Tuesday, December 31, 2002

last night we weren't going. ben was sick, hoarse, crackling, in no condition to get out of bed let alone drive. this morning he went to discuss the matter with ross and rebecca on the phone. he came back with a black scarf around his head and a white one around his neck, kissed my cheek, rousing me from a dream of a bomb in a bible in a playground, and said, "let's go." will it work? who knows. off we head into the frozen north.
happy new year everyone. see you in 03.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

i just found one of the primary ghosts of my adolescence through the internet. twenty minutes of google searching and boom, there she is: address, home phone number, even bizarrely her age. a standard site option flashed, "do you want to buy [her] flowers??" well, no, but apart from that i don't know much. should i write? should i call? when you haven't seen or spoken to, heard from or heard about someone in five years, what's the protocol?

thankfully i cycled past crisis as soon as i wrote about it. i guess that got it out of my system. that and several more movies: breathtaking chicago -- who knew richard gere could sing?, or that a severely-waifed-out renee zellweger could make catharine z.j. seem bulky?, or that a musical could be so successfully transplanted to the screen? i enjoyed it as much as adaptation. so far they're my two favorites. two towers, however exciting and visually stunning, suffers from a less-than-mediocre script and characters who seemed more than ever like Types. catch me if you can, which i saw today with two members of my family on the rare suggestion of my father, is enjoyable and well-done. unique among spielberg's films for its sex, it compensates for making the encounters entirely devoid of chemistry. still, it's in no way a film worth remembering.

as for the not-in-theaters, last nite liz and i watched kissing jessica stein -- good for romantic comedy, good for a mainstream queer flick, overall seemed lacking somehow. their 3rd act breakup came so suddenly, and the direction was irritatingly irregular throughout -- and attempted to watch the first episode of twin peaks. a half hour in or so we turned it off, befuddled, tired of waiting for the trite to magically, surreally, lyncially become, well, magical, surreal, and Lynch. why was it so popular? what gives?
i'm slowly putting together my Top Ten. having not seen about schmidt or the hours i'm reluctant to. for the other 8 so far i'm thinking, in random order:
y tu mama tambien, chicago, adaptation, monsoon wedding, punch-drunk love, catch me if you can, secretary, far from heaven. maybe instead of secretary, bowling for columbine -- but secretary was so damned unique. i'm sure talk to her will displace something too once i get around to that.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

i think i'm in the midst of a slow creeping crisis. not the melodramatic kind, mid-life or quarter-life or existential or identity. it's just -- suddenly i want to lock myself in a room and write and write and write, and at the same time i want to keep seeing movies and keep reading books cause i have nothing to say. my father made fun of me for tracking down two libraries over the five days we were in florida, but had i been really insistent i'm sure we could have found more. the truth is i don't entirely know where babblebook is going, anymore than i know where i'm going (existentially) or my sociallife is (identitalllly). (from which we can infer that perhaps this crisis is of the aforementioned varieties, as objectionable -- in terms of verboten cliches -- as that is.) in between fielding calls, i wonder why no one calls me. i pull old notebooks from the recesses of the closet and pore over them, turning pages coated, hatted and mittened with nostalgia, looking for an answer as to why my journaling has grown infrequent and perhaps forced.
i spent a lovely xmas day with becca and, for a few hours as we revelled in a free showing of funny girl at visions, 40% of the jewish population of the metropolitan area. now i'm off to get my existential ass out of my existential house and to existential bethesda to shop with my perennial partner (in crises and in health) liz and perhaps ari too. no sign of lana, without whom no time at home could be complete. perhaps all i need is another good book, or a kick in the ass, or to lose at tennis.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

... and i'm back. not quite so brown as i hoped. my skin has to do that sunset thing: blaze red then fade to a more civilized twilight. there wasn't enough time to devote to that process when there were so many relatives to be visited, smalltalked with, laughed with, appeased, and met. my father and i spent the majority of the five days together, reading or playing the word game, driving or watching movies. i dragged him to Two Towers, he dragged me to the everglades. boy am i glad i waited til i got home to see Adaptation -- had i seen that bit with the gators, i'd never had had the courage to do an airboat tour. recently having seen Jaws was bad enough.

