Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How do you spell "bee-atch?"

I have my first story posted in my new online writing class. It's a piece I've been working on for a couple of years, and it's not quite right, but I can't let go of it. It's based on an incident that happened in my family, something that I've never been able to make sense of, and so the story is likely an attempt to do so. Unfortunately, though, I can't allow myself to forgive the person involved by allowing her to have much justification or redemption. And yet, that's how it has always been - she did this terrible thing, it shaped all of our lives, and somehow we managed to get back together without every really confronting or dealing with it. We made our own lives move forward, and that's what I'm trying to get across in the story - sometimes you don't get reasons or answers, you just get to figure out how to adapt to what you can't understand.

So, I have only one comment so far, and it's from the person who so far strikes me as the poorest writer in the class, and he says he loves it, except he hates that character. He calls her a "bee-atch" and wants to hit her. Apparently I've succeeded at making her completely one dimensional (at least in his eyes, but this is the guy who bragged that he hates reading), which wasn't what I wanted. Not redeemed, yes, but a full-fledged character at least. I guess I should wait and see what the others say, though.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Running with Scissors, Post Party

I wrote this yesterday morning and still can't post it. Let me try again...

This morning I am high on the memory of last night's party, at which a guy flirted with me. I know that sounds pitiful, but it's the first time in a long time that someone I had just met selected me out of a room full of people to talk and flirt with. And it felt good.

I was home by 1:30 and after changing out of my costume (went with the midnight blue velvet cocktail party dress, elbow-length black gloves, rhinestone jewelry, peacock feather mask), brushing my teeth, and washing off my makeup, I was in bed just before 2. And then the cable box time went back to 1. Another hour of sleep! And yet I, in my constant and desperate attempt to sleep as late as possible, took it as a personal affront. It's not how many hours, it's what the clock says, and this morning I woke when the cable box and computer clocks said 7:30 but my bedside alarm said 8:30 - how lovely to have slept until 8:30! Oh, my brain is twisted. You'd think I drank too much last night, but I had one strong vodka drink followed by one weak vodka drink followed by six or seven club sodas, all over a span of 5 hours.

* * *

Yesterday, after the morning wind and rain, the sun came out, bright and strong. I was surprised, but not as much as a few hours later when out of nowhere the sky darkened and ran slammed down. I was inside a store, watching people run by, soaked. By the time I left, the sun was out again but it had started to sprinkle, which is always an otherworldly combination. I, and many of my neighbors, figured a movie theater was the way to bypass the decision of what to wear (raincoat? sunglasses? rubber boots?) and besides, who can beat matinee prices?

So for a mere $6 I saw "Running with Scissors." Now, I really loved Augusten Burroughs's book. I've subsequently read everything else he's written. "Dry" is my friend's favorite, but in my mind, there are thousands of addiction/recovery memoirs out there, and I don't think this is one of the best (although not one of the worst, either.) My friend, who is gay and has many heavy-drinking friends (and, to be fair, not a generally voracious reader), really felt it spoke to him and his own experience. Together we saw Augusten do a reading of his third memoir, "Magical Thinking," which was fun. He mentioned visiting the set of "Running with Scissors," and this was last summer (2005), which seems really long ago, but maybe that is how long it takes for post production on a film? I don't know, but part of me wonders. The movie's reviews aren't very good - okay, they're almost universally bad, with the general response being the film dulled too much of the book's powerful moments while attempting to make them black comedy. I found the book had a comic edge, though, so I can appreciate that urge. It's hard to do that without falling into farce, which others felt it did.

