Saturday, September 29, 2007

Service me

Today I had to have a plumber come to fix my bathroom sink, in which water from three mornings ago was still sitting. The sink has been draining slowly for a long time now, and I periodically flushed it with liquid plumber, but this time it wasn't working. I know that I should think more about preventative measures, but my landlord has always been such a loser about fixing things that I figured I could manage on my own. But when he came today, he kept saying what a nice tenant I was, so clean and nice, and that I should call him whenever I need anything, even though I'm moving out in a few months. ("November? December? January? No matter, just let us know.")

I have this irrational aversion to the gunk that builds up in pipes, even when that gunk is made of my own hair and dirty water. I sat here in the bedroom while they were running an electric snake down the pipes and the whirring sound shot into my bones worse than a dentist's drill. But they cleaned it out. After they left I scrubbed the sink, floor, and toilet, but still feel like the bathroom is grimy.

My landlord also told me some stories, in his broken English, about how when he lived in the building there was a bomb in the store downstairs that shook the building and broke all the windows and he had to grab his kids out of their cribs and run downstairs. (The kids are now in their early 30's, so I'm thinking this was mid to late 70's.) I asked him to repeat parts of the story, but his accent is so thick I am not even sure that I got it all. Something about he knew who did it, but the person was never caught, and then he swore a lot and said something about the owner of the building next door (once a Blockbuster, now vacant for over a year), something about how he wanted to bash the guy's head in and said he would've wound up in jail.

I have no idea what he was talking about. The internet is not helping, either.

I think I trace my aversion to clumps of dirty hair to a display my childhood friend's father had placed on the wall behind the toilet: a clear plastic case holding a wad of dark hair alongside a handwritten poem about how people should clean the bathtub drain after they shower. Seriously, thinking of it now makes me a little queasy.

Oh, and this afternoon I had another cable visit. This time, two guys! I guess I've moved up in the ranks of the needy. I have no idea what they did, but it appears to be all fine now. I think I should have asked what they did, in retrospect, because when (if?) it fails again, I like to be able to say something to the next technician other than merely reciting the dates of my last service calls. Although if (IF!!!) it stops working again, I'm letting it go until I move. And hopefully will not have these problems in the new place!!!!

There isn't a term for a hypochondriac about your utilities, is there? I mean, people who call in problems just to have someone to chat with and someone visit. I think I could write that story. Hmmm...

It's already 6 pm, and the day has slipped away. I managed to slip in the gym between plumber and cable call, and packed a couple of boxes waiting for the latter. I want to be lazy and do nothing but my fridge is in dire need of refilling, and I need to get up and out before everything closes.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Morning sick

You know I don't sleep very well. I can fall asleep very quickly, but tend to wake during the night and then have difficulty falling asleep again. It's usually in direct proportion to the number of things I have to worry about; late night panic attacks about what in daylight seems manageable or even menial are common.

Last night I woke at 3:00 and can't now recall what kept me lying there until 4:30. But I dozed off only to bolt upright at 5:00 with a sudden wave of nausea. True nausea, not (warning: about to get graphic here) the usual throat or mouth filling with vomit from my acid reflux, which is never accompanied by a queasy stomach. In fact, I can't recall the last time I felt true nausea without being hungover.

I got up, went slowly through my normal morning routines, ate my usual breakfast (iced herbal tea, clif bar*), and am nearly ready to leave for the day. I still feel slightly ill. Today is the huge client event I've been planning for over 6 months. I will be at one of the midtown university clubs for 14 hours, smiling, eating random buffet food out of boredom, cursing the fact that no pair of professional comfortable shoes is ever comfortable enough for that long. I can't be sick.

* I didn't eat breakfast for most of my life, but understand its necessity. Especially once I started going to the gym first thing in the morning. If I relied on my making a more substantial meal - even a piece of toast - I would skip it. I don't drink/eat milk, so cereal is out of the question (although I like to eat it dry as a mid morning snack.) The clif bar serves my needs well - compact, easy to eat, protein-rich, high in fiber, respectably low in carbs, and above all, tasty.


