Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Does Completion Look Like?

I'm a huge Marie Forleo fan and her video today is one that all creative people need to check out. Anyone who embarks on any creative endeavor, be it writing or art or even quilting -- probably starts at least 10 projects for every one that they finish. This can be disconcerting and may make you feel like a quitter for not finishing what you start.

Her video today looks deeper into the non-completion component of creativity, and why it's good for you. Her best advice is to always ask yourself, What does completion look like? This can be interpreted for both the long and short term of any project, and, at least for me, seems like a good way to set framework for daily goals.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Empty August

August feels like molasses. Everyone seems to be on vacation and I feel like no serious decisions or work will get done until after Labor Day. Still, I muddle along with a few projects, patiently waiting for calls to be returned and emails to be replied.

This week, the theme of failure has strangely been popping up on my screen a lot. I'm not quite sure why, since things have been going pretty well over here on Planet Pauline. Failure is probably 80% of the life of any writer, and I love any new insight about it. By nature I tend to be a bit of a battering ram until I get an end result, but maybe there is a way to be a more gentle battering ram.

1. First, Jennifer Armstrong wrote a lovely blog post about what daily life is like when you are writing a book.

2. The New York Times ran a column about how failure is writing's constant companion.

3. Time had a piece about how failure is key to success for women.

4. And then there is this video from Marie Forleo, about how failure is just a stop on the way to success.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Bodega Cats Are The True New Yorkers.

After 15 years in Manhattan, people often ask me when I knew I was a real New Yorker. The answer is right away, when I realized that I had an instant affinity for bodega cats. I love those little furballs, napping on top of the fruit at the local deli, or standing guard at the door. I even have a Flickr album full of ones I've found along the way.

And so I love it even more when places like WNYC put together videos, like the one below, "Bodega Cats in Their Own Words." It's refreshing to think that I'm not the only one who wants to leave the deli with a sandwich and a tabby.

The cat in this video is orange, which is a bonus.

Sunday, August 03, 2014


I get a little food happy on the weekends, since I usually pass through at least one farmer's market and start getting delusional about all the amazing meals I could make with pounds and pounds of organic vegetables.

This past week I took a cooking class, and the takeaway was that there is still so much that I have to learn, no matter how mad scientist I sometimes get in the kitchen. But, thanks in large part to the book project I've been working on, I've become quite aware of what's in food (get away from me, Yellow #5!) and am much more interested how things are prepared. Not that I was ever much a processed food kind of gal, but I've become much more mindful.

This weekend I ended up with way too much cilantro from the farmer's market. Seriously, what am supposed to do with all this? It's the size of my head. And it was only $1.50.

Since Saturday I have been trying to find things to do with it. I've mixed it in with salads and found a salmon recipe that uses it in the glaze. Then I remembered that years ago Tribe Hummus used to make a cilantro flavored hummus, which I loved. They've discontinued it, but I figured recreating it would be a good way to get rid of some of this cilantro.

Making hummus is relatively easy, but it involves constant tweaking. There's no need for a recipe (chick peas, blender, olive oil, and anything else you want to throw in there.) Pretty much every recipe online, though, will tell you to put in half a cup of lime juice into cilantro hummus, but I can assure you that is far too much.

This was my finished product. It's a little green, but in a good way. And it tastes better than anything Tribe ever put out. (Just don't spread it on graham crackers. That's the opposite of a good food pairing.)

It's important to make your own snack food, especially when this exists.

And...most important. According to the TED Talk below, cooking is what has helped the human brain evolve beyond that of other primates.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hallowed Halls Of Academia

I've been saying it since 2002: No one throws a reception quite like Columbia. Whether it's refreshments before a talk or an all-out graduation ceremony, I have never been disappointed by an event thrown by Columbia. Today I hopped uptown for the Back To Columbia alumni event. It was a tented picnic with a carnival for kids, great food and lots of smart and friendly people. I get the invite every year and was never able to make it, until today.

It didn't disappoint. Andre didn't just get a balloon animal, he got a balloon Hulk, clearly made by someone who has an MFA in Balloon Animals.

We totally rocked the photo booth.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

In The Zone

This week I've been wrapping up a book proposal that I've been working on for a long time. I even borrowed a friend's apartment downtown so that I can get as much done as possible.

The book is heavy on science and medicine, and so it's nearly impossible to write and edit anything without the internet. (If you're in the mood for some pillow talk about gluteomorphins and casomorphins, with a few tangents about hormone disruptors, I'm your gal.)

It's been said that the internet is the ultimate bane of writers, but I disagree. Spotify is the true enemy. Five years ago I did not have a tool where I could look up any song I wanted, for free, at any time. Now, I can look up multiple versions of the same song, and then lose half an hour of my life. Damn you, technology.

This week I stumbled across Sam Smith's incredible song, "Stay With Me." It's the reason my workflow has had fits and starts. If you have a serious sound system -- and even if you don't -- this song will melt your face off. It'll be the best three minutes of your day. Over and over again.

Of course, there's also a version with Mary J. Blige

One of these days I'll post more photos, but when I'm not at work I hang out at the gym and at dance class, and taking photos is generally frowned upon.

But read this piece. It will make you laugh. Hipster Finds Lifestyle Too Expensive, Reverts to Mainstream

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Ernest Hemingway's Birthday!

...but more importantly, his second wife (pictured above) was named Pauline.

Hemingway had all sorts of insights about writing, but was always quick to admit that it's a lonely life. 60 years ago, in 1954, he won a Nobel Prize for Literature and had this to say about the writing life:

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.