Friday, February 28, 2003

"maybe that's why we're going out. we have 2 things now. we dig respect and -- what was the other thing? the thing we thought of yesterday? dammit. ...
are you making fun of me?"
-- my b. loved

Thursday, February 27, 2003

after my two hour power-lunch with a successful screenwriter, i'm uncertain what i can or should do with my life. but i was uncertain before. on one hand, he said, If i can do it you can do it. luck and grit. the ability to sit still. &c. on the other, he said he doesn't understand this business, no one does. he could be out tomorrow (aaron mcgruder said that too. i suppose it's a truism about most kinds of success). we had a pleasant chat; i really enjoyed it. tho he stated and restated his committment to the mainstream, the man's hair, tweed, and glasses all point to intellectual with-a-capital-i. he looks like what he is, the son of an english professor and a librarian and a life-long resident of swarthmore, pennsylvania. he may have eaten lunch with nicole kidman but what shows is he's a writer.

to finish with a flourish, he said, not to rain on your parade or anything --

and this came on top of: nothing new comes out of hollywood; every screenplay is digested by a 12-stomached cow before it makes it to the screen and the vast vast majority succumb to the bile; people like charlie kaufman, todd solondz, david lynch and neil labute (a) are flukes and (b) don't exist

-- but a screenplay on victoria woodhull, the subject of my screenplay qua honors thesis project, is in the works, a pet project of the man who did robocop. the kicker is, his'll undoubtedly be far better than mine.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

well thank god that's over with. an intense, relatively emotionally-stressful week, by which of course i mean three days. thursday and friday, being as i have no class, i usually get up late, dawdle, gawk at the internet, and maybe dabble in homework or necessary tasks. unfortunately i actually have to write a seminar paper this week (on social vices -- this could be fun) so after my exciting lunch date on thursday and except for the 2 como info sessions on friday, i'll be reading reading reading. reaDING!

while walking through the increasingly redundant snow this afternoon, which the WA in me wants to cross out fiercely in pen, i sank mentally into the comfortable realization that these are the Best Years of my Life. it's marvelous. i have been happy since graduating high skool. even a little before. i've said this before, i know. it's terrible; this statement is as unnecessary as the weather. it reminds me of when i said iloveyou for the first time cuz i no longer felt like i could notsay it. (to be historically precise, it was "ithink iloveyou" and it was squeezed out of me in no small part because of the inescapable resemblance his gray sweatshirt gave him to the man of my dreams.) (also, i adore parantheses. as long as i'm stating the obvious. and anyone who reads this drivel, especially [penn]becca who is a Girlfriend for the first time in a long time and it seems to be making her happy. or especially if they hug me after, in real life. i appreciate that.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

i need post-its. this shouldn't be so difficult. i feel like everyone in the known universe has post-its except me, and uses them for strategic, appropriate purposes, like sticking them to desktop monitors with helpful reminders about appointments and assignments. i have old fortune cookie fortunes taped to my monitor but it's just not the same: "A cautious person leaves no stones unturned (Lucky Numbers: 3, 12, 15, 17, 35, 37)" is a little vague.

right now i could be working on grant essays, but i had seminar all day today. some people have seminars during the afternoon. this class, the seminar papers don't come in til early morning, so you have to spend the pre-lunch hours going over them. then seminar itself starts at 1:15 and it commonly runs til 5:30. if that's not all day, i don't know what is. we watch the sun set, for god's sake.
this week one of the seminar papers got my blood boiling. i'm trying to be apolitical this semester, i'm trying i'm trying like i tried last semester, i'm trying to be calm, reading with my little pen in hand, and OH MY GOD this guy is making unsubstantiated generalizations about the mainstream jewish community and its intellectual leaders, and christ what is that PARAGRAPH OF ANTI-ZIONISM doing in an american social history paper? i don't read anti-zionism before i've eaten. it's a policy of mine. i also don't take classes in which i have to argue it with people; that's another policy. it's a sensitive, complicated, personal issue to a lot of people and a 5 minute discussion inevitably won't do it justice. i thought a class like this would be safe. i draw hammers in the margin and write SOAPBOX in big red letters, which helps me blow off a little steam, but i still tremble a little when the prof says we're going to start going over his paper.

the social is political is personal, it turns out. as we start, i preface, "i was personally upset and offended by your paper," which might even be under-playing it, but he snaps to attention and nods soberly. i restrain myself to pointing out logical inconsistencies and historical inaccuracies in what i hope is a logical, rational matter (please don't write me off as an emotional woman). other folks join the fray -- the ones who are arguing with me, i notice, are two of the other three jews in the class. the prof has the last word and it's one i agree with. whee!
everyone likes my colorful, junk-food seminar break. i relax. after class, the prof tells me she thinks i handled it well. i shake hands with the paper's author who smiles and says, We should talk sometime.

