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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A few things I'm doing...

Wanting: To have a regular schedule with a regular paycheck and regular regularity. I have a sneaking suspicion that I gently placed my regular brain into the cardboard box alongside my office detritus on the day I was let go. I have been feeling a steady stream of locationless ennui, peppered with the quasi-existential panic of not being able to pay rent in a month. I realize that there is a segment of the population that is okay with this type of non-schedule schedule. They are the types that generally freelance, own their own business and do assorted other awesome things. I am not of that ilk. My life has thus far unraveled accidentally and I always just assumed that whenever I ended up doing something, it was by mere chance. At the very least, when I think about my major life decisions, I made them without much torturous debate or real consideration of the consequences. I've been lucky (?) so far. But this lifelong pattern has just turned into me cooling my heels while waiting for something to accidentally happen or a choice to present itself rather than me going to actively look for it. What a maroon.

Watching: Pretty much nothing consistent. I realized that last year I painstakingly chronicled every film I watched. I can't offhand remember the number I landed on by year's end but if I'm going to compare last year's list with this year, I'm going to cringe at the dearth of film in my year. I have seen some great things this year but I miss the quantity. Isn't that the old adage about everything worthwhile? "It's not the quality but the quantity." No wait, I might be getting it confused with capitalism.

Excited about: Arcade Fire. In two weeks I'm spending the weekend with my favorite band by going to two (possibly three) of their live shows here in New York. The tickets for the first show were bought nine months ago in the middle of the night when Lauren texted me to say that American Express had put them on pre-sale. That half asleep euphoria of buying something I really want, in a way that felt (and likely was not even a little bit) exclusive, coupled with the wait of so many long, long, Win Butler-less days has reached a fever pitch. These shows will mark my sixth and seventh time seeing them live so it isn't as though this is a new experience. I am just a superfan. An old ass superfan.

Sorting through: Page after page after page of tiny scrap papers with dollar amounts written haphazardly. This is not an exaggeration. Over the last week or so, I have found so many different slips of paper embedded with my frantic handwriting as I try to figure out my current budget and project some sense of calm onto my future budget, a task that is becoming more and more difficult as the weeks melt away. Here's evidence:

I just found those in the back pocket of my purse.

What makes me laugh about this is that the numbers are totally useless approximately one minute after I write them down. My bank account is like a moving river...that flows downstream. Also, if this ephemera is what will comprise my estate after I've passed away, I think posterity might consider me a crazy person.

Dreaming of:  Traveling. It has become a frequent habit of mine to look up travel deals, price out tickets and Airbnb rentals despite my dwindling bank account. It is an exercise in both masochism and futility but it is also temporary. I keep checking for flights to Stockholm, Peru, and Iceland. I asked the Magic Eight Ball if my visiting any of these locations in the next year seemed likely. It said "Not Bloody Likely" and I swear I heard faint, yet mocking laughter somewhere in the distance.

Monday, August 4, 2014


There are so few days in my life where I know exactly what I need and want. I'm usually only certain of one thing and that is that I will generally wake up feeling that I am lacking something. It is probably a first world problem curse: the luxury to introspect, the gall to declare "not enough". However, as one hearty seaman once told the world, "I yam what I yam."

Anyway, today is not one of those days. I know exactly what I need and want. In no particular order:

  • A really long, confusion inducing nap
  • A flavored seltzer
  • Exactly eight more pairs of Advil or Alleve
  • Some sort of food item wrapped in a tortilla 
  • The removal of any library patron complaining about any arbitrary thing, especially when what they are really complaining about is not being able to get what they want, when they want it
  • A brief respite from the faded sort of general unease that accompanies every good feeling
  • An ice cold sidecar
(ETA: I wrote that introductory paragraph on Saturday morning and not a goddamned thing has changed today, a Monday afternoon.)

In pursuit of that penultimate bulleted point, let me relive some good feelings and tell you about what a wonderful birthday gift I got from my sister and friend this year. They took me to see the Cabaret revival currently on Broadway. To say it was wonderful would sound incredibly trite, but I have never mastered the art of writing about music. (Sincerely, how do people do that? How can you write about music without succumbing to a litany of comparisons to the things that came before it? I digress.) The set design and the audience design is so evocative that, had it not been for the proliferation of tourists in their "dress up" khakis, it would have been easy to believe we were having drinks at the Kit Kat Club. And as we all know, in there "life is beautiful." At least during Act One.