Why am I summarizing the thoughts of other people and not my own? I guess because I can't get my mind around my experience yet. I desperately wanted to love this film, because I loved the book. And I didn't. It's disappointing, especially when the actors include favorites like Evan Rachel Wood, Annette Benning, Jill Clayburgh (where has she been? her last film was in 2002), and Joseph Fiennes (turning in a particularly bad performance.) (I'm not a Gwyenth Paltrow fan so it doesn't matter to me that she also basically sucked.) The movie picked out some of the more disturbing moments in the book but strung them together in a way without context or emotional connection. Even a black comedy needs some kind of human thread or it's just a series of skits. Let's play with dad's electroshock therapy machine! Let's break down the kitchen ceiling! Let's have mom eat dog kibble! (C'mon, all three of those were in the trailers, I'm giving nothing away.)

Hopefully this will inspire new readers for the book, but otherwise, it's just too bad.

* * *

For a reverse experience, I want to try to see "Little Children" today. (It's not playing in my local theater, so I have to look for it.) I really disliked that book, but it's been getting great reviews, so maybe what doesn't work on the page comes off better on the screen. I'm not too confident, though, as Entertainment Weekly included it in one of their "See the movie or read the book?" round-ups, and recommended reading the book. Hmmm...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What to be, what to be...

Woke up to dark, howling winds, lashing rain. You know I love this - on weekends, when I have nothing urgent to do, nowhere outdoors I have to be, it's wonderful to hunker down in the apartment and feel warm and dry and safe. And lazy. It's 10:25 and although I've been awake for four hours, I'm still in my pjs with unbrushed teeth and bed-head. And I'm totally happy. I've paid bills, gotten caught up on some things in my online writing class (two long stories to read and comment on this weekend), submitted a story to a literary magazine fiction contest (formatted it to their guidelines, printed, wrote the check, placed all in a large envelope ready to mail when I do venture outside), and rummaged through the back of my closet for a Halloween costume.

Tonight, a costume party to go to! My creativity hasn't gone very far: a cocktail party dress (or, if I can figure out a bra to wear that doesn't show, an long silk bridesmaid dress), elbow-length black gloves, rhinestone jewelry, a black sequined evening bag, and a fancy feathered mask from New Orleans. I don't know what I "am" other than someone going to a fancy masquerade ball. It's either that or a bee/insect/fairy (I found a pair of black and gold wings in the closet as well), but I think I'll stick with the other.

The rain and wind appear to be dying down. I'm skipping the gym today, so I probably should jump into the shower.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My head is all twisted

So, there's this guy. Yeah. My ex, who I haven't seen in 6 or 7 years. I can't figure it out exactly because I'm afraid it's been much longer, which makes me feel really old. But I met him over 20 years ago, so there's no question that we are old. We could be grandparents together. Instead, we're just - what?

Of course the story is more complicated - after our own relationship fizzled, we kept in touch, and went through periods of time where we were what the kids now call "fuck-buddies." Meaning that we had sex without dating, or the pretense of dating, or the promise of dating. Sometimes even when dating other people - though to be fair, on the rare occasions I was involved with someone else, I never saw him. I can't say the same for him, which some might view as much a moral lapse on my part, but I always saw it as I was a free woman, he was the one fucking around on someone he'd made promises to. This went on for over a decade. Fifteen years? Twelve? Ah, again with the time. Let's just say it petered out as time went on, and then we came to this long span of time without seeing one another.

So he's in town, and wants to see me, and so we meet for dinner. And part of me thinks this is a perfect opportunity for great sex, and part of me thinks I should just say no, and part of me is just curious to see him. Part of me is excited by the prospect, but I don't think it's healthy. On the way, I decide that I'll rebuff any advances, because who really needs to get all twisted in that again, even if the sex is still good? He's married now. If he doesn't respect that, I should. Right?

Dinner is okay, pleasant, chatty, and it ends, and nothing happens, and I walk away feeling both relieved and a bit disappointed. Is that normal?

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm baaaack...

