Tuesday, May 29, 2007

the trillster

I've started reading significant chunks of my friend and co-editor Tara Leigh's new memoir in progress, the sequel to her first, Here's To Hindsight (in bookstores now!) As I was leaning over one chapter with a blue pen, as per usual, I made a startling discovery: I was simultaneously in the book. There was my name! Spelled correctly and everything.

To an aspiring New Yorker, being mentioned in a memoir must be an occasion for unalloyed joy. Mine, however, was tempered a bit by context. Tara Leigh, in her infinite wisdom, had chosen to do something I tend to discourage my friends from doing: quote something I said six months ago, when, clearly, I was young and stupid.

"Where do you live?" she recalls me saying.
"Greenwich," she replied.
"No, the Village."

I went on (supposedly) to give her a primer on Village geography and nomenclature that left her confidence shaken. The poor thing had only been in the city two days, after all; but how could I in good conscience let her continue going around mistakenly giving everyone the impression that she lived in the Whitebreadville, Hedge Fund Capital of the World? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? No -- to quote The Big Lebowski -- you're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole.

In any event, it is exciting to be namechecked in a book that will soon have printed pages and real covers and everything AND might one day be picked up by Pat Robertson. Hey, it's possible. (Also, did you hear that though Jerry Falwell is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in Poland?)

I also spoke to my father who began chemo today with no adverse effects. In fact he seemed downright chipper. So far as I could tell, chemo is giving him the opportunity to devote not merely his usual three or so hours to reading, but a full, justifiable eight. Eight hours of sitting and ingesting information -- that's a whole workday. I guess some people might get antsy, but to my father, if you throw in a top-notch cornbeef sandwich and a Dr. Brown's cream soda, that's all he needs in the world.

Friday, May 25, 2007

summer begins

You know spring is over when there's finally a movie worth seeing in a theater. Of course, currently, that movie is playing in only one theater, but I think that's going to change. It's small and charming, exactly what an indie should be. Not perfect -- the songs really don't need to go on quite so long, I mean, after about three minutes we get it -- but lovely and romantic in the Before Sunset/After Sunset vein. And the redhaired main character has an Irish accent. MMMhmm.

You also know spring is over when summer hours start. Summer hours! Out at 12:30 on Friday to enjoy the 90 degree weather! This reminds me of when my high school used to release us on Fridays at 2:15, even though the point of that was that we could rush home and help our mothers prepare for the sabbath before sundown, not frolic in the sunshine like heathens. Still: thanks, German Mother Publishing Company Conglomerate. I appreciate it.

The heat is helping soak my wounded pride. I went to the dentist this morning for the first time in over three years, and they had to take x-rays, and I rewarded them for that by making their jobs almost as difficult as they could be. At least I didn't actually throw up on them. I could have, you know. I had tears in my eyes from holding it back.

Also, Pinkberry tried to poison me yesterday. I found shreds of plastic in my lo-sugar fruit smoothie. And my shoes? That I spent too much money on because I finally thought I had found the perfect soft pretty easy-to-walk-in sandals? Gave me a blister. Because nothing's perfect, friends. That's the life lesson. Sweet diet goodness AND dental hygienists AND the footwear you use to run from both are all out to get you. Any way they can.

Luckwise, my family seems to have stumbled into some bad lighting lately. At least it's Memorial Day Weekend. My mom should be coming home from the hospital today; my dad starts chemo Tuesday; and I'm off to Westchester with Mr. Ben for a bit to escape the dangers lurking in the city's frozen yogurt.

Monday, May 21, 2007

mints. peppermints.

Two notable New York experiences to add to the books. First, on Saturday evening, two friends and I were on our tiptoes in the Eugene O'Neill theater watching Spring Awakening over the heads of 400 theater-goers (they were seated, the lucky bastards). All of a sudden, during the gay love ballad in Act II, a man stumbled into the darkness directly behind us and, making the most unpleasant noise I've ever heard outside the Union Square Subway Station, vomited all over the floor.

Bad theater district calamari? An adverse reaction to musicals made from 19th century German plays? Or maybe the man was Ted Haggard and onstage sight of the older boy seducing the younger one hit a little too close to home.

In any event, it was a testament to the highly entertaining nature of the show that my friends and I threw our hands over our noses and stayed where we were, though the Standing Room area instantly smelled as bad as anything I've smelled in the city outside the Fulton Street Subway Stop.

Have I mentioned my commute spans both the Union Square and Fulton Street stops? My mornings are fun.