i am not a rightist. just because i will defend to the death israel's right to exist does not mean that i don't think its current government cannot or should not be criticized, like tikkun. i believe in a two-state solution. i believe in affirmative action and the necessity of white guilt. (i don't believe in Beatles.) drop bush not bombs. equal access to marriage for any committed couple, if they desire it. (the dream is over.) (valentines day is over.) there should be more space on campus for people to articulate opinions that are left of center but right of the barn. be polyamorous if you want but protect yourself and be honest about it. against abortions? don't have one. (he was the walrus. i could be the walrus, i'd still have to bum rides off of people.)

Monday, February 24, 2003

i think what it amounts to is i have too many men in my life. not possible, you say? well. clearly you didn't have a chance to listen, starry-eyed, to aaron-fucking-mcgruder saturday night: unwilling prophet and [emphatically not a] social leader of my generation, graduate of umd (just like frank cho! man, they really churn them out over there), compelling, acidic speaker, and all-around articulate, bitter, talented, funny guy.

clearly the screenwriter responsible for steven spielberg's last summer blockbuster didn't just write you back, setting up a lunch date for this thursday.

clearly you don't have a terrific boyfriend who continues to make you girlishly giddy, long after your relationship is due to have become blase.

i could keep listing, i guess -- my father, my grandfather, my brothers, my various muses and friends, shakespeare, vonnegut, tom robbins, douglas adams, j. franzen, m. chabon, b. dylan, p.t. anderson, j. carrey, w. goldman, b. bragg, b. & sebastian, m. python, t. tykwer, m. brothers, m. miller (science/religion teacher from high skool. you don't know him), e.e. cummings ... o, and chaucer. this is no particular order. have i forgotten someone?

Friday, February 21, 2003

i could not be happier. i'm halfway through a bear-cookie valentine that i bought at target because it looked lonely and frightening and also pink, and was very drastically on sale, along with everything else there (i got a kickass seminar break for $15). jonah&sarah, one of the hotttest couples of campus, invited ben and me to spur-of-the-moment ethiopean food on the phringes of philly. all 4 of our orders appeared on one huge tray, prompting the question of how many people need to order before they receive more than one tray. it hardly matters, good ethiopean food is always so good, and so filling. mmmmm.

that, and the target run (we spent an hour there -- how?) came at the end of a terrific day, in which i got the final OKAY on my screenplay idea. OKAY, i can finally 100% throw myself into doing it, as long as i get the grant. elizabeth, who i may live with in nyc this summer, said that not only could her dad, who rents apts, possibly let us have one, but we might be able to have HIS. a summer in new york with cable tv and space to twirl in? could that be more perfect?
then i went to break up with my advisor, who can't be my advisor anymore. but i asked if he'd remain my father figure on campus, and he said of course. heart heart.
then i wrote a poem, and i like it a lot, but it's long. i don't know if i should post it here or not.
i'm almost done with the bear. the icing's so hard it's kind of made me nauseous. within 3 hours of feasting, one should never attempt to eat other food. oh well. i haven't mentioned yet but aaron mcgruder is coming to campus tomorrow -- hands down the coolest speaker i'll have ever seen.

oh dude! we were just talking about absinthe.
and we're always talking about the axis of evil.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

oh my god, how did i miss reading television without pity joevan recaps while the show was going on? they are hilarious. hi-lar-i-ous. admit it, you and 40 million other red-blooded americans, loved that show. loved it! you watched BOTH HOURS of the finale on monday. you would follow joevan into battle. you would nominate zora for president, or at least psychic priestess of america (didn't miss cleo leave that post vacant?) you cheered, maybe you even almost cried, during that last 'waltz' around the ballroom, and when zora asked if she could kiss him. it actually looked genuine!(ish) -- genuine enough.

