Sunday, October 28, 2007

everyone's a joker

I spent this afternoon in the All Souls Episcopal Church in Harlem. And I'm not even running for President!

Although I was not the only white person in the basement/auditorium, I'm pretty sure I was the only Jewish white girl. I mean, for that matter, I was one of the few women under 60 and one of the few not wearing a hat. Judging by the crowd, in fact, I can safely say, Hats are totally back! You heard it here first.

This all came about because Mr. Ben has decided to burn off some of his new job related stress by taking an African dance class in Brooklyn. How that ended up with him dancing in a church on 114th street I can't exactly explain but I was there to watch him, loyal little wife that I am; AND he got paid too. This means he is not only getting paid way more than I am to stare at a computer screen all day, he's also only getting paid way more than I am for his hobbies.

This reminds me a bit of one of the funniest quotes from this week's 30 Rock:
Jack: Where do you invest your money, Liz?
Liz: I have, like, twelve grand in checking.
Jack: Are immigrant?
You all watch that show, right? That is the funniest show ever. I'm not sure, however, if it's actually funnier than my mother. You be the judge. This is from an email she sent because she and my father are running off to Mexico for two weeks.
If we don't surface by 11/4, the car broke down or the bandits got us. In either case, don't forget that we have travel/life insurance with AAA and life insurance with TransAmerica Life Insurance. There are a good deal of paid hours at Arthur Murray which someone should use because they're so expensive and remember that I keep personal files in my office. If you need to access them, don't laugh. I have wedding bills mixed with an incredible
number of job applications and South Beach Diet recipes all mixed together with other stuff. It represents a real cross-section of our family. ...
[If we need more money] as daddy says, open the yellow pages and look for a money lender.

Lastly, I went to the dentist the other day and had my teeth cleaned. The hygienist told me that I was terribly remiss in not brushing my tongue with my toothbrush. In retrospect, I never knew that such a practice was required and I realize that I never instructed my children to do so. So, in closing, be sure to brush your tongue with your toothbrush. It apparently removes dead cells, increases taste and makes your breath fresher. You heard it here first.
Priceless, right? I love being reminded that, in my father's head, it's still the 18th century. Also that should my parents disappear into the wilds of a resort in Yucatan, I can rest easy knowing my mother's last words to me were, "Brush your tongue."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

cancer free since 1982!

Yesterday I was scheduled for the needle biopsy that's been freaking me out for a month. First there was one doctor who said it's probably nothing but get an ultrasound just in case.

Thirty days later, after the ultrasound, there was another doctor who said it's probably nothing but get a biopsy just in case.

Thirty days after that, there was a nurse and then another nurse and then finally a surgeon who said, "It's nothing!"

I said, thoroughly brainwashed by this point, "You don't want to poke me just in case?"

"No," she said. "There's nothing there to poke."

Here I am, alive and tumor-free (so far as I know), and yet after the giddiness evaporated the residual stress hit. Maybe I'd been repressing it. In any event, I'm taking it easy today. It's the last 70 degree day, according to NY1, and I'm going to suspend thinking about my future, try not to worry that the highly-recommended and respected surgeon is somehow wrong, maybe watch something mindless.

ETA: And then I saw my horoscope!
When issues get too complicated, you tend to withdraw into yourself until you've decided what to do. This is one of those times when it may seem easier to just sink quietly to the bottom of your cave and let the world flow by. However, this isn't in your best interest. Instead, select your most important feelings and share them with someone close to you.
The metaphors here aren't helping my headache. Sink to the bottom of my cave and let the world flow by -- I guess I'm in the sea then? Is this because I'm a Cancer? (Can't escape that word ...) Also I'm not sure I have Most Important Feelings. The phrase makes me a picture an Olympic winners platform. But what National Anthem would play when the gold medal for Most Important Feeling goes to Anxiety?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

the time, she passes

It has been a week and a half of learning and growing. First, visiting my family in DC, I learned that I can sail! -- or at least be on a small sailboat for an entire afternoon without throwing up. This is remarkable, friends. I retain vivid memories of that time we went "whale watching" one stormy New Hampshire morning and I lasted about twenty minutes on the open seas before I found myself exiled to the boat's inner sanctum. There, lying on my back on a narrow wooden bench, it was my responsibility to contemplate whether life was truly worth living as, over and over, sea water rose to fill the porthole and then recede. Fill, recede, fill, recede. Conclusion: Nyet.

Nothing transforms someone into a Medieval philosopher faster than nausea.

And see how far I've come? I got on the boat with little to no trepidation, even thinking of the delicious sandwiches my mother had prepared for our three-hour tour. It was only when, two hours from shore, we hit some sustained turbulence generated by tugboats, ferries, and mammoth freight carriers, that I realized I was no longer enjoying being me. At least the sun was shining.