Over the weekend I went into a holistic pet store. The proprietor was crouching behind the counter, demonstrating how a customer's dog was reacting to his food. He rose and said, "Dry food is a construct skin people create to control fur people."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Early morning news

Every morning I sit here with the early morning local news on quietly in the background. One of the stories they cover incessantly is the sexual harassment trial of Isiah Thomas. You won't be surprised to learn that since he is a sports figure, I had no idea who he was, and actually thought for a while (not really paying attention to what they were saying) that he was the "Greys Anatomy" actor who was fired for using an anti-gay slur about a cast mate. (That guy is Isaiah Washington. Easy mistake, right?) Anyway, they continually refer to Thomas's use of "the B-word" which always leaves me puzzled. What is "the B-word?" Is "bitch" really not said on TV? Or do they not repeat the offensive word purposely so as not to further its association with the woman accusing him?

The other hot story is this. Disturbing, and would be so anywhere, but somehow more so in a quiet calm neighborhood like Brooklyn Heights. You hear stuff about that in Bensonhurst or Crown Heights but not Brooklyn Heights. But I don't think it's just the shock of its happening here, so close, it's still really hateful. At least when the flyers were up on my block, I could tear them down.

I should not have used "hot" so flippantly - weather forecast is for 85 degrees today. They are even giving warnings about heat indexes and pacing your physical activity with plenty of water. Luckily my day requires me only to sit in a conference room for hour after hour, trying not to think of the many things waiting for me at my desk. Tomorrow is a full day client event that I've been planning for months, and even though I've dotted every "i" and crossed every "t," there will likely be last minute eruptions that will frazzle my nerves.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pew thoughts

Yesterday I went to an open house for another apartment in my new building. I couldn't resist the opportunity to see inside another apartment. It wasn't the same realtor, so I pretended I was just looking, although since I walked in with a group of others I managed to escape without signing in.

The apartment was cute, with a very different layout: small square rooms instead of long narrow ones, and a separate small kitchen. (My kitchen is a corner of my larger living room, which I think I prefer, as it makes the space feel more open.) It must be more square feet, though, as the maintenance is higher (or because it's on a higher floor and facing the quiet back?) but the asking price was also quite a bit more.

I left by the stairway and stopped on "my" floor just because I could. I even walked over to "my" door and placed a hand on it. I don't know, I guess I'm just being weird.

The past two Sundays I've also gone to church, as the new minister has started. The Unitarian Church is literally around the corner from the new apartment; I don't even have to cross a street. My relationship with church is funny - I try to go whenever I can, and often really enjoy the service (the music and the sermons) but I still sit through the whole thing calculating how much longer til the end, like Homer Simpson trapped in a pew thinking about the football game on his home TV. Is that part of the experience that's ingrained in me? That even when I'm there on my own free will, in a church that embraces my beliefs (or lack thereof), I still feel the morning is not complete without some some watch-gazing?

Two movies this weekend: "Ira & Abby" and "Eastern Promises." More on them later.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


New sounds everywhere. The apartment downstairs is changing tenants, for the first time since I moved in nearly 14 years ago. The new tenant works in the store downstairs, so he's already known to all in the building, already stands out front smoking and chatting, already hangs out in the backyard with the downstairs tenants drinking and partying. (Or so I hear. I'm not one of the boys' club, although I think it's age rather than gender that separates us.) He told me he wasn't sure when he was moving in, maybe sometime this week? I think it may have been yesterday as I hear something, somebody, not one of the usual familiar sounds.

I am so paralyzed by waiting for the coop board, unable to commit to dates or deliveries, that I have forgotten some of the things I must do: find a mover who can handle my piano (or, alternatively, hire a piano mover and a separate one for everything else); contact Housing Works to pick up the assorted pieces of furniture I won't be taking; call the furniture store that sold me my sofa bed, because it was too big to fit through my narrow doorway and they had to deliver it in pieces, and they promised me they'd recommend someone to disassemble it again when I needed to move it again.

In my nightmares, my sofa is stuck in the doorway of my living room and my piano at the top of the stairs (where, during my move in 14 years ago, it was wedged between railing and wall for 45 of the 55 minutes it took them to carry it up the three flights of stairs.) Can you see why I'm focused on pre-packing and making sure that everything else runs completely smoothly?

Will I have anything else, ever, to talk about, other than this?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blah blah blah

So work just starts to get manageable and I get dumped on with another huge project. But it's almost like the more you take on, the more you can take on. Illogical, but true: something to do with overconfidence and invincibility and pure giddiness.