i think about death too much. it's terrible. my imagination has never let up on me. any new piece of stimulus i feed my brain it translates into a creative new potential torture device. in my room as a child i learned to sleep on my back rather than curl up facing the closet (from which monsters/demons/eyeless doll-children could emerge) or the window (through which robbers/rapists/eyeless doll-children could climb). facing one invited its attackers or demonstrated that you naively expected to sleep safe. more than death even, i've always feared being proven naive, dying from a cause i didn't imagine beforehand.
i'm better now. no i'm not. i sleep 5 times better when there's someone else in the room, tho when people ask me don't i mind having a roommate, it's easier to smile and illustrate how awesome brigid is ("you know she brought three bottles of bootleg liquor with her from home? and we play procrastinatory computer games together ...") i have learned how to sleep on my side. that's something.

and THAT's a tangent. the point is i'm home. liz and i ventured out into the cold today to see Adaptation and it was wonderful. a glorious meta-meta-meta movie that poked fun at conventions while showing that, if you're brilliant, no rules need apply. for erev-xmas, a holiday my family has never celebrated, my mother is making a goose. between cooking and preparing and packing for the trip to florida she and my grandparents are taking tomorrow, she hasn't slept for the past two nights. tonight my grandparents are coming over to not-celebrate with us (we have champagne!) and it will be beautiful: her feasts always are. she will fuss that i'm going hungry, even though every other plate on the table is piled high with vegetarian stuffs. i'll want to record every moment because, between good films and good novels -- franzen's Corrections fell open in my lap every spare second in miami; now i'm three-quarters of the way through the equally compelling kavalier and clay -- i'm filled with frenzied inspiration. how it'll manifest itself ultimately i don't know yet. perhaps in grant writing, cuz really that's what i have to get done.

merry xmas out there, to those of you who like that sort of thing. and to those of you that don't, dance, laugh, and thank god that tomorrow, once again, that one innocent, purely happy little day, will bring the xmas song season to an end.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

i have an hour. this is more or less the only free hour i've had in two weeks, since this bloody finals craziness began. but it's over. i handed in my curriculum project ("a rose is a rose is a rose by any other name would smell as sweet: a multi-cultural survey poetry class") at 12:10, only 10 minutes late. i may have written the thing in record time, seven hours between last nite and this morning. still, a showing of harold and maude? who was i kidding?
i packed like a fiend after lunch -- it's easy when everything's dirty -- and even did the Good Girlfriend thing ("i seem to have forgotten my clothes. can you pick them up for me?") the least i can do i guess for someone who takes such profound-looking pictures of me.

so, somehow, miraculously, i have an hour. i've said most of my goodbyes. with not enough time to watch anything, i play freecell disinterestedly and browse webpages and mourn the end of this semester.
winston: "this is not the end. it is not even the beginning of the end. but perhaps it is the end of the beginning."
me: "no, you doof. it's just the end."

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

few fascinating things have happened to me of late. i've written (i COUNTED) easily over 50 pages this finals period -- that left precious little time for the fascinating. i've still managed to enjoy myself. the advanced poetry reading last night made me nostalgic. not anticipatory, even tho i'm going to be in the workshop next semester. who understands these things. my group of people won't be as pleasant, it doesn't seem, but hopefully it'll still be interesting.
mostly i've been nostalgic in general. this was a great semester, possibly my favorite. at the very least it ties with freshman spring. which is better, falling in love or being securely nestled in it (1 yr, 10 months, as of today)?

enough schmaltz. (isn't yiddish a great language. technically schmaltz = chicken fat. the perfect image.) (why do i never get tired of parentheses?) i guess i have stuff to look forward to too; i'm just not as skilled or practiced in that. i'm taking tennis again next semester, and five credits, and i'm directing -- officially! -- the mainstage production of next semester: oscar wilde's an ideal husband. more immediately accessible, i'm showing harold and maude this evening in my room. come, you're welcome: watch one of the greatest romantic films of all time and help me finish off the kahlua.
when i get home my dad's taking me to florida for a few days. i'll attend the family gatherings, nod and smile, and whenever i get a free moment i will conk out under the nearest palm tree. when you next see me, i'll be brown as a pretzel and twice as salty.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

man, this trent lott thing just gets better and better. i'm crossing my fingers that the government continues to be absorbed by iraq's 12,000 page version of war and peace in arabic and doesn't pop its head up and provide some distraction (anything! quick, drop a bomb! no, who cares where -- look! there! belgium! fine.) before this mess gets as messy as it's going to be. trent lott, racistfuckhead, ousted for being a segregationist? it's priceless. besides, if he actually RESIGNS, the DEMOCRATIC governor of mississippi gets to appoint his replacement. imagine! a 50-50 senate! now that's justice.