Oh, yes, I'm sinking to a new low in puns, having just returned from an upstate sheep and wool festival, hence the "baaaa..." Today is a pure relax, get myself in the frame of mind to return to work, follow no schedule, day. It's 8:30 and I have yet to go to the gym! And although I do need to clean my aquariums (poor fishies), and do writing class homework (poor fellow students, no doubt desperate for my feedback), I refuse to commit to anything else. Oh, and of course pick up dry cleaning and go grocery shopping and maybe drop off laundry and oh, god, there goes my whole laze-around-do-nothing day.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Marie Antoinette, Infamous, and the weekend begins

I was so tired on Wednesday I felt slightly cross-eyed all day. Thursday, a workday bookended by two client events (breakfast seminar at 7 am, evening networking event ending at 9:30), I felt a bit better. Maybe because I could feel the end coming!

Yesterday I was off, originally to relax, but of course the day quickly became filled with things to do: get caught up on my online writing class, take care of essential errands, prepare to go away this weekend. Yes, I'm going upstate - leaving in about half an hour for an Amtrak train. Not the most relaxing weekend, as I'll be working at my family's booth here. Some years that is exhausting, although rewardingly so.

I still managed to squeeze in a movie yesterday! I needed it, so picked "Marie Antoinette," the new film directed by Sofia Coppola. I'm not going to spend much time writing about it, because I don't have much to say. I don't much like period/historical dramas, yet somehow imagined this would be different, that Coppola's style would somehow transform it, and it didn't. There were places, scenes, that were quirky and enjoyable, but I was mostly bored. By now you've caught on that I like character-driven stories, and it's rare that a film can travel 20+ years in only 2 hours and achieve that. (Notable exception: "Walk the Line.")

Oh, and last Sunday I saw "Infamous," the "other" Truman Capote movie. I liked it more, but I think that's because I was more familiar with the story itself, having read "In Cold Blood" and seen the first film since, well, seeing the first film. It's too bad they both were made around the same time, because no matter how much the critics are squealing that this one stands on its own, it never will. Let's be honest.

Okay, off to finish packing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The writing of sleep

Exhausted. Two events down, two to go. Today is slight day of rest; slight in that I'm wrapping up some things from yesterday's event and prepping some things for tomorrow's two. I told myself I'd not set my alarm and instead play it by ear - if I got up in time for the gym I'd go, if not, I'd skip it. This is the only day this week I could even go, but I could forgo that in exchange for sleep. But I woke up at 5, so I'll go to the gym.

My online writing class is in its second week. I'm behind on reading others' stories, but will try to catch up this weekend. It's a master class, so is supposed to be less about learning the craft of writing than it is about - well, mastering it. I didn't expect that the weekly "lectures" would not involve the instructor sharing any insights into writing, but merely posing a question and letting the class go at it. He's very good at jumping in and challenging and posing subsequent questions that drive the conversation forward, but I'm less interested in discussing the popularity of memoir vs. fiction as I am how to bring characters alive in either. Does that mean I'm not ready for a master class? I don't think so. I think I just find it less than inspiring to read what some of the others think - as I'd mentioned in an earlier post, there is so much posturing to sound more intelligent and informed than the last person. Plus, when it comes from someone whose writing I've already read and was underwhelmed by, I'm less than intrigued by his or her opinion.

Tonight my live writing workshop will discuss a story (or half a story) I madly finished last week and sent to them. I haven't looked at it since and am on that familiar fence where I think it's either brilliant or crap and would rather wait for their comments than read it over today and feel my heart sink, realizing how bad it is. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hell Tuesday

Day 2 of Hell Week. Yes, I had one of these in September also (4 client events in 5 days) but this is worse (5 client events in 4 days.) After this, (relatively) smooth sailing until the holidays. Or, catching up on the responsibilities I'm shirking now.

It's probably not difficult to guess that I am having trouble sleeping. As soon as I wake up, my mind fixates on the silliest thing I need to do the next day and I can't fall asleep again. I've pretty much been up since 4:00, which means I'll be in the office by 7:30, not so bad since I need to leave by 9:15 for an all day conference in midtown, and I have to do a debrief on last night's client event for the execs invested in it. (Who came? Who cancelled?)

