Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby! Baby!

My oldest sister had her baby the other week. I am happy for her, and those that baby joined. He has great sisters, and a great brother. He also has a great name. Emmett. Emmett Allan. Named partly after my dad, and I like that part.
Sweet baby, I will see you and your cute, cute cheeks in September. xoxo

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I got into NYC Monday night to see Becca. Last time we were in that city together we were both visitors--I on my spring break from Simmons, and she, interviewing at Columbia for film school. Thankfully she was accepted, and now as of last Wednesday, is an NY resident. I like that permanence and the shortened distance to Boston.

On this visit, we spent the first night traveling to Brooklyn's Ikea with Lee and walking so many steps. Becca had to balance how much she could purchase to furnish her as of yet unfurnished apartment with how much the three of us could carry on the long ride home. We came away with an odd assortment of things: a blanket for a bed that has yet to arrive, three rugs, two lamps, dishes, three pairs of colorful scissors, a scale, and hazlenut chocolate.

Becca had to work on a new draft of a script, so my second day was spent with Bronson, riding bikes from South Street Seaport, up the west coast along Riverside Park to 96th. It made me hot and probably dirty, but happy. We witnessed so many of those small, but beautiful moments that make up a life. Picnics, basketball and baseball games, children playing in water, parents watching nearby, etc., etc. After this we made my second trip to Brooklyn in two days. Bronson wanted to see the botanical garden. It was pretty, and worth wanting to see. Next we had good pita sandwiches at a place called Pita Pan Cafe--which name admittedly made me like it even more. At nighttime we heard Regina Spektor play for free at a Barnes and Noble. There I met back up with Becca and Lee, who were found in the chess section. We ate dinner together, along with Tyson's cousin who just moved to the city the day before, for her own grad school program.

This day Becca and I just slept, and woke, and took turns straightening our hair to take silly matching pictures in response to our friend Jendar's. They are funny--if only to us. Then we ate our daily pizza at Pinnacle with Lee, before boarding separate trains.

Now I am on a bus headed back to Boston, where I will sleep in my own bed precisely one night before flying west. Salt Lake and Provo first, then a road trip to LA the next day with Meg and Abby to celebrate Abby's birthday and also to meet baby Henry and see Pegah and Hyrum. It should be a dream.

Monday, August 17, 2009

People as places.

I have come to the realization that I make a terrible tourist. Terrible because I would rather sleep and hang out with friends than see the things I should want to see in a famous city I am visiting for the first time. Also, when I do see sites, though I snap pictures with the rest of them, I have issues with that too. I love the idea of memorials, and how they physically facilitate inward experiences of remembering, but wonder if we, or I, am remembering the right things. It seems like it should be an internal, quiet, reflective thing, instead of the hectic, busy, showy thing that it sometimes becomes, where we almost take pictures of these great places merely to prove that we were there, instead of for the places themselves. Though to be fair to tourists, and also to myself, it may be because in cities like The District there is so much to see, that visitors tend to be in a hurry, to see it all, that they don't always have the luxury of walking slowly, or pausing when they want to pause, to think and reflect, so instead they stop for the obligatory photo before rushing off to the next museum, the next monument.

Reminding myself that I would be back again, I took it slow this time, and saw very little, and am glad of it. Instead I spent a fair amount of time lounging by my friend's pool reading, had a picnic with the Wallaces while listening to jazz in the sculpture garden and talking about philosophy, BYU, and the differences between the East and West coasts, as well as music, movies, and literature. I went to a cryptology museum with my friend Kristina and her roommate, which obscure, out of the way museum would be the only one I would go to, and proved to be fortuitous as I strangely and marvelously met a nice individual who I ended up hanging out with later. I danced to Brit Pop at Black Cat. I watched an old black and white Danish movie with Kierkegaardian themes, and then the sunset while sitting on marble stairs.

That same evening I stood in the Lincoln Memorial with Kristina and read the speeches on the walls, and felt at least some of the power of that great man. As we walked down the stairs my friend relayed a conversation she overheard, where a man suggested that it didn't have to be Lincoln, but could have been any number of people. She disagreed, believing that very few other individuals, if any, could have done the things that Lincoln did. It required his unique mix of experiences and perspectives. Then at the World War II monument, Kristina's second favorite, she asked if either of my grandfathers served in the war. I answered, "Two. Both of them." One was in the navy. The other was a pilot. I realized how little I knew about their experiences, and how they are both gone now, so I can no longer ask.