if you rearrange the letters TRENT LOTT you get ESTER HAS TOO MANY FINALS TO THINK STRAIGHT. i've had one small lovely break: friday evening city dinner+movie with pennbecca. i didn't enjoy personal velocity as much as my parents enjoyed frida -- funny cuz the first has received far more glowing reviews than the second. after septa tried to make my life as complicated as possible, i hitched a ride home from 30th street with the chairman of the history department, his wife (an english professor at temple), and their daughter returning from U-Vt. oh, and another: the immortal eddie izzard's dressed to kill yesterday evening. if you rearrange EDDIE IZZARD it spells CAKE OR DEATH? usually that's a pretty easy choice. during finals though, gosh, who can say?

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

who has time to write these crazy days? 9 page paper due monday, huge history project due wednesday, 15 page film paper due thursday (i'd forgotten about that last one. heh heh. at least i convinced the prof to move the deadline to thursday from its initial deadline, noway-day at impossible o'clock.) so far i've been handling it relatively well. stef, eliz and i bought a lot of junk food early in the week, knowing we'd need to bunker down and stay up past 7, when the dining hall closes. vending machines, while okay for some, can't provide anything that compares to duncan hines icing with or without graham crackers. or mmmmmmmm milanos.
even with i'm done with this batch of crap, i have 3 finals, a curriculum project and all my observations to hand in. this may be the worst finals period yet -- it's certainly up there. bizarre since i enjoyed such a managable semester. anyway, the point is i'm sane, even if i am sore, and it will all be over soon.

Monday, December 09, 2002

i've never eaten so much grapefruit in my life. the whole room smells of it (tho better citrus than dirty laundry, eh?) everyone marveled, peeling one after another, at how incredible they were. only a single grapefruit of the batch remains, snug and smugly yellow in my fridge. perhaps it will serve as reward when i finish the other major thing i have due early this week. i just handed in a history paper, whose construction mostly absorbed my weekend.
i did manage to get in some culture. senior company put on paula vogel's minneola twins and the dance concert presented an impossible number of gay men with impossible bodies doing impossible things. perhaps because the latter engaged me on more, er, physical levels, i enjoyed it more. both were nice though. i've seen a lot of movies this semester and less theater or dance than usual.
of course i watched movies too. when harry met sally, my hands-down, no-argument, sentimental-and-otherwise favorite (harry burns = still my ideal guy); friday night with a cheerful kahlua soaked group. raiders of the lost ark the following evening. felicia and i knew both by heart and often turned to each other to mouth the lines that you simply can't let go by.

having covered theater, dance, and cinema, all that remained was voice. last nite as stefanie, elizabeth and i each busied ourselves at our respective word processing stations around the room, stef murmured a line that sounded like, "i dreamed a dream in time gone by ... " like hunting dogs, eliz and i perked up and howled along. we made it all the way through that song, and then, of course, "on my own," cuz we're such a room full of eponines (did ANYONE like cosette? she's such a little pure-soul heroine, the kind of girl who says "papa" and wears white dresses. why on earth did that marius prefer her? how much of a bastard was that kneejerk revolutionary to hold eponine, who was DYING FOR LOVE OF HIM, and damned cool besides, and then forget her entirely the next second?).

