Happy almost-weekend!

I have a serious book-related post in the works, I swear.

This has been such a loooong week. Aren’t post holiday breaks always like that? Today at work we had a very serious debate in our bullpen area: Which is the more attractive Franco brother?


Or Dave?

Dave won by overwhelming votes. Glad that’s settled. (James has a special place in my heart though, since we both went to see Scarlett Johanssen in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the same showing. He also has been seen by co-workers outside NYU’s Tisch School, bumming cigarettes off students. Poor guy.)

More recently, I posted a link to an article to Facebook about where the Gilmore Girls cast are now, and inevitably, a fierce debate broke out about who is the best of Rory’s boyfriends. I’m Team Jess, and apparently that makes me a party of one because he’s not “good enough” for Rory and just “means trouble.” Whatever. He fulfills my three important criteria: 1) reads good books, 2) listens to good music, and 3) has dark hair. I think it’s because as a goody-two shoes, the boy with the perpetual smirk and the overwhelming sarcasm and the leather jacket is intriguing. I can understand what Rory was thinking here, OK?

In other news, by the end of the week, I revert into a 16-year-old girl (we all do, apparently). So ready for the weekend. Hope you spend it doing something better than debating the merits of fictional boyfriends from the early-aughts.

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Life, lately [picture post]

People can bash smartphone cameras and Instagram all they want, but it allows me to capture all those little private moments I truly savor and want to remember — the satisfaction of whipping up a delicious new recipe, the pleasure of updating a house style/grammar guide (oh, that’s just me?), the colors of fallen autumn leaves beneath my feet, the book quote that made me catch my breath. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

So here’s my life from mid-October to the present.


Tacos, avocados everything, endless coastlines, sunshine rays, sunglasses, sunscreen, sundresses. California is good for the soul. I also befriended a cat, a dog, and a couple of horses.



IMG_2052My first Monday back from our West Coast Trip, I waited for the fifth train to get home because they were all so packed. I kept going up and down from the local platform to the express. An exercise in patience.


IMG_2055“Touchscreen” is one word, kids. “Selfie” is the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year. Aren’t you glad there are people out there like me who care about these things? Grammar Queen status!


IMG_2076A year ago, the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit gave me the best 23rd birthday present a girl could ask for: the best concert ever. EVER. You can’t recreate the crowd and the interaction with the band of that night. Trust me, we’ve tried. We went to our fourth FR concert a few weeks ago. Always a wonderful show, but never as magical as my 23rd birthday. I still listen to their music basically every day. Check these guys out:


IMG_2110Best season of the year! My birthday! Pumpkin everything! Leaves! Boots! Scarves! Sweater weather! Halloween! Thanksgiving! Don’t even try to argue with me.


IMG_2117…on the marathon runners, of course! Human beings are amazing.


kismetI’m still volunteering with Anjellicle Cats Rescue, and loving it. I have made a number of sweet friends through this organization, and not just the feline kind!

IMG_2131I also started volunteering with a second group, PAWS NY (Pets Are Wonderful Support), which I actually found out about through a fellow rescue cat volunteer! This group provides free pet care to elderly and/or disabled NYC residents who are in financial need. This way, they can maintain the wonderfully beneficial bond with their pet. I’ve been walking little Charlie here, for a sweet lady and her bedridden sister who live a couple of blocks away. I’m becoming a dog person! What is happening?


IMG_2080Because you didn’t really think I’d forget about my No. 1 fur baby, could you?


IMG_2142Serendipity is stumbling across the Breakfast At Tiffany’s apartment building on a stroll around the neighborhood. This, after stumbling across Cafe Lallo (yes, the one in You’ve Got Mail) in the Upper West Side the night before.


IMG_2109I wish I could live in Central Park. As long as Ali could come with me.


IMG_2181Too soon, Tiffany’s. Too soon.


No pictures for this one. But I do have recommendations! The Art of Racing in the Rain (for animal lovers), Bel Canto (for music lovers), and The Night Circus (for escapists). Currently exploring Mount Everest with Into Thin Air, to up my nonfiction ante.

Onwards to the next adventure! Tomorrow is a post-work happy hour with office friends, and Wednesday is “An Evening with David Sedaris” at Carnegie Hall. Thursday is rescue cats because I have to keep my coolness-to-nerdiness ratio in check.


