Posts Tagged ‘reading’

New York in a New York Minute

MoMA Gallery SpaceI’m sure I’ll be posting a bit more, with photos and better descriptions, but Evan and I got back from our New York weekend today.

We left from Gatwick airport Friday morning and had a 2-hour delay off the bat since our plane didn’t arrive on time. After an uneventful flight — Evan slept and I finished reading Youth in Revolt (very funny) — we got to Newark, took the train to our hotel (the W, very nice) and got ready to go out to dinner.

We had Greek food (yum), went to see Towards Darkness (unfortunately the theater wasn’t very full, though it was well-received by the friends and family who came), and went out for drinks at the Thirsty Scholar (fun!).

Saturday we went to MoMA (very cool, check out the photo), walked through Central Park (always lovely), had Mexican food in DUMBO (quite an adventure to get to, though the food was delicious), and went out with friends at B Bar.

Sunday, we had brunch (I miss American-style brunch), Evan bought a camera, we had drinks with a friend, then spent a long time in Newark airport waiting for our flight (we were early). The flight was bumpy. Evan slept; I didn’t. I did, however, completely conk out on the train in from Gatwick. I also managed to take an accidental 6-hour nap this afternoon (oops) while Evan was at work.

More about the weekend soon.

Also, check out my latest Hitched article, “Online Tools to Keep You Organized.”

Becoming a Regular Customer Has Its Benefits

Brasserie Al HamraToday, on my usual afternoon outing to grab some coffee or tea, possibly some food and some time away from my flat, I headed to one of my now-regular haunts, Brasserie Al Hamra. I’ve written about the place a few times before, since it’s a nice, comfortable place to sit and read or work, or just watch the news.

I always get a friendly hello from the people who work there, and of course give a friendly hello back. They know where I like to sit — today people were sitting at my usual table when I got in, but after they left and the table was cleaned, I was offered the seat. I was more than happy to make the switch. They also know what I like to order. The first many times I went there, I was on a cappuccino kick, but lately I’ve been going for mint tea.

About 30 minutes after I switched seats today, when I was deep into a Believer article, the younger waiter came over with a croissant and said it was on the house since I’m in so often. Sweet! Of course, I thanked him and the manager profusely, then ordered another pot of tea.

Anyway, it’s nice to have people remember me in this new city, and I’m glad I found a small, nice place where I could feel comfortable and welcomed. If only they had free WiFi there, it would be absolutely perfect.

Book Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the ButterflyOver the weekend, Evan’s grandparents recommended that I read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby and gave me their copy. Although I’ve been hearing the name thrown about for a while and now there’s a film of it, I didn’t really know what it was about.

It’s a small book with large type, and I decided to give it a go on Monday afternoon over a cappuccino at Brasseria Al Hamra, a bright and cozy cafe with a cheerful landscape mural and two modern marble fireplaces. And from the moment I started, I knew I’d be staying put until I finished the book — or until they kicked me out, whichever came first.

Thankfully, I didn’t get kicked out, and I spent about two hours completely engulfed in Bauby’s story of suffering a massive stroke and living with locked-in syndrome, his only way to communicate with the outside world being by blinking his left eye. He talks about his flights of imagination while trapped in his body, his memories of his past life, which was cut extremely short at 43, and how he managed his day-to-day life, from going through therapy and bathing to accepting visitors.

I was quite overwhelmed by sadness while I was reading. I felt like I was in his mind with him, feeling his frustrations. And it also made me think about what it would be like if someone I loved were in such a situation. He often focuses on his children’s visits, which are particularly sad.

I can’t wait to see the move and see how they adapted this story to the screen. And though I don’t always like stories that make me sad, this is one I feel is important. Maybe it’s because it’s true. Maybe it’s because despite its sadness it’s still full of hope — and not a religious, superstitious, “this is the way things are meant to be in the universe” kind of hope, but a survivalist, human and parental kind of hope. Fittingly, though, Bauby died two days after this book was published in France.

Are you sold yet? Go check it out — it’ll only take a bit of your time to read, and it’s sure to leave a lasting impression. And if you’ve seen the movie, let me know what you thought about it.

New Sidebar Feature: What I’m Reading

I decided to try out the shared rss feed I can create from Google Reader and let everyone in on the things I’ve been reading that I find interesting. Check it out below my Twitter posts and let me know what you think — especially if you want more than 5 links down there.