Wednesday, March 31, 2004

j.f., part I

being at college has made me somewhat blase about meeting people i admire. other, more responsible people make the decisions and spend the money so that people i admire can come speak within several yards of me. when i stop to think about it, that's incredible.

just one of the many ways i'm lucky. also, this evening, one of my friends, who is effusive about me in the way i associate with younger sisters, thanked me for being her hero. after a long day in a rough semester, that's better than cocoa.

but! jonathan franzen. or, j.f., as i like to call him. aside from not having blonde hair, he is very much like the kind of guy i always expected to marry: witty, deadpan, tall, bespectacled, stubbled, erudite, and cute. i sat in the second row and no one sat in front of me so i had a clear view of him. there he was. saying things like, "don't mess with oprah." things i wrote down and which i will post here, along with my dan savage quotes, as soon as i get a chance. if everything goes as planned, i will see him twice more: this evening, when he gives a for-real lecture (this afternoon was a "conversation") and at the film studies fundraising gala in nyc to which i get to clap squeal and go.

oh, and he's not jewish. as they say in the classic independence day, nobody's perfect.

Monday, March 29, 2004

the paradigm is cupcakes

my film theory seminar, in its various permutations, meets a record four times this week. the first incident, this evening, went rather better than i was scared it might -- kind of like today, which began with my receiving my third rejection (nyfucku). the sun, and ben, and friendly people kept me buoyant, and i apartment-shopped on craigslist for extra kicks.

i'm hoping it's not a sign that, after a near-glorious weekend, it's back to modulated depressiveness for me. after this near-glorious weekend, i've forgotten the roots of my modulated depressiveness; reflecting on it, it seems silly and pointless to me. why fret when you can get shoes, a book, and a t-shirt for under $6? and then, the next day, elsewhere, 2 more pairs of shoes and a kickass pair of "they're not just hot, they're hot topic!" punkish pants for free?

moreover, why fret when you can dress to scandalize at the annual "fuck gender, and me too please!" party? or re-watch one of the few movies that honestly deserves to be called a gem, spellbound? or be entertained by the one and only dan savage?

(this entry may set a new record for the number of times i use the f-word. i hope my parents and their friends and relatives are not upset. however, i am a college student and i won't be one for too much longer so i beg everyone to bear with me, please.)

Friday, March 26, 2004

happiness: morning and evening, or, a warm gun?

this entry is dedicated to you're a good man, charlie brown, the most aggressively Mostly Harmless musical i've ever seen.

so, when ben & i were in north carolina, we came across an immense collection of cheap books in the basement of a PTA thrift store. perusing the fiction, i noticed a paperback called "the milagro beanfield wars." why have i heard of that, i wondered. well, someone must have told me to read it! it only cost a quarter and it was in good condition, er go it is mine.

flash forward to swarthmore. stressed out during the days, i look to the time before bedtime as vital, and in that vital time i often read. i began "the milagro beanfield wars." bells began to ring faintly near the back of my head. i scratched my hair and continued.

by the time i was about a third of the way in, the bells had become insistent, obnoxious, and unignorable. i did the only thing i could: i called my father.

me: dad, i'm reading this book called "the milagro beanfield wars" and --
my father: *laughs for ten minutes*
me: dad! what? what?
him: *still laughing*
me: daaaaaaaaaaddddddd!
him: you don't listen. i've been telling you about that book for 20 years.
me: aha! so you do know it!
him: know it! i'm IN it!
me: wow! are you charley [our last name], the bright-eyed east coast lawyer who moves to the little town in new mexico in the late 60s and helps out the poor oppressed hispanic farmers?
him: actually, i'm the second tier bad guy, rudy noise, the state engineer's lawyer. my part was cut out of the movie.
me: ...
him: sorry, darling. this is america. besides, john nichols was a gringo stalinist and i always thought his book needed to be edited. with a hatchet.

