Monday, December 27, 2004

a good person inside

i just finished reading the excellent empire falls, a novel about small-town maine with a picture of a diner on the cover and also indication that it won the pulitzer prize. too many people i know would sniff at the book for that reason alone because they scorn conventional markers, suspect that they're suspect, right off the bat. no matter how bourgeois it seems, i'm the opposite: i like approval, i like prizes. in my heart of hearts, i agree with my friend yoni, who once said with a shrug and remarkable air of certainty for a high schooler, "cream rises to the top." he now takes pictures for the new york times.

although i've only ever won one prize, it briefly redirected where i thought my life should go. (my life course-corrected itself, like a car driven by satellite.) several times among the many when i've been an also-ran, not winning also made me reconsider my goals. as you may infer, i take these things seriously. so, if a book has a pretty gold seal on it, i'm more likely to pick it up, and over the course of my reading lifetime, i've been rewarded for this impulse every time except once.

empire falls was not only excellent, it was one of the more excellent books i've read this year. i may as well list my other favorites:
jonathan strange and mr. norrell
vanity fair
life of pi
bel canto
the patron saint of liars
although i've read an awful lot this year, my memory is hazy as to what else. i remember enjoying the most recent lemony snicket; i found the da vinci code and native speaker gripping, like everyone else. i made it most of the way through wuthering heights before abandoning it to finish the compleat works of jane austen. i mulled over the memoirs the distant land of my father and carrie fisher's latest life in pink. there was something by fitzgerald too ... what was that early one of his? and lots more i've already forgotten.

i feel like i should be assessing this past year in some more meaningful way than just by making lists. but too much happened. it's a comfort that this time last year i was scared shitless of this time this year -- yet here i am, alive, healthy, fine. not too different except that for the first time, i have a net worth. i know i have and i know what it is: someone showed me a piece of paper at work related to my brand-new company issued life insurance policy. the guy who showed it to me seemed faintly embarassed it was so small, and i could tell that moment was supposed to be when i turned into scarlet o'hara and shook my fist at the sky, announcing i'd never be hungry again. actually i didn't care that my life is valued so modestly and i didn't make a vow to increase its value at an exponential yearly rate. the number ran to five whole digits; what more can i ask for?

Friday, December 24, 2004

luxury also means free food

for the first time ever, i'm about to spend christmas eve with people who don't think of it as a chance to eat too much and not work the next day (at best) or Someone Else's silly over-hyped holiday (at worst). not christians, exactly; i haven't gone that far astray from my goy-less childhood. but one side of ben's family enjoys the rituals of christmas, and a couple of catholics do play prominent roles. thus there will be stockings, there will be a tree, there will be significance to the night of the 24st.

will it be weird?, i asked ben. it'll be weird, won't it?
he promises no. but i'm -- aren't i always -- skeptical.

so far this vacation has gone nicely. yesterday ben n i, our houseguest, and a college friend we met up with, went ambling through central park in the rain. i tried to walk myself into a zenlike state wherein the rain couldn't touch me. after a couple hours, i gave up and took an excedrin. my pant legs had soaked through by that point and my hands, which an assertive israeli salesperson had slathered with dead sea lotion, rendering them soft, scented, and too slick to properly hold my umbrella, were brick red. but my companions showed no sign of slowing down. i had to take drastic action.

noting a prettily situated lookout point, i convinced the fellows to pause for a minute and watch the ducks. ducks! cried ben. i love ducks. arguing ensued over whether male and female ducks bear different coloring, or whether different coloring denotes different species. once they'd been sufficiently lulled, i suggested that perhaps warmer and more solid shelter, the kind with soothing drinks, might be in order. with the help of the suddenly howling wind, i led my band out of the turgid park and into starbucks. with a tall pumpkin spice latte in my still soft and scented hand (huh, not bad lotion), i felt like moses, having successfully led his people to the promised land. if it were not for me, my people would still be walking through central park, turned perhaps into ghosts by the onslaught of the cold-wind-rain and the night, doomed to walk for eternity chipperly discussing irony and bliss, and whether anyone is actually a philosopher nowadays.

less exciting but more nourishing, i've slept late, watched movies, written my first poem in a while, shopped at Whole Foods, eaten well, and eaten well some more. this is what i chose when i turned down invitations to dc and to maine and i have no regrets.

Monday, December 20, 2004

luxury means not having to go to work

while ben finishes up his last semester of law skool and the weather blusters outside, i'm luxuriating in old episodes of sex and the city. season 1 is adorable. it happened so long ago! carrie can still manage to go it bra-less, miranda still wears severe shirts and ties, and every once in a while there's a shot of the twin towers that knocks your wind out.

then there are the funnier aspects of looking back. the episode, for example, where miranda's law firm thinks she's a lesbian and because it's the only way to get into her boss's dinner party she considers trying it, only to eventually decide, "nope, definitely straight." except she's not! well, cynthia nixon isn't, anyway, and who can tell the difference?

there's no food in the house except stale wasabi peas and honey bunches of oats. i've been dining out on a starbucks gift card i got for christmas. i was supposed to go home to dc today and at the last moment i decided to stay and enjoy all this for a while. a week without work, without ben working, a week to run around the city and hang out at coffeeshops (courtesy of the giftcard) and see if i can start writing again. this year has been wretched in several ways ... i'd love to make sure it ends on an up-note and also that i remember there's also been a lot that's beautiful and much i have to be grateful for.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


holy shit. i finally saw dogville. this is a movie i've been excited to see for the better part of a year, yet just any time isn't the right time to watch a three-hour long anti-epic about what human beings are capable of. i've talked about it, since i posess an inate ability to cheerily discuss movies i haven't seen, notably during my columbia interview. when the gruff, hairy-knuckled interviewer who was terminally unimpressed with me, who conveyed through tone his utter disdain for everything and everyone i loved, asked me what movie i was looking forward to, and i said dogville, even he, this hardbitten, bored, bitter man who was treating the interview like a police interrogation, even he managed to grunt his begrudging agreement with me on the point of dogville. because the movie is that fucking good.

til now, i've taken the movie's goodness on faith. at last! faith, your services are no longer required. in place of faith i have cold, hard experience, three hours of sitting curled-up and wide-eyed on the sofa, whimpering occasionally, certainly enthralled. it reminded me a lot of kill bill v. 1 and 2. in the same way, it reaches inside and twists your organs around; you have to remind yourself it's just a movie, just a melodrama. you have to consider walking away and decide to stick it out. in the same way, it's worth it. the conclusion is astoundingly satisfying, considering its content (which i won't give away).

although people have called the movie christian and grace, the abused main female character, christlike, i thought of it more like a greek myth. still, both versions work. if you go in with an open mind, in fact, i believe you can get any of a thousand interpretations out of it. maybe that's why lars van trier designed his eerie fill-in-the-blanks set. yet despite the finite, limited set's resemblance to a black-box theater, and its prominence in the story -- it's essentially a character itself --, the movie is shot very much like a movie and nothing like a taped play. the narration and division of the story into chapters creates another layer over those two, one in which you do have to use your imagination.

the themes stick with you, too: transparency, opacity; blue america's open criminality, red america's criminal hypocricy; the guilt of frightened thinkers. arguing about whether it's anti-american is a bit like arguing whether the passion is anti-semitic. no one's wrong in an argument like that; you feel what you feel while watching. but don't let the idea stop you from watching. it's too much of an experience to miss.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

the best part of the holiday: presents

christmas is getting more and more grating, what with right-wing nutjobs accusing me of wanting to ruin their holy, holy night. (i love that bill o'reilly claims that this is a holiday celebrating "the philosopher jesus". the philosopher? that's the version of jesus we're celebrating? the one who's an intellectual, an academic, a radical? might wanna rethink that one, bill.) but it is nice to get little reminders from my actors that they care about me.

also from the agents. three agents took three assistants and lil ol me to a japanese dive for lots of meat on a stick, sake and beer. i nibbled on garnish, mostly -- mmm cabbage -- and drank too much and nearly fell off my stool laughing at stories about famous people acting crazy. when i got home, everything was still hilarious, until i made the mistake of thinking about the future again and i stayed up til 2, shivering in bed.

i learned some lessons about business this week. ideally i would like to able to assimilate knowledge, even rude surprises, without becoming a harder or more cynical person. maybe in 05.

at least i made it! three months completed; i've earned my break. no more work until 05, until i've spent some time unraveling and reraveling and watching movies and cozying up with people i love and taking rambling walks. also not until the yummy-looking fleece-lined boots i bought from canada arrive. they're my xmas present to myself.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


i'm actively angry right now, for reasons i can't go into in such a public forum. i can, however, tell a story.

once upon a time, about ten years ago, when i was a little jewish middle-skooler at my little jewish skool, i had an issue i thought i should bring up at student council. not that i was ever naive enough to believe in the efficacy of even local governments. i mean, please. i grew up in washington. our mayor was arrested for getting caught smoking the crack rock in a hotel room with a woman who was not his wife.

marion barry aside, i had little faith in anything, let alone student government. still, i figured i'd give this a shot. i had an idea worth sharing: that students should write class/teacher evaluations at the end of the year. i had a friend willing to pitch the idea with me. i had the squeakings of confidence, good posture, and good improv skills. what, i wondered, was the worst that could happen?

