Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's here! It's here!

Forget the new address and new apartment and waking up on Montague Street for the second day in a row. The most exciting thing about today is that my April horoscope is up! These things are like farmer's almanacs in their specificity:
Venus has been in your house of fame and honors, but has been in weak retrograde orbit since March 6. Once Venus normalizes on April 17, you can more easily get help from references and high level executives whom you know and who want to help you.

Venus happens to be IN your house of career, but it RULES your house of home - so Venus retrograde has been a distraction because something involving home, property, or family seems to have tugged on you. It's very possible that you've been a bit drained by whatever was taking so much of your attention, and it may have been hard to focus on other things, such as your career.
TRANSLATION: You got an agent but since then nothing has been going your way, *and* domestic matters -- i.e., finding an apartment, securing it, packing for it, and moving into it -- have kept you harried and distracted. In a couple weeks, things will get better.

And people wonder why I find these things so reassuring.
Publishing and broadcasting industries glow for you now too, especially during the first three weeks, while Mars will brighten this area until April 22. This is a very broadening influence, and certainly you seem to be enjoying it.

One day that could be either very, very good or very, very bad is April 15 when Mars (energy or strife) conjoins Uranus (surprise developments). These two planets will meet in Pisces, a sign good for you. I would say, just don't take any chances by provoking anyone with a controversial or inflammatory remark. Those born at the end of the sign, near July 20, [ED NOTE: ME] are likely to benefit because both planets will be in the right position to send good news. Let's hope so!
Yes, let's. Because I'm tired of stress. I had my first panic attack in several months last night and for no clear reason. The day was spent surrounded by boxes, true, but also with friends, and I managed to apply to a couple exciting-looking jobs.

I guess the anxiety stems from the fact that I am over-identifying with this apartment, having put in so much energy to attain it. And though it has it charming points (it is spacious, classy, well-lit, full of storage, and well-located) it also has its pitfalls (a narrow kitchen full of appliances that date from 1983) and then its just-plain-weird points (a mirror right next to the toilet, in case you were ever interested in getting a close-up side view of your seated ass).

My guess is that an elderly woman lived here for decades, not cooking more than an egg every once in a while on the cramped, tilted range, and stocking lots of dry goods to give away to her children and grandchildren in the pantry. Soon, so I can more easily blame things like the padded toilet seat on her, I will give her a name. Shirley, maybe. It is because of Shirley that the pipes hit a high note after the hot water goes off. The fact that one long wall of the living room curves inwards? Shirley just loved that; it reminded her of her 60s commune days.

We will become accustomed to, or develop workarounds for, everything. I have confidence in our creativity. Still, part of me still misses the old place with our garden, our fridge, our stove, our heat that didn't hiss, our brand-new laundry machines.

Buck up, Ester! There is sunshine here! There are ceiling fans! I try, I swear. I try, if only because:
A sensational day awaits you: April 22.
I'm just going to push through til then.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Post #1400

Wow. That number is either impressive or depressing; I can't decide. That's how I feel about most things these days. Some mornings I wake up in a cold sweat imagining that I'll have to arrive at my Swarthmore five year reunion with nothing to show for myself but a ring on my finger.

I'll have stories to tell, God knows, some of which will appear in my upcoming book Never Marry a Short Woman: Narratives by ester, featuring the one where the priest died at the wedding, the one about being left in a coffee shop in Amsterdam at closing time with no money to pay the bill, and the one about how I lost my first job in New York because I was taken to the ER with a kidney infection.

Ha ha ha!, everyone will say. What delightful anecdotes you have, you pointless but amusing little sprite who got married at 25 (isn't that sweet). Have you heard about my advanced degrees and how I am living in a third-world country making my own tofu and biking around digging wells to provide indigenous people with safe drinking water?

They will present me with a copy of their prize-winning thesis and I will bow my head in submission before retiring to a hidden spot under one of the many labeled trees to read it, weep tears of envy, and shield my inferiority from their eyes.