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Girl power: Female singers who, well, rock

I went through this really long phase of listening to only bands with lead male singers. This wasn’t a conscious decisions; it’s just nothing with a female singer had really jumped out at me for some time. But since last fall, I’ve discovered a handful of really solid/catchy female-led acts to obsess over.


999517_10151635433996743_1229253383_nThis summer we went to see this electronic band from Scotland, CHVRCHES (pronounced “churches”), that I had discovered on the Internet and that barely anyone had heard of. Most of their music was found on YouTube at the time. Their first album, “The Bones of What You Believe,” just came out a couple of weeks ago. But like all things cool, New Yorkers were on top of it and the show was packed. The bass was way too loud — thank goodness for bringing ear plugs, like old people — but still really fun. And although I already knew I loved the lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, because of our mutual adoration of cats and similar petite frames, her Glaswegian accent and politeness really won me over.

Then she wrote an op-ed for The Guardian about online misogyny toward female singers, I decided she is extra-super awesome.

Purity Ring

248479_10151235235441743_218374958_nLast fall we went to see the Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring (I sense an ironically religious theme to these bands’ names) in Brooklyn, which is what made me interested in the indie electronica genre and was how I was introduced to CHVRCHES, to be fair. Anyway, the girl member, Megan James, has a great voice. And these songs are hard to get out of your head. Especially this one:

I probably don’t need to tell you about Purity Ring anyway, since they played at ACL this past weekend and everything, so they are basically famous.


WEBOKMG_7840Even though I saw these two open for Grouplove last year right after Hurricane Sandy, I forgot to take a photo of them. This New York-based (woohoo) musical duo sing sort of jazzy/soul-inspired pop music. Mostly I remember being mesmerized by Lizzy Plapinger’s overwhelming coolness. I mean, look at the hair! She has this crazy hair and she was wearing deep red lipstick and this flapper-style dress and singing her heart out, and all I could think is, “I will never in my life be that cool.” I know you’re thinking, “purple hair, Rebecca, really?” You had to be there, I guess.

Here’s a video in which blue-haired Lizzy looks cool in a retro diner and cheerleaders inexplicably vomit glitter.

She & Him

She-Him-she-and-him-22649560-560-457Oh, like you didn’t know this was coming. Indie darlings Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are adorable. Their music is fluffy and adorable and vintage-inspired, making it perfect for a July 4 weekend outdoor concert in Central Park. And, oh, hey! I went to that concert. It was hot and humid, but Zooey looked flawless, as always. (Fun fact: People seem to have a strong association between me and Zooey-related things, although I do not care for her TV show, “New Girl.” Like they’ll be all, “Zooey D is growing out her bangs?!? You know who needs to hear about this? Rebecca!” I kid you not. But I do care deeply about Zooey’s bangs, I do.)

I know it doesn’t fit with the theme of this post, but my main tiff with She & Him is that poor M. Ward gets shoved into the background a lot. Check out his solo stuff or work with indie supergroup Monsters of Folk to get a real feel for this guy’s talents.

Anyway, She & Him did a second encore at their Central Park concert this summer, and performed a cover of “I Put A Spell On You” that was, well, spellbinding. Zooey held on to those notes like they were going to run away! The woman is talented. And flawless. Have I mentioned that yet?


658ca3de6c101564273c1f1260977347So in case you live under a rock (or don’t obsess over these things, like I do), you know that this 16-year-old New Zealand-based singer-songwriter has been taking the music charts by storm with her single “Royals.” While this seems very random to me, it is a great song. Her whole album, “Pure Heroine,” is worth a listen. Or two. Or three. I have to go with the majority on this one: girl’s got talent.

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I turn 24 in 36 minutes and counting. I keep waiting for Hagrid to break down my door at midnight and tell me that Hogwarts is terribly sorry, I’ve had magical powers this whole time and my owl just got quite lost all those years ago.


In all seriousness, I hate drawing attention to myself on my birthday, but it is always a weird awakening this whole aging thing. I distinctly remember turning 10 because the waiter at whatever restaurant I picked said something like “You’ve reached the two-digit years!” and I realized it is very likely I will only be in the “two-digits” for the rest of my life. Weird. I’ll probably feel nauseous when I turn 30.

