Sunday, December 28, 2014


I emerge this morning, a mostly quiet Sunday during that gray limbo between Christmas and New Year's when generally the engine revs but doesn't start and the pilot flame flickers but doesn't quite ignite,with a mandate...from myself. It is a familiar one, a tried and failed and tried again, ad infinitum, one. This mandate is very, very specific and it is this: DO STUFF. I realize everyone experiences the desire for self improvement at this time of year (though generally it is reserved for after the bacchanalia of New Year's Eve and the shame spiraling of New Year's Day) but frankly, what's a few days early? Maybe I'm finally coming down from the white sugar high of the last few weeks. Maybe it is the nauseating tumult of the past year. Maybe it is the general disconnect I've felt acutely in my recent, overstimulated, kinetic, frenetic, uncertain and unquiet life. Maybe I've been listening too much to the human thesaurus that is Russell Brand. I cannot say for certain. But I decided right after Christmas that I needed to do stuff.

And stuff is an all-encompassing term that describes the overwhelming amount of ways I can find to spend my time. I have this vague notion that there are people who are perpetually bored or who choose voluntarily to do nothing all or most of the time. And while I earnestly feel both that doing nothing is a valuable non-thingto do (or to not do) once in awhile for recharging purposes and that people need to hitch their own personal wagons to their own stars, doing nothing as a hobby or even a regularly scheduled activity is my own private anathema and the Do Stuff Mandate (DSM) will never want for activities. It is really just a matter of being organized about it. In this, I will need guidance. I will need a plan, a spreadsheet, a timer, some bottled get up and go. (Metaphorically, not the 90s college staple of Vivarin or amphetamines. Relax, people!) I long to never again feel the oozing malaise of being is a terrible feeling to me. I think I want to spend the rest of my life avoiding that feeling and since the rest of my life begins at the end of this sentence, I suppose now is a good a time as any.

I just discovered, via the innocent although mentally pernicious practice of cyber...not stalking so much as curiosity ...cyber curiosity, yes...that an ex-whatever of mine finally took all his talk about moving and becoming an artist to full fruition. He literally moved across the world and became an artist. People don't do that, they just dream it. I mean, right? Sure, people change all the time but I could not get this guy to return a text and he worked in the same menial job for at least five years, all the while talking about doing all the stuff but meandering through his days in a seeming zig zag pattern. Yet there he is. Putting aside my surprise, I am truly happy for him as I usually am when someone catapults his life toward the horizon where he's always longingly gazed. Also, I internalize everything. Hence, the do stuff mandate.

So yeah. Do stuff. I sort of snuffed out my own plan this morning when I couldn't muster the will to get up early enough to go to five dollar yoga. However, I'm being kind to myself and acknowledging the fact that I did not fritter away the morning lying about watching episodes of I Survived... or falling in and out of dreamless sleep. I have exercised my brain which falls under the general umbrella of having done "something" and really, isn't that the point of life? Wouldn't it be a good gravestone etching: Here she lies....she did something. Actually after rereading that out loud, it becomes clear that it would all depend on how sarcastic the person reading the gravestone was and in what tone it was read; it could easily be interpreted as a vague question instead of the intended deep, albeit brief, profundity. Honestly, I'm not willing to lie down underneath a potentially ridiculous quotation for eternity, are you?

Ok, I gotta go do stuff bye.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Too old to huff.

I just went to the store to buy some compressed air, (after a particularly shameful hour, I realized that my laptop, admittedly on its last, clangy leg, is now about 70% cat and human hair follicles), and was surprised to be asked my date of birth by the cashier. The following conversation is a dramatic reenactment:

Cashier, about 20 years old, after scanning the canned air: May I have your date of birth?
Me, confused: Um, why do you need that?
Cashier: It is asking me for your date of birth.
Me, alarmed: What is asking your for my date of birth?
Cashier, sighing: My register.
Me: Why does your register need to know my birthday? Do I get a prize if it is today?
Cashier: They want to know because of the air.
Me: I'm being carded to buy compressed air?
Cashier: Yeah. I guess people huff it.
Me: (After giving her my D.O.B.) Is compressed air unhuffable after a certain age? I mean I'm just curious. (Nervous laughter) I mean I don't intend on huffing this. Haha.
Cashier: That'll be $13.50.

Seriously, though, why does the purchase of a can of air require a birthdate? If she was, in fact, right about the huffable quality of the product (I don't judge), then how would my age be a factor? I know they card for things like sudafed and other cold medicines due to the high methability of those items but honestly, if I'm my age and I'm getting high on compressed air then you should just pity sell that shit to me because that is just straight up SAD. Drug addiction is sad to begin with but something about someone being my age and buying air at CVS to huff it in their car or something just brings to down to a whole new level.

The irony in all this is that for all of CVS' huffing prevention methods, I ended up leaving the store IN a huff. Amirite?!

Anyway, that whole thing was surprising. Less surprising is the library patron I just assisted. He asked me to help him find a Jeff Dunham DVD. I am currently working at a library where I only have occasional shifts, making a lot of things difficult for me to find. It is perpetually my first day here. I'm on the desk alone because the rest of the staff is downstairs eating their holiday party goodies. (I had string cheese in the car on my way here. Ya jealous??) Anyway, in addition to THAT, all of the catalogs are down today for a system conversion. Nothing in the collection of any library is searchable today at all. So it was taking me a bit of time to find this gem of a DVD. But after some searching and walking up and down aisles, I located it. He snatched it from my hand and walked away and did not thank me. I mean, maybe he was in a hurry to clip his toenails in public or something but that's the last time I try hard.

Well, I guess I better wrap it up. I got a can of air in my car with my name (and birth date) on it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Instant dissolve

This morning, my energy tank 1/4 full on four hours sleep and a medium sized hangover, I hit the ground, not running so much as speed walking in order to catch a train to work. Everything seems possible to me that early in the morning. The dirty-clean air fills the lungs and you can hear people sigh and exhale in a million languages. It is Monday morning everywhere in the universe.

I love the city in the fall, which recently has been baby late summer. And I sail through the empty, quiet sidewalks of an early enough morning. The old adage remains about it being a place that never sleeps but in the wee hours it does rest its eyes for a moment. A few early morning stragglers dotted the sidewalks, walking a little slower than usual, stomachs still full of turkey and family angst, hocking proportionally more loogies than average, yawning out their front doors on their way inside the gravitational force field of everyday tasks.

Last night, as I trawled through Astoria, unwittingly trawling for the perfect Kentucky Mule (found, and tested three times for quality assurance), I told my sister that I would accept whatever fate was going to hand down but that I wished, in a gazing at some distant planet from earth kind of way, that it will involve the city somehow. I needed no adjustment period coming back here, took no deep breaths to center myself. I felt myself instantly dissolve and become part of the atmosphere. But time can only tell. And when it comes to job offers, time has apparently decided to hold a grudge against me.

Lately, during various moments I find I am thinking of a scene in a small movie I saw a few years ago, or maybe it was last year or last week...I can't tell time anymore. The movie was called "Another Earth" which had a fascinating premise: a young woman who is responsible for a fatal drunk driving accident applies to be sent to explore a newly discovered second Earth, but not before making amends to the man who's family she accidentally killed. Anyway, there is a scene that turned out to be one of my favorites where she is telling the man the story of the Russian Cosmonaut and..well, here:

And I identify with this story; I want to fall in love with the persistent, strange ticking that inexplicably fills my brain and often, yes tortures me. Lately, it has been all the rejection. I'm slowly learning not to take myself apart and put myself back together and to take it in stride. I'm learning to balance the sound a bit, little by little.  Still, it would be nice to turn it into, say, a Brahms symphony or an Arcade Fire anthem. I could walk around humming, tapping my feet along in rhythm as opposed to internally, silently exploding most of the time.

Apropos of all of this: in the middle of typing this entry, I got another Dear John: Professional Edition letter. I suppose I should be grateful that someone took the time to reject me in writing. I much prefer scanning the words that come after "however" in an email than living in the perpetual maybe of no response at all. Tick tick tick....

Monday, November 10, 2014

Alice Has It All

We open on New York City, Union Square. It is a chilly, rainy Thursday afternoon. The sky is gray, the sidewalks are gray, the people are gray.