oh my friends. oh, my friends. the worst was waiting right around the corner.

i made my pitch. the various student council members scattered in desks around the room, trying to appear worthy of the grave responsibility of power, nodded at me. the four older kids singled out to be Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President and President who sat in the front of the room in a row nodded too. but before any of the democratically-elected representatives could speak, a voice cut through the room, a voice with the bass and timbre of a locomotive barrelling through the 9th circle of hell; and a figure burst over me, huge with flames. i cast my forearm over my eyes and fell moaning to the ground as the voice rumbled over me, "HOW DARE YOU..."

i fell unconscious. when i awoke, i found myself outside the wretched room. worried student council reps fanned me and offered lemonade. it took me a while to recover -- for one thing, my hair was tinged with char for weeks -- and neither the Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President nor President of student council could look at me without fury boiling up in their eyes because of what i had unleashed.

in the end, all i had unleashed was a little drama. i got a slap-down in front of a classroom of my peers for making my suggestion. some people defended me; a couple kept their dislike on simmer, and i'm not kidding, for the rest of our tenure at that little jewish skool. a couple years later, the suggestion was implemented anyway and had nothing to do with me. but my key take-away from the experience was, never underestimate the force of a petty tyrant. i will never forget the feeling of having what seemed like a simple, logical idea, trying to present it, and, in response, coming face to face with a middle-skool history teacher cum demon.

that's something i need to know that i didn't learn in kindergarten.

Monday, December 13, 2004


superwoman feels dizzy. needs wheat thins. bizarre breakfast of banana and hardboiled egg, followed by lunch of vegetable udon and diet coke, have left her head spinning. perhaps in conjunction with her crazy weekend o' travelling: to the past and back again in only 2 days. take that, jules verne.

visiting swarthmore included many more ups than downs. i got to see the sparkling New Dorm as well as the freakishly gutted, under-construction dorm where i lived last year. i got to eat at the dining hall, hunched down in a booth hoping not to be spotted, and i got to gorge myself on brunch at Java Joe's. most important, i got to see my swatfriends in their swathabitat. naturally that means i witnessed several naturally occurring acts of dorkiness: one (1) game of taboo, one (1) game of speed scrabble, conversations about *snort* literature.

people said "privilege." i was HOME.

people also seemed to be shadowed by something. not just older, but sad. to the degree that it was almost good to leave again. almost. except that i had a lovely time with my various hosts of the moment, who happily provided alcohol, gossip & cheese. they go so well together. also offered: smoothie, pancake, birthday cake. oh, and by the power of two of them combined, they managed to sew a wayward button back onto my jacket. yay!

Friday, December 10, 2004

buy buy baby, buy buy

ALL i'm trying to do is get in my thursday evening's worth of trashy television. why does everyone have to bombard me with "gift ideas"? marshalls, sears, old navy -- STOP IT. i couldn't care less how low your sweaters are priced, or who you have sarah jessica parker nuzzling. you're a pack of wild dogs, as far as i'm concerned, and i'm this close to having you shot.

what's that you say? grinch? scrooge? tell it to scarborough county or bill oh-"i'm the only defender of christmas"-really. christmas is not going to keel over just cuz of a withering glance or two from me.

witness this illuminating exchange:
ME: hey, honey, are we giving each other hanukkah presents?
HIM: nope.
ME: okay, good. didn't think so.
HIM: hanukkah's never been a big deal to me.
ME: so you just give your family hanukkah presents cuz you have to?
HIM: no! i give my family CHRISTMAS presents. christmas is entirely different.

merry ... whatever. at least we get off work.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

set! no, wait! ... set!

one of my least-favorite games became, over the summer, when i played it compulsively with the other cty RAs, one of my favorites. (witness, in guendlesburger's cty picture gallery. also witness: me, as a zombie, trying to eat my friend tamar's head.) lacking a deck, i hadn't played since, until the always obliging yami supplied a link to a daily game. i've been playing a game a day since, in the hopes that it will help counteract the effects of the television vacuum.

one of my favoritist actors is coming in today to read. ohmigod. she's, like, fo shizzle, of my favoritist. apparently she's extremely high-maintainance too. squeal! i probably won't be able to say a word to her. i will bow my head and whisper how i am not worthy as she sweeps by me into the booth. i am, can you tell?, super psyched.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

holy night, batman!

it's hanukkah! what? how did that sneak up on me? i don't have a candle to show for myself, let alone anything to put it in or light it with. christ, i'm a bad jew. how did i get to be such a bad jew? christ.

i think i'm heading to swarthmore this weekend. this time for real. maybe someone there will feed me latkes & try to soothe my wounded spirit. after all, i lost my month-long subway card; i left my fly open for two hours yesterday before noticing; i can barely get my contacts in in the morning. i'm a wreck. it took one of my actors having a meltdown in front of me to make me feel better. (i have his wild screaming on tape and i intend to play it back for myself over and over again as needed.)

the company christmas party was last night. i was all excited for my first! ever! -- i was envisioning scenes from the apartment, where company employees do the can-can on tables, everyone's groping everyone and drinking tons of punch. well, there was no punch to be had. the entire thing, in fact, seemed much more like a bar mitzvah. i was bitterly disappointed. luckily, the open bar helped me get over it.

happy hanukkah, to those of you who remember it.

Friday, December 03, 2004

plans for the weekend? why in fact i have!

a friend is coming to town and sleeping on our couch, making her one of the distinguished handful who have had that honor. i know the number is still under 10 because once we hit 10, we're totally going to wash that sheet we keeping making the couch with. we promise!

meanwhile, roomie dina has finally finished her papers (yay!) and boyfriend ben has finished his first semester classes (wow!). things look good for the inhabitants of 92 2nd avenue. plus we haven't seen a cockroach in the kitchen for DAYS. i'm proud of all of us (especially the cockroaches. great self-restraint guys.) -- once finals are over, the two of them will have made it through the rocky entrance to grad skool. how rocky is it, you wonder, you who have never attempted? so rocky that i didn't make it past the first classs. a round of applause for my housemates.

me, i've made it through my first 3 months on the job. not entirely insignificant, although, to be fair, a position where even on busy days i can still read through both newspapers that matter, salon, slate, the gawker empire, and manage to get in a crossword puzzle, isn't exactly deployment to iraq.

one of the newspapers that matters has a fascinating article today on modern women's happiness. it has some frank, surprising insights into the more and less generally stressful parts of women's days, including the tidbit that most women rated "taking care of children" as less unpleasurable than "housework," but not much less. ouch. so much for the mommy myth; hello desperate housewives.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


one of my actors gave me a scented candle today because i'm such a great ... whatever i am. aww. i'm definitely looking forward to the landslide of gifts that christmastime portends. the christmas decorations themselves still startle me. i know it sounds crazy but i've never gotten used to them.

you know what i could get used to? HEALTH INSURANCE. kicks in today, baby. how do you like them apples (of which i no longer have to eat one a day, badumCHING!)? i survived the 3 months of stepping gingerly and throwing nyquil at every malady. this was my first manufactured endpoint, december 1, When My Health Insurance Kicks In. since i don't have semesters anymore, this sort of thing will have to serve.

i chose my general practitioner by the objective awesomeness of her name. ready? DEMOCLEIA. everyone should have to choose a super-cool doctor name when they graduate med skool. like when you get confirmed. if med skool grads lack creativity, the professors could always bring in celebs to do the dirty work. (phinneaus, brooklyn, apple ...)

my brother's in town, interviewing for a job, which means i got a free drink followed by a free dinner last night, and he got a free place to sleep on the couch with minimal interruptions by our minimally-maladjusted cat. not. bad.

Monday, November 29, 2004

something like fame!

a little bit of swarthmore makes it onto aldaily: textbook disclaimer stickers! how exciting.

for the record, i went to a religious skool that taught no theories of origin but evolution. we had three judaic subjects a day out of a total of nine. bible stayed in bible class; it never so much as tapped on the glass of a bio room door. if it had, it would have been laughed back into the hallway. and if it sought to commiserate with rabbinics or hebrew, i imagine they would have sniffed and walked away. rabbinics and hebrew knew their place and they would have very little sympathy for bible trying to cause trouble.

it just wasn't done at my skool to mix religion with anything that wasn't religion. theoretically, we were supposed to learn morals and ways of learning from the torah and apply them to our daily lives. but it's not like we were ever tested on that.

