Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

So, it's New Year's Eve, and I'm chillin' in the Jerusalem apartment with the parents. Not that I'm complaining -- I have notoriously bad luck/bad timing with New Year's Eve celebrations, which in the past have included being hospitalized, falling asleep in a cab on the way home from the airport, and being stuck in a supermarket parking lot in the freezing cold. So being in a Jerusalem works for me.

To be fair, the past few New Years have been totally pleasant, often including going out and dancing to eighties music with Mary and friends, afterwards eating Mac and Cheese at 2:00 am to absorb the booze. Last year, I joined Kate at Mancini's, where she informed me she is going again this year. Hi, Kate! Happy New Year!

What have I been up to? Well, I had ambitions to do a chronological account, but that's clearly not going to happen, nor would be very interesting. Instead, I'll give pictures with captions!

Okay, so in continuing crazy-cat-person-ness, I bought some cat treats that I have been giving to stray cats. I made friends with a cat that lives in the Armenian quarter, near the Armenian Catholic church. Also, there was a cat in the Monastery of the Holy Cross that DEMANDED so serious loving:
We went to the Temple Mount and saw the Dome of the Rock, which I will talk about in more detail later. I just wrote a bunch about it and deleted it -- there's so much complicated history there, so it's hard to write about it, particularly in the flip way that I usually write.

I will say, from the Temple Mount, you can see the Mount of Olives and the Valley of Josaphat, which according to some traditions is where we are all going to go when the world ends:
I sat and looked at the view for a long time. Not bad!

Speaking of the world ending, I generally don't wear crocs, but there are some cases where I make exceptions:
I wonder if I wouldn't rather go here when the world ends:
Or maybe here:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Not touristy stuff

Strib review is up. Huzzah!

When in Eilat, I went to the pharmacy to buy some conditioner. While trying to figure out the difference in Hebrew between "shampoo" and "conditioner," I heard a wispy song in the background. It sounded a lot like the T.I. song, "Whatever You Like," a Popular Hip-Hop Song I have Quite the Fondness for, in lame whitey ironic way. Listening closer, I realized that it was the T.I. song. A little-girl voice was lisping lyrics like "Late night sex, so wet and so tight...You ain't ever have to go in your wallet...long as I got rubber-band banks in my pocket...gas up the jet for tonight and you can have whatever you like."

A little weird to realize when you're standing in an Israeli pharmacy in a town in the middle of a desert, not far from the actual Sodom and Gomorrah.

Intrigued, I did with the googling and you tubing when I got to a computer. I found the cover, and it turns out it was featured on Gossip Girl so as per usual I'm way behind the times on this one. It's a cute lady called Anya Marina. I watched the video and fell in love with it. For starters, JUSTIN KIRK is in it! Justin Kirk, of Angels in America and Weeds who grew up partly in Minneapolis and who I saw at the Jungle Theater!

So you must watch this video. Aside from Justin Kirk (if you don't know him, he's the one being ridiculously adorable in the video), it's set in a sex toy store, which gives a weird/fun edge to the theme of "whatever you like." If it hasn't already been done, someone NEEDS to write a graduate thesis on the different iterations of sexuality expressed in this video and its companion video, the original, epic T.I. video.

Here's the T.I. video, which also illustrates why I love him: sure, there are the obnoxious booty video clich├ęs, but there's a sweetness and a sense of humor.

And here's the Anya video:

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Happy Boxing Day!

My family and decided to spend Christmas in the Holy Land -- we've got a little apartment in Jerusalem, across from Ye Old English Tea Shoppe -- Kosher!

Getting here was an adventure, delayed by snowstorms on the East Coast and a taxi cab ride to the wrong address when I got to Jerusalem. Once I safely arrived, I was right away bundled into a rental car by my parents and we drove to Eliat, a resort town on the border of Israel and Jordan. The next day, we took a tour into Jordan, to see the "lost city" of Petra. Crossing the border from Israel to Jordan was quite the experience -- you literally have to cross a "no man's land" of dirt and barbed wire.