Our heroine is Alice, a woman in her late 30s. She is running almost exactly on time, which to her is the same thing as being late. She is the type of person who not only hates being late but hates being afraid of being late and often experiences preemptive cautionary anxiety. It arises slowly in her brain and once there begins to transform into a burgeoning panic at the base of her feet, threatening to rise up. There is a well dressed gentleman ascending the stairs in front of her and he meanders at a snail's pace, making her quietly insane. As she has for the previous fifteen years using NYC public transportation, she's exited the subway at the exact wrong exit and must do one of those turn around in a full circle while looking into the sky confused moves in order to get her bearings. The music playing here should be quick-fire violin arpeggios. Naturally the building where she needs to be is on the opposite side of Union Square and so she breaks into a sprint. She's on her way to a job interview which is scheduled for 3pm. It is now 2:57. Something, probably desperation, propels her forward quickly, despite her business heels.

After finding the building, she enters through a small, rusted, metal door which belies the openness of the lobby that greets her. At some point in history, this was probably a grand entrance. The ensuing years have not been kind. To the left is one squat man hunched over some paperwork at a podium like desk with a sign that reads "INFORMATION" in red and white lettering. At the squeak of the opening door, he looks up hopefully as she enters, smiles and asks if he can be of any help.

"Hello, yes I'm here to see Darla. I have an interview at 3 pm, So sorry to be late." It is 3:01.

"I actually just saw Darla leave so you probably have to meet at our downtown campus."

"No, she specifically told me to meet at this Union Square location. At 3 pm?" For the briefest of seconds she doubts herself. And when in doubt, her inflection always rises to a question. It was a condition she called "Valley Girl Doubt."

"Well, she WAS here but I definitely saw her leave. What is the job?" He becomes jittery and starts to shuffle through the papers on his desk.

"It is for the library. A librarian job? Part-time?"

A look of satisfied recognition crosses his small features."See, I knew it. The library is downtown. You have to go downtown."

She feels the first tinge of mild panic in her feet.

"Downtown? See I know the library is downtown? But Darla said to meet her here?" Actually what Darla had said during the miles long email chain was that should "anything change" Alice should expect an email saying as much. Darla had indicated that there was a slight possibility that "you will need to go all the way downtown to our financial district campus" but that she would send an email the day of the interview indicating if that was the case. This part of her email, likely thrown in off handedly by Darla had become a source of obsession for our heroine. She had checked and rechecked and checked her email again and again all morning, just to be sure. No email was received. She checks again now by refreshing the page on her cell phone. Nothing.

"I have the email? It says Union Square? See?" Her voice echoes against the lobby walls. It sounds hollow. She shows him the email. He remains dubious.

"Well, I guess I can try calling her cell." He punches in the numbers hurriedly. "She's probably on the downtown subway by now though."

As she waits for him to make the call she is forced to hover over his desk, there being nowhere else to stand. She wears a slouchy rain jacket over her black interview dress, her stockinged feet are damp and becoming uncomfortably cool in the drafty room. She holds her comically large umbrella in one hand and her cell phone in the other, opened to the email, the only proof that she belongs there, she was invited there. As she stands there, anxious, she notices for the first time what was on the other side of the used-to-be-grand lobby.

Across from where she stands is a bank of about seven desks, each manned by an employee in a red polo shirt. In her harried state she had overlooked them. Seeing them now, they make her think of pledge drives or call centers, places that make and take a high volume of solicitations or donations. None of the employees are actually on the phone here, however. They are seated, talking to each other or staring at computer screens. They are of varying ages but all male. Someone is discussing the director Lars von Trier with a totally disinterested desk mate. Another one is mumbling to himself. That there should be a bank of silent telephones in an otherwise empty lobby with none of them ringing seems bizarre, an idea gone glaringly wrong. If this was, as it purported to be, a place of higher education what were the phones for and why were there so many? She started to retrace the steps that led her here.

She had answered an online posting for a librarian job, despite the fact that it had been both vague and all encompassing at the same time. Things in the library world generally were both vague and all encompassing. Neither and both. The ad had read as though whomever had posted it had taken a brief description of the profession from some occupational encyclopedia and decided to cut and paste it, inserting their institution's name accordingly. Ostensibly, it was to be a part time librarian for a film school. The hours were not mentioned, nor the salary. But after being unemployed for six months, going on seven, she needed a job and was going to take on all comers. She had sent her resume, along with about ten others one Sunday afternoon after drinking a beer or two and marathon watching Portlandia, So when the response requesting an interview arrived in her mailbox four days later, the job had sounded only vaguely familiar. One of hundreds. A week and a half of lobbing emails back and forth with dates and times ensued and they had arranged for a time to meet, only to have it be cancelled at the very last minute, via email, the day of the interview. The whole process had left a faintly disorienting sensation in her brain, like exiting an elevator a floor too early. It should have been a red flag.

However, here she was, hovering over this "INFORMATION desk"as he jabbed his fingers into a phone keypad, hidden from her view. He hung up with a sigh.

"As I suspected she left but I was just told she'd be right back. She went to get something to eat." He shrugs as he said this, perhaps knowing how profoundly strange it was to leave for lunch at exactly the time she was to interview a potential employee.

"Well, can I wait somewhere?" She asks quietly, attempting to soften the edge in her voice.

"Unfortunately we have no couches. You can stand here."

Fine. She thinks. Fine. I'll just stand here, over you until you feel as awkward as I do and you come up with another solution. This isn't awkward. Nope. 

After 30 seconds, it becomes awkward. She moves a little further back, away from the desk and attempts to find a focal point for her sojourn into interview limbo. Suddenly, one of the red be-shirted call center employees breaks out into song. This is noteworthy, she thinks, for two reasons. Reason one: The bellow of unexpected song, like her voice just minutes before, echoes off the old marble walls of the enormous lobby and it startles her. Reason two: the song choice. For a reason unknowable to anyone but himself, the singer chose the song "Higher" by the "band" Creed. She thinks of Creed as a "band" in quotation marks. She thinks they exist as an idea more than an actual band. This is a self preservation technique: fictionalize the terrible.

Can you take me higher
to a place where blind men see

She hears these lyrics and prays that Darla will not show up after all. She hears this voice as a harbinger of bad things, a warning to run back out into the rain. But just as she turns to exit, in comes a small, pretty Asian woman with a rain jacket and the shortest skirt possible.

"Darla!", shouts the information desk man. "I've been trying to reach you! Your interview is here."

"Oh, cool. Hi! You're...." She pauses with an expectant look on her face.

"Alice?" Valley Girl Doubt.

"Right! Alice! Have you been waiting long?" Darla turns and begins walking towards the elevator before Alice can answer. When she does, Alice sees she is not only wearing a barely there skirt, but she is also wearing knee high striped socks, lending a very school girl air to this recruitment manager. Not being judgmental is something Alice prides herself on however, judgment can be an involuntary muscle. She feels suddenly that she will be interviewed by a college student. No apology for lateness is forthcoming so Alice simply says, "Yes, about ten minutes now."

"Oh, well, today you'll be meeting with the provost and the director of the school." Darla says as she jams her long fingers into the elevator buttons. She smells dipped in perfume. For various reasons, this annoys Alice.

"Right now they are in a meeting with each other so I'm just going to have you wait awhile longer."

"Sorry? They are in a meeting with each other?"


The elevator opens to a cluttered room. To the immediate right there is what looks like an unmanned box office, to the left is a walled off work area with a cluster of desks inside. Next to the walled in cluster is another cluster of tables, however these are out in the open. There are several Mac workstations on each table and about five people are working intensely at a few of them. She thinks these are students but it is not clear what exactly this room is so really they could be anyone: students, employees, fellow interviewees. She decides that when she tells the tale of this interview, she will refer to this room as Clusterfuck Corner.

"You can wait there." Darla holds her lunch in a plastic bag and uses this arm to casually gesture to a set of leather armchairs along the wall. "I'll come get you when their meeting is done."

Their meeting with each other.

Alice looks at a wall clock. It is 3:15. Resigned, she removes her rain jacket, plops down on the chair and takes out her phone, beginning a pro/con list. She is, in fact, desperate for a job so the list will have to be a good one if she has any hope of justifying not taking the job, if it is even offered to her, if a job even exists. For the first, and hopefully last, time Creed makes the list. As she sits there, a parade of people shuffles in an out of the room toward indiscernible, hidden from view locations. Most are young, good looking and relaxed. Her suspicions that this is a study hall are proved false when she notices Darla seated at her desk inside the walled off "office", taking a small sandwich out of the bag she was carrying on the way up. She says something to the young man seated next to her and they laugh loudly, in quick bursts, their energy kinetic. Alice feels suddenly exhausted.

