Another tongue-in-cheek piece I wrote for The Urban Realist
is live on their site. It's part homage to my Cousin Bonnie whose guidance helped me through a rough patch in my life, and it's part inspiration to other young women, many of whom I feel like settle for second-place in life. It's your life, ladies! You should be the star of it!
I don't really believe in dating rules, but I do believe in boundaries and self-love, and I have the many great women in my life to thank for that wisdom. I hope my wonderful, kind, funny Cousin Bonnie's words can help others as much as they did me.
Please check it out here
! And let me know what you think: are these "rules" helpful, inspiring, true to life? Any advice to share of your own?
I haven't posted to this site in months, mostly since I switched to blogging at www.brooklynbooksandbabies.com, but it's still getting 400-600 hits a day pretty regularly, so I might start it up again...especially if I can figure out how to link it to other sites. In the meantime my funny, little poem "Potty Training Awareness Month" is live at Every Day Poets. Please check it out here. And please follow me on instagram for more updates.
Let me know what you think of it in the comments below or on the page. Was it funny? Disturbing?
Thanks for your support :)!
I've started a new blog about what I'm currently most in love with. As the name of the blog suggests that would be New York City, becoming a mother and all the books I've been consuming since I've been home with the baby.
Please check out my first post concerning the controversy surrounding the renovation of New York's landmark public library at 42nd Street: http://www.brooklynbooksandbabies.com/1/post/2013/06/once-were-libraries.html
I just received an email warning me my domain name is about to expire. When I checked my site's stats, I was heartened to discover I'm still getting 200-500 hits a day even without having updated this blog in six months. Now part of me is considering re-starting this blog, and part of me would like to start fresh with a more cohesive blog about books and eco-fashion and music and babies...Already sounds not so cohesive, eh? Well, I plan for it to be less stream-of-consciousness and more essay-based.
If my domain expires before I make a decision, please keep following my work at www.isabelladavid.com or www.izzydavid.com or on instagram at: http://instagram.com/izzymccaffrey . I'll make widespread announcements if I start up another blog.
Thanks for your continued support and interest! Above is a shot of me and my baby dressed in matching stripy dresses and kicks that I've entitled "Twinsies" , because... of course..we all knew that was coming :).
First: Happy holidays!
We were walking through the park the other day when Purina producers asked my puppy to model for them. They had rigged this little outdoor studio complete with puppy costumes and lights. They were kind enough to send me the final postcard a few days later. My little Angelina Zolie looks pretty cute, don't you think?
I hope you all enjoy a very happy holidays-- pagan, Christian, Jewish or Kwanzaa-- however you celebrate the darkest days of the year!
Second: As for my blog, apparently everyone and their mother knew if you register your domain the information is made available to the public.
I still say yikes. Ahem.
And I still see this is a good opportunity for a new beginning. I've always been very frustrated with this blog. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it: have a fashion blog to sell all the incredible stuff I was finding at all my secret thrift store locations throughout the Lower East Side, although there's something inherently bothersome about fashion blogs. It's one thing to model and make some dough; it's another thing to use your inner self to hock crap and more crap that no one needs. Some say the world will end with fire or ice. After living in Soho, I say it will end in an avalanche of old shoes and sweaters.
Or was I going to have a writing blog, and if so focus on writing about what?
It didn't feel like a focus as much a self-imposed limitation. I've always been someone in love with STORY. I love to act stories, model stories, write stories. I found having to package and present myself in a coherent, commercial way really limiting. I live in the realm of fiction, even fictions about myself. If I start another blog, I'd like it to reflect my interests in a more substantive by being less substantive way :) I've always despised it when people said things like "they love my look." WHAT LOOK? I brush my hair and wear lipstick on good days. Blogging is so much about packaging "a look" and presenting it. Day after monotonous day. That's not playing to my strengths. To some people this comes naturally and kudos to them! I was always more of a character actor than a leading lady.
Here's to a new year and new beginnings! Follow me on Facebook to stay in touch please and thanks for all the wonderful messages and friendships I've made through this incoherent but fun experiment !
I'm not going to renew this blog's site when it expires, and I might possibly remove it before then. I just discovered my host site, Weebly, releases your number and home address to the worldwide web! Luckily I registered all my sites to my Manhattan address before I moved to Brooklyn, and I was getting a new phone anyway tomorrow so I will request a new phone number.