I sent in my application to the coop board on Monday. (Finally accumulated all the necessary paperwork, including that out of my control.) I thought it was just another step in the process but immediately felt a tremendous sense of relief. I've done everything I need to do, now I just have to wait. (And make sure the mortgage broker and lawyer are making me aware of anything else I need to do before a closing is scheduled.) I've gone through one delivery of boxes and ordered another. It's beginning to look like someone is moving around here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Back in the day

I am dreading returning to work today. I have so much on my plate right now, and taking Friday off just set me back enough to make today a crazy mess. What's that you say? I could have worked over the weekend? Here is my theory: those who work on the weekends still don't seem to get caught up, and in fact, are always running behind. So what's the sense of giving up your free time, the time that you are working so hard in order to have?

Sometimes I think that by compartmentalizing my work vs. life, I give the impression that I am swamped to colleagues, but I might not have as much going on as those who give up their evenings and Sundays to toil in the office. But I get my job done (and more), so I still don't get the need to kill myself in order to take on more and more and more.

* * *

So the Sopranos won an Emmy - can we stop talking about it now? I know, I know, I said this after the last episode aired, but I was premature.

* * *

Way back in the early days of online communities, I was part of a discussion group fixated on the OJ criminal trial. It grew out of the Court TV message boards but soon took on a life of its own. We were there for each other through the trial, the verdict (which I, stuck in an office, only learned by participating in a chat room with others who had TVs), the civil trial, and then gradually evolved into a more varied political/social issues group. I gave it up a few years ago (although technically I am still part of the group and can access their messages when I'm bored) but for a long time I couldn't imagine cutting that cord. In cleaning out my files for moving, I found a thick pile of printouts from those emails and online chats (including the infamous "not guilty" verdict moments.) One of our members passed away, young and tragically. Two of our members met in real life and married - one of the first online unions; odd to think that now, when I imagine thousands marry through relationships developed on the internet each year. We agreed and disagreed, argued and applauded one another, on issues as varied as the war and movies, but on one thing we always agreed: OJ was guilty.

Now, waking to find that he has once again been arrested (for something far less serious than the slaughter of his ex-wife and an innocent bystander), I naturally am thinking of those online friends.

* * *

My heat has kicked on the past two mornings. Goodbye, summer. Welcome, autumn.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


My baby fish have dwindled down to only 2, from the original batch of 17. That's not entirely unreasonable, as the life expectancy of a platy is only 1-3, and they were born in January 2006. Several of them were never quite normal looking; with a less squeamish owner they would have been culled for their crooked tails and lumpy bodies.

Today's loss was a female that lived with a slightly twisted body almost from birth. However, in the past few weeks she began to lose mobility in her lower body until she basically was floating upside down in the tank, tail and lower extremities pointing up, head down. Somehow she managed to propel herself around, and my inability to kill made it impossible for me to put her out of her misery. Was she miserable? I think in the last few days, when she barely moved, resting behind rocks and against the side of the tank. But whenever I made a move toward the net, she would madly flutter her fins, as if to tell me, "I'm still okay." I just came home and she was still, quiet, finally.

2 Days in Paris

I didn't think I wanted to see "2 Days in Paris." Julie Delpy, romance, Paris, a restricted time frame - bad flashback to "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," movies which I always thought I should like but found extremely dull.

But then "2 Days" stayed at the theater across the street for weeks, and I wanted to see something new, and I have always sorta liked Adam Goldberg since "Dazed and Confused."

(Interestingly, from his imdb profile, it seems that Goldberg was an uncredited "man sleeping on a train" in "Before Sunrise," which was directed by Richard Linklater, who also directed "Dazed and Confused," making this an even more incestuous group of artists than I'd thought. "2 Days" even opens with Delpy's and Goldberg's characters sleeping on a train.)

"2 Days in Paris" is different than I expected: funnier, stranger, and less romantic. It's more about breaking up than falling in love. There are some great moments caused by Goldberg's character Jack's inability to understand the French conversations around him; not a "Three's Company" series of cliche misunderstandings, but realistic scenes where Delpy's Marion has rapid full conversations with her friends and family and he wanders clueless beside her, with only intermittent feedings of English to try to keep up. I'm sure that's what it's really like to be in the home country of your girlfriend when you don't know the language: isolating, uncomfortable, and mostly dull. Goldberg plays it really well, even as he becomes more and more paranoid by what he observes and thinks he observes. Again, this is not "Three's Company" and it's less about Jack being wrong than about how he can react to things he isn't sure he fully understands.

