Sunday, January 30, 2005

Midnight Madness

Midnight, woken by the sound of the Sex & the City theme song. Not surprising, considering I'd fallen asleep watching an episode, but I'd also used the sleep timer so the tv was off. Nope, this was the ringer of my cell phone in the other room. (Yeah, I know. Whatever.)

Not very many people have my cell phone number, and all of them have my regular number, too, but still in my wild imagination it was an emergency, even though my regular phone was silent beside the bed. Can't just hop out of bed, though. By the time I got the boot on and lobbed into the living room, it had gone to voice mail.

Wrong number. Now I'm awake. And pissed. Even when I am doing everything right (except turning down the volume of my ringer I suppose) I can't get a good night's sleep.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

More, Because I Can't Shut Up

Cable Modem update: woke up at 2:50 Wed morning to go to the bathroom, came back and turned on the tv, as I sometimes do, to drown out the inexplicable building noises (mice!) and lull myself to sleep. (It's why man created sleep timers on remotes.) A commercial for Verizon DSL high-speed internet. I can't get DSL, as Verizon has yet to wire my neighborhood for it. (It took the cable company many many months to wire us for digital, too - unfathomable as I am in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Brooklyn.) So all of my troubles with my cable modem have been even more troublesome because I have no other high-speed alternative. The Verizon commercials, therefore, are annoying.

As if on cue, my cable modem started flashing. (Jealousy?) I waited, frozen dumb. It had been over 4 days since the last service call, and I really thought that he'd figured out the problem this time. I couldn't sleep, lay awake for an hour, opening my eyes every couple of minutes to ascern that it was, yes, still flashing (which indicates no service.) Finally at 4:30 I called TWC, and their automated phone system was down (yay! I hate not having an option other than to use voice recognition. Sometimes, like for example late at night, I don't want to speak out loud in short burts - "New" "Cable Modem" "Connection Problem" - I'd rather press buttons) so I immediately got a service rep, who told me that internet service was out in all of Brooklyn/Queens. So it wasn't just me.

Now, nothing has happened since then, so I'm willing to accept that was a fluke, and that all is okay with my modem. But it's amazing how quickly that blinking light can stress me out...

Work update: Spent most of the 8-5 workday on the computer yesterday, being fairly productive, although not proactively. Was really happy when 5 came and I could shut down, though. At least, shut down that window - of course then I just switched to doing personal stuff!

Mobility update: Last night, ordered Thai food, put on the boot, and went downstairs. Walked a half block to mail some letters, walked back, got my mail, waited for the delivery guy. Carried the bags upstairs with relative ease. Today I am thinking of trying a trip to Starbucks or the alternative coffee place - I have reading/work to do for the Gotham course, plus just need to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. It's supposed to be a high of 35, which might mean wet sloppy slushy sidewalks/streets, so I don't know. I hate being fucking weather dependent.

Gotham update: Class is going well. The feedback I got on my posted story was good, some different insight than I'd gotten before (I workshoppped it both with my usual group & in Belize.) Overall, I am impressed with the intelligence of the other classmates and the level of discussion. One guy drives me crazy, but I'm starting to figure out how to ignore him. His was the other story posted in week 1, and I had a hard time finishing it. There are 3 this week, and I am hopeful that they will be better!

Boot 2

The boot is a godsend. With it, I can walk almost painlessly. (The first step or so hurts, until I get into the rolling gait that the curved bottom produces.) It wasn't so great on the stairs, though, yesterday. It's much longer than the step so I wind up placing it sideways. I have an odd relationship with stairs; I've lived in this third floor walkup for almost 11 years, and I still have problems if both my hands are full and I can't hold the railing on my way up or down. I definitely can't climb if I'm carrying something so bulky that I can't see my feet on the steps as well. (Not very helpful for assisting with people's moves. Not that it happens very often. Or likely, in a very specific case, ever again. Sigh.)

Someday, I'll tell that story. Maybe soon, since the fact that there is someone in this apartment building that used to be a friend of mine is suddenly weighing heavily on me, considering how helpful she could be right now.

