Wednesday, July 30, 2003

birthday cake for breakfast

most recently, in my series of action/adventure-packed days, i returned from the plymouth congregational church where henry ward beecher preached during the 2nd half of the 19th century. in his day preachers were like movie stars. people came from all over the country to hear him, as well as from manhattan in droves, to the point where some ingenious fella christened "beecher's ferries" specifically for the purpose of bringing congregants across the river.

my tour guide in the church, a woman who looked remarkably like what i may look like at her age, plus 80's glasses and a muumuu, made it abundantly clear at the outset that she would not discuss the scandal. "that was a bump in the road of a long glorious career," she said sternly. "it would be like judging clinton's presidency by that thing with the intern."

i refrained from pointing out that clinton's thing with the intern did happen, and consequently that parallel was not necessarily one she wanted to draw. i got an hour and a half's worth of hwb's life apart from the scandal, which involved some amazing abolitionist work and some very touching stories. but mlk jr. had an affair too, didn't he? a man can still be a rightfully revered man and have committed adultery, or even still be a hypocrite in some senses.

on a non-morally-relativist note, i had a dream come true moment last night. my broadway faithful aunt marjy took me to see bernadette peters play mme rose in gypsy. since i was 12 years old, i wanted two things: to be bernadette peters, and to see her onstage. she was entirely as breathtaking as the above review makes her seem. my aunt, a veteran of shows and star showcasings, called her rose one of the best musical theater performances she'd ever seen.

and this came, in my case, on the heels of a weekend-long folk music extravaganza. everyone and their mother was there: swatties, high skool friends, their magically reappearing ex-boyfriends. white but diverse, as masses of 15,000 white people go. friendly and cheerful as always, and well staffed with happy leftist performers from dar williams to tracy grammer to arlo guthrie.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

en avant garde!

the brita filter in our apartment has gone missing, or else i'm too lazy to retrieve it from where it probably is, so i keep ignoring the vast, abyss-like feeling of my mouth when i wake up. better still, i feed it diet coke.

today my lovely friend jamie trips up to the city, and tomorrow together the two of us + lana trip up to falconridge, a folk festival to which i've gone twice. THIS YEAR, i will actually know several people who are going too, and not just have to hit up 40 year old divorcee strangers and punk teenage boys for company.

in short, falconridge will be full of swatties, much like the play becca took me to on tuesday. she's now working for the pig iron theater company and she introduced me around to the numerous eager swattie-grads who formed and run the troupe. no words! for 70 minutes! just a lot of theory-based clowning around that succeeded in being amusing and engaging to watch.

it felt very much like the swat theater i'm used to. also it's nice to encounter mobs of swatties -- they seem to move in mobs, don't they? or at least in couples -- in the outside world. there should be a better descriptive noun for that: swarths of swatties? stings of swatties? watts of swatties? hum.

Monday, July 21, 2003

for all the prep stef and i did for our mutual special day, we neglected to plan or purchase a birthday cake. i didn't notice until ben, ross, reb and i were up visiting ross's grandparents in north salem. ben and i had brought a beautiful cake as a dessert that made me think of it as we were cutting it up. immediately ross's grandmother said that would not stand. she summoned the crowd, lit a tall white candle in a cande-holder, and the circle sang for me.

the cake was good, and i was satisfied.

i've also been reading the strangest combination of books: ulysees, with ross: the two of us formed an exclusive book club. our notion is that no one reads ulysees outside of a class, and since neither of us is going to take a class on it, we have to push each other to read it and help each other understand it; a series of unfortunate events: the bad beginning, which i adored; uncle tom's cabin for insight into harriet beecher stowe as well as her century; and easy riders, raging bulls about 70s filmmakers and how they grew.

easy riders, raging bulls is dispiriting in some senses. it's about the guys you're supposed to root for -- your heroes, the ones who subverted the system and found enough of a heartbeat in the comatose movie industry to power chinatown, network, and bonnie and clyde, harold and maude, taxi driver and the godfathers.
and it turns out, they're assholes. every one. coked up, self-aggrandizing, macho, violent, backstabbing, morally-bankrupt sex-addicts. they just happened to make great movies.