She scrolls through the email on her phone and receives a sporadic job alert. It is for a Librarian. She clicks on the link, feeling bland, like her face would be blurred out from a distance. She has the urge to fake a coughing fit, just to make the random people inside this random room notice she is sitting there, waiting. The job ad reads:

Mid-size college seeks entry-level librarian for start-up library. Must have minimum of 10 years of increasing responsibility experience in an academic library setting.  Demonstrated ability to meet a high standard of quality work independently and expeditiously is required, along with coordinating and training to meet a heavy workload. Must be able to lift up to 55 pounds. Second Masters degree strongly preferred. Fluency in more than one Germanic language required. Salary from mid 30s. 

Sighing, she uploads her resume. Alice has it all: 11 years of experience, increasing responsibility, expeditiousness in droves. The languages she can fake if it ever got that far. The salary, for a job requiring a professional Masters degree and a second language, is so low that she decides to think of it as an abstract idea; a random number somewhere far in the distance. Seven months without a job makes real world issues like not enough money seem very far away.

Her eyes wander around the room. All along every wall are film posters, cheaply framed and worn looking. Some of the films are garden variety "classics": The Godfather, Citizen Kane. There are two copies of the poster for Bad Lieutenant, which features a naked Harvey Keitel underneath the film's title. It is a film she has never seen but has always struck her as being one of those films that people claimed to really like but in reality were lying. Then again, she has that same thought about many things most people claimed to like. She is an autodidact of film appreciation and the prospect of working as a librarian for a film school had excited her. She had had hopes of discussing the finer points of her favorite films with students and envisioned glamorous happy hour parties after work filled with creative types and filmmakers over bourbon and cigarettes. But there is something about this room, its actual purpose a total mystery to her, that rings false.  The film posters struck her as arbitrary, showy and insincere. One of the Bad Lieutenant posters hangs above a closed black door. On the front of the door hangs a plaque that reads Federico Fellini. She assumes this is in homage to the great Italian director and she wants to peek inside; perhaps Marcelo Mastroianni is inside, lighting a cigarette and sporting a skinny tie.

She looks at the clock. 3:35. Darla continues nibbling on her sandwich in her walled off room, avoiding all eye contact with Alice through the glass. No new information appears to be forthcoming. Frustration begins to gather in whorls at her feet and she decides that if, in exactly 10 minutes from now she is still seated there, uninformed and unmoved, she will get up and leave. Maybe I'll cause a scene she thinks. Maybe I'll laugh maniacally and say the time out loud over and over again. She becomes so enmeshed in the entertainment of these fantasies that she nearly misses the thin man standing above her.

"Pardon me?" She was disoriented.

"Are you Susan?" He looks at her quizzically behind his square framed glasses. He has a head of wavy, mildly red hair and a friendly demeanor, but he is unprepared and confused.

"Alice?" She asks, both questioning her own name and feeling strangely apologetic for sitting there.

"Oh we are supposed to meet with you. Please follow me." She gets up too quickly, too eagerly and feels instant embarrassment. She rushes to gather her rain jacket and umbrella and scrambles after him; he was already ahead of her, heading directly toward the Fellini room. There is a sudden flurry of activity in Clusterfuck Corner and she feels nervous.

Marcelo Mastroianni is not in here. This Fellini room is not full of stylized, curvaceous Italian women in pencil skirts, hanging laundry or dancing on the beach nor does it contain sunglassed five-o-clock shadowed men on Vespas. What is here is a row of rusted folding chairs, arranged in a jagged, random mess atop a visibly dirty, black and white checkered floor. There is a scratched chalk board at the front of the room. On the wall opposite the door is a huge, gaping hole from which both rain and cold air is entering the room. She shudders. The harsh fluorescent lighting gives the room a stark, accusatory feel and to her horror, she realizes this is the room where she will be interviewed. She sits on one of the folding chairs and it wobbles loudly.

She is about to change chairs when a second man enters. He is small, broad chested and is wearing a casually buttoned blue oxford shirt with gray flannel pants. He appears to be rushing in from somewhere and Alice gets the impression that this is a permanent aspect of his personality. In his hand he holds a wrinkled piece of paper rolled up like a scroll. Alice sits again quickly and her chair wobbles again.

"Hi, I'm Joel." He offers her his hand as he says this, shakes it roughly and stares expectantly at her, as though he is pulling the lever of a slot machine and is waiting to see if all the cherries line up.

"I'm Alice?" The dirty room and the intense stare from this man who seems on the brink of having to leave the room because of a family emergency makes her a little nervous. However, she remembers that they have not apologized for their lateness and the nervousness passes quickly into something else.

"Alice, this is Bob," he says too loudly as he gestures toward the red haired man who regards her with a kind smile. He is wearing a black sweater and jeans and sits back in his chair, relaxed and slightly amused looking. "He's the director. I am the provost."

Together we are Drovost, Russian superhero cops. Her thoughts become stupid. She hopes that Bob will do most of the interviewing. Naturally, Joel begins to speak.

"So basically we are looking to build a library pretty much from the ground up. We want something that will support our students and that will work within our approved budget. We had a librarian here but she had to leave for a personal emergency and she was in the middle of building up our collection and circulation and inventory system and it never got finished." He looks at his watch as he says this. "So, tell us Alice what do you envision for a library like this?"


He gestures toward the rolled up scroll in his hand. "I haven't even read your resume so I'm not sure of your background but tell us what you envision."

"I think that..."

"Because we would need someone to have an open mind while being able to work within a budget. We would need someone who can work alongside and within the parameters of our school's philosophy and who can also help bring us into the most current technology possible. Is that something you could do? Like I said, I haven't read your resume." He shrugs as he repeats this, flippant.

"Yes, you mentioned that." If annoyance sprouted in the elevator with the be-perfumed Darla, it was about to blossom fully, right here in Fellini's ghetto.

"What Joel means is that you would be working with a few restrictions but that we would rely on your expertise a large amount of the time." Bob has a kind demeanor and is less direct with his eye contact. She feels less an object appraised and more, well, more like a librarian being asked a reference question. "Do you have experience in start up libraries?"

He hadn't read her resume either. "I have experience in every type of library; I've worked in various ones, doing various things at various times. I don't really know anything about your library or lack of one. Could you tell me what exactly it has or, um, where it is? Could we take a tour?"

Joel sighs and seems annoyed. "It is at our other campus, of course. We just want a general idea of what you would do, given free reign of the library, with limitations."

Free reign with limitations. Vague and all encompassing. Neither and both.

Bob interrupts. "The previous librarian begun ordering things so there are some boxes still there. The library has been open this whole time, about six months, with students allowed in and out. So we do expect some loss of new materials but you would have some things to work with. Overall though, it would be like beginning a new library. It would be part time hours."

And with that Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome scenario, she decides that she has no intention of taking this job, that in fact, she lacks the necessary mental illness and sadomasochistic leanings to take a job like this. She does not feel nervousness or confusion. She feels only pure irritation, this interview has become like a mosquito in her sleeping bag.

Joel says, "Right right. So anyway, what do you envision for this type of job?"

"For this particular job? This start up library on a part time basis? Free reign, with limitations?"

They shift in their chairs, one of which creaks loudly. Her chair wobbles again underneath her.

The wobbling chair, the creak...this annoys Alice. Annoys her more than getting laid off from her job of six long years where she wasted most of her best decade staring at a screen and planning to leave and that the most she can hope for is another job where she sits and waits for the next big thing to happen in her life. It annoys her more than the neverending lacquered runway of fruitless job searching, strutting unsteadily with her list of qualifications on display for dissection and critique and, at least in this case, disregard. Annoys her more than the now persistent echo in her brain which, even after a few moments of silence, Joel and Bob watching her expectantly, becomes louder and louder.