Friday, January 28, 2005

the Boot

Yesterday morning, on the way from the gym to the office, feeling really proud of myself because I got up early and worked out, I stepped off a curb into what I thought was an inch of slush, misjudged the height, twisted my ankle, and fell. There were a couple of people around who asked if I were okay, and I stood and said, yes, in that way you do when you're embarrassed and just want to move on. But then, moving on really hurt. I picked my bag up from the slush puddle and started walking and every step killed. But what to do? There weren't any more people around so I kept walking toward the office, figuring I was closer to there (5 blocks) than home (12) and could get help there. My right foot really hurt, but I couldn't think of what else to do. Call someone in the office? Nobody is in before me. Call 911? Seemed overdoing it.

I won't get into the whole sorrid tale right now, but it involves some really nice helpful people (the medical and security staff at work) some really rude people (the x ray technician who stood there and watched as I struggled to carry my gym bag as I hopped down the long corridor to the examining room after waiting 2 + hours) and a verdict that it wasn't broken, but a badly sprained ankle. My regular doctor sent me to an orthopedic surgeon who gave me a boot - one of those big plastic/velcro strap things - that I have to wear for 4 weeks. Yay - four weeks of wearing only one shoe and my pant leg rolled up! But I can at least walk now with some degree of ease. A real comfort, as I live in a third floor walkup, without a buzzer system to let anyone in, so even if I order takeout I have to walk down to get my food and back up two flights to eat it.

I am working from home for now, probably returning to work on Monday. My sleep has been more disturbed than usual - can you tell? I'm blogging at 3 am - and I can't wait for the weekend when I don't have to check work email or deal with any of that. I'm sure I'll have more to share then, too. (Maybe even a photo of the Boot!)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Still snowing

I think it is, although most of the snow outside my window is moving sideways and even up. So it might be the wind. The street is not plowed right now - though it's been driven on. I live on a fairly major Brooklyn street - buses, trucks, etc. come by regularly. It's almost completely silent this morning, though in the distance I hear the "beep-beep" of a truck backing up. It's almost musical although I'm sure the driver isn't seeing it that way.

I don't think I'll attempt to go to church today (it's a 15 block walk) but mostly because I might be the only one to show up! I do want to try to get to the gym but I'll call to see if they are open later. For now, it's me and my computer, home alone.

According to urban legend, there is a spike in births nine months after a blizzard (or blackout) keeps people homebound. For us single folk, just a flurry of blog entries.

I keep turning my head to look out the window. It's mesmerizing.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Under 12 Feet

It's still coming down. Pretty impressive. Also a bit weird - since it's a Saturday, and there was plenty of warning, everyone is just hiding inside their apartments waiting. I wonder if the movie theater stayed open - I can practically see it from my bedroom window, but I didn't look. That would have been a thing to do. I'm going stir crazy because yesterday I worked from home, which is fun and comfy and productive, but also sooo solitary. When it's followed by a snowed-in at home day, I'm pretty desparate for human interaction. So much so, I made some phone calls to people I usually avoid because they are long-winded talkers.

Good weekend to get into the online writing class. Although this week, there are only 2 stories to provide a critique, and one of them is mine. The other was incredibly difficult, both to read and to comment on. Luckily other people who commented before me said what I thought so I'm not alone in thinking the guy is just an over-the-top writer.

Of course he commented on mine already, and said something I completely disagree with yet am not allowed to address. (Writers must keep mum till all comments are in - and then can only ask 1-2 follow up questions, no defensive responses.) My narrator is a 11-year old girl who's just moved from suburbia into the big city. In one scene, she climbs out onto the fire escape to read. The other writer pointed out that the words I used to describe the parts of the fire escape were wrong, and wondered why the girl called them what she did. Well, you see, she's eleven. And I've lived in Brooklyn for 10 years and I'm 42, and I don't know what their official name is - why would she?

(Who, me, defensive?)

Cable modem update - the guy who came this time discovered that there was an ineffective splitter, which turned out to be not in my apartment but in the backyard. He spent 30 minutes out there and felt confident that he fixed it for good. Yeah, so did the other guys - but this time I'm feeling better because nobody else even bothered to check anything outside of the apartment. So maybe it will work this time. The problem is that since it has been an intermittent problem, I can't know it's fixed until a while goes by without a problem. Absence of evidence is a very unsatisfying way to prove something.