go read the snark. it's virtually as much fun as repeating the entire gleefully-prefeminist experience from episode I. (my campus paper published an article from some idiot in connecticut trying to make an anti-joe millionaire argument. go back to russia, okay? maybe on the boat you'll find your long-lost sense of humor.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

after history seminar yesterday an intense powwow with my teacher-mentor. when i'm done with this class i'll have taken 4 credits with her -- that's virtually a minor. you have to have fire in your belly, she says. you get too distracted. (starved for declarations. tell me more.) want this more than anything, she said, or it won't happen, and you'll just be another one of those people that Wants a lot but doesn't get anywhere. make this the first step. after all, why NOT you? (okay but.) (i'm short?) you're short? since when? i blinked at her again. she told me stories of her old best friend from college. who's your best friend?, she asked me. (i haven't considered that question since israel, right after highskool ...) you have lots of good friends, don't you? matt rubin brought you diet coke in class. her best friend was tall. i could call her up right now, she says. (will she, once i leave her office?) instead, she turns to the computer, impatient with me or just eager to get on with the rest of her evening. i'm tired, she says. as i walk out, i answer, Go to sleep.

it's inspiring to have people tell you things about you. or have you not noticed? a woman i'd only worked for for a few days last summer told me i had bad depth perception. transfixing! how did she know? indeed she was right -- or, i'd never thought about it, but why not? parking was always tricky, and abstract math. tempting to get a psychiatrist just so she can tell me things about me. i'd rather divide people into categories than join the fray. if i'm not the resident expert i don't want to address an issue. i think, I don't belong here, when what i mean is, I wish i'd done this reading. it's more fun when it happens spontaneously, when you don't have to pay for it.
anyway, i'm so inspired i come home and entirely redo my resume, basing it nearly word-for-word on my brother's, which he spent ages on over winter break. that's what brothers are for.

Monday, February 17, 2003

terrible twos

for you, I will drink my ginger ale quietly
and eat my 19s with my fingers

instead of throwing them at other kids, even though
targets abound, and so tempting, oblivious

and chewing, with TV eyes. I like making them cry
and trying to describe it: their faces expand

and turn the color of juice while juice
drips from their eyes.

for me, you will stop staring at the wall,
your frown of intense concentration (you

have the most dramatic eyebrows ever seen
on a toddler) will scamper off, leaving you

surprised and forced to find a new expression. you will cope
by sucking my thumb & we will stare

as deep as 2 year olds can get into each others�
sticky happy faces, immortally softandround with youth

while around us children break things. we are serious
and calm: we read already: our palms tell our stories

in Mr Sketch. I reach up and smooth your hair: your curls
are burnt-toast, mine are maple-syrup. we�re suited

to each other, all the adults say so:
I�ve never seen 2 year olds so sweet

on each other! & we smile, our hands hidden
and working under my blue duck dress,

beneath your Osh Kosh. soon, we�ll sneak to the kitchen
steal cookies and watch Pulp Fiction

but for now we�re content in the playroom, playing, dodging
other kids� cereal, celebrating being 2 years old, and coming.
ester&ben = 2 years old today. this is the happiest 2 year old i've ever been. let's hear it for love -- and clocks.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

there's no reason to be up on a sunday morning before the dining hall opens for brunch except to look out the window and think "snow! we don't need more of that!" and find funny things to read on the internet. so here's one from the onion, in case you missed it; and another from rabi's lj: cooking with monkey. try the brie and baguette one.

people are sick everywhere. walking around the library with your eyes closed, you'd think you were in a hospital of some beleagured war-torn south american nation, where hoarse delirious voices call out for water and legs have to be amputated and there is no morphine. actually, with very little connection to my metaphor, i'm picturing the atlanta scene in Gone With the Wind where scarlet gets more and more grossed out by having to play a nurse. but who wouldn't?

that's enough of that. i missed the protest but i hear it went well. i missed everything last week, in fact. but i'm beginning to get my energy back and that's exciting.

Friday, February 14, 2003

um, interesting (and you have to admire a clever title). two people got married last year in maryland. this year, as it turned out that one of the individuals involved is a woman -- or rather, that both individuals are women, but especially the one that was taken for a man -- the state has revoked their license. who knew the state could do that? and why don't they do it more often?
the twist is that the individual taken for a man actually was a man once before she transitioned.
it's certainly one of the most trans-positive articles i've read. it refers to georgie with female pronouns throughout, though possibly just because she's had a surgicial operation which makes her new gender "legitimate." still, it's respectful, and it seems to take the side of the couple.

