Sunday, April 29, 2007

6:30 am: Better?

I guess, a bit.

Awake awake and awake

Awake at 4:30, can't fall back to sleep, but Fatal Attraction is on again. Today I was able to see the bunny-boiling scene, which I'd missed all the other times. It's a white rabbit of course.

I spent yesterday (Saturday) catching up on errands and chores so that I could be free to go to open houses, and generally relax, today (Sunday.) I also wanted to catch up on sleep, but this isn't happening. As the time stamp below can attest. I was so tired last night I fell asleep at 9:00 pm. And woke up at 4:30, 7 1/2 hours of sleep richer. The problem is, as I've learned from experience, that even if I forced myself to stay up until midnight, my body clock would spring me out of bed at 5.

Glenn Close is in her white dress in her white kitchen in the white loft with the white painted pipes along the ceiling, weilding a knife at Michael Douglas.

I need to get back into bed and force myself to stay there until I'm asleep again.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In vino veritas?

The last two nights I have had work events in the evening that involved drinking. I got home last night at 10, slightly tipsy, but filled with a good meal. I came home tonight at 6:45, more tipsy, with a stomach only placated by chunks of cheese and the one non-meat-laden appetizer passed at this event. I've been drinking since 4:30 and am somewhat affected. Drunk, not very, but clearly not my rational self.

How do I know? I had a long conversation with the guy who rang up my book in the bookstore. See, I don't talk to strangers. Not fear, just shyness. But I was shopping (breaking my no-buying-books-rule because I figured alcohol could be my excuse - god what kind of nerd am I that the "risky" things I do when under the influence are buying books) and overheard him ask someone what "The Namesake" was about so at the checkout I volunteered my opinion on the book and the movie, and we got into a conversation about his friend from Sri Lanka who has parents who have arranged a marriage for her. I think if I allowed myself to initiate conversations more with people I don't know I'd have more materials for writing!

I don't remember the 2 books I bought. Mind already escaping the sin, the way you do when you drunk dial and then make yourself forget.

God, they are just books.

Such a long tiresome work week - when Ididn't have after work events, I stayed late to work on things, so really pushed harder than normal. Felt very hyper all week, like I needed to get things done and over with. Maybe because of my pause of a weekend, when I put all of my own activities on hold to visit my family. My time was consumed with caring for one of my nieces, which both took over my time but also distracted me from my usual responsibilities in a way that made everything seem distant and unreal.

I should not try to be profound after three glasses of wine. Yes, that's all it takes! You would be really freaked out to know how I need to retype almost EVERY WORD in this entry because I am drunk-typing.

Also this week I got an email from the guy I had a crush on in high school. No, really. It was through a mutual friend, and I'll likely go into more detail another time, but here's the kicker: HE LIVED IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD. Not anymore, but for a significant amount of time that overlapped with mine. Which means that I must have passed him, stood on line with him at Met Food or Starbucks or seen him at the gym or on the subway... the mind boggles.

Oh, and I somehow fucked up the VCR last night and didn't tape "The Office" as I'd intended. I'm pissed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In or Out? Hot or Cold?

Ok, so you know what I really hate? I mean, in addition to all of the other stuff I bitch and moan about here. But I really don't like when people ride the wave of popular opinion, without having one of their own. A new tv show is "hot" and everyone can't stop saying great things about it, and then it's not, and there is this swell of opinion (mostly from people who never bothered to watch it in the first place) that it's lost its oomph. Yeah, I'm talking about "Lost." You see, I still like "Lost," and even though not every episode has been top tier, the quality has not diminished in the way that the "buzz" would lead you to believe. Ratings are down but that's due in part to its move to 10:00 pm (a less watched time), and yet, the "Plus 7" ratings (tracking people who record to watch later) are up. Meanwhile, the show continues to be entertaining, interesting, and smart. People complain about the length of time it's taking to answer the complicated mysteries that are at the heart of the show, and yet, we know so much more now than we did a half season ago, a year ago, and at the start. What did these people sign up for, "Murder She Wrote?" I'd much rather watch something that makes me think, that keeps me guessing, than a show where the villain is obvious the minute his/her name pops up on the credits.

That being said, I'm completely flummoxed by the ending of last night's episode. Not to spoil it for anyone, but it seems to point toward a scenario that is exactly what the producers have been denying forever. Are they playing mind games with us? Wouldn't put it past them. Is it making me super-eager for next week's episode? You betcha.

Cubes & Coops

Tough week. Several things blew up at work, one of which was my doing (although unintentional), another which could be construed as mine (a result of my not doing something I probably should have), and another just a culmination of competing interests, one of which I was required to staunchly defend. I've been working long hours, too, trying to get things done before I will slip out of the office for days at a time at an offsite conference.