I opened a new iTunes account using my PayPal account, and got 5 free songs. So of course I went browse-shopping and downloaded 11 songs. I'm addicted.

Little Children

So, I finally finished the book. (And immediately lent it to a friend who saw I had it. I wasn't really recommending it, I frankly just want another opinion.) My overall feeling is that it didn't work. There was no suspense - from the very start, when the former child molester is introduced, you know that his path will cross with one or more of the main characters. As the author aligned several of them in the last few chapters to send them into each other's way, I really thought maybe there would be a payoff and was sorely disappointed at how empty the ending was. Another disappointment was the characters themselves. There were multiple POVs, which is really difficult to pull off. The author just couldn't do it - there was little difference in the voice of one vs. another (even the child molester.) I never felt that I was in anyone's head, or even understood his or her motivation. Two characters are supposed to be having a hot torrid affair - really? The author kept telling us that, but nothing in the way they acted or thought about each other seemed to support any real feelings. Everything was very much on the surface, and so I just didn't care about them very much.

I went back to reading "The Namesake" which I really like, although the story spans so much time that it's like a series of shorter stories. Here there are also multiple narrators, but only three (so far), and they are very fleshed out and distinct. One of the things I love most about her writing is the details she uses to set a scene - the colors of the carpet, the way the sun streams in the windows, the specific types of food on the table. I'm not done yet, so I'll have more to say, but it's a relief to be loving the writing again as I read.


That's what they say. Right now it's been 3 hours of thick snow, maybe 3 inches accumulated already. I went out this morning to get some groceries - usual Saturday stuff, but with a sense of urgency, since one of them was coffee and another coffee creamer. I can bundle up and walk out on the snowy sidewalks (and enjoy it) but not if stores are closed. I had forgotten that panicked pre-storm anxiety that hits people until I saw the long lines at the organic food store, and a woman came in gasping, "Do you have milk?"

I got home just before the snow started. (Without milk. I hate milk. Luckily, I am not supposed to have too much dairy, so it's good for me to hate it. The thought of drinking a tall glass of white milk with a meal makes me feel ill. But I bet the frantic woman would not put soy creamer in her coffee, either.

So it's a Saturday trapped inside - perfect for writing, reading, cleaning - I could be reading and critiquing the story due for my online class, scanning more of Aunt H's pages, finishing the photo album I owe Mom for Christmas, cleaning out my file cabinet, taking a nap, doing yoga with one of the many yoga DVDs I own, but no, I'm just sitting here listening to NPR and doing a computer jigsaw puzzle. Hopeless!

At least I haven't turned on the tv. Although there is that episode of Carnivale I taped that I need to watch...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Doing the Cable Guy

I can't even believe it, but I had to call TWC last night - the cable modem went out again. They've sent a technician 3 times, each time something has been replaced that will fix it, and it still doesn't work 24/7. So I told the guy I had no reason to call accept to bitch and moan at him, since apparently there is nothing they are able to do to fix this, and should I just accept that their service is intermittent and shitty? The customer service guy was incredibly supportive, let me rant, didn't talk down to me, tried to be helpful, and told me I have every right to be frustrated. Okay, but how does that help? I don't know. I let him talk me into another service call on Friday, although I'm not sure what that's supposed to achieve.

If it weren't for the fact that a different technician shows up each time, I'm sure my neighbors would think I'm doing the TWC guy. Unless they just think I'm doing ALL of them.

Monday, January 17, 2005


Woke up to snow. Who knew? Oh, yeah, my mother, who called twice last night from work, because at work they get the weather channel (at her house they can't even get cable.) She saw that the city is getting snow today and wanted me to remind her what time my brother's plane is landing. So she can worry some more, I suppose.

I slept interrupted from 11:30 to 6:45. Yay! And then managed to crawl back into bed and spend another hour and a half in semi-almost-sleep (the good kind, that is relaxing, not the tossing and turning kind.) The trade off is I had a dream about Harvey Kietel. Yeah, I don't know either.