"Well for starters, I envision big stars and bright lights. Part-time stars and lights, of course. I would go big or go home, so to speak. Get the newest, brightest most high tech technology possible. A chicken in every hot pot and an iMac in every dorm room. I'd have a library open house with guest speakers, maybe some entertainers. I'm not talking just any guest speakers. This is New York City and you are a film school. Would it be unheard of to hire Robert DeNiro to just do impressions of himself for a few hours? How about Woody Allen? Could we get him to direct a trailer for the library? I'm thinking on location at the Trevi fountain. Maybe you two can wade through it and cavort, Fellini style. I can just feel him in here you know. Maybe he's coming in through that hole in the wall, haha! Anyway, as it says on my resume, I danced for three years with the Ballet Russes so, even after all these years, I know Diaghilev's nephew can pull together something cinematic for the grand opening. In fact, let me call him now before they break for lunch."

Alice stands from her chair and the creak this time sounds like relief. She grabs her rain jacket and umbrella dashes out of the room to Clusterfuck Corner. The same people are seated at the same desks doing the same nothing they were doing for the last ten or so minutes it has taken to burn this particular bridge. She waves to naked Harvey Keitel as she walks past the elevator to find the stairs. She gets to the lobby and passes the telephone bank and one person is on the phone saying "...self addressed stamped envelope to us and we will mail..." she is out the door before he finishes.

It has stopped raining. The sky is still gray but now has patches of faded blue peeking through. Union Square remains bustling with people on their way home or to dinner or to their jobs inside clusterfuck rooms or holey classrooms. She walks to the subway, oddly contented, her earlier anxiety a deflating balloon in her chest. As she approaches the subway entrance, she removes her cell phone from the pocket of her rain jacket to see if she's missed any calls or emails. There is one new message in her inbox. It's title reads: Entry-level librarian position--Invitation for Interview. She shuts her phone off and descends the stairs.

She walks against the general flow of foot traffic and the mob of commuters ascending the stairs and the rushing crowd has to part to let her through.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Break For Not Driving Anywhere

I've already completely changed my daily routines and, like a cat suddenly taken from her environment, I'm lashing out by hiding in the corner, hissing and clawing at the air. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I would never do that. Nope. Not in the silence of my room nor as I drive what seems like 500 miles a day to and from the old place to the new place to my first job from my second and stopping by my third. You'll definitely never find me clutching, white knuckled at my steering wheel, imagining a series of elaborate scenarios that would begin with me getting all Michael Stipe-y, exiting my car and calmly walking over and in between cars on the Southern State Parkway in the midst of rush hour traffic.

Not me.
I am not cut out for commuting by car. And I say this, not even one full week in to actually doing it regularly. I'm not at any kind of breaking point (yet). All I'm saying is that this afternoon it took me an hour to drive 30 miles, someone with exceptionally dirty arms threw an empty coffee cup at my car while going 65 mph and there is lately a mystery tapping that is coming from somewhere deep inside my glove compartment, a place too packed with plastic spoons, dozens of copies of my registration and enough maxi pads to ensure about two years worth of overnight protection. If I could somehow generate a metaphysical bumper sticker, it might read: I'd rather be doing literally anything else.

It wasn't until I was 28 that I even got a driver's license and I'm beginning to realize that it may not have been a random circumstance. But I'm waxing on about this simply because driving has taken up 80% of my week. I knew what I was up against when I sort of decided to do what I quasi-decided to do. Overall, and some people in my real life might dispute this claim, I think I'm handling the changes happening with as much dignity as I can muster. I'm not adopting a totally Buddhist mentality of no attachments but I'm not shitting and vomiting in my carrier, the way my cats did when I drove them to their new home on Saturday either.

Honing my focus on one task at a time, one day at a time is my new goal. Its absence has had me adrift for a long time but I'm determined now to throw down my anchor. There's an app (or several) to help. Right now I'm listening to one as I type this. It reminds me of M83 and this song (which I'm pretty sure is antithetical to the purpose of a focusing app), the listening of which is going to be my break as soon as I finish...ok fine, let's listen to it now! The stars and planets are calling me a billion years away from you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I've moved a few inches back from the brink. Being productive is, for me, a much needed salve on the self inflicted wounds on my psyche. Why is it so easy to navigate ourselves into negativity but damn near impossible to change course to positivity? Circumstances devolve into chaos quickly in my brain.Well, maybe not chaos but uncertainty at the very least. And so, I've put on my productive pants. They're a bit snug but they accentuate all the right things.

Shuttling boxes and canisters full of my life (and all its ephemera and detritus) back and forth from apartment to small ass car to storage to new place has been a practice in meditation. I understand why people do mundane tasks as a form of reflection. I thought the other day as I rolled up a small mountain of clothing, piece by piece about the stone walkway that leads up Montserrat and I had a billion and one ideas and thoughts that branched out to even more ideas. At the very least, productivity awakens my brain to the myriad things I can and will do.

A word about self storage facilities: they creep me out. Ironically enough, I become suspicious of what lies behind the sliding metal doors of each compartment. Also, each time I drive up to my storage facility, it is empty of all cars, but there are always people in there! How did they get there? Rows and rows of silent, florescent lit hallways inexplicably lead me to think of something sinister. I've run into a few fellow stuff-storers and it is always awkward for some reason. We squeeze past each other down the narrow hallways, eyes averted. WHAT ARE WE HIDING?
In my case, I'm "hiding" my entire life apart from the bare essentials. However, I'm reasonably certain everyone else is hiding large steel drums of dissolving body parts or enormous pallets full of cash from their meth businesses.

My neighbors.
Everytime I press the big green button that allows me entrance to the building I think of the ever present dystopian future which captures our current zeitgeist. I can't help it. I think about bands of hastily formed alliances who take over the outer perimeter of the storage facility, 1st floor vs. 2nd floor and who controls the vending machines at the end of the hallways?? Why are there vending machines there? Why do I suddenly feel the need to get roller skates with lights on them and forage for water in a wasteland?

If you can name this film, we are meant to know each other.

So far, considering the storage facility reminds me of murder, suspicion, crime and the end of the world, I'm going to say I'm projecting just a wee bit onto a poor, bland, unsuspecting Eastern bloc of a building. I suppose there are worse scapegoats. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Before" shots

I just decided at this very moment to change the rules of Blog Everyday September. The rules are that I don't have to blog everyday in September. Dang, it is easy to change rules without cause or warrant. I feel just like a credit card!

Then again, I feel vague and blobby with super low interest. I have no special offers and I give out no points for using me. I don't give anyone the thrill of instant gratification or the illusion of free money. I can't transfer anything and I come in only one design. So, not like a credit card at all then.

I want to avoid making this blog post a downer. It's just...just....arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. What the hell lately?  My life feels like one gigantic "before" mural on the side of a rotted out dilapidated building. Seeing photographs of myself I think "That's the before shot." I have an iPhone full of before shots now. I am the newbie everywhere and I don't know what I'm doing. I'm full of misinformation and assumptions and I get the feeling I'm getting dumber and dumber with each passing day. Time was I could make a declarative statement, with vim (if not vigor) and not question it. These days, I mentally question everything I say right after I say it. An esprit de l'escalier of a different kind. The kind where I never come up with the perfect retort or answer, not at the right moment or on the stairs afterward. I know I've joked about being neurotic for most of my adult life but I might actually be telling the truth about it now.

I get metaphysically winded now. Yesterday I spent hours formulating a plan for the next three weeks, during which I have no less than six hundred million things to take care of and doing exactly none of them, choosing instead to pull down the blinds and lie down in the dark.

I'm turning my lack of job offers into my own private hair shirt, making the global problem of joblessness a penance for some unknown cosmic wrong I committed in my last life and it feels a bit like I'm stockpiling my inadequacies all at once, for some future bunker where I'll hide out after the nuclear explosion dust of getting old and lonely settles.

I find myself Googling phrases like "How to cope with change" and "Making your own luck" and "How to not infer meaning in the meaningless". I haven't gleaned anything useful but all three of those phrases, among others, were autocompleted by Google the first time I typed them in so this cheese does not stand alone. She stands, unpasteurized with her brethren, susceptible to any foolhardy idea or preemptive worry that comes along.

I need a good boiling.

I just reread all this. I sound a little crazy. Just a little. But I really feel like this is my time to go a little crazy. Just a little, I promise. It's Monday. I move out of my apartment in three and a half weeks. This morning I found a dead roach under my bed, put there by one of my cats at some unknown time between 2010-present. I'm going to go ahead and let myself get just a little bit Tower of Pisa for a moment. K thx.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I am a snake head eating the head on the opposite side.

I've been doing a lot of cleaning out of boxes and closets and assorted corners of my apartment in preparation for a move (I finally ran out of money, but that's another story for another blog post) and I came across my collection of mix tapes. I'm holding on to these items so that they will have to be pried from my cold, dead hands; I love them that much.

