J’Accuse! A General Introduction to Being, in Brooklyn.

The creation of an identity is intrinsically artificial – we only need to look at the artful construction of self-presentation to see this grand production made vivid in a gesture, a manner of dress, or a way of thinking. All cues that can be learned, modified, honed to perfection for the absolute achievement – in successfully manipulating ones life into a spectrum of acceptable experience – for the self and inevitably for others.

It’s a distasteful thing, to think of your own self as something you pieced together consciously – as if this could not possibly be authentic. As if it’s a departure from your naturally born being – that pink, bleating organism that opened eyes upon the world and just was.

Yet the necessity of the construction is – to me – evident in the process of day to day life. That elemental forging of a being through one’s assimilated experiences and choices – perhaps in the misguided pursuit of happiness – cannot be cast aside to reveal Ground Zero. That in itself is a duck and weave from the reality of the very nature of being.

No, I didn’t take LSD today. But I digress.

Two mind-altering things did happen.

Firstly, being a Saturday (and a rare opportunity to wander New York together) the H and I decided to venture into W’burg proper – more accurately into hipsterville. Arriving early on a Saturday had two advantages – firstly that it was not busy (though most shops had barely opened), and secondly that the atmosphere hadn’t yet rustled up the anticipated 40 or so degrees that had been forecast.

Summertime on the Avenue

The first scenario involved an uninterested and hirsute roadside bookseller who just happened to have two books on sale by authors I had been thinking about over the past two days. Both female writers whose work I admire, in charming editions that were $5 a piece. Of course I bought them. And have already started to re-devour each. I can already feel the words of these women infecting my consciousness, as all good literature does, and I love it.

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Model muses: Anais Nin, Gertrude Stein

The second was a run in with a second-hand store owner whose store I admittedly browsed at length whilst stealing glances of various items, mentally stashing them into potential holes in our unfurnished home. Let’s just call it the Junk Store. In half an hour of un-airconditioned wandering I found 3 items in the entire store – a shed filled with piles and piles of rubbish. This must be the most satisfying part of all – the feeling that I edited my way through thousands of lifetimes of knick knacks and memorabilia. Discarded, salvaged, priced to sell.

Approaching the cash-register happily, I then placed each item amongst the refuse that had been previously collected on the counter. A dour faced woman eyed me suspiciously, then glanced at the first item.

“I’m not selling you this,” she says.

“Pardon? I don’t understand?”

“You changed the sticker. I know what this is meant to cost. I just priced it myself.”

As happens with all my brushes with authority, I quickly examine my conscience for a memory of having done something wrong.

“But I just picked it up off that shelf – that one there – and I didn’t do anything to it.” My pitch is starting to rise and falter slightly, panicking because unlike the guilty, I haven’t a response prepared. I check my sweaty hands, front and back, to see if somehow maybe a price sticker has rolled off onto them?

“Listen, lady, that’s what you all say. You walk up here and you say innocently, “I didn’t change the sticker, I swear”, but I know what it should cost – I just put the price on.”

By now I’m exasperated – even feeling a little teary – and not wanting to let this carrion of a woman reduce me to a scene I take a breath.

“Look, I didn’t do anything. What is it supposed to cost then – I will pay whatever it’s supposed to be. I just want to buy it.” Deep breath.

“No, I’m not selling it to you. That’s our policy. If you change the sticker, I won’t sell it to you.” She sets it aside, amongst the detritus, and starts ringing up the other items on the cash register as I consider telling her where to stick them. But I really want the item in question now – it’s a matter of principle, of clearing my name…

I take one more breath, and finally retort “Why don’t you check the cameras then. I have a clear conscience, so you can say whatever you like. I didn’t do anything wrong. And you know, I understand your position, but I really don’t appreciate being accused of something I haven’t done.” I stare her down.

She looks back at me. “Alright, alright, I believe you, that’s why I’m selling it to you.”

Incredulous, I watch as she totals the tally – $13 – and starts to wrap each item in newspaper. Finally she wraps the item in question. I hand over a $20, mentally scanning for something satisfying to say to this woman who is doing exactly what I wanted her to do anyway, what she should be doing because I haven’t done anything wrong, but no words come.