Does the snow really muffle sound? Or is it just that there is less street traffic because the roads are still slippery? Don't know, but I'd hate to think I need an overnight snowfall to be able to sleep. They should make those noise machines to emulate the sound of falling snow.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


If you're not careful, "Full House" can pop onto your tv without warning, especially when you only have Nick at Nite on to drown out the apartment sounds that you're afraid are mice, and you're not really watching "Wings" or "Fresh Prince" or "Cosby" but are only semi-aware of the tv at the edge of your periphiral vision (and kind of like the distant laugh track as you're typing.) And then that theme song comes on and it's a frenzy to find the remote before that danged station wagon hits the Golden Gate Bridge and all hell breaks loose.

Harold & Kumar (& Doogie)

Last night I rented "Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle," and I liked it. Not loved it - a little too much of the frat boy/potty humor, I think. Also, for most of the time I could believe that all of this was happening to these guys in one night, but there was one or two scenes where it veered off too far for me to suspend my disbelief. (Kumar in the operating room. The guys driving all over NJ and running into the same people in every town.) Other than those few times, the piling on of bizarre adventures worked for me. It felt somewhat like "After Hours," which is one of my favorite movies of all time, and which has a similar "Oh, I thought that was bad, until this happened!" progression.

Weirdness: Neil Patrick Harris playing himself, as a drug-crazed party boy loner. Yeah. I watched an interview with him in one of the extras, and he said he was flattered to get the script and see that he'd been written in. His only concern was that there not be too many Doogie Howser jokes. Guess being portrayed as a guy who has sex with two half naked women through the sunroof of a moving car is okay, as long as they aren't calling him Doogie. (Insert your own "doing it Doogie-style" joke here.)

And the actor playing Harold? I don't know him from the American Pie movies (which he apparently is in, but I've only seen the first), but he was in "Better Luck Tomorrow" which I just saw on HBO this week. In that film he was the sleazy ubercool boyfriend - quite different from the shy, insecure Harold. Nice surprise to see his range. I want to see him in something else, but not the Pie movies. (Please.)

"Better Luck Tomorrow" is a weird film. It gets pretty intense and violent, but there is something compelling about its characters: smart, middle class Asian boys who don't fit in with the white boy cliques and are bored with their easy lives and so become essentially a criminal gang, complete with drugs and hookers and guns. The lead actor is extremely cute, too. Yes, I'm shallow. What can I say? It was produced by MTV films.


That big plan to use this 3 day weekend to catch up on sleep? Not working. I tried staying up a bit later last night (Sat), thinking it might help me sleep in, but I was up at 4:45, managed to fall sleep again until just 5:30 and have been up since. At least if this keeps up, I can start going to the gym before work...

Saturday, January 15, 2005


I think this blog kinda sucks. It's not funny and not very interesting - who cares about my whining? But I don't stop. One of these days I'll just delete all the previous posts and start over. And they'll all be terribly witty and imaginative.

Brooklyn House of Detention

It's been a weird and edgy week. Workload stress + work people stress + inability to sleep stress. It's Saturday, the start of a 3 day weekend - I should be happy! But no "Yay". Last night I was up at 2:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30, after which I just stayed up. I have TWC coming between 10-12 to "fix" my cable modem (it will be the third service call, so my faith is somewhat diminished.) I've been waiting for this appointment for almost 3 weeks, and for the most part all has been smooth sailing during that time. Last night I came home and it was out! I was almost happy, since this meant that there would be something for them to evaluate. (Usually it's running fine when they are here, of course, and then it dies and I call them and by the time I can get an appointment it's okay again.) Sometime between 5:30 - 6:30 it came back on, though. I'm tempted to try to reboot it (that always throws it into a tizzy for hours) just before they're due to come.

So, yeah, a potential 4 hours of sitting & waiting for TWC. I'm almost thinking it would be best if they came closer to the end of that time because I have a short story to edit for my writing group! Plus my online workshop starts next week so I should look at the handful of stories I'm in the midst of revising. And, of course, scanning of Aunt H's memoirs... listening to NPR and scanning memoir pages is very relaxing. Well, listening to NPR and doing jigsaw puzzles on my computer is even more relaxing, but I think I can be productive today.