"You know, you don't have to go," my mother pointed out. "The people who attend are a self-selected group of those who have something they want to brag about." True, O king, but to *not* go out of fear would be the real failure. The coward dies a thousand times before his death; the valiant only ever tastes of death but once, or so said some guy I once met at a bar.

Better to face up to my accomplishments, or lack thereof, with good humor. Also it would be good to stop comparing myself to other people, like my brother, who was sworn into the NY State bar yesterday, and my dearfriend Tamar who "matched" this week into her first-choice for residency, and the myriad other successful folks I feel I am surrounded by. Excelsior, my lovelies! Onwards and upwards! Don't worry about me; I'll always have Jesus.

My mother the brigadier general was here for three days to organize our initial packing-and-moving effort into the new place. Paid movers will be coming next weekend but we got a huge amount done in advance with the help of a small volunteer army. Maybe once I'm done being obsessed with boxes'n'bins and bubble wrap and tape I'll feel better about everything, because stability really does tend to help.

It would also help if some publisher realized that my poor little novel is NOT a satire. If it needs a label, call it a koala, okay? Publish it and put it in the koala section and I will kiss your feet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Open wide ...

Off I go, in mere minutes now, to the Why to do what I call my slut exercises. No, I don't mean "yoga," although I challenge you to get on a mat with a rope and a couple soft blocks and not let your imagination get the better of you. I mean actual exercises.

As required by the contract I signed when I joined the Why in January, I met with my large, buff trainer again. Frankly I'd been kind of jazzed -- he had told me I had to go run on a treadmill or similar three times a week and dammit, I had done so, and I was proud. But he didn't even inquire after my progress. No, he had one simple question for me:

Upper body or lower body?

Uh. Excuse me? Can we leave my body alone please? It doesn't like to be looked at, used, or, worst of all, "toned."

With the grimace that always accompanies picking the lesser of two evils, I said, "Lower body." And the trainer led me through a humiliating series of "exercises," several of which necessitated spreading my legs. I tried to tell him ladies don't do that -- ladies should be able to hold a dime between their knees at all times, in fact -- but he was too busy using words like "abductor" and "adductor" to hear me.

One word, however, he could not remember. "Facing the mirror, you take this medicine ball and you ... what's that ballet thing?" I looked at him like he was crazy: do I look like the sort of girl who was interested in dipping gracefully while holding a medicine ball? "Plie," I said. "Right!" he said. "I gotta write that down."

And so, face aflame, off I go to the Why three times a week to "plie" through these tortures, at the end of which I can only hope my thighs with be strong enough to support my fragile and wounded spirit.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And to think that I saw it on Montague Street

I'm pretty broken up about Bristol and Levi but not as broken up as they are. Zing!

Yes, I know I already Twittered that. But I wanted to keep it around for posterity. Speaking of Twitter, I am loving this #fuckitlist thing, wherein people list things they will never do (this is as opposed to composing a "bucket list," where you make a list of things to do before you die or before you make two hours of inane, waste-of-celluloid-and-talent Christmastime pap).

Choice samples from the Twitterati's #fuckitlist:
#Fuckitlist - Learn to speak French. I mean, really, what's the point? A few well mangled words out of a phrase book and they speak English.”

“Upon my death I will have never seen all of the avante guarde films of Andy Warhol nor ever have volunteered for the Rose Parade #fuckitlist”

“#fuckitlist Eat turducken”

“#fuckitlist: learn ballet.”

“#fuckitlist Saving for retirement. I'll just shoot myself at 45.”

“#fuckitlist getting tickets to Jimmy Fallon”

“#fuckitlist Make a turducken.”

“#fuckitlist: give country music a chance.”

“#fuckitlist pay off all my debt, get arrested in Mexico, oh yeah, join a dance troup or the circus”

“#fuckitlist Read Twilight or Harry Potter, pay for cable, drink beer, eat raw meat, become a sumo wrestler”

“#fuckitlist Getting tickets to The Price is Right”

“Watch The Godfather #fuckitlist”
The hostility cheers me right up somehow. Things are basically better, anyway, as always happens: darkest before dawn, right? I mean, not in Darfur, where it's darker before the dark continues and it's like fucking Narnia over there -- always winter and never Christmas -- but here in America, for us privileged folks.