24 is a pretty insignificant age. You still have to pay extra for renting a car, as Sean and I are reminded as we rent a car for our highly anticipated Highway 1/Pacific Coast Highway tour of California from San Diego to San Francisco this upcoming week.

Half of me can’t believe I’m already 24. I feel like just yesterday I was attending high school marching band practice, applying to colleges, studying for AP exams, shopping for my prom dress. But at the same time, I feel a lot older than 24 sometimes. I’m already married — a rarity for a 20-something in this city — I have a college degree, I’m entering my third year of full-time employment (say what?!?), I don’t live with my parents, I’m responsible for the care of another life (a cat’s, but still). I help pay for rent, bills, groceries, insurance. I recycle. I pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy. That makes me feel so old.

I never feel so much 24 as when I stay up too late on a weeknight or go to happy hour on a Tuesday or eat cookies for “second breakfast” at work or buy yet another coat because you can never have too many and it’s FALL!!! I mean, married and employed or not, you’re only 24 once. When I find out other people are buying houses in the suburbs or are having babies (and are more or less my age), I never feel so young and confused by their extremely responsible behavior.


Even though it’s technically our belated “summer” vacation, I feel like this California trip is partially a really big birthday present. I’m so, so excited to not think about work for a full 10 days and see the Pacific Ocean, eat amazing fish tacos, discover new craft breweries, learn more about American history, plow through another book on the long flight there and back, and generally get a break from the “East Coast” culture.

Last night when I had just stepped into the shower, Sean was trying to brush his teeth and the ENTIRE GLASS SHELF of the medicine cabinet somehow got stuck to the toothpaste tube, knocking a whole bunch of stuff off the shelf, and breaking my water glass in the process. As Sean angrily swept up the glass shards, he banged his head really hard on the sharp corner of the medicine cabinet door. Sign: It’s time for vacation.

This evening, as I left the office (late, I might add) from the subway, a rat practically RAN ACROSS MY TOES and dove into a pile of trash. At a busy intersection of Lexington in midtown! There were a million people around! How is this possible?!? Sign: It’s time for vacation.

Tonight, as Sean was loading our last pre-vacation round of laundry into the machines, a mouse stared at him curiously. In our basement. Sign: It’s time for vacation.

I love New York, I really do, but what’s up with the perpetual dog-urine-and-pot smell?!? There’s a really great skit in the third season of Portlandia when the temporary mayor of Portland complains that the city isn’t a real city because of this, that, and the other reason. At one point, people start dumping buckets of urine on the streets of Portland to give it that authentic, urine-ish urban smell. Soooo accurate.


(I used to naively assume this was just dog urine, but one day I was walking home in my own neighborhood, and a homeless, handicapped man started peeing RIGHT NEXT TO ME on the side of the road. I stupidly did a double-take and practically sprinted away in horrific realization. It’s not like I was the only person walking by either.)

Anyway. Time to escape this place for a bit. I’m so excited to explore San Diego and San Francisco. I’m a little wary of L.A., but I’m more than willing to give it a shot.

Tomorrow we’re celebrating with a fancy dinner at Le Parisien. Because you can never go wrong with French cuisine on your special day.

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Don’t you love New York in the fall?

“It makes me want to buy new school supplies. I’d buy you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” – the best movie ever (or maybe not, but one of my personal favorites, so pretty close to the best ever)


I feel like I talk about You’ve Got Mail too often, and I apologize, but it is my go-to “comfort” movie. You know how people have comfort foods? Chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, baked mac ‘n cheese — usually something not so good for your body, but perfect for your soul? That’s what “comfort” movies are. They might not be life-changing or Oscar-worthy, but they fill your insides with warm happiness and make you go back for seconds.

And usually you know the whole film’s script by heart. *raises hand*

I have seen You’ve Got Mail what must be at least 50 times since it came out in 1998, despite never having actually owned this film on VHS or DVD. I just borrow it from the library or rent it at least once a year, and retreat to my happy place. There is just so much to love about this movie! But for simplicity’s sake, I’ve narrowed it down to 10 reasons.