The show was entertaining, although it didn't bother to be terribly coherent or original, at least plotwise. (WARNING: SPOILERS!!) As I said to my friend during the intermission, "Those two sweet kids had *sex.* Naturally that can only lead to pregnancy and despair." And sure enough. In fairness, I should add that in the case of Spring Awakening, it did also lead to more singing.

Seriously, playwrights, moviemakers, TV auteurs -- we've seen it before. We understand that teenagers must be punished for their libidos (just as professional women must be punished for putting off having children by not being able to have children). Sigh. I'm sure there are punishment paradigms I've missed too -- help me out, kidlets?

My second memorable New York experience had me sheepishly knocking on a neighbor's door yesterday morning. We don't know each other well, though we do share wireless internet through the wall. "Hi," I said. "Sorry to bother you. Can I borrow a cup of HBO tonite?" This was the 3rd-to-last-EVER episode of the Sopranos and damned if I was going to miss it just because I didn't have premium cable and my two friends who do were both out of town.

Luckily my neighbor said "Sure!" Score! My assertiveness was rewarded. The show itself was chilling: it visually quoted incredibly disturbing scenes from both Shortbus and American History X. Not bad, Mr. Chase. I whimpered a lot and twisted around in my seat, trying to avoid the violence (the effects of which have lingered with me -- I can't stop thinking about my teeth and touching them with my tongue to make sure they're still intact). My neighbor laughed at me and invited me to return for the next/last two episodes. Must be because I brought chocolate.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

spy vs. spy

Jaslene is America's Next Top Model! Say it with me now: "WHAT?" And then, "Ugh." She is dim and bony and looks like a man, which went over well in the competition, unsurprisingly. Also, Tyra <3 <3 <3'ed Jaslene-from-the-block's story arc (to recap: last season Jaslene wasn't good enough to make the cut, but she tried again and redeemed herself).

It's not like I was rooting for anyone, really. Who was there to root for? Spunky mail order bride Natasha Galkina, who was also dim but smart enough at least to borrow Angelina Jolie's mouth for the competition? Or Renee, the annoying, standard blonde from Hawaii?

Renee and Natasha were two of the three teenage mothers in competition, and though we at home could admire the way they managed to magically emerge from childbearing with no scars, fat, or breasts, it got boring hearing over and over again how they had to succeed for the sake of their children. Sure. Because the APA recommends that young mothers enter professions that keep their women starving, travelling, and riddled with alcohol, drugs, and syphilis. If they also train their women to throw cell phones at the help, so much the better.

I guess it was all right that I didn't get emotionally invested in this finale. The Gilmore Girls left me exhausted -- I had to inject Gatorade into my veins to rehydrate me after that much crying.

Monday, May 14, 2007

engaged to the teeth

locket #1
Originally uploaded by shorterstory.
you can't see too well but in this picture, taken by ms. tara leigh last night in the village, i'm wearing the locket my grandmother just gave me. inside are pictures of my grandfather and her from the early 40s when THEY got engaged; the locket had been his gift to her, since he couldn't afford a ring. it's an incredible piece: she seems like a movie star, and as for my grandfather -- tara leigh took one look at him and shrieked, "Spidey!"

Meaning that the oh-so-dignified late father of my mother resembles Tobey Maguire. Personally I think the Yolato must have gone to her head.

The whole weekend was crazy, although largely in the best possible way. Wednesday Mr. Ben finished his VERY LAST FINAL EVER and we celebrated by attending his law skool's Barrister's Ball at the Tavern on the Green. I was a bit scared the restaurant's 14-foot-wide blue chandeliers would swing low and swallow me up; luckily, we spent most of our time out on the patio under much friendlier lanterns, which did not look like remnants from a giant whorehouse.

Friday, Mr. Ben donned a bright purple gown -- all the rage in graduation fashion -- and crossed the stage to be hooded in a very lengthy ceremony that featured Winner of the Barack Obama prize for Most Inspiring Politican, Mr. Cory Booker of Newark. We celebrated -that- by dining at Tabla with his entire family. Both sides were on their best behavior, as they were again the NEXT night, for the engagement party my aunt and uncle threw us at Pescatore (which was, coincidentally, May 12, the anniversary of our engagement).

About 25 people came to salute us and wish us well over the four hour meal. I can finally attest to the fact that the food was delicious since I'm eating it right now for lunch. At the time, all the speechmaking and toasting in our honor left me too overwhelmed to eat.