She hands me my change, and a plastic bag emblazoned with repeating red “Thank You”s that’s filled with newspaper and junk and saying nothing nothing! what a loser! I walk out of the store to find the H in a pink mist of frustration.

It occurs to me on the way home how hilarious this is, but not before I have enjoyed stewing in a funk of a mood that matches the weather for obnoxiousness.

Why so hilarious?

Not because I realise that I shouldn’t really give two flying ones what she thought of me when I knew I’d done nothing wrong. When I knew the person that I am wouldn’t bother doing something like that. Because from a tender age the thought of shoplifting leaves me with a telltale blush of shame over my face and chest.

Hilarious, my dear readers, because The Incident was over this:

Awesome paperweight of a horse’s arse. That I fought for with my honour, people. MY HONOUR.

And that…. is that. The moral of the story is, if you’re going to feel like an arse, it might as well be over one.

X

For those interested, these were the other two items. One day I’ll have a surface to display them on.

Milkglass ashtray with studs and scalloping. Gorgeous. Not to be used as an ashtray.

Memphis checked and approved this purchase – bud vase – no chips or scratches. $3.99. Score!


Free Cookies, Free Allen Key – Good Day!

Today’s main task was to make it to the dog‘s new vet – Greenpoint Veterinary Hospital – in time for their appointment. They both had to have rabies vaccines (Australia – being an island – has managed to stay out of the rabies palaver) so I could get their NYC registration put through.

Seeing as today is stinking hot I abandoned my plan to brave the 30 minute walk down Leonard Street and called a town car SUV instead. The dogs seem to have no memory of the crates they flew here in being a bad thing so I piled them both into one of them and they rode in the back.

Back story – Memphis gets car sick – dog spew on the back seat was something I was not prepared to deal with today.

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The waiting room. Memphis wants to know what the frick we are waiting for, Pepe is doing his usual freaked out vibe.

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See?

As far as vet clinics go the waiting room was lovely and very welcoming for humans. Not so much room for the animals but then most of them seemed to arrive in crates any way. The dogs were pretty happy to be released from their plastic prison and allowed to sniff a woman in the waiting room. Thankfully she didn’t object to having her calf licked by a very forward Memphis.

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Hey lady. You want me to lick it again?

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I’m not with him. He’s not with me. I have never. met. him. in. my. life.

They also had a really cute sign on the door to the surgical rooms which I loved. I think we need one for our front door.

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Rough translation: Beware, weird dog. Yep, that about sums it up.

I’ll save you the boring detail because really, nobody wants to hear about my fur babies and how healthy they are, or their idiosyncracies, because everyone knows that it’s only real babies that you’re supposed to gush about and expect to have people pretend to listen to.

Bahahahahahahaha. I’ll say what I want because it’s my blog. The dogs are excellent. They don’t have heartworm (must be common here – they insisted on checking), and Memphis had to be swaddled like a baby so they could hold him still enough to cut his claws – and he howled and howled which if you’ve heard him howl is hilarious. Like, I mean, he really thinks he’s a real dog. Hahahaha.

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Mean mommy – waited in the waiting room, ate the free, freshly baked cookies and coffee that was on offer, laughed at Memphis’ dramatic howling.

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I also noted with interest the clinic’s annual contest: “They swallowed what?” – last year’s grand prize winner swallowed 9 handballs without anybody knowing they were there! HILARIOUS! Sadly, the prize is not free surgery.

We made it home in one piece, think I got mildly ripped off by the towncar who insisted the fare was $12, not $8 (I paid $8 on my way there.. and it’s literally down one street.. but I wasn’t keen on arguing with an angry, flustered Puerto Rican for the sake of $4.) The UPS van was out the front and I wondered if Mr Postman had anything for me?

Of course he did!

The saddle stools I ordered last week finally arrived! Of course, I failed to really look closely at what was going to be involved – and this is when I realise I have to assemble….

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GROAN

The instructions actually offer a delightful experience, and I can’t quite believe what they’ve put in the instructions so I thought I’d better take a picture so you can read for yourself. Clearly they have never tried to assemble flat packed furniture with my husband.

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Whatever drugs they are on, I want some. FREE ALLEN KEY – F$%K YEAH!

While it wasn’t a fun project (there was probably a bit more huffing and puffing than was reasonably required to put it together but I did it MYSELF) it was certainly rewarding to finish and …. they are perfect!