Perhaps I'm being a little paranoid, but I value my privacy and my family's privacy. If I decide to continue blogging, I'll provide a link through my Facebook page. Please like/ follow me there until then: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Isabella-David/113768065380209
Thank you for your support and comments! This blog was never quite what I wanted it to be, so I'm looking at this as an opportunity to make a new start in the new year. Happy holidays!
When I was younger I had a bad tendency never to finish what I'd started. So much so that my mother began mentioning this salient fact about me almost in the same breath as she would introduce me to people, and the end result is I have become incredibly stubborn about sticking to whatever course I'm on.
Maybe it's in order to prove her wrong. Maybe it's because that was always my true nature and the other Izzy, the one who would stop trying or caring, was the fake me. Or maybe when you have a perverse child that might be the only way to motivate them: tell me to do something, and I'll do the opposite.
It's not my greatest quality, but I find denying essential facts about yourself results in your neuroses controlling you instead of the other way around. It's better I own up to it and make it work for me instead of against me.
So, that said, even though the last thing I feel like doing is finishing this personal project, i.e. my two and a half month personal book challenge more inspired by/ in the spirit of the Off-the-Shelf Book Challenge than strictly following the rules of it to the T, I'm forcing myself to write this blog post.
I can't describe my level of grief and disgust as I grapple with and try to come to terms with the tragedy at Sandy Hook. My fingers feel heavy moving across the keys. I continually look off in the distance and want to start crying. There's a slight but searing pain in my chest, a pain I'm familiar with from the few times in my life someone close to me has died, and it's a pain whose moniker is heartbreak. In the past I've had a bad tendency to dwell on pain like this or, inadvertently, to feed it until it began to consume me.
When September 11 occurred, I sat and read the New York Times obits EVERY DAY until they stopped publishing them. It was a terrible thing to do. Positive action is better and healthier, and in that spirit, I'm both trying to keep up my daily routine and exploring ways to make a real difference this time-- this tragedy feels as painful to me as 9/11 did. I'm not sure why. Maybe there's something about the spirit of it that's horrifying me in a similar way. Not to mention September 11 happened on a beautiful day, too. I've never been involved with a letter-writing campaign, but I'd like to start one or join one to help bolster support for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's soon-to-be proposed bill to ban assault weapons. Currently, it sounds as if even the pro-gun senators have reversed their earlier positions and are backing a renewal of 1994's expired ban, but the legislation won't be proposed until the senate convenes in the new year, so who knows what money/ influence the NRA might throw at them between then and now. I'd like to be involved in making sure the ban actually happens.
But that's a NEW project. Here's to finishing up the old!
26. The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
This book was a pure (and a very quick at a 131 p.) pleasure to read from start to finish. Chabon excels at describing grandfatherly love, or at any rate that sort of loving and mentor-like relationship between old and young men. It was the best part of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and here he sticks to that theme with the end result that, short as it is, it doesn't suffer from an unevenness of pace and subject matter the way his Pulitzer-prize winning tome did. Not to mention it was pretty nifty that the story was about a retired Sherlock Holmes, and I didn't cotton on to it until I read the author's interview at the end of the book. That's not a spoiler! I didn't read the jacket of the book. I just opened it, liked the first image the author paints of a boy and a parrot walking along a set of railroad tracks, and I kept reading. I would describe it as a meta-fiction... It was and wasn't a detective story. I mean it was just that, but in some mysterious way it was so much more. It was wonderful.
27. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I want to write so much about this book that (in the spirit of at least SOME of my youthful perversity) I will defy my own wishes and instead keep this really uncharacteristically short. Lydia Davis' translation is breathtakingly good. It's the real reason I needed a couple extra days to finish the challenge, not just my cold or being pregnant or the holidays coming up. I savored each word as I read, not wanting it to end. However, again perverse as I am, I didn't WANT to like it as much as I did: when I bought it, the Brooklyn hipster clerks "approved" my choice. Ugh. They actually SAID THAT: "We approve." Every neighborhood has its annoying conformists. In Soho it was the soulless materialist shoppers, and here, I'm realizing, it's these INCREDIBLY snobby pseudo-intellectuals. It made me realize I don't want to be anything like them, and although the translation really is "by far head and shoulders above the others," I realized I don't want to be a pretend intellectual. I'd like to be a real one and I ought to have read it in French which is probably head and shoulders again above Davis', and so in that spirit I picked my next book. (Quick side note: as I was halfway through MB, I happened to watch the excellent documentary The Queen of Versailles. The character of Monsieur Lheurheux, who throughout the book urges Emma to leverage her small income into a ruinously fancy lifestyle, was made all the more vivid after watching this doc about a time-share billionaire who was nearly ruined by his own Lheureuxness when the sub-prime mortgage bubble popped.) Read and watch both!