on the other hand, it's a fascinating process to read about. and it's fueled my ambition like nothing else. i want to work in casting. no, i want to work in directing. no, i want to be a writer. no, an editor. anything: i just want to work in film. somehow.
something about this city, too. it pushes, or deludes, you into thinking, maybe-just-maybe, you can do it.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

practice practice practice

what better way to spend the daylight hours of your 21st birthday than enjoying an obscure russian opera at lincoln center? even those circumstances are immeasurably improved by the realization that you're in the company of the boy-you-love and making your father happy on your father's dime.

opera isn't usually my cup of tea. still, the nytimes raved about this one, and truly it was an experience. i'd never been to lincoln center before, or sat through four hours of russian, except for that seder in moscow.

life in general leading up to this momentous occasion has been lovely. intense research spanning two (2) boroughs has led me to discover the fascinating role victoria woodhull -- my woman, the subject of the screenplay i'm writing as my thesis next semester -- and harriet beecher stowe -- the woman who wrote uncle tom's cabin -- played in each others' lives.

about harriet beecher stowe, dorothy parker wrote the following:
the pure and worthy mrs. stowe/ is one we all are proud to know/ as mother, wife, and authoress./ Thank god i am content with less.

about victoria woodhull, people haven't written much; at least not recently. but in 1872, harriet beecher stowe wrote a satirical play about vw, in which hbs called vw "audacia dangereyes." poof: my screenplay-thesis now has a title.

tonite is all about dining and drinking. celebration. yay! i will never be a twenty-nothing again.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

a (don't hate me) political entry

ben has been tirelessly touting bob graham as the neglected candidate in the dem showdown. indeed people haven't been taking him seriously as a contender, despite his actual experience, the fact that he hails from the south -- whence, as everyone keeps telling us, the only winning dems hail -- , and actually quite liberal views.
he didn't make nearly as much money as kerry, gephardt, or dean this past quarter, for one thing. he's also not jostling for room on the the-government's-been-lyin-to-us! soapbox, unlike several candidates i could name, nearly all of whom voted for bush's damn war.

although i think anything anyone says to undermine america's misguided faith in our president is a step in the right direction, as well as anything that keeps criticism of the white house on the front page, it's hard not to see it as craven vote-mongering. especially since the only people shouting are those trying to draw attention to their campaigns.

which brings me back to the point: it's refreshing that graham isn't among them. maybe that's because he voted against the war in the first place.

i'm finding it difficult to get energized about a particular candidate at the moment, myself. the rhetoric is so bland and interchangeable. fight for the future, wrong direction, blah. graham, though sympathetic, strikes me as more of a well-meaning guy than a firebrand (be a bobcat? come on). i understand why dean is so compelling. the man at least has passion. aside from all the name dropping of dead white males + mlk jr, he's actually saying something, strongly. and he understands the way to surf the wave of the future: blogger, man, all the way.

what's the issue with dean again? is it just backlash? i mean, alex likes him as does janeane garofolo. frankly the man looks presidential (how tall is he exactly?) and sometimes that's totally what it comes down to.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

three random encounters yesterday:

first, waiting for the elevator at my office building. a well-dressed 30-something african-american woman looking disgusted informed me, "new yorkers are fucking crazy."
why?, i asked.
"they're just crazy, fucking crazy. why would some guy pull an emergency brake on a train? and then sit there? we'd all have to sit there for thirty minutes until the police came? they're even starting an investigation."
i agreed that it was crazy, and she said nothing more to me until we parted ways.

second, walking down 8th avenue toward the post office. a well-dressed 30-something african-american man walked up to me with his hand extended, "hi miss-in-a-leather-skirt. i'm doing a promotion for women in leather skirts today ..." by that point i had moved out of earshot.

third, walking out of my office and into the lobby, where sat a well-dressed 20-something white female. she glanced at me, i glanced at her. i thought, It's that chick from dawson's creek! what the hell is her name?
she must have thought, who is that attractive young female in the leather skirt, and why isn't she asking for my autograph?