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Loving myself just a little right now…

They do look short here but I didn’t want really high stools. Firstly because I like to be able to reach the floor, secondly because I wanted to be able to use the breakfast bar as a bench space for the MacBook if necessary – which it does quite well for me at this height. Also the vinyl which I was worried was going to look cheap actually is lovely and bright white (not off white like it seems to be in the image) and is a reasonable attempt at faux-leather.

So, I look at my watch and realise it’s 4pm and I haven’t eaten so I rustled up some Trader Joe’s.. ahem.. Trader Giotto’s ravioli with a quick salad, hoof it down and get down to writing this.

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Clever. Trader Joe’s goes Italian. For the record – delicious. Love the tang of the goat’s cheese.

And that, my dear readers, was that. Tonight I’m off to Alex & Fleur’s to catch up – haven’t seen Mr Bodman in over 2 years! Scary to think how quickly time flies.

Until tomorrow –

Arrivederci x


Everlane Pops Up in Soho and McNally Jackson Books me for Lunch

Today was really just a lovely, lovely day.

It didn’t start out perfectly but perhaps that’s the point. After some thunderstorms the other day and a temporary cooling off, the temperature has started to climb again. When I woke up this morning I was really keen to make myself an iced coffee, and remembered hubby had come home with two ice cube trays last night. So I was almost ready to go, dissolved the instant coffee powder, added sugar, opened the freezer and…

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He put them in the freezer, STILL WRAPPED. Not just empty, but he didn’t even take them out of the packaging! I can’t write what I actually said but it was something along the lines of $%&^%)#

After much angst over what to wear I headed out to catch the M train – which I CAUGHT – SUCCESSFULLY! – to Broadway and Lafayette in my first foray into SoHo. For the uninitiated it’s a bit like Surry Hills in Sydney, formerly dubbed “The Wastelands” it now primarily consists of fashion boutiques and clothing retailers, chic cafes and men in strange combinations of clothing and this week, the Everlane pop-up store.

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I arrived about 10 minutes early, so not wanting to seem way too keen, I hung back a little and took a shot of the beautifully done front windows.

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Not a shop – Everlane pop-up in NYC

Inside the ultra-friendly staff helped to navigate the carefully curated collection of designer esssentials. Everything pictured is available online (for shipping in the US – if you want something sent to my address get in touch and I’ll help sort it out!) except the backpacks which are preview only and were only available to order today.

The Classic Tote (pictured in top shelf and left hand side rack below) are super thick, well constructed in heavy raw canvas with an interior pocket and stud fastening. The straps are a gorgeous chocolate leather colour and it’s the perfect size to fit a MacBook, plus a few essential items. I ordered one in black (I know! All those colours and I pick black – but I don’t have a black tote and really need one) at the incredible price of $30.

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Seriously, when was the last time you got a quality bag especially one not made out of synthetic fibres for $30?

Also on show were these Weekender bags, which are priced higher at $95. They’re super-roomy inside but would easily fit enough for a quick weekend getaway and would make a great gift for someone. I’m thinking someone who has EVERYTHING and needs nothing and is a nightmare to buy presents for… hopefully they’re not reading this blog post. But again, it’s the details that make this a designer item at a deeply discounted price. Heavily reinforced straps, chic colourways and stripe motif, pocket detail.. just.. clever.

I also had a sticky beak at the belts and of course those gorgeous tees I blogged about here. I ended up buying two of the v-necked tees – one in black (of course) and white (for something a little different 🙂 haha) and that was that. A well-constructed, classic tote with leather handles and two designer tees for $60 with free shipping. Crazy.

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The Women’s Weekender $95 from Everlane.com

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Women’s The Slim Belts – felt really nice to touch, heavy leather and not rough/unfinished on the inside like some belts can be. Buckle is also sturdy – lots of ticks!

So my earlier giddiness and excitement over the brand was entirely warranted. The presentation and service was what you would expect from a designer label, without the ridiculous price tag – exactly what their messaging promises. Really just a refreshing fashion experience, all in all. So I was strolling through Soho and spied McNally Jackson bookstore – an independent bookseller with a two-level store  at 52 Prince Street with an actual self-publishing service! Someone stirred that little beauty into action while I was there. I wondered what they were publishing.