Friday, December 06, 2002

HEY!! aw, what a good day. beautiful sun glinting off six inches of beautiful snow, plus all the artwork made with it or juxtaposed to it (the bright green cactus for example that popped up next to my history building, with an appended sign that reads, "MOMENT"). my beloved nervous this morning before an important interview with Mr. Watson, but looking beautifully suited up regardless. my fondness rekindled for the three beautiful women professors i have this semester, each a swatticon in her own way. a huge box of grapefruit so big each looks like athletic equipment, and burstingly pink on the inside. ohh they're so good. straight from florida, in the middle of december! thanks, mom. an equally sweet, if less citrussy, response from katie (of magicwand4katie fame).
and, a tenth review at triggerstreet, this one by a gay man. hands down the most positive so far. i'm glowing. joepat says, "Cute Story. I liked the way the story flowed and how it kept my attention. I am not an experienced screenwriter but I did feel that the characters were fully realized and the voices rang true in my head. I twould be easy to imagine this story as a film. It would also make an excellent stageplay as well."
fruits! my food AND my people.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

hey! two more straight american men reviewed my screenplay and didn't hate it. that makes the ratio 5 scathing to 3 moderate, with 1 lukewarmly positive. in celebration of that, and the snow, and the general good luck experience by most folks around here today, i bought two movies at half. neither of them, harold and maude or heathers, were too cheap, but i figured i owed myself a festival o' lights present. and, as i said, it was a snow day ("it's like raining snow," commented my beloved). no class -- teacher couldn't make it. this looks promising. cathartic discussions. an aborted attempt to watch molly ringwald be pretty in pink. the truth is, redheads shouldn't wear pink. any film that begins with that abominable a style choice is as big a mistake as that is.
being charitable, sarah kelly and i gave it a chance. but the only thing i gained from what we saw was an increased, further solidified appreciate for not having to come of age in the 80s.
i love away messages/AIM info bits. they're so telling. (screennames abbrieviated to protect the perverse)

sl15: "snow, snow, you make me glow"
hm83: "hilary from freshprince: who are all these ladies, and why do you feel like you have to have sex with them?
leon phelps: well, hmmm, let me see...have you ever had sex?
lp: "hannuka party and much drunkenness"
t2: "WWBD?"
b101: ":-) :-) :-) :-) :-)" (he's in love)
and my little brother: "I am not available because I am playing a computer game that takes up the whole screen."

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

okay, for love of lana (and elke -- hi elke): the canadian response to what apparently has been generally dismissed as an immature, uninteresting screenplay, worthy only of serving as a sex education video for midwestern gay high skoolers. in comparison, high praise indeed: "Some witty writing but an incomplete third act: Hi Ester, This is my first crack at a review so please bear withme. I found your writing to be very easy to read and the script moved along at a pretty good clip and kept me interested in what was happening to these characters. I really thought some of the pop culture references were hilarious - the mourning for Martha quip in particular! I found that your characters, while interesting, lacked a little originality - which is fine I suppose but I found myself thinking that these people could have been taken out of central casting (thora birch in ghost world or american beauty etc..). I struggle with that in my wriing too - how to keep situations and people fresh and not cliched. It is clear that you have a tie with these people and I think you could easily make a few edits to tighten them up and give them some unique attributes. The biggest suggestion I could give would be to fill out the third act - I found the story ended just as it was heading toward some real conflict and tension. I'd like to know what happened to htese people. Enjoyed it and hope you can flush it out at the end and make it work! Cheers."
as previously noted, the only [other?] positive review came from the only female to read the script. sn = mango. hint hint, nudge nudge.

more importantly, david horowitz spoke here last nite. by nearly all acounts, he was sensationalistic, abrasive, and pompous; worse, he didn't substantiate any claim he made about the "hate-america left." it's true, leftists tend to be more critical of the u.s. its good points, i guess, are considered too obvious to state. follow me here: the country is like your offspring. a lot of factors shaped your country before you arrived, like genes contribute to the identity of your child. but instead of dwelling on the immutable genetic makeup of your kid, you as a parent concentrate on your child's potential. you attempt to mold it, share your morals with it, affect its character. you don't focus just on the things you love about your kid -- obviously you love your kid if you've held onto it and let it hold onto you for this many years. you challenge your kid, expect the best from it; and when it lives up to your standards, you give it a hug. right?