I don't know if having given up caffeine makes this harder or easier. Yeah, a kick of coffee would get me moving, but since I don't rely on that any more, I honestly think I'm better at self-adjusting. Or else I'm just kidding myself to make myself feel better.

Blogger spellcheck fiasco of the week: for "midtown," it suggests "Madonna"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lazy Saturday afternoon

I'm so tired of not being able to sleep in on weekends. (Yes, pun intended.) Today, 5:30, my eyes open, my body calls for a trip to the bathroom, I slump back to bed and then proceed to lie there, tossing and turning, eventually just giving in and getting up. Is it because I fell asleep at 10 pm last night? Maybe, but I often try to negate that effect by staying up late on a Saturday night, only to find myself more bleary-eyed at 5:30, but still unable to sleep longer.

* * *

Did I write here about "Selected Shorts" last week? I don't think so, but am too lazy to save this as a draft, or open up another window to read back through and check. (Now, that's lazy.) So, yeah, I went to see "Selected Shorts," the annual Best American Short Stories edition where the edition's editor (in this case Ann Patchett, author of "Bel Canto") presents a few of her/his favorite stories. I was looking forward to it; I own every edition of the series since the early 80's, along with a few random earlier volumes. (Same with the O. Henry Prize Stories annuals. I am so geeky that I carry a card in my wallet telling me which volumes I'm missing, just in case I wind up in a used book store; this is protection, really, against buying the same one twice, which I've done too many times to be funny anymore.)

Interestingly enough, all three stories read at "Selected Shorts" were about war. None actually set in a war zone, but all dealing with the ramifications of war on loved ones left at home. This is generally not a theme I go seeking voluntarily, but I was willing to give it a try for the first one, and the second. The first was a story written by Donna Tartt, who I've yet to forgive for following up "The Secret History" (one of my favorite books) with "The Little Friend" (one of my most disappointing reads ever.) I think this made me more critical of the story, as I found myself not liking it very much. The second was one I'd already read in the New Yorker, written by [Wow, I can't remember, and I can't find it online, damn! I'll fill this in if I figure it out] which I'd enjoyed. The last, though, was really disturbing - very violent and graphically so. You know how I don't go for that in movies and tv? Books aren't much different. If I'd been reading that story, I'd have put the book down, or skipped to the next story. You can't do that when you're sitting (in the front row of the balcony) listening to a Broadway actor read it. I appreciate the talent of the author - it was beautifully written, but still disturbing. (The story centers on two teenage boys whose fathers are serving in Iraq, and the intensely violent acts they commit back home as they struggle to come to terms with what it all means.) I am excited to go to more "Selected Shorts" shows, though, because I really do love sitting there listening to great writing. It's inspiring.

* * *

My online class is in week 2. I'm a bit perplexed, as other people in the class have taken more to the horrendous story we had to critique this week. I really think it's bad writing, but people actually wrote complimentary things about his writing skill. I know that you are supposed to include two positives in the critique, but I am always honest - I'll focus on the strength of a characterization or the naturalness of the dialogue, but never say "you are clearly a talented writer" to someone that really sucks. Why lie? Because as you continue reading their feedback, they offer suggestions for fixing everything: plot, structure, pacing, character, description, dialogue, etc., clearly finding fault with the piece. I think what disturbs me is how this translates into feedback I'll be getting later - what can you trust, really?

The instructor has yet to comment (his is due today) so I guess I'll see if it's just me. Maybe I have some kind of aversion to this writer's style or subject matter.

* * *

Last weekend I bought two winter coats and two pairs of boots. Now I want it to be cold outside. I've spend so much money on clothes recently, but it's because I had nothing that fit any more. I am down 55 lbs. now, with just 5 to go. Not bad, eh? I never thought I'd be someone who would miss going to the gym, but next week I have a number of work commitments that will inhibit my ability to go, and I'm already stressing about missing it. Amazing.

