Monday, January 30, 2012

A few things on a moony Monday.

I was just in a dollar store. At the very back of said dollar store were two men aggressively spraying the air freshners into each other's faces. It reminded me of that part in The Catcher in the Rye when Holden looks out of a window and sees two people spitting water at each other's faces. Unlike Holden, I was not turned on by this but rather quickly made my purchase and left the store to the air freshner huffers of the world. It is their pueblo now.

They looked absolutely nothing like this.

I also just spent about an hour and a half making a playlist for my ipod comprised of songs that make me want to be in love. This is because I met someone who literally makes me giddy and that event, so rare in my long days on long island really calls for a playlist.

I got a decaffinated chai tea from my local coffee shop but I am left suspiciously wide awake. Was I lied to? Is there any recourse whatsoever?

Yesterday I gave F for Fake yet another rewatch. I am inspired by Oja Kodar's dress as she saunters around the streets. I actually found something similar but have neither the legs nor the gumption to pull it off. Also, why don't they make them like Orson Welles anymore? I mean is it really too much to ask?

I have to go now and find out why exactly my cat must dump all her food on the floor, one kibble at a time. I'm going to try to debate the merits of doing this vs. eating from the bowl as served, though she generally rebuts by falling asleep on my lap.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Albany, soft spots and thumbs

Strangely my thumbs hurt this morning. I don't really understand why this should be as I have not, of late been overusing a calculator, drumming my thumbs on my desk nor biting my thumbs at you, sir, Romeo and Juliet style. Whatever the cause, it is a bit plodding to type right now but I shall sacrifice for this very important blog of mine. You're welcome.

So other than my thumbs, I have a bit of a bruised ego. I have the throbs for this young man in town and twice already I've made a damn fool of myself in front of and off to the side of him. How very high school, nay, how very ME. I mention it only because it sits right atop my skull, like a newly formed fontanelle; occasionally flexing a reminder of how in some respects, I never left adolescence.

All this physical and psychic aching is assuaged only by what pleasant weekend I had in visiting old friends in Albany. My oppressive overlords jobs make my schedule an often insurmountable blockade and scheduling one day away, much less an entire weekend usually has to happen on accident. But against all odds, I had a free weekend and up to Albany I went.

I enjoy the train ride upstate because Amtrak brilliantly plotted their tracks right near the Hudson and so the three hour ride is scenic and quick and just an all around pleasure, particularly for someone who hates driving as much as I do. The ride allowed me to read the bulk of Murakami's Norwegian Wood which I'm enjoying immensely insofar as I enjoy the feeling of longing and nostalgia and distant memories of unattainable love. Don't we all? In between chapters I had the privilege of eavesdropping on a few cell phone conversations that took place in the seat behind me. This older gentleman kept receiving calls during which he outlined how the funeral he attended was, how someone named Ben, an old friend from Bombay was doing, how his chemotherapy was going and when he'd be back in Maryland to help his sister with her assisted living application. I looked out the window at the sparse ice chunks floating atop the river and the snow dusted, leafless clusters of trees as I accidentally heard this late life disquisition. Deaths, eulogies, checking in and living with assistance, all things we are all going to face in some form or another were kind of the perfect soundtrack. I'm only now realizing how deeply I hate winter.

I can only hope the M's and the G's (the two friend families I was cool does referring to an entire family by one letter sound? I kind of love that.) realize how dearly I hold them to me. Braving the cold, and it was cold, is de rigeur, if not a source of mild amusement, for Albany residents (Albanyians?) but considering we've had an eternal autumn downstate, going up there was a shock to my old, creaky ass. Thankfully both the M's and the G's have lovely, comforting homes. And they have filled these homes with lovely, comforting people. I've known these friends for years, since high school and they are the kind of forever friends you can fall easily back into, no matter how new or different your lives become over time. On Friday I hung with the G's. Bridgit picked me up from the station with her two freaking adorable little daughters. I can't even really just say freaking adorable because it doesn't fully describe the level to which you want to squeeze and adore these little ones. We spent the afternoon chatting in the warmth of their living room, alternately catching up and playing. In the evening when Richard got out of work, they took me to a lovely restaurant in town and I ate spicy green beans which went very nicely with a Guinness and yellow shrimp curry atop fresh pasta. The littlest of the G's got a bit sick but the good part about that was that she aimed it perfectly into a plate. Actually, it was hilarious.