Soon after I returned to New York, however, autumn burst out with all the subtlety and grace of Steve Carrell in the Office. Rain, wind; everything howled; degrees dripped away. That combined with a friend's promotion made me all quarter-lifey. Where was I going? What was I doing? What did I aim for? Aspire to be? How happy was I supposed to be? What was my plan? Ye gods, was I supposed to have a plan, other than to make enough money to afford a Netflix subscription and a pair of shoes every once in a while?

The funk lasted off and on for a bit. Several things however have contributed to the return of my joie de vivre:

- an UWS walking tour that including one of my the city's only gated communities, Paumander Walk, a one-block stretch of beautiful, tiny, Tudor houses complete with rose gardens and free roaming housecats
- Scrabulous
- the makeover episode of America's Next Top Model
- a sleepover in Washington Heights
- learning that Myla Goldberg and Michael Cunningham are both teaching in the MFA fiction program at Brooklyn College
- Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton, a badly titled movie that's nonetheless worth seeing, if you like dark, gritty, gripping sorts of things
- The prospect of Persepolis soon
- ETA: agreeing to look stupid on camera for the internets.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

fallacy time!

Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post tries to be evenhanded in the initial paragraphs of this op-ed before coming clean on what she really thinks of Justice Thomas. A noble enough effort, I guess, but why waste space on this silliness?
Thomas v. Hill is one of those questions destined to remain disputed -- Did Al Gore actually win the presidency? Was the intelligence manipulated to mislead us into Iraq? The conundrum of Thomas-Hill is the continuing forcefulness of their conflicting assertions about what happened when he was a Reagan administration official and she a young lawyer working for him.

If Thomas did what Hill claims, how to understand his undimmed anger, his absolute denials, his willingness to pick the scab anew? If he didn't, how to understand her motive for lying -- and her summoning such unlikely details as pubic hairs on Coke cans?
This is your Gordian knot, Ms. Marcus? Allow me.

a) No.
b) Yes.
c) I refer you to Dotty P.:
If they whisper false of you
Never trouble to deny
If the words they say be true
Weep and storm and swear they lie.

This reminds of this one time in high school that an annoying boy, SM, spread a rumor about me. It wasn't terribly malicious, I guess, but it seemed at the time like the worst thing that could be said, and what really killed me, what really made this unforgettable, was that it was TRUE. & there was no way he could have known!

I went rather nuts, wailing to the heavens, and the gods avenged me, in a way: a couple years later, a popular friend of mine, C., discovered that SM wanted into his clique. C. demanded, as the price of entry, that SM apologize to me for the humiliation and find some way to make it up to me. This put me in the rather awkward position of having to tell SM it was all forgiven; however, the humbling of SM did come accompanied by a mix tape he made for me which introduced me to Ben Folds Five, Bob Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel. My affinity for his music endured, though the friendship we tried to strike up was pretty much DOA.

Through the grapevine (you know, Facebook), I found out that SM, hairline receding fast, got married within about a week of me. C., who I haven't spoken to in months, is featured prominently in the pictures. I guess life will only get stranger as it goes on.

Monday, October 01, 2007

i've been bobbed!

What an amazing day. Right before I got into the subway on my way to work, I saw John Malkovich exit his trailer and saunter down the street towards the set by my apartment where the Coen brothers are shooting their next movie, Burn After Reading. Mr. Ben had seen JM *and* Tilda Swinton (Cate Blanchett for film cultists) but this was my first sighting.

At 10:30 I left my office for my free haircut at Bumble n Bumble. I'd been recruited for it last Thursday when a very gay young man approached me in Union Square and gushed, "I love your hair! Can I cut it?" He wanted me to be his hair model. Seriously, say "model" to me, and, like Carrie Bradshaw, I'll do anything.

So, under the supervision of a curl expert, I got bobbed. With a razor, no less! It's all light and bouncy. It's going to go great with my new chili red coat, once I work up the courage to wear it.

On my way home, I noticed a crowd on the sidewalk facing the townhouse where the Coens have been shooting. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I joined the gawkers, where I got to overhear several of the dumbest college students in the city:
Stupid Girl: Say 'Would you like some tea and crumpets?'!
South African Girl, in a flat voice: Would you like some tea and crumpets?
Stupid Girl: Ha ha hahahaha, awesome!

and, later:

Stupid Girl 2: So, like, where you live, are there cities and stuff?
South African Girl: Yeah, I mean, of course. I'm from Capetown, which is a city ...
SG 2: And there's, like, bush? Are there, like, wild animals roaming around everywhere?
SAG: Not, like, "roaming" ...
Then, Brad Pitt emerged from the townhouse, waved to everyone, and got into a waiting black Escalade. I SAW BRAD PITT. The girls squeed; paparazzi snapped pictures; I grinned, almost jumping for joy.

My list of celebrity sightings is pretty fuckin awesome at the moment but as short on women as a typical New Yorker TOC:

- Paul Giamatti
- Gabriel Byrne
- James Gandolfini
- Michael Imperioli
- Steve Schirripa ("Bobby" on the Sopranos)
- John Malkovich
- Brad Pitt

I'm never leaving New York.