One of the more annoying features of the film was a regular voice over by Marion, filling in gaps and telling you her views on what you just saw. I hate voice overs, because mostly they are unnecessary and lazy. In this movie that is still true, although there is a strange scene near the end where Marion starts by summarizing a scene that you are watching play out without sound. It's almost as if Delpy felt the movie were running long and decided to sum it up with a few sentences rather than lose her audience, and even though it's ostensibly the dramatic moment the whole film has been building towards, we're privy to an abbreviated version. I was about to throw up my hands but as it unfolded I realized this was a scene that would have been tedious to watch play out in real time, and it was just possible that Delpy's choice was less lazy than strategic. Does it matter, in the end, how things are resolved/unresolved, as long as the film lets us glimpse that they somehow are? It's a good question, and not one I expected to have been left with at the end of a fairly innocuous romantic comedy.

I will also give Delpy credit for some wonderful,natural sounding dialogue, and some situations that were so bizarre you simply had to believe they could be true (especially under the American assumptions about the French.) For example, her father (played by Delpy's real life father) eats the heads of rabbits and is an artist as fixated on penises as the young Seth in "Superbad." Her mother has a racy past that she can barely find enough English to confide to Jack, but channels all of her former wildness into carefully ironing his jeans.

Last night I would have said I didn't really like the movie, but after a night's sleep, I've reconsidered. Despite its flaws (like an early reveal that Marion has very poor limited vision, a point that is never addressed again, despite how much it might impact her life choices), it's funny and smart and ultimately satisfying.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cable in, cable out

Hmmm, that was not the most intelligent cable repairman I've had. He was here just shy of two hours, wiggled around the outside wires, swapped out the HD DVR with another, rebooted everything... and left me with an HDTV that was showing fewer channels than when he arrived, and all of those were in purple and green. He said there was an issue outside with the cables on the pole, and someone would fix it this week, and I didn't need to be home.

After he left, I peered at the back of the new HD DVR, and he'd put the wrong wires in the wrong holes. (They are color coordinated, but there are two red, an audio and a video, and he put the video in the audio and then, apparently confused by the buzzing sound that commenced when he put the audio in the video, let that one dangle.) I put them correct and voila! all my channels, in brilliant and true color.


But... this HD DVR is better than the other, as it has the old menus and search functionality I was used to and prefer.

My life as a TWC customer.

Pop! goes the electric

In 14 years, I've never had an electrical problem here that wasn't the result of a larger blackout. A few minutes ago, I heard a pop! from the hallway, and half my electricity went out. Luckily, I was able to pry open the circuit box in the hallway (it had been painted shut before I ever moved in) and fix it, but then when everything popped back on (not realizing I should have turned everything off first), my ceiling fan in the living room made a fizzling sound and something fell onto the floor. I thought maybe one of the bulbs broke, but in retrospect I think it was dust. I turned off the ceiling fan and am afraid of it now.

The early writings of...

I haven't gone through the bottom drawer of my file cabinet in some time. Most of what is in there are old writings: stories from college writing courses, notes for a novel, even poems from high school and college. (Those folders are disturbingly thick; I never considered myself a poet and I can't believe I ever wrote, and saved, that many.)

I read through a few of the older stories last night. They are both better and worse than I'd expected. One, from college, is a sci-fi futuristic fantasy of a woman botanist in a future civilization where men are mostly sterile. In order to minimize the stigma of being one of the infertile, and to allow all to share in the raising of children, a woman sleeps with a different man every night, and if she gets pregnant, the child is not linked to any one man, but is treated as the child of all of the city. (I don't think I had a very good handle on women's reproductive cycles, that some would figure out when they were fertile and who they'd slept with at the opportune time.) Babies were taken from their birth mothers and rotated among various foster homes, so that everyone plays the role of parent multiple times. Meanwhile, the heroine in the story is assigned to work with a brilliant young scientist from another city (another naive notion - how could cities exist in such isolation from one another?) who comes to help save the dying agriculture of her own. Through their talk, she learns of other societies with a more traditional family unit: one set of parents, long-term relationships, procreation as part of love, not duty.