An example of how upsetting the week was: the other night, I was walking home from work along the usual route. My office is 17 blocks from home - pretty much along busy commercial streets, except one stretch that passes some court buildings and the Brooklyn House of Dentention. I'm never scared there because it's along a fairly busy street with constant traffic, and the building itself is surrounded by security cameras, even though they are doing some construction or something so there's also scaffolding covering the sidewalk making it a bit dark. Anyhow, I'm trotting along deep in thought, and a clump of teenagers comes toward me, laughing and goofing. One of them, a tall boy, jumps in my face and yells, "Bwaaah!" (The "gotcha!" sound. You know.) It wasn't really scary, just startling, like a friend might do to you when they catch you off guard (although never really that funny then, either, is it?) I jumped and said something like, "Jesus!" and the kids just lost it laughing, and whooping as they walked past. Then I just freaked out. Why the hell was that funny? Why did they pick me? What is wrong with people that they find humor in causing a stranger to be afraid/uncomfortable/threatened? I was mad, too, and when I got to the corner I looked around for a cop or security guard, without really knowing what good that would do. Is it illegal to scare people? I just wanted to do something to make them realize they couldn't do shit like that.

And then, as I walked the next 3 blocks to the gym, I just started to cry. (That would have made them really laugh, I suppose.) No real reason, just "Fuck, I've had a really bad week, and now this?" I tried to cover when I got to the gym but the woman at the entry desk probably thought I was a nutcase.

But I worked out pretty hard, and it felt good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I just had a major meltdown, and I don't know why. I'm tired from work and a busy weekend - probably just overtired. I decided to pay bills/balance accounts on Microsoft Money and downloaded my checking account info only to find 4 transactions from Monday which I didn't recognize. All were credit to J&R Music World. I kept remembering the first time I used my new debit card, and the woman behind the counter put it in as credit card and then said, "oh, it will go through, I don't want to do it again." I started imagining her lazy ass now using my card all over the place... anyhow, I called the bank and got one of those nice customer service guys with the Texan accent (we've moved lots of jobs there) and he was really nice and then put me on hold as he was trying to do something with the comptuer and I looked back on the bank's page proper, and none of those transactions were with J&R. Damn fucking MS Money imported them wrong - and all of them were valid transactions over the weekend that were just booked on Monday. I'm tired - it doesn't feel like I was at Barnes & Noble just three days ago, okay? Anyhow, I started apologizing to the guy and he was really nice and said not to worry, and it's excellent that I track things so well, and thanked me for doing business with my employer. (Yeah, well, I had to or they wouldn't give me direct deposit for payroll.) I hung up the phone and started bawling. Why? Because someone was nice to me? Because I was all freaked out about something I didn't need to be, and crying released the tension? Or because I'm just tired tired tired? I don't know.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Stupid Poll

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
I went to a foreign country with a group of strangers
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't like resolutions (doesn't everyone say that about now?) but I always set goals. No, I didn't get published, but I did focus more on my writing, and I did find a job. (Not sure if that was a goal, but I WAS unemployed last January.)
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! I have a new neice, and a new nephew! Plus a handful of friends also have new babies.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my great aunt.
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
Publication credits. A bonus.
7. What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The babies' birthdays, the Belize trip, my first official day at work.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Giving up caffeine. Actually, scratch that, it's still the Belize thing.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Gaining weight.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Same old.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
i-Pod mini.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The many people who focused on protesting the war, etc.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed disgusted?
The loser in the white house.
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to Belize.
16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
None in particular.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) same b)fatter c) richer (I was unemployed, remember)
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Before I started working again, I should have written more and worked more shifts at the coop to fill up my bank.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Procrastinating. Eating.
20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
This question obviously dates this survey and points out what a procrastinator I really am.
21. Did you fall in love in 2004?
22. How many one-night stands?
23. What was your favourite TV program?
Nothing really dislodges The Amazing Race (though Jonathan is trying), but Lost definitely has been my new favorite show.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate? Nah. No longer speaking to? Yup. But, sadly, she's the one that stopped speaking to me. So maybe I'm the hated in her book. Dunno.
25. What was the best book you read?
I read so many, and can't remember when I read them. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night? Definitely up there.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
i-Tunes. The Garden State soundtrack.
28. What did you want and not get?
29. What was your favourite film of 2004?
Sideways, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Maria of Grace.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was busy preparing for the Belize trip. I was the same age as I am today.
31.What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying?
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
If it fits, wear it. Seriously, the new office is dressier so I've gone shopping a bit - very much a Jones NY type of year.
33. What kept you sane?
the internet
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmm... not sure how to Americanize that - which did I have a crush on, or which did I idolize? I tend to hate anyone who's in the public eye for stupid reasons or for too long. That's pretty much all of them. I don't care about Nick and Jessica. I have no interest in Britney's wedding or whether or not she wears shoes in gas station restrooms.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election.
36. Who did you miss?
My great aunt. JFK and JFK, Jr. - I got a copy of the old comedy album, First Family, made by JFK impressionist Vaughan Meader in 1962. We had it when I was a kid, so I remember some of the jokes. Today it's shiveringly poignant - especially one sketch, with Jackie and Jack in 1996, reflecting on their lives.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
People in my new office.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004.
Find joy.
39. What can you predict for 2005?
Bush will fuck something up.