* * *

A friend was reading a profile on Match.com and he sounded like my type, so she forwarded it to me. Sadly, all the interesting things I thought he'd said about himself turned out to be multiple choice options on their profile system. Which doesn't mean that he isn't those things, just that he didn't choose the terminology (which was perfectly aligned with my tastes) to describe them. He's 42, two years younger than me, but he is looking for a woman from 25-38. WTF? Yeah, I get that men can do that, because it's a buyer's market for them, but I still find it offensive that he won't date anyone HIS OWN AGE. It's not even that he's dying for children, according to what he checked in that section. I can't imagine dating a 25 year old. I'd feel like a fool. I'd be embarrassed to post that on my profile.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I slept in the living room last night to avoid the noise from the street outside my bedroom window. They are now paving the road they dug up last week, and Monday night I barely slept at all. Last night wasn't that much better, even after taking two Tylenol PMs.

It didn't help that every time I woke up my brain fixated on one or two things that were bothering me: a short story I need to finish by today (!) to email to my writing workshop (the live one), and two stories I need to provide feedback on for my new online writing workshop. I am now taking a master fiction class, which I am hoping will be a more positive experience than my last online class (which, as you may recall, virtually fell apart when our teacher went AWOL for the last several weeks.) It's only been one week and we're in that awkward phase where students are asked to share their bios and answer questions like, "Why do you write?" This class is filled with those who wax poetic on how "writing is like breathing for me" and "if I don't write, I die just a little bit," trying desperately to sound more intense and intellectual than the next. I tried to cut through the bullshit and say that I can't find time to write every day, although I wish I could, but if we're equating it to breathing, well, I've gotten pretty good at holding my breath.

What kept me up at night, though, was one student who arrogantly announced that he hates reading, because everything everyone else writes bores him. You know where this is going, right? He was the first to submit a story for class review, and while I really hoped it wasn't brilliant, I hadn't expected it to be crap. But it was. Probably the worst piece of writing I've read in any online class. It took all of my resolve to finish it, but then to have to put my reactions to it in the form of constructive criticism? Nearly impossible. My immediate reaction is, "Dude, it's apparent you never finished reading a book in your life." The master class requires that you take two advanced fiction classes, so this guy apparently has been through at least two rounds of workshops. I can't believe that nobody has gotten through to him that his arrogance is misplaced, but then again there's this guy and the delusional half of American Idol's wannabes.

Last night I managed to post my comments for that guy's story, and complete another 5 pages to my own story draft, which I probably can finish tonight. I'm hoping that the proximity of these two exercises strengthens my writing (inspired by how much better I am) instead of resulting in some kind of contagious spewing of crap.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Departed

I almost didn't go to see "The Departed," because a) it promised more violence than I'm comfortable with and b) it's almost 2 1/2 hours long. But outweighing both of those were Martin Scorsese, a brilliant cast, and glowing reviews, and so I went. And I am glad I did. It was a great film, and a great movie-watching experience. I was blown away - as were several people on screen, literally. The violence was jarring for me, but also deeply entwined with the story so I could sit through it. (Still, I imagine in the horrible theater up the street the crowds were hootin' and hollerin' each time a bullet sailed through another head.) But it's a really smart film, with a multi-layered plot to keep you intrigued and multi-layered characters to keep you caring enough to follow it. Jack Nicholson is somewhat of his usual cartoony self, played down just a bit. Matt Damon is really good as a star state police detective with a dark side, and Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic as his doppelganger, the undercover officer infiltrating the mob. I never doubted he was a strong actor (although I hated, HATED "Titanic"), and he really impressed me here. But what really surprised me was that I found him attractive for the first time - he's always been somewhat of a man-boy with that washed-out look that doesn't do it for me. Maybe he's matured, or maybe the intensity of the role did something to his demeanor, but I caught myself several times thinking, "Now I see what the excitement was about." (Did I mention I hated "Titanic"?)

