Happy 3 Year Move-iversary!

Three years ago today we woke up in our house in the Catskills for the first time. It was cold (no wood stove yet) and empty (our moving truck had broken down and would be three days late) but we were fucking ELATED anyway because it was the beginning of what we knew would surely be an adventure.

It was scary to say goodbye to Brooklyn, to all our friends and our way of life there-- to trade it for the mountains and small town life and so many unknowns, all because I had this stubborn idea to open a hotel.

But I'm so damn glad we did.

To everyone who's ever stayed at the Inn or dropped in for a drink or to say hello, thank you! To all our neighbors and friends out here, thank you! You are all such a big part of what makes this home

Happy Move-iversary Steven!

Bookshelf: Women

A good line or two:

But now it is occurring to me that by offering you these details about Finn, I could ruin things for you as well. I could tell you her favorite book of poetry or how she liked her hamburgers cooked, or the words tattooed across her knuckles. But depending on what I tell you, I could lose you. (p 6)

(Btw, I should really be highlighting one of the oh so many good sex scenes, but I don't wanna spoil 'em for you!)

Got me thinking about:

How Joan Didion talks to the reader in this casual, breaking-the-fourth-wall kind of way too. 

How I know only women who have been surprised by same-sex attraction in their own lives after years of identifying as straight, not men. 

How people are simply never ever going to tire of writing and reading about love and sex.

Consumed:

In one sitting. Knowing it was about an intense but relatively brief affair I wanted to experience the whole up/down passion, drama, heartbreak in one fell swoop. 

P.S. Caldwell's essay collection I'll Tell You In Person is also great. Personal, vivid, precise.

America!

As in, America Ferrera!

I saw Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer both link to this article this morning and yes, I'm still in bed as I type this and yes, in some ways it feels like something I've read before, and no, I have ZERO INTEREST in doing a triathlon but still, it was... inspiring.

I even sprung a few surprise tears for this part:

As I powered past people, more often than not, they would start walking. I’m going to be honest — the first few times, it felt good. But by the third or fourth time, it lost its novelty.

I know how it feels to be passed by. I know how it feels to allow someone else’s success to be my own failure. I know all too well how hard it is to battle a nasty inner voice.

So I started to talk to each person I passed. I smiled as I hurled cringe-worthy enthusiasm their way. “GO, GIRL!” “You GOT this, man!” “We’re almost there!” My only goal was to yell louder than the voices in their heads. And you know what? People smiled back. Some started running again.

I think it struck a chord with me because right now I find my own inner voices battling--

About the election ("Now is a time for ACTION!" / "Nothing I could do would ever make a difference, we are all so fucked.").

About business development with the Inn in the face of lots of new spots opening ("I love what I worked so hard to create and other people love it too!" / "We will be a passing fad and fall into oblivion. Hurry! Work harder! Or fine, just give up and roll over already.").

About writing ("You have things to say!" / "NO ONE CARES. Stop adding to the noise.").

One of Ferrera's points was that a seemingly simple and superficial change-- say, chanting Beyoncé lyrics to yourself during a run so you just literally talk over your inner critic-- can have surprisingly big results.

On my next run, I gave it a try. As I approached the last leg of my lap, and the sensation that I might throw up or pass out began to rise, I dug out my inner Beyoncé. I began to chant: I’m a survivor. I’m not gone give up. I’makeep running, ’cause a winner don’t quit on herself!

I sounded like a crazy person, and it still hurt like hell. My shoulder, my lungs, my legs — my whole body ached. But for the first time, I didn’t feel beaten down at the end of a run. I felt like a badass.

So when I got out of bed this morning (at about the "Nothing I could do would ever make a difference, we are all so fucked" portion of this post), I put on the silk blouse I bought myself when I decided I was really SERIOUS about opening a hotel. 

The first time I wore it, it was to meet with my accountant-- my accountant! Perhaps that doesn't sound thrilling but it WAS. It meant I meant business. My accountant. My lawyer. All that would lead to my hotel, right?

I felt like a fraud when I first put it on. Like I was literally just dressing the part of a business owner. But somewhere along 34th Street, as I weaved through the crowds in the sunshine, I felt that particular brand of New York City optimism and thought, "I can DO THIS," and the shirt felt like a battle shield--

and then a middle aged man holding a Macy's bag yelled, "Nice tits!" in my face.

