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OH, HEY [04 Feb 2009|03:27pm]
I'm over here now: whitneyarlene.com.
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2-5 DAYS [08 Sep 2008|04:22pm]


 

My life lately has been comprised of the following obsessions, usually 2-5 days length in intensity: cross-stitching how-to, cross stitch patterns inspired by photographs of telephone wires, street fashion blogs, vintage fashion blogs, breakfast blogs, all white interior photos, white painted floorboards, Twilight, tights/stockings, library programs, teaching programs, shoes, and Sarah Palin.

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WHEREIN I REVEAL MYSELF TO BE A CRAZY PLANT LADY [06 Jul 2008|10:18am]


I'm a sucker for mornings. My house, a rarity in the tightly packed neighborhoods of Buffalo, has only backyards on either side of it (it is behind another house). The sunlight pours in throughout the day, switching sides of the house, switching rooms.

In the morning it hits my bedroom, gently nudging me out of my sheets so I can find what, for me, is often a breathtaking site: my home office, with its wooden table, bathed in brightness. As I write this, my desk is covered in a rectangular patch of sunlight; the window looks out on the building a few doors down. I've been told it was a dairy, now it is home to a Burmese family. The back half remains vacant.

Because the house is behind another house, there is no backyard. It is on the backyard. For this reason, I have attempted to grow a jungle of houseplants inside by the windows, and have only recently begun fiddling with the patch of grass we have between the two homes. I started my house-jungle with the ficus and Christmas cactus that had both survived my post-college moves and abandonment. Brynn gave me a branch of her enormous jade tree and last fall, with a $50 gift card to Lowe's left over from my June birthday, i brought home all the sickly and marked-down plants I could fit in my car.

For months now, I've done battle with one of these plants. It sits on my desk, close to the window I am at right now. I refer to it in my head as the Crazy Plant but according to the information card it came with, it goes by "jellybean plant," sedum, or Aurora Borealis (yeah, I did a double take on that last one too). It is a succulent, therefore more delicate than my viney and leafy darlings, and I've been a bit obsessed with its well-being.

Its little jellybean leaves are very fragile and often fall off when I touch them. As the plant has grown, its branches droop over the sides of the pot, with tiny white roots extending out, looking for something to plant themselves in. It has doubled its size and little miniature bunches of leaves pop up around its base; sometimes I drown them when I water the plant. A few months back, I realized that one of the drooping branches was headed on a road to nowhere so I picked it up, dropping leaves as I did it, and twisted it around another, smaller branch. It's doing ok now. After that though, I decided that unless I interfered, my Crazy Plant was going to kill itself. Each time I looked at it, I became stressed.

This morning though, after a week away on vacation, I came into the office and found the plant and its companion, another jade, thriving in my absence. I don't have much to explain for my sudden change of heart--my mellowing out about its obviously natural characteristics--but I now love the Crazy Plant. I suppose I always loved it, hence my obsession with its health, but now I love that it is crazy. It droops over the sides, in what I assumed was vain, but instead of dying, it just adapted. New branches have sprung from the side of the drooping branch. It's green and solid and really beautiful in its chaotic growth.

I've been sort of having a hard time lately, feeling like I can't see the path ahead of me as clearly as I'd like. This morning I am laughing at myself, at my obsession over this house plant's path--a sort of small example of my worry, unfairly placed on this lovely little succulent and its growth process. I don't really know what zen means to other people but to me it means letting the chaos of life wash over me, taking moments to notice the way a plant grows and apply that same lesson to my life. I'm going to be zen about this plant from now on, and I'm going to try to be zen about me.

I'm a sucker for mornings.
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GOOGLE BUDGET AND MY BLOGS [01 Apr 2008|05:09pm]

Having just integrated Google Calendar into our office, I am seeking out other ways to streamline/Google-fy my life. I was hoping there would be a Budget template in Google Documents so I could easily manage my finances but no, not yet.

Then I got creeped out by the idea of a Google Budget program because why would I put all that info online and to Google? But then I figured they had all my email and my schedule and lots of documents so who cares? 

. . . 

This is cross-posted to my Tumblr, which I'm not sure anyone but my friends Liz and Natalie read. I don't think I'll ever use one blogging platform since they all inspire in me different tones and moods and words.