12021906341. Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelley, owns the most adorable children’s book store. And her attitude about children and reading is just so great. “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.”

2. This is one of those movies that romanticizes New York, to borrow Woody Allen’s words, “all out of proportion.” And I love it! You can even see a nod to how unrealistically romanticized it is when Kathleen is opening up her shop at the beginning of the film and says, all love-struck, “Don’t you just love New York in the fall? Isn’t today just a beautiful day?” and in the background, a cab driver and another automobile driver are shouting their lungs out at one another. Just like the real New York.

It shows all the charming aspects of the city — the picturesque change of seasons, the cozily decorated shop windows, the bustling street fairs and farmers’ markets, the tiny cafes where you could meet the love of your life — and none of the grime or grit. The Upper West Side, where the story takes place, is truly lovely. Those brownstones!

3. Having now lived in the city for more than a year, it’s fun to spot New York institutions that are still around and seen in the movie. There’s H&H Bagels, Grey’s Papaya, and Cafe Lalo, for starters. It’s also very true to life that even though it’s easy to hate on corporate coffee like Starbucks, everyone seems to go there before work (isn’t it ironic that Kathleen is so bent out of shape about megachain Fox Books moving into the neighborhood, but happily pays for an overpriced Starbucks latte?). I don’t go to Starbucks often, but when I do, it’s usually a block from my office, and I always run into one of my co-workers.

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are, can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self. Tall! Decaf! Cappuccino!”

(I’m either a tall, skinny dirty chai latte or a tall blonde coffee, black. Coffee orders sound kind of like you are ordering up people. Don’t think about it too much.)

tumblr_mu0v7rs8IN1sjd89no7_12804. I adore the nods to Pride and Prejudice in the story. It’s not just that the characters discuss the book (or that it is one of my favorites), it’s that their feud-turned-romance parallels the story of Darcy and Elizabeth, right down to their contrasting socioeconomic classes and lifestyles. The movie is also a nod to the black-and-white holiday film The Shop Around the Corner, in which two shop associates unknowingly pen love letters to one another. So that’s cute.

5. Meg Ryan’s character’s adorable, shabby chic apartment! Her adorably simple and monochrome wardrobe! I’m pretty sure this fictional character is responsible for my lifelong obsession with cardigans and a brief stint with turtlenecks, too. Did I mention her adorable children’s bookstore? So much adorable!

6. Tom Hanks in this movie is just so impossibly charming. When I think of Tom Hanks, I usually think of him as a “dad” figure because I’ve grown up with him as an actor and he’s done some kids’ movies, and honestly, he’s not the stereotypical hunky Hollywood romantic lead. He’s got that goofy curly hair and the big laugh, but Nora Ephron’s dialogue just makes him impossible not to like!

I mean, that line! The heartbreaking line. You know the one. “Well… if I hadn’t been Fox Books and you hadn’t been The Shop Around the Corner, and you and I had just, well, met… I would have asked for your number, and I wouldn’t have been able to wait twenty-four hours before calling you and saying, ‘Hey, how about… oh, how about some coffee or, you know, drinks or dinner or a movie… for as long as we both shall live?'” Hello! Marry him. Marry him right now, Kathleen Kelley. You could totally see falling for his character via email, and then just deciding once you meet him that the goofy hair isn’t so bad. Also, I hear the guy does a great Woody the Cowboy impression.

7. I love how outdated all the technology in this movie is now. Dial-up internet! AOL Instant Messenger! Macbooks that could double as door stops! People sitting at home waiting for their land lines to ring! References to VCRs! The next time you watch this movie, pay special attention to the fact that the only two programs Kathleen and Joe appear to have on their laptops is a shortcut to email and another to AOL’s strangely primitive form of “the Internet.” No word processing programs, no Solitaire. Nothing else. That really makes me laugh.

8. Also some of the New York stuff is outdated, too. Mainly the great line from Christina, the 20-something sales associate at The Shop Around the Corner: “If we fold, I won’t be able to find a new part-time job. And then I won’t be able to afford my rent, and I’ll have to move! To Brooklyn!” Said with much horror. Brooklyn is where all the cool kids go these days, Christina. And it’s actually becoming more expensive to live there at a faster rate than Manhattan. Who would’ve thunk?