& sure, the skool fumbled from time to time. once the directors of the spring musical thought it would be a great idea to put on a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. then they cancelled out any points they would have gotten for progressiveness by censoring from the text all double-entendres and striking the word "virgin". i considered it disgusting at the time. now i'm gaining some perspective.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

nearly branded a communist cuz i'm left-handed

thanksgiving didn't feel too thanksgiving-y this year. for one thing, the electricity went out right in the midst of the cooking. the turkey had only been in the oven for half an hour. as i understand it, though i don't eat the bird, the bird must be cooked afore it can be et. my family regrouped, in relatively good spirits, and with the barest of notice we whirlwinded everything in portable containers, including the surprised still-pale bird itself, and moved the 15-person feast to another house.

the other house was blessed not just with electricity and a newly remodeled kitchen but also with a rear-screen projection television. those things are frikkin awesome. my six boy-cousins and i watched pirates of the carribean, feeling like we were in a mini movie theater.

for this and other reasons, the feast felt more fancy than festive. still, and always, it was good to be with my family. plus eventually the electricity returned to my house to keep the transported and well-traveled leftovers safe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

pink positive

two celebrities came in today for me. well, not for me, exactly, but i was in charge of running and recording their auditions. if i'd known they were dropping by, i would have worn something nicer than glorified sweat pants, a t-shirt and my red zip-up. oh well. at least i washed my hair. besides, one of them was actually wearing sweat pants, unglorified by anything but his hunkiness, and the other looked like a hobo. for real. the receptionists were making ten kinds of fun of him.

thanksgiving's around the corner, friends!, and things are winding down in the entertainment industry. what we lack in work, i hear, we'll make up in enjoyment of free stuff. apparently we'll inundated with presents around the holidays, just inundated, and i like using that word because i remember exactly when i learned it -- from a worldly wise book in sixth grade english class. also, in sixth grade, i remember exactly, on the wednesday before thanksgiving, i became a Woman in that mystical, messy sense. i've been reminded of my Womanhood in that same mystical, messy way every year since.

i guess it's a reminder to be thankful for my Womanhood. after all, there are children starving in africa who would love to be women. or something. i don't know, i think i'd be happy being genderless. fewer catcalls.

one thing i am thankful for: in high skool, in european history, we had this assignment to make a map. now, european history (ironically, since i went on to become a major in american history) was when i perked up and started paying attention. we had a great teacher, i liked the class, and i was determined to be a good student. i still didn't do the map. i just didn't, and i don't remember why. when it came time for the maps to come back to us all graded and ready to affect our self-esteems, my history teacher approached me and before i could say anything she said, "ester, i'm so sorry. i lost your map. i know i had it, i remember seeing it, and it was good. i don't know what happened. it's my fault, and i'm giving you an A."

i did what any true young noble moral american would do. i said thank you. and in case i haven't said thank you enough for the many times fate has intervened to save my worthless ass from my just deserts, i'd like to say thank you again.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

holy mackerel! what happened?

as some of you may have noticed, i changed the layout a little bit. the intent is to increase the resemblance of my words to the words of that inimitable document, the Constitution. cuz maybe there's a treasure map on the back that i can read with the aid of a hairdryer and some lemon juice! you never know.

who can tell me the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence anyway? i doodled through american history in high skool. my majoring in it in college didn't help, since in college they don't so much teach you history as teach you why the history you learned in high skool was racist, sexist, classist, and so not as cool as the postmodern theory they're about to replace it with. i accepted that all previous history i'd learned was fatally flawed -- easy enough since i doodled instead of learning it in the first place -- but i started doodling again at the mention of theory. it's lucky i didn't actually have to demonstrate any knowledge to get that diploma.

wait, that's not true: i had to pass a written and an oral honors exam with an expert in the field. i did pass, too, as i recall. huh. how about that.

one anecdote: this afternoon at the health food store, the painfully-indie-and-cute young woman working the register SHAMED me out of buying a luna bar. she said, and i quote, "that has sugar in it," as though that meant "vampire spit and elephant feces and the blood of your children." i was about to tell her to mind her own insulin and just take my money, but starry-eyed ben had already leapt over the counter and started making out with her. over their slurping, i apologized for even thinking of eating a luna bar and to redeem myself packed handfulls of raw quinoa into my mouth.

Friday, November 19, 2004

national treasure

guys, i don't know if you read the comments. sometimes they're priceless. i just discovered this nugget from a post earlier this month that attracted comments almost a week after it was posted. in that post, i called the blue states "bluer than blue" because i & they were & are morose. in response, a fella calling himself a conservative webzine tore me a new one:
National Journal @ 4:40PM | Nov 11th 2004|

Actually, the blue states aren't "bluer than blue." All the heavily Dem states, like Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, even Mass to a lesser extent, swung significantly to Bush since 2000.

In fact, Bush lost ground in not a single blue state this time around. He increased his share of the popular vote by up to 6-7 points in each one. Gore won Jersey by 16; Kerry took it by only 6.

Let's stick to facts next time, shall we?
thank god i had a southern belle to come to my defense:
Angela @ 5:20PM | Nov 11th 2004| permalink

She meant people in blue states are SAD, stupid. Besides, can't you just appreciate the charming turn of phrase?

ps. Sorry, Ester, for rushing to defend your blog's honor . By the way, your last LJ entry excited me (was that man really wearing a bowtie?).
but national journal wouldn't die quietly:
NJ @ 5:41PM | Nov 11th 2004| permalink

There goes the condescending elitism again.

Since when did the phrase "bluer than blue" become some sort of literary ingenuity?

Stupider than Stupid (apparently),

sometimes, i earnestly, passionately, and truly love the internets.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

navel gazing

i wrote a story about a freshman at college, back when i was a freshman in college, whose dashboard, washboard, blackboard stomach started growing for no conceivable reason. nothing else about her increased and she wasn't pregnant; indeed, she could find no explanation. although i never finished the story, i envisioned it as a kind of a nod to kipling. her stomach was a punishment, like the camel's hump, visited upon her for her indolence, passivity, and general bad temper.

body as punishment. why did i give an otherwise thin girl a belly to teach her a lesson? it seems interesting to me now but i didn't think about it overmuch then. i still had a belly fixation left over from high skool, when it honestly seemed like self-worth could be measured in waist inches. that was reason enough.

did anyone else catch the mannequin article in saturday's nyt? it mentions that mannequin manufacturers are responding to a more diverse and heavier female population in making new "goddess" mannequins. now, color me skeptical of anything, except mists of avalon, that references "goddess." but curvier mannequins sound like they couldn't miss.

one designer (male) disagrees with me & goddess manufacturers: "There's a difference between what people look like and what they want to look like," he said. "They want to see what they're trying to look like." to which i reply, bullshit. i'm tired of seeing what i want to look like. tired and even bored. give me a sense in your store windows of how your clothes will actually look on a real person.

another designer (male) disagrees with the fact that the new mannequins have more of an jennifer lopez inspired ass: "It's a little sexist," he said. "It's not creating an image of a woman as an elegant creature. It's a little bit down and dirty, a little crass." isn't that AMAZING? creating a model of women more as they actually are makes them no longer "elegant." it's "crass." it's THE 21ST CENTURY, people! is elegant and miles above "down and dirty" still what we think the idea woman must be?

on the other hand, let's not get carried away by how revolutionary the goddess is. she's "still a discreet 34B-25-35 1/2. "It'll remind you of the sexiness," he said, if not actually show it in its full glory, but it is still bigger than his standard Size 4/6 model's 32A-23-33." holy shit. if 34-25-35.5 is crass, inelegant, and down-and-dirty, then what am i? what's the average woman?

eve ensler, the v-chip queen herself, has moved up a few inches to belly territory. a new battlefield but i wouldn't say a much safer one. i'm curious what she'll do with it.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

just kidding! leave the south alone

sometimes, when i was kid, a bus ride alone could make me nauseous. the lower skool nurse knew me well: i practically had a bed, not to mention kneeling space in her bathroom, reserved for when i arrived in her office at 8:05. sometimes i wouldn't make it to her office. i recall vomiting miserably onto the shaky ground between my feet. i remember vomiting into one of those hardy skool hallway trash cans.

it was part motion sickness & part stress because yes, even as a nine year old i had the ability to work myself into a panic over the fact that i didn't know what was going to happen over the course of the day. regardless, on the occasions when i did indeed throw up, my dad would pick me up and take me home, and nothing soothed me like marx brothers movies. we would watch them together and i laughed when he laughed until i no longer needed to take cues from him.

when i was in sixth grade and my first boyfriend told me he thought he might like someone else, i cried a little. then i watched the simpsons and forgot all about it.

in high skool, sometimes i had shooting pains in my stomach that i didn't want to tell anyone about -- god knows everyone already considered me fragile enough. jack nicholson movies worked better than pepto bismol. terms of endearment and chinatown were my belly's personal favorites.

at swarthmore, when i didn't want to think about swarthmore, it was sex and the city.

media is my pacifier. i can't tell you how many books i've curled up in when i can't stand what's happening outside my window, or, worse, the thought of what might happen outside it tomorrow. lately i've found solace in massive doses of the west wing. this past thursday, when i had a Moment on my way to work, a Moment that connected my stomach, my throat, and the West 4th street subway station, i knew i had to get out into the open air, preferably Washington Sq. park; i knew i needed to calm down, clear my head, stop driving myself crazy worrying about all the stuff i was worrying about; and i knew that, once i walked home, west wing would be waiting for me to make it all okay.

also, i finished jonathan strange and mr. norrell, and it was marvellous. consider this yet another plug for escapist art. it's the sort of thing that works particularly well & is particularly important when so many of the people you love, who you're accustomed to being surrounded by, are so irretrievably far away.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

forget movies ...

actually, go ahead, foam at the mouth for a few minutes. it's good for you.

i can't think of anything i would like better than to discover that karl rove and karen hughes organized a subtle but monumental takeover of our electoral system and stole the election for bush, only to be discovered and disgraced in the aftermath. at the same time, i can't hope for it, even as people continue offering evidence. what i can do? movies.

saved! left me a little disappointed this weekend. sure, it brought the funny, particularly in the first third. but the movie sets up this connundrum -- christ-loving good girl gets pregnant trying to convince her christ-loving, good, and gay-inclined boyfriend to be straight -- that it doesn't do anything with. first it tries to pretend she didn't know she could get preggers from sex simply cuz her skool had no sex ed. bullshit. then it pretends she could be in denial of her condition to such an extent that even when she has supportive friends and, ultimately, family, there's never a conversation about options. okay, no abortion: fine. why is adoption never even discussed?

of course i liked its message. be tolerant! jesus loves freaks & of course we're all freaks, even -- especially -- mandy moore. but i wish in the end it had been more citizen ruth and less full house.

this weekend was my grandfather's unveiling. nothing could match the pathos of the funeral, but it was a uniquely striking experience to see the stone. afterwards the usual suspects regrouped at my house for falafel and politics. i'm better now. maybe everything will get better now.