We're all so weighed down by our different internet spaces; my most recently strategy is to lump them all into a Netvibes tab called "All My Children." Meh.

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CUPCAKE STORY [26 Feb 2008|05:18pm]
This year, for some reason, I was overcome with the urge to make cupcakes for Valentine's Day. I'd never made them before--crazy, right?--nor do I really care for sweets (bring on the salt) but there I was on February 13th making cupcake after cupcake with my NEON food coloring. Each time I would make a new color of batter or frosting, I'd run into the living room where Sean was watching The Wire on his laptop and present my new hue. Usually the presentation involved prancing and giggles. Anyway, the result:



So perhaps the best story to emerge from my creation and distribution of 46 magically colored cupcakes is as follows: On Valentine's Day, my co-worker and I had a meeting out in the district and didn't get back downtown until around 11:00 a.m. We parked in a lot behind our office building and fought our way through the parking lot in the cold air, each balancing a tray or two of cupcakes. 

"Let's stop and give him one," I said to my co-worker, cocking my head towards the parking attendant. Neither of us knew him as we never parked in that lot before. This was a pure goodwill kind of thing.

"Ok," and we walked over to the little heated hut where the attendant sat bundled up and expressionless.

"Cupcake?" I asked.

He looked at me with a little suspicion and eyed the tray.

I urged him further, "Go ahead, take one--free!"

Silently, he reviewed the cupcakes with what seemed to be disinterest. He lifted his eyes and spoke for the first time, "I can take any one I want?" 

I nodded, "Yes, any one you want." 

He reached into the tray took the biggest, prettiest, most succulent cupcake of the bunch. He set it on his little table, "Thanks."

This stranger thrills me.

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FELLOW INTERNET GIRLS ALERT [25 Feb 2008|04:39pm]
Whoa, friends. Just discovered OLDSCHOOLERS which I (obviously) find awesome and crazy. And hey, browncouch they looking for you!
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SWEET [19 Feb 2008|10:13pm]
My little brother turned 17 on Sunday and I took him to Toronto yesterday to celebrate. We walked for miles and miles, and today I felt energized enough to forgo coffee. Imagine that.

It snowed a lot today after work and for a little while I thought we might get snowed in tomorrow. I made up a song about it and sang it to Sean while he drove us home slowly.

Today the ordinary felt sweet.
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THE OTHER SIDE OF SOMETHING [21 Jan 2008|05:29pm]
Here I am, happy. A pot of soup on the stove, its broth bubbling and vegetables becoming more tender with every minute I dawdle over the laundry, the bookshelves, these words. Somehow in the past few weeks I've begun to feel more like myself than I have in months, maybe even a year.

I blame the long hours at work, the huge transitions, the adjustment to a life of Monday - Friday. I blame the break up, the scattering of friends, the uneven path that led to new love and sweetness. I blame myself, and others, and then no one at all.

Standing on the other side of something, I'm struck by the kind of absence of feeling you only notice once you get it back. The kind of change that hits you upside the head, and then elbows you playfully for the rest of the day so as not to be lost. So here I am, happy, and here I am, arrived.
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WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE OBAMA WIN DESPITE WISHING EDWARDS WON IN A LANDSLIDE [03 Jan 2008|11:13pm]
1. The candidates recognized as candidates for change and progressivism came in the top two spots.
2. Young people and new/unlikely voters brought in the votes.
3. The Clintons as representatives of the “establishment” have reason to be scared.
4. Maybe, just maybe, this will generate a new interest and confidence in government.
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WHAT CLAUDIA WORE [13 Nov 2007|10:49am]
Kim gets plugged at Feministing.
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PROOF [30 Oct 2007|12:25pm]
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I WENT TO THE ADIRONDAKS THIS WEEKEND [16 Oct 2007|01:43pm]

Brynn at the Downtown Diner. Lake Placid, New York.



The view from my pee stop, beautiful.


The Donut Shop, Route 28.
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SIT STILL [01 Oct 2007|12:30pm]
I'm going to start meditating on kindness.
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THERE I WAS [15 Aug 2007|10:03pm]
I used to write poems
back when I wasn’t afraid
of sounding young, or
white, or too optimistic.

There I was, walking
towards some classroom
with a book under my arm
and my journal in my bag,
red knit hat sliding over
one side of a scrubbed face,
stopping to peer inside
a dogwood that had just
bloomed, not yet imagining
the caricature that someone
like me would now
inevitably draw.