Womp womp. 

But the meeting went well, and that accountant is still my accountant, AND I OWN A FUCKING HOTEL NOW.

That was my triathlon. 

So. Today I'm wearing my blouse. Today I am a badass. Thank you America Ferrera for reminding me.

This + That: Wed, Nov 16

Wednesday, November 16. 

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1. I first read Mary Karr's The Liar's Club when I was 12. Reads so differently all these years later. / 2. It poured rain yesterday aaaaall day and night so the creek is finally looking healthy again. / 3. Not to mention the waterfalls! / 4. Time for our quarterly deep clean where we scrub every goddamn inch of every room to keep it looking brand spankin' new. I listened to the end of Book One of Harry Potter as I did one room. Loving that I've come so late to the HP game and now have so many books and movies to look forward to! / 5. Called some local representatives to express my extreme discomfort with Stephen Bannon as the president elect's choice. I was surprisingly nervous to do it. But my friend Ariel posted this great script document on Facebook that really was helpful. Glad I did it. Going to make myself call more folks this week. / 6. This is what it looks like at 5pm now. / 7. Headed over to our friends Tracy and Jamie's house for a slumber party. (Btw, they're the fabulous duo behind Brunette Wine Bar.) Tracy is a sartorial queen and so I always have to bring my fashion A game-- / 8. Even for just a night of dumplings and ramen! / 9. Slept like a baby. / 10. And woke up to an adorable puppy party downstairs. 

Bookshelf: The Arab of the Future 2

The Arab of the Future 2: A Chilldhood In the Middle East, 1984-1985 by Riad Sattouf

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(Please forgive the coffee stain.)

A good line or two:

That last panel, where he's called on and it turns all red. LOVE it. (p 103)

Got me thinking about:

How on earth he remembers so much about his childhood! And how so very good he is at capturing a child's logic and point of view without getting twee or condescending.

About what's going on in Syria these days... Ugh. And how I almost went to do a Modern Standard Arabic program there one summer during college but decided to go back to Morocco instead. In some ways I wish I'd gone, to have seen it. Not that this book's portrayal of village life in Syria reads like travel advertisement in any way but still. 

Consumed:

Greedily. I always have to force myself to sloooooooow doooooown when reading graphic novels. I'm a word person first and foremost, so it's tempting for me to just read it as quickly as I can. But what a terrible way to enjoy a graphic novel! The pictures of course tell half the story, if not more.

P.S. This is the second book in a series. I can't wait for the rest!

I Love Lamp: Urban Outfitters?!

Ummmm, can we talk about how Urban Outfitters Apartment is nailing it right now?

When did this start happening?

Also, I admit, it's mostly knock offs, yes? Which of course is terrible. Corporate slave labor robbing artists etc. And it's perhaps not the highest quality. I truly don't know.

The price point though is frankly confusing me. I think of college kids and recent grads when I think of Urban. But what college kid is buying a $3,000 sofa? Is this a part of the whole indefinite stretching of young adulthood well into people's 40s?

I mean, what I am doing looking at it at 32? Oh kettle, you're so black.

I Love Lamp: DIY Basket Lamp

Sooooooooo I removed a bunch of those Home Depot "boob" lights from the house last year thinking that if I did that, the bare bulbs would propel me to replace them immediately. Because surely I couldn't live with all those bare bulbs for a year.

Instead, of course, I've lived with bare bulbs for a year. 

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Until today! In the bedroom at least.

Being obsessed with my dining room light and so many things rattan, I wanted a similar woven/basket vibe. However I didn't want to get into the real nitty gritty of installing a directly wired fixture. (I was feeling lazy, I'm not an electrician.) I just wanted something to cover the damn bulbs.

So I ordered a $9 basket from World Market, bent the handles down so they're inside the basket, then tied it to the existing structure with small bits of wire. 

Et voila!

Now to find different baskets for all those other bare bulbs around the house...