Friday, November 05, 2004

can i get an AMEN?

how glad are we all that this week is over? jeezy creezy.

overheard on the E train:
WOMAN WITH BRITISH ACCENT: i made myself breakfast for the first time today.
WOMAN: yes. just toast. but i was very proud of myself.

i love the subway. sure, i'm a big fan of the red line in dc. less close to home, i've enjoyed the never-ending, impossibly-steep moscow subway escalators that feel like they're taking you to hell and the budapest subway platforms where peasants hawk live fowl and yummy mushroom pastry. i've been delighted by the honor system in dutch and danish public transportation and, importantly, found both easy to navigate when less than sober. but the new york subway wins all the points. allow me to sing its praises.

first, everyone reads. not just the new york post. i've seen shakespeare and ann patchet, goethe and nietzsche, the wall street journal and mother jones. more people read on the trains in new york on a daily basis than in the entire state of mississippi.

second, it's ideal fashion-watching time. it's like flipping through a catelogue without having to waste energy turning pages.

third, priceless eavesdropping opportunities. see above.

i'm near giddy that the week is over. the farther we get away from this election the better. the sooner people stop debating whether or not john kerry was the right candidate, why "america hates us," what a mandate means (WHITEmandate, is how i like to think of it), and what's going to happen next, the for-damn-sure better. also, i think the phrases "red states" and "blue states" should be stricken from the record. it's frighteningly simplistic and basically dismisses the existence of significant minorities. the last thing that democrats in arkansas or utah want, i imagine, is to be even more marginalized than they are.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

yom huledet

the country celebrated my older brother's very first entrance into this world on November 4, 1980 by electing a B-list actor with a beaming smile. it hasn't gotten much better since.

november 4 is a very difficult birthday to have, especially if you're a political person. my brother is. my whole family is, in fact. so every four years, right around his birthday, my family gets very excited before becoming thrilled or crushed. last presidential term, my brother got a reprieve, as the election results didn't trickle in with finality until thanksgiving. this time, he wasn't so lucky.

my brother emerged from college with one goal: find his way onto an election campaign and keep the elephants from trampling on yet another birthday. in his first goal, he succeeded beyond imagination. for over a year now, he's been traveling around the country, living in and gaining appreciation for states i've never visited. one winter's day in iowa, he found that his car had been sabotaged. another morning, in an exhausted haze, he drove to work leaving half of his belongings on the sidewalk, including the inflatable mattress he'd been using as a bed. a woman living nearby contacted him later to tell him that she'd rescued everything and kept it safe.

despite his best efforts and the best efforts of his candidate and coworkers, the blue states are bluer than blue. but we were electrified for a while there, and that won't go away. it was a great year for politics and he got to be a part of it.
happy birthday, adam. however it worked out, at least you got your wish.

me? i'm mending. already i feel mostly back to normal. sleep helped. the world really isn't that different than it was three days ago, only the excitement's gone. like everyone else, i believe firmly that we can't give up. also, and seriously, i think it's important than the 49% not vilify the 51%. there are extremists (yes, some would say, on both sides) but the majority of us -- imagine a venn diagram with me now -- would agree on many things. certainly that nothing will be gained from alienating ourselves from each other.

i look, though not exclusively, to barack obama to help us heal this breach. he is one sign of hope.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

hope is a thing with wings -- and off it flies

i know i should feel angry, or up in arms like the kossacks. mostly i just feel like some kicked me in the face, pulled my guts out, and spat on me. sure, it's not ME they're against, it's my sushi-eating, volvo-driving, latte-drinking, vegetarian values. but in the haze of depression, the subtle distinctions are difficult to make out.

i don't think we did anything wrong in this election. honestly. the pundits will go over it with a magnifying glass, searching for turning points. should kerry have picked a different running mate? should it not have been kerry at all? maybe they'll blame it on the gays, because those initiatives banning gay marriage really brought out the evangelical voters. people are surprised that the initiatives lost. are they kidding? the only thing that could have lost by a greater margin would have been an initiative that pledged every first born male child to a satanic, vermont-based cult.

but if folks do blame the gays for seeking civil rights in the first place, thus prompting the backlash, i'll feel even more morose than i do. (um, if you couldn't tell, that's pretty fucking morose.) despair, catholics say, is the unforgivable sin to god. well, god, to me, the unforgivable sin is your turning your back on the world you created while letting the fools run amok in it, unchecked, thinking they're doing your work.

i can't blame myself for letting hope in. it seemed promising -- damn it, it did. people were riled up, they cared, they worked for it. people! not just swatties! in the end, it simply wasn't enough. (speaking of "simply," here's slate's interesting take.) maybe diebold delivered ohio to the president; thanks to its paper-less trail, we'll never know. in the end, i don't think it would have made enough of a difference anyway. people didn't want to change commanders in the midst of a war, no matter how wrong-headed and mismanaged a war it was.

the night before the election, i dreamt i was mugged. now i feel like i was. but i'll soldier on, as will you, until we find a silver lining we can cling to. we'll make it through the next four years. we may be in the minority, but we're far from alone.

my heart hurts. so much for ... for everything. & there's no one for me to hold.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

thus spake zogby


what are you reading this for? GO VOTE!

me, i'm alternately gobbling up exit polls, tearing the whites of my nails off with my teeth (eww, ester, in the office?) and eating other people's halloween candy. everyone's acting like kids today. have you noticed? people are giddy, high-strung, pouty ...

& people keep asking me if i'm all right. of course i'm not all right! GO VOTE!

Monday, November 01, 2004

as mama orders

my father is fine. they released him from the hospital today and he didn't even have to have surgery. diet, exercise, blah blah blah ... the point is, he's not in danger. thank god.

so my mom's on her way to ohio. ben just departed for there. amazingly, the flyers they'll be handing out, as they protect the rights of inner city voters everywhere, were designed by my oldest friend liz. it's like a reunion!, only, duh, minus me. i'll be here in new york, praying hard, and citing the example of sodom.

this was my basis for telling claire that i was relatively sure everything would be okay. if god wants bush to win, it's because he's ready for the world to end; and by his own mandate, he won't end the world if there are 10 good people to be found. the source for this is the famous story of sodom. god wanted to destroy sodom, a town known for its wickedness. abraham pleaded with god to save the city for the sake of its well-meaning inhabitants.

how many are there?, asked god.
50?, replied abraham.
nope, said god.
er, 40?
nope, said god.
abraham worked god down to ten. when it was established that fewer than 10 good people lived in the town, abraham stopped fighting and let god wipe it out. so 10 is clearly the ceiling! and there MUST be 10 good people in the whole world. at least 5 good friends of mine should qualify.

by the way, the handful of "good people" who did live in sodom got a warning to leave before Hurricane Char-ley hit. one of these people offered his 2 virgin daughters to an angry mob, one of them got mired in regret and was turned into a pillar of salt, and two of them conspired to trick and sleep with their father. makes you wonder what the wicked were like.

best of luck to all of you out doing noble work tomorrow, trying to keep the world from crashing in on our heads. let's hope we get a better result than we got 4 years ago.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

the redskins lose! the redskins lose!

the redskins, washington dc's offensively-monikered and and offensively-mediocre football team, in their last game before the election have an eerie knack for predicting the outcome of that election. so you know what this means?

no, not that lisa doesn't love homer. of course she does! daddy-daughter day, yay!

no, it means that THE INCUMBENT WILL BE OUSTED. so says decades upon decades of american tradition. in fact, i'm hoping in light of the strength this omen, republicans across the country will fold their hands and realize the immense pointlessness of voting at all. kinda like the cardinals should have done instead of attempting to take on the sox.

by the way, there's a obscure reference to a movie in this entry. see if you can spot it.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

the secret ingredient is salt

since i lack the time & money to take an actual vacation, for the forseeable future i will be doing the next best thing: burying myself in fantasy literature. already i've finished book 11 in the series of unfortunate events. now i'm gearing up for my hike through johnathan strange and mr. norrell. it's been called harry potter for the out of diapers set!

in consequence i will not be paying any further attention to this circus of an election. i will restrain myself from making comments such as, "everyone said as an october surprise they'd produce bin laden. the best they can do is produce a stupid TAPE? it's not even a scary tape! where are the zombies? he says blood in the streets but there's no blood dripping from the corners of his mouth. even dick cheney has blood dripping. next time they should hire kate duffy and do it right."

they even timed the damn thing badly. hello karl: a significant portion of the populace has already voted. of course, as planned, those populaces prolly came home from casting their ballots only to watch the evening news and slap their foreheads: "damn! i should have voted for bush! he can make villains appear on TV at will! what can kerry make? cheese?" well, too late, suckers. you can only vote once (or twice in new mexico).
and those who hadn't already cast their ballots were busy pre-partying for halloween weekend. really, i think the republicans are too stupid to win the election this time. sorry karl. it should have been a landslide and you fucked it up.

