Archive for Blog

My Model Is Famous

Blogon April 2nd, 20121 Comment

We had a beautiful model in our portrait-painting class a few weeks ago; her outfit included touches like a jeweled hairpiece and a giant bow tie. (Below is my painting of her and a photo of her in the pose.) Yesterday, I was flipping through the New York Times Style section and noticed that she’d also caught the eye of street photographer Bill Cunningham (that’s her in the bottom left).

I’m relatively happy with the painting I did, but I can’t help but notice a few obvious flaws. I still need to practice capturing people’s likeness and hone my skills in painting skin color. Still, it was fun to work with such a pretty, vibrant model, and it was kind of exciting that Cunningham noticed her style as well.

photoModel for my painting

Stacking Up

Blogon March 26th, 2012No Comments

Seuss book tower.Sometimes I get to a point where I realize I’ve lived a lot of life in the past few months and haven’t documented much of it, other than through Instagram shots with my iPhone and jotted notes and doodles in my paper journal. Perhaps it’s good to step back from the Internet for a while and get my bearings, but eventually I find myself missing the order, the clarity and the simplicity of writing in a blog. Writing in a paper journal tends to be so introspective and thoughtful that I miss the forest for the trees. This is a place to take a look at the whole damn picture.

Right now, the picture looks more like this Seuss book stack (I went to Orlando with my family in February, by the way), with dozens of creative and personal projects stacked just so.

A few things in the works right now:

  • Painting class. I’m still taking the portrait-painting class at School of Visual Arts (see my fantastic instructor’s website here), and it’s going well. I think I had a creative breakthrough last week, in which I found a style of brushwork that is satisfying to me and pleasing (I think) to observers. More on that in a future post.
  • A Tale of Four Cities. We’re still updating new content regularly, and I’m working on writing a few new pieces for the New York section of the site, which I’m hoping will turn out well. Editing the stories has been an interesting exercise, since most of my editing work has previously been for nonfiction, policy-based pieces or for magazine articles, and I rarely get a chance to delve into memoir or fiction.
  • Murals at PS 36. I’ve been working with New York Cares since November to revive the inside of Margaret Douglas Elementary in Harlem. In my part of the project, I’ve been painting inspirational quotes selected by the principal on all the staircases of the school.
  • Short film. A friend and I are creating a short film to submit to a film festival here in NYC. Neither of us has made a film before, so it promises to be both incredibly hard work and (I hope) a lot of fun.
  • Reading. A few of the books I’ve been enjoying recently: New York Diaries, Other People We Married (read it this summer and am taking a second look), Slouching Towards Bethlehem (I can’t believe I’m enjoying Joan Didion).

What projects have you been working on?

More Coffee?

Blogon February 22nd, 2012No Comments

Coffee at the beer garden.

I’ve been in one of those visual moods again — when words aren’t as inspiring as images. In light of that, I give you … an image. Of coffee. (Of course.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Blogon February 14th, 2012No Comments

Valentine's Day construction-paper chain. Made last night when I couldn't sleep.

Welcome to the most hated holiday of the year! I have to admit, I love Valentine’s Day, not for sentimental reasons but for the fact that it’s a holiday accented by my favorite colors — red and pink — and a ton of hearts. Plus, I love all holidays, big or small, especially when they give me a chance to decorate! (Above is a construction-paper chain I made for the apartment, and below are the construction-paper valentines I made for my roommates.)

Kisses and hearts! read more

Around My Apartment

Blogon February 13th, 2012No Comments

Collection of stuff on my shelves

I’ve recently started going through all my belongings and getting rid of items that don’t have meaning or don’t make me happy. This seems like an obvious thing to do, but I was surprised to learn how many of my possessions just didn’t have a place or meaning in my life but still took up space in my home. I’m slowly culling through everything, and the result has been incredibly satisfying: shelves full of pretty, fun things that make me happy.