9. Speaking of Brooklyn, I’m pretty sure Kathleen’s boyfriend in this movie is the original hipster. Here he is with a typewriter! No laptops for George! He here is celebrating the virtues of radio over television! Here he is using phrases like “Jeffersonian purity” to describe independent businesses! Here he is fearful of dating Republicans! I bet he lives in Williamsburg these days.

10. The ending to this movie is just so perfect. Not to spoil it for you or anything, but it is a rom-com, and *big gasp* THE TWO MAIN CHARACTERS END UP TOGETHER. And no other movie’s ending makes me feel quite so warm and fuzzy inside except for maybe the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s because not only do Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak kiss in the rain, Holly also recovers her lost cat, Cat, from the dumpster in the alley. This ending mainly moves me because I find it very upsetting that she would disown her cat and throw him out into the alley, so I am deeply relieved when she finds him again. (Oh, by the way, there are no alleys in Manhattan!!! Way to go, Hollywood writers.)

Anyway, the ending to You’ve Got Mail involves a dog, so it’s also a winner.

you've got mail ending

Do you have a favorite movie you could watch again and again? Even if you know it isn’t exactly a “good” movie, per say?

I’m also a huge sucker for the Little Women version with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon. I especially love Christian Bale in it as Laurie, a fact that disgusts most young men in my life, who prefer to think of him only as Batman these days.


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Pumpkin season: Two recipes

Yesterday was the first official day of fall, but with early morning and evening temperatures already dipping into the low 50s here, I’ve already been getting into the spirit of some warm-your-belly-from-the-inside autumnal cooking.

Having a good excuse to cook with pumpkin — such a festively colored food — has been fun. I’ve never really made anything with pumpkin except for pumpkin bread and, of course, pumpkin pie, so I’ve been experimenting with incorporating canned pumpkin puree into main dishes. And I’ve been really pleased with results!

Pumpkin is very mild by itself, and its creamy texture and faint sweetness pairs really well with the smokiness and spiciness of sausage, it turns out. I use only chicken and turkey sausage because it has much less fat than pork sausage and is just as flavorful, in my opinion. My grocery store sells both fully cooked chicken sausage and uncooked turkey and chicken sausages in casings, all in a variety of flavors. Since I live in an apartment and can’t grill meats, I find using sausage keeps meat — which I ordinarily only have the time to saute or bake — interesting and flavorful.

Anyhow, one standard size can of unsweetened pumpkin goes a long way. One can was sufficient for both these recipes and a little extra leftover, which I’ve been adding by the spoonful, along with some cinnamon-sugar and nutmeg, to the occasional morning bowl of oatmeal. It’s almost like pumpkin bread…almost. 🙂

Without further ado:

Pumpkin-black bean soup with chicken-chorizo sausage:

Adapted from Closet Cooking

pumpkin black bean soup


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chicken-chorizo sausage, quartered and sliced (I used Al Fresco’s Chipotle Chorizo Chicken Sausage)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 15-oz. can reduced-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 T butter
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (for topping)


  1. Heat oil in pan. Add onions and saute until tender. Then add garlic and saute until fragrant.
  2. Add chorizo and saute until slightly browned and thoroughly heated.
  3. Add chicken stock, pumpkin puree, potato, beans, oregano, cumin, and cayenne. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
  6. Swirl in milk and stir in butter until melted. Top each bowl with black pepper and fresh chopped cilantro.

Pumpkin-sage farfalle with sweet Italian turkey sausage:

Adapted from Rachel Ray, served with roasted lemon-garlic broccoli and cauliflower

pumpkin sage pasta


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Spanish onion
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 6 sprigs fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • 1 T corn starch (or 2 T flour, for thickening)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat or enhanced (such as Barilla Plus) farfalle pasta
  • parmesan, grated (for topping)


  1. Prepare pasta to al dente, following box instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat and saute turkey sausage until brown, breaking apart with wooden spoon. Drain excess grease.
  3. Add onion and garlic to skillet with sausage, saute until tender and fragrant.
  4. Add bay leaf, sage and 1 cup broth to pan and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  5. Add the remaining 1 cup broth and pumpkin puree. Stir until smooth and well-combined. Heat until bubbling.
  6. Add milk, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper and corn starch. Simmer 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens.
  7. Add cooked pasta to sauce. Top each serving with freshly grated parmesan.