I also reached out to the new head of our department to check in on the waiting list for an office, on which I am theoretically near the top. (Only been a year and a half.) I expected a short conversation in his office but he came out and sat in my cube, all "friendly" and "open," but I was not comfortable. I felt clearly at a disadvantage, knowing that those sitting around me (on the other side of the short walls) could hear every word. I didn't feel like I could stand up for myself in the same way I would have with a private audience with him. Yet something stopped me from asking if we could go into his office, as if by making too much of it I would lose some ground. It doesn't matter. He basically said I have a snowball's chance in hell with how things currently stand, but he has long-range plans for acquiring more space for us. The best part was that he acknowledged that it is more than likely I would get promoted (a promotion that seemingly always comes with an office, although he didn't elaborate on where he'd find one.)

Another downer is that the first apartment I've wanted has fallen through. No fault of mine, but it's a new coop conversion in which the existing tenants have changed their mind about buying. Nothing to be done about that (legally they get it first) but I still don't feel bad hoping their credit is terrible and they can't get a mortgage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Happy Birthday

Yesterday I was grumpy, but as usual, adept at rationalizing it. (Who wants to be an illogical bitch?) It was a co-worker's birthday and there was an unusual amount of hoopla, most likely because the woman who works for her is like that. But I am not comfortable celebrating birthdays at work, as not all birthdays are treated equally - some are completely ignored. It all depends on who you know, who you pal around with, who works for you. It's lopsided and haphazard, and I think the easiest way to avoid hurt feelings is to keep the festivities to a minimum (in the office, at least.)

Or maybe I was just grumpy because they set up ice cream on the file cabinet right next to my cubicle. Bad because of the strain on will power (and I don't even like ice cream!) and because people kept standing there chatting while I was trying to listen to a conference call.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh, Brooklyn

I returned home fairly late last night, so don't feel quite readjusted. It's hard to explain why I go through this transition phase whenever I travel to see my relatives upstate; I think I explained it once as losing control over my own schedule and time frame, but it's also the simple loss of time. All the weekend errands and tasks I don't think are that important suddenly will make or break my ability to function this week. I guess I'm just a baby when I'm forced out of my safe little routine. For the thousandth time I wonder, how will I every adjust my life to share it with another person? (Still with the hope that someday I will find the person with whom I'd want to.)

Also, even though I was "in the country" where, as you'd expect, I could enjoy the warm weather, I feel cheated that I missed the first beautiful weekend in the city this spring. Weird.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Up up and away

I'm off for a weekend upstate. Toying with the idea of taking my computer (sadly because I have some things to do for work) so you might hear from me again, but the only internet connection is dial-up, so they likely won't appear until I'm back home on Sunday night.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Scars of shame

And I thought the ice cream force-fed, fur-wearing kids on Run's House were a low for MTV. Granted, the network has brought us the crazed antics of "Jackass," the disturbing plastic-surgery show "I Want a Famous Face," and a long line of empty "dating" shows (where the person least humiliated somehow is expected to feel a winner.) But now there is "Scarred," a show so repulsive that I can't believe anyone would put this on the air, even as I can believe throngs of pre-teens are whispering about it during math class.

The show chronicles the accidents of stunt men and women (a printed disclaimer - because the MTV audience takes time to read small print on their TV screens - swears the network will not accept viewer submissions for the show), complete with graphic video footage, surgical photos, and closeups of their resulting scars. Let's hear the host gleefully take us into commercial: "Coming up - more blood, more pain, and footage that is out of this bleeping world."

My god. I'm so glad I'm not a parent. How do you navigate your kids through a society where this stuff is everywhere?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Matt Lauer Is An Idiot, Volume 47

Matt Lauer interviews one of the Virginia Tech gunman's former teachers, and asks whether there was anything unusual about the way he looked or acted in class. She responds that he always wore sunglasses, and Matt acknowledges this as strange with this: "In daytime, too?" To which the professor calmly replies, (clearly having the patience earned from teaching her share of freshman survey courses), "Daytime, yes, but indoors as well."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Soap Box, part 54

I don't believe in censorship, in burning books or running over CDs with a steamroller because the content is objectionable. I don't want to give up access to adult-themed television because there are parents who are unable to regulate their children's viewing habits and are too lazy to use parental control features. Yet I can't help but believe there is a link between committing violence and the easy violence in video games. When you've lived the fantasy of picking off your enemies with the power of a weapon you control, how much of a stretch is it to feel that power again, when the weapon is real? Why else would soldiers practice with video games, if they didn't simulate the real sense of detachment they must have in order to fulfill their mission of killing? I don't believe in censorship. I want to live in a world where there are violent video games, offensive rap lyrics, and terrifying slasher films, but nobody cares to play, sing, or watch them.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Water, water

Rain, rain, rain. My Sunday open house tour was halted after I made it to one, found a second was canceled without notice, and was already struggling with wet socks (inside lined rubber boots), soaking wet jeans (despite a large umbrella), and cold hands (forgot gloves, and can't put hands in pockets when I need to hold the umbrella.) I went home, discarded wet clothes, put on flannel pjs and lay in front of the tv to finish the taped marathon of "The Riches." (The No-TV-During-Daytime rule is suspended for sickness and weather-related emergencies (save those that result in loss of electricity, for obvious reasons.))

I'll be away next weekend, so unable to go to any more for another two weeks. Maybe this is fate telling me that the one I've already seen is the one meant for me?

