecting, praying, thinking and reading Living Simply in an Anxious World. In the words of another woman on the retreat, it was "sweet times."

Of course, I was able to snap a few fall photos, as well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grits with Mushrooms, Sausage, and Spinach

are delicious! I made this recipe tonight for my mom and it was so tasty and simple. Between reading Merton, a silent retreat, and a hectic lifestyle, I've been appreciating simplicity more than ever lately. This was a breeze to cook with almost every ingredient cooking through in under five minutes, and was also super cheap: I spent less than $20 on the meal for both of us. I adapted the recipe, adding spinach instead of herbs and using the broth from pasta fagioli soup instead of water to make the grits. (I also opted to add the sausage, of course.) A little cooking secret: I always reevaluate when/where a recipe calls for water. For things like rice, grits, cous cous, etc., using soup broth or even chicken stock always makes the result tastier. Using milk instead of water for cake batter makes the cake smoother. Water is just so bland.

Photo and recipe c/o
For dessert.... I'm ashamed to say that I bought Warm Delights. Yes, it's microwaveable cake, and it tastes only slightly better than you'd imagine microwaveable cake to taste. Next time, I'll certainly take "Betty's Tip" (a suggestion on the Crocker packaging) and substitute Irish liqueur for water. I learned long ago that Irish + liquor are the key ingredients to making anything better.

Next on my cooking to-do list are pumpkin pancakes, to which I even intend on adding craisins and pecans. I think I'll save this one for CT, though, where flour, sugar and pans are already in stock. Until then, it's simple cooking and microwaveable cakes all the way.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Where Are We Headed?

Image c/o
I love the dichotomy between the two views of society: one which posits that society is headed toward the Kingdom of God, and the other that says that Eden was the Kingdom and we've been decreasing ever since. (I generally believe the former, but sometimes it isn't so easy!) In both cases, we're fallen and in need of God. It's the ways in which we see ourselves needing God that determines so much about our faith.

Merton is very clear about his stance on this issue. Reflecting on Bill Grime's "prophecy" about the future, Merton discusses the possibility of "Nothing to look forward to but the same inanities, falsities, cliches, and pretenses...surely more frustration, therefore more madness, violence, degeneracy, addiction" (177). However, he puts these options and a standstill and chooses hope over dread. "I have higher hopes," Merton says. "I dare to hope for change not only quantitative but qualitative too; such change must come through darkness and crisis, not joyous and painless adventure. Perhaps I say that out of habit" (177).

What does this mean for us? With technology and globalization, is the world becoming the "vast asylum" that Merton feared in the 1960s? Are we straying from the good ol' days when life was simple, even moral? Merton's idea of where change comes from is even more intriguing: as a society, are we in the midst of "darkness and crisis," or have we instead embraced "joyous and painless adventure"? As I read this, it occurred to me that these two options are nearly synonymous: in seeking joyous and painless adventure, we find ourselves in the reality of darkness and crisis.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Unbelievably, I haven't been to the Bronx zoo in... well, it's been so long that I don't remember the last time I went to the Bronx zoo. My parents discredited it when I was young (the exhibits were too big to actually see the animals) and I haven't been back since. To their credit, the zoo is illogically set up and absurdly expensive, both of which I learned during my visit there today (entry to many exhibits requires a "special ticket" aka extra fee, even when admission to the general zoo is free). But it wasn't all bad. Free admission Wednesdays might feature shorter hours and limited displays, but the faces of the tigers alone made the trip worthwhile.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

All Mod


I put together this board today on a whim, just choosing objects that I liked. When I looked at them together, I simultaneously thought, "Cool!" and "Whaaaa?" I guess this means that I want tea, fugly Christmas trees, and summery dresses, all from Modcloth, all at once.

Really, could it be any other way?

