Friday, September 17, 2010
Hi All! Welcome to our travel-weblog!
It took us a little while to get this started because WiFi is really tricky to find out here - it's almost always password protected and there are very few Starbucks. We finally found a "library" though which has all kinds of computers you can borrow and WiFi available and these really cool "reading" rooms.
But so anyways we arrived here on the weekend and it's been a whirlwind so far! I don't even know where to begin...
Originally we were supposed to go with a bunch of friends to Italy for the summer but then Daddy said something about the trip not being appropriate because of the "Bear Market". Which is weird because I thought they had those in Russia, not Italy. And either way I'd kind of love to see one. I love bears! Especially baby ones.
At first we were really bummed, but then he said that he'd made arrangements for us to go to The Suburbs to stay with his cousin and "au pair" for their two kids. I know: I didn't know what an au pair was either. But he told me it's like being a camp counselor except instead of being stuck in the wilderness you get to experience a completely different culture! The pay isn't great (zero), but they have cable and we mostly have our nights to ourselves.
PLUS: there is so much to see and do out here! Soccer fields are everywhere (chew on that Italy!), there are loads of swimming pools, and you can see any movie anytime you like. I saw some kids listening to hip hop in the park yesterday too. They might have had a few pops too (wink, wink).
This is going to be the best summer ever.
We promise to keep the updates coming, tomorrow we're supposed to go to "Super Market" which I'm sure will be, well super! Maybe we'll even do one post in the local language (Urdu) once we get the hang of it!
Oh! I almost forgot. They've totally solved poverty here. There are absolutely NO homeless people! It's amazing!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Confession of a semi-anonymous stock trader: I don't read much in the way of non-fiction and especially not finance non-fiction.
But this small book came to my attention from the good, smart people at n+1, a literary magazine that I've been subscribing to for some years (and sometimes even reading!).
They published a few interviews with an anonymous hedge fund manager (HFM) in the magazine and on their website as the financial crisis was just unfolding and it was pretty interesting, if as much for the context as the content. The HFM was charming, accessible, and really quite inciteful. Also, it was kind of fun to watch Keith Gessen try and figure out what HFM was talking about.
Well I guess the response must have been good because Gessen kept going back and eventually gather enough interview content to compile them into a fairly sturdy book.
It was fun to read partly because, on purpose, I haven't read much about the crisis, and it turns out I'd forgotten a lot of the more ridiculous things that happened. More importantly, I'd forgotten how scared we all were.
But beyond the actual story, which is familiar enough to anyone who reads the papers over the last 3 years, what was interesting about the book was just how articulate, and how clear-thinking HFM was in spoken-word interviews. His ability to explain reasonably complex issues in really simple, interesting terms was amazing.
I can't quite recommend the book to everyone because ultimately it's still pretty esoteric in topic - a bond manager talking about the bond & private loan market during the most dangerous time to be a bond manager in the last century. But to anyone who has an interest in the mind of a man who is extremely well paid to think faster and further than his competitors, this is probably a good way to spend 10 subway rides.
Monday, July 19, 2010
“Hi there Mr. Cyril, it’s Reza Dibadj, nice to see you again!”
Reza had learned some years ago that these people appreciated a quick little reminder when saying hello for the first time in a while. It was, after all, a cottage community so there was often a long time between seeings. Also, everyone seemed to be pretty old. And drunk.
“Of course, Raisin! Nice to see you too! And how is Francis?”
“Francis is doing great, still attending classes overseas of course. I’m married to Isabel. We’re expecting.”
Cyril had whacked his shin against the side of his boat while disembarking that morning, and though blood still seeped from the cut the sappy trickle had not yet reached his sock.
“Up for a little while?” he asked hopefully, his smile stretching around some odd coloured dental work.
“No,” Reza sighed, “just the weekend.”
Cyril’s shook his head and tapped his tongue against the roof of his mouth, “Teh, teh”
“We’ll be up for a little stretch at the end of the month though,” Reza added hopefully.
“Ah. Well. Good!”
Everything was, of course, always good there. It really was. Days were a steady succession of discussions about just how good it was, the only exception being that it was not as good when you had to leave.
Reza had learned that despite the community’s reputation for being inaccessible, it was actually fairly easy to make friends if you simply heeded this simple protocol —
Affirmation: This is just such a special and wonderful place.
Confirmation: Yes, it’s totally unique and amazing. We are very fortunate.