Sunday I reunited with Lauren Richey, a friend I've had since I was 13. We camped together summer after summer until we were 18, and she saved me my freshman year at BYU from profound homesickness. Another old friend, Nate made me dinner at midnight, and also a smoothie. It was nice of him. Years ago we sat on a bench outside of our Russian Lit class. I told him a resolution I came to, inspired by a character in Anna Karenina. He said, "Let me get this straight--you're going to make an important real life choice based on a fictional character?" I could only nod my head and say, "Yes." Then he turned to me with less apprehension and greater approval, and said, "but it's Levin, and he's always right."

These things are DC to me--these people, these relationships, these memories spanning many years back. And so I plan to return. Again, and again, and again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

DC and Dreams

I'm with Kristina in her district, and have been for the last few days. When we're together there a few things that I can trust will happen. We will listen to Bright Eyes. We will watch old movies we used to love (and that we still love), most notably Empire Records or Drive Me Crazy. We will dance. We will fall asleep telling each other stories. We will wake up slowly. We will take it easy.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I think I used to be smarter, or at least I used to know more facts. More geography, more state and country capitols, more history, more knowledge of wars. The 6th grade may have been the culmination of this. Now I know Kierkegaard and Levinas. Nietzsche. A little Heidegger. Russian literature. Libraries. I am trying to relearn these other things piece by piece. Museum by museum. Maybe now the knowledge will be deeper. Not just facts, but some sort of wisdom, the kind of wisdom that comes with the context of why the facts matter. Maybe this time it will stick.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vegan cupcakes take over the world.

Or at least my kitchen. I am so into making/eating them these days. That is all.

I am drawn, I am drawn to the ocean.

  • Katie bravely and discreetly rescuing a man at the bus terminal who was unknowingly fettered by a trail of toilet paper, and the passing comment of a passing commuter that it was "straight from a 70's sitcom." Check.
  • Laughing the entire train ride with Katie. (Not about the toilet paper.) Check.
  • My jaw hurting from laughing so hard. Check.
  • Traveling (relatively) long distances by train always reminding me of Harry Potter. Check.
  • Putting on pajamas as soon as we got to Brian's, and Katie only doing it if I did it first. Check.
  • Pizza and ice cream everyday. Check.
  • Brian's dad telling incredibly funny jokes that were not purposefully jokes. Check.
  • Watching a beautifully sad, though not depressing movie. Check.
  • Cute bathroom/brushing our teeth at the same time moment. Check.
  • Waking up to find myself alone in the house, and then Katie downstairs sitting on the porch reflecting/journaling. Check.
  • Admiring the beautiful cottage garden we planted on our last visit. Check.
  • Wishing Julia was with us. Check.
  • 8 choices of cereal. Check.
  • Spending upwards of an hour teaching Brian the finer workings of facebook. Check.
  • Driving through charming, pretty woods, with charming, pretty houses. Check.
  • Wanting to be friends with everyone who lived in said houses. (Even the very conservative.) Check.
  • Introducing Katie and Brian to the beautiful band, God Help the Girl. Check.
  • My body being in Rhode Island for the first time. Check.
  • Running into the ocean with Katie twice. Check.
  • Fighting the waves. Check.
  • Beach reads consisting of a philosophy book and child's book (though I admittedly read little of either). Check.
  • Taking a long walk on the beach, which Katie later discovered spanned from Rhode Island to Massachusetts. Check.
  • Being happy to come home from the ocean. Check.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julian Plenti is...Skyscraper.

Hyrum: Hey Rachie. Have you heard the new Paul Banks solo album? (lead singer for Interpol recorded under the name Julian Plenti). Just came out last Tuesday. Pretty solid.

Me: Not yet. I just saw an ad for it the other day. I'm glad it has your stamp of approval and will now check it out for sure.

Hyrum: You'll really like it. Lots of good songs. Several songs are very Interpol-y and several aren't. A good mix.

Me: Awesome. Downloading it right now.

Hyrum: Okay. But you've got to buy the cd. Big difference between the two. Mp3s are the devil. You miss out on all the nuance. And this cd has a lot of nuance.