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Being a Resident Assistant, a Residential Life live-in staff member, is both a blessing and a curse. I'm living in a freshman dorm this year, and being back on campus with freshmen has been endlessly rewarding: I am cried on, loathed, laughed with, poked, prodded, teased, relied on, and loved. Granted, I am also pulled out of my bed to let residents into their locked rooms at all hours of the night, required to meet various conditions so that Res Life has favorable statistics at the end of the year, and responsible for sending overly-drunk students to the hospital, which, at one particularly poignant moment, happened while I was dressed up as George Washington and NOT on-call. That's the thing about being an RA: you're always on-call. Even when you're just taking a stroll across campus on an average Thursday night, sipping lemonade, dressed up as George Washington, with two staff members back in your dorm officially on duty for the night. There's just no escaping it.
The RA Staff of Alumni Court South this year.
Photo c/o Erin Swide/Caitlyn Pedone
Aside from my list of bizarre RA experiences, though, there are some pretty cool things about the job. As I like to put it, the responsibilities of Resident Assistants essentially fall into three categories: 1. Creating programs/events for students to attend (this includes, but is not limited to, organizing, budgeting, marketing, and facilitating said programs); 2. Appropriately confronting and/or referring counseling/psychological concerns; and 3. Making sure that students are following University/state policy, and documenting the situation (i.e. telling your boss about it) when they aren't. You'll notice that these duties all contribute to the same goal, that is, making sure that residents are having an awesome year. Providing fun (and sometimes free!) stuff to do, encouraging -relative- sanity, and ensuring overall safety and moderate tameness can only enhance the good times, right?

Sample fliers from RA-ing last year
Of course, I encourage you to take my sanity comment with a grain of salt; this founding father's perception of "relative sanity" is very, very relative.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Anything Goes

Image c/o

I went to see Anything Goes on Broadway tonight and, even from the last seat of the last row (the only seat that my measly $30 could get) it was incredible. I was determined to see it with Sutton Foster since I had missed her in The Drowsy Chaperone, and her performance alone was totally worth seeing. She's actually lankier than I had imagined (and therefore something of an awkward dancer) but her acting skills make the show. How often can you say that an actor is truly outstanding?

Of course, Cole Porter tunes never hurt, either.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Does God Want Us To Be Happy?

It feels like an offensive question. "Of course my God wants me to be happy!" one might hastily proclaim. "My God who sent his son to die on the cross. My God who forgives my sins. Of course my God wants me to be happy! Why else would He have done all of this?"

Frankly, it seems like God has ulterior motives. Happiness doesn't have much stage time in the bible: joy, peace, contentment, they're all there, as well as charity, patience, and kindness, which show up on the list of Seven Heavenly Virtues. Yet happiness is of a different flavor. Happiness is not necessarily synonymous with contentment or peacefulness. "Blessed are the poor, the meek, the merciful," Matthew recounts in chapter 5 of his gospel, listing states of being that are far from happy.

Monday, September 12, 2011


For the first time in two years, I do not have a kitchen. In response, like a starving person, or perhaps just a procrastinating college student, I have taken to obsessively reading recipes/viewing food photography online. Thankfully, my ex-housemate Joe has a kitchen (ironic for a man who does not EVER cook!) and has invited me to use it as I wish. We've settled on this Thursday for the first what will hopefully become a series of dinners. But what to make!?!?!?

Photo c/o
Put simply, I want something light and I want something fall. The cafeteria, where I now eat all of my meals, is pretty good at serving hefty meat-and-potatoes dishes every night, a gesture I generally appreciate since they seem to screw up anything more complicated than a slab of beef with a side of mash. Joe would be elated for me to serve some rendition of the latter, in fact, he'll probably request something "meaty" and specifically "non-ethnic."

Photo c/o
Luckily for him, I'm not going the 'ethnic' route. I don't even want to think about buying spices that are unheard of in the Belmont area of the Bronx, many of which used to fill my cupboard. Instead, I've decided on two recipes that caught my attention: mushroom risotto and butternut squash soup. My internship boss ordered butternut squash soup for lunch last week and I was salivating: so smooth! So sweet! So fall! Regarding Joe's impending "meat" concern, I'll sear some steak and throw it on top of the risotto just for him.

Photo c/o
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll get to the fig, mascarpone, and pistachio tart this week. I'm hoping to make it for my family when I have more time and ingredients at my disposal. When I told my mom of this plan, she responded, "Who will eat it?" Well, for one, me. Any other takers?