Thursday, August 31, 2006


An evil restaurant poisoned me almost a week ago. My recovery's been pretty rocky. The best part is I keep getting more information as to the things I can't eat. The list now consists of:

- caffeine
- alcohol
- fruit
- vegetables
- dairy
- anything sugary
- anything spicy
- fiber
- fat

At one point, I interrupted the nurse to tell her, "I'm a vegetarian, and I'm swiftly running out of food." Seriously, how many meals of simple carbs can one person eat?

To the list I have to add -- after some disasterous experimentation -- Excedrin. I tried taking some for a headache brought on by not drinking caffeine; my stomach exploded. Apparently stomachs don't like aspirin when they're feeling sensitive.

Not all is lost. Though I did end up staying home today, coddling my stomach, trying to woo it back with saltines, soup, and bland pad thai, I broke the 300 barrier on my book. I am officially on page 302. At what point the head of Knopf will call me, begging to sign me to a three-book deal and a six-figure advance, I can only guess. And I've been reading Freakonomics, a nice follow up to The Tipping Point, which I finished last weekend. Both are pretty easily digestible, the vegetable udon of social science books. Still, I hardly read any nonfiction except for the news; doing so feels like something of an accomplishment. Take THAT, gender stereotypes!

Oh, and speaking of stereotypes -- and some serious dumbquattery -- did you happen to see this study showing that short people are less smart than tall people? I could actually discuss the flaws in the reasoning -- like to say, for example, that the [taller than average] people running the study didn't discuss whether, since people on average are taller than they used to be, we're smarter than we used to be -- but I'd rather just say that the findings are clearly impossible because everyone knows jews are not, on average, tall.

Dumbquat is my new favorite word, coined in honor of a fuckwit who broke my friend's heart. But it may be applied liberally.

Monday, August 21, 2006

this birthday brought to you by O. Henry

Set up: Mr. Ben the Birthday Boy had been told by his father to hold Monday evening for a special birthday surprise. Expecting dinner at a fancy restaurant, I am in the office dressed all fancy-pants, waiting for word to trickle to me as to where to go.

Lunchtime, Mr. Ben g-chats me with the trickle.

1:24 PM Benjamin: ester! sweetie.
me: hi babydoll
Benjamin: hiya. just talked to my father.
me: hi :) whassup? and? and? did i dress up for nothing?
Benjamin: he said, as i sort of feared that we're going to mother courage tonight
1:25 PM me: are you serious??
Benjamin: yeah!
me: that's hilarious!
well, we did want to see it again
1:26 PM did you tell him we just saw it last night?
1:27 PM Benjamin: yes.
it's a little ridiculous. i also told him we wanted to see it again,.
1:28 PM apparently lisa got up at 4 in the morning in order to wait in line for us.
so there are only two tickets and we get them.

Apparently no Mother Courage is too much Mother Courage. Considering it was one of the most technically proficient, beautifully acted, emotionally searing theatrical productions I've ever seen (and for free!), I guess that's all right. Especially because, despite having torn up the asphalt to get back to NYC from Philly in order to make it to the show, Mr. Ben the Birthday Boy and I were thwarted by the subway weekend wackiness and missed the first half hour.

Still, two nights in a row of 3+ hours of Brecht might leave me a little loopy. If I come into work tomorrow tearing my cheeks with my fingernails while screaming in German about the bitter unfairness of the world, you'll know why.

Friday, August 18, 2006

ex-cult members. there's no reasoning with them.

R: So my annoying co-worker, the ex-cult member, asked if she could ask me something. I should have run screaming. Instead I said okay. And she said, "You're Israeli, right?" I tried to explain, "I'm an American Jew." And she said, "Same thing. So, as an Israeli ..." I stopped her: "I'm a Jew, but I'm not an Israeli. It's not the same thing. I don't agree with a lot of Israel's policies, and neither do most of my friends; we have a conflicted relationship with the country." She said, "Uh-huh, uh-huh. Okay, so as an Israeli, don't you get annoyed at all the horrible things your country does?"

Me: No!