It's pretty basic future fantasy stuff, and I am sure it echoes many other stories written during the time when fears of socialism were as prevalent as fears of the destruction of the planet. And it has a completely bogus ending (the woman, now pregnant and intrigued by the world the now-missing scientist described, poisons her unborn child and herself by ingesting the chemical mixture that the man left behind, determined to claim the child as "hers" and not society's. Abortion and suicide as social statement? I'm not even sure what I intended.) But there are a few decently written sentences in there, and some nice descriptions so it isn't a complete waste of paper.

This is how we learn: we write, and we write, and we write. And years later, we go back and read the crap we wrote in college and have a chuckle.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pet peeve number 29.

Why do people put confetti in birthday cards? My apartment is covered with little tiny colored foil stars.

Dr's orders

Things not to do for 24 hours after being sedated:

1. Drive a motor vehicle. (I don't have one.)
2. Operate heavy machinery. (I think I'll even skip the shredder tonight.)
3. Make important decisions. (Ha! I already shot off an email to an executive at work that might bite me in the butt on Monday. I also stopped in the furniture store and ordered something, although I didn't put any cash down, and have the option of not taking it if it comes in and doesn't look like it does in the catalog.)

My throat hurts.

It starts here...

The first person to wish me "Happy Birthday" today was the admitting nurse at Long Island College Hospital.

I think that would make a great opening line for a short story.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I am a baby. I wanted people to feel sorry for me today because I couldn't eat. I didn't get any sympathy, because nobody really knew, and it wasn't the kind of thing I could really yell from the top of a cubicle wall. In a meeting, one of the execs was talking about the Jewish holidays and fasting, and how his wife is fasting today "but not for religious reasons, she's having a colonoscopy tomorrow!" and everyone laughed and I thought, me, too, but of course you don't say that in a professional setting, especially when you are the only woman, and junior to everyone in the room. (Weird double standard, of course, that I can know about his wife's.)

Have I mentioned that I don't want to turn 45? Although I thought it would be cool to have a 45 record themed birthday party. Maybe I still will, after I move into the new apartment. A combination house-warming/birthday bash.

Happy birthday to me... almost

Tomorrow I turn 45. That seems so much older than 44, but I felt that way in my 30's also. The upper "register" of a decade seems like the big numbers.

To celebrate, I'm treating myself to a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. Actually, it's the only time I could schedule it, but it's fine. Last year I had to work at a client breakfast seminar in Manhattan, then hop on a plane to DC, where I ran a client wine tasting. Yeah, not as fun as it sounds, and I can't say more preferable than tomorrow's hospital visit.

Today I am on restricted to liquids, and not allowed anything red in color. Breakfast is green Gatorade; lime jello awaits me for lunch. I'm treating myself to cake tomorrow after this is all over.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11, again

There is a huge American flag hanging in front of my office building. I'm not on one of the floors whose windows it covers, but I wonder if they have red, white, and blue diffused light. Do they feel claustrophobic?

On early morning news, pre-coverage of the 9/11 ceremonies center their cameras on the flag. Was it there last year? Everything is more intense this year, why? Because it's falling on the same day of the week? I think it's also because the site of the ceremony has moved off the actual site into a nearby park, so it seems more streets are closed and subway station exits barricaded. So it affects us, who work in the area, much more, in a physical sense, and somehow, taps into our emotions more as well.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Someone to Eat Cheese With

I went to see "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With" with great anticipation. The film's pedigree is impeccable; written and directed by Jeff Garland of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," it also stars Sarah Silverman, and countless other talented comics, including two of my favorite smart women comedians, Amy Sedaris and Bonnie Hunt.

It's one of those movies that suffers from the weight of its trailer, which gives away many of the funniest lines and scenarios, leaving a few more funny moments, but mostly filler. I seriously wanted to love the movie, but I didn't, really. There were some really hysterical parts, but something was off with the pacing; at times it felt too slow, other times it was jumping too quickly (like an extended flash-forward at the end which is likely expected to satisfy the movie goer's curiosity over what happens next, but just made me think, why couldn't I have seen the movie about that stuff in between? It looked more interesting.) Maybe I'm a traditionalist as far as structure goes, although I do think I can embrace irregularities in storytelling when they work, but I found myself wishing the film was tighter and more focused. The audience around me was much more impressed, so maybe there is an appreciation for this kind of wandering style that I just don't have.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bad weekend?