Our guide was a young Bedouin who looked like Jeff Goldbloom, if Jeff Goldboom were a Bedouin. There was a long bus ride to modern-day Petra, the outskirts of which are a plain-looking town. Then you take a hike through some canyons, beautiful and unreal:
There's carvings and tombs in the rocks, which is lovely and unusual in and of itself. Then, you turn a corner, and oh

Yeah, that's carved INTO the rock, people.
It's kind of like beautiful American Southwestern canyons COMBINED WITH beautiful Hellenistic ruins with a little bit of ambitious Egyptian tributes to the dead thrown in, for good measure. Those Nabateans could make some beautiful shit.
Being me, I got distracted by the animals.

No, not the camels. The cats!

Totally cute, undernourished, and clearly diseased, apparently they're kept around to keep lizards and scorpions away from the tourist areas that sell souvenirs. Sniff! I want to take them all home. Because yes, I'm one of those crazies that cares more about cats than people.

However, the donkeys and horses that give rides through the canyon have an open-to-the-public clinic sponsored by Princess Alia, so there's for sure concern about animal welfare.

So: Petra. Holy fucking shit. I'm not one of those tourists given to Shock and Awe -- I'm a pretty lousy and easily bored tourist, to be honest with you. Today, for example, now back in Israel, we went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum and I was like, yawn, I'm hungry. But Petra. Not a bad place to go when you die, huh? Look at these tombs:

Pop-culture reference points: Petra was where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed (they have an "Indiana Jones" stall in modern-day Petra) and nearby is Wadi Rum, the desert that's the backdrop for much of Lawrence of Arabia, I think.

Petra was really incredible, that's all I have to say. Not very profound.

Let's look at the Treasury, just one...
more time...
Sigh. Lovely.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I've found my new timewaster...

You know those fun blogs with a concept that post new things every day or almost every day?

Well, my friend Serena has thought of a good one: hotties in art. Check it out. You might learn something. If you have money (wait, you're reading this blog -- of course you don't have money. But if you know someone with money--they must exist--send them to Serena's store to buy pretty things).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snow Follows Me Everywhere

I don't know if I've mentioned here before that I'm giddy with joy that my story is featured in the upcoming issue of American Short Fiction.

They had a reading scheduled for this past Friday, at which an excerpt from my story was going to be read -- but it was rescheduled due to snow. Yes -- snow in Austin. Clearly, simply speaking my name was enough to bring wafts of snow down from Minneapolis. I am a chilly mortal.

Anyway, check out the saga on their blog, which is worth reading.

Also, check out the blog of this Austin resident: Amelia Gray.

Once upon a time, Amelia and I went to high school together, back in Tucson, Arizona. We didn't become friends till Senior Year, which I viewed as an opportunity sorely wasted. Amelia intimidated me because she actually wrote things, while I just thought about writing things. She had a play in the school's student playwriting contest (which I didn't know existed). She and her writing were funny and sharp. We stole hard cider and sherry from my parent's fridge to drink (that's what you get when you raid the liquor cabinet of academics). We went on a camping trip together, if you can picture that (I'm not sure camping naturally springs to mind when you think of me).

She went to Arizona State and I saw her briefly in Phoenix once, when I was in town for a night before catching a plane. She was reading If On a Winter's Night a Traveler and was a little distracted.

We crossed paths again briefly after college. She was on her way to an MFA program while I was just thinking about going to MFA programs.

We've crossed paths twice as AWP; the first time, in Austin, she was mid-MFA program, and I was mid "Maybe I want to switch MFA programs?" This last time, in Chicago, I stopped by the American Short Fiction table and was delighted to find excerpts from Amelia Gray -- excerpts from her book!

I think I babbled something incoherently to the person manning the table "She's my friend! From high school! She has a book! Is she here? Have you seen her?" Which I'm sure did make me sound weird at all.

I tracked down the table of the publisher -- Featherproof Books -- and there she was, with copies of her very own book. Which I bought and read the entirety of on the L train the next day. It's really good.

Now we are both in the latest issue of Annalemma. Here's a review of the issues that praises Amelia's story and says "there isn't a dull story in the lot," which I guess by implication calls my story...not dull?

And, full circle, Amelia lives in Austin, I've got a story in American Short Fiction, and a friend of Amelia's is going to read it, when I stop sending snowstorms their way.

Sorry for the fangirl babbling. Hi Amelia! I still think you are funny and sharp and still feel a little intimidated by you, in a good way. Come to Minneapolis sometime if you like snow! There's plenty to enjoy.