I thought I would share with you my track listing from a mix tape I made for myself that I titled: Bored! Summer 1995. That would have made me 18 going on 19. This is the track listing:

Cambodia -- Dead Kennedys
Miss World -- Hole
A Violent Fluid -- NIN
I Palindrome I -- They Might Be Giants
Juke Joint Jezebel -- KMFDM
Dopehat -- Marilyn Manson (apparently they liked the word "dope" for song titles)
Sweet Jane -- Cowboy Junkies
Killing Game -- Skinny Puppy
How Beautiful You Are -- The Cure
Redemption Song -- Bob Marley
Lithium -- Nirvana
Serenade for Winds K.36, 3rd movement-- Mozart
Am I Wrong-- Love Spit Love
Kraut -- KMFDM
Girl -- Tori Amos
No Woman No Cry -- Bob Marley
Fake Plastic Trees -- Radiohead
Thank You -- Tori Amos
Suck (Live) -- NIN
The Dock of the Bay -- Otis Redding
Which Describes How You're Feeling All the Time -- They Might Be Giants
Yes, Anastasia -- Tori Amos
Dumb -- Nirvana

Ahem. I really WAS bored that summer. If I can recall correctly, I was home from Freshman year at college and apparently not in any way bothered by KMFDM, what with putting not one but two of their songs on my mix. Be my...sister salvation... I'm cracking up. I was spending my Saturday nights at Voodoo's, swooning over goth boys in fishnets and working in some crappy cafeteria, brooding that "no one understood". I just really want to give the young me a big hug, complement her skirt and let her know, in the most gentle way possible, that she is a loser. But that it's ok.

Also, I appear to have been into grunge, industrial, goth, 60s soul, classical, reggae and what I like to call "quirk" music. Much to my deep, deep chagrin, I let rap of that era pass me right by. I regret it. I truly do.

So there's mix tapes just like this taking up real estate in bent boxes that I carry with me from apartment to apartment and have lasted almost 20 years. I have such distinct memories attached to each of these songs, I'm so glad I have this peephole into my past. And I frankly have a hankering for some Skinny Puppy now.

Bonus points to whomever can match this post's title to one of the songs from the tape. Just read the meaning and it shouldn't be too hard.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Grubstake me!


: to provide with material assistance (as a loan) for launching an enterprise or for a person in difficult circumstances

When I started this entry, it was the word of the day. That was two days ago. I'm going to start viewing Merriam Webster's word of the day as a kind of harbinger of things to come. Turns out, I could use a grubstake. A literal one and a metaphysical one.

I missed two days of posting this month. Those two days have been lost to history. Imagine just exactly how critical the information I carried on those two days could have been. I could have lugged around wisdom unparalleled. Rucksacks swollen with brooding, boxes crammed with worry, duffle bags filled to bursting with my incessant need to put off what I could do today. Modern day classic!!

Friends, my brain is fried, my nerves are sizzled, my heart is charred, my soul sous vide. I'm cooked, through and through.

I've missed the other part of my drafting compass, the one I was promised the moment I read John Donne in high school.

And though it in the centre sit,  
    Yet, when the other far doth roam,                                
It leans, and hearkens after it,  
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must, 
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ; 
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                    
    And makes me end where I begun.

I definitely need the stalwart stick in the mud because, my peoples, I doth roam all over the damn freaking place.

In my previous online journals, I used to tag my posts with more regularity and it was always amusing to me to see how often I posted about a particular subject. There were clearly defined patterns in my daily life and I was (somewhat) more inclined to limit my complaints or at the very least, sparse them out. One of my tags was called "Money, aka the bane of my existence" and I'm reasonably certain it made the top three most frequently used tags in my journal. I don't tag this journal that often but if I did, I'd change any and all discussion of money, my lack of it, my pathetic IV bag-like dependence on it to carry the following tag: ARRGGGGHHHHH.

And just like an IV bag, I've been hungrily draining what little money I had squirreled away to do vital life functions, things like, oh I don't know, pay rent and energy bills, fill up my car with gas to get me to my part time jobs. I knew in the back of my mind it was not sustainable; this would have to do until a full time job came along. Well, five months later, no full time job is yet forthcoming and I think at approximately 10am this Monday morning, it hit me in the face. I have to look at my apartment, home for lo, these four and half years and say aloud, with feeling: I gotsta GO!

It's the where, how and why God why of it all, though. The ass kicker. I even found time this weekend to lament all the fucking shit I'm going to be missing out on this fall: friend's visits, huge life events of people I love. All because of money aka the bane of my existence, pervasive and pernicious as ever.

I might be broke now but I still harbor dreams, my darlings. Dreams are free. GIFs of dreams are also free (unless protected by copyright, in which case, let me know.) Here's my next dream, GIF style.

I'm the cat in this dream btw.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Prog rock prince

As of this typing, it is 11:24 am. Some observations about the day so far:

I have no idea how to dress for this weather. At the moment I'm wearing what I call a Seasonal Compilaton. I have capri length pants on with a blouse and a short sleeved sweater and a scarf. None of it is appropriate for the weather nor does it look right. If my outfit were a person, it would be an adolescent, still trying to figure out who she is.

I'm almost totally positive that the woman I saw at the bagel shop this morning, munching greedly on savory looking breakfast is going to get undressed tonight and just spill over with poppy seeds. They are going to rain from her body and scatter to the floor in a million pieces after hitching a ride like so many plankton. It will happen to her consternation and also, I hope, her amusement.

A library patron just asked me if we owned CDs by what is probably every single known prog rock band that ever existed. He was super annoyed that we had maybe two. Sorry, dude. The library buys according to the need of the community and unfortunately, the need for ELO, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Yes is not as in demand as you were led to believe. Apparently he comes in this library a lot and will heretofore be known as the Prog Rock Prince. In my head.

I just had to help a Spanish speaking patron with some information because out of a hefty staff in this large library, like two of us speak Spanish. Geez. When will Americans start speaking Spanish already?? Anyway, she wanted information about who was running for local office. That would normally be simple enough but there was the language barrier, her computer illiteracy and the fact that it isn't all that easy to get translated, detailed information about hyperlocal political candidates. I felt exactly like everything I was telling her was just turning into "a doy a doy a doy" by the time it reached her ears. She finally told me to give her the website and that her grandkids would help her navigate it. Someone should invent a universal translatable app for political candidates during election years. Get on that.

So far, that's all I got. With a morning like this, I can't wait to chronicle my sure to be thrilling and chilling observations of the afternoon.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


It is strange to be working a long day at two jobs on the anniversary of 9/11. For the past two years, I've made it a point to be out of the country, with my sister. Today she is out of town and I am home and I've been so busy that I spent the majority of the day with my mind in "you are forgetting something" mode. It is much easier to ignore that mode, or at least to put it on mute, when you are drinking foreign wine and pointing at exotic buildings and monuments.

I was so busy doing non-computer related things that I was spared most of the news/op-eds/armchair historian's takes on what this day means now that it didn't 13 years ago and what are all the things we should be doing instead of remembering. And even though I was working and learning and being trained all day long, I still wasn't forgetting. In the back row of my brain, all the way in the cheap seats, I saw all of it, the 13th encore.

But, just like every year, the engine had to chug along. To be completely honest, I'm more like the exhaust than engine at the moment and I've suddenly found myself at 10:30 again with nothing in my head but how little was in my head.

Quick throwback to yesterday's post. This explains why the moon was so bright last night. So, not an absurdist play after all...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In Between

I spent the entire day in the car. I drove many miles for a good reason and I just rolled home and am catching up on the days email.  The last thing I feel like doing is updating but it is Blog Everyday September. So here I am, if only to share this: On my way home, driving in an undulating sea of rearviews and red lights, the moon was so bright and yellow and low in the sky that I got the strange sensation I was visiting another planet, during some other era. The ancient moon and the modern lights with me somewhere in between. Sometimes doing something so utterly normal, like driving home, feels like it happens on the set of an absurdist play.

Maybe I'm just sleepy with nothing to say. In that case, goodnight!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spain. Again.

Sigh. Last year I was in Spain at this time. My stomach hurts at the moment and I'm cranky. I don't feel like writing at the moment so instead I'm reading.

Here's a link to my entry about my first day in Barcelona:

It took a week to write, apparently.