After perusing the fiction and biography shelves I found myself in the poetry corner and picked up two books – an intensely beautiful book by Pablo Neruda (The Captain’s Verses) and also decided to revisit Field Work by Seamus Heaney – a collection of poems from which we studied in high school and has never left me.

Interestingly both books were written by the authors in some type of (either necessary or self imposed) exile. I’m certain I don’t feel exiled but it could have to do with the feeling of displacement of being in a new city.

I settled down with a coffee and a bagel and before I knew it had read the entire Neruda. Just, breathtaking.

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“Today, this day was a brimming cup,
today, this day was the immense wave,
today it was all the earth.”
– from “September 8th” in The Captain’s Verses, Pablo Neruda

Post-poetry and lunch and in a nice haze I visited hubby at work (the entire office waved to me in unison – kind of first day at a new school style) and had my first trip to Trader Joes – like Norton Street Grocer but WAY bigger, and cheaper. I will blog about it some other time – it’s seriously worthy of its own post at some point.

And I got home, and had TWO parcels! So exciting.

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No more paper plates for the doggies! ORE Woof melamine bowls from wag.com

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My cute side plate order from Anthropologie!

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Loved the presentation of the Anthropologie order – receipt comes in a lined wallet envelope.. gorgeous.

And there you have it, just a really nice, really good day. Hope you have a great one.

x


The Slope, The Sofas – Success!

SO today was all about the sofa.

I wanted to get a sofa that H would like – because if he doesn’t he tends to lie in bed when he gets home and it’s kind of annoying.

In that “where’s my shirt – right there/can’t you ever wear shoes/gets on your nerves after years of living together/I may stab you to death with a teaspoon one day” kind of way.

So the dream is – really – to have a sofa area that will be a bit of a refuge from the storms of the day. Somewhere nice to rest. Somewhere maybe a bit like this?

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I found this inspiration on Pinterest but seeing as they never credited the source, I can’t cite it. Let it be known that I would if I could.

So i found a one year old leather sofa on Craigslist – actually 2 x sofas, and went to see the lovely Samantha who owns them all the way over in Parkslope – a rather attractive end of Brooklyn that has rather fancy schmancy stores.

I saw these things on the way:

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The interior of Jimmy’s town car SUV. Aussies – a town car is like a really clean, nice privately owned taxi that has a set price – the town car ride that cost me $16 today would have easily cost me $45 in Sydney.

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Buses going down a slope. There were four. I was too slow to turn my iPhone sideways.

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My first glimpse of the STATUE OF LIBERTY!!! Far left for those in the back.

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The Brooklyn Casket Co. Not sure I need to see again but liked the eeriness of the guy in the window.

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Beautiful, leafy Parkslope. Reminded me of Woollahra.

And finally, when I got to Samantha’s place, I saw these two beauties:

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Love me some LEATHER

They have a soft, deep seat that is pleasant to linger on. I didn’t but I did love the moment I spent on it awkwardly trying not to acknowledge the fact it was now up to my butt (does anyone else find that a bit weird? Oh, do I want it? Lets see what my butt has to say about it”) but that’s what the H asked for – for me to test it out.

For the record, Samantha was a rather lovely Irish girl, and nothing like Samantha from Sex and the City, though I suppose if she was a raging hornbag I probably wouldnt know.

Unless that invitation to have a cup of tea meant she wanted something more than just tea?

Gosh.


A guilty secret and my public confession

Aaaah guilt. Something as a Catholic x Church of England-er who lived in sin before getting married to a Jewish man I am well versed in. I have a freaking Phd in it. (well, not really but here’s a fun fact – I did study religion at university for two semesters. guiltily)

What religion doesn’t tell you about guilt is that some of the best things you’ll ever do will feel really amazingly good, and then you’ll feel a bit rubbish about them because you’re meant to. This is precisely the reason why I needed to write this post, because I have to confess, and everyone knows once you confess you are absolved of all sin (refer to previously mentioned inherent Catholicism even if it’s not adequately adopted – let’s not talk about the remorseful part for now.)

Soooooooooo, I have a confession to make.

Forgive me, oh for I have sinned.