Cabaret is one of my favorite musicals of all time and I have seen the film version countless times. I feel a little like Sally Bowles whenever I paint my nails green ("I think it's pretty!") and the story never fails to surprise and move me. I hadn't known that no one else in my group knew anything about the show and I'm glad I didn't give away the ending beforehand. What I noticed, however, is that there were certain members of the audience who might have benefited from knowing the ending beforehand, considering that they were unable to pick up on pretty obvious cues that story changes dramatically from Act One to Act Two. There were still people catcalling Alan Cumming as he makes his final, heartbreaking appearance. Did I ever mention how terrible and stupid most people are?

Anyway, it was another fantastic birthday gift by the fantastic people I have in my life. I'll hold on to the memory during tomorrow, my actual birthday, when I'm not doing anything apart from applying to more jobs and working in the evening while simultaneously getting older and saggier.

Like clockwork, the balance of the universe makes itself a major plot point in the everyday things I observe throughout the day. This afternoon, on the eve of me getting older, I am at work in the young adult room. I witnessed a group of 16 year olds (that would mean they were born in the same year I graduated college) interacting with each other. One of the girls was wearing a Nine Inch Nails tshirt, waxing rhapsodic about the concert she attended recently. One of the boys said "I've been spending some time with 1984." He meant Orwell's dystopian novel. He said that today's dystopian novels paled in comparison. When his friend approached the group he said "Do you know 1984?" to which his friend replied, "The Van Halen album?" Another kid, on not being able to remember the name of a song said "I better get my AARP application ready." And yet another kid, later on, imitated Beavis' Cornholio routine. I felt a bit dizzy and displaced, as though I were watching a scene from a teenage movie about the 90s. I felt dizzier still in the realization that enough time has passed to make my youth and everything in it retro to these teenagers. The world of my early years is so old that it is idolized and referenced by a new generation. While it made me so happy that some of the best things are the things that seem to have staying power (pleated, tapered pants notwithstanding), such a realization (and on the eve of my birthday!!) must needs be the catalyst for feeling like...well maybe it is better if I express how I feel in the language of today, photographs:

Happy birthday to me!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pleasant, detached

As per usual during my more unfocused, grappling times, I've clocked an inordinate amount of time scouring the dusty corners of the internet, a few of those anvil heavy reference sources that I never think about unless I've completely  run out of things to look at. I've been searching for things like population densities of different areas of New England (in case I ever wanted to move to Littleton, New Hampshire), the Occupational Outlook Handbook (for median salaries of people who type out captions for television networks...not much, in case you were wondering), (for my weekly dose of existential dread) and, of course, cat videos on YouTube ( I am only human, after all.) I'll let you work out which of those is most amusing, but what what most consumes my time: apartment listings.

I'm not ready to move by any means; I usually never am. But even when I'm freshly moved into a place, I still rummage through apartment listings during down times. It might qualify as a hobby at this point. I do this for many reasons. As I've discussed at length in this blog, I am perpetually restless. I'm coded that way and I like the possibility that there is a vacant apartment available to me, in my price range, just a phone call away. Aside from the thrill I get from seeing inside living spaces of strangers, (I especially enjoy photos of places where the previous tenant has not yet moved out and it looks like a Saturday morning after a true Friday night with scattered shoes and and crumpled clothing everywhere, a half empty bottle of Pepsi on the nightstand, a palpable image of regret and unshowered living), I imagine that the descriptions are rife with hidden meanings and metaphors. I like to project the apartment descriptions onto the landlord or to the previous tenant or to who I'd be after a few months of living there.

Affordable, bright and spacious!
Clean clean clean!
Includes all!
Separate Dwelling!
Sunny and Large!
Brand New!

The saddest one is:

No pets.

The best one is:

Pleasant, detached

I would be interested in starting a business that wrote apartment ads for a nominal fee. I'd employ thesauri and foreign languages. I'd consult the great American songbook for lyrics to describe basement apartments.

How does this apartment make you feel?
Well sir, all I can say is if I were a bell
I'd be ringing!!

There's gotta be an untapped market there. I mean, particularly for places like this from The Worst Room:

Newark, NJ $440.00

"No windows or door I will cover the doorway with a curtain of your choice"
"Width 5 1/2 feet, Length 7 1/2 feet"

 could instead read:

"Smooth, creamy walls adorn this hushed, arcadian paradise. Have open access in your life with this unobstructed dwelling. Dynamic amenities include brand name, special edition appliances for all meals of the day. I have not said all! You will have more choices in fabrics for your singular curtain than Jay Gatsby had pastel shirts.

 Good things come in small packages!

Where do I sign?!