... all of that, see, is an example of the talk you won't hear from me, as i use my eyes solely for the purpose of pleasure reading. i'm as happy as you are.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

worn out

the red sox won the series; my friend nomi is 1 for 1 for acceptances in md/phd programs so far; john kerry is slowly but surely moving up according to slate's newest figures; and i had a good day. one of my actors brought me a brownie. she told me it'd be a surprise, but as she's a jew and i'm a jew, food is kind of a "duh." still, much appreciated.


my dad's not well. this country's not well. i'm exhausted from caring so much. activisty-ness doesn't come naturally to me, thanks to a hardened combination of skepticism and laziness. so i'm not sure getting my hands dirty in philly this weekend will help. it won't help my posture: i'm so stressed i'm carrying my shoulders up around my ears. how nixonian of me.

this country reelected nixon! this country interred the japanese! this country sat by and let joseph mccarthy operate without anethesia on the body politic, yanking out and tossing, with my elementary skool science teacher's abandon, various inalienable rights. america does not do outrage easily. it's the downside of being so darned optomistic. so will we have the sense to oust this blusterer, this bungler, this mangler of the english language? will we? or will our dim complacency and fear carry the day?

i think i need a cool room with padded walls and an ocean view. and please god, for real, i need my father to be okay.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

continuing on a theme ...

since the eminem video (link below) bridges the gap between politics and culture, i will use it as a segue to venture further into culture, if only to help myself calm down a bit. the news this morning had me nearly hyperventilating at my desk. (being at the plugged-and-diapered time o' the month, i suppose, doesn't help.)

please god, if you haven't abandoned us, see us safely through this election. give us the president we deserve and may we endeavor to deserve him, or at least hold off taking him for granted until february 05. please god, don't write america off as a lost cause. if you won't, i won't.

but i was going to talk about culture.

i got four books today from the nypl, bless their souls, including the latest from lemony snicket, bless HIS soul, and my aren't we religious today. well, you know what they say about foxholes, and boy are we as a country in a deep one. (CULTURE.) okay! lemony snicket. i can't say enough about this mournful, mordant writer of children's books and mag fields songs. he will see me through the next week, or at least the next underutilized evening.

this evening won't be underutilized though. crank up the khakis and get me a rifle: i'm going goose hunting for undecideds. yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaw. (CULTURE!)

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE! that's what i wanted to talk about, since i finally kicked my own ass and ben's into a movie theater. but even the free popcorn that came with our nyu-discounted tickets couldn't make this disappointment go down easy. such potential, so much intelligence and anger and humor, so many puppets, and ultimately, what do you have? an action movie that mocks action movie conventions. that's at its most successful level.

politically, TAWP's message is muddled. since ours is the viewpoint of the arrogantly casual TAWP agents who shrug off their world-altering fuck ups, we the audience sympathize with them. with the opposition aiding the terrorists, there isn't much choice. besides, TAWP is well-intentioned, so who cares if the louvre is destroyed? (except for da vinci code fans everywhere, who gasped a collective "my god! the grail!") as ben pointed out, the louvre is just a symbol, as is everything in the movie, up to and including our puppet pro- and antagonists. unlike in the far more effective southpark movie, no character here has any real personality.

again, for a send-up of action movies, that's fine. but it makes for weak satire. even if you're aiming only for a perfect parody, why leave the requisite happy ending intact? why not go for something actually memorable and stranglove-ian? why finish up with a logically-unsound at best and offensive-and-misogynistic at worst finale diatribe on how the world is divided up into dicks, pussies, and assholes, with clear preference given to the dicks? i mean, ew.

there is a whiff of a critique to begin with of TAWP's god-given right -- actually, god isn't mentioned anywhere; patriotism is their religion, so it's more like flag-given -- to destroy the world for the sake of saving america. but by the time michael moore shows up, two fisting hot dogs, as a suicide bomber, it's clear the filmmakers have run out of nuanced or original things to say. half the celebrities they kill off seem seriously unnecessary. their rancor against sammy l. jackson, danny glover, & helen hunt is bewildering. the prominent leftiest i can understand, since they've put themselves up on a soapbox to be knocked down. but susan sarandon is not exactly sean penn.

the homophobia and the racism didn't bother me as much, for whatever reason. at this point, that's expected. but some originality and consistent, killer humor would have been nice to balance them out. the nail in the coffin is that the consistent, killer humor was lacking.

messrs. parker and stone should go back to making smart cartoons and leave political satire to john stuart leibowitz.
no exaggeration

holy shit people, i'm not kidding, eminem just made me cry.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

"four more years of george bush would be like four more years of syphilis"

bwah! oh, to publish an article like this. those fearless folks at rolling stone. who knew they had political interest? some of my favorite thompson bits:

i've heard this story a thousand times, but it always cracks me up:
Back in 1948, during his first race for the U.S. Senate, Lyndon Johnson was running about ten points behind, with only nine days to go. He was sunk in despair. He was desperate. And it was just before noon on a Monday, they say, when he called his equally depressed campaign manager and instructed him to call a press conference for just before lunch on a slow news day and accuse his high-riding opponent, a pig farmer, of having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children.

His campaign manager was shocked. "We can't say that, Lyndon," he supposedly said. "You know it's not true."

"Of course it's not true!" Johnson barked at him. "But let's make the bastard deny it!"

Johnson -- a Democrat, like Bill Clinton -- won that election by fewer than a hundred votes, and after that he was home free. He went on to rule Texas and the U.S. Senate for twenty years and to be the most powerful vice president in the history of the United States. Until now.
then there's:
...things are not much different today. We still love War.

George Bush certainly does. In four short years he has turned our country from a prosperous nation at peace into a desperately indebted nation at war. But so what? He is the President of the United States, and you're not. Love it or leave it.
War is an option whose time has passed. Peace is the only option for the future. At present we occupy a treacherous no-man's-land between peace and war, a time of growing fear that our military might has expanded beyond our capacity to control it and our political differences widened beyond our ability to bridge them. . . .

Short of changing human nature, therefore, the only way to achieve a practical, livable peace in a world of competing nations is to take the profit out of war.

Richard Nixon looks like a flaming liberal today, compared to a golem like George Bush. Indeed. Where is Richard Nixon now that we finally need him?

If Nixon were running for president today, he would be seen as a "liberal" candidate, and he would probably win. He was a crook and a bungler, but what the hell? Nixon was a barrel of laughs compared to this gang of thugs from the Halliburton petroleum organization who are running the White House today -- and who will be running it this time next year, if we (the once-proud, once-loved and widely respected "American people") don't rise up like wounded warriors and whack those lying petroleum pimps out of the White House on November 2nd.

Nixon hated running for president during football season, but he did it anyway. Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for -- but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him.

You bet. Richard Nixon would be my Man. He was a crook and a creep and a gin-sot, but on some nights, when he would get hammered and wander around in the streets, he was fun to hang out with. He would wear a silk sweat suit and pull a stocking down over his face so nobody could recognize him. Then we would get in a cab and cruise down to the Watergate Hotel, just for laughs.
oh mercy. just go read the whole article.

Friday, October 22, 2004

slouching towards bethlehem

since hitting my saturation point at 3 pm yesterday, have i recovered my appetite for devouring all news political, poll-tical and otherwise?


however, i have continued to mull on a yeats verse i saw on the B train, the most eerie and prescient poem anyone has ever written about this election. and yeats is dead! here tis:
turning and turning in the widening gyre/
the falcon cannot hear the falconner
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
the ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, and the worst
are full of passionate intensity.
does that send a shiver up your spine or what? even creepier, i copied it down onto the back of a card urging me to renew a magazine subscription. i got home and told ben only to discover his father had done the exact same thing. different magazine, probably, though.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

most fun i've ever had watching baseball

and i'm by myself, watching in my pajamas, no beer, no peanuts. it's like a mastercard ad or something. only 2 innings left. someone pointed out to me today that if boston wins (!!) and houston wins, the world series, starting saturday, will be MASSACHUSETTS vs. TEXAS.

now tell me that isn't the hotttest thing you can think of. the world is one big echo chamber. / god has a sense of humor.

on an unrelated note, earlier today i got a strong flash of college while walking down the 2nd avenue. i remembered walking into the sunshine of swarthmore's prettiest courtyard, kohlberg, wearing my gold pleather skirt with the blue jacket over it and stopping to laugh with one friend after another. that will never happen again. college was the best social experience i could imagine. better socially than academically even, and that's saying something. over the course of college, i became a sharper and more focused student and thinker; but more importantly, i think, i became a stable person, a better friend, and a girlfriend who could take the position seriously. as opposed to the kind of girlfriend i was when i was 13 and i thought nothing of breaking up with someone in a letter on valentines day.

the red sox fans all look so earnest. it's heartbreaking. i respond to earnest, if i'm not too busy laughing at it.

have i mentioned i now love my job? i have a job, an apartment, and a fella, all of which that i love -- so maybe it's no wonder everything else that could come into play has. first my laptop was stolen. then i got a bad cold. then, of course, i heard that my dad had decided to make a brief stop in cheney, clinton, and charrow country. his heart's mostly fine but my dad has never been in the hospital before, to my knowledge. even though he's out again now, i'm tense.

the future of this country, and now my father as well. at least it's the 9th innings and very soon i won't have to worry about the red sox anymore. one way or the other.