The bit about being fortunate was a little flourish he had added. He was humble by nature, but also, even notwithstanding his name, the absurdly hairy legs he had stuffed into tennis shorts made it clear that he had married into the community.
“Yes, we’re really looking forward to it. Two weeks! It’s just so much better when you can really settle in for a while here. More relaxing!”
“Yes, yes it is. Wonderful!” Cyril had started shuffling off toward the iced tea-stand, which also sold homemade brownies that Reza frequently sought out.
Watching the young girl get up from her chair to greet her teetering customer, he wondered if his child would one day work at that stand for a summer job.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
They deserve it, a brush with fame. That’s the kind of thing that makes someone’s night.
Probably they think I’m Ashton Kutcher, except my arms are bigger than his. Which, let’s be fair, you couldn't know that he has skinny arms from his films, but I have it on pretty good authority that mine are bigger and possibly better defined.
The girl in the gym seemed to really know her stuff, when it came to celebrities. But she said I look more like Jason Bateman. Which is weird because I totally don’t. Though I think we probably have the same speech cadence. It makes people laugh almost no matter what we say. Just the way I say it.
Maybe I should send some drinks over to the picture-snapping table. That would be sporting of me. Then they’d have a story to tell their friends! “Bradley Cooper bought us a round of drinks!” I bet they would be talking about it for weeks.
Imagine I’d worn my glasses? That would have really freaked them out. I wonder who they’d think I was then. Some kind of bookish celebrity, that’s what. The Harry Potter guy or something. Except taller in person.
And not gay.
Though sometimes when people aren’t sure they think it’s a bit hot too. Is he or isn’t he? They don’t know! Mystery booksmart. I can see when people are puzzled by it, when they can’t quite figure out if my jeans are tight because I bought them that way or if it’s because my legs are totally ripped. Puzzling enigma.
“Hold on Ray, are you even listening?” she asked.
“What? Sure I am.”
“Well what did I just say?”
He glanced over to the table where the camera had been but he couldn’t see them anymore. Probably they’ve gone back to the nowhere from which they came, he thought.
He looked at her vaguely, sniffed, and said, “You don’t understand me at all.”
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Wrangling a bear cub can't be easy, but it must be easier than this.
Monday, June 21, 2010
- Nothing good. Again. There hadn’t been anything good posted on Mike’s wall in some considerable time. No one had even tagged or commented on his photos. He didn’t even bother checking his email.
- So this is what the bottom of a tequila bottle looks like in the daylight, thought Rex. It was gluey and smelled of confusion.
- Unlike other ocean creatures, Winston had strong feelings when it comes to matters of the heart, especially when family is concerned.
- Ryan’s beard was poorly groomed because it turned out that even though it would seem at the outset to be easier, taking care of it was more work than he had anticipated and more complicated, involving equipment that he didn’t even own. But even so, he tried his best. In any event, as soon as the phone rang, he knew he had been wrong, a wrong he felt right to the very roots of that unkempt beard.
- It would be foolhardy to mistake Janet’s encyclopaedic knowledge of vegetable gardening with any kind competence or otherwise common sense. She knew three different organic and safe ways to ward off garden slugs (crushed eggshells, for one) but for the life of her couldn’t figure out how to get gasoline into her station wagon.
- Raymond wandered about his ballroom in faintly choreographed steps, as if his socks knew how to dance but his shoes wouldn’t let them.
- There was no good way to tell Our Glorious Leader about the cheese situation. He was going to be furious and everyone knew it.
- For the one, striking moment Ray felt alive. But after he had driven the nail through his hand, he was immediately overtaken with the deflating realization that he would have to deal with the messy consequences of his existential experiment.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I hold my breath and the world turns silent. Most people shut their eyes when they dive but I like to see the water accelerate toward me. A body breaking lake water sounds shrill with treble readers on the dock, but it is deep gurgling bass for the ears of the diver.
My scalp contracts instantly as the water envelops me and I feel more alone than I have all winter. Phosphorescence burst into tiny blue-white stars.
“Where have you been?” ask the mermaids, their voices a lolling chorus. Except the youngest one, she mostly just giggles.
“I’ve been busy. I had a baby.”
“You already had babies.”
“I know. But it’s been… busier this time. I love them so much. I barely even read anymore.”
“You have to make time.”
“You’re right,” my lungs burning at the edges, wondering how far I am from the surface, from the light. I’ve never been great at holding my breath for long.
“You’re right,” I repeat, “I will.”