Saturday, December 19, 2009


Brian, NYC
Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

Disclaimer: This post is going to be a bit more bloggy than is my usual style, but this is only because I want to record an amazing trip and there is just too much to say as it is. My fellow writers, my readers, please forgive me and enjoy the ride.

Last week, I enjoyed one of the best vacations I've ever had in New York City with BA. It's been several months since I've felt the rush and motion of the city, and it's been a year since I've basked in the big lights of New York, where it feels rightfully like the center of the universe. (It may as well be, after all.)

Our first two days were spent traipsing through Central Park as lovers do while also indulging, as lovers do, in Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, and favorite restaurants, including mine, Prune, where we savored my favorite and most memorable meal of my life: roasted bone marrow. Watching BA enjoy a dish that is so close to my heart in a place so special to me was exquisitely intimate and perfect. To dine at Prune and to enjoy the personal favorites of its owner, Gabrielle Hamilton, is to understand why we, as humans, have the connections we do to food, and to share this deeply primal and limbic desire with another person felt like sharing a piece of myself. (I can only imagine how Hamilton must feel every night.)

The next day, we met my dear friend M at MTV and took a train an hour up the Hudson river to his new home and my other dear friend, A, and their new baby, DC. It was inspiring and at the same moment terrifying to witness the transitions of a new life; I've only ever known M and A as M and A, not M and A and DC, and it was sometimes even a little stressful to witness the redirection of their thoughts and passions to this new little person. I am, as I have always been, amazed by the enormous sacrifice of oneself in the act of parenting. As is their nature, M and A were wonderful hosts and it was lovely to see the new shape of their family and home.

After our short visit up north, BA and I made our way down to Brooklyn to stay with our friend B, a fellow photographer and film artist who took us in and to whom I feel wonderfully closer after just our short stay. Later that evening, BA and I headed back into Manhattan to meander about NYU and then over to the opening of a show at the Alaska House Gallery, "Dry Ice," in which he had four pieces. All night I beamed with pride as we mingled and we drank, and then we hopped back on the subway to Brooklyn, grabbed a few good beers and some pizza, and headed back to B's for some late night R&R.

We woke early and, although it was an incredibly cold day in the city (-6 F windchill), BA and I decided to walk from Brooklyn to Soho, crossing the Brooklyn bridge and heading up Broadway, taking moments of shelter in coffee houses and the galleries along the way. It was fun to be cold and hurried together, rushing through the streets carefree and invigorated by our own warm energy. We dined in the evening at Tom's Restaurant, one of the more touristy ventures of our trip, and found that it actually was not at all overrun with tourists but just a quaint, drab local eggs-and-bacon haunt. (BA had the grilled cheese with bacon, I had a poached egg and toast.) We returned to Brooklyn and B and spent a delightfully exhausting evening at a loft party, returning to talk about art until the wee hours of the morning.

When BA and I finally said our good-byes to B the next day after a walk across the Manhattan bridge and lunch at Katz's on the lower east side, we were thoroughly tired and packed up our things to our final staying place in Brooklyn, our friend C's apartment (C was not there). We huddled close through the dark streets, picked up some bread, eggs, pop tarts and beer, and enjoyed an evening of low-expense relaxation and indoor laughing.

On our final day in the city, it poured, but we carried on, undaunted, through the Manhattan streets beneath a 6-dollar black umbrella. We enjoyed a simple and delicious breakfast at the very green (there is a chalkboard on the wall that screams "don't panic, it's organic" ) Le Pain Quotidian, walked for about an hour in spite of the downpour to central park, then decided on enjoying a beautiful photography exhibit at the Moma touting all of the greats--from Avedon and Arbus to a mass of unknowns. We left, our artistic souls satisfied, and enjoyed a beer at the Heartland Brewery to take some shelter from the rain before heading back down to Soho for one last time. We ended our evening with a second late-night visit to Prune before heading back down to Brooklyn to say good-bye to C and catch a cab to the airport at 4am.

After we arrived home, BA and I were both two exhausted Alaskans, but this is what it is to be young and alive. And this, of course, it what I love most about New York; it always makes me feel alive.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I to the Sea

Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

And so, November has come and gone without so much as a word. (Sorry.)

It is a very peculiar thing when one moves very far away; everything has changed, and so one changes with it. (I am here now, so I may not be there. )

I honestly have not been anywhere but here since I've moved, and last night, looking at BA as we stood on the steps of our house (yes, I have indeed moved again, already), it occurred to me that just six months ago, I was somewhere else entirely-- in my own apartment, circling Golden Gate Park or sitting in the Sutro Bath ruins as the fog rushed in.

I do not mourn it at all. I do not miss the complacent, agreeable weather, even now in this time of winter.

Yes, in Anchorage, we are currently in the dark season; the sun remains always at a distance, never rising up overhead but traveling alongside like a parent teaching her child how to ride a bike. The city is chilled, and I have experienced sub-zero temperatures already, yet it is not harsh as I imagined. The cold makes one feel alive--a flushed face in a white and blue world. A warm place in a dark one.

The past six weeks have been busy, exciting, and so wonderful, watching this change of season that's faster than any I've ever experienced. Between BA, R, my sister, L and the host of other friends I've made here, I've been surrounded by truly good people, and I've done and seen a lot of fun things; a few scattered shows, a weekend trip to Talkeetna, long walks in the waning light of winter, nights with BA, days writing in the kitchen, dinner parties, Thanksgiving with BA's family and L's family with a short skyping to mine--I am nothing but excited for the coming months.

Next week, BA and I will be in New York for the opening of his show in Soho, a conference of mine, and a lot of visits with friends.

It's amazing to me always how much life can change in a year, in a month.

I to the Sea

This is where everything comes back to:
a reflection,
an echo housed in not so safe a place.

as the sea is blue
as the sky,
sponging dry and wet again
as rote lessons of waves.

This is you, buried in my skin,

or my grandmother,
cradling me
in the pool at the Y,
lips the cerulean of crayons,
rivered veins.

Tap on my chest and I'll sing you these blues—
the cornflowers, the aquas, the skies,
clinging to thin skins as tread ponds
or mountain air;

I'll sing to you of shallow water,
the only place we see it all at once:

clouds atop packed earth,

a stillborn,
seal-slick, blue-grey, and heavier than you'd think.

This is you, this part of me weighted as damp denim.

Your cloudy visage plumes
across my surface, colors my depths.

Show me the angry indigo of a flame,
and I'll sing to you of
a coming and going,
a sea mirroring a sky
that holds it all:

my breath, my baby, and
my grandmother's hands,
pink in suds of dish water,
steam curling up in her white hair.

This, after all, is what we're made of:
pulsing crests and ebbing gusts,
bobbing up and down
in a pool
made just for us.

Photo © Ashley Skabar, The port in Anchorage; a special place from which to see the world. Taken with my new Rollei 35, a birthday present.