Thursday, March 29, 2012

Death of a Desire for a Salesman

For all my lamenting about the good ol' days when people had conversations and made eye contact and engaged with each other, there are very specific days and times when I feel a qualified relief that I do not have to interact with certain types. Such a day and time was this afternoon earlier today at a local furniture store.

I have been wanting to get rid of my makeshift "dining room" table for awhile now for the following reasons.
  • It is not a real table but rather one of those outdoor foldaway tables that I've borrowed from my parents and dressed up with a tablecloth in order to make it seem acceptable.
  • I never use it for its purpose (eating atop) because without companionship, the table has me sitting facing a wall.
  • I am a piler of things atop flat surfaces. A cursory entrance to my apartment tells everyone that. I have a habit of piling things on top of clean, flat surfaces. These things can include but are not limited to books, cds, dvds, my earrings, my watch, old receipts, bills, handwritten notes from the town's mayor, New York Magazines, unlit get the idea. I don't want to give the impression that I'm dirty. I'm not. I'm messy. And I don't like clean, empty surfaces. My home does not feel lived in if there is not a veritable Jenga formation on each table. So consequently, this dining room table has been less a table on which to eat, apart from maybe like six times in 2 and half years, and more just another receptacle for all my "stuff".
  • I don't throw dinner parties. I don't throw parties, period. I really want to be the type of person that throws parties because, though I'm quiet at first, I truly enjoy being surrounded by people. But if I'm going to be truthful, I don't throw parties. I don't know enough people out here and I'm also not the greatest cook or organizer and I tend to be lazy when it comes to events. So I have no need whatsoever for a dining room table at this juncture in my life in this particular apartment.
  • I don't have a dining room. It is a corner of the main, big room in the front of my apartment. Getting rid of the table would give me room to do other things like just spin around in circles and not hit anything, if it be to my liking.
  • I desperately want a writing desk. I want one of those old school "secretaries" replete with all the nooks and crannies for cramming items and stashing secret things like treasure maps and love letters to beardy boys. Something a person named Agatha would have in her study. She'd want me to have one too.

There is magic inside every nook and cranny.

So the point of me writing about all of that crap is that I went into my local furniture store to scope out their goods. I should note that I started off being cheap. Convinced I would find my magical secretary at the Salvation Army, I headed there first. The only thing there was sadness. And maybe bedbugs. I resolved to buy a new desk if I could find one. So on my way back home I stopped at the store, expecting to walk around aimlessly until I found a clearly labelled section called "Secretary desks under $100". This did not happen. Apparently since the last time I bought a piece of furniture, which wasn't even that long ago, the furniture sales game has gotten cutthroat. The saleswoman was on me faster than I could really get my bearings inside the store.

I don't really know if my professional attire silently communicated something to her but once I said I was looking for a desk, she showed me the biggest items of furniture in the store. I'm talking about enormous, gilded, rococo sculptures of desks that would fit right in at Versailles.I expected to be led into the hall of mirrors at any moment.

Is this kind of what you had in mind when you said "I'm looking for a desk?"

 After we calmed down a bit and I told her exactly what I wanted, she showed me a lovely secretary priced at $700. I eloquently said, "Um, no." She then showed me a catalog filled with more reasonable items, all the while breathing down my neck like it was closing time and we'd been flirting all night. Her tactic, I surmise, was to make me so uncomfortable that I'd just buy something so she'd go away to the ladies' room and high-five herself in the mirror. This is a tactic that may have worked on me in the past, I can't lie. But I've since grown a bit more cautious with my spending. I only ever charge alcohol once every two months now, por ejemplo.

Anyway, I longed to rewind back to the moment before I entered the store, before I made eye contact with this woman. We arrived at an awkward silence when it felt like I needed to make the decision; a  decision that felt like it would end all decisions: which desk would I choose? And how much of a deposit would I leave? Instead, the phone rang and she left to answer it. I used the minutes to formulate a response that would get me off the hook politely. (I can't be rude to salespeople. I picture the phrase "mouths to feed" everytime someone tries to sell me something. Yes, I'm kinda stupid.) I told her an old favorite, "I have to go home and measure the space." She nodded knowingly, saving her eye roll for after I left, I presume. I wanted one of the desks she showed me in the catalog but I'm dreading going back in there. What to do?