There I was, seeing
answers in mugs of tea.

There I was, collecting
leaves in the fall and
pine cones in the winter,
an entire afternoon
of this sort of thing
and never once a thought
of waste, or guilt,
or mismanagement.

I used to write poems
and now I can’t touch
a single fingertip to the
keyboard, can’t make
a single stroke with
a pen, without thinking,
what else could you
be doing
, and why aren’t
you
, and stop.
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THE GREAT TEACHER [10 Aug 2007|11:07am]
cancer, the great teacher
has been opening schools
downstream from every factory
still, everywhere fools
are squinting into microscopes
researching cells
trying to figure out a way
we can all live in hell
from "Decree" by Ani DiFranco

This is the line I think of three weeks ago when I find out my cousin Craig has stage four esophageal cancer. And when my next door neighbor Joanie dies earlier this week from brain cancer three months after being diagnosed, the second neighbor this year to die from brain cancer. And when last night my mother's oldest friend calls to tell her that she is "pre-leukemia" and must undergo a bone marrow transplant.

I think, "Something is not right here. Something we're doing is wrong."

Every time I ride my bike behind a bus, I hold my breath and turn down a different side street. If I can help getting a mouthful of diesel exhaust, I will. Every time I am privileged enough to escape to the country or the mountains, I take deep breaths of fresh air and hope it will heal me. Every time I find out another friend or family member has cancer I wonder, who's next ?

This is what we're supposed to be learning: something we're doing is wrong. Our millions of cars and our spewing factories and our food with chemicals sprayed all over them, it's not working. I feel like I'm sinking into the inevitability of this, the self-destructive tendencies--the death wish even--of our species. I'm trying very hard to keep my head above water.

And while I tread, I will think of their names because I don't know what else to do right now but bear witness: Craig, Joanie, Marlene, Tim, Viola, Doug, Penny, Hilary, Hazel, Leon.
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QUESTION [07 Aug 2007|04:03pm]
Is there any quick, simple thing you do that makes you feel better about your contribution to the world?
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THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED LATELY [14 Jul 2007|08:08pm]
I. I've written two pieces to the Buffalo News about birth control--one an editorial, the other a letter to the editor--and after each one, this old man writes to me at my home. He considers my views to be much more than disagreeable but flat out wrong. He compares sex with birth control to beastiality, hedonism, and masturbation. He wants to sit down and talk with me about it, calls me "little" sister," and encloses his business card--he plays the piano for weddings. I don't like that he's been able to track my moves across the city and most recently wrote, "We live but blocks apart." Ick.

II. My car was stolen. I took it in about two weeks ago to the mechanic and then went away on vacation. I came back and played phone tag with the shop. When I finally got to talk to the owner about the status of my repair, he asked, "So when did you pick it up?" I told him I hadn't. "You picked up the keys then right?" Umm, no. So we filed a stolen vehicle report and I'm waiting in limbo to see what the insurance companies can squabble together.

III. The toilet overflowed in our rented house last night. Today I installed a new drop ceiling in the kitchen because the old one was water-logged. I guess that's the gift of buying a house: necessity makes you do things you never thought you would, or could.

IV. Update since writing this post: My car has been recovered!
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THIS IS HOW IT WAS [11 Jul 2007|01:49pm]





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A BOOK A DAY [26 Jun 2007|01:46pm]

"swirls" originally uploaded by whitneyarlene

In less than a week I'm taking off with Brynn for a week-long vacation up in Canada. We've rented a cabin on an island on a remote lake North of the Algonquin Park. It's about six hours from here.

I plan on sitting by the water, floating on my back, and reading a book a day. I'm looking forward to the final sigh when I let all the stress of work and love and life spill out of me, hopefully replaced by some calm.
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BITS [26 Jun 2007|08:16am]
I. This morning I woke up in a funk, and felt all sorts of frustrated until I walked into the kitchen of my house. It was green and bright, the glass cupboards reflected morning sun, and all the dishes were washed and stacked on the drying rack. So peaceful in here, I think it's my favorite room.

II. Talked with a friend after writing last night's post and am feeling a bit better. Have employed phrases like, "exit strategy."

III. Apparently, I only get published when I write about sex.
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