* * *

A co-worker announced she is pregnant. I wanted to ask her to please not email me photos of her ultrasound; not that she has tried, but I'm still a bit freaked out from the woman who sent me pics, not of her own, but of her sister's fetus. (Accompanying a request to take time off to travel to be near her for the anticipated birth.) I don't need to see anyone else's uterus, please.

* * *

The office is quiet today.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lonely Hearts and Riches

I saw "Lonely Hearts" without really knowing much about it. It has one of those generic titles that could apply to a number of different films in different genres, although in this case, the title is precise and apt. It's the story of a murderous couple who prey on vulnerable women they meet in 'lonely hearts" ads in the late 1940s.

When I glanced at a summary online before heading out to the theater, I noticed Salma Hayek and Laura Dern and Jared Leto, and thought, that's an interesting cast, might be something different. Not until I was in my seat watching the opening scenes did my heart sink to see John Travolta and James Gandolfini. Was this going to be a gruff blustery cop buddy film? Or something determinedly gritty? Help.

The surprise is that I enjoyed the scenes with Travolta and Gandolfini the most. Yes, they play a pair of detectives who are mismatched in their passion to solve the case. Travolta's character is driven by the recent suicide of his wife in a similar manner as the first victim they find; solving the murder is a thinly veiled attempt to figure out why his wife killed herslef, but the film isn't shy about making that connection, and does it fairly subtly and well. Gandolfini, despite an annoying voiceover narration, serves as his far less interesting foil, but at least he's tolerable.

Meanwhile, we have a balding Jared Leto and a scenery-chewing Salma Hayek as the murderous couple. There's a lot of seduction (both exciting and squirm-inducing) and more than enough violence. Leto tries valiantly to give his character some motivation, but Hayek is pure evil stepmother or Cruella deVille, cardboard villianess to the core. Gandolfini's voiceover helpfully gives us a sentence or two of her troubled childhood, as if this will make up for the actress's inability to give a plausible performance. But hey, her lipstick looks good, and she has the perfect body to pull off the post-war sexy dresses and high heels.

* * *

I can't help but compare this to "The Riches," the new series on FX, which helpfully ran a marathon on Friday night so I could catch up. It stars the very interesting Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as parents of a gypsy/travelers family who live off cons and schemes. The pilot, which has a heaviness that the later episodes fortunately shrug off, explains how they take over the lives (house, identities, possessions) of a couple in whose highway death they are tangentially complicit. Once that's out of the way, and we're clear that Dad is somewhat of a dreamer and Mom a determined drug addict, we're presented with episodes that detail the lengths they will go to maintain their sudden new "American Dream" lives. Interestingly, most of the family (save Dad, who's a "half-breed") isn't interested in living the dream, even as they learn to enjoy the backyard pool and the credit cards. They disdainfully refer to the "buffers" whose world they've infiltrated, and the interesting part of the show is watching how they adapt. Mom learns that the prescription pills her wealthy neighbor pops are as effective as her ill-gotten street drugs. Dad realizes his con man experience makes him passable as a smooth-talking corporate defense lawyer.

I've seen 2 1/2 episodes, with a couple more waiting to watch, but I'm intrigued enough to keep going. That's a good sign.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Money matters

I remember, I remember! And now it will naturally be anticlimactic...

Yesterday I closed one of my bank accounts, as I'm consolidating finances in preparation for possibly buying an apartment. This particular account is in a credit union upstate, so somewhat "out of sight, out of mind," and has been traditionally the place I sock away odd bits of income for long term savings. When I hung up the phone from them I had a weird pang of sadness. It's the first bank account I had, opened for me as a teenager by my father. He would deposit a weekly allowance ($1) and later, when I was in college, my child support (a pitifully low figure, the only contribution he made to my education, and far less than anything any of my fellow students received from their parents.) Since I don't use the account very often, I still have checks that have my old address (I moved in 1994) and have the old "19__" date field.

It's the end of an era.


Yesterday I also had a major deflation moment, when a friend told me to expect closing costs of $10-15K. I hadn't counted on anything that major, and trying to factor that into the equation with the required % down, the assorted moving costs, and the required reserves was overwhelming. Maybe I can't do this now after all. But I just got off the phone with a mortgage broker and a coop is more in the $3000 range, which is a huge source of relief. I won't have legal fees, as I'm in a group legal plan through my employer, and I'm hoping to not have broker's fees, as the place I am considering is a direct sale. Still not positive it will happen, but at least I have a better handle on what I have.

Back to the Future

I hate when I have something in my head to post and then when I finally sit down and sign on, I stare at this open text box and can't for the life of me recall what it was. Is.

Or is past tense accurate, because it's already gone from my head?

* * *

I'll just throw some other stuff out there and maybe it will pop back in.

The other night, while I was on a high from having just seen an apartment I really liked, I stood at a busy intersection waiting for the light to change. It was late, dark, and chilly. A man came to stand next to me and my normally reticent nature was overshadowed by my good mood and I smiled at him and made some innocuous comment about the cold weather. He smiled and said, "I think this spring is going to be just like a knife fight in a phone booth. Short and ugly." I laughed and he made me promise 10% if I used that line. (Thankfully this blog generates no income.)