too bad. i think it's amusing. i'm going to keep reading since i haven't even met rudy noise yet. apparently (& i'd forgotten that this is one of my father's favorite stories) (or rather, i remembered the story but didn't know it was about THIS BOOK) he's describe as being slender, intelligent, and well-dressed. a judge with whom my father was lunching quipped, "you should sue! they told three lies about you in one sentence!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

gobbledygook and upside downs

louise gluck was supposed to come speak; she got bogged down by freak snowstorms and a bad flu. johnathan franzen is coming but somehow between the time the "reserve your spot!" email was sent out (10:15 a.m.) and the time i next checked my email (1:10 p.m.) all tickets had been taken. ridiculous! that'll teach me to actually try to be productive in the mornings instead of frittering away all pre-noon hours on the internet.

the plus side of my what-the-hell, may-as-well proactivity was that i had a full rough cut to show my class today. that put me in a good mood. as did the weather, as did a long overdue lunch date. however, no degree of good mood can withstand wednesday afternoons. i skipped into class and several hours later dragged myself out, in sullen teenager fashion, darkly envisioning nooses and pills and dorothy parker poetry.

my mood never rebounded. when i tried to watch junk television in the lounge, the christians kicked me out. and i couldn't go to sleep because i had to read barthes for my attachment meeting tomorrow. i couldn't talk to anyone because to talk would be to whine and i feel unjustified in whining.

because: i have a grad skool option. i have a grad skool option colocated with two of my sig.fig.'s grad skool options. my grad skool option offers cheap health insurance and priceless film industry connections. i have a job offer for the summer that would pay $2100 for 6 weeks -- the most i've ever earned. my hair hasn't started falling out yet. my history professor from LAST YEAR finally returned the paper i handed in LAST YEAR, which i need to revise for honors.

sadly, logic does not speak to malaise. if i could pinpoint my malaise (beyond "what if i don't have talent, i just have a better-than-average ability to bullshit?" which in some fields is talent anyway) i could at least try to rip off its wings ... maybe the key is to resume sleeping late in the mornings. my brother does that and he's mostly happy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

sunshine of terror

again, up too early. i don't understand. i've already wasted an hour and fifteen minutes and just about that amount of time still stands between me and class. i can't work in the mornings. my very being shudders at the thought. nor is any one else up to talk to and if they are up they're doing Good for Them things like practicing for a marathon or excavating babies and nuns out of avalanches.

last night i dreamt my little brother had become a serial killer. i ran downstairs and found that he'd left ben tied up and bleeding to death in the basement. once i managed to save ben, i told my mother firmly that this could not stand: my little brother would have to leave. abjectly, she agreed, and we all stood around the door as he walked out.

why we didn't turn him into the police, i don't understand. he then proceeded to follow us around paris (?) and much running through traffic ensued. i woke up tense, muscles locked in place as though by that new magic sportsbra.

the dream was probably a by-product of yesterday's manic nature. following the emerson serendipity, i had to submit to 2 phone interviews. the first went fine, no better or worse than could be expected; the second, for co-lum-bi-a threw me entirely off-kilter. i had to talk to two people at once. one, a woman, was the good cop. she asked me specific, manageable questions, laughed at my jokes. the other, a skeptical-sounding new yawkish man, who i imagined with hair on his knuckles, made my head whirl: "who wants to see a movie about the 19th century?" "you know, i hate when movies try to teach me things." "i want to laugh. will your movie make me laugh?" "do you have a story that you HAVE to tell that's different from everybody's else's story?"

weirdly, they began the interview by teasing me. i have brothers; i know what teasing is. they were like, "are you SURE you want to come here?" "come on, we're not THAT great." "it's a lot of money ...." it seemed like they were going to offer me a spot! great! then they shined the bright light in my eyes and got down to business.

at least they agreed with me on lars van trier though, since the man even growled his approval, it was hard to decipher at first. once the interview terminated abruptly, i realized they never even told me their names. gee golly gosh! and i still really want to go to their skool!