The next day, of course, was mother's day. Luckily my mom and my grandmother were still in town, and Mr. Ben and I hung out with them in the city until they headed back to DC and then went to meet Tara Leigh for church! Because what better way to cap off a weekend? I'd never been to a Protestant service before and I didn't like the idea of Jesus Camp being my representative experience of an American Christian religious service.

No wafers'n'wine (the Presbyterians don't do that) which is cool since I'm still off sugar. I sort of bowed my head when everyone else did and waited patiently for the songs to be over, and otherwise listened intently to the sermon that made up 75% of the service. I think it helped me realize how starved I am for textual analysis and also maybe for religious instruction. Even if I'm not a religious person by the standards of religious people, it's how I grew up and I miss talking about and reading about the Bible sometimes in an intellectual way.

The easy answer would be to go to shul, our synagogue in Brooklyn Heights. That seems more threatening, though, like it would mean increased devotion or religiousity on my part, and that's not what I'm looking for. Maybe I just need to get back into full-speed writing of the novel.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

the lusty month of may

Book news! Not about mine, really. If I want to fulfill my dream of (1) not working in an office forever and instead 2) travelling around the world in part trying to (3) escape publicity, I have to get back into a routine of writing & revising. Because sadly one has to deserve publicity before one can escape it. Unless one is Paris Hilton.

Did you know the Astor Place Barnes & Noble is closing? I find this mind-boggling, a bit like Tower Records succumbing to the fate of its tarot card.

I guess I'll have to find a different place to buy my literary lover's latest. Actually, more precisely, since I don't buy from chain stores, I'll have to find a different place to use the bathroom when I'm downtown and in need. And let me add, it is a measure of my devotion that I even think of purchase, anywhere. I am a loyal footsoldier of the New York Public Library, with cards for Manhattan & Brooklyn branches. As I am not (yet) dashing incognito to Buenos Aires when being chased by paparazzi becomes too fatiguing, I simply cannot afford to buy every book I read.

Speaking of which, though, I've gotten absorbed back into these Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novels I loved when I was younger. They're wonderful: witty, thoughtful, exciting, really hard to put down. I recommend them highly even -- or especially -- if you've always turned your nose up when confronted with mysteries or genre fiction in general. The ones with Harriet Vane in them are about as romantic as I get.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

who's holding the other shoe?

I have a decent amount of generalized angst at the moment. Yes, it's all manageable and under control; travelling to & from DC this weekend didn't unleash the torment, for which I am grateful. But I'm beginning to marvel, myself. Shall I count the ways?

- My dad is sick. He has [the word] -- I hate saying the word. It's such a babyish word, too, full of such straightforward, primary-color letters that, rearranged, spell DEATH. Except, of course, that they don't. My dad is fine. What he has was caught early. He was artfully disemboweled then put together together again, the evil removed. Even his staples have now been taken out. His doctors give him an excellent chance of full recovery after they finish applying their strategic poisons. (Medicine is a bit scary, isn't it?)

- Someone else very close to me is going into the hospital for a procedure as well. Shhhhh. I think it's supposed to be kept under wraps.

- The wedding is a mere three months away and it turns out I can't carry lilacs, because in this modern age of instant gratification, of narcissism and conspicuous consumption, of the internet and QVC, in this 21st century Westernized globalized capitalized world, you can get absolutely anything anytime except lilacs in August.


- Mr. Ben is about to graduate from Law Skool. Graduate! I am so excited for him, so excited and so proud. Considering that I shared one room with him through the entire three year ordeal, I also feel somewhat accomplished myself, even though I am chagrined to realize that while he has achieved a JD (and others of my friends have rounded up or begun to round up other letters: MA, MS, MD, MFA, MBA) all I have to show for my post-college life is a savings account and an MRS.

- My grandmother seems wonderful. There's something so infinitely inspiring about her. At 94.5, she still lives by herself in her own apartment. She walks, she talks, she laughs, she reads, she does physical therapy, and as far as I'm concerned she flies in the face of modern science. She still has her own teeth!

- My mother and I got some very good wedding planning done over the weekend and it wasn't onerous in the least. Everyone we worked with, from the hair guy and the Russian makeup lady to the French dress shop clerk and the florist, was sweet to me without being didactic or overbearing. We made decisions -- good ones! As the ceremony gets increasingly concrete, I find I like it and can handle it better. Maybe it's just that as an abstraction it was frightening.

- It's springtime! New York is in bloom. I can never be sad when there are trees to admire. And, thanks to Katie, I'm reading this really fun book about zombies.