Bookshelf: You'll Grow Out Of It

You'll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

A Good Line or Two:

My butterfly Agnes B. dress with pockets may as well be a ziplock bag filled with old shrimp. (p 56)

Got Me Thinking About:

The delicate dance of self deprecating humor. Too deprecating and it can be plain old sad and just depressing to read. Or worse: it can come off like a humble brag or whatever the self-deprecating equivalent is. (You know, like when a Cinderella look alike starts whining about being "fat" after one bite of a mini cupcake?) Fishing for a compliment! That's what it's called. Anyway. I think totally Klein nails it.

How much I never, ever want to do stand-up comedy.

How much I've been enjoying reading memoirs lately and how it makes me ask myself, "Why do I care? Why the fuck do I care what happened to Jessi Klein in high school art class?" and I think the answer is mostly, "I enjoy the way Jessi Klein writes about what happened to her in high school art class" followed, sometimes, depending on the author, by "I can relate to her" (which is really just a way of saying "Isn't it nice to feel understood?"). 

Consumed:

In front of the wood stove (now that it's freezing on the regular again). At the Phoenicia Diner counter, trying to not laugh aloud. 

This + That: Mon, Oct 24

Monday, October 24. 

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1. It SNOWED this weekend (?!) then we had a wind storm soooo bye-bye leaves. / 2. Coffee service for guests. Chatted with a former social worker now psychotherapist who specializes in mindfulness training about a new device that tracks your brainwaves when you meditate and gives you realtime feedback about it via weather system noises. Aka, it sounds stormy when your brain is really active, you hear calm waves and you calm down etc. / 3. Went through the checked out rooms to turn off the heat, take out the trash. The little things that need to be done before someone else cleans 'em later. / 4. Read some of Arguments Against Everything. Such a different style of writing than I normally read. I think I'm enjoying it...? / 5. Every single guest we had this weekend went to the Phoenicia Diner so I was jealous and had to go for lunch myself. Jessi Klein's You'll Grow Out Of It was my companion. (Hilarious!) As were the sweet waitresses who know me by now. / 6. Came home to a world of the most boring and tedious bookkeeping work. So many fucking usernames and passwords and tech crap. Stuff that's supposed to make your life easier and all together, on some days, just absolutely doesn't. / 6. The heater in my home office is broken so I went downstairs to warm up in front of the wood stove for a bit. Stormy looking outside. / 7. Chairs and branches were blown all over the place from that wind storm so I put 'em back. The chairs that is. Branches were down for the count. /  8. Yes, that's a big bowl of popcorn for dinner to go with a few episodes of Narcos. Steven and I keep reminiscing about our trip to Colombia five or so years ago. (SO much fun.) Makes total sense why their new tourism slogan at the time was, "The only danger is in wanting to stay." / 9. Waldo waits anxiously for Steven to come upstairs to bed. It's adorable how much Waldo is enamored with Steven and vice versa. We often joke that Steven is Waldo's "spirit animal". No, I did not accidentally reverse that.

Bookshelf: Pond

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

A good line or two:

[This is actually a whole chapter in its entirety called "Willful Thinking"]

Pads upstairs, scrapples about beneath ottoman, locates green flip-flop. Straightens, eyes bed. Thinks, hmmmm, stylish. Foxford blanket, textured curtains, suave bolster, a bit of broderie anglaise and so on. Then: have I had breakfast? Swiftly glances over the banister. Sees empty bowl and smeared spoon at the edge of the desk. Next to a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic. Factor 15. Thinks,

perhaps that was from another day.

(p 51, line break intentional as in the book)

Got me thinking about:

What slaves we are to traditional storytelling and how refreshing it was to read something that threw that shit to the wind. This is a novel, but not really. There's essentially no plot and Bennett zooms you in so close to the narrator's life and perspective, throws you in with zero context directly into the narrator's brain and it's SO FUCKING CONFUSING at first. But once you surrender, once you accept that you will not be given such pedestrian, hum-drum details that you think are so necessary like where/when/how/why then oh my god, what a ride. What a ride!

How some writers have such an uncanny ability to walk you through the perhaps insane, certainly illogical, progressions of someone else's mind in such minute detail. How they can make you relate to anybody. Virginia Woolf and Miranda July came to mind a bunch while reading.