Anyway, I suppose the point (if my blog has any point, I wish someone would tell me) would be that I am sometimes super grateful that the world is turning automated, that we can do almost everything in life without having to speak to another person and that soon I will not have to deal with salespeople ever again because the world will be populated by cyborgs.

The end.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What I'm doing at the moment

I'm home on a Tuesday night. I keep checking my datebook, to make sure I don't have a job to go to at the moment. I just confirmed it again. I don't.

I'm home and I'm enjoying a glass of white wine. A head of cauliflower sits on my countertop, eyeing me. My dress is cute and I want to keep wearing it. I do that sometimes when I'm alone. I fall asleep in my clothes. I am covering it in cat hair just by sitting here. Not helping is my cat seated on my lap like a furry tangle of sleepy purrs.

I was just in my neighborhood library, reading Frank O'Hara. They had to fetch him from the storage room. He was earmarked all over, his binding broken, his odor old and forgotten. I skimmed the table of contents to find what I wanted and out of three, two were earmarked. I wish I could know who had him before. They may have been from another decade, but we searched for the same things.

It kind of depresses me that I haven't realized until just now that it stays so bright outside well into 7pm. I'm usually in windowless rooms full of books. I realized this is a dream I used to have, but that was a long time ago. When I remembered this in the library just now, I closed the book and headed home. On my way home I passed by my local wine bar. Outside were three women smoking. They had long hair and long legs and were so very long island. I wished for the ease with which they stood and talked and ran their fingers through their hair. I wanted to smoke. I kind of still do.

Instead I'll just go rip apart the little trees of cauliflower from their roots and take no prisoners.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

That is not a fixed object

My "aunt" is in the hospital. I call her Tia even though she's my grandmother's cousin. So she's my cousin? I am fairly intelligent but get easily confused by family branches. Anyway she is in her 90s and was taken to the hospital because she got very ill in the middle of the night and when someone in their 90s becomes ill in the middle of the  night it is generally cause for concern. And I'm not sure if one has anything to do with the other, but in the last week there has been a bit of drama in my family involving my grandparents who live in Florida and all of that seemed to also come to a head on Friday. I spent most of the day feeling something akin to watching a fixed object in the sky and suddenly noticing it was bigger, brighter and much closer than you thought. Bracing for impact. That's what I'm going to be doing for the present.

When I got to the hospital yesterday evening, along with many other family members, my aunt looked fine. She didn't appear to have a fever or be in any real discomfort. This was relieving. So relieving that conversation drifted to what is going on in Florida. And because everything is dissolving into one long, real life version of Rashomon, it is pointless to recount it. Life needs a DVR for exactly this reason. That, and I need verification for a few things that happened between the years 1988-2012.

My brain is a big, soggy box that someone left by the dumpster. The only thing to do really parallels the only thing to do when you encounter such a thing in a real life dumpster near you: douse it in alcohol and set it alight.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bergman Blues

I have not thought about blogging in the past week. This is just what happens sometimes. But just now I was sitting here at this desk and I remembered that it is Thursday night. I feel a routine that started last week has left the ghost of an impression (that tells you exactly how faint it is, btw) that I needed to do something tonight. Other than drink heavily, nothing really occurred to me. So I'm blogging. I have considered doing a challenge for April and posting a blog every day in that month. BEDA. Which doesn't work as an acronym for any month again until August. We'll see if I go through with it.

I reached a milestone yesterday when I not only finished writing a story, but I submitted it to a contest. I don't have any expectations whatsoever which, if that is not something you have ever experienced, I highly recommend. Neutrality. Indifference. Okayness. Why has this never been a tagline for a product? I had this creative writing teacher in my undergrad years who was the first person I ever heard say "write things that stand on their own legs". I love that so much. It takes the sniveling imp of my deep-seated insecurity and dampens it. No, not dampens...I hate that word. It mutes it? No, not that either. It, uh, bounces it on one knee and distracts it with cooing while I get on with the business of writing something down, regardless of whether or not it makes sense. Anyway, if anything should happen with that story, I'll be sure to shout it from the highest points of Long Island. And to buy 10 copies for my mother.