(Kids, if this joke puzzles you, you're too young to remember when phone booths were completely enclosed glass boxes, so compact that people were inspired to have silly contests to see how many of their friends could be stuffed inside. You know, before there was You Tube and My Space and PS2. Google it.)

* * *

Nope, still don't recall what I wanted to write.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday the 12th

Not Friday the 13th yet and already it's starting. Forgot my sports bra this morning so I had to curtail my workout (not enough time to go home for it; not enough desire to get the bra sweaty that I'd have to put back on after showering when I dressed for work.) Heavy rain on the way in resulted in wet pants that didn't dry for hours. Rushing to pass a man going TOO SLOW on the metal steps to the West Side Highway overpass, I slipped and fell. Luckily didn't get hurt, although my hands were filthy from catching my fall.

Slow news week?

My first reaction to the current Imus furor was: Is he really still on the radio?

My reaction this morning, on hearing he'd been fired from his TV show: He had a TV show???

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Things I Just Don't Understand, #87

We have a store in the ground floor of our building, run by a pair of friendly guys who are always eager to sign for packages, and greet you with a warm smile or wave each time you walk past. A fair number of packages arrive at our building, only a few of which are mine. Sometimes when I come home they'll wave me down and ask if I mind taking someone else's into the residential part of the building.

Yet, invariably, if a piece of mail comes addressed to the store, it sits on the hall table until I take it in to them. If it's a bill or invoice, I bring it over as soon as I see it, but sometimes I'll leave something else (a catalog, or flyer) sitting there to see if anyone else will bother to deliver it. You know, any one of the other building residents who benefit from having these guys downstairs. And days will go by, without one person lifting a finger to bring them their mail.

I really don't get it. I'm not that much of a freak, am I? This is a fairly normal expectation of behavior from people, isn't it?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Summer in Berlin, The TV Set

Was it just last weekend that I saw "Summer in Berlin?" Seems like a long time ago. Which does not bode well for my ability to recall much of it. It's a German movie, about two women who live in the same apartment building and have formed a friendship, despite the differences in their lives: one is a recently divorced single mother, unable to find a job in her field (window dressing) and the other a single woman who provides home care for the elderly and is unable to find a man who's worth much. The setting is well-detailed, and you get to know their building, with its balcony and view of the nearby pharmacy's lit windows, the neighboring cafe/bar, and the insides of their small apartments. Both actresses are good, and there's the added bonus of a strong performance by the actor playing the teenage son. I'd expected it to be a comedy, from reviews that I'd read, but despite some laughable moments, it was more melodrama than light adventure. Nothing earth-shattering, but a decently entertaining movie.

* * *

So this weekend I saw "The TV Set," a film that snuck up on me despite starring one of my personal lust objects, David Duchovny. (I know, I know.) The movie didn't provide much eye candy, though, as he's covered in a thick and unattractive beard, wears plaid flannel over his plump belly, and offers a few too many awkward shots of such body parts as the inside of his nostrils and the bottom of his butt crack. (Neither of these intended to titillate, and therefore, successful.) He plays a writer whose sold his first pilot to a network, headed by Sigourney Weaver as an older version of her "Working Girl" boss. She's mellowed a bit, but is still as unfeeling and power-hungry (this time it's ratings) as Katharine Parker. (And she wears a panda on her clothing - sometimes a jeweled pin, but in one scene she has a stuffed panda draped over one shoulder like a toddler's attempt at a fur shrug. At that point, I'd missed earlier references to the "Panda Network," only to figure it out later.) (Hey, it sounds silly only until you remember there's a Fox.)

The writer/director Jake Kasdan has directed a lot of TV, including the great spoof of "90210" called "Grosse Pointe" (regrettably canceled before its time, but recently released on DVD.) You'd think he would pull of a satire of TV pilot season well, and while there are some funny moments, there also are some tedious scenes. It's very slow-moving, which in itself could be a commentary on the nature of how these things progress, but that's not the result. It's just slow.

There's a subplot about a British exec who's come to the Panda network for some reason, maybe instill some class into its lineup? The reason isn't entirely clear, although on a network whose most recent success is a reality show called "Slut Wars" (really), it's a fair assumption, especially as a fondness for BBC shows seems to be common in all the people who meet him. We also spend too much time with his sadly displaced wife (the great "Dawn" from the British "The Office") which does nothing to move the main story forward, other than to underline the contrast between Sigourney Weaver's "family second" approach and his desire to keep his family together. Yawn. Sorry, but yawn.

There's also Lindsay Sloane, who was fabulous as Marcie on "Grosse Pointe," playing the female lead in the pilot. She's still great, but serves as a reminder that this could have been done better. Throw in a pregnant Justine Bateman, and there's the film: passable, but not up to its potential.

Rent "Grosse Pointe." For real.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mice, crack vials, and don't forget your mittens

Haven't yet found a blog written by an individual house-hunter, but there are a few about NYC and Brooklyn real estate which are pretty cool.

