Monday, February 28, 2005

"pain, marty? try prison."

i must have walked my way into the 22nd century this weekend. i virtually walked straight into march without looking. march! oh god, the joy. you can virtually smell the sunblock on the horzion.

as far as i'm concerned, february was better than january and march will be better still. not because i'm an optimist, or because i think history only moves in one direction -- although i sort of am and i sort of do -- but because, goddamn it, how could it be much worse? especially as the clothes get thinner and the birds return and people start painting their toes again and you know that this is only the beginning, spring will NOT STOP THERE, it will KEEP GOING until it reaches summer and new york city won't miss the gates anymore because it will have sunshine.

but for now, i'm stuck on february 28, a strange day, and it's blizzarding outside again and the fading glow of oscar provides all my vitamin D. i watched with my friend shira, who has cable and an impressively nice room, and we ate pizza and drank beer and gaped at beyonce's hideous eye-makeup like good americans. no surprises really, in fashion or in the ceremony. no bitter disappointments either. i cheered loudest for charlie kaufman.

i will spare you my martin scorcese rant; suffice it to say, even though i thought the aviator was a fine film, i was aggressively pleased marty didn't walk off with the trophy that mattered. giving him an oscar would only serve as positive reinforcement of his recent and nauseating effort to make Spectacles rather than films. it wouldn't change the fact that he was unjustly overlooked, more than once, many years ago. but join the club, marty. if it's good enough for hitchcock, it's good enough for you.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


as i've been obligated to spend increasing amounts of time out of my apartment, i haven't been able to blog, read, lounge, watch old episodes of quality television, watch new episodes of reality television, or play snood. what have i learned in my forced excursions into the city? i'm glad you asked.

- walking is super fun. technically i already knew this. having covered large swatches of brooklyn heights, park slope, prospect park, central park, the financial district, chinatown, the village, times square and midtown west on foot, however, i feel particularly well qualified to state: yes, walking rules.

- subways are the second best way to get anywhere, after walking. today i got to explain the intricacies of the n,r,q,w line to a nice old lady from maine. turned out the nice lady's father founded heifer international.

- just because an author is featured in a reading/discussion at barnes and nobles does not mean their writing is any less pedestrian than stuff you can hear at open mikes at college. maybe swat just had some really kickin open mikes, i don't know.

- sometimes policemen kick homeless people out of subway stations and, as they watch them shuffle off, say, "well, i may be down and out, but at least i'm not sleeping on a subway bench, you fucking pathetic homeless ..."

- the aviator isn't nearly as wretched as gangs of new york. frankly it's not wretched at all: it's an enjoyable popcorn movie elevated by catchy period music, plane crashes, and cate "lit from within" blanchett. leonardo dicaprio is helped by not being hideously miscast this time.

- avenue q is fantastic, even with a hatted woman in front of you and a vodka-swigging, tittering old couple next to you! the parallels to team america: world police are almost eerie -- the puppets, the puppet sex, the irony, the thick-accented asian character -- but in a head-to-head, avenue q would win, hands down. for one thing, its heart is in the right place.

- park slope would be a lovely place to live. people who call it "yuppie" have clearly never been to bethesda. it's looking like the studio in brooklyn heights though. our approval came through and everything. my time on the town is fueled by dreams of that dotted line.

i've also learned, independent of my prowling, that thriving in a white-collar environment requires a particular kind of intelligence. just street smarts or just book smarts won't do: you need office smarts. the ability to hide your intelligence when the situation demands it (a friend of mine calls this "playing marilyn," in respect to marilyn monroe). an aptitude for obedience mixed with an instinct for seizing those few opportunities for bold thinking. an excellent memory for pointless tasks and a terrible memory for slights and insults. a bottomless stomach for coffee. a sixth sense for when there's free food anywhere and how to get it. an excellent relationship with the truly powerful folks in the building: the IT personnel. an arsenal of websites. strong eyes (for the monitors), thick skin (for the papercuts), and, above all, the ability to swallow hard, smile, and work towards that paycheck.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

a day in new york

despite recent upheavals and unpleasantnesses, ben and i decided that yesterday we would do as planned: spend the entire day together, alone, in new york, doing the things we like to do, in celebration of our turning 4 years old.

our day began early. we left the apartment while metal grates protected still-groggy stores. and we walked south. down the bowery, past lil italy (which barely registers anymore), into and through chinatown with a detour into the most self-serious and ceremonial bank i've ever seen. eventually we stopped for dim sum and we decided to eat with impunity. although we couldn't bring ourself to order pork buns outright, we feasted on all kinds of dumplings and rolls and our bellies were content with our minor rebellion.