After dinner we headed back to the house and the girls went to bed while I stayed awake chatting with Richard for a bit. After he headed off to bed I went up to the guest room where I noticed some old photo albums on a shelf and I flipped through them. Part of one was a collection of photos from the time Bridgit and I travelled to London at the same time. We stayed at different houses but met up frequently throughout the two weeks. That trip was my first one to Europe to see Rowan and Katie in the spring of 1999. I want to scan some photos from that trip too because I have so many memories from way back when. One of the best ones was attending Easter mass at Westminster Abbey and standing in line for communion. It was almost perfectly timed in that Bridgit and I ended up stopping dead center in the middle of the boys choir just as they started to sing. It was all so holy! Looking at her pictures I felt happy and nostalgic and a bit like the smallest piece of a nesting doll set. An old friend in the middle of a new life. I'm not even sure that analogy makes sense but that's what it felt like so bite me.

The next morning Becca came to collect me and I spent the afternoon at her house with the M's. My godson is now taller than me. Children I once cradled in my arms are teenagers. So simple and natural, yet it rocks my foundation. Becca and I became friends around the age of her son. O the humanity. I introduced the M's to Community and it is really such a joy watching that show with a group of witty and warm people. Witty and warm would make a great name for something. A bookstore? Anyway, I was again treated to a lovely dinner at a Greek restaurant wherein I ate a lot of delicious and salty cheese and roasted vegetable dishes. Becca had bought tickets to hear the Albany symphony play at this restored theater in the city. They played American composers, one of whom was in attendance (and about 9 feet tall) and it reminded me how enjoyable I find symphonies. It is fascinating to watch as well as listen and I had an incredible time.

We went back to the M home and the "kids" went to bed while "adults" stayed up watching more Community. Before I knew it, it was morning and my train home was at 1pm. Bridgit dropped me off at the train station with plenty of time to spare and the train home was uneventful and relaxing and everything I wanted it to be. I did happen to notice a girl, probably about 18 years old, just sitting there on the train staring forward. She was sitting in the aisle seat with no one next to her, no book, no magazine, no ipod. Just sitting and staring straight ahead for all 3 hours. It was unnerving.

I got the Long Island Railroad home (it was a railroading kind of day) and my arrival coincided with the end of my friend Dana's date so she called me up and we ended up having dinner and lest you think it was a boozeless weekend, I had three glasses of pinot noir with dinner. Dana told me all about her date and assorted online dating goings on, the football game on blast behind us. All of it was rather sleepy and foggy after three glasses of wine, so much so that I forgot to leave a tip to our server, necessitating Dana return on her way home to explain what a damn fool I am. The SHAME. I'm glad only Dana was there to witness/take part in it. And now of course all of you.

Monday was a bit hectic with goings on that kept me from going to work but all was resolved by the end of the day and Wednesday intercalates itself into the long, long week that is happening right now. Right now people!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The most memorable of the squeezings

I just now noticed that when I'm reading back something I wrote to see if it is coherent, my eyes get all squinted and I feel whatever the adjective form of consternation is creep upon my face. Though no one has, to my knowledge, ever watched me read something I wrote, I imagine that I seem constipated.

Speaking of  constipation, ever since my resolve to "be here now" took hold of my brain, I'm feeling lighter. Metaphorically, of course. But I've decided to stop living alternately. (Not alternatively) Alternately as in either dwelling/romanticizing the past or idealizing the future. I spend a lot of my time doing that. If I'm not pining for some perceived notion of the past then I'm grappling for some future existence that is entirely conjecture, as all future existence kind of tends to be. (Side note: Is that a split infinitive?) It is so much simpler to meet those dark thoughts of missing out on something with the idea that it does not matter. I am here now. Make the most of what is going on now. And sure, all these feeble attempts to become less anxious, less doomsday, happier, fitter, more productive could all be futile but seriously, whadddaygonnado?