Last Sunday I traveled to the city with Dana to meet up with Lorraine to rid ourselves of this Groupon we bought on some deep, dark and depressing winters day. It was about to expire and we all three had a hankering for mussels. So we went here. The thing to do at places like that is to engorge oneself. I'm proud to say that was accomplished. Because we were in the West Village, because it was a fucking gorgeous day, because we could, we drank sangria on the sidewalk. Across the way was a doo-wop group of middle aged men performing with one bearded young dude with a pork-pie hat and a bass. Of course I noticed the bearded dude; he gave me a smile and I wanted to kiss his face. The waiter was hungover and he told us the restaurant was out of beer. That's really the only way we could be certain that the day before was St. Patrick's Day. With some time to kill we wandered up the street and found this. I loved it. One piece flashes in my memory on and off because it disturbed me so. It looked like a still from a home movie and had a little girl's face in a grainy, blurry black and white (quasi-night vision). It had two subtitles one that said something along the lines of "Say it. Say it out loud." The other line read: "Vultures." It creeped me the hell out! But it did not quench my desire for mussels.

I'm back to obsessively checking items out of the library, despite the fact that I work 13 hours nearly everyday and have no time to do anything that isn't directly related to the computer. It was sincerely depressing me today. I had this vision of the end of the film Wild Strawberries which, by the way, reduces me to tears every single time I watch it.  Just like that, I was randomly doing something utterly menial and I remembered that film and how Isak dreams of his family at the end and I felt what Bergman intended his audience to feel*...suicidal depression. So naturally I checked it out of the library.

I know right??
I kid of course. Ahem. I'm thinking perhaps I should watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes for the next day or two.

Anyway, I need to take a walk around the library but considering I only get a 15 minute break, I'll likely stand behind the building and stare at the back of the electronics store that abuts the parking lot. THE SPRAWL!

*I don't think Bergman intended this. He just let it happen.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Super Sad True Tuesday

Well, it is Thursday night again. It seems it was JUST Thursday night.

I just took a pause and recalibrated my brain because it turns out I was over-multi-tasking. I was just updating this blog, reading a live blogging event of mayoral candidates in my town, helping with a reference query, thumbing through a magazine, playing Words with Friends, telling my coworker about what I was doing, emailing a friend making fun of the live blogging event and thinking about all the other things I need to do this weekend. That is too much going on. When I get home, I think a good idea would be to watch my cats chase a fake mouse around the apartment for awhile. I'll call it "sobering up." Well, maybe I'll call it "sobering up with a glass of port wine", more poetic that way.

Here's a random snapshot of a random Tuesday night that I randomly had off. I'll call it: Last Tuesday Evening: The Randoming.

Last Tuesday evening, all I wanted was conversation. I wanted to sit over cups of coffee or cocktails and just make eye contact with someone and talk to them about I didn't care what. I wanted to people watch with live commentary, to hear the sounds of giggling, to see someone react to something I said and to be surprised by something I heard from them. I wanted to remember the days when I would sit in a coffee shop for hours upon hours upon hours just talking. I have a wonderful, group of friends. But they are scattered. I guess I'm just missing spontaneous conversation, something that is so lacking in my life. So on Tuesday I texted people. This is what spontaneity has become. Texting. Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story, realized  in my neck of the woods on a random Tuesday. From brain to thumb to phone to ether to dead silence in seconds flat.

So I went home, dejected. I ate veggie meatballs. Maybe I did a little transference and made my dejection about something else entirely. (Only a handful of my friends will understand what that means, but that's ok.) Then I went online and argued in the comments section of a local blog. Then I fell asleep to Conan. And then Tuesday was over and I was back at work, digitizing my thoughts as I do now on Thursday, again.