Yesterday I cleansed the memory of the old man's crappy apartment from my brain by visiting a luxury condo building down the street. It was fun - once I checked in at the Sales Office I was given a list of a dozen available apartments, and told to go look at my leisure, as the doors were all open. Something wickedly pleasurable about walking in and out of empty apartment doors on your own.

Only one was close to affordable - a one bedroom that is slightly out of my price range. But beautiful and huge. I did some research after I got home, though, and the building is not without some controversy - gradually turning to condos as leases expire, and getting press for things like their "nanny concierge" service. Not something I'm in need of, really. But more disturbing were tales from a renter of an infestation of mice and the proximity to a local haven for prostitutes and crack addicts. I am using this as my excuse for not feeling too bad about not being able to afford it.
But look at this kitchen - (appliances covered in plastic but underneath beautiful chrome.)

* * *

It's a cold cold weekend, hats and gloves and scarves needed. I imagine the girls in front of the Catholic church this morning will have down parkas over their pretty Easter dresses. I am not doing anything for Easter. So many people wished me a "happy holiday" which of course means nothing. If you're not a practising Christian, and don't have kids to play Easter bunny with, is it a holiday? I think not. Yet, for those of us with ethnic names from Catholic-dominated countries, the assumption always is that you would choose today as one of the days you manage to drag yourself into church. I'm just glad the gym is open.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Oh, the places you'd live

Surely someone out there has an apartment-hunting blog. This stuff is just too good to keep quiet about. Or maybe it's because I'm on such a high from it. I just love seeing new places, and imagining myself in them. I know I've written about my house dreams - the constant theme in my dreams of living spaces that grow and change and expand. (I wrote a poem in college that included the line "my house grows rooms to contain you." I never professed to be a poet.) I used to change my furniture around at least once a year; it was therapeutic, with more impact than a simple spring cleaning. The only reason I stopped was that I've gotten to the point where I have enough un-movable furniture (large bookcase, cabinet with fish tank that needs to be near the outlet, TV that needs to be near the cable line, etc.) that it's no longer possible.

More symptoms: I'm addicted to the Sims, but my favorite part is building the houses and decorating them. One of my favorite on-line games is "Open House" on, where you rearrange furniture on a grid to score points.

I've found real estate websites with floorplans that allow you to "try out" your furniture on them. I'm practically giddy.

Last night was an adventure. The owner was late, so by the time he showed, there were about eight or nine of us waiting. A few more couples trickled in as we were inside, but that was pretty much it. We saw four apartments, two one bedroom and two two bedroom, in varying states of upheaval. Seriously. One is in quite good condition (still occupied by a renter) with decent wood floors, appliances (a dishwasher!) and a relatively clean bathroom. It also had some interesting built-in shelving and cabinets in the bedroom. A two bedroom was reasonably decent, with some attention to the kitchen and bathroom it could be great. (But who are these people that move out of an apartment and don't bother to clean after themselves? Am I naive in expecting to see a bathroom without hair in the sink, dirt rings in the tub?)

Then there was a one bedroom with a really old kitchen and bathroom, plus dull wood floors. They looked structurally sound, though, so maybe after refinishing they'd be great. Mildew-looking stuff on the bathroom ceiling, that would have to be looked into. I could see myself in this place, although clearly at a lower price than they are asking (all of which, it was strongly hinted were negotiable. Prices have been set by size, so the bad is the same price as the good.)

Oh, the bad. I'm not sure I can adequately describe the apartment. People were taking photos with their cell phones, but I didn't think anything could capture the pure hell of this place. The occupant recently passed away after living there 35-40 years. During that time he apparently never cleaned. Although the apartment was relatively empty (a broken tattered mattress leaning against the bathroom wall, a rusted washer/dryer set in the kitchen an old rotary phone hanging on the wall), it was still vile. The kitchen walls were what initially looked like shiny orangey paint, and then you got closer and realized it was layers of splattered grease. The other rooms had yellow-brown walls; a mystery to me until the landlord said that the tenant had been a smoker. (It didn't smell, though.) I can't even think about the bathroom and kitchen fixtures. I think you'd have to just empty it out and start over.

But for someone with the right kind of inspiration, I can envision something great. The building is on a quaint brownstone block, close to everything. Okay, I fell a little bit in love with the block. One of the couples I met while waiting for the landlord said they currently lived right at the other edge of Atlantic Yards, hence their desire to move. They seemed confident this was far enough away to be unaffected (although what I've read of the years of street closings for construction, late night truck convoys, etc., would likely be a problem.)

That couple and two other guys (initially whom I assumed to be a couple, but learned were just friends, one along to help, both funny and chatty and gay-flirty) chatted a bit as we stood there waiting. Part of me was thinking, oh, these could be my neighbors! When we got inside, the one guy was extremely aggressive; either he's very interested or it's his nature to take control of the situation. Most of us stood around to listen to the answers to his questions. He was clearly interested in the two bedrooms, even spending more time in the disastrous one. I was relieved.

Because I think I am interested in one of the smaller. It's slightly smaller than what I have now, but almost anything in my price range is going to be. I could probably afford the larger ones, but am not sure I have the energy/desire to tackle a major renovation. On the other hand, I haven't seen that many places yet, and there are others listed that look good, too.