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Honeysuckle and Dirty Drawers: ‘The Sound and the Fury’

It’s been a busy summer, full of many happy things, but especially books. When the humidity and oppressive heat and pestering mosquitoes roll in, I can’t help but want to dive into some Southern lit and hear the drawled out vowels lift themselves from the pages.

This summer I finally conquered Gone With the Wind (final thoughts: glad to cross it off the list, but ehhhh) and re-read Flannery O’Connor’s delightfully dark collection of short stories, A Good Man is Hard to Find (highly recommend). I guess I’m just more of a Southern Gothic than magnolias-and-moonlight kind of girl.

Eden Gardens State Park 018

Confession: Every time I read a Southern Gothic book, this is the setting I visualize: this is an old home near my hometown in Florida, and is now part of a state park (Eden Gardens in Santa Rosa Beach). I mean, just look at this property!

Eden Gardens State Park 009

There’s just something about the racism, the crippling weight of tradition, the sweltering heat, and the unwavering pride that makes for some wonderfully brooding, depressing reading.

And nothing embodies that more than this book:

sound_and_the_furyI’ve read a lot of Faulkner before — his short stories, As I Lay Dying (multiple times), Light in August (and wrote an in-depth analysis on unwed, pregnant Lena Grove I’m awfully proud of), and Go Down, Moses. These things happen when you go through your high school and college education in the South, and opt to take an honors-level Southern Lit class.

But somehow I’d never delved into that novel for which Faulkner is most known, his “magnum opus” if you will, The Sound and The Fury. I kept seeing it pop up on “100 greatest novels of all time” types of lists, like the one compiled by the Modern LibaryThe Sound and the Fury is No. 6, and I’d read all of the books above it except No. 1, James Joyce’s Ulysses, which even I, a prolific reader, am quite intimidated by.

The most I knew about this book previously was the title was inspired by that quote from Shakespeare (Macbeth, I believe):

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

So I started reading the Faulkner book, and get this: the first chapter is from the point of view of a 30-year-old mentally challenged man. It literally begins with a tale told by “an idiot.” This first chapter (of four) was my absolute favorite. Because Benjy, “the man-child,” has no concept of time, he flows through various memories, sometimes shifting time periods mid-sentence, as various sensory cues in his present-day environment — and later, visual images in his memories — bring other related memories back to the surface.

Like I said, I’ve read Faulkner before, but nothing like that. It was simultaneously very frustrating and deeply engrossing. Even though this chapter doesn’t make full sense until the reader progresses through the remainder of the novel and its other three perspectives, you instantly are overwhelmed with a sense of despair and hopelessness that continues throughout the book. Benjy is constantly wailing, and someone is always telling him to hush. At some point, you feel like you kind of need to wail in pain, too.

With patience and concentration, the puzzle pieces of the story fall together. (I once heard someone say everyone tells you Faulkner is like a puzzle missing a few pieces, but they believe it’s more like a complete puzzle, just with a completely different picture than you thought you were laboring over.) On one level, this is the story of the gradual decay and decline of a great “noble” Southern family in the grueling post-Civil War years. Surprise, surprise there, I know.

But I think on a greater level, this story is applicable to all of mankind as we become slaves to our own selfishness and that greatest, most heartless master of all, Time:

“A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired but then time is your misfortune.” –The Sound and the Fury

I don’t want to give too much away, but I was describing it to Sean and said, “It’s got everything depressing you can imagine — depression, alcoholism, suicide, bankruptcy, gambling, sexual promiscuity, illegitimate children, divorce, implied incest, castration, racism, mental retardation, you name it. And it’s amazing.”

I mean, there’s a part where the smell of honeysuckles is mentioned again and again in a very choking sense (“Liquid putrefaction like drowned things floating like pale rubber flabbily filled getting the odor of honeysuckle all mixed up … I had to pant to get any air at all out of that thick gray honeysuckle … Honeysuckle was the saddest odor of all, I think”). I mean, you could write a whole essay on the honeysuckle imagery in Quentin’s neurotic, pre-suicide chapter! English major alert, over here.