(See?? See how obnoxious that is??) Ahem. On to the next one!
28. O vous, frères humains by Albert Cohen
Yes, I read a novel in French and one for grown-ups to boot, but don't be too impressed. I still possess the French vocab of an adolescent. You'll know what I mean if you've read my earlier reviews (i.e. ones in which I shamelessly review books like Harry Potter et L'ecole des sorciers.) Most of all don't be impressed, because this novel is INCREDIBLY, STUPENDOUSLY repetitive in its use of language. I didn't know the word "camelot" for instance, but since in its scant 208 pages (with big, block letters to boot) Cohen must have employed the word 416 times, or twice a page, I could easily look up the few words I didn't know. (By the by "camelot" means a vendor or a hawker not a beautiful mythic city with a noble king ruling over it. Funny thing about words.) I didn't like it, but that's not to say you, mysterious reader, might not. It's a very French book and as such I kind of appreciated it. It's experimental and very lyrical and not much happens and it's unashamedly sentimental and no American or Anglo publishing house would have liked it or printed it, so I'm glad I read it...Kind of makes you see why, or maybe were, Hemingway got his style ideas when he ex-patted himself to France. I wonder if he read French... This sort of repetitive, poetic style married to plot....well in Hemingway it's genius. Minus the plot in Cohen it= pain. But maybe I'm too American to appreciate this kind of lyricism-- you know the purely plotless, horrifyingly repetitive, REALLY self-conscious French kind with lots of long, lingering passages about dying and being extinguished into nothingness? (Damn you, Pascal! Meeting an educated French person who doesn't pretentiously mention "fearing the void" would be like meeting a Harvard grad who doesn't mention their alma mater casually in non-related conversations-- i.e. never going to happen.)
29. The Book of Answers published by the New York Public Library
This book counts! It was a fun and restful read, and I learned a lot of neat trivia like where bananas originated (Southeast Asia) and why we keep our elbows off tables or wear black to funerals. I also refreshed myself on the capitols of the 50 states. Go ahead and test me! No, don't. It's really embarrassing how few of them I got. Strangely enough my husband knew nearly all of them, and then shamed me mercilessly because I'm an insufferable know-it-all, always beat him at Trivial Pursuit, gloat and therefore deserved it. Oh boy...I really hope the baby gets the best of both of us instead of the worst! My physical genes (because I have bones like cement while he has bones like glass-- 0 breaks vs. 100 breaks) and his down-to-earth nature and practical mind.
30. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers
This was another re-read, breaking the actual rules of the Off-the-Shelf Challenge. I had a lot of fun doing the challenge and getting myself back in good reading shape after a few years nursing a bad internet addiction and a growing tendency to watch too much TV, BUT that said, I think it's more important to read deeply about one subject than read a lot about any old thing. (Although reading anything trumps boob-tubing via television or internet.) What I really mean by that, is the times in my life I've profited the most from reading have been times I've discovered a new author and then devoured everything by and about them before moving on to the next. It was what I wanted to do with Flaubert, but I was determined to at least somewhat follow the rules of the challenge and finish it up in a timely manner. If I'd gone on to reread A Sentimental Education for the second out of three times (Ford Maddox Ford said to be truly educated you need to read A Sentimental Education three times!) then I never would have been able to finish the challenge (nearly) on time. Maybe I learned about this version of autodidactism from Campbell himself, whose dialogue with Moyers I watched and read years ago in high school, and who mentions the practice in this book/ dialogue transcript. Or maybe I came up with it myself. At any rate I'm very, very glad I reread this book. He's a wonderful, wise man who inspired George Lucas to write the Star Wars movies (the good ones, I won't blame the later bad ones on him since Campbell was already dead by then and couldn't have stopped them or tried to talk some myth-making sense into Lucas as I'm sure he would have tried!) If you want to lead the world's most fulfilled, connected, meaningful life ever, then watch the dialogues and read these books. They're just that utterly wonderful.
In that spirit I think it's about time to rewatch all of Star Wars (the ones that count anyway). If there's ever been a time I need to remind myself good can overcome evil, it's now!