So what do I do? Well, I just emailed the landlord and told him I'm interested, that I am just starting my search, but wanted to get a sense of his timetable. And that I would like a chance to bring a family member/friend by next time he has a showing. It's possible he'll respond saying he's had offers already (although I think many of the people last night were disappointed or flat-out repulsed.) I don't know, but I feel pretty good about having stuck a toe in the water.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An ad, a hand on a shoulder, and a mid-spring freeze

I started going to open houses. I think I'm going to like trolling through the online ads, imagining what the apartments actually look like from their tiny oddly-angled photographs. One thing is clear: Everything looks more grimy in reality. (Or is it just the places I can afford?) So far there are enough interesting options out there - apartments with just one or two things wrong with them, decent enough that I can have passing fantasies of living in them, but not so perfect that I am obsessed with having them as my own.

I found an ad on Craigslist yesterday and emailed, and received a reply about an open house tonight. I had a moment of "Is this for real?" about it, as of course there is no way of telling if I am one of many he bcc'd about this or the single recipient of his "meet me in the apartment at so-and-so a time" message. I went on the NYC Housing Dept webiste, and the guy is a bona fide landlord in NYC, is registered with the city as the managing agent of the building, and has indeed just gotten approval to convert it to coop. Of course he could still be a mad killer, and I can hear the reaction to my abduction and grisly death: "What fool goes by herself to meet a strange man in an empty apartment late at night?" But I think I'll go with my gut and assume this is on the up-and-up. Or I'll linger on the block until another person goes to ring the doorbell and walk in with them.

Apartment-hunting as a single person is lonely. It's nice to have someone to point things out to (or someone to show to you things you might have missed.) I took a friend this past weekend. But the harder part is seeing couples there as well, knowing they more than likely have two incomes and twice as much opportunity to accumulate savings. There was a "Sex in the City" episode where Miranda was faced with statements like "When is your husband coming to see the place?" when she shopped for an apartment on her own; I thought then that it was manufactured drama (who thinks like that anymore? is this the 50's?) and I still think so. The only impediment I have in this process is my inability to draw two salaries.

* * *

Ha! The local morning news is featuring yet another lawsuit on Atlantic Yards, the massive construction project that is just starting (residential, commercial, retail, and a new basketball arena.) I need to find a good map of where it's supposed to go (in the chance that none of the lawsuits manage to hamper its development.) I think the apartment I'm seeing tonight is within a handful of blocks, which wouldn't be ideal, especially during the years of construction and upheavel.

* * *

Last night I dreamed again that I was walking down the sidewalk, when a man dashed across the street, not seeing the large truck bearing down on him. The trucker landed on his horn, screeched on his brakes, and managed to avoid the pedestrian. Sigh of relief, but then I saw that the man was still lying in the street, that with all the focus on avoiding the truck, he'd not noticed he was darting in front of a small vehicle (like one of those little mail trucks you see that look like tin boxes on a moped.) I ran up to find him out cold, blood across his forehead. Another person went up to the driver, and I stood by the victim, then reached for my cell phone and said, "I'll call 911," but a third person waved her cell phone and said, "I have them already." So I stood by the guy, not sure what to do, and then he came to and started to stand. I told him not to, that he should stay put until help arrived, and he said, "Are you kidding me?" like I was reading dialogue from a cheesey TV movie and not real life. "I'm fine," he said. But he had blood on his head and I tried to tell him that, but he just looked at me puzzled. He stood and wavered a bit, seemed surprised to be dizzy. He started getting upset them, but not because of the blood, but because he saw that the back of his leather jacket had scraped along the pavement. I said something again about maybe sitting down, but he just glared at me.

A crowd was gathering, and I stepped back, thinking there wasn't more I could do, but not wanting to leave without seeing this through. As I stood there, a man next to me reached over and put an arm across my shoulders, although I wasn't sure if he were thanking me or comforting me. He started squeezing my shoulders, and it was weird, but I let him, because it felt good. I turned and he just smiled at me, arm still around me.

After the police came, the crowd dispersed, and my new friend disappeared down the sidewalk. I wanted to follow him, to find out who he was. Why did he act as if he knew me? Was he someone I was supposed to meet? Why had his hand felt so familiar? How could I find him again?

* * *
I am a Craigslist virgin. I have friends and relatives who have completed many transactions through the site, but I've only skimmed it a few times. I am curious to see the turnout for this open house tonight - it's just a half hour, but there are four apartments to see. The price is great, but the caveat is that they need work (some more than others.) I'm also not well versed on the pros and cons of getting into a coop from the start. This will require some more research.

* * *

A cold spell. My fault, for putting away the winter clothes. Told you I'd jinx it. Luckily I held off on taking my winter coats to the dry cleaner.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Addiction, Run's House, and Woody Allen

wAm I a TV addict? Maybe. There are few shows I absolutely have to watch, but I always watch something between the hours of 8 pm and 10 pm. I know that often the "something" is just wasting time, but it's a time for brain-mellowing that has become part of my routine. And yet I complain about not having enough reading time. So I'm going to institute a "No TV Night" into my weekly schedule. I had a friend who successfully pulled this off for several years. It's my turn to give it a shot.