the next time i see a katie holmes-level famous person, i'm going to go up to them, whether i can place them or not, and say, Wow, i can't believe it's you! i loved you in wonder boys. just to be safe.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

spellbound helped raise my spirits. (have you not yet seen it? go!) certainly it's one of the best movies i've seen so far this year. it's fond of all of the characters it portrays while keeping just enough distance to allow you to laugh at them too.
as a documentary, not just a movie, it excels because it has that light touch. the previous night i saw also good, but spellbound is smoother, swifter, and more composed.

friday night my roommates and i went in for an improv marathon at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in chelsea. as it turns out my work is like three blocks from there. as soon as i was dismissed, i placed myself in line for tickets, and the hour i stood there before other roommates arrived allowed me to make the acquaintance of hard-boiled, wry new york artist harriet. she commented on my reading fran lebowitz. i remember reading that, she said, like twenty years ago. i'm glad it's still funny.

(it is.) in due time, the others arrived and comedy started. we stayed for 4.5 of the 54 hours, returning the next day for an hour more. the key takeaway, in my opinion, is that funny looking white guys are funny. guys who are so used to being funnylooking that they don't notice or care anymore and can be totally unselfconscious on stage, and guys who must have realized early on that if they want to get laid or noticed they'd have to come up with something, cuz their looks just weren't going to cut it.

we spent dinner that evening meditating on why women seemed to follow a different pattern. my theory is that women are primarily supposed to be attractive. if a woman is not conventionally attractive, she's supposed to suck it up, try hard and/or pretend. a man throwing in the towel of attractiveness can be brave ("wow, what a courageous realist") or at least can be good-humored ("chris farley, drew carrey, etc., and notice how these guys still manage to get chicks in their movies and tv shows"). a woman throwing in the towel of attractiveness, on the other hand, is pathetic. before you can laugh at/with her, you have to swallow your pity.

speaking of swallowing your pity, i have work now 2 days a week in a wonderful, sunny office filled with huge framed colorful posters, happy women and gay men. everyone is young and hip. everywhere are piles of screenplays and pictures of actors inviting your judgement. even if all i do is copy and carry, and at the end of the day receive a $10 bill from an unsmiling man named vinnie, i'm thrilled.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

i felt for a while like i could cry. i was crying earlier, finishing bee season. i'd expected that to be light reading -- why? it's beautiful and i must have sniffled through the last 30 pages of it. afterwards stef and i argued whether there was some sort of redemption or happiness to be found in the ending. it came down to a simple pessimist / optomist dichotomy.

if anyone called me a pessimist, i'd be hurt. last night, however, i did have a moderately fatalistic attitude towards the water in which i was supposed to eventually put buckwheat pasta but which felt very acutely to me as though it would never boil, never, not if i stood there for the entire night.
you'll never be a good cook if you think fatalistically, said rebecca.
don't tell her she'll never be a good cook!, said ben.
i laughed. they were both right.

my job at planet elaineum fell through. it turned out that my prospective boss was crazy, and also that she was my cousin eric's second grade teacher (my aunt, reminded of the woman cried, "she's crazy!"). i was willing to work with her anyway, even for only $5 an hour, because i'm a sucker for crazy old jewish women, or at least i feel like i can deal with them.
but then ben, at whose house i would have to live to commute to planet elaineum, got this great job in brooklyn for those two days a week. so he'll live in brooklyn, i'll live in brooklyn, he'll make $25 an hour, and i'll continue wandering around my posh, beautiful neighborhood, wondering what i'm going to do with the rest of my life.

or even the present of my life. i expected new york city to incite in me feelings of: inferiority, self-doubt, mediocrity, low self-esteem, and/or perhaps bitterness. (see Fatalism, above) i didn't expect to thoroughly enjoy the city but find myself intermittently awash in an existential crisis. how will i make my million? is the general question. the more focused beginning is, how will i make any money at all, or does it matter, and should i just concentrate on the research? then, after that's done, after i write the screenplay i'm supposed to write, and graduate with the degree i'm supposed to graduate with, and become the person i'm supposed to become, then, THEN, i'll figure out: how will i make my million?

Sunday, July 06, 2003

o beauty and beneficence. i have a job. after the various travel expenses, i'll make $FoodMoney.fortheWeek out of it. plus it seems like an interesting opportunity: i'll be acting in a research, writing, and editing capacity as an assistant to a lefty who's working on her 3rd book about progressive education. plus she has a screenplay too.