The moral of this tale, dear reader is that you all need to come live with me in my small Long Island town and be here for random weeknight ramblings with me. I'll buy you coffee or tea or cocktails in exchange for your giggles and observations and your pliant faces filled with recognition and surprise and all of that good stuff.

Back to the present: The live blogging mayoral debates have predictably become a laundry list of why what's going on now in town sucks and all the perfection that, if elected, would be brought in. I think if aliens observed us, they would be confounded by politics. And clapping. Go ahead, try making the act of clapping logical.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Your arms are my castle

There are quite a few things I find uplifting like today. They are all quiet things; the types of things that linger in the background, that you have to hone in on, that are not as obvious, that startle you when you finally pinpoint them. These are the things that are worth looking for because when you realize them, you can count it as an accomplishment, if that makes any kind of awkward sense at all. In fairness, much of my perspective has to do with how spectacularly low my mind set and mood were yesterday. I just woke up muddled, everything off kilter, looking and feeling wrong. But not just leaning sideways, more like leaning sideways into a vat of wet soil, fully submerging my head in the muck. When I spent some of my lunch hour crying in my car, I knew I simply had to withstand my 13 hour work day and get it all over with so I could sleep the sleep of the dead. That is exactly what happened.

And now it is today. Cloudy and glaring with that lingering background sun. The weather is going along quite nicely with my metaphor for the hidden, worthwhile things to appreciate. I'm on an even keel once again. I took the day off work to take my car in to get serviced for umpteenth time since December. The universe seems to know I don't owe anything more on the car and the universe, she'sa bitch in that she keeps a financial tally on a gigantic calculator, one of those old fashioned ones with the receipt paper roll. Only hers is infinite apparently. Either that or it has nothing to do with the universe and rather that the car is 8 years old. Regardless, I'd been driving around with my car sounding like an arthritic old man and, much like an arthritic old man, I was stubbornly refusing to admit I needed to get maintenance, in particular after so much had already been done to the damn old man car! I suppose I should be grateful that this trip only cost me under $100. So okay, I'll choose to be grateful. Plus, I got a day off for it.

Here's a side note: Right now I'm in my local coffee shop and they have music on. I came here for the background noise and to people watch and to sit upright as opposed to alternating watching useless television and falling asleep on my couch. Anyway, whenever I take a moment to reflect on something I'm writing or to reread what I've just typed it seems I always stop at an unfortunate song. Just now it was "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias, a song that is fine by Top 40 music standards but one that has forever been destroyed for me by Jimmy Fallon's impersonation of the singer, replete with an exaggeratedly large mole and an even more exaggerated Spanish accent. "You can take a'my bredth ehway." And also, now that I've taken the time to review that paragraph, what is now playing is a song I don't recognize but which contains the dreadful lyrics "Your arms are my castle." I get the sense that this could go on, hilariously, forever.

Anyway, what is uplifting about today other than the fact that it is not yesterday? For one, I'm not at work. I know I chose my profession and I more or less agreed to work where I currently work and no, I'm not a coal miner or anything even half as grim, but the notion that I didn't have to get up to go to either job today, when it hit me last night, well I credit that notion with how well I slept last night. I'm in the right state of mind at the moment to admit that the notion of not having to do the thing I have spent and will spend most of my life doing makes me feel at peace. I'm glad I didn't think about this yesterday.

There seems to be an abundance of creative types here. This shouldn't surprise me but strangely it does. I think I've been ensconced in my apartment too much. Much too much. Ever since my resolution two months ago to be here now, I've taken so much advantage of where I am and it is paying me back. If only in the opportunity to climb out of my shell and take a look around. This doesn't sound like much on paper but considering how warm and cozy my shell had become, it is no insignificant development. I think you all should also climb out of your shells and take a look around.