For example, the shelf above, which contains the following:

  • A mounted photo from the ’80s of my mom, my dad and me.
  • Two glass dishes from my grandma, which I use to hold jewelry.
  • Two random gnomes, given to me as gifts years ago. (I love gnomes. Not ironically.)
  • My first Christmas ornament — Snow White — which sits out all year.
  • A wooden jewelry box brought back from Syria by my friend Raja.
  • An empty bottle of Crystal Skull Vodka, which I obsessed over for so long and finally received as a Christmas present this year. I’m going to fill it with glitter.
  • A birthday flower lei.

A Visit to Niagara Falls

Blogon February 13th, 20121 Comment

Rainbow at the falls

I took a day trip to Niagara Falls last month, on a freezing cold but perfectly clear day. Here are a few photos I took from the Canadian side. I’d never been to the falls, and I wasn’t disappointed. They are really striking, and I think the layer of ice covering everything added to the beauty. read more

Painting Class, Round Two

Blogon February 2nd, 20121 Comment

Palette carnage.

Portrait, more accurate lighting.I’m taking another portrait class at School of Visual Arts in NYC, this time with my friend Sandra. It’s a great class, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning to paint or improving their skills.

At left is my first painting, completed after six hours with the model. There are definitely a lot of things that still need improvement (namely, it doesn’t look like the model), but I’m pretty happy with it.

Morning Coffee

Blogon February 1st, 2012No Comments

Morning coffee

Sometimes, the perfect cup of coffee can change an entire day.

I’ve been serving jury duty for the past three weeks, and it means that I’ve stepped almost completely away from the computer. Regular posts will resume shortly, I promise!

Happy 2012!

Blogon January 9th, 2012No Comments

photoPardon my brief and unexpected blogging break. Between a fantastic yet brief visit home for Christmas, busy time at work in between and an unexpectedly fantastic New Year’s Eve, I’ve spent much of my time off the grid — in the best sense possible.

And now, after a great December and an even more wonderful beginning of January, I start 2012 excited, hopeful and ready for the year ahead. I even made a collage of things I’d like to see from the year/my life in general, which apparently is a real thing and called a vision board and heavily mocked by everyone, including the TV show Happy Endings. Whatever, collages are fun, and if you saw mine, you’d want one of your own.

Anyway. here’s to a new year!

Beer and Birthdays

Blogon December 18th, 2011No Comments

Skull mural

Grand Rapids has a really great bar called Stella’s. Everything about it would fit in perfectly in the too-hip neighborhoods of Brooklyn, but somehow it lacks the pretension that you’d find there. The menu is mostly vegan (and delicious), the beers are cheap and served in mason jars, really great murals cover the outside and the inside of the bar, and the staff is laid-back and funny. I went there with my brother Jon and friend Diego (below) and had a great time. It’s also the only time I remembered to use my camera on the trip. Oh well.

Diego at Stella's

Beer in jarsIn other news, Diego turns the big 2-8 today, so let’s all wish him a happy birthday electronically, shall we?

This one’s on me.

Watch out for Central Park

Blogon December 17th, 2011No Comments
Central Park at sunset, taken Dec. 3Central Park West, sunset

For some reason, before I moved to New York, I always assumed the most dangerous part of Manhattan was Central Park. Blame it on early-’90s TV shows and all the Wet/Sticky Bandit scenes from Home Alone 2, but I was convinced that entering the park meant I might as well hand over my wallet to the next person I saw. I mean, I was going to get mugged anyway. read more

Chicago at Sunset

Blogon December 16th, 2011No Comments


Chicago at sunset

I flew to Grand Rapids, Mich., last weekend for a close friend’s wedding, and on the way back, we had a layover in Chicago. I used to fly to Chicago frequently, back in the days when I was dating S and trying to see him as often as possible.

Chicago is a fantastic city, and I really should visit it more. It’s funny how certain places are so associated with one person that it takes a while to detach the memories. It would be strange in a way to hang out there now, with different people and under different circumstances. But I like where I am now, and maybe it’s time to go back.

Detroit Airport’s Trippy Tunnel

Blogon December 2nd, 2011No Comments

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The Detroit airport has a long tunnel connecting Terminal A to Terminals B and C. It plays weird music and the colored lights flash in time with the music. It’s really trippy in general, and if you haven’t slept or if you had a drink or two on your layover, it’s just death. (Click here to see it in green.)