Can I talk about a movie without a few criticisms? Well, there is one scene that is weirdly out of place, in a film where the rest of the action unfolds in a straightforward and chronological way. We see Matt Damon's character and his girlfriend as she's moving in; they go through a box of her stuff and then the doorbell rings and it's "the movers." And then, several scenes later, she's in her own apartment, packing her stuff to move in with him, including the same box she's already brought to his place. Maybe the scenes were flipped to give a different dramatic resonance to other things that happen in both, and that's not a bad choice, but the loose ends bothered me. I don't think it was that they couldn't reshoot if they needed to, as there are two other scenes with the girlfriend where she clearly is wearing a not-very-good wig. (She's played by Vera Farmiga, who is quite good and who I partly like because I recognize her from nothing, so there is none of the associated baggage that a more high profile actress would bring.)

(Of course it could be that our theater mixed up some reels. I call this the "Natural" effect, based on my seeing the film of that name in college. A group of us went and came home all confused, because what we thought was a mystery had never been resolved in the plot - turns out that we'd missed a key scene because the film broke and when the theater spliced it together, they cut a few minutes of important plot that drove the rest of the movie - or, if you missed it, left you hungering for a reveal that never came.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Standing up

Last night I went to hear a co-worker perform standup. I wanted to go; I think he's funny and I generally enjoy standup, even find it entertaining when it's bad. There was a group from work going but nobody I really knew, and so I reached out to some non-work friends, but wasn't able to convince anyone that this might be fun. (To be fair, most had other plans, but I think if it were something really phenomenal plans might have not been as solid.) By yesterday morning I'd pretty much decided I wasn't going, and then one of the colleagues I do know said she would go.

This is a lot of background, and boring background at that, to explain that I showed up at a social gathering without an "anchor," which is highly unusual for me. The group was meeting in a bar first, and walking into a bar alone is one of the things I just don't do well. Or enjoy doing, even if I can pull it off. But secure in the knowledge that I'd know at least one person, I made my way to the meeting point, only to discover (did you know this was coming?) a crowd of completely unfamiliar faces, other than the comic himself. So. I think I held my own for the two drinks we shared; it was a fairly quiet bar (really a restaurant with good margaritas, although we didn't eat) and added myself to one of the subgroups when we walked together to the comedy club and secured our table. Here, of course, it was loud and dark, and it didn't matter who I was sitting with. (The woman who'd told me earlier she'd be there? Never showed.)

The comedy? Hit and miss. Some were funny, some were sadly not. My heart goes out to those who aren't, because they make themselves so vulnerable and to do that without being good at it is difficult to watch. Our guy was good; although not one of the funniest, he managed to pull off a few big laughs (one for a long joke he closed with, which, sadly, I've heard before. And not from him.) Anyway, my two drink minimum (after the two margaritas earlier) was two diet cokes, and the show ended fairly quickly.

Post-show congratulations followed, and then a plan to dispense to another bar for some food and drink. On the way I kept thinking I should just duck into the subway and go home, even though I was talking to a few new people I'd just met as we walked. I didn't feel my usual social awkwardness, just tired and not sure how much longer I wanted to stay out. And then, the bar: we went down into a small lounge downstairs, which was nearly empty and filled with velvet couches and seemed very promising, until they turned on the huge tv screen and massive speakers to broadcast the Yankee game. Have I mentioned how much I don't like televised sports? Some of it is boredom (baseball live can be fun, but on tv, excrutiating) and some the drone of the announcers, which gives me a headache (and probably stems from childhood, when my father started sleeping in the den and the sound of televised baseball seeping through the house is entwined in memory with the tension of my parents' dying marriage.) See, I know why I hate it, but that doesn't make me hate it any less.

