Oct 27, 2011

Stork Visit!

I just had a baby. 
I didn't even know I was pregnant. 
It's been quite the upset really. 

I woke up Sunday morning feeling a bit hungover from the Octoberfest party I went to Saturday night, and by Sunday evening I was waiting for TLC to add my just-thought-I-had-a-beer-belly story to their I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant series. 

Thankfully, despite my lack of self-awareness/vitamins, the baby is healthy and fine. He's quite hairy, won't take the boob in the middle of the night, and struggling a little with potty training (he loves to pee in the garden), but all in all he's a little sweetheart and proof that the best things come in unexpected packages.

We didn't have nine months to battle out names so his name has changed three times in three days. Today, he is Charlie M. (for Miles) Finnegan.
He's got my ears.


Oct 18, 2011

"Knots" Video by Lisa Hannigan


I'm going to see Lisa Hannigan (with Gavin Glass) on Friday night at Hiro Ballroom so I've been crash-listening to her new album, Passenger, all day. Had to share this song and video directed by Myles O'Reilly. Makes me want to get all Pollock in my kitchen!


Download Passenger from Amazon
LisaHannigan.ie
Read NPR interview (with Hannigan and O'Reilly) about this song

Oct 13, 2011

Falling into Good Books


It's that time of year again. Neighbors blow away real leaves and decorate their doorways with fake leaves. Schoolkids are yellow-bused off to pristine pumpkin patches, while I check the expiration date on a tin of pumpkin puree I bought a few years ago. Squirrels prepare for fall by hoarding acorns while I hoard books ...

The Devil is an Irishman
I hate scary movies. I'm chicken. I don't mind blood and gore in action movies that involve men in gladiator or Spartan costumes, but I hate horrors. So while everyone else turns to Freddie Krueger, Chucky, Leatherface, and Hannibal Lecter for kicks, I turn to Irish folklorist Eddie Lenihan. The Devil is an Irishman is a collection of four stories about the devil—tales of whom far outnumber tales of God in Irish tradition, according to folklorist/seanchaí Eddie Lenihan. I love how the Devil in old Irish stories is a bit of a rogue, or character, willing to give you a second chance if you show wit or courage. Love the spilling of wit and words (not blood!)
The Devil is an Irishman at Amazon.com


On Canaan's Side
A few pages into Irish writer Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side and I added three more books by him to my hibernation list: The Secret Scripture, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, and A Long Long Way. I had ordered On Canaan's Side after reading The Guardian's review which described Barry's prose as "overwhelmingly poetic, its lyricism yielding a seemingly endless series of potent and moving images: Lilly's shoreline home, engulfed by "those long-limbed creaturely fogs that walk in against the Hamptons like armies"; her brother Willie Dunne home on leave from France, "disguised by the thin dust of terror he carried on him"; Lilly's mind careering through her past like "an unbroken pony"."
Lilly is an 89-year-old woman who is preparing to take her own life. Her grandson Bill has committed suicide, and she does not want to linger in a world without her Bill. Lilly spends seventeen days reeling out her life story in what she calls a 'confession.' She tells of her girlhood in Ireland, and then the rest of her life as an immigrant in America. I won't say anymore. It was an beautiful read and I was sorry to close the book and walk away from Lilly and her dreamlike narrative.
Can't wait to read The Secret Scripture next. ...
 On Canaan's Side: A Novel at Amazon.com

The Forgotten Waltz
I'm starting Anne Enright's The Forgotten Waltz today and I'm confident it's the right book to take along with me while I come and go to appointments this afternoon and tomorrow. I'll feel better knowing that if I have to sit and wait anywhere, I'll have good company. It's described as a "haunting story of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction, the irreparable slip into longing." Ooooh ..
The Forgotten Waltz at Amazon.com





The Help
I'm a little behind the ball with The Help; my friend Mary had recommended it as a beach read for my Puerto Rico trip a little while back, but Skippy Dies arrived first and The Help sat helpless... until last week. I read it fast, ignoring the hyped criticisms that followed this hyped book ( i.e., a white woman pandering to black stereotypes and that it's the chick-lit version of To Kill a Mockingbird.) I can't pretend I didn't love it or that I wasn't entirely impressed that this is Kathryn Stockett's first novel, and I would have no qualms recommending it to friends (who have, no doubt, already read it and seen the movie, too). I loved the characters and loved how it held me captive for three days. It does leave me wanting to read more about Jim Crow's south; awareness or guilt? Maybe a good book inspires a little bit of both.

Cúpla  focail

I'm also attempting to regain my long-lost grasp of Irish (something I resolved to do back in January!) by forcing myself to read a little Irish everyday. I have a copy of Padraic O'Conaire's Scothscealta dating back to my school days and I'm slowly feeling my way through it (and getting a great kick out of my older brother's notes littering the margins!)

On the bookshelf horizon are Claire Keegan's new novel and a couple of short story collections from Nuala Ní Chonchúir. I need more shelves!
Hope you are cozied up with a good read. 
xj



Oct 6, 2011

Thursday

I read Mary Costello's three-part New York Diary on Stinging Fly's blog the other day and really enjoyed her visitor's impressions of New York. I will be working on a New York City travel guide in the coming weeks so I'm especially open to a visitor's relationship with this city. Mary was working from a desk at the Centre for Fiction in midtown Manhattan for a few weeks, and in the process, tentatively acknowledging herself as a writer. I sometimes forget how Manhattan allows you do that ... define yourself. It's packed and stacked with stuff and people, and while there's little space, there's so much room. And nobody's watching. Try yourself on. Nobody's watching. Fart on the street. Nobody knows.

I live in a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn, so sometimes when I work from home, I forget about the energy and freedom of the city over the bridge. As I sit here now, I can hear a woman talking loudly on her phone out front, whingeing about the shoddy work her dentist did. I wonder if her phone is even on. Her voice is nasal and grating. A bus screeches on the small incline from the corner, and releases its breath as it passes my house; I guess there was no one waiting for it this time because I didn't hear it grimace and stop at the next corner. Squirrels toss acorns at my back window trying to get my attention. If I look out the window, I might find a squirrel in a trenchcoat holding a boombox over his head ...
"In your eyes
the light the heat
in your eyes
I am complete"
Sing it with me!
"In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
the heat I see in your eyes
"

I won't go to the window in case he's not there. I'll look for Peter Gabriel on my i-Pod instead.

I had morning tea with a friend in Bryant Park yesterday, and I caught Mary Costello's spark. Bryant Park is one of my favorite spots in the city; it's the New York Public Library's backyard, a lovely long lawn (fenced in by 40th and 42nd Streets, Fifth and Sixth Avenues) with seating, coffee kiosks, pigeons, free wifi, and free people-watching.



 I arrived a half hour early for my date so I could soak in the sun and the quietly vibrating hum of this yoga mat in midtown Manhattan. I thought about Mary Costello coming here to write and sent her some anonymous warm wishes and sunshine on an autumn breeze heading over the Atlantic.

I've decided to work from the library for a few days next week for a little change of scenery (and a breather from my stalker squirrel). I can't wait for the tea breaks in the park. Can't wait to carve a little room in the middle of it all. Can't wait to fart on the street.

Oct 4, 2011

Hello!

Your kettle sings, so why not your teapot?

I can see it in your eyes
I can see it in your smile
You're all I've ever wanted, my arms are open wide
'Cause you know just what to say
And you know just what to do
And I want to tell you so much ...
Put the kettle on!
Lionel Richie teapot from LennyMud.etsy (currently sold out but available for pre-order next week).