i just got back from worth, the health center, where i spent 27 in one room. yesterday my fever hit a high of 103.6 and my lovely friend felicia got me over there. first time i'd ever spent time in anything like a hospital, but it wasn't bad at all. people visited nearly constantly; when i was alone, i slept, ate, or read. thousands of doses of nyQuil and voila: temperature back to normal. ester can go back home where she belongs.
this morning ben and i exchanged our non-chocolate v-day presents, marking my 1st romantic recognition of this hallmark holiday (last year i cried in a bar in western denmark. love, yes; romance, not so much). so happy v-day to everyone -- hope it's sweet.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

fever's down for the first time since i had to come home, midday yesterday, and collapse into bed. various friends fussed over me the way friends should when you can barely move, and for ten hours i could barely move. ben convinced me in the evening to take my temperature ("i don't need to, i don't think i have a -- oh.") and it 100.8. i can't remember the last time i had a fever. today tho i felt better -- i can move around, and eat, and withstand light -- my temperature reached 101.9. that's a fucking radio station, man, not a body temperature. maybe it's just down now cuz i took a shower but i do feel more energized.

so much nyquil. so many vitamin c drops. so much negotiating and renegotiating plans with teachers, doctors, mother, friends, love. if i feel horrific tomorrow at noon my wonderful mother may whisk up to fetch me home to recoop there; if i'm better i'll wait it out here. everything as it comes.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

awesome. no Adaptation for best picture but no About Schmidt either. and check out the original screenplay nods (yes, i know you have to scroll down the page. writers don't get any respect.)

i seem to be sick now in several new and different ways, which at least is a nice change. stupid winter.

Monday, February 10, 2003

slowly, i think, Why am i thinking slowly? then i remember, i'm taking sedatives.
here's my stab at a love poem for this week's session:
go marching two by two, hurrah

in tenth grade I marched, manacled
in construction paper, to the Chinese embassy,
stood in the swelling snow and shouted Free Tibet!
until my feet turned numb because I liked a boy
and that was his Cause. we played witchcraft
together & for his birthday, I bought him handcuffs
tied in purple ribbon. he never caught on.

this saturday I�ll go marching, manacled
in pessimism, to the United Nations,
stand whether in swelling snow or simply
as part of the amoebic Left & shout
Leave Iraq Alone! because our cowboy president
is pied pipering our boys in blue to slaughter, but
principally because the boy I love has asked me to.

Evil keeps a running tally, continues to present
unique spins on itself � equally inexhaustible,
if not as creative, the Left continues to fight.
poor redundant love will keep us marching
despite our despair. while Evil produces subjects
and the Left counters with rhyme, love
will give us reason to chant. who cares if feet freeze,
if the Chinese embassy stares blankly back,
if the UN is UN-helpful -- TV has tutored me
to expect as much. you continue to delight me.
for the sake of this falling, I will march, I will scream
Make Love Not War! & mean it.

i've been subsisting on bread and soup, supplemented by crackers and liberal doses of promethazine. why am i still ill? i thought this damn thing was supposed to clear up over the summer. oh well. excitingly, the oscar nominations come out tomorrow. so far this february hasn't been bad at all.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

sick (again! what is this?) illness unfortunately hit last night in the city at the hotel where elizandstef and benandi had gone to celebrate our various anniversaries. we managed to get in a good solid meal at a mediterranean restaurant and a few hours of cable tv watching/bashing beforehand. still, i don't understand this flashback to the summer and i wish most seriously it would stop.

speaking of seriously, ben and i had an intense conversation over dinner about whether or not to attend the peace march in new york this saturday. it doesn't jive with this year's devout apoliticism; it gets in the way of my timely completion of my very first seminar paper; it has the potential to be disorganized, alienating, or just plain cold. alternatively it could be uplifting, important, or memorable. frankly i don't know if i have the optomism for mass marches, but if worse comes to worse i can observe.

in less than 24 hrs i need to have written a love poem. [good] love poems are very hard to write.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

how strange everything has turned out today. i have all the time and energy i need to recooperate, only no recooperation seems to be necessary. ben asks me where i see myself in five years and i'm knocked so off-balance i can only answer, "angry. in LA." a moment of clairvoyance or just wishful thinking? brig, when i relate this story, adds, "you'll be 25." i hadn't even considered that element.

i look over my screenplay and am so dismayed at how much revision is required that i immediately close the window and play 10 games of freecell of which i lose several. brig reminds me, it's freecell, ester -- not life. i've always had problems keeping the two straight.

i try calling my mother every half hour but her government agency only registers a busy signal. i stare at the phone, perplexed. how can the government not have call waiting?

i walk into the bathroom and wash my hands. when i look over to my towel hook, i notice that the dishrag that i stole from parrish hall and have never washed -- and have been using as a towel -- has fallen to the tile. i start laughing and find it difficult to stop. i reach down, pick it up, gently replace it on its hook, and return to my room.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

sick. slept most of the day, skipped (well, called off) rehearsal, even left my poetry class early. a couple enthusiastic responses to my love song (see below) coupled with a remark that it was "eliot-like" and "eliot-esque" and a complaint that there wasn't enough rhyme. some members of the class had no idea that eliot was in any way connected to Cats -- they looked appropriately chagrined.