I had a busy weekend. I worked both Saturday and Sunday but had Monday off. Many fun things happened that included but were not limited to:

  • 80s dancing
  • catching up
  • walking through downtown Patchogue in a kind of stalkery way
  • driving to the city in under an hour
  • snow flurries (maybe three of them)
  • learning chess on a cat and dog chess set
  • watching and criticizing the golden globes with aplomb
  • cleaning my apartment like a freaking maniac
  • random, but ethereally delicious, pad see ew
  • not random, but unexpectedly delicious falafel
  • cat ear drops
  • sublime napping

It wouldn't be a proper post if I didn't talk about what I drank this weekend. Yes, it was another boozer. Can I help that I'm young(ish) and single and free and fun lately? No. No I cannot. Nor can I help that I had a cocktail this weekend that surpassed even my beloved Sidecar. It was a dirty pickle martini. At Sweet Afton in Astoria. I lost count but they flow like water.

Salty, spicy,boozy water.*

 Our kind waitress also bought us a round of shots called "picklebacks" which were some kind bourbon (I think) with a chaser of pickle juice. You just haven't lived until you've had this. Nancy's birthday was the reason I went but the cocktails and food and atmosphere are the reasons I'll go back. We were there for a few hours and on our way out the bar had gotten packed. We had to squeeze past a lot of people but the most memorable of those squeezings was past a guy who stood, staring off into space asking each female "Do you want to pet my rabbit?" He had one hand under his shirt as he said this. I'll never know what that meant but I'll always remember it. I'll always have that guy and his phantasmic rabbit. That I did not want to pet.

*Actual size. 
Picture taken from this photoblog:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Such a beautiful library

At my second job, the library has set up a Veterans memorial wall. Veterans from the neighborhood can come in a fill out an application so their name can be featured on the wall. These aren't permanent stone plaques or anything as elegant as other memorials but it is something and it seems to be popular. In fact, out of all the community events that go on here, I really feel that this is one of the best ones. We have had veterans and families of veterans come in to fill out the application and then return to see their name as part of the display. They span generations and fought in different wars and different branches of the military. One of the main things they have in common is that they are all, unfailingly nice people. Some are downright sheepish about even asking for the application to be included. One gentleman said "I know it is silly but you have to remember these things." He was a Vietnam vet.

A few nights ago I met Vito. He came in with his daughter, who looked to be about 15 years older than me. He was carrying a bunch of papers because he had just registered for a beginner computer class. He wore a baseball cap that said he was a vet of the Korean War. With this huge smile on his face, he read nearly all the signs between the front door and the reference desk and this library has almost as many signs as it has books. I truly appreciate people who read and absorb signs. (Before becoming a librarian, I never truly realized how people blatantly ignore signs.) He kept saying what a beautiful library this is and it is so much better than his old library and how are you Ms.A? You could tell that he had been handsome as a young man. He still had delicate but defined features and big, expressive eyes that animated as he talked.

He came in to fill out a form to have his name included on the wall. An old friend and war buddy had told him about it a few months ago and he had been waiting for his friend to come with him to fill it out together but he just got tired of waiting and his daughter decided to come with him. While he sat there filling out the form he kept chatting and asked if it was ok if he took his beautiful new digital camera that his son had gotten him for Christmas and made a recording of the library to show his wife, who was convalescing in a nursing home in Mineola. I think the simplicity of that gesture, the thought on behalf of someone else, that she might like to see a virtual tour of "such a beautiful library" as she sat in some small room with other patients, all of that just shot straight to my heart. I wanted to spend hours in an editing room, splicing together a documentary masterpiece of vivid colors and fascinating stories (fabricated, by necessity) of the library so they could watch it together, holding hands and drinking chamomile tea.