Monday, October 18, 2004

a time for vonnegut

i feel a little like something the cat drug in. gone, the lithe mood of friday, when i sent off my absentee ballot to sway PA firmly into the column of righteousness. gone, the buoyancy of thursday brought on by the purchase of adorable shoes. gone the general good feeling of liking my new position and the increased proficiency at editing that comes with it. and hello: sick.

how frequently does one have to be sick in this city to prove one's worth? ugh, don't answer that. i liked new york better when it was warm.

however, not all is lost. i have yet to meet an editing challenge i could not overcome (sound-editing, not the wordy kind: i'm working with voiceovers). my cold has not reached heavyweight status. kerry is still bouncing, at least in some polls, and currently both slate and electoral-vote have him in the lead. i don't care if it's precarious, i just want the man to win and this country to come to its senses. roughly in that order.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

i'm giving up

... passivity, that is! i'm tired of sitting on the sidelines, mesmerized by minute-by-minute election updates and extolling the virtues of my candidate only to friends, well-wishers, and the television, while my brother, my parents, some of my friends, and now even my boyfriend are giving of their time to the democrats. everyone has exciting plans to help take down bush in the swing states! or, if not, they're learning spanish in the bronx or providing pro bono medical care in ethiopia! why am i the loosely moraled one? why do i prefer analysis to action?

no longer. if you can walk, you can dance, right? by that logic, if i can make several dozen phone calls a day scheduling auditions for actors, surely i can make several dozen phone calls to strangers in the midwest urging their presence on election day. er, or whatever the dnc has me do. (sell girl scout cookies? babysit infants? wet my pants on command? just how far will you go for john kerry?)

once upon a time, i went a-knockin' in west philly for al. i need to summon up that bright-eyed passion again, assuming four years of rolling those bright eyes at swat activism didn't knock it out of me irretrievably.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

"it was the dream!"

my life is becoming weirdly, but distinctly, third world. the door to our building has broken, allowing joe "cat burglar" shmoe to waltz in off the street. my land-"slum"-lord has tartly informed us, residents of what's now the least safe building in lower manhattan, that in compensation for putting our lives in jeopardy, he'll be turning off the hot water for several days. maybe longer. until the red sox make it to the world series, he said. (currently in game one, it doesn't look too good: yankees are up 7-0.)

to add insult to injury, my laptop got stolen. details, shmetails. it's gone. have i mentioned i have malaria? just kidding. no malaria, only gallows humor.

my housemate dina, after hearing about the laptop misfortune, totally called it: "ester! it was the DREAM!" -- see, i had this dream the night before last that i couldn't decipher. two kittens were gambolling, like they do. one started tugging on the whisker of the other. the other kitten didn't resist, and the first kept pulling, and pulling, and pulling, until he had pulled the other kitten's heart out onto the floor.
now, is that an allegory, or is that an allegory? if only i could have figured out for what. or rather, if only i could have understood that ben was one kitten and joe "computer thief" shmoe was the other, and ...
the red sox are never going to win this thing, are they. i should stop watching and go back to caring solely about politics. politics: the sport that never lets you down.

Monday, October 11, 2004

subways: the new gathering place

a swattie walked right into the E today. i watched him from my seat as he took hold of the metal bar directly in my sightline and defiantly refused to recognize me. only a stalker could have been so persistent: he was a swattie! i totally knew him! not his NAME or anything, but that rumpled hair, that sun-deprived skin, those glasses only a geek could love.

i determined he was following me.

a seat opened up; he didn't take it. nor did he so much as glance my way. well, two can play at this game (i thought to myself). also, i thought, i've run into enough goddamn swatties in this city. how many times do i have to marvel at finding some slight acquaintance with whom i share an alma mater in the same car at the same time as i am, or on the same east village corner walking towards the city's best pastries? how many awkward "hey, i kinda know you; what are you up to?" conversations do i have to hold with people i probably didn't know, when it counted, for a reason? new conclusion!: don't succumb to the temptation of greeting familiar faces with "aren't you a swattie?"

happy with my new conclusion, when he followed me off into the west 4th street station, and down to the b,d/f,v transfer platform, i didn't panic and i didn't give in. the only problem is he subsequently disappeared and i still, dammit, don't know who he was.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

monday-morning quarterback

i don't mean to imply that i could have taken dick cheney in that debate. far be it from me to dispute the wisdom of the dnc and the kerry campaign in picking edwards to tackle dick instead of lil ol me ... in fact, i have six whole years less experience in politics than edwards and a whole lot fewer folksy american dream stories to draw from. i do like to think, though, that in edwards' position i would have been angrier, pointier, and more personal in my attacks in response to cheney's attacks.

because come on! this is the man who told leahy to go fuck himself. how's that for an answer why cheney unfortunately failed to make friends across the aisle: he was too busy flicking them off with one hand while manually pleasuring the religious right with the other.

when cheney waxed poetical about little girls voting in afganistan, i would said, that's cuddly and all, but how many little girls have died in civilian casualties in iraq? when cheney admitted he didn't know anything about AIDS statistics for black women in america, i would have said, "buddy, we could fill a metaphorical fridge with the things you don't know, & that detail there would be the relatively innocuous iceberg lettuce in the veggie crisper."

i WOULD have gotten in the dig about cheney's gay daughter and how great it is that he's great about it, because that was priceless.

(rudepundit does this better than i do.)

edwards was all right. he was fine. his final statement, particularly. who knows, anyway? kerry was great and people seemed to shrug it off, nation-wide, and say, We'd still rather have the jackass we know than the windsurfer/flip-flopper that TV tells us we can't trust. oh well. we'll get the president we deserve and i for one am not moving to canada.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

the trouble with happiness on a sunday afternoon

at some point, after you've finished the sublime bel canto and you've surfed all the internet your feeble, stolen connection will allow, you content yourself with fixating on and WILLING those red states to turn blue. who knows whether it will be your effort, or the effort of the brave footsoldiers of democracy going door to midwestern door, that will loosen the crimson grip on ohio? who knows anything anymore about political progress, except that no one's allowed to be apolitical at the moment, and if you try, some earnest young fresh-faced traveler will intrude on your peace, clipboard in hand, more persistent than the jehovah's witnesses ever were.

oh, and i wish the democrats would stop saying that this isn't a popularity contest. of course it is. of course every election is. the republicans know that: that's why they run popular people. we sound peevish when we complain, peevish and naive. besides, i don't remember any such complaining when clinton ran against dole.
miss manicure, or, the manicured ham

life is different when your nails are pink. you begin to entertain thoughts of buying a american flag label pin and a liveSTRONG! bracelet to go with it. you wonder idly about the plight of people to poor to afford lapel pins and liveSTRONG! bracelets and then realize you don't care. the poor are ugly. you consider a lap dog, a beach house, candidacy on the Apprentice.

actually, finally getting my manicure & pedicure courtesy of ben's step-mom's gift certificate didn't change me in any fundamental ways. too bad, no? i was half-hoping each stroke of the tiny paint brush would whisper republican ideas in my head and i'd have to struggle valiantly against the mind-control of the sinister foot jacuzzi.

i don't even feel particularly girlier. ah well.

ben & i also took advantage of ben's step-mom's other gift certificate, one to whole foods. have you ever been to whole foods? has any other store ever made you more want to pirouette down the aisles? life is so good in whole foods, once known as fresh fields and forever known as The Only Place to Shop if You're a Yuppie at Heart and Yearn for Organic Asparagus and Quinoa Cakes the Way Some Folks Yearn for the Red Sox to Finally Get Their Shit Together For Real. whole foods is a direct catapult into a good mood & whole foods with a GIFT CERTIFICATE is heaven on a stick.

so excuse my good mood going into this next week. kerry's whuppin of w. was enough to keep me in smiles through friday, and i'm hoping my shiny tips, in conjunction with two more debates and the lingering aromas of whole foods, will prolong the condition.