Monday, March 22, 2004


* phone rings *

me: hello?
voice: hi, is this [my name]?
me: yes?
voice: this is the president's office. do you still reside at 264 parrish?
me: yes ... ?
voice: we got some of your mail somehow, and i opened it, and well -- it's good news for you from emerson college ...
heavy lifting

my god, what am i doing up this early? i guess the sun rose before it could be expected to; now it's thrown everything off. at 8 a.m. i am unaccountably hungry and even my cherished 19s cannot help me. it must be a hunger composed of displaced sleep.

and my body is sore. saturday i went around filming with a handheld camera. i hadn't realized quite how heavy a handheld camera is -- dogme may be for dorks, but those dorks must have tremendous upper-body strength -- and i had to stop eventually because my arms had turned to jello.

then, speaking of sugary food, yesterday evening co|motion steeled itself to sell 600 donuts. addie and i launched through parrish, dana, and hallowell, all the dorms i've lived in, and managed to sell 14 dozen. not unimpressive and not unexhausting either, frankly. when we finally disposed of our LAST ONE, we whooped like sports fans and considered tracing our footsteps door to door with a revised pitch, "hi! would you like to donate alcohol for a worthy cause?"

we got some great responses. one guy was half-naked when we knocked on his door. he pleaded for a couple minutes to get dressed. another girl walked up next to us and said "come see me once you're dressed too!" joking, i turned to her and said, "maybe you could just see him now." "oh no," she said. "he's my ex. he'd better be clothed."

a few doors down we ran into the same girl again in a different guy's room (another ex? a current?) would she like a donut? "no thanks," she said. "but the guy who lives her might. hang on." and while we stood there, she rifled through his clothes and the room looking for a dollar. finally she shrugged at us: "sorry, i can't find his money. would you like some of his gum?"

another girl told us she was sorry but she'd given up sweets, cheese and peanut butter for lent. "you must be a saint," said addie politely. "if i were a saint," replied she, "i wouldn't need to give up everything i love to feel god in my heart."

anyway, if you bought a krispy kreme, thank you for lightening our load.

Friday, March 19, 2004

end of week giddiness

for the record, i'm currently working on making three movies. three. the next time i'm working on making three movies at once somebody better be paying me for it.

i have filmed 10 interviews for one of those movies, a video project i have to do for class called "who IS the swattie?" that footage, plus the amount i hope to get saturday at screw (one of swarthmore's annual gleefully painful bacchanals), will go way over an hour. the finished project will be 3 to 5 minutes. so > 1 hour - 3 to 5 minutes = 1 hell of a lot of editing.

i'm actually kind of excited about the editing. that is, perhaps, because i've never edited anything before, certainly nothing of this magnitude. there's so much power! so much potential! if reality television has taught us nothing else, it has surely taught us that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

a new pattern!

i alternate between leaving unpleasant events 2/3 of the way through and having anxiety attacks. the two are not unrelated: whenever i'm in the clutches of something that doesn't engage at least half of my attention, i begin to perspire and palpitate about all the work i will never get done.

the worst part is that there's no day i can look to when it will be over. at graduation you only trade honors/grad skool/job search/future/thesis anxiety for Future anxiety. with a capital Future. at some point, eventually, i imagine, there will a lull, some time when i have a new residence, new occupation, when i can spend thirty full minutes without gnashing my teeth about What's Going to Happen. but without being able to mark that point on a calendar and work to it, i'm in my own personal idea of hell, walking down a corridor towards an EXIT sign that never gets closer.

there is no bright side. bunnies with bow-ties really aren't that hilarious. no, wait, i'll think of one.

okay: my hair hasn't started falling out yet.
i'm in requited love.
i was contacted by columbia for an interview, which seems to mean i made some cut.
i'm seeing eternal sunshine of the spotless mind on friday.
the odds are i will get through this (however indeterminate) period, because i'm healthy and sturdy and, as charlotte reminded us on the last episode of sex and the city, we're jews! we've gotten through worse than this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

dilemma of the day

in order to be best (semi)prepared for my seminar this evening, should i spend the next few hours (a) slogging through more of the incomprehensible theory reading, or (b) trying to track down the movie we were supposed to see which is AWOL at the library?

this supersedes the dilemma of yesterday, wherein i tried to determine how much time i would have to spend on a paper i started to write 8 hours after the due date.

sobering thought: my parents are paying a lot of money for this education.
hilarious thought: bunnies in bow-ties!