Meeting Vito prompted me to read about the Korean War, since it is something I know nothing about. I've been to D.C. many, many times and not once have I visited the Korean War Memorial. I'm intrigued by the photographs, though:

I will go there next time I'm in D.C. Road trip anyone?

Also, it isn't lost on me that my workplace, this place I generally dread coming to, is video worthy to someone. It is beautiful enough to him to want to take and share a video. I wanted him to lend me that perspective. Seeing as that is impossible, I resolved to stop complaining about it. I hope that sticks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Persistent buzzing has become a part of my life. My left ear is clogged (tmi?) and also my car keeps up with  this never ending squeak that, despite two recent trips to the mechanic, remains steadfast. My mechanic keeps looking at me askance and though it probably isn't intentional, he makes me feel like a dumb broad. My temporary solution for the car has been to crank up my Ipod while driving. Nothing like wishing a problem away. Also, I hate cars and driving and assorted other suburban trappings.

Though I'm a little loathe to admit it, I was pretty much drunk all weekend. Thank goodness alcohol consumption is both socially sanctioned and encouraged by advertising. If booze ever goes the way of cigarettes in terms of being pariah inducing, it might be time for me to take up knitting. And lest any stranger reading this think me an alcoholic, I also cleaned my apartment, did a little writing, and exercised. I believe that, combined, all of those things cancel out alcohol consumption. Maybe. I did the math but I was drunk so it may not all be correct.

In any case, more important than drinking was that I got to spend time with people. I usually dread the winter months because people disappear into the depths of their homes and really who can blame them? In the winter my inner social butterfly comes out but that could just be a case of wanting what I can't have. The moment people drop off the map for a few months, I need to see them desperately. What can I say? I have a Bullum Head.

Anyway, Friday night I had drinks and dinner with Marianne which was fun and reminded me why I am friends with her, not that I needed reminding. Throughout the night we kept tossing jokes back and forth drunkenly. We were quite successful at turning "one drink and maybe some dinner" into "stumble home at 1am". I had that experience of waking up at around 3am, realizing I was still drunk and processing the thought of sleeping until I was sober as the greatest idea anyone had ever had. Really, there should be a campaign promoting that.

Saturday I was invited along to tour the Brooklyn Brewery along with a group that was composed entirely of siblings. It was unseasonably warm for January and as I drove into the city Saturday afternoon (after sleeping half the day away), I noticed how just a tiny rise in the temperature seems to infuse everything with possibility. Or at least optimism. Clifford was picking us up at Lorraine and Andrew's apartment which was a pleasant surprise. I said I was optimistic, not "in the mood to take the subway for an hour". Thanks to traffic, we ended up missing the last tour but no matter; the tasting room at the brewery is fun, with good beer and lovely people. There was a high concentration of good looking people there. I attribute that to it being Brooklyn. Or warm outside. Or beer goggles. Also, the brewery has a house cat. It was loud in there so I think the woman I asked said his name was Hans. Adorable.
We stayed there until we got hungry and then wandered for a bit until we ended up at Brooklyn Bowl. There was a "cover charge" which is phrase I hadn't heard or participated in since around 1999. All we really wanted to do was eat but I was curious about what it looked like in there so we just decided to pay to get in to eat. Ah, the trappings of hipness. The food was Cajun-ish. I ate catfish. Catfish is one of those foods that, as a native Louisianan, I have both an affinity and an aversion towards. The aversion lies with knowing the nature of catflish. Go ahead, go read about them.
After dinner we went back to Astoria to a local place where the Saints were playing (nostalgia looms in my background, even when I'm fully invested in the present). We had a great time. Lots of inside jokes were born that night and really that is just my favorite thing ever.

Sunday morning we enjoyed my, oh let's say 15th favorite thing ever: bagels. Here's a statement you need to think about: cucumber and dill cream cheese. Just let that marinate for awhile. I drove home feeling sleepy, full and good. I pretty much had to clean the mess of my apartment and get ready for seven consecutive days of work. Marianne invited me over for some pizza and we watched Beginners which Marianne had checked out of the library for me approximately seven years ago and it finally became time to watch it. It was beautiful. Truly. I wanted to weep by the end of it. Perhaps more on that later. Then I got back home to watch Downton Abbey (another amazing thing to plop inside my head).