My Grandma Collects Dolls

Blogon November 27th, 2011No Comments


They’re pretty (sort of) but they also scare me a little bit (a lot). Somehow they’re just always…watching. read more

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving

Blogon November 26th, 20116 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone! This is the first year I co-hosted a dinner — with my friend Krysten – and it was a success, despite a few minor hiccups at the beginning. (By hiccups, I mean that I showed up at her apartment early to start prepping while she was at work, as we’d planned, only to realize that I had, in fact, forgotten the keys to her apartment. Ahem.) Despite that snafu, everything was lovely, our company was fantastic and the food was amazing. See above for some photos of things we ate. Mmm.

Kung Fu Panda balloon

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I’d gotten up early that morning to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with my friend Helen, which turned out to be really fun, even if our location was less than ideal. We had a great view of the balloons but were too far away to see the floats or hear the music, which was a little disappointing. Next year, we’ll get it right!

I took a lot of pictures of people taking pictures. Kermit seen in the background
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Click here to see a slideshow of my photos from Thanksgiving, including tons of parade shots. Also, I wrote a Thanksgiving Day story for Found Michigan, which you can find here.

What the Cluck?

Blogon November 21st, 2011No Comments


There’s something inherently funny about a bunch of animal hats in a row. Maybe it’s because they should all be trying to eat each other. (Seen in front of the Museum of Modern Art.)

Duck Hunting

Blogon November 11th, 20111 Comment


At 6 this morning, my dad and I pull his SUV up to the lake. It’s just begun snowing, and as I step out of the car, I’m glad for the extra pair of long johns. Dad begins to back the trailer into the icy water, and I follow it, taking awkward wader-clad steps down the ramp and trying my hardest not to slip.

I loosen the clips holding the boat to the trailer and push. Nothing happens. I push harder. Still nothing. My dad backs the trailer farther into the water. I shove with all my might, embarrassed that I can’t perform a simple task my dad has done hundreds of times. Then I realize — it’s still strapped to the back of the trailer.

read more

Weekend Away

Blogon November 10th, 2011No Comments

My parents' house from the river

I’m writing this from the Detroit airport as I begin a long weekend of grandparent visits — first to Alpena to visit my parents and my maternal grandparents and then to Minneapolis to visit my dad’s parents. (Road trip!) I’m one of those lucky people who still have four fantastic grandparents, and I try to take advantage of that by seeing them as much as I can.

It’ll be a nice break. (OK, a fake break. I’m still working on stuff for A Tale of Four Cities and some freelance work. But still. Midwest fall rules.)

Check Out A Tale of Four Cities!

Blogon November 2nd, 2011No Comments

After almost a year, A Tale of Four Cities is finally online! I’d highly recommend checking it out. We have launched with about 20 stories from writers around the world, including one I wrote called “The Graffiti Grammarian.” We plan to update every weekend with new content, so bookmark it and come back.

(We’re also on Twitter and Facebook, if you want to receive updates when we post new content.)

Words, Words, Words

Blogon October 16th, 2011No Comments

Colorful books

The past few weeks have been all about words.

  • The launch of A Tale of Four Cities is approaching on November 1 (!!!), so I’ve been spending most of my free time reading/editing stories, working out the final kinks of the website, and working with our incredibly talented artists to create pieces to complement each story.
  • One of the books I worked on for Encounter Books, Living the Call: An Introduction to the Lay Vocation, is now available for purchase. It’s a helpful, interesting book for any Catholics who are interested in getting involved in lay ministry.
  • My roommate Kathleen has a new blog, which I helped her design. It’s adorable; check it out!
  • I’m in the middle of the new Eugenides book, and it’s great so far. I really identify with the main character and her very amusing English-major experiences. (Derrida!)
  • Check out my Pinterest set of words and letters.
  • Take a look at my homemade Scrabble-tile magnets (and my friend Diego).
[Photo taken at the Pratt library in Brooklyn]