Scenes from a Week, East Coast Edition (9.29.2014-10.5.2014)

 

2014-09-29 15.17.20

Monday

Something happened my first week in New York City. I picked up a copy of New York magazine–because I wanted to buy a copy in New York and because I wanted to read the article on Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who is carrying around a mattress as a way to protest that her alleged rapist is still on campus. But buying the magazine is not what happened. It happened but it’s not the thing that happened that I want to discuss. As I sat on the sidewalk at Citi Field after the last game of the season, waiting for a friend who was in turn waiting for the Astros’ bus to leave the grounds, I pulled out the wrinkled copy of New York I had in my bag and started the crossword puzzle in the back. I foud it riveting. I didn’t want to stop until I finished it. And finish it I did, almost 24 hours later, in a cafe in Binghamton, NY.

 

2014-10-01 11.40.50

Wednesday

I rode BC Transit for the first time in years. Everything in Binghamton felt like the first time in years: taking the bus, sitting in a professor’s office (I caught up on work while my friend taught), eating local food, even seeing the leaves change color. I took many pictures of Binghamton while I was there. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it. Or maybe I was looking for a place that meant something to me, to the me before I got married, had a child, became an editor. Oddly I felt like at the end of the day I was going to take the bus back to my old address, the place I lived in before I met my husband. Being in Binghamton felt like finding one of my selves again. I needed that.

Plus, I had a good ol’ time in Binghamton, in general.

2014-10-02 13.58.15

Thursday

Thursday was busy, but it was rough: I was getting a cold and Thursday was the day it tried to run me over. As I type this I am feeling much better even if I’m still sniffling, clearing my throat, and blowing my nose. I would not let this cold stop me though. My friend had invited me to talk to her graduate students about using Twitter as an early-career academic. It would be my first time stepping in front of a Binghamton University classroom as Dr. Silva–and I was elated, cold meds haze notwithstanding. As I picked out my clothes, I thought long and hard: what would Dr. Silva look like in Binghamton? Of course I didn’t have the outfit I would have wanted to wear (gotta pack light) but I wore the outfit in the picture and felt good about it.

I still wonder what students think when they see a Latina at the front of the classroom. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay on the tenure track. But the reasons to get off outnumbered the ones to stay.

2014-10-04 15.59.42

Saturday

One of the reasons I took this trip was to a) see the Astros in New York b) recharge my creative and emotional batteries. Some people do that at a lake or at a cabin in nature. Me, I come to New York. It’s about my family, my friends, my research, my history. But it’s also about the city. As I walk, I want to write and take pictures. I look at newspaper headlines and I get ideas. People talk to me about their lives here and my mind wanders and makes connections between the conversation at hand and something I read years ago. At times all I need to do is look up from my uptown bus window and take a picture.

What I didn’t expect was that I’d be flooded with memories and I’d be trying to hold back my tears as I walked to the bus stop.

 

Scenes From a Week (9.15.2014-9.21.2014)

2014-09-15 13.54.26Monday

I have scars on my right hand. One is a scar on my wrist from an operation when I was 10 or 11 years old. The other two are cooking scars. Yes, cooking scars. I burned my hand a couple of weeks ago when I pulled out a rack from the oven and tried to put it back in. The other one was from banging my hand on the microwave door over a month ago. Freak accident. Sometimes people talk about the scars we get from life events. I get real scars from kitchen accidents.

2014-09-17 17.25.52Wednesday

iOS 8 released. I tried to update my iPad but it had a minor freak-out. (Maybe it thought I was going to trade it for a fancy new iPhone 6 Plus.) I went to an Apple Store on my way to the ballpark for my last Astros game at home this year. As I waited for my iPad to reboot, I looked up and saw glass, rain, and lights. For a moment I stopped hearing the Maroon 5 concert playing in the store and I stopped worrying about where my life was headed. For a moment all I wanted to do was stare at that ceiling.

2014-09-18 18.17.08Thursday

There’s a pizza chain in Houston that I have fallen in love with: Pink’s Pizza. I believe finding a good pizza place is part of making a new place your home. I particularly love their pizza because their slices reminds me of New York pizza: thin and cheesy and large. When our server brought our slices over, I showed E how to fold her pizza so she could eat it. However, she chose to keep it flat and take a bite. The New Yorker in me had a minor freak out. FOLD, PLEASE.

2014-09-21 10.41.54Sunday

I left for New York mid-afternoon. New York is where I come to restore my creative and emotional tank. This time around, I’m hoping to do more thinking about my postcard book and send some postcards too. I came prepared with postcard stamps. Also, my knitting needles and yarn. I’m ready to party.

 

Scenes From a Week (9.5.2014-9.14.2014)

Houston Big City

Saturday

I have been in Houston for well over a year. Although I am no longer an academic, I think a lot about what it means for me to live in Houston and whether I consider myself a Houstonian (or whether it’s possible for me to ever be a Houstonian, not unlike saying if I will ever be a New Yorker again). So in an effort to understand Houston better, I like to explore it. I’m also a city gal so I’m enthralled by all things urban. This particular day my daughter and I made it out to the Houston City With No Limits festival at Discovery Green in Downtown Houston. We made it late so we didn’t get a chance to explore, but we spent the afternoon at Discovery Green, had lunch, and listened to some good music. I don’t think the festival answers the question “What Makes A Houstonian?” but if it means good food, good music, and a lovely park, I’m signing up.

 

Knitting pride and joySunday

I’ve been knitting. This washcloth (?) is the first thing I finished. It wasn’t supposed to be anything, really, but after failing miserably at starting a scarf I went back to basics and practiced stitches. This was the result.

It looks sad, I know. And that’s hard for me to digest. I’m very good with my hands. I enjoy cooking, baking, crafting, holding hands…and I write with my hands too. I don’t know where I got it from or what it means that my hands can do so much, but I’m proud of my hands. Where my brains and my words fail me, my hands do not.

It was weirdly humbling to teach myself to knit. A friend taught me how to knit when I lived in Kansas City, and I’ve gotten better at that. But lately I need to occupy my brain, so I bought some knitting needles and queued up Youtube videos.

Now I write and I knit. I knit and I write. And I remember what it’s like to start from the bottom.

ApplesMonday

There’s a supermarket chain in Texas known as Central Market. I compare it to my beloved Wegman’s from Upstate New York. Although I can easily drop a ton of cash there if I don’t have a shopping list with me, I love going here to shop. I always end up with something I didn’t initially have on my shopping list. This Monday, it was Honeycrisp  apples. I blame Central Market for having apple cubes for people to taste as they walked around the fresh produce section.

You get me every time, Central Market.

 

Mini pizzasThursday

I cooked, again. This time around I tried out these mini pizza pans I bought at Marshall’s and made mini pizzas with my daughter. Before I made them, I hid and had a good long cry; it was one of those afternoons. I put myself together and made my way back to the kitchen.

Roll out the dough.

Rub the pasta sauce onto the dough.

Sprinkle cheese, pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, and some more cheese for good measure.

Pop them in the oven.

And then we wait.

 

Get your free postcardsSaturday

My book research took a back seat this summer, but I’m trying to get back on track with that. Sometimes I get frustrated that I can’t figure out what direction I’m headed, and that’s when I find the time to watch episodes of Scandal on Netflix and rearrange my apartment. But when I see postcards out in the wild, I feel a pitter patter in my chest because I’ve come across my research subject and I remember again why I wanted to write about postcards in the first place.

The writing process is not just a process about writing but a process of self, too.