Inspiration Week

When I was in college, all of the fraternities and sororities ended their pledge season with something known as "Hell Week" - except mine. We were, by reputation, the nice, smart, fat (though that became less of an association during my 3 years in residence - not to my credit of course), goody-goody girls. The fact that we called our Hell Week "Inspiration Week" didn't help. It was a rule of our national governing body, and since we were the only one of the three sororities who was national, actually having rules to follow was another thing that set us apart, and not in a good way.

Anyhow, yeah. Where was I? Hell week, seriously. Everybody back from vacation and suddenly ready to work - start the new year off with a bang. Actually, most of the teams I work with wanted to start the new year off with a long planning meeting, and since I am straddling two jobs currently, it also meant I was going to at least twice as many meetings. And then, my boss got really sick, so I was sorta covering for her, too, at least on a couple of major projects. And, then, of course, there's the co-worker who is going to get laid off but doesn't know it, but I do, because I'm going to inherit her workload (at least temporarily) and my boss confides in me because she considers me a member of her management team now. (Despite the fact that all I manage is an open job req.) So, skipping all the boring details? Hell. Exhaustion.

Will try to relax today, but seriously need to clean (company coming tonight) and run the usual errands. And, seriously? Get to the gym. I won't let the second half of this week become the pattern - heavy workload takes over exercise time. No.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Door in the Floor

Excellent movie! I'd heard great things about it, but never saw it in the theatre so just caught it on DVD. I wasn't sure I'd like it - sometimes those kinds of family dramas can be too overly sentimental for me, especially when the plot involves grief over a family member's death. But there's something fresh about this film that held my interest. The characters are just a bit too quirky and screwed up for it to feel maudlin or trite. (Credit to John Irving, no doubt.) Jeff Bridges was great. (when did he get so old looking? wasn't Beau the heavier older one and Jeff the cute one?) (I'm showing my age - yikes!) I also liked the actor who played the student, who turns out to be Ben Foster's brother (Claire's long-haired sexually confused ex from Six Feet Under.) He seemed familiar to me, but I think it's because he's also on "life as we know it," a show I've only seen bits of, but I think he might be the kid who's sleeping with his teacher. (Obviously he's becoming typecast.)

I haven't read "A Widow for a Year," the novel this film is based on, but now I want to. Especially as the movie is only part of the book, so there's a lot more to enjoy.


I think I just saw a mouse run from underneath my dresser to the radiator under the window. It was a dark blur - I had my glasses on, but wasn't completely focused on it. This sucks - I hate hate hate mice, and my apartment is already filled with those mouse sonic devices (the sucker ran right under one) that are supposed to keep them away. Can they get used to it?

I really want to pretend it was just a shadow. I don't think I'll be able to sleep here, in my bedroom, if I don't. My position is that they can exist, I just don't want to ever see them (or evidence of them.) I won't kill them - I tried once with a glue trap and it was horrifying! As for poison - well, last year we had a terrible smell in the building, very much like a gas leak, but the gas company man came and said that it was a decomposing mouse somewhere in the walls. It's the kind of smell that infiltrates your dreams.

Seriously, I'm freaked out. I might have to move.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Living a life

I'm editing the memoirs of that same aunt, something she asked me to do several months before she died. I was honored, because she had been writing them for years and I knew how important the project was to her. I was also flattered that she appreciated my writing/editing experience. Right after she asked me, she had another heart attack and when my mother visited her, she gave her the stack of typewritten pages for me. When she died, part of my sadness was guilt that I hadn't been able to finish yet, but I also had been spending so much time immersed in her life that I felt closer to her in those last months than ever before. The 86 year old woman was buried, but the young 19 year old bride was alive and well in my heart.