And that time we visited the Casa Battlo:

And I popped my pimentos de padron cherry.

Climbing Monserrat:

And the vomiting mountain kitty

And the final reposted highlight:

The first day I fell in love with Madrid

I have a long, big day tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have something write about. Maybe.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A compact life

I just spent this afternoon and early evening moving my CDs from the stands I've kept them in for about 10 years, to a compact little square that can be carried around like a suitcase. I took the opportunity to weed through the ones I never listen to, never have listened to or simply feel flabbergasted that I ever owned. I'm certain I don't have to explain my attachment to these discs; I've carried them with me over decades of my life, from one living situation to another. They have, for the past four years assumed their place inside two column like racks on the side of my fridge and it has become high time to make space and lighten the load of my life. So I made the executive decision at 2am the other morning to buy a case on ebay in which to house (and likely bury) my CD collection, such as it is. The entire endeavor only took a few hours but it took me back years.
Some observations:

  • I have a small army of marvelous people in my life who, over the last 20 or so years have made me mix CDs full of music that has pretty much comprised the DNA of my life's memories to date. I have kept every single one and will continue to do so. I even had people I NEVER MET in real life make me CDs because we were virtual friends. Thank you thank you thank you, you know who you are.
  • I have a sneaking suspicion that someone at some point just dropped off a handful of their CDs surreptitiously and left them in my collection. How else can I explain the presence of five Devandra Banhart CDs??
  • CD production and design used to be so nice. I have a special edition copy of Neon Bible that came equipped with little flipbooks of an actual neon bible and one of synchronized swimmers. The Queen anthology I got for Christmas one year has pretty remarkable photographs in the liner notes. The double album by the Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is basically a small work of art. And then there were stupidly designed ones. An old Dave Matthews Band CD has one of those magic eye pictures on the front, managing to be both dated and ugly. Though I love the album intensely, I was never a fan of the photos on Pearl Jam's Vs. cover. It actually skeeves me to this day.
  • I distinctly remember the very first CD I ever bought. It is kind of embarrassing, so please find it in your heart to forgive me: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Swing Kids. Yes, the film was utter dreck and not every recording is a gem but I must say I still thoroughly enjoy the version of Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen on that soundtrack. It reminds me of being 15.
  • I was in possession of 20 sample CDs and not one of them was good. Not one. All those poor musicians.... Also, how the hell did I get all these samples?
  • I came across the CD single by the Strokes, New York City Cops that I bought at a music store situated right next to a multiplex in Kips Bay about 10 years ago. Not 20 minutes after I bought that CD I actually saw Julian Casablancas at the movies and asked him to sign my CD. I remember being so excited by kismet. Looking at the CD now, I can barely read his scrawl. But I swear it happened. My sister will attest!
  • It is so strange to think that all my music (minus the thousands of songs I have on my iPod of course) fit into this:

Therein lies almost my entire adolescence and adult life, compact with a convenient carrying handle. 

Naturally the more organized and/or space worshiping of you will question my desire to hang on to these little silver discs at all. I tend to agree with that notion but I simply can't let them go. Not yet. Getting rid of the cases was one thing. And, true, I have most of these uploaded. But I'm an old ass lady who enjoys the tangible feel of a CD, of lying on my stomach on my bedroom floor, reading liner notes and lyrics and singing along. Really, I feel like you should just let me be.

Quick question though: what in the sam hell do I do with these jewel cases??

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Knuckle crack

In an unheard of turn of events, I went out last night. It was to see a local cover band that I had heard about through friends. Turns out they are really, really good musicians and, possibly more important for a cover band, they are pretty great showmen. They have a schtick, certainly. But it works. And judging by the fans in attendance and their loyal following on Facebook, covering songs is working for them. I fully enjoyed their rendition of "In Between Days".I know that I had fun last night because I awoke hungover and with a stomach ache. It has been awhile since that's happened but if memory serves, that's an indication of a decent time out.

I haven't gotten too much accomplished today, my one day completely off for awhile. I cleaned my kitchen, got rid of some stuff. A few weeks ago I bought Krazy Glue for the first time ever and I've been applying it to everything. Doorknobs, umbrellas, my cat. I finally got around to fixing a pendant that broke last  year in Madrid when it was yanked from my neck as I leaned over the balcony of our apartment to see the street below. That was a five story drop and I raced down to the street to get it. I think I held on to it this whole time because I was just so impressed that I was able to find it on that cobblestone, high traffic street. Thanks to old krazy glue, it is fixed. I also got around to fixing a teapot, gifted to me by my mother, that my cats had knocked over about three years ago. I am the opposite of handy and generally, when something breaks in my apartment, I hold onto the pieces "just in case" I find within myself the urge and the impetus to fix it. Even on the rare occasions when that does happen, I end up totally unable to follow through, either through laziness or total ineptitude. So when I do end up being able to piece together something that was once broken, I feel so damn good. I get so proud of myself in the exact way that a kindergartner does when she crafts a turkey out of the traced silhouette of her palm. Art! Behold the beauty below.
Gobble gobble.
In case you were wondering, Krazy Glue is not the sponsor for this post. I just wanted to chronicle a lazy, hungover afternoon during which I was able to fix things. I admit that the world outside my apartment door is a little overwhelming at the moment. It is nice to be able to slap some glue on something in pieces and to have it be mended. It is exactly like a knuckle crack: satisfying and relieving, sometimes accompanied by a sigh.

I did venture out briefly to print up copies of my writing portfolio. The shop I went to was freaking bananas with harried parents and their sleepy eyed kids, piling school supplies into their carts. My trek into the store only lasted about 10 minutes but I was getting stressed out among all those damn kids. Damn kids and their futures ahead of them with their healthy pink lungs and all brain cells accounted for....damn kids.

I think it may be time to lie down for a bit. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Dizzies

Lately, due mostly to my carousel of jobs, people mistake me for being younger than I am or at least that I'm freshly unwrapped from the factory of library school. This happens weekly. Someone at some point will ask "So, are you still in school?" and honestly, I don't know how this makes me feel. I can't assume they are asking because I look young but I want to. So I do. Instead they are likely asking because I'm a new face and I MUST be freshly graduated, else why would I be working so many part time jobs. Maybe they are just trying to start conversation. I suppose it doesn't even matter. When faced with the question I feel frazzled and dizzy and other words that describe confusion using the letter z. I do get the dizzies lately. The effects of being mistaken for a newbie, I suppose. And my schedule, oh lordy. My planner looks like a calculus textbook.

I generally have to bite my tongue when asked where I've worked before, and just what the hell it is I've been doing. The response bubbles up from the base of my throat and demands to be spat out: Does it matter? I don't want to do THIS anymore. However, not having totally lost the plot, I realize it would be unwise to say such things to a new supervisor, a budding intern, a totally content coworker. So I swallow it down.

"Where have you worked?" A million places that got me nowhere.
"Are you still looking for a full time job?" No, I fully enjoy being 11 years into my career and juggling multiple part time jobs, Professor.
"Do you know how to sign me in to Plenty of Fish?" Ugh.

Okay so that last one is from a patron. There will always be a patron in every library asking for shit like that. I suppose it gauche, complaining about this. I need to stop before I fall down the wormhole. At the very LEAST I have this work. It has kept me afloat all summer. I can't shake the knowledge though. I know there is a pinprick in the life raft though and the deflation begins in about 5 weeks. I can already hear the faint hissing.

And it's really that knowledge that has kept me so cranky these last few weeks. I approach each and every one of these work shifts mechanically. They are hours long obstacles to surpass in order to get...where exactly? I don't know. I just know that my work has become my chore. The obligation of work is the piercing, shrill alarm clock every day. Sure, work has always been an obligation for me but I suppose it didn't seem so blatant before. I suppose the fact that I needed my jobs weren't always on the forefront of my mind. I probably always just assumed that I'd be able to find another one easily. I've been disavowed of the notion.

All is not lost, however. I have an interview in the coming week that I am looking forward to. It would mean a sea change. After rereading what I've just written, it would appear that I could use one.

I'd love to go out and drink tonight. Look for me out there. You'll be able to recognize me. Just look for the lady leaning a little, dazed look on her face.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Earl, or oil




: resembling or having the properties of oil : oily; also : containing or producing oil
: marked by an offensively ingratiating manner or quality

That's the word of the day over at Merriam Webster and what a gorgeous word! I find it onomatopoeic in the best possible way.