tomorrow is for recooperating. until evening, i have nothing else to do. i'm trying to figure out whether it's worth it to go to the anti-war protest on the 15th in ny. pointless jumping-up-and-down and arm-waving, or a part of an escalating international response which is sure to catch the government's attention at some point? war feels inevitable, as does the suspicion that we will all look back on this as a crucial turning point -- the u.s. giving up their moral authority, the rest of the world losing patience, the threat (potentiality?) of terrorism against the u.s. focusing and solidifying in retaliation. but that doesn't mean that even if all of us go and scream at the top of our voices, it will stop anything.

too bleak a note to end on. it's february! a year ago i was despondent in denmark, although that would change; now i'm happy here. stef'n'eliz and ben'n'i have booked one night's retreat in celebration of anniversaries: their 1 yr last week, mine and ben's 2 year on the 17th. a pool, a hottub, cable, a door that locks, time uninterrupted by responsibilities -- what more could you ask for, really?

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

scary scary seminar soon. over breakfast this morning ben sat in my chair and calmed me down, walking me through what ifs (if i'm not a _____, what am i? if i could do _____ all again, would i make the same choices?) just say one thing [at seminar -- last week my tally was 0 comments after 3 hours.] actually, he amended, say 4 things. 4 is a lot more than 0, i said. but he insisted. 4. i can count that high.

aside from today's mid-morning crisis, i've been feeling unusually mature and responsible. with my week sectioned for me -- half for AIH, half for seminar -- i get to organize my time into efficient blocks. i've been getting things done. that wouldn't be quite worth turning cartwheels, this being only the third week of the semester, except for me, it's significant. the addition to my arm helps, tho it's turning fuzzy around the edges as its adhesiveness retains remnants of whatever i wear or sleep on. so far i'm accomplishing things, and managing without too much drama.
speaking of which, altho i didn't think i could i ended up able to watch 3/4 of joe millionaire last night even -- and he tossed melissa m.! REJOICE. now it's down to zora v. sarah, tall slender lovely brunette zora v. tall slender lovely blonde (evil) sarah. cinderella v. the step-sister. virtue v. vice. body image problems v. willing to be felt up on national tv. joe, i don't know about you, but i know which one my money's on.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

because i'm excited about it, and while wonderful godlike danny helps fix my page, here's the poem i wrote for poetry this week:
t.s. eliot: a love song

T.S. Eliot (what did his friends call him?)
wrote his wryest, chiseled his most compelling
character, span best, scanned best, while at Harvard,
age 19. (I was 19 recently enough to remember:
it�s a self-serious age.) Without tax forms to file
or a wife to commit [to], under the umbrella
of intellectualism, happily schismed from the more
complex racial and cultural prisms that make up life beyond
that gilded cage, T.S. Eliot (how did his fellow snobs know him?)
penned Prufrock, a love song, and
my favorite poem.

what was he like, aged 19? had he yet embraced
the Catholic faith to such a frowny-faced degree
that he�d chase his chaste and pious wife out of the country,
across the sea, to an asylum (she�d decay in pine for him, in
the coffin set cruelly above the ground) �
and seek comfort in the arms of Ezra Pound?
T.S. Eliot (what did the other anti-semites call him?)
glares up at me, Elizabethan, unamused,
from the Norton book whose pages, much perused,
offer up the sage and solemn Prufrock
I can�t resist:
like a patient etherized upon a table, I am kissed
by a doctor whose other ministrations I abhor. sometimes, T.S. Eliot,
(what were you called by the other lonely,
crazy rich?) I want more (and I don�t know which
is worse: seeming to endorse you by confessing I adore
some of your adolescent brilliance � or,
leaving all the fanfare and the accolades for critics who,
like mermaids, sing them, each to each, relishing
the high notes I can�t reach) I wonder
if you�d like me either. most likely not.
(I�m the age you were, but far less surly;
I giggle more, I�m vaguely girly;
and though I�ll admit that you were wiser,
I�m not a Nazi sympathizer.)
still, I�m sure we could agree
we�ve hit the nadir with Fox TV;
indeed, we could sneer at this whole ersatz culture
in a succession of tea-timed chats; and if we felt hot,
we could venture out � me in sunglasses, you in spats �
buy ourselves tickets and laugh through Cats.