You could also write many papers about how the brothers’ glimpse of their sister Caddy’s dirty drawers in the childhood memory from the first chapter is incredible foreboding for her later promiscuity and the family’s corrosion. Not that I’d want to write a paper, buuuut my brain thinks these ways, unfortunately.

Anyway, this is just to say that The Sound and the Fury is well-worth its acclaim as a modern American classic. And it is definitively a part of the American South canon. It’s a book that demands to be read and re-read, processed, digested, manipulated.

But like I said, I’m a sucker for Southern Gothic. Sean’s waiting for me to just go ahead and get my PhD in the subject.

southern litP.S. Have you seen the trailer for James Franco’s attempt at translating As I Lay Dying to film? I’m a little wary, but I’ll probably watch it anyway, having read the book at least four times.


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The statistical probability of rain


Imagine a Venn diagram. This Venn diagram is my life. On the left-hand side we have “days I forget to bring an umbrella.” On the right we have “days it rains.” In the middle, intersecting section is “days I have to go grocery shopping.”

This is a fact.

This has happened the past 27 times I have gone grocery shopping. Or at least the last three. Two times ago, I looked like I had just taken a shower or dived in a pool by the time I got home. Or more accurately, Cat at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and so NOT the ever-glamorous Audrey Hepburn.

The most recent time, I waited about three minutes inside Fairway, and then just trudged home in the downpour, accepting my umbrella-less, grocery-full fate.

I also sometimes throw in a circle called “days I am wearing sandals” into the mix. And then when I step in a puddle of dog urine and god knows what else, I’m all like *cue Gossip Girl gif*:


The good thing about grocery shopping in a city is that it is always a good workout. I mean, I think carrying 10+ pounds of food home 3/4 of a mile and then up three flights of stairs counts for something. It counts for an extra something if it is 5 degrees outside and snowing (been there, done that), and of course, if it is 90 degrees and pouring.

These are the stories I am going to tell my grandchildren. “Listen here, youngsters, back in the day, I didn’t have a car to tow my groceries home. No, sir. I had to carry them. Up a hill. Both. Ways.”

oregon-trail-exposure“I also didn’t have adequate air conditioning. The little air conditioning I had, my cat liked to turn off in the middle of the night.”

My grandchildren are going to think I was a pioneer on the Oregon Trail.

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Being an author groupie: David Sedaris love

Hello, dear blog. How I have neglected thee. Let’s talk about one of my favorite semi-famous people.

David Sedaris

This evening I was re-reading one of my favorite David Sedaris’ books, Me Talk Pretty One Day, the copy of which is on loan to me via Lech-brary (my “book club” of sorts with college friends via snail mail) from my friend Amanda, who accompanied me the first time I got to meet David Sedaris. And then I realized I was using the same bookmark I’ve been using for the past month — a bookmark advertising an Evening with David Sedaris at Carnegie Hall — that David Sedaris himself placed in my copy of his latest work, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, when I went to see him a second time for his Brooklyn book signing last month.


Oh, and that Carnegie Hall event? I’m going to that too, thanks to Sean surprising me with tickets (that were supposed to be for my birthday, which is why I’m no longer allowed to open the mail). Is it possible to be an author groupie?

I have loved David Sedaris since I was in high school, when we read one of his essays in AP English. Being a nerd, I immediately checked out every book of his they had at our local public library. I fell in love. Such intelligent humor, such astute observations, such thought-provoking musings, all neatly wrapped up in short essays you can devour in under 15 minutes a piece.

People often ask me if I think I’d ever write a book. (Yes, really. It always makes me feel flustered and slack-jawed.) And if I ever did, it would be something along the lines of what Sedaris writes. I would never, ever, ever attempt to duplicate the craft he has so trademarked and mastered, but what he writes about — his life, real characters, everyday trials and emotions — that’s what captivates me. That’s what I know I can capture on a page. It’s like journalism, only you’re allowed to say when certain kinds of people annoy you, haha.

The first time I met David (we’re tooootally on a first-name basis now, of course), I was most awkward. This was my senior year of college, and I skipped an afternoon class and switched out of my college newspaper duties to drive with Amanda down to Houston for that night’s event. We got to the theater hall reeeeally early, and quickly realized we were BY FAR the youngest people there. But it didn’t matter because just there was David Sedaris, the man who had so wittily narrated the stories I loved, who had made me laugh out loud in public on the bus, who inspired me to write about the everyday book-worthy stories happening all around us everywhere we look and go.