Since I'm currently deep in the throes of my annual late summer viewing of the show Northern Exposure (I only recently realized that I rewatch this series at least once a year and always, inexplicably at the end of the summer), the word brought to mind the episode, cleverly titled "Jules et Joel". The episode is basically a fever dream of Dr. Joel Fleischman and in it he has a oleaginous (the first definition) twin brother who could not be grosser. Here's Joel as Jules or vice versa or something:

Apparently in the 90s, someone could convincingly play an alter ego by adding copious amounts of grease to one's hair.

When I Googled the phrase "oily people", roughly 100,000 Google images of women with perfect, pristine skin on their faces and shoulders pops up to accompany thousands of articles written for those of us with oleaginous skin. I fully understand people turning to the internet for skin care advice. I also fully understand people using the internet for advice on the "avoidance of oily people".

Peppered among the skin care images are visages of "oily characters" such as this one:

Poor Pete Campbell. I don't think it is an accurate word for him though. He isn't so much oleaginous mostly because he doesn't ingratiate himself after say, season one when he realizes Don Draper ain't having that, but also because he is more 1950s Yale grad in his looks than, say, Ratso Rizzo who surprisingly, wasn't on the first page of results.

Though Rizzo is likely 10 times the man Pete Campbell could be.

Also, I just realized that Dr. Joel Fleischman and Dustin Hoffman look very similar when they are oleaginous-i-fied. I think film and TV costume people honestly just add oil to actors' hair to achieve that sense. Bit on the nose, wouldn't you agree?

Today's word of the day also got me thinking about the one truly oleaginous person I've met in real life. He worked in the stock room of a bookstore where I worked a million years ago in Greenwich Village. I won't say his name because it was very unique but let's just say it was Cronus because it was actually along those lines. If I had to come up with a slogan to honor my memories of Cronus it would be to say he was an oleaginous, narcoleptic, heavy-mouth breathing, creepy, simpering blob of a man.  Every part of him was oily. He stood about 5 feet tall and brought with him a huge paunch that preceded him in every situation and atop of which he would rest his stubby, intertwined fingers while he proselytized about this or that, as though that belly was his podium and everyone in the world was his audience. 

Among many other things, he was known by the staff for breathing heavily and in the moistest way possible and for falling asleep often and without warning. One time I had to go to the stock room to ask him where something was and  he pointed half-assedly in the general direction of where I should look. I returned less than 60 seconds later to find him deeply asleep in his chair, his breathing wet and loud. He would often disappear for large amounts of time in the staff bathroom which at the time most of the rest of the staff had to chalk up to the obnoxiously large amounts of food he consumed at lunch time. What was later revealed, however, is that Cronus, responsible for unpacking all newly arrived items to the bookstore, would take some of the racier editions of magazines and hide them in a small, nondescript corner of the bathroom. These secret artifacts were discovered after his dismissal for crimes, the nature of which I can't readily recall but cannot fathom were grosser than jacking it in the staff bathroom. They surprised almost no one. 

I never think about Cronus except for right this moment and I wonder whatever became of him. He left his oily trail on my memory apparently. In fact, I would think that if nothing else, someone who is oleaginous would be memorable to most people. I mean, they'd cringe in the remembering but that's something right? 

I'm currently paranoid that my hair looks oily and so will wash it thoroughly. Thanks for keeping me clean, Merriam Webster! By the by, Noah Webster looked like this and I'll let you pass your own judgement on his 'do. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Getting fat on flav-o-fibes."

I'm posting this video in lieu of a longer post because I'm working many, many hours today and I've got a book to finish g'd it. Also, I'm feeling super silly and nothing is a better accessory to a silly  mood than my beloved Mystery Science Theater 3000. This video is edited to highlight the best scenes from one of the best episodes ever, "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three days from around ten years ago

I've mentioned (I think) before that I used to keep a journal online through another website. I don't really readily recall why I stopped writing in there except maybe I had fallen out of the habit after updating it regularly for about seven years. I'm glad I did it. I met so many wonderful people through that community, friends I met and hung out with in real life, people I dated, and those rare and wonderful friendships I maintain virtually only. I have at least five people in my online life whom I have never met in person but who I consider friends for many years. Is that odd? Maybe. But I'm happy they are there and that social media makes it so easy to maintain those virtual relationships right alongside old friends from my past and new ones from my present. Even though it is terrible, social media is wonderful.

Another thing I enjoy is mining the entries from that site. It is like peeking into my brain from 12 years ago. I'll sign into that account sporadically and I hope I'm not being annoying but I love this access to my past. I love reading about what I was doing/thinking about/wanting a decade ago. (Hint: drinking/men/men who drink). It reminds me of those halcyon days of city living and being in my twenties. Or rather, it allows me to look with considerable distance and insight at my twenties during a very unstable period in NYC when I was usually broke and depressed with halcyon colored lenses. And isn't that the same thing?

Anyway, I was digging through there today and thought for today's blog post, I'd share a few gems from various times. Apparently I wrote in almost exclusively lowercase letters back then. Excerpts from various entries are included below:

saturday evening all my cousins and their SOs and nancy piled into my hot apartment where we ate pizza and drank beer and joked about life and each other and how lucky we are. then we all piled into the hot subway where we sweated and didn't talk at all for fear of sweating more.
we arrived in soho, got our tables and drank and drank and drank until we were so full of drink that going elsewhere to drink seemed like the best idea. and we did. and then we left five minutes after arriving. (mental note: don't return to the iguana club on 55th st.)
so then on the way home at 4am from the diner, i witnessed a couple fighting. he shoved her into a car and drove off. i hope she is ok. she did beat the crap out of him before being shoved into the car so i have high hopes.

I remember this night vividly. And I never did return to the Iguana Club on 55th Street though I cannot for the life of me remember why.

i am weary of the machinations of female friendship. i am tired, tired sicktodeath of passive aggressive emails, constant introspection and self analysis and deprecation, suppression of urge in favor of even more self deprecation. i just want to ration the emotion and self loathing, save some for later, put a lid on the boiling pot, put it in a storage facility in long island city with a fucking month to month lease.

i want to hang out in a sports bar and talk about genitals and sports and swig whiskey. i want to be flattered and lauded silently through wandering eyes. i want to walk into a room and inhale testosterone.**

now where's my chewin' tobacco?

**not to be confused with body odor.

and though pablo neruda wrote this about being tired of being a man, i shall transform it to my needs as i think it applies well:

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

from walking around


I don't know for certain but I'm reasonably certain I know which of my former friends this email is about, considering we spent a huge percentage of our friendship arguing over email. Normally it didn't bother me so much but there were moments when I felt I had lost the plot and I truly craved the friendship of males for the sheer balance that creates. One is not better than the other, I don't think I ever thought that...I was just frustrated by passive aggression which is a staple with some people. I'm going to overlook the clear stereotyping I've done here because I'm still in touch with that frustration and sometimes I really do crave more male friendships. I've never really been that good at them for one reason or another.

things i did on friday:

-displayed waterworks in front of n at benny's burritos. 
-drank $3 margaritas. 
-walked around greenwich village, perused an awesome tucked away, practically fossilized book shop 1/2 the size of my apartment.
-drank some more at the slaughtered lamb just before the roof erupted in a torrent of jacuzzi water from a place above the bar. 
-contemplated what it would feel like to be electrocuted by the still on television being slowly soaked by the torrent of jacuzzi water.
-added to the trillion memories n and i have at the slaughtered lamb that are both odd and wonderful at the same time.
-waited seventeen hours for a goddamned n train to arrive and take me to astoria.
-left a stupid, drunken and emabarassing voice mail for my sister since she pissed me off so much that afternoon (and i'm still feeling bad about it)
-fell asleep, fully clothed, with one shoe on my foot.

Yep. Pretty much.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Violent melting

Summer has decided to melt away violently. I didn't think that melting was a violent action but as I entered the hot wet mouth of outside this afternoon, I felt violated, shaken awake by the burning sensation. And whiny.

We've gotten through the last three months with barely a drop of sweat but now that it's September, we are all being taken into humidity's not so loving arms. Maybe it is because we have been spoiled all summer long, maybe we are always just humongous babies about either extreme heat or extreme cold but everyone's claws are out today at the library, including mine. Also, everyone decided to strip down to their crazy to show off how hard they've been working on it allllll summer long.