Monday, March 15, 2004

hold me closer, tony danza

i had an unexpectedly southern day today, a day of bible and sports, despite the fact that ben and i landed safely back in non-southern territory yesterday afternoon. by this evening, we were in the least southern place on earth, swarthmore pennsylvania, eating vegetarian food and watching almost famous, but for a few brief shining moments i felt those stars and bars.

it began: over an incongruous breakfast of bagels'n'lox and kugel in my very own kitchen, my mother, my brother adam, ben and i argued "the passion" until the only feasible option was for me to disappear into a puff of smoke and reappear with the holy book in hand.

a table near the front of the holy book said was today's selection was deuteronomy 23 - 25 (which includes the creepy/profound quote, "the children shall not be put to death for the sins of the fathers, and neither shall the fathers be put to death for the sins of the children. each man shall be put to death for his own sin.") to warm up, i began to read aloud. then i moved into more relevant territory, that of jesus according to matthew.

we made it through the relevant passages, and some interesting stories, in each of the four. we stopped midway through john, the last, because by that point my brother, sufficiently chagrined at how guilty indeed the gospels made "the jews," had become involved in the umd-duke game.

the umd-duke game ultimately absorbed all of us, cuz it was so darned exciting. i felt somewhat torn, rooting for maryland for being the underdog and the local team, and for duke, a little bit, because i was just there and so, so surprised at how cool chapel hill and carborro were. (seriously! warm, offbeat, leftish, and full of small indy 2nd hand stores and short buildings and cheap gas. two out of the three movie theaters we passed were showing "the passion," it's true, but one was also showing triplets of belleville and that was delightful.)

coming back to college is. well, difficult. there's a lot to be faced and i don't feel quite up to that, to tell you the truth. i am very brave about the potentiality about being rejected by every skool to which i applied. i recognized that risk when i only applied to the top. i am somewhat brave about the fact that i don't have a job or a plan for next year. i am kinda brave about my upcoming film projects, and just brave enough about my honors exams, and that's the sum total of my courage, distributed. if you have any to spare, i'd appreciate it.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

don't panic!

nobody worry about me. i'm currently soaking up sun in north carolina with my b.lov'd who swept me up on his way back from europe and whisked me down to durham. his godmother is giving us the royal treatment, making us quiche with fresh cream, buying us 15 different varieties of whole foods cheeses, giving us the run of the place.

at the moment, i'm not worried about anything in particular. aside from consistently turning the wrong direction, we're doing fine.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

0 and 2

no university of washington for me. i admire their efficient use of email. and again, it simplifies the potential eventual choice. but. no seattle.

the 5 i have left to hear from are all private skools. somehow i doubt they will be more lenient in their admissions processes. ah well. i can only hope they too turn to email to let me know.

Monday, March 08, 2004

the voice of god

no wonder kevin smith chose this man to play megatron in dogma. the film as it evolved on screen (as opposed to in its original form) may have been disappointing, but alan rickman was not. when is he ever?

this reverie brought to you by robin hood: prince of thieves. i hadn't seen it since, oh, say 1990, and if you haven't either i heartily recommend it, if only for alan rickman's over-the-top self-parodying sheriff of notingham. i would choose him over kevin costner six times out of seven, even with that greasy hair. he's reprising the greasy hair look in the harry potter flicks, as well as his *siiiiigh* smarmy charm.

he steals the movie the same way tim curry steals the three musketeers from chris o'donnell, an exemplary case, to be sure, of taking candy from a baby. the real question is, between tim curry and alan rickman -- the two most spine-tingliest voices in the english speaking world -- WHO do you choose?