There is something beautiful online I have been eyeing for some time now. In stolen moments I glance at it, admiring its form, fantasising about the deliciousness of holding it in my hands. Every time I think about it, it brings me so much pleasure imagining how it would feel. Sometimes warm, always hard and smooth.

My love, today when I admired you, you were 50% off – so I told you to come on over.

The guilty pleasure:

They won’t be easy to hide, but why would you want to hide them? Curious Deciduous Salad Plates from Anthropologie.

I bought the puffin and the duck plates. They’re everything he will hate in a salad plate – everything he hates in my taste – whimsical, old fashioned, mismatched. But they were 50% off, and I figure at under $40 including shipping I am entitled to one pretty thing in my life.

Oh the beautifully arranged side salads I will serve on you my darlings. I may even lick you clean a few times – just don’t tell the H.

I thought they’d be pretty either mismatched with other whimsical patterned things, or as featured entree plates served atop the plain modern ones I know we’re going to end up compromising with.

Sigh.

I refuse to feel guilty about something this beautiful. REFUSE!

Oh I’m so going to hell. Can I take them with me?


Subway Fail – Meet Shopping Fail

To the various forms of transportation in NYC

Today, once more, I succumbed to your temptation despite the rain and attempted to use the subway.

This was with somewhat hilarious results as I attempted, and failed, to get to Greenpoint via the M line. Which for the record is not really possible because it’s on the G line.

I actually have to confess, I did end up on Manhattan island at one point, then I caught a new train – the F – which I have never caught before.

And as a result found some marvellous “99c Shops” (Aussies – this is exactly what it sounds like it is so I won’t explain) and bought some of my aforementioned essential items for home making, plus wandered around possibly the most Jewish area in Williamsburg and felt very inappropriately dressed in leopard print pants.

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Leopard Print jeans from Switchblade Stiletto… Macbook by Apple

In the interest of creating a reliable document for people of the future who are using this blog as their holy scripture I feel I need to be as descriptive as possible – to avoid unfortunate misinterpretations that have plagued others in the past.

Essential item acquisitions:

– a saucepan with a lip so I can boil and pour water, and possibly even poach eggs in it if I feel so inclined

– a bread knife and cutting board

– two mugs (thought about buying just one – but that would mean sharing and mornings are not a good time to ask me to share anything) and some stainless steel teaspoons

– white vinegar and a spray bottle (useful for cleaning just about anything)

Feeling accomplished, I picked up some bagels and instant coffee and got home just before it decided to bucket down with rain again. Thought I’d done some good today. Flushed a few tissues down the loo and presto! It’s blocked. So hubby will have to pick up a plunger on the way home.

Mother&%*%

Yep, that’s right. Another essential item. No amount of poking wispy bits of toilet paper down what you can reach with a stick is going to clear a blocked toilet. Not even if you add vinegar.

Too much information?


Just the essentials.. wait.. what are they?

It’s a tricky business moving countries.

As I wrote about previously I have been suffering from a very sore bottom due to a lack of appropriate surfaces to sit on.

Over the past week I have put together a hit-list of essential day to day items, based on the following criteria:

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1. It can not be MacGyvered ie. there is no suitable substitute for the task, not even if MacGyver himself was there to help you (children – if you do not understand this reference all you must know is he had great hair, and could make a bomb out of a paperclip in every episode -pictured, above. Rad, right?).

2. You are either shy of social scenarios or even rejected from them as a result of not having access to the item

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3. You are living on delicious Brooklyn Mac because you don’t have the ability or inclination to make food for yourself with what’s on hand

4. You can’t stop telling everyone about your sore bottom (also somewhat covered by point 2)

The list of essential items is growing as my patience expires but so far it includes:

– a chair

– a cutting surface and knife (if you’re not going totally zen buddhist monk then a paring knife AND a larger knife is handy)

– a hair dryer, brush, and detangling comb (is it just me who cannot live without one of these?)

– a vessel to drink out of – a mug is good for hot and cold but we were dumb and got plastic cups so no tea for me

– something to boil water in. Nope don’t have that yet either.

– a bed. But we already had that, so I didn’t put it at the top of the list. But it’s really quite important.

I’ll come back and add to this as I get more fed up/as time goes along.

Looking at this list, I think even hobos have it more together than we do right now! Hahaha.

Love, me.