from there, down to the brooklyn bridge, and over it. the sky twinkled on the water; it was that sort of day. also it was around 25 degrees. the wind stayed quiet though and we had a giddy crossing. once in dumbo, we turned right and headed up to the movie theater in brooklyn heights that shows weekend matinees for $6.50. we were just in time! hooray! the movie theater, unfortunately, had no heat, so we couldn't remove any of our bundling. the movie, fortunately, was good enough that the cold didn't reach us. in fact the only problem with the movie was that i was waiting for the twist that a nyt headline had warned me would come.

afterwards we required hot drinks to revive us. we found them at a cute-ish place on montague street and indeed we liked them so much, and had found such an excellent cushioned corner just for us, that we remained there for two more hours, reading, before heading out again.

uptown! this time not on foot. we caught the last half-hour of a fantastic jazz memorobilia display before the action in the time-warner building: ella fitzgerald's performance gowns, dizzy's trumpets, miles' letters to his mother. hobnobbing with rich new yorkers, appreciating the droppings of success, was kind of awesome frankly. we topped that off with dinner downstairs at whole foods and a nighttime walk through the gates. ben hadn't seen them before and at night they looked like a benevolent standing army, awaiting orders. two weeks is too short a time to have them up. i think the city should petition for another two, at least.

some wrangling with the subway led us back to the east village where we settled in a bar to watch the john grace band. two accordians on stage at once! they were fun to watch. but at that point we'd been on the go and out of the house in the increasing cold for 12 hours and i was beat. when they finished we wound our way back home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

take this moment, mary jane, and be selfish

it's official: ben and i will be moving out. where to is not yet official but we & our roommate decided it would be for the best for all involved to terminate the lease early. i'd already started looking at places -- in the spirit of adventure, i'd roamed far and wide, considered apartments in exotic locales an hour away in both directions. in the end, what i decided, like dorothy before me, was that my heart's desire was in my own backyard: i want to be a neighborhood i've already lived in and loved. the village, then, or brooklyn heights.

moving will be a pain but the breath i will draw when it's done, when ben and i are settled somewhere sans keyboard-mauling cat, will be worth it.
actually that's pinning an awful lot on the cat which it only somewhat deserves. i'm not comfortable discussing anything besides the cat in detail yet.

people have been great about this. as of press time, both my brothers, my mom and my dad were all willing to drop what they were doing and drive to new york for the sole purpose of helping me move. once the blooms make that happen -- and compared to rosh hashanah open houses and pesach seders, brunches and shabbes dinners, what's a little shuffling of furniture? -- then we're going to take my friend claire out to dinner, cuz rather than let me go through a second day of apartment shopping alone, claire offered herself as wingman. indeed, she was there when i saw the place that might be It.

& of course, my valentine, who trusted me go apartment shopping alone in the first place, and who has been nothing but supportive and understanding even when he didn't have the time to be.

i'm hoping: new place, new start. sometimes it is that simple.

Monday, February 14, 2005

some conclusions, after much thought

it is better to be in love than not to be in love on valentines day. similarly, it is more enjoyable to receive lillies than it is not to receive them. but in general, experiencing (finally!) a valentines day in which my b.lov'd and i are healthy and co-situated does not amount to much. it is nice to look into someone else's eyes and bill and coo, but if one does that on most days, there is very little difference. except perhaps an extra added sense that one is fortunate.

last valentines day, my b.lov'd was across the pond and my friend k-ross gallantly squired me around. k-ross is currently across the pond, whatever pond lies between new york and india. two valentines days ago, i woke in the campus hospital. the present my b.lov'd brought me was a bottle of nyquil and the news that he was off to a concert with k-ross, if that was all right. (it was. i GUESS.) and three valentines days ago, i was across the pond, recovering from substance abuse and moping the even-shorter, even-drabber danish day away in a pub.

four valentines days ago, my b.lov'd and i had only vague knowledge of each other. he had just been spurned; i was feeling cynical about all things romantic. but we started on a collision course and aww. here we are. on thursday, we'll have been here four years.

to be fair, along with nyquil that year he brought me a double cd of beatles songs he had compiled in an order particular and significant. i do like the beatles now, which i didn't once, thanks in some part to him. but i still like lillies more.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

fingers like sausages

i'm sure you've seen the pictures, but nothing compares to walking under the gates themselves. speaking as someone who isn't easily impressed with modern art and whose least favorite color is orange, i thought they were fantastic. somehow the industrial hugeness, sameness, and proliferation through the park contrasted perfectly with the park itself, and the gently billowing curtains contrasted perfectly with the hard-edged arches. walking under one after another, i felt a bit like i was in wonderland.

it made me cry, a little. something about it. the scale, maybe. or just the success of it as an endeavor. there's something about human achievement, success, that makes me cry, i guess because i want that so badly. i'm a sucker for those applause, or "slow clapping," scenes in movies -- the prototype is, imo, Mr. Holland's Opus. you know what i mean: often it's one person who starts the applause, shooting up bravely like a flower among weeds, until he's joined by others, slowly, always slowly, and then at last the whole courtroom/auditorium/sports arena is alive with the recognition of the hero's achievement and general awesomeness. i hate it as a movie cliche, and i really really really want it in my own life.