And now it is Tuesday and things roll along, gathering bits of lint and dust as they do. But nevermind that, it was a great weekend. How was yours?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Age discount

I'm getting the distinct impression that this year is going to mired in nostalgia. I can make that call 6 days in. I keep getting reminded of my age everywhere. It isn't all bad. Yesterday I got a discount for being 35. I have never in my life gotten an age related discount, much less one for being in my mid thirties.Thankfully it was phrased in a "this is a young person's discount" and not "this is an AARP discount." Then again I find out little things about people I knew a million years ago(college) and how their lives are propelling forward and how even though mine is too (without me knowing too much about it) I feel like I'm beating on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Well, maybe I'm not going to spend hours looking at the end of pier but I get so easily mired in the what ifs of my past. Maybe it is New Year's residue. What an abominable holiday.  Anyway, here's a crappy poem:

I'm not old, anymore.
I'm young, with absences.
I know this because
I floor sometimes
when things tend to happen
like you arriving, unbidden
in a dream 17 years after I knew you,

then my brain is sous vide.
I'm young, just cooked
from the inside out.
I'd listen for your wheels,
you'd knock on my door.
And really when that's all
that happens in the dream

I know I'm not old, anymore.
I'm young, but deciduous
the last apple on the tree
untimely cored,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Je regarde, J'ai lu, J'├ęcoute

What I'm immersing my brain in the first few days of the year:

I finally got around to buying Louis CK's Live at the Beacon Theater this weekend. I was prompted to do so after reading that after charging only $5 per download, he made a million dollars. He then announced he was donating most of it to charity. I watched it twice, rewinding many parts. Oh Louis CK, you make me throb.

The second season of Downton Abbey airs this weekend so I have successfully rewatched it in preparation. It loses nothing the second time around. I remember only recently watching season one just this past fall. It was so enthralling that I woke up very early on one of my days off to watch the last three episodes. By early, I mean I was awake at 6am because I had watched the previous episode late the night before. I think I can safely say that at the moment, Downton Abbey is my jump off. I am a sucker for class related British television dramas with a cast of familiar faces. Sometimes I think there are only ten or so actors in the UK and four of them are Maggie Smith.

As quoted in my previous post I am reading a book by Woody Allen called Mere Anarchy which is really just a collection of freaking hilarious essays. I won't lie, I have to read it with a dictionary next to me because Allen is a lexicon lynx but had it not been for him, I would not today know the definitions of words like quincunx, poltroon or zuzim. Nor would I have laughed so heartily at a story about a man who bargains with a tailor on Saville Row over a suit made of fabric that smells of fresh baked rolls.  Reading this book is the first very enjoyable step on the road to reading at least half of the books I own. I have in the last five years or so, accumulated more books for my home collection than I can possibly read at the moment. So I will attempt to make a dent in the collection so I can impress all of my gentlemen callers when they come to call on me.

On heavy repeat in my car, in my bedroom, the other day in my shower is Tom Waits' Bad As Me. I already have various story ideas that take place on the ledge of at least three of the songs on that album. And by "stories" I mean vast epics that unfold through my brain each time the songs play. That isn't difficult with Tom Waits by the way, since I imagine he writes and sings every song as a different character from a different time. I just wish Tom Waits was a musician for hire so I could have him stand in my living room and sing while I smoke cigarettes at my typewriter and drink bourbon. Nevermind that I neither smoke cigarettes, own a typewriter nor drink bourbon.