Thank you all for those of you who've read some of these long, winding, wordy, self-indulgent reviews. I don't know if it inspired anyone else, but it's made me really happy, and as Joseph Campbell said it best: If you want to make yourself happy and the world a better place, follow your bliss!
I'm heartbroken over the tragic news story that slowly unfolded this past Friday and still glued to the internet for updates. I'm not ready to broach the topic of gun regulation yet, but... Wait! I said REGULATION,okay? Not that trigger phrase "gun control." Fine. KEEP YOUR BLOODY GUNS, but WHY do you object to ANY regulation whatsoever of these mass, precision killing machines?
No, I'm not ready to discuss this topic. I'm so angry and upset and heartbroken that I can't sleep. Not only does this incident hit close to home both literally because of the geographical proximity of Sandy Hook to Brooklyn, but I also feel affected because my husband hails from a Connecticut town near the tragedy. I've spent a lot of time in that exact area. In fact I've even passed the affected school once or twice. My overall impression of those small, quiet overlapping Connecticut towns each one so similar to the other has been this: I've never in my life met such kind and considerate people. I remember attending a chamber of commerce dance in a nearby town, meeting many, many diverse and friendly folks from the area and thinking, "Wow, what nice, regular, innocent, gentle folks. What a relief to be around them!" This in comparison to the chillingly sophisticated and cold folks I usually interacted with back when I was living in Soho. I know it shouldn't matter where or to whom this horror happened, but it somehow makes it worse that it happened there. The community seemed so innocent and sheltered, but that was an illusion obviously.
If you're as saddened as I am and feel as helpless as I do, there are two positive, actionable things I found in my obsessive internet search (otherwise known as my need to understand this tragedy) that you can do right now. You can donate money to help Victoria Soto's family pay for her funeral expenses. For those of you less aware of the details or with less of a stomach for the horrifying scope of this tragedy, Victoria Soto is the young, first-year, first-grade teacher who heroically ushered her students into a closet when she heard gunshots from an adjacent classroom, calmly informing the crazed gunman who burst into her classroom moments later that her students were in gym class thereby saving their lives and losing her own. A Stratford, CT local paper reports: Gardner, as treasurer of the Lordship Community Church, has established a fund to assist the Soto family with funeral expenses. Donations can be made to Lordship Community Church, Soto Fund, 179 Prospect Drive, Stratford, CT 06615. The church can be reached at 203.377.6568.
Here's the original link to the article: http://stratford.patch.com/articles/family-of-vicki-soto-teacher-who-died-for-students-numb-but-copingYou can also take two seconds to sign a petition supporting (dare I say it?) gun control. http://signon.org/sign/gun-control-now-1.fb23?source=s.fb&r_by=562512
Neither action is much, but it's something. It's a start.
The First Line has published my short story "The Great White Way Is Where The Heart Is" in their winter volume. It's part two or chapter four of the story of the twins, Rachel and Tom, and their adoptive grandparents. The magazine is available for download on their site: http://thefirstline.com/index.htm or via the Kindle Store on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006XGLLSU or at bookstores around the US: http://thefirstline.com/bookstores.htm Downloading a copy will cost you anywhere from .99 to $2, so please find it in your hearts to support the arts!
P.S. As for my 30 books in two months challenge, which I meant to wrap up (as per the rules) this December 12: I made it to book 28, hurray! However, I'm a little sick this week (just a cold) and VERY pregnant, so I'm cutting myself some slack and taking the rest of the week to finish up the last two books. I'll have one last set of reviews up this coming Monday. Please check back. Thanks again!
No, I have not swallowed a beach ball, any pictorial evidence to the contrary. I'm eight months pregnant today, woo hoo! Nearly there...
In the meantime here are some quick Monday book reviews. I'm also nearing the finish line of my self-inflicted "Off the Shelf" book challenge, which I began about three months ago. I chose one of the lowest levels-- 30 books-- because I started so late in the year. Today I'm on book 26 with nine days to go! Incredibly, given all the other matters on my mind, I think I'll make it.
Here's #s 23, 24 and 25. (You can check past Mondays for past reviews.)
23. Platonov by Anton Chekhov
Platonov was Chekhov's first play, and oh boy, does it show. He was very young when he wrote it, and in many ways it's a young man's play-- intrigues and melodrama abound. The first act is so confused it's downright painful. There are about 25 different Russian characters with names two feet long, and few of them are developed enough to help you keep track of which Ilyich is which. But after the first act the play really picks up...for a Chekhov play anyway. I'm glad I read it for the challenge, or I might not have stuck with it past that first, painful act, and it was really worth it.