At this particular event, he was offering each guest either a dirty or clean joke. I opted for clean. “Didya hear the one about the corduroy pillows?” he asked, while drawing a sketch of wart-nosed witch in my copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames with Sharpie.

“Um,” was my oh-so-charming response.

“They made headlines.”

Signed books swag.

Signed books swag.

Amanda burst out laughing, probably because I failed to laugh, too busy sweating profusely and trying not to gush out excessive praise to this stranger. Only later would I realize the irony of the joke, unbeknownst to Sedaris, as I would spend the next two years of my life writing headlines as a reporter and copy editor. (Not making them, thankfully.) If anyone should get and appreciate a good headline pun, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME.

This second time around, in Brooklyn’s tech-hip DUMBO neighborhood, I was going to play it cool. Even though I went alone, everything seemed to be going better. The crowd was mostly 20- and 30-somethings in jeans and thrift store sneakers. David engaged the audience in a gut-busting Q&A (“Did you ever draw or write anything in someone’s book at a signing that they didn’t like?”), read a poignant and hilarious chapter out of his new book about airplane travel and the limbo of airports, and shared some snippets of his diary entries from his worldwide tour.

Then I waited in line for more than two hours to meet a man I had already embarrassed myself in front of.

When I finally stood before him, he was eating a salad for a very late lunch and held up a Saran-wrapped deli cookie. “Are you hungry? Would you like my cookie?”


I will take that cookie home and keep it for decades until it is an archaic rock, and I will be the weirdo who brings it out when I have guests. “See this?” I’ll croon, gently stroking its stale, moldy surface. “This baked good was given to me personally by THE David Sedaris, most esteemed author of our present time. In my most authoritative opinion.”

Not a pretty picture.

“No, I’m fine,” I lied, praying my stomach didn’t growl audibly in the next five minutes.

Here’s the thing: David Sedaris spends at least five minutes with every. single. one. of his event attendees. Hence, the two-hour wait. But those five minutes are so, so worth it because he makes you feel like you matter. And the thing is, you really do matter to him, because these days he gets a lot of his writing material from the people he meets while traveling. He otherwise lives a fairly isolated life with his life partner in a tiny “hamlet” in southern England.

On this occasion, he talked to me about why he likes going to Le Pain Quotidian (because their oatmeal is excellent and you get to sit at a large table with strangers) and whether I was going to read his book or the one I was already reading (The Great Gatsby) on the train ride back to the Upper East Side.

I’m pretty sure after he meets me a third time at Carnegie Hall, we’ll basically be besties. (:

I highly recommend any of Sedaris’ books. My personal favorites are Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. And listening to him narrate his “Santaland Diaries” — the tale of his days as one of Santa’s elves at Macy’s flagship NYC store, made famous on NPR’s “This American Life” — has become a holiday tradition for me.

Here’s a fun interview from May that David Sedaris did with Jon Stewart, in which he talks about his hilarious book tour experiences:


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Current obsessions: Frightened Rabbit + JGL

I’ve listened to this song/watched this video approximately a gazillion times. However many that is. I saw Frightened Rabbit live in early April for the third time, and my obsession has only grown. So, so good.

JGL-joseph-gordon-levitt-32135050-500-750I keep having dreams about Joseph Gordon-Levitt just showing up at the apartment and we’re all besties and we (me, Sean, Ali, and Joe) just hang out and watch movies and listen to music and talk about stuff.

It’s very unsettling because dream-Rebecca is just like whatever, no big deal, but I’m also conscious of the fact that I’m dreaming and slightly freaking out. This last one is weird because it’s not like I’ve watched JGL in any movies or anything lately. I haven’t even pinned any pictures of him on Pinterest like a teenage girl in months!

I’m such a good wife.

Although I can’t resist posting this one…

tumblr_miqzy410T71qa5ga7o1_1280How precious is Sally Field fixing Joe’s bowtie for him on the way to the Oscars? This is one of the only times in my life when I’ll use the word “precious,” by the way.

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