Friday, October 01, 2004

and we have a winner in florida!

i mean, don't we? wasn't that clear, concise and obvious? it was certainly everything i was hoping for last night. true, there wasn't one "knockout punch" & kerry didn't tear into g.w. like a bengal tiger or, y'know, dean would have. gentlemen, i think that was part of his strategy. he wanted to prove that, despite his stance on iraq, he is not merely Dean v2.1, the Presidential Dean. he wanted to prove that he is Kerry!, as in Kerry, President Kerry, at your service, sir.

the tone remained civilized. and as much as possible in a civilized debate, i think kerry proved himself to be calm, restrained, intelligent, forthright, and as unflip-floppy as the empire state building, while bush babbled and blinked and repeated himself. ben and i were both thrilled. now, maybe the company won't come waltzing matilda with us just yet; i understand, and have understood over this election, how far out of the mainstream i am. and not in a hipster way either. just in a way that means that, when i meet someone who isn't sure about kerry or bush -- in other words, one of the precious and coveted swwwwwwwing voters -- i have no idea what to say. i become virtually bush, staring at jim lehreh, squinting and sweating and trying to figure out whether kerry has called me a liar and whether i have to defend myself. all i can do is chuckle awkwardly and say, i don't take it personal.

in short, my friends, i felt like kerry proved himself last night to actually be a person a person could get excited about. to me that was what he had to do, and good lord, how exciting it is when a fella delivers!

Sunday, September 26, 2004


i decided, more or less at the last minute, not to go home for yom kippur. that feeling of Community i'd been craving was sated nicely by my visit home for rosh -- & tempered as well by the stress of quick-turnaround travel. travel sucks. quick-turnaround travel sucks worse.

so i stayed here. ben did too and we observed together, finding a free kol nidre service in a gym around union square. i wore my rubber sandals, he shuffled in his blue bedroom slippers. as we passed unconscious swells in restauarants and nightclubs, together we thought, "goyim."

the next day, in a nod to convenience, we returned to our leather shoes and walked circles around our neighborhood. the lower-east side, the east-east village, all the way to the east river and back. beautiful weather kept us going. later, i got sick. fasting makes me sick -- i need to remember this, because returning sick from ben's grandma's apartment at 181th street, where we broke fast, was not fun. a long subway ride followed by a long nighttime walk through the smoking, skinny west village crowd, shaky and trying to hold the bile down: even if the fast shouldn't be easy, as our free kol nidre service rabbi reminded us, surely it shouldn't result in the pity of hipsters.

i wish my body weren't so fragile. god knows it looks sturdy.

good luck to little adam, just jubliantly installed in his favorite country, and to everyone else, cuz we all need it, don't we?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


here i am home in the middle of the day. puzzle that one out, will you? i'm not fired; in fact, i'll be heading back uptown soon enough. being able to leave for a bit is still refreshing. yesterday, when i was in the same situation, i got to go to the library and rent three movies and borrow carrie fisher's new book.

after such a low-key weekend, it feels appropriate to have a low-key early week. but enough is enough. i want to get my mind working. a workshop, something. officially No Class For Me, for this semester anyway, so i need an alternative. as awesome as the Emmys were (better than the oscars!) & as much fun as i had laughing at Miss America, television can't be my prime playmate when ben's too busy. besides, i need something that will get me out into the city a little, in the hopes that someday i'll feel like i can own more of it than my immediate proximity and the subway line i take to and from work.

i've been searching craigslist. the trouble is, it's all too expensive. people in this crazy city live like they're rich even if they're not. i guess it's the same kind of pervasive, cheerful denial that keeps the bush administration strong. eventually it could even get you where you wanted to go -- fifth avenue or the white house -- unless the fast track unceremoniously ejects you and you land next to becky sharp. & you have to start working your way up again. er. what was i talking about? mixing metaphors is a dangerous business.

on second thought, i still enjoy the mental picture of george w. landing with a thud next to a defiant, scheming early 19th century social climber. picture them underground in a small, dark, echoing cell. w. rubs his wrinkly forehead as becky sharp paces, muttering to herself about how's she going to get either her husband or her respectability back. w. gives up trying to figure out who she is and, thinking, "if only i'd foregone that damn war! alternatively, if only i hadn't stopped drinking!," passes out.
when he wakes up, he's taken a page from carrie fisher, had a one-night stand with a notorious hollywood womanizer and wound up in tijuana with a tattoo artist and buckets of OxyContin. happy 05, georgie. now stop showing up in new york, centralizing the city's police force on the street right in front of my office and closing my subway stop!

for the first time in my life, i have means, and now i have to learn to live within them. means on my left side, means on my right, me keeping a fond arm around each. it's been relatively easy so far, considering i don't spend much, but i'm waiting, just waiting, for the tigers to jump out at me, the kind of tigers that snarl and hiss at you until you throw handfuls of money at them. then they slink away. you know, like lobbyists.

even i don't know what i'm talking about anymore. back to work.

Friday, September 17, 2004

just a moment in the woods ...

new york has gotten me all theatered up. similar to returning to shul: an old, familiar environment visited in a new skin. do you realize my life used to be All Jews All The Time? you'd think, having transferred to the entertainment industry, that not much had changed, but you'd be wrong, not to mention drawing on invidious stereotypes, you bigot.

no, working in the entertainment industry is nothing like being at jds, except that a relatively conforting number of people have curly hair and have to stand on their tiptoes to reach things. here's how different the two are: the office was subtly dead over the holiday where at jds it would have been officially dead.

officially, i had to take a personal day in order to observe one day of rosh hashanah. but take it i did. my dormant judaism was powerful enough to prompt two lengthy train trips in a 24 hour period so i could ricochet straight from my desk home & back again. i use the term "desk" loosely, as i have no such bourgeois acoutrements at my new place of work; i'm something of a bedouin in the office, & that's all i'll say on on the subject, other than It's Going Fine and I Got Paid!. forgive, then, if updates remain a little sporadic.

but theater. the theater is the point i wanted to make. the point was not supposed to be about work or the new year, although i wish everyone a hearty and sweet one of the latter. my mother threw yet another lovely, rowdy new year party that i enjoyed immensely & i made it back to the city; so much for rosh. but theater. something about my permanent proximity to broadway makes me want to see plays! and hear songs! and get all gleefully retro about the whole show business. shira & i obtained student rush tix one lunchtime to see i am my own wife that evening, a remarkable show at the tail end of its remarkable run. i'm feeling the bony fingers of addiction, or at least of habit, tightening: i want MORE.

the korean-american world bank economist i bonded with on amtrak gave me, in addition to a compressed intro to several centuries of far east history, some advice. maybe it's obvious advice, but it was the perfect thing for a stranger to tell me at the beginning of my career as an adult & a new yorker & responsible 21st century individual. she said, it's okay to fail. it's good to fail, cuz then you know you can take it. i failed at theater until i learned to approach it from a different angle, and then i didn't fail anymore. that's a good lesson to relearn and learn to reapply.

Monday, September 13, 2004

renovate my what now?

i've been reading lots of television schedules, in part because i was a little underutilized at work today and in part because the pattern i've settled into involves watching network tv routinely for the first time ever. i too, like millions of americans, change from work clothes to pajamas, warm up some dinner, and turn to television for my nightly entertainment. i too watch reality shows!

not all of them. i haven't sunk that far. and to be fair i've enjoyed my share in the past. still, it feels strange to be reading previews & guides and mentally marking when exactly shows will appear to dazzle and delight me -- or at least tint my drab hours between the end of Jeopardy! and sleep.

it's one reason to stick to grad skool. unfortunately i'm not looking for reasons to stick. something about that one classroom experience, fairly or unfairly, made me want to leap from higher education like a gazelle from a burning building. my parents haven't quite come round to this idea yet, that their little girl might not get a master's after all. maybe i'll want to be a student again someday; for now, they'll have to be satisfied with my trying to be a Businesswoman.

i've also been improving my mind. three books finished in the past couple days: vanity fair, postcards from the edge, and life of pi. all good, of course, in such disparate ways that it's pointless to compare them. but life of pi thrilled me. i wanted to reread it immediately and talk about it with everyone. on the other hand, i can't say it changed how i think about god, which is supposedly-sorta the book's intention. i'm not sure i even figured out why it should. -- but read it if you haven't, so we can talk about it. please.

coming up on the new year and i've been in new york for a month. wow.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

this just in

graduate skool is just like college! i mean -- follow me here -- okay: you walk in cautiously, until you realize there's no need to be cautious. everyone looks like you, or perhaps it's that everyone's intellectual aura matches yours. the acoutrements of the room are equally familiar. desks. walls. green black-boards. a piano for some reason; never mind the piano.

facing you is a professor with a degree from uc berkeley, a trim figure, and a cute accent. you sit, in a circle of course, but specifically, between the eager bespectacled Spelman student and the gangly, serious Norwegian. you look down at a syllabus that's a mix of pompous words("transnational," "colonization") and seemingly normal words with hidden pompous meanings ("informal"). this is theory all over again. it snuck up on you. it's a patty class without the patty and by god! what's the point of that? a sunbeam bursts through the clouds frowning over new york city, through the glass of your classroom window, and lands on your desk as you realize: there's a REASON you graduated college! there's a REASON you were even maybe a little bit glad to graduate, if only because you'd never have to hear the word "problematic" in a sentence again!

this time, maddeningly, hilariously, you're doing it to yourself. as the pedantic older guy with all the degrees rambles on tangentially again, you realize, this time, you don’t have to graduate. you don’t even have to start. this is an optional, voluntary degree. maybe you should find something fun to do instead, a workshop maybe, something low-key, local, inexpensive. maybe you don’t have to be an overachiever after all. you virtually bounce home thinking, trying to be happy may be enough.