If you're a big fan of his, you'll want to read this seminal work for that reason alone, just to see his development and the seeds of so many ideas which came to obsess him. There are many throwaway beautiful lines, a lot of his signature (hilarious I think) irony, the pathos of life in the provinces (of course), a true Don Juan and a deep understanding of human nature, so much so the melodrama (almost) works whether as comedy or tragedy-- there are arguments as to Chekhov's intentions with this play. It was never staged in his lifetime, so no one really knows. My copy was a library book, which I had to return already, or I'd copy out some of the most beautiful lines here as I have in past reviews. I normally would have copied them into my journal, but between recording podcasts, attending birthing classes, finishing my first YA novel (please God, before the baby comes) and trying to blog once a week, I haven't been journaling as much.
My husband, like many people, HATES Chekhov with a passion because of one bad production of "The Three Sisters." I have to admit it was REALLY bad, execrable, putrid. At one point a (19th century, mind you) character whips out an iPad-- just before the duel takes place. Can you say "stupid, pointless anachronism"? Even without that sort of pretentious meddling with the plot, Chekhov can be really hard to put on just right. Because of the reverential way people feel about his work, they approach producing and directing his plays from such a high, lofty place Chekhov himself probably would have despised watching what their final, flat product. Do yourself a favor and just read his collected plays. That's how I fell in love with him. From there I discovered his short stories, which are magnificent... But I digress. On to 24.
24. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Speaking of firsts, TMAAS was Christie's first detective novel, and again as such offers a fascinating glimpse into the origins not only of the modern detective novel but of Christie's popular hero the fastidious Belgian detective M. Hercule Poirot, who in the book was one of the only fully-formed characters. Like Harry Potter, I suppose he must have just walked into her head one day. Unfortunately, the other characters were less... unique. Unlike in Christie's later murder mysteries, cheesy as some of them are, the other characters don't come across anywhere near as fully realized. Again, just as I had experienced with Platonov, I started off the story with a bit of trouble keeping the characters (this time uniformly bland and British) straight, because they were all, male and female alike, unutterably indistinguishable. It's said a friend challenged Christie to write a murder mystery whose outcome the reader couldn't guess. I didn't. As such it was a satisfying enough read, although I like her later stuff a lot better. I was mostly inspired to pick up the book after characters in the novel The Map and The Territory (last week's challenge read) kept swearing the only books they read were Agatha Christie's. I'm also gearing up for Downton Abbey's third season, soon to air in the states, and this book was almost like reading a screenplay from the show. It was written in 1916 and just as in Downton Abbey, there's a similar sense of the long Edwardian summer drawing to a close. But what's really fascinating in the former's case is finding out the Edwardians were self-aware enough to sense as much even before the times had really changed.
25. The New York Stories by Elizabeth Hardwick
This book collects in one volume stories Hardwick published from the 1940s all the way into the '90s-- not a bad career for a writer seeing as how most writers seem to produce stories and novels over much shorter spans of time. The stories are not thematically linked either. They aren't even all set in New York. What unites them, in my opinion, is their dry, intellectual tone, undercut now and then by one or two exquisitely wise and beautiful sentences. But one (or two) beautiful sentences per story does not a fun reading experience make. The stories felt cold, intellectualized, the characters mostly the kind of boring, brainy and not very kind Newyorkers who probably, one and all, would read and love these kind of stories their characters are more contained by than created in. Some of the stories were horrors. Just lists of an intelligent, cultured mind showing off its intelligence and culture. Anyway who's actually lived in New York will attest to the veracity of such a character's reproduction on the page and the authenticity of its representation of a certain kind of Newyorker, but for the reader this kind of plotless, pointless, posturing meant I had to check off the stories in the table of contents as I went along. But it really was (almost) worth the read for those throwaway lines of poetry and wit like these examples:
Extremes of any sort embarrass small-town people. They are deadset against overexertion and for that reason even opera singers and violinists make them uncomfortable because it seems a pity the notes won't come forth without all that fuss and foolishness.
And now a phonograph was playing overhead and the bass rhythm was like the light hammering of many nails in sequence, as if putting down a carpet.
Madison Avenue-- a feline thoroughfare with goods and mirrors meant to intimidate bone and flesh. A scourging idealism, a snarling transcendence watched over by clerks as insolent as the pet eunuchs of a sultan.
And so forth :). Back to book 26! Have a great week!