Started on Friday when I came home to finally find a copy of the mortgage loan commitment letter in my email inbox. I opened the document only to go into panic mode because there are conditions attached which I don't think I can meet, but I am pretty sure I'm just not reading them right. I can't understand much of the document, and I have worked in financial services for many years. It made me feel dumb and lost and anxious, and after shooting off emails to both my lawyer and the real estate broker for help, I turned off my computer and started crying. This whole process is just so frustrating and endless, and it just hit me all at once.

I had to leave my apartment or I'd start reading the damn letter again, so I wandered around outside for a bit and then went to see a movie I'd already seen ("Once") which calmed me some, but resulted in a post-film hunger that was sadly satiated with a bad bad visit to the burrito place for cheese/sour cream/guacamole laden nachos. At 10 pm. This is not what I need to do when I'm trying to keep my weight under control. Especially if I'm doing it when I'm stressed; that's a habit I need to crush.

Yesterday I found that - god, I can't even say it without cracking myself up - I am having cable trouble again. Yup. Only on the new HD DVR box, but I'm getting only 1/2 the channels. They can't fix it over the phone so I have yet another cable service visit next Saturday. I need to look at my old calendars and count, but I think I'm up to at least 12 over the last three years. I went to AT&T's site this morning and no, DSL/Internet service is still not available in my area, and sadly, is not available at the new apartment either.

If I even ever move into the new apartment.

Today, I woke in time to get to the gym before showering/dressing and going to church - the new minister started today so I wanted to be there. Get to the gym, and there are signs announcing no hot water. Great, now I have to cut my workout short in order to go home and shower. But then I get to the locker room and they have cut my lock and taken all of my stuff (two pairs of sneakers, an umbrella, one full clean workout outfit, toiletries, extra socks and underwear, a canvas totebag.)

Now, there have been signs announcing this for weeks, but they were clear that it was for those who don't pay for lockers, and I have been paying. So of course I ignored the signs. I went out to the desk and got the better news - only one person has the key to the room where the stuff is stored, and she's not in, and won't be until Monday. So I refused to accept that and said I wouldn't leave until they got me my stuff, and if it meant calling a locksmith, fine. The front desk staff kept calling the manager who said she wasn't coming in with the key.

As I stood there, fuming, two more women came up with the same issue so all together we just held our ground until someone, somehow, managed to get the door open and return our things. It was about an hour after I'd gotten there, so now no time for a workout and church, and you know? I chose the workout. Church next week I guess.

They were nice enough to give us all new locks for free, and the guy at the desk told me the manager would call me tomorrow. I came home (after a good workout, burning off my anger) and can't find the receipt from my locker payment. It would be somewhat embarrassing if I really am behind in paying for it, but 1)the agreement I signed says they will give me 30 days' notice when it's due, and they never did and 2)that doesn't excuse the manager going home with the only key the night that she confiscated members' belongings. And, 3)I'm pretty damned sure that my locker is paid up through next month.

So now I'm home and I still haven't showered.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Stacks and stacks

You know how somebody made an unauthorized charge to my PayPal account? Well now PayPal has put a restriction on my account because another charge came through - although this one is one I actually made, and is only $1.99. Maybe it's because I downloaded an episode of "The Office" from months ago, and that looks pretty suspicious. Nobody is stupid enough to do that when the DVDs are about to be released for last season...

I ordered some household items from a new website and used my PayPal account. The order confirmation said they should arrive in 2-5 days. After a week, I received an email telling me that one of the items (but not which item) was out of stock, and would come in within the next 2 weeks. It took them another three days to answer my question of which item was out of stock, and the answer was both items. I immediately responded to cancel my order and refund my PayPal. They replied they would, but no refund yet.

Why do I think that this is related to the recent fraudulent activity on my PayPal account?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tick tock tick tock

As my workload zooms into overdrive, so does the anxiety around the slow pace of buying the apartment. Maybe it's because part of my job is juggling multiple projects and fighting against deadlines, but I find it difficult to function under an undefined time frame, where everything relies on the next thing which relies on the previous thing and nothing gets done as quickly as it should. Having no control sucks. I seriously am now doubting a closing date in September and that terrifies me, as October is a deadly busy month for me at work.