Friday, September 03, 2004

not about work.
... well, okay, a little about work

i finished my first week. i survived. without going into details, i can say briefly that my biggest problem is going to be confidence. once in high skool i auditioned for an amateur production of a chorus line. when i called to hear the results, the director informed me he'd cast me as an understudy. "you're not confident enough for a real role," said he.

no matter how upset i might i have been about it, i couldn't deny he was right. my confidence goes in and out; it always has. there are times i can fake it with the best of them (ask anyone who's ever been inexplicably intimidated with me on first acquaintance) & there are times when i turn into jello pudding. on the other hand, i found it hilarious that considering my notorious ineptitude at dancing, my shortness, my not-svelteness, & all the other characteristics i have that you'd think would make me an undesirable candidate for musical theater -- particularly Chorus Line! -- what the director pointed to as my most glaring flaw was the confidence issue.

president w. comes to mind. the rnc went wild for him last night, as you probably know, if you watched, or read coverage, or were one of the hecklers who got dragged away by new york's finest. his delegates don't love him for his ability to dance rings around the other girls. without confidence, he'd still be ending up in the gutter with the other rejects. people love his certainty. as he himself said, you may not like him but at least you know where he stands. he stands where he stood and where he'll continue to stand for as long as we suffer fools in office gladly.

the point is, i need the confidence equivalent of "tits and ass." this is showbiz, kids. even in the office.

speaking of bush, my new office is right by two of the major hotels where delegates kicked back, secure in their secret service protection, and tried to forget they were in a sodom of jews, homos, activists, minorities, and other unsavories. a war of the buttons took place daily on the sidewalks as delegates proudly, desperately, displayed their W.! accessories and ny natives retorted, through their accessories, quiet disdain. it was fun to watch but i stayed out of the fray.

then, thursday i was eating lunch in an outdoor plaza and a delegate (complete with cowboy hat -- they seemed to come standard) started a conversation. his mother sat next to him, spilling things on her blouse and sometimes chiming in.

... him: so where are you from?
me: dc
his mother: she's from new york, of course.
him: no, mom, she's from washington.
his mother: ohhh. (clear implication: if there's any place worse than new york ...)
him: so what's your name?
me: ester.
him: that's a great name.
me: it's a little old-fashioned.
him: i like old-fashioned women.
his mother: [spills something on herself]


Sunday, August 29, 2004

my last day of freedom, or, more about the kitties

and i'm not spending it protesting. no, baby. i'm going to sleep in the sun with our new cat, sotto, a much more successful endeavor so far than our previous homicidal kitty from whom we have finally separated ourselves. of course we couldn't simply hand homicidal kitty off to a shelter. we're not an Eye for an Eye kind of makeshift family. we weren't crying for Blood. we were crying, in good liberal style, for Rehabilitation.

so, like i said, housemate dina found a crazy cat lady. crazy cat lady (CCL) turned out to be the GI Joe of crazy cat ladies. CCL lives on the 6th floor of an abandoned walk-up in alphabet city. she and several other folks who were homeless at the time started squatting there in the late 80s, and after a brief and unsuccessful attempt on the part of the NYPD to oust them, new york shrugged its shoulders and gave them the building. CCL replied by getting a sex change and then filling her apartment, floor to ceiling, with cats. cats with ears missing, eyes missing, paws missing; ferile cats, skeletal cats, fat hising cats; and one cat named, er, Osama bin Falafel.

CCL herself is over six feet tall, broad-shouldered and serious, loaded with muscles the way fruit trees are loaded with fruit, tattooed up the wazoo. the first time we trekked up to CCL's own private zoo, dina asked CCL of her worst cat-inflicted injury. cheerful CCL showed us the scars. actually though, CCL reflected, i don't mind being mauled. it's a rush.
kind of like getting a tattoo?, i asked.
exactly, said she.

anyway, CCL has taken charge of homicidal kitty and we, in turn, have adopted one of hers.

this whole cat process has occupied me nicely during this last week of indolence. i also spent a lot of time hanging out with folks, dining, strolling, food shopping, watching a lot of Bravo, enjoying the sunshine, going to the Met, and reading Vanity Fair in preparation for the new mira nair movie. time passed much more quickly than i expected it to, and i've been on a more even emotional keel. we'll see if my happy calm withstands tomorrow on which starts:
swat (not on labor day, for the first time in memory)
the republican national convention
and my time as a salaried member of corporate society

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

the verdict is in

psychotic kitty is out. housemate dina returned from california and perhaps through her airplane-induced exhaustion tried to love kitty too hard. it responded by chomping down on her arm. and whoa blood! blood geysering, blood pole vaulting, blood that could have participated in the olympics. lucky thing we had two first aid kits and a law student in the house.

dina's fine now, just shaken & bandaged up. she's been looking into where the kitty can go now. she doesn't want it put to sleep, which would be the inevitable result if it were dropped off a shelter at this age with its habits. apparently though she's happened upon a cat lady in the area, i imagine an old british boarding skool matron, who sez sternly that she knows how to handle biters and could teach dina if dina were interested. trouble is, of course, that dina, like ben and i, is going to be insanely busy this fall; none of us have time or energy to train a worthless cat into a merely mediocre one.

cat lady's going to come sniff around. i hope she brings a riding crop. meanwhile, i'm going to accompany dina to cat lady's house, because the flipside of cat lady taking psychotic kitty is that we have to adopt one of cat lady's cats. supposedly several of them have no violent histories at all and that is what i'm hoping for. i mean, sheisse. life is complicated enough without a drama queen with fangs for a pet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

the glue that holds the peace together

well, it's done. i'm officially registered -- advised and registered -- for my first nyu graduate class: "intro to the city." "the city" of course would be new york, for any of you just tuning in from a dark cave somewhere at the bottom of a swamp in another corner of the galaxy. we're in new york now so new york is the Only city, and as long as i'm working on accepting that i figure i can learn as much about the Only city as possible.

i'm finally listening to a song by the postal service, after hearing so much about them, and i like. i also keep listening to that one song i happened to download by the white stripes and it makes me wonder whether i'd like that album of theirs that everyone else saw made shrines for like years ago. any thoughts?

classes start september 7. you eagle eyes will recognize that september 7 is not, repeat not, labor day, and a wave of nostalgia will knock you off your keyboard. aw. swat starts labor day, always has, and more than once i began the semester with a marge murphy class. my wacky history prof marge would march in and, without bothering to remove her cowboy hat, would begin a lecture about how ridiculous it was that a liberal arts college could so blatantly ignore the importance of labor day and as her form of protest there would be no class. she'd grin, "they can make you come in today, but they can't make me teach."

once in that situation, she turned on the clinton/lewinsky tapes and for the whole period we listened, sharing the nation's fascination and disgust, to linda tripp pretending to console a disconsolate monica while noshing on corn chips.

i should do something on labor day to celebrate. it was marge who encouraged me to pursue my ridiculous special major, and if it weren't for that self-designed curriculum i wouldn't be here right now about to start a self-designed MA program. our relationship endured some ups and downs as is common, for whatever reason, of my relationships with my most influential teachers. but when she found me at graduation, none of it matters. she gave me a big hug and said, "you did it your way."

Monday, August 23, 2004

no more ellipses

claire and kate, two fellow swattie ex-pats who now live around the corner from me, asked if i'd miss swarthmore more once the seasons changed. i'd been missing swarthmore so much as a matter of course, irrespective of season, that it hadn't occurred to me that the coming of labor day without the attendent stress of returning to college would be strange. last year at this time, i remember reading rabi's blog and feeling sorry for her. now i get to incite pity in others, and like the sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

how is new york?, you may ask, and well may you ask, since i haven't upated in a week. i've been busy -- well, thrift store shopping, which never fails to thrill me, and circling my neighborhood, and hanging out in thompkins square park where dogs orgy as fond humans look on, and eating too much & too well in honor of ben's birthday, and absorbing Bravo by the hour to stock up for when we convince our housemate cable tv is too rich for our blood, and food shopping, and cooking, and reading tarot cards, and sleeping with the cat who is only tolerable when asleep. he's frikkin jekyl and hyde, this cat. he goes from purring and meowing to attempting to eat my face.

naturally i've also been fighting off brief bouts of depressiveness. this i imagine i'll just have to wait out. once i'm more acclimated to the city and my days have more structure and purpose, i hope i'll be happy here. i have five friends within the city limits, and a great apartment, and ben, and a job and a skool only one of which, really, has to be worthwhile. thus, i have a high note to end on.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

any one placing any incumbrance on this balcony ...

the fire escape is beautiful but strict. it warns that wrongdoers and malfeasants (is that a word? it should be. i hereby proclaim you: word) could be financially disemboweled to the tune of ten dollars.

i take back what i said about the internet. it's kinda nice to sit here by the window since we have a stellar view into treetops and other brick buildings and their fire escapes. very sesame street. as opposed to the view out our bedroom window, which is very warsaw circa the warsaw pact.

i'm also feeling better in general for no appreciable reason except that it's pretty out today, & i've been thinking that even if i don't feel like a new yorker yet, that doesn't mean i can't or won't at some point find my niche. maybe, as hrc sez, it takes a village. plus, as of today, ben, who's cozed up with me here also shamelessly utilizing the free wireless, has been cozed up with me for 3 and a half years. awwwwwww.