Wilco (The Concert)

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley boys two Saturdays in a row. Plus Wilco. Plus Ballpark. Plus down pour. Plus shivering. Plus trying to find refuge but being stuck in a crowd. Plus boy in crowd commenting that we were going the speed of zombies. Plus same boy in crowd starting cries of a zombie revolution. Plus him getting others in the crowd to yell "Brains!" at the top of their lungs. Plus it being funnier than I could ever describe. Plus Brian participating in this. Plus me not being able to because I was laughing too hard. Plus the zombie leader's friend saying afterward that he didn't know where it came from, that he had to make a choice to support his friend or not, and that the (zombie) boy was normally really reserved, making it funnier still. Plus Brian and I wishing we had made him our friend, even days after the fact. Plus the merchandise people making so much money because people wanted dry clothing, including us. Plus a memorable (and dry) drive back to Boston.

Before the rain:
After the rain (we were dripping):

Monday, August 10, 2009

Utter disappointment.

This day at lunchtime I sat on a park bench with Katie near her work. We ate vegan dumplings and cut up pieces of pineapple with plastic forks and drank from somewhat exorbitantly priced bottles of water. I noticed a boy sitting on a bench next to us. The reason why I noticed him: he was reading, and I love readers. I look at the boy again, to see what he's reading. My heart lights up. Cormac Mccarthy. The Road--a book that I cherish. I point it out to Katie, explaining that I always feel happy when I see people reading, but especially when I see people reading books that I love, and how it was happening just a few feet away.

I found myself drawn to this complete stranger, just because he was holding a book that I have once held, reading words that I have previously pored over. He is nearing the end. Maybe 10 or 15 pages to go. I think about my own experience with that book, and how when I got to that point I was sitting in the back of a plane headed from Dallas to Salt Lake, and sobbing uncontrollably. There was no help for it--I was too profoundly stirred. And so I continued to steal glances, to see how this stranger would take in these last words--not that I expected the same show of emotion that I once exhibited--but because conversations with Tyson, Lee and others who have read this book convinced me that something great was happening within him. I even had trouble concentrating on what Katie was saying. I was so engrossed.

He finished the last page. I watched as he continued to hold the book carefully, and then slowly began turning the pages back. At the risk of looking creepy I asked him if he liked it. I was too invested not to. He turned to me, and to my utter disillusionment, said simply, "No. I didn't like it. I didn't like the ending." Then he asked me if I read it, and if I liked it. "Yes" and "yes." He explained that it didn't have enough closure for him. I tried to commiserate, but privately was dumbfounded. How could he not have liked this ending and this book that meant so much to me? I genuinely could not comprehend, and with his transformative words, selfishly felt like he robbed me of this magical moment, of this picture I had falsely painted.

In fact, it was incredible how poorly I took it.

Paper Heart

Yes, I watched this movie in a theater by myself today. Yes, it was good. Yes, I cried one to two times. Yes, I laughed one hundred to two hundred times. Yes, I recommend it to others.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Albums for the repeat button.

i.e., what I am listening to these days.

Wilco. Wilco (The Album).
Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band. Outer South.
Conor Oberst. Conor Oberst.
Jenny Lewis. Acid Tongue.
God Help the Girl. God Help the Girl.
(500) Days of Summer. (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.

Once upon a time (as aforementioned in a previous blog post) Damien and Riley rode a bus from Salt Lake City, to Alabama, to New Orleans, and then to me. The reason why they were willing to make the trek north to Massachusetts: a pond called Walden, a man named Thoreau, and a dream of camping on those transcendental grounds. While that didn't happen, we did wander the woods at midnight without light, which was quite an adventure in itself. Our friend and guide Mike was kind enough to drive us, and had been to Walden at night many times before. However, he had never before led the way, and so we struggled to find a secret side path that we could not see. The boys told scary jokes that did not seem funny at the time, and made me terrified of being in the very back. Eventually we decided to turn around, and retrace our steps through the darkness where we would wait for another car that was thankfully on its way. These friends had no pretenses of taking a side route, and so it was easy then, to take the normal path. We still hid from every car, harboring the slight fear that we would be caught. Mainly because Mike always is. The water was cold, but refreshing. More jokes were told, but they were funnier this time, when we were no longer in the woods.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Things that make me feel more like myself:

full moon bike rides.
midnight bike rides.
nighttime air.
cut-off shorts.
river trails.
philosophy books.
children's books.
rooftop views.
sunsets from said views.
gardens in general.
forests in general.
Sunday crepes.
evening strolls.
coming home from the ocean.
front porches.
long conversations on those porches.
fresh lemonade.
pizza and/or ice cream.
bookstores and libraries.
crocuses in march.
listening to the same song over and over.
writing everything down.
waking up slowly.
blueberry pancakes.