Friday, July 04, 2003

the battery on this laptop continues to diminish, smoothly, without fanfare, even though i've plugged it in. this feels like a metaphor for something.
meanwhile, still no replies to the emails i've sent out. the funniest was to a guy who wanted a girl to run his love life for him. i wonder if people are (understandably) turned off by the fact that i'm a college student. if all of these people are graduates with their own lives, wouldn't they want someone their own size?

oh i see. you flip the light switch, and everything changes. this is also a metaphor ... for something.

also a kind poetry rejection in my emailbox this morning. the editor wrote me personally, in blue. luckily i didn't even remember sending stuff to that particular internet publication. many of these are still outstanding; i imagine they'll trickle in til i accumulate my necessary 32. is this the beginning of a string of a disappointments or is this the disappointments themselves? it's funny, cuz i'm happy. by recent-emigres-to-nyc standards i'm living like royalty. our apartment is white-walled and high-ceilinged and an interesting shape. one of the smaller walls is entirely brick. sure, there's no kitchen to speak of, but no cockroaches either, and we're in one of the most calm, gorgeous neighborhoods around.

we're all getting along relatively well, too, even within our small space. we talk hpV in restaurants with only twinges of self-consciousness. we play nintendo and scrabble over white russians and smirnoff ice. it's a good arrangement. i am embarassingly bad at mario, by the way. why did i waste my childhood reading and casting spells on my brothers instead of learning all those tricks about where the little blocks you bump with your head are? i didn't even know how to run fast; they have to coach me.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

one of the pt jobs i applied for yesterday through craig's list required knowledge of editorial columnists. personal knowledge? it was unclear. i wish i could say i'd like to date, or even get to know better, anyone whose opinions have appeared in essay-form in either of my newspapers. sadly, to me, most op-eds run the gamut from smug to idiotic.

that aside, this one suggests that america privatize marriage. or abolish it, or what you will.
i feel like people have been talking marriage with greater frequency and volume recently. canada started that. graduations, parental separations, and living arrangements have contributed. and now the s.court has fed the flames.
once my grand idea was that marriage should last 7 years. if, after 7 years, you want to continue being married to the individual to whom you're married, you & your partner renew your licenses. if not, you divide financies, work out custody deals, and go on your merry way.

isn't the idea of "for the next 7 years" simultaneously less frightening than "til death do you part" AND more concrete and therefore something you could potentially picture and evaluate?

50% of all divorces occur at the 7 year mark anyway. i know, because i'm a college student and i took a soc. class once.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003


is where i am. ben drove me (thanks ben) from cape cod, where we went to stay w/ his parent(?s) just like we did last august. the best part of the visit came the last evening when, after we conventional beached for a while, we wound our way from twisty road to off-road dirt path and deadended at a gorgeous underpopulated cove where signs warn you sea turtles and seals come out to laze. finding neither, we settled for watching the sun fall, casting a long straight bright orange shadow along the water.

that adventure didn't derail us from the initial plan: seeing charlie's angels: even more ridiculous at the wellfleet drive in. drive-ins! i'd always wanted to go to one and never had. ben's dad and lisa stayed in the car. ben and i took a blanket and sat in front on the ground. most people occupied folding chairs. the best part was that instead of previews they showed a road runner cartoon, and instead of requesting that you be quiet during the film they requested that everyone stand, place hand over heart and sing the national anthem.

comotion ended on an up note, too. the last day, we prepped, cooked, and hosted a bbq for the campers' families; cleaned up said bbq; cleaned up from the camp; went back to the dorm exhausted and proceeded to stay up til 3:30 discussing interpersonal dynamics, limits, and leadership styles. we ended with a round of affirmations that reminded me of high skool, when my superclose group of friends had open'n'honest conversations about what we liked about each other.
as always, comotion was a great experience. the camp ran better this year because we knew what to expect. i felt more confident handling children, and we had no major issues.

now i have to start work. nerveracking. stef might walk me around the neighborhood for a bit first so i can acclimate or at least not feel entirely so foreign.