R: Yeah! I shouldn't have even bothered but I tried to explain again, you know, cuz maybe third time's the charm. I said that historically a lot of people haven't been able to make the distinction and it's sort of dangerous. I told her I haven't even BEEN to Israel.

Me: Boy. You're a really bad Israeli.

It's been a busy week and there must be a hole in my pocket or something because I've been leaking money. Since Mr. Ben returned from Allemande, we've had a very full social calendar. It's actually been super fun. Courtesy of WNYC, I scored us two free tickets to an advance screening of The Illusionist. It turned out to be a middle-brow brew of middle-browness that falls apart the closer you look at it. However it's enjoyable enough in the during AND it provided me with a much-needed dose of my personal heartthrob, Edward Norton.

The next night, courtesy of my friend Erin, I scored us two free tickets to The Fantasticks, possibly the silliest, most middle-brow musical I've ever seen but also enjoyable enough in the during. Especially the first act, before it gets all Wizard of Oz on you, wagging its finger in your face for DARING to think that happiness might be found outside your own backyard. My friend Erin, of course, was awesome.

To compensate for these intellectually passive activities, I've also been doing the NYT crossword every day. I even managed to finish yesterday's (Thursday!!) with help from co-workers. Today's I couldn't dent. But life is long. I'm going to be ambitious and consistent about this. Just watch me. But first I'm going to Philly for a party weekend to sacrifice a few brain cells for the greater birthday good.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

best perks

My corner of the company celebrated a 25th anniversary, in honor of which it decreed every employee would receive a gift. Having worked at offices before, I was not about to hold my breath over said "gift." My first office gave me a thermos with a packet of hot chocolate and $30 for Christmas; my second office gave me a pink slip. So my standards were pretty low.

This office? Gave me an iPod.

Me. iPod. It's even an ester-sized iPod, being a Nano. I don't want know what to call it, except maybe, "Exceeds expectations." And that's a pretty lousy name for something that could get stolen on the subway. I'll keep thinking.

Better still, this week all the bosses have been away at a conference. As per the tradition among the assistants during this annual event, a few of us took a long lunch break and went to see a movie. The new Woody Allen, which answers the question, What does Woody Allen hate more than women? The British!

Seriously, what is with his obsession with those suave, handsome, rich fellows across the pond? Are they the most anti-Woody Allen thing he could think of?

That aside, the movie was cute and enjoyable. I prefer his comedies, when they're funny anyway. And Scarlett Johannsen, though she seems really awkward at first, is mystifyingly sexy -- not so surprising, you might think, considering she has the body of Marilyn Monroe, BUT costume designers always drape her in unflattering clothing. She has to look great in these movies despite her clothing, and I admire that she's up for the challenge.

The movie more or less fried me for the rest of the day, productivity-wise. But it was fun.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

somewhat un-PC question

Aren't these "opt out" men of recent NYT fame the new Welfare Queens? Except possibly worse, since at least the so-called welfare queens were usually raising children?

Part of me sympathizes with these fellows. Their skill sets having gone obsolete, they don't feel compelled to work simply for the sake of working. Certainly not having them clogging the pool of job applicants helps more motivated other folks. And they're not hanging out on street corners with 40s, or playing game after game of Grand Theft Auto; they're playing pianos, writing bad novels, having a grand old time.

I enjoyed being unemployed. Far be it from me to begrudge anyone else their early retirement.

But. This article strikes a very interesting tone, in my opinion, staying verrrrry carefully this side of judgement. Is that because the subjects are generally middle-of-the-road white men, men who put the I Am in American? Why isn't the government passing legislation intended to get them from welfare to work? And their poor wives! Where are they in this tale of sloth? While I don't agree with this Huff Poster's cry of sexism, I do think the piece is subtly trying to incite hysteria of a specific kind. White men! In America! Aren't being productive!

Only Laguna Beach type women can get away with being entirely self-indulgent. The vast majority of women work, either outside their homes or inside them or both. Now, an article about WOMEN that showed large numbers of them drifting out of the capitalist system not to have babies or to be wives but to cultivate deadend artistic ambitions and lie around -- what would that look like?