I'm still working on it - scanning takes the most time, but I'm also careful to not erase the uniqueness of her voice even as I clean up some of the grammar/language. Her life is fascinating; I'll try to post some of it here.


My great aunt passed away this summer, and at the funeral, one of her sons-in-law remarked that she was a kind woman. My mother repeated it later, saying how true it was. I was surprised, because if I had to choose one word to describe her it wouldn't be kind. She was honest and outspoken and intelligent and curious and loving, but she could come across as abrasive and critical when she asked you why you weren't dating anyone, or why you had chosen the school or major you had, or why your son couldn't get his act together and stay out of jail. We were afraid of her for most of our childhood. (And yet, near the end, she and that very same imprisoned cousin became great pen-pals. I think he saw in her a strong woman who wouldn't put up with his excuses or apologies and wasn't afraid to tell him what she thought of him.)

The word I would chose to describe her? Joyful. She got the biggest kick out of the happiness of others, especially of children. The last time we visited, one of the youngest neices sat beside her on the sofa, smiling and giggling. The child in our aunt laughed and clapped with her, despite the oxygen tube she wore. I remember a European trip we took together over a decade ago, when my aunt was still in her 70's, a trip that included a tour of Pompeii. A tour guide led us through the ruins, and the group, of varying ages, often struggled to keep up with him. Not our aunt - she stayed right beside him, hungry for everything she could learn. She climbed on rocks and broken ledges to peer inside openings and structures, never stopping, hanging on every word and asking questions. Everything fascinated her. Everything brought her joy.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Don't be afraid!

I realize that several of these entries have made reference to the Unitarian Church, and I need to make it very clear to anyone who is not familiar with Unitarian Universalism, that I am in no way a bible-thumping christian. It's a liberal and socially progressive churuch. The UU church isn't about believing in god - in fact, it's based on deeds, not creeds, so there is no one true set of beliefs you are required to follow. Sometimes when a hymn or a reading or a speaker mentions god, you can feel many of the congregation grow uncomfortable.

Today the senior minister led his last service, after over 10 years in the church. He was there when I first wandered in, on an Easter Sunday, looking for something - I don't know what, exactly. Not god, not religion, but some of the sense of tradition and community that comes with a church, I guess. Anyway, in his sermon he told the story of Jesus rising from the grave and then he stopped and said, "Wow. That's pretty unbelievable, isn't it? Well, you don't have to believe it. It's not about whether or not Jesus rose from the dead but what we can draw from the meaning of the story." Something like that - it was 10 years ago. My heart just swelled. I was sitting in a beautiful 1830's church, filled with gorgeous stained glass windows (some Tiffany) depicting angels and saints and great thinkers, listening to a wonderful choir in long formal robes and a stately old organ, and the man in the pulpit was telling me that not believing in Jesus was okay. I wasn't going to hell.

I haven't been a regular attendee, though, it's only been in the last 18 months that I started going regularly and finally became an official member. Today was particularly sad, and I have to promise myself to keep going back. Like many, I went because Fred was such a wonderful speaker and I loved listening to him. It was like sitting in a beautiful room listening to a very smart and well-read philospher once a week. With music. Someone in the ladies' room after the service said she probably won't be back, because it won't be the same. It is, obviously, going to be a turning point. We'll see.

After, I went to the gym (yay me!) and grocery shopping. On the way home I passed an older man stopped at a corner with his hands full. "Can you carry this for me?" he said, and I walked closer (even though I had a grocery bag in each of my own hands, and a full backpack on my back.) He laughed. "No, I meant my friend," and sure enough, another man was just behind me. "But thank you - you have a good heart."

And I thought, that's what Fred has always preached - have a good heart. Be that person. And somehow I stumbled into it, without thinking, "I have to be good to get into heaven" or "I hope there is a god watching."

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Little Spanglish Children

And Tom Perrotta did it again - I fell asleep at about 7, managing to sleep successfully until 10.