An example: There is a new face has begun to "grace" the library. He listens to his iPod loudly and it is usually speed metal and he talks to himself saying things like "It is such a shame they are all going to die soon. We have a jihad." He wears fatigues and carries what looks like a legit army regulation backpack. A colleague of mine helped him set up his apple ID and he put his birth date as: 6/6/66 but he doesn't look older than 30 or so. He is not rude or anything but there is a vibration around him that communicates wordlessly the following phrase: I am going to fly off the handle any second now. Sooo, that's pleasant.

Another example: There is a woman, let's call her the lady in black, who is a regular library user of the computers for god knows what. I know you think I mean she uses this particular library's computers regularly but no. No, I mean she uses most of the 60 or so libraries in this county on a more or less daily basis. She often asks us for the phone numbers and hours of various libraries as she's leaving here, in her daily uniform of black pants (with large, gaping holes in the thighs), cowboy boots, black t-shirt, cowboy boots and baseball cap. Her phone is constantly ringing. She will walk into the library in a frantic tumble of annoying noise, ask for a computer pass and on her way to the computer area her phone will ring. She will talk loudly at god knows who for 40 seconds, hang up and the phone will immediately ring again. We have tried to overhear her conversations, something we don't really have to reach to do since she is so loud and what we've gathered is that she is in the throes of a lawsuit and is in the process of suing someone over a car. Perhaps it doesn't translate well to text but this woman is pretty much the bane of my existence at this library. She is frantic and insane and she has holes in her pants and I've seen her expansive belly protrude from her shirts like a cracked alabaster globe. She demands phone number after phone number of library after library and in 11 years in this profession, I can firmly say that no one has annoyed me more than the lady in black! I am sincerely sighing aloud with relief that, though there is still some time left to go in my shift, she hasn't yet showed up today.

The crazies have now and always will populate the local public library. It is in the DNA of such an accessible institution, as it is with the NYC subway, bus stations and every gym I've ever visited. It just seems like they are on hyperdrive right at this moment. I don't normally feel unsafe behind the reference desk and honestly that probably has more to do with the physical barrier between me and the rest of the public (even if that "barrier" is waist high and easily breached). But on days like today when the crazy feels amplified and the sweaty masses just drip in those front doors, it just feels ominous. And it literally stinks.

Whenever I get nostalgic about my career, that is, the career as I imagined it would be when I was fresh out of library school, I just remember days like this, when the sweaty masses seem inflated to the point of bursting. I recollect easily that time a woman threw a computer monitor clear across the room, that time I was verbally harassed by a patron for not allowing him a fourth hour on the computer, that (those many) time(s) parents left their children at the library long past closing time and I just the strongest urge to violently melt into a puddle under the desk, forever losing contact with the crazy.

Then again, if this kind of crap didn't happen, what on earth would I have to write about on this, day 2 of Blog Every Day September?

Oh good, the lady in black is here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

LOFTE Syndrome

It is ironic that the acronym for "Blog Every Day September" is BEDS because on this, the first day of September, I have not left my bedroom and in fact have only just now, at 4:45 pm, have I changed out of my pajamas. I am not ashamed of this sequence of non-events; I am in fact in need of a day encased inside my pajamas, doing only a little at a time, like someone recovering from a long illness. The only long illness I've had recently is lack of full time employment (LOFTE Syndrome) and I don't need my pajamas to recover from that. I am, in fact, typing this from my bed...though I did eventually get dressed.

Anyway, I'm attempting to blog every day this month just because it is something to do that isn't in the name of procrastinating doing something else. That's as good a reason as any if you ask me, and because you are reading this blog post, you asked me. So there.

All laziness aside, I woke up this morning with an inexplicable feeling of optimism. It defies normal logic. There really hasn't been any tangible reason for a sudden shift in my normal mostly pessimistic with a dollop of optimism way of thinking. It isn't really a symbolic day for new beginnings (though Labor Day has always been viewed with dread by my mother as the beginning of the cold, dying and dead seasons) and it isn't like everyone is off from work today. We as a country still have the uncanny, greedy ability to force people to work on even Labor Day. I can't really pinpoint why I'm feeling so good. I suppose at some point during my lifetime, I'll learn to not analyze good things; it always spoils them.

I did get a few things accomplished without having to leave my bedroom. I filled two large garbage bags with clothes and shoes to give away. I've lightened my load. Maybe that's contributed to my metaphysical lightness, who can say? I've recently realized that I will soon have to move, for one reason or another. Either I'll get another job, requiring me to relocate or my lease will finish by February and as such, I need to not have a bunch of crap I don't use/need on hand. I prefer doing the activity of moving a little at a time than to wait until the night before and stuff things into boxes at random in exhaustion. Nothing good has ever come of that. Just ask the me of my college years when it was de rigueur to get blitzed the night before summer break, having not packed a single item in preparation of leaving the dorms at 8am. Basically what I learned from cleaning out these two bedroom closets is that I have a lot of crap that I don't need or use. You learn something new every day.

That is pretty much all I have to say about today which frankly, is kind of impressive since I didn't leave my bedroom. Expect thrilling adventures for the rest of September. Well, expect me to leave my bedroom. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I don't really know why I even notice it anymore, but each month there is a day when I'll open my mailbox to discover that I have received yet another magazine belonging to a subscription for which I have never, ever paid. My surprise is always doubled: surprise for the receipt of the magazine again and surprise at my surprise. How else could I be expected to react? I am the owner of a phantom magazine subscription rife with glossy pages and glossy models who look nothing like me, wearing clothes I don't just want, I covet.
Every month the issue arrives, unbidden and loosely wrapped in unnecessary plastic in my mailbox for me to give a cursory glance and then leave at various points along my daily route. I'd call to cancel it but I always forget about them until the day the magazine arrives, after which I immediately forget again. I also enjoy that I'm getting something for nothing. I'm only human.

That's not why I started this blog entry. And I started it two days ago. I can't focus in even the slightest ways. Just now, I started this sentence and got distracted by a meme on Facebook, a couple dozen chats on Gmail and on my neverending quest to see how tightly I can squeeze my cat. Don't get me wrong, being unemployed full time has been a great boon to the amount of time I get to be home in the middle of the day (and that has never been a bad thing) but I am in desperate need to enact some kind of structure in the absence of a 9-9 workday. In an effort to jumpstart my productivity, I actually wrote down a schedule for myself.

Dramatic recreation.
And I kept to it. I feel somewhat accomplished, despite the fact that "Finish blog entry" was the most important thing to get done and it is one of the last things I'm accomplishing. But as I once heard on the television in the 90s "It's not the the thing you fling, it's the fling itself." And I'm flinging all over the place. Honestly that philosophy just gives me a free pass regarding the quality and substance of this entry. But I digress.

A couple of random thoughts:

  • I'm reading a book by Gary Shteyngart and it is making super maxi ultra aware of what a crappy writer I am. Seriously. I'd advise you to pick up one of his books and take a bite out of just one chapter and then let the prose dissolve in your mouth, slowly. Treat the words just like a piece of your favorite hard candy and make out with it for a little while so it leaves an aftertaste. You won't be sorry.
  • Last Friday I went to the first of two Arcade Fire shows and for two straight hours I danced and laughed and sang along and everything was exactly in its right place. I fucking love that band with an unabashed, unapologetic open heart. I don't ever do that so it felt really, really good. When Buster Poindexter joined the band as a surprise guest to sing "Hot Hot Hot", bouffant hairdo intact, I felt just like the doughy, bespectacled kid I used to be. Do you know that feeling? That almost impossible to get back to happiness? Ironically, Arcade Fire's entire oeuvre is about that very thing in one form or another.Well it happened right then and since that show I've felt a buzz inside my head, my heart, my lungs, my stomach...all the feeling organs. What on earth do I do with it?
  • The show ended with this song. And it looked just like this:

        Only I was under all that confetti. I looked up to the ceiling as it fell on all of us, blissfully unaware that a          large percentage was falling down my dress, sticking to my damp skin, burrowing inside my hair.

  • I just don't know if the rest of everyday life can compare to moments like that. I've noticed so far this week that the colors have been muted and it gets dark a lot earlier than it did last week. I've got no one event coming down the pike so I have to invent ways to keep the confetti pouring (down my dress?). I suspect that life is clearing my calendar for some reason. Good thing I've only just learned to write schedules for myself.