As a matter of fact, could we get Tom Waits,Woody Allen, Louis CK and the cast of Downton Abbey (specifically the actor who plays Thomas) to come over and entertain/engage me for at least three weeks?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Part test/Part quote

I am trying to syndicate my blog with my facebook or some crap so I'm testing this out to see if pressing all the clicky buttons worked. Just so this isn't a total waste, here's a quote from a book I'm reading:

It is said Dostoyevsky wrote for money to sponsor his lust for the roulette tables of St. Petersburg. Faulkner and Fitzgerald too leased their gifts to ex-schmatte moguls who stacked the Garden of Allah with scriveners brought west to spitball box-office reveries. Apocryphal or not, the mollifying lore of geniuses who temporarily mortgaged their integrity gamboled around my cortex some months ago when the phone rang as I was adrift in my apartment trying to tickle from my muse a worthy theme for that big book I must one day write. 
--"This Nib for Hire", Mere Anarchy by Woody Allen

So let's see if syndicating this thingy to my other thingy worked.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Auld Lang Syne

Today is New Year's Day. In keeping with my desire to have a good year, a truly good year (as though there is anything about that I can control), I wanted to keep last night as low key as possible. Drinking a bit of the good stuff at home with friends while ridiculing a truly stellar 80s movie was the ideal way to spend New Year's Eve. And the best part about that, no debilitating exhaustion and only a very faint hangover.

I had made plans to start the year by doing something fun. And yes, I'm aware of how stupidly symbolic New Year's Day is but it must be all that Mayan blood in me that ascribes significance to dates and numbers and beginnings and ENDS (boo hoo hahahaha 2012'ers.) and no matter what is going on in my life, this day feels like a new beginning. So I made plans to visit one of my favorite places in the city, the American Museum of the Moving Image. Amazingly I hadn't been since a huge renovation had taken place what with me no longer living in walking distance from it. That fact, coupled with the Jim Henson exhibition going on right now made the visit the perfect thing to do today. I went with a group of friends, my brother and sister and we had a great time. We've been having so many days of spring like weather this winter that I found myself feeling that same sense of optimism I feel every time the first few warm days come around at the beginning of spring. Well, optimism mixed with dread. Though the dread may be able attributable to my hangover. Yes, sometimes my hangovers only manifest in a steady sense of faint dread. There have been times when I wake up hungover with zero physical symptoms but rather a pressing knowledge that something is out there, causing something terrible to happen. What? Is that weird?

Anyway despite that nonsense, I found the renovations they did at the AMMI a bit odd. I don't know if they intended to do this but they made the whole building so very modern in style with white, smooth and clean surfaces everywhere as well as some rooms dedicated to slants and angles and corners but all this glossy bright white. It was a bit strange to me since the museum used to be so dark and more akin to what I associate with film going and watching. I suppose it brings the new with the old. The collection on the 2nd and 1st floors stayed pretty much the same (thankfully, as I fell madly in love with their massive display of old Hollywood fan magazines when I first saw it). The Jim Henson exhibit was incredible. The Muppets are a part of me and by extension, Jim Henson's life work felt so nostalgic for me. Me and a about a million others. My sister sat next to a woman in one of the many screenings attached to the exhibit who had tears streaming down her face. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't feel teary seeing image after image seemingly projected straight from my childhood. For those in the NY metro area, I'd definitely recommend that exhibit and the newly designed museum. Oh and also, there may be a photo floating around of me dubbing my voice  over that of Sugar Kane from Some Like it Hot. One of the more hilarious things to happen today.

We then had a lovely lunch and I came home for a final decompression before life carries on. I made the mistake of watching "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" this evening. I call it a mistake not because it is not a superbly acted, beautifully crafted film, it is. But rather because the film is incredibly depressing and anxiety ridden. Cringing is the natural reaction while watching these poor souls interact. But good Lord could Burton and Taylor act. And Sandy Dennis is mesmerizing with her idiosyncrasies. I kept wanting her to repeat her lines just so I could study her. Anyway, that film kind of put me through the ringer so I'm sitting here updating my blog because it is something I'd like to do more often this year, if no other reason than to keep track of my memories. Especially ones of really great days like today. So there you have it.

I did make a whole host of resolutions, some typical, some philosophical, all utterly doable. Because it is today, I just know I'll do them all. Rather, if I don't record them in here, I'll likely do them. There is no logic to that but I know it is true.

Happy New Year everyone!