Sunday, March 07, 2004


this week's vocab word and 3x cooler than 'etiology' or 'ontology.' no, i don't promise that i spelled any of those words right.

two of my wonderful high skool friends just left my house where, by the way, i am. back in dc. eating price club cookies, lox, cheese, and fruit the way you only can in my kitchen at all hours. watching any channel of tv you want. why oh why do i ever leave?

oh wait, i remember. family drama. at least it was novel to have something else waking me up at 7:30 besides my body saying "go check your mail!" but i am very happy to be home. in fact i'm sad i don't get to spend more time with my family this break. one brother is in florida. my dad's about to depart for new mexico, to settle a case he filed 36 years ago. my mom's currently with my other brother en route to rochester, ny.

however, today my mother insisted on buying me an awesome communist jacket. "red china" via ralph lauren.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

low-grade flu

of the soul. no iowa for me. no hide and seek in cornfields, no overalls, no chance that i will live in the midwest in the foreseeable future. the letter kindly informed me that out of 368 applicants, they chose 25. i idled away time in my subsequent class trying to do the math: 1/16 or thereabouts? no matter. no funny vowels for me. no blue eyes. no best poetry program in the country, and it's okay.

6 to go.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


at INDIE CONCERTS, people stand. at FOLK CONCERTS, people sit.

at INDIE CONCERTS, the average hair length is two inches or up. at FOLK CONCERTS, the average hair length is two feet and down.

at INDIE CONCERTS, everyone is pale. this is also true of FOLK CONCERTS.

girls who attend INDIE CONCERTS are slightly taller than those who attend FOLK CONCERTS.

people at INDIE CONCERTS wear sneakers. people at FOLK CONCERTS wear birkenstocks.

these are not STEREOTYPES. this is something grander: glib, under-researched TRUTH.

out of impatience cross-bred with proactivity, i started calling graduate programs today to find out when they sent/are sending their letters. and i had two heart-attacks to learn that answers from two of my skools, both which mean a lot to me, will be making their way to the mail room in the next couple days.

i can't seem to calm down. if this turns into a panic attack, i could take my sedative stuff, but then i'll fall asleep for sure working for the friends library this afternoon. i think the solution is for someone to hit me over the head with an anvil and when i wake up, in several days, tell me briskly how my fate has been decided.

i am still a worthwhile person. i am still a worthwhile person. oh why oh why did i apply to graduate skool in the first place? why am i hyperventilating for the opportunity to write poetry in corn fields, or, as the case may be, cambridge?

Monday, March 01, 2004

LOTR is titanic!

i really liked ROTK; i was even rooting for it to win best picture. but by the time the ceremony meandered to its vanishing point, i had no enthusiasm left for the film. it was a foregone conclusion from the first award and how many more times did we need to see peter jackson's and fran walsh's matted hair?

besides, giving the picture "best adapted screenplay" is a crock. yes, the trilogy was a huge achievement, but come on. best screenplay? someone did bring to my attention that screenplays consist of story as well as dialogue, god knows that's true, but still, come on!, what dialogue there was was excusable at best. the screenplay categories are virtually all that's given to small, deserving flicks like american splendor.

although one of my favorite moments came as francis ford leapt to his feet hollering for his daughter when she won. that, and when the two presenters in a row thanked the wives they've loved since middle school. take note: it's way cuter to have loved since middle skool than since high. esp. if love in middle skool manifested itself by sending your lady live rats.

i wish bill murray had won. i'm glad charlize did. billy crystal was on about 75% of the time and what more can you ask? now: the top five best looking people at the 76 Academy Awards:

5) renee zellwegger who has evolved out of the emaciated chicago look.
4) angelina jolie (adam: what's that smudge on her arm? me: that's a tattoo. adam: that shouldn't be allowed.)
3) catharine zeta-jones
2) johnny depp. involuntary shrieks erupted whene'er the camera looked his way.
1) diane keaton. bless you, woman; you looked stunning.

major props to gorgeous women susan sarandon and jamie lee curtis. the latter was quoted as saying, "i've never felt this beautiful." and to the lovely adrian brody who not only looked smashing but made fun of himself onstage too.