Consumed:

Before bed, a little each night. Slowly. It's one of the only books I've read in recent memory where I wanted to truly savor it, make it last. 

Lately

As I type this a ferocious fall wind is quite literally blowing away the last of the season's leaves but oh my gosh, it was such a beautiful season while it lasted.

Bookshelf: Today Will Be Different

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

A Good Line Or Two:

"Then, in a prison move if there ever was one, I reached across and rifled around Luz's desk, touching as much of her personal shit as I could"  (p 48)

Got Me Thinking About:

How much I LOVE a book with a strong a voice. Especially one that's self-deprecating, slightly unreliable, and funny. It's the most sure-fire way for me to feel like a character is real. It also makes me read the book compulsively because I feel like by putting it down I'm walking away from an actual conversation that might go on without me. 

How I've yet to come across a novel that has a book within a book with illustrations that I like. (City on Fire also comes to mind.) Most of the time I'd preferred to have simply imagined it. 

Consumed:

In one evening! Couldn't help myself. Went to a bookstore yesterday after an appointment (oh, the joy-- all you city people don't ever take for granted that you an walk to a bookstore!), bought an armload including this one which wasn't even for sale until today. (Thank you employee who shall remain unnamed at an unnamed bookstore for sneaking that to me early!)

Everything Will Get Done Because It Has To

That's what I chanted to myself when we were renovating and doing all the crazy paperwork and whatnot before we opened the Inn. Sometimes it feel endless, completely insurmountable. I'd be rushing and rushing and rushing around and then I'd find myself standing eerily still in the hallway, not moving only because I felt paralyzed by all the different things I should be doing, unable to choose which to do first.

It's a little like that right now. Transitioning between employees, other business development, and the general upkeep that just never ever ends.

It's time for lists, for prioritizing, for doing things just one step at a time. Even the biggest projects are made of small pieces. 

I'm also trying to be kind to myself. To implement the lessons I've learned in moving to the country, a big one being: Go outside. If only for ten minutes. You have the time. Make the time, it's worth it. To breathe that air. To be pleasantly humbled. To be inspired. 

Then get back to work!

We're Hiring at the Spruceton Inn!

Ever fantasized about living in the country and running a little Inn? Well dang, come on up and do it with me! We're hiring for a full-time Assistant Innkeeper here at the Spruceton Inn!

Details about the position and how to apply can be found here.

And for those of you who know and love my current Assistant Innkeeper Megan, you can wish her well as she moves on to wonderful things with Memorial Sloan Kettering! I am SO SAD to see her go, but 100% rooting for her in her next adventure.

UPDATE: Hired! Thank you so much to everyone who applied.

This + That, Thur Sept 1

Thursday, September 1.

1. Morning snuggles. / 2. Checking out the garden with Gary who helps with our groundskeeping. / 3. Catching up on some linens laundry after an especially busy midweek. / 4. Emails for the Inn. Always. So. Many. Emails. / 5. Couscous for lunch. / 6. Acting as another pair of eyes for Steven's work. / 7. A walk in the woods all together. / 8. Writing time. / 9. Wine delivery. / 10. A whole hour of shooting the shit with Gary as he's taking a break from an epic mowing day. Lots of hilarious stories about the "old days".  / 11. Steven heads down to the Neversink to meet my dad for some fishing, so I write in his office. / 12. Another walk for Waldo. Those hay bales have such personality. / 13. More writing, writing, writing til late, late, late. 

Jet-Setting Craziness in Croatia

So, Steven and I went to Croatia... FOR THE WEEKEND.

My dear college pal Alexandra was getting married to a wonderful Croatian guy, Ivan, and well, we just were NOT going to miss it.

I love living in the Catskills but holy shit does it add so much time to international travel!! It took us twenty-three and half hours door to door to get to Split. Once we arrived, knowing we had only about sixty-five hours there total, we cut straight to the fun and stayed out every night til 4am.

Cliff jumping into the sea, dancing to exhaustion, laughing to the point of tears with friends old and brand new... It was SUCH a good time!

I'm not sure I would ever schedule something that insanely quick again, but oh my gosh I am so glad we did it. Such a beautiful town, some of my favorite people in the world. All around just an adventure. Congrats Alexandra + Ivan!