I'm now going to attempt to write a story. I need to catch this particular horse before the carousel does another turn because it has been awhile. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Three distractions

I don't know what to write about this morning. I'm really just looking to distract myself from boredom. And the inner implosions of my thoughts. It is the Fourth of July in my brain. Or my brain is in that little alleyway that was directly behind my first Queens apartment all those years ago replete with arguing couples, crunching ice scraping at 4am, pigeon cooing and one truly classic New York city moment when a woman angrily lifted her bedroom window and said, thickly accented "Hey you! Shut the fuck up!!" I didn't see her but I know she was wearing a shower cap and curlers and a flower print mu-mu. And her husband was behind her on the couch in a wife-beater, the blue glow of the television reflecting off his weathered face as he hunched over a foil wrapped TV dinner. I know all of that happened. Anyway here are three random things:

1) For the past couple of nights I have had elaborate and long dreams involving some heavy symbolism, often bordering on the childishly obvious (I dreamed one night I was getting married but wasn't wearing a dress but rather these old, ratty corduroy trousers). Each night it has been a very different dream but the one thing that has been the same is the way I woke up from them all with this really odd sense of well being. I suppose the only thing that is odd about it is that it is a positive feeling when generally my dreams leave me feeling unsettled or ridiculous or confused. But lately I've been awake and ready to carry on almost immediately. The unsettling occurs later in the day, like right now. My subconscious is doing me a five hour favor every night.

2) Yesterday I spoke briefly to my grandmother in Florida. I was having my lunch break with my mother and she called her up to remind her of a joke they shared a few years ago. My grandmother has somewhat advanced Alzheimer's disease but as a family we were only recently made aware of it. So my mother often calls her in an attempt to jog her memory or even just lighten the mood to distract her from her distractions. So she put my grandmother on speakerphone so we could both talk to her but as with most Alzheimer's patients, my grandmother started going on a long tangent of nonsensical stories. One of them was about walking home from church with my grandfather and seeing a woman be swallowed whole by an alligator. Probably my desire to be able to draw or sketch that story stems from my strong desire to detach myself from how sad it all is but I wanted to see her delusion rendered on paper.
Coincidentally I've been listening to The National quite a bit these last few days and I was just reminded of a lyric from the song "Start a War" that resonates:

 Do you really think you can just put it in a safe 
behind a painting, lock it up and leave?

3) I just finished up reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. You can read my paltry review on that site but really all that stayed with me from the novel was this ravenous desire to read a book with a strong female heroine. She doesn't have to be perfect but she has to be the utter opposite of the Hadley Richardson of McLain's invention because good lord that character was pushover. Maybe everyone was a push over for Hemingway but reading this book made me strangely tired of being a woman. I thought about picking up something by Hemingway to read something fiercely masculine (or anything by Chuck Palahniuk) but instead chose a book about a werewolf. My brain is going to take a break from reading about humanity for a bit.

That's all I got today. What's up with you?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Access Denied.

As I type this, the group of women who sit outside my office are taking an online "security awareness" training that is required of all of us. This is noteworthy b/c the graphics of this training module look straight out of the 1992 film "The Lawnmower Man" which is known for its godawfulness as well as the tagline: ACCESS DENIED!" Seriously, why my company would put together something like this is a mystery. Not helping matters is that the four of them are taking the training at the same time but with slight delays in each of their computers. So there is an echo going on to accompany the weird, dated graphics and the alarming module titles including "You are Being Attacked" and "How Cyber Criminals Find You."


I've had a good week. Despite the chill in the air today, I'm psychically forcing the springtime through, not unlike Bella from those abhorrent Twilight books. (I'm not kidding. Her special vampire power was "thinking really, really hard." Seriously? Stephanie Meyer makes me stabby.) I digress. Good week.

The fates are working their ministrations in my favor lately and for that I am spilling over with gratitude. However, pessimist that I am at my very core,  I await a sacrificial demand. I'm hoping whatever is demanded can be paid in installments. And that they mail me coupons in advance. You never know what will be required from those tricksy fates.

My 18 day stretch comes to a close this evening. I was this close to having an entire weekend off but was called yesterday to work this Sunday. I could not refuse because, as a group of wise men from the 90s once said, "Cash rules everything around me."

I realize this entry seems a bit pointless but that's only because it is.