to compensate for that little ranty thing, enjoy the following link: this is the story of one woman's fight for justice from the noble savage {from lara, amazingly, and not ross who also picked it up somewhere}. if katie writes, acts clever, and and self-deprecates while self-promoting like a swattie, it's because she is one. so's jonathan franzen! what a small world.
oh, and my review of far from heaven.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

perhaps my belly is growing. ( +4 femme points for noticing, -13 for not caring) frankly i think it's the only way to survive the winter. when i went home, another of my aunts asked me if i'd lost weight. i lashed out at her. perhaps i shouldn't have. i know it seems like an innocuous -- or flattering -- question, but since to my knowledge i have not, it just makes me think that everyone's mental image of me is as chubby. you know?

today, for the last time, i woke at 7:15 to toddle off to my ed observation at a not-so-local (hence the inordinate amount of travel time) middle skool. these observations had the potential to be fascinating windows into education in america. but they weren't. teaching's not for me. it seems like these exhausted women expend as much energy on disciplining as they do on imparting information; that's not fun to watch let alone enviable. ultimately, spending two hours in a classroom felt like having to spend two extra hours in a classroom, only one in which nothing i didn't know was taught.
in going to my last observation, though, i missed rabi's radio show. she'd invited me to come read poetry. that's one of two very recent ego-salves. as the other, a male finally reviewed my screenplay at triggerstreet and didn't pan it. he had insightful comments and constructive criticism, and he even pointed out parts he really liked. naturally, he's canadian.

Monday, December 02, 2002

on the bus yesterday stef and i argued over which of us is femmer. i don't remember why we decided being femme was better than the alternative -- somehow it just came up, so we had to fight about it. we didn't reach a conclusion. it did however remind me of an exchange i had with my aunt. have you, she asked me, become interested in the domestic arts? i nearly choked on my broccoli. when i recovered, i handled the question most suavely and democratically ( +2 femme points). no aunt marge, i said. i cooked for myself a little in denmark, but generally i just want to live in a dorm for the rest of my life ( -15 femme points). i think the unfortunate idea is that since i'm the only girl cousin of the 6 of us, the responsibility will eventually fall to me to host these extraordinary dinners and occasions for which the blooms are famous.
in response, i can only say: this morning brigid asked me for the second time, in the same plaintive tone, whether i had a little sewing kit. the answer, folks, is no. i mean, you can search through the pile of my dirty laundry (incl. 2 pairs of sheets) on my unvaccumed floor, or you can just take my word for it.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

the soda machine failed me but sorelle came through, offerring the remnants of her last nite's smirnoff ice. flashbacks to copenhagen: sitting on the square, next to the fountain, watching everyone else drink beer, trying to enjoy the sunlight and pretending it was as warm as it felt like it could be.
(me: ooh, already i feel buzzed.
veronica: you've had three sips!)

but i'm back at swat. maybe i'm high on the latkes and chocolate gelt sorelle brought from home, or the shorter-than-expected bus ride with stefanie. when has a greyhound bus ever arrived an HOUR ahead of schedule? we took advantage of the gift by dining out lusciously in chinatown. we had a great bonding talk throughout, as we'd been having since about noon. a perfect cap to a largely enjoyable weekend. the previous night stef had accompanied me to a typical fuelo gathering -- all my friends sitting around in nomi's living room, talking. luckily she got along well with everyone. the love, indeed, from all sides, was palpable.
other friend situations were enjoyable too. watching notorious c.h.o. with liz and her little sister. shopping (and finding a great cheap pair of purple pants) with a newly giddy lana. long conversations about sex/gender, sex + gender, SEX GENDER, and life in general.

family time was a little more up and down, of course. 20 people, mostly relatives, streamed in and out. my incredible mother just kept on chugging, producing, with my uncle, first a thanksgiving feast; then, the next night, a shabbes and 1st night of hannukah feast. tonite latkes, but i'm missing those. housing dozens of cozens, washing dishes, keeping everyone happy, distributing presents. she amazes me. all that family, however, did mean a lot of sorrowful talk about kenya, one uninvited comment about "[my] friends, the palestinians and al qaeda," much small talk, and some mockery of my friends at skool and skool itself. it was worth it for the hugs and the scrabble, and certainly worth it to take showers in my shower and sleep in my bed.
only 20 days of skool left in which to do everything i need to do. holy god.

also, yay!, why didn't anyone tell me? aldaily is back.