my travels today cut a nifty shape of the map of manhattan: east village to central village, up all the way to 181st around washington heights, back to the upper west side, over to the upper east side, back down to the village and over again back home. phew!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

spewing obscenities

the fucking cat just fucking ripped the w key off my keyboard and misaligned the q. i'm incoherent with rage. & the past two days have been pretty good. i've had several problems, see, and i finally got license to be proactive about the solution to a major one: and voila! o, the sweet, sweet sense of control that floods one when one gets to be proactive ...

at least until one's W is RIPPED from one's KEYBOARD!! rip my heart from my chest while you're at it, you hostile animal.

never again will i live with a cat. here, before god and country, i swear it. and every time i type a word with a W, my resolve hardens. never again with the cats.

Monday, February 07, 2005


thank you, by the way, to everyone who's checked up on me since i started posting about the craziness in my head. i appreciate it. part of me, i think, is just waiting for everyone i love to realize new york is where it's at and gravitate here. in the meantime the reaching-out-and-touching matters a lot.

i went home this weekend, visited my other space. my room feels more and more barren every time i go. i look for my hair, mixed up with sheba's, in the carpet, and there's nothing. the room is clean. in fact, the room is exactly the way my mom always wished i'd keep it, everything straightened or folded away. she must find my sleeping in my clean and empty nest as odd as i do. this time, i dreamt of a hermaphroditic demon who was alternately interested in seducing me and killing me. i think that pretty much sums up my current mental state.

so many decisions on the table and so few certainties. i realized before i left (it was my grandmother's 92nd birthday) that i had saved a semi-substantial amount of money over the past several months. almost immediately, the achievement of that became a stress: do i just keep saving it? invest it? put it in an IRA? and isn't that an irish terrorist organization?

maybe i will start seeing someone, as more than one of you tactfully suggested. hey, if tony soprano can handle it. the problem is that my problems feel embarrassingly mundane: i'm 22, i have issues with my job, issues with my apartment, issues with money, i miss my family and my friends, i don't know what to do with my life and i don't want to make the wrong choices. isn't that garden-variety stuff i should be able to just deal with? nothing about my plight is special except that i'm clearly having trouble coping.

well anyway. i finally succumbed to some oscar bait: hotel rwanda, which was better than i expected -- wrenching and absorbing without straying into sentimentality. i was whimpering through much of the second half, more from suspense than gratuitous violence, and don cheadle's pitch-perfect performance kept me from looking away.
and sideways, for which ben and i walked 30 rainy night blocks to and back again. it was worth it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

state of MY union ... *grumble grumble*

instead of listening to bush wax rhapsodic about this shoddy country, and especially because the drinking party in the speech's honor was canceled and i read wonkette's pirated advance copy in its entirety, i decided to go out and get food-drunk. nostalgia steered me to a local health food place called atlas where i ordered a large chunk of vegan cake. the smart thing to do when you really want to get loaded is, of course, NOT to go for vegan cake -- desserts are not the vegan forte. but i was stubborn. perhaps i've been driven crazy by constant, persistent fumes of soy sauce.

stubbornly, i forked over more than $4; stubbornly, i sat down to eat it and read my graham greene. i laughed in the face of a ridiculous man who didn't seem to mind. on his way out he paused to smile at me. the cake wasn't good, certainly not several dollars or several hundreds of calories' worth of good, and, like a good female, i assiduously watch both. but i can't remember the last time i walked into an eating establishment by myself, bought myself a heap of something not good for me, and ate it. HA. take that, you self-satisfied chimp chump. i may feel worse about this country than i ever have, but i can still eat VEGAN FOOD and read SEDITIOUS CYNICAL LITERATURE and HAVE GAY SEX -- OR AT LEAST HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF FRIENDS WHO DO WHO I CONGRATULATE AND ENCOURAGE ON A REGULAR BASIS and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. chew on THAT mandate.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

stave is a good word

can you stave something or can you only stave off something? hum. while i ponder that, i hope you'll ponder depression-battling strategies for me because i've felt more despairing more often lately than i have since high skool. there's a very physical accompaniment to the mental state too, i've noticed: a swelling hollow feeling and a tightening of the screws in my shoulders.

it's stupid! why doesn't recognizing that it's stupid make it go away?

in addition to feeling stuck, and at the stupid mercy of my stupid moods, everywhere i go i bear with me the hint of the scent of soy sauce. while that perfume is not a direct byproduct of Depression, in poetic frames of mind i feel like it could be an accidentally perfect one.