Darkest before dawn! Only hours after writing that last post about broker-monsters, I met a kind, funny, and helpful guy who found me a large one-bedroom on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights in my price range with high ceilings and laundry in the apartment. Then he convinced the owner to pay the broker's fee and didn't ask for any money for either the application or the credit check. Basically he did everything but secure me a three-book deal with HarperCollins. Mr. Ben and I are very grateful and we should be signing the lease in the next day or so.

Take that, broker-monsters!

Still no job, though.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


There's a line between being active and proactive (good) and trying to control things you can't control (bad) and trying to make things happen just to shift the weight off your goddamn shoulders already (crazy). I'm straddling that line and it feels like a permanent wedgie. Help me, lord.

Actually this is one of those moments I wish I did believe in a higher, guiding, benevolent force in the universe. Then maybe I could lay back and think:

- the fact that I have not yet secured us an April 1 rental, despite spending every day shuttling from one middling apartment to another is all part of the plan

- the fact that, after a month, the bank has still not rubber-stamped our pre-approval so that we could forward with our potential purchase is all part of the plan

- the fact that brokers keep chipping away at my self-esteem and self-confidence is all part of the plan. Viz:

ME: My husband and I ...
BROKER: No. No! You're a BABY!

ME: I'm not sure this is quite right for us.
BROKER 2: Well, what is it you want, anyway? How many apartments have you seen? Shouldn't you know by now? Shouldn't you just commit?

ME, DIFFERENT APARTMENT: I'm not sure this is what we're looking for.
BROKER 2: (Shouts in Hebrew on her cell phone for a long time)

ME: I'd like an application, please.
BROKER 3: Mm, sorry. I really don't like giving wives applications without their husbands present.

ME: Well, for $2000, we'd like a large one-bedroom in a building with laundry and an elevator.
BROKER 4: You'll never find it.

- the fact that Mr. Ben doesn't know what he wants to / will be able to do once he leaves his clerkship in September is all part of the plan

- the fact that I keep applying fruitlessly to the sprinkling of available jobs is all part of the plan

- the fact that my father is sick and spends his days calculating the value of his library is all part of the plan

That would have to be one serious plan, that's for sure. And it could be. I just wish I had the faith.

Monday, March 02, 2009


If you'd asked me, I would have said that there weren't people whiter than Mormons, but what do you know -- I would have been wrong. Know who's whiter than Mormons?

Seriously, guess. Guess and be wrong, like me. It's fun, almost as much fun as sitting in my living room in pajamas watching a foot of snow accumulate in my backyard. The weight of it is pushing a neighbor's tree over our fence and building higher and higher on our patio table and I'm taking bets on whether by the end of the day the two will touch.

Jews. Jews are whiter than Mormons; they are whiter than anyone in America, in fact. And the most racially diverse people in America are Muslims. This is historically relevant because it puts Jews and Muslims at loggerheads for the very first time.

But seriously, well done Muslims and well done Islam. There is virtue to being diverse. It is apparently not the virtue the lord intended for his so-called chosen people, but we will have to make do with what we have, I guess. Which reminds me of a funny story. A friend of mine recently confided that when she was young she liked watching and rewatching Yentl.

"You had a thing for Barbara Streisand?" I asked. She shrugged: "I like big noses."

We do have something in common though, you will be relieved to hear.
"The report also reveals that Muslim American women are one of the most highly educated female religious groups in the United States, second only to Jewish American women."
There. That's nice, isn't it? Those wacky Jewish American women also make more money than their female counterparts of other religions, and Jews overall are most likely of anyone to say they're thriving in America (56% -- the Mormons come in second at 51%, presumably because they have to cope with the backlash to Mitt Romney).

Yet Jews come in dead last when asked how important their religion is to their daily lives. Nope, not that important, thanks for asking. Somehow religion is a distinguishing characteristic -- generally in a good way, though I wouldn't call being the whitest people in America a positive -- and yet considered relatively unimportant. It's a fascinating cultural conundrum and I'm not sure what to make of it.