I also read some more of the novel on the subway to and from Manhattan today, and it completely held my interest, enough so that I almost missed my stop both times. (Since I no longer commute daily on the subway, my stop radar is way off.) I'm still not thinking that he's a great writer, but I don't want to put his books down.

Weird thing is that since I wrote "matter-of-fact" to describe his style here yesterday, I've run across it twice in his novel.

I'm afraid, though, that having just seen "Spanglish," another tale of a bad marriage told from an emotional distance, I'm going to confuse the two storylines. Yeah, I didn't really like the movie - too much time focused on the Mexican mother and her daughter and not enough on the white family. Why would Adam Sandler's character want to stay in his horrid marriage? Why would he not want to take his kids (the daughter, especially, has a highly dysfunctional relationship with her mom) and run? I'm not saying it's not plausible that he would stay - but the movie doesn't reveal enough insight to explain his choice.

And who in LA gets the NY Times, and no other paper, delivered?

New Morning

I don't really think I'm an insomniac. I was tired last night, as I usually am on a Friday after a full week of work, and of course came home early when the office closed at three. Somehow that made the evening start sooner - I rented two videos, started watching one at 6, and had what felt like a full evening by the time it ended at 8. Plus I thought it might be nice to have a drink, which I rarely do, probably because it does put me to sleep. I decided to read in bed after that, and of course fell asleep with the book still open, at about 9:30. So is waking up at 5:30 this morning really so crazy? It's eight hours of sleep.

Yet I am, clearly, the only person awake in the building. Somebody was coming in at 2 when I got up to go to the bathroom. (I like that I interpret it this way, even as it happens - that there is no relationship between the waking up and the stumbling footsteps on the hallway stairs - a full bladder takes ownership of all motives and emotions.)

The Gotham people were obnoxious yesterday. I've always had an aversion to their writing workshops, I think because of the way they market themselves on the city streets. The impression is that they don't cater to committed or talented writers, but will take anybody. (Unless it's true that every New Yorker is a frustrated writer.) The other has always been their fees. Well, when I registered online yesterday I answered the question "Have you taken a Zoetrope or Gotham workshop before?" with a yes, referring to the Belize workshop Zoetrope led. I figured this was how I was expected to prove my eligibility for the Advanced class. But they called me, almost immediately after, because selecting that "yes" was what gave me the $50 discount, and a very bitchy woman wanted to let me know there was no record of me in Gotham's files, and what did I mean by "yes"? I explained, and she said that didn't entitle me to a discount, which threw me for a bit because I didn't see the connection at first - I wasn't angling for a discount, I thought the $50 discount that popped up at the end was a web special or even something that came from linking to their site via Zoetrope. Anyhow... the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth. (Ugh, that's an incredibly trite and sad metaphor but it's 6:30 am and my brain? not really creative.) I have two minds (yes, trite, I said) to call them back and point out that it says "Zoetrope OR Gotham" not "Zoetrope AND Gotham" on the form. Is this laziness in sentence clarity a sign of what's to come from the class?

I'd suggest this was the most boring blog entry ever, but I've been browsing. I know better. At least I can, for the most part, spell. (Most of my typos are result of fast typing fingers. Thank god for MS Word's auto correct of things like "teh" to "the.") I pride myself on the fact that I've never used "u r" in any online communication, nor have I made a smiley face out of random punctuation marks (except in one or two pointedly ironic circumstances.) I am a writing snob. I sometimes want to leave comments correcting people's grammar.

I think I will try to fall asleep again. The book light Mom got me for Christmas seems to do the job extremely well. Plus, Tom Perrotta's "Little Children"? Not making me a happy reader so far. (Review subject to revision once I get past the second chapter without zzzzzing.) It's typical of him, though - the plots sound interesting, they make good movies ("Election") but every novel of his I've read has been a minor let-down. I am afraid he's just not that strong a writer - or maybe his style is so matter-of-fact and contemporarily natural that I'm not able to appreciate it. I heard him on NPR talking about this book when it first came out, and he was so interesting and it sounded so intriguing that I almost didn't wait for it to come out in paperback. But good things come to those who... (trite alert #3) and I found it yesterday. We'll see.

Maybe I can sleep - I'm losing memory of which fingers hit which keys with which letters - typing brain has already left the very trite, very tired, building.

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