* * *

Now that I've made that commitment, I've given myself permission to rant about yet another terrible TV show that I stumbled upon. Nobody forced me to watch this, of course, but I've already explained how I'm much more productive on the cardio machines at the gym when there's something to grab my attention on the tv I'm plugged into. My local gym recently took VH1 off their rotation, for some unfathomable reason. On weekday mornings, this means that there is one fewer station playing music videos, and on weekends, well, it's flat-out annoying, since MTV usually is airing repeats of mediocre reality shows. (Is there any other type of MTV reality show, any more?) It's usually something like "My Sweet 16" - or whatever that ode to regrettable parenting is called. Seriously, how could anyone think that spending $500K on your teenager's birthday party is a smart or responsible thing to do?

Ah, but last weekend I discovered another wonderful example of questionable parenting. The culprits this time were the parents of "Run's House", the reality show about a former rapper turned minister, and his family. In the episode I saw, dad (I think he calls himself "Rev" and so will I) was annoyed because one of his young sons was repeatedly late in getting ready for church, making the rest of the family late. The child, 9 or 10 years old, protests that it's because he doesn't have enough to wear. Rev doubts this, and goes through the kid's closet pulling out suit after suit, dress shirt after dress shirt. The kid still argues that if he had more, he'd be able to get dressed in time. So Rev makes a bargain: I'll take you shopping for more suits if you promise that you won't be late for church any more.

Okay, reeks a bit of bribery. Positive reinforcement would require the boy (he has some odd nickname like "Dodo" that I can't remember) to first be on time for a few Sundays, and then get rewarded with a shopping trip. But that's not Rev's way. Interestingly, another son learns of the deal and begins to protest, pointing out the holes in the logic behind it. He also insists that if little brother gets to go shopping, shouldn't they all? According to him, the younger already has "five furs, four million suits, eight million dress shirts." (I paraphrased a bit, but he did use millions in his exaggeration. And the lil' dude does have at least one fur - a short puffy jacket that he prances around in over his designer suit. But I'm getting ahead of myself.) The episode then takes us to the following Sunday, when the family is once again sitting around in the living room, waiting for the little brother to come down so they can leave for church. Guess that didn't work, Rev!

Meanwhile, we have another scene where the mother is making an ice cream sundae for another son (or maybe the same one who pointed out his brother's million suits?) It's a big bowl and she describes the chocolate sauce and gummy bears she's piling on, promising him this is the best ice cream sundae ever. Trouble is, the kid doesn't like ice cream. Hates it. He starts to gag when Mom places the bowl in front of him. "Just one bite," she pleads. He grimaces, tight-lipped, shaking his head. "C'mon," she begs. This goes on for awhile until she manages to wedge a spoonful into his mouth and he runs from the room, ostensibly to the bathroom where we hear him retching. "You're the only kid in the world who doesn't like ice cream, "she says.

I'm not making this up. Now, maybe I missed an earlier scene where a physician alerted the family to the boy's need to increase the dairy intake in his diet, but even so - ice cream with chocolate sauce, gummy bears, and god knows what else? There are healthier dairy options. Don't most parents try to get their kids to moderate their intake of sweets? Is it something to worry about if a kid just doesn't like something that's really not all that good for him anyway? Would she put that much effort into getting him to eat fresh fruit or some low-fat protein? One of the episode's themes was that the mother was upset because the Rev kept nagging her about her eating habits. He finally promises to lay off ("I realize when I'm telling you you're eating too much, I'm really telling myself") but the ice cream-hating son is smart enough to see the parallel between this family disagreement and his own situation. "You told Dad it's your body, well this is mine," he says, as he refuses the ice cream.

* * *

I still don't quite understand the Heidi Klum bit, but I think I know why I had the rest of that dream from the other night: I fell asleep to "Annie Hall." You're probably thinking that it's not exactly nightmare material? Au contraire. In the early scenes, the young Alvie Singer is explaining to a counselor his mother's dragged him to why he's so depressed: he's just read that the universe is expanding, which means that it can break apart, which means that we're all doomed. Exactly the kind of thing I can't think too much about, or I get freaked out. I live in Woody Allen's existential nightmare.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Someone in my building has been coughing loudly all night. I don't know if it's woken me up, or just when I've woken up I hear it. I can't tell if it's next door or below me.

I dreamed that I was walking down the street, after work, carrying a single piece of drycleaning and my coat (it was warm) and considering whether to stop by an event I'd been invited to, when a small sports car started tearing down the street, weaving in and out of traffic. It screeched past a police car and then suddenly was coming back down the one way street, followed by the police car, and then suddenly it was crushed between the police car and a large van. It spun to the side and a door opened, and a young man jumped out. Everyone on the sidewalk had naturally stopped and stared, and then, the man reached into his car and pulled out a long black machine gun-type rifle. And then everything was deadly silent and I just started walking slowly away, afraid to look back because if I saw him, he'd see me. Just ahead was an open garage door, and I slipped inside, but knew that wasn't enough, so I kept walking slowly and carefully foreward, looking for a hiding spot, wanting to drop my dry cleaning but afraid if I did it would be a clue as to where I was, and I went down a flight of stairs and along a tunnel, and it felt safe, but then I realized it might be the perfect place for the gunman to run and hide in, too, so I kept walking, looking for a secure spot. There were one or two other people with me, all searching for the same, and we were deadly quiet, afraid to speak because we'd start screaming.