So it's so loud now that I have no chance of carrying on a conversation with anyone, and most of the crowd is now paired up in the familiar groupings they arrived in, close-talking to be heard, and I'm sitting there trying to look either interested in the game or in the nearby conversations that I can't even hear, and the menu comes out and of course it's bar food, with maybe 2 options for non-meat eaters, both of which (fish and chips, and macaroni and cheese) will set my daily calorie intake aflame. Now, I'm not adverse to going off my eating plan for special occasions, but if I'm going to, it will be for food I really want, not something I'm settling for. Still, I might have ordered something but the place was so loud and the waiter found it so difficult to make his way around our table, that he wound up skipping me and disappearing to the kitchen without taking my order. I took this as a sign. I said my goodbyes, and made my exit.

I clearly have some level of social anxiety, and yet I don't think this was as much that as simply not enjoying myself [just heard on the radio, as I'm typing this, that the Yankees lost last night, in what is apparently a game that matters, as opposed to all of those games 99% of the time that don't.] I know if I were a more outgoing person, I'd have been able to insert myself into more conversations, even in the loud bar, but I felt no real compulsion to do so. Is it age? I'm at least 10 years older than most of them (other than the comic); likely closer to 20 for some. But, I was like this when I was in my late 20's, also, even when I was with groups of friends, standing (or sitting) around in crowded loud bars held no interest for me.

This morning I feel oddly like I passed a great test (attending a social function without being sure that I'd know anyone) and failed another (unable to keep myself in a group of strangers long enough to possibly make friends.) I'm not sure how to process that. But thanks for reading as I try.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

At the Tea Lounge

Cable fixed. Good karma this time, as the allotted time slot was 12-4 and the doorbell rang at 12:30. It took him a bit of time to find the problem, but he did, and my afternoon was free. Well, I'm still working, but not chained to the apartment, so am sitting on a comfy couch in the Tea Lounge drinking decaffeinated iced coffee and listening to music and enjoying free samples of salmon dill quiche, waffles, and other yummies that the chef is circulating. Yes, this is what working at home should be. Did I mention free wifi? And an available outlet next to me in case I actually sit here longer than my battery can handle?

An interesting mix of mommies with babies and laptop-enabled adults. A reflection of the neighborhood. And... of great interest to me (and likely nobody else) also here is a guy who I've seen in Starbucks for the past 7 or 8 years. Every day, at multiple times of the day, morning, noon and night. When I was unemployed or on a day off and spending a few hours sitting there, he was always there with his laptop. Everytime I've passed their window, I swear, there he is. I decided he was a novelist, although my brother said he could also be a journalist or a blogger. Or some guy with a really bad porn surfing problem. But at least Starbucks' most regular customer. And, yet, he is here today! And seems quite at home, so maybe the cool local coffee/tea joint is making an impact on the big corporate monolith's customer base... He said hi to the person next to me, who just happens to be an actress and was a regular on one of the TV comedy sketch shows that has spawned many a superstar. She used to be a Starbucks regular, also.

The only drawback? It's a little bit dark for working too long. Maybe I just need to adjust the brightness of my monitor...

Home Office, Good Sleep, Bad TV

My obsession with the suck-itude of morning news shows continues. All three major networks (and CNN! probably Fox News, too, but my tv won't go there without exploding) have correspondents standing around in cornfields, yes, in Amish country, speculating on how this small community will move on. Maybe by having you leave them alone? You think that is helping? Not everybody needs to whore themselves in front of the cameras in order to deal with tragedy. Really!

Bleah. I had to sleep in the living room last night because of the street work outside my bedroom window. Oddly, even though the sofa bed is not as comfortable as my real bed, I wound up oversleeping. Maybe not so odd - I didn't have the upstairs elephant foot stomping over my head, nor did I hear her alarm go off, two things which serve as the backup to my own natural wake up routine. Today wasn't really oversleeping, just not early enough to make it to the gym, but I went yesterday and will go tomorrow.

I'm working from home today as I have a cable appointment this afternoon. (Wait, did I accidentally turn on Fox and cause my cable box to implode?) So even though I wasn't up early enough to get to the gym and home before my first morning conference call, I have no commute and don't even need to shower or dress, so I have more time than usual to sit here and goof off. Lucky you! (And if I don't shower or dress, lucky cable guy!)

