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.

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