And then somehow it was over and we were back up in the garage, waiting for the police to interview us, and there was a crowd of witnesses and reporters gathered round, waiting, and a man came out and started talking, and then Heidi Klum came out, because she'd been a witness to. (Did I fall asleep to Bravo?) She was strikingly short in the dream, but had a huge head. She didn't speak with an accent any more, but was pregnant again, wearing a bright green and blue flowing dress that barely hid her round belly. The man that was talking to the reporters finished, and the press wandered away so it was just me and Heidi, and I explained to her that I was asked to stay by the police, that I was a witness, too, and she gave me a hug.

I haven't had that odd a dream in a long time. And no wine before bed last night! Hm.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dear MTV

If somebody named Jess owns something, we refer to that as Jess's. Not Jess'. You see, Jess isn't plural (no matter how two-faced he might be in your revealing story about "underage" marriage (since when is twenty one "underage?")), nor is he the son of god (yes, it's Jesus' for the things which the biblical Jesus possesses.)

See also James's.

Excuse me, I think I need some parenthesis therapy.

Yesterday and Today

Going to the gym on Sunday mornings has introduced me to CBS's news show, which I think is called "Sunday Morning." It's news the way I like it: long, exploratory stories that often have real content, not just what can be squeezed between commercials and publicity appearances. It's like NPR on the screen. Yesterday there was an interview with Clifford Irving, the real-life author who perpetuated the Hugh Hefner hoax in the new Richard Gere movie "Hoax."

I recognize that morning tv on the weekdays doesn't have the luxury of moving so carefully through a story, that the networks are battling for the eyes of working people racing around while getting dressed and preparing kids for school, that they are just hoping for a glimpse of weather or traffic or celebrity gossip before running out the door. But does that mean the morning shows have to come across as so dumb? That's what is frustrating. On the other hand, there actually was a piece on the Today Show that impressed me recently; acknowledging that not all Americans are well versed in world politics, the show did a morning segment designed to provide basic background on areas of the world that have been in the news. I don't know if this was for just that one week, or if it's ongoing. The piece I saw explained the history of the Shiites and the Sunnis, and the current conflict between them. I liked it, and felt a little more intelligent after I saw it. Not something that often happens after the Today Show.


Why has it taken me over a week to write about "Zodiac?" I suppose I could claim a synergistic connection to the plot, in which it takes many years for a group of detectives (official and amateur) to attempt to identify the serial killer who called himself Zodiac. (It also took 2 hours and forty minutes for this to unravel on screen; a much longer experience than I'd expected or been prepared for. I have to look at movie times before committing to them.)

I think it's taken me so long because I don't know how to interpret my feelings about the movie. It was interesting, but I wasn't as enthralled as most of the reviewers seem to have been. I liked the 70's air, the moodiness of the film, and the way it made a relatively tame procedure (handwriting analysis, code-breaking) suspenseful. There's not too much Chloe Sevigny (always a danger; she's too often up on her high horse, as if judging the rest of the film around her and deeming it unworthy), and a bit too much Jake Gyllenhaal. (As dictated by the path the actual investigations took, Mark Ruffalo's police detective is basically finished when Gyllenhaal's newspaper cartoonist begins his own obsessive search.) Robert Downey Jr., fey and drunk? Check. (Seriously, was it an acting choice to come across as the gay white version of Huggy Bear?)

One of the more fascinating aspects of the film is to envision how contemporary technology and processes would have had an impact on the investigation. A running theme of the film is that several of the murders happened in different counties, and so were in different jurisdictions. While the local investigators make attempts to connect, it's half-hearted and hampered by the difficulty in sharing information, even when they want to - for example, when one detective offers to "telefax" something to another, only to be told the other sheriff's station doesn't have a telefax machine. We're led to believe that clues picked up during interviews in one case would have identified the suspect earlier, if noticed by the detectives in another. Jake Gyllenhaal's character spends more time unraveling the separate investigations than he does the actual murder.

Which, I think, is what slows down the film for me. We've already spent an hour or so seeing those investigations take place, so spending another hour while the cartoonist explores them felt like backtracking. And yet, isn't this kind of criminal investigation often nothing more than backtracking? I'm sure that's the case, and to be fair, the film takes what is likely incredibly boring and repetitive and spins it into something fairly interesting to watch, but I think there is a fine line between realistically portraying tedium and having it come across as tedious. Most reviewers think the director David Fincher stayed firmly on the former side, while I think at 2 hours and 40 minutes, a toe crossed the line a few times.

This weekend I saw a German film, "Summer in Berlin," but I don't have time to comment on it now.
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