Yesterday at the gym I kept looking at the necks of the other women, wondering if I could tell which was the victim of the knife-wielding crazy last weekend. No, I'm not a vampire, just admiring the smooth, scar-less, bandage-free, never-slashed purity of your neck. Next!

Ah, when shall I begin my work day? I have this theory that I can run the vacuum between conference calls. The sad truth is that I know that I am easily distracted when I work from home and have no misconceptions that I should do this often. (Although I could - several people in my office do it weekly.) But since I'll be on calls from 9-11, it seems silly to have to be in the office to take them. And you know what most of my typical day is? Managing emails. Yes. I start working on something and then an email pops up, with a request for something, and I respond, and that takes either two seconds or fifteen minutes, and then that other thing I was waiting for someone to send me appears, and I take care of whatever that is, and then there are more emails, and etc., etc. My daily goal is to keep my inbox down below 100. (My inbox only contains those emails I haven't completely addressed; I delete or archive all of the others.) When I was traveling a few weeks ago, it got up to about 300. I managed to winnow them down to 70 the other day, but last night was around 130 when I left. You see? It's practically a full time job, and one I can reasonably do at home. Right?

I'm not too old to remember what working in an office was like before email, as many of my co-workers are. In fact, I remember when we first got email, back when it was only an internal communications network (it was a huge deal when we could get email from "the internet," i.e., anyone outside our company.) On one of the first days of internal email, an attorney in our office emailed her admin, who sat just outside her door, and asked her to come into her office. Of course everybody couldn't stop talking about how silly that was. To send an email! When you could just pick up the phone! Or call out your door! Crazy.

And, now, this is the world we live in. And nobody thinks it's odd at all. Seriously, people who sit on the other side of the cubicle wall from me, whose lunch I can identify by the smell and sounds of their chewing/chomping, who can't open a drawer or unzip a briefcase or sneeze without my knowing, will send me instant messages to ask simple questions. I sometimes get up and walk over to their cubicle to answer them. I think it freaks them out.

So, why not be at home if nobody wants to talk face-to-face anymore, anyway?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What really happened, Family, and the Science of Sleep

So everything I heard was right, or at least part of the story.

I'm freaked out a bit from this:
About 8:50 a.m. yesterday, Bernazard grabbed Julie Jacobowitz, 32, a social
worker talking on a cell phone with a friend as she walked home from the gym.

I was at the gym when it opened at 8 (a handful of us were standing outside the locked doors, waiting) and left about 9:15, so it's very likely she was one of the people I saw there. (I'm assuming it was my gym; it's only a few blocks away and the closest.)

The Daily News article also says that while there have been no murders so far in our precinct this year, four people were killed in 2005. I liked it better when I thought there had been only a handful in 12 years.

* * *

No street blasting last night, likely because of rain. Which means they will pass my window sometime tonight. I'm taking Tylenol PM and hoping for the best.

* * *

Speaking of sleep, I saw "The Science of Sleep" this afternoon. I liked it; it was like "Amelie" on acid. The writer/director is Michael Gondry, who directed "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and it had that same kind of visual magic, magnified. Plus the beauty of Gael Garcia Bernal, who is so easy on the eyes, especially with the bonus of full frontal nudity (not that we haven't seen that in his other films.) Even the language is a bit of a mind trip because it's set in France with mostly French actors, but of course Bernal is Mexican, as is his character, and English becomes the easiest language for him to communicate with his French co-workers and neighbors. So sometimes they are speaking English, in different accents, and sometimes they slip into French and you are reading subtitles, and after awhile you don't even remember what was said in what language, it just all becomes fluid.

Now that I think about it, this might be an interesting film to see while stoned. Not that I ever am, but you know.

* * *

Family day turned out to be as eventful as I'd feared, with a screaming match between brothers-in-law and a granddaughter leaving the party after five minutes because she felt disrespected. I watched from a safe distance and ate too much cake. I'm not used to the sugar high.
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