I am going to be 45 years old next Friday. I wanted to be a homeowner before I was 45 (upgraded from 40, and before that, 35.) Of course, I also said I'd be a published novelist before I was 30.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Shred this

Yesterday I bought a paper shredder. I'm cleaning out files and boxes of old letters and the recycling bin doesn't seem like an appropriate place to send old stories and friends' words to die.

I like feeding the shredder. The buzz, the neat strips, the finality. Zip, there goes a letter my mother sent me when I was in college. Zap, there goes a postcard from that friend from Albany who disappeared and I don't know where he is. (Break for Google. Back, no luck.) Zip, the third rewrite of the seventh chapter of the novel I never finished. (I have it electronically if I ever am inspired to continue with it.) Zap, there goes a weirdly-worded letter I got a year after college, from the professor with whom I'd had a fling. (A letter I read and reread and reread, never able to really decipher its "hidden" meaning. It was just a letter, I now see.) Zip, the first draft version of that short story that I wrote ten years ago that never moved past "sucking."

I have two bags of shredded paper now. I can't wait until recycling day.

Floating on a workstream...

Sometimes I think I am not cut out for this job, this company. (Although it's the happiest I've been with my career in many years.) Today I spent another hour on the phone with a project team where all we did was dissect the "work stream" and the "process" and never once actually talked about the project itself.

I think it's the result of working for an organization that's heavily focused on consulting. Consulting drives me nuts. I don't understand why corporations pay millions of dollars to have other people tell them what they should already know. Luckily, I don't have much to do with those services...

Tuesday after Labor Day, relatively quiet.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Four days, four films. (Sort of.)

Four days off - four movies? Well, almost. How about three movies, double-dipping with one resulting in four screenings? (And four full price tickets.) Yes, today I went back and saw "The Nines" again so I could try to figure it out while it was fresh in my head. I'd also downloaded writer-director John August's audio commentary, which he suggests you can listen to on your iPod in the theater (discreetly, so as not to disturb your neighbors of course.) I wound up not doing that. I felt self-conscious about it, even though the theater wasn't very full (early afternoon on Labor Day) and I was in the third row, which is never full. I listened to it on the subway on the way home, though, which turns out to be pretty boring without the visual. It's meant to be heard while watching, so there's long pauses with no audio (did my iPod die?)and they don't bother describing what's happening on the screen, so if you're not in front of it, you have to try to remember what scene they could possibly be in.

Did I figure out the film on the second viewing? Not really. I think there are two very possible answers, and both work, from the very start. The question is which do I prefer, and I think the answer is the same as when I saw it the first time, which is that I prefer the more practical of the two.

Enough said. Go see the movie, and tell me what you think.

Since I need to catch up, yesterday I saw "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," which is a documentary about rival Donkey Kong champions competing in classic arcade gaming. It's really very good, with old-fashioned heroes and villains and a suspense-filled plot. I listened to Elvis Mitchell's interview with the director, Seth Gordon, and it's really interesting to learn how they focused the story on these two individuals. The truth is much stranger than fiction, and you can't make these guys up - and yet, oddly, there are plans to do so, as Gordon is now working on a fictionalized version of the story. I'm not sure why. I suppose that it's easier to sell tickets to a fictional film than to a documentary, but I can't imagine anyone doing some of the "characters" in "King of Kong" justice without appearing to have gone too far.

I am sad that the weekend is almost over.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Within 30 minutes, PayPal approved my dispute and credited my account for the $10. Weird. Wonder if it happens often? Or maybe it costs more than $10 for them to investigate...

I don't know if I griped about it here, but I had an earlier dispute with a store on my block, who refused to credit my Amex account the day after I made a purchase (for a wallet that turned out to not close after you filled it with your credit cards - not an excessive number of credit cards, mind you, just the number of cards that fit into the corresponding slots.) The store refused, only offering me store credit. I took it up with Amex who investigated and after 2 months told me they were crediting my account because the store never responded to their requests for information. So, right now I have both the credit on my Amex and the refund ticket from the store. I could, of course, go back to the store and use the credit slip to buy something else, but I am looking forward to giving it back to them and letting them know that I am too honest to take advantage of them, and that all I ever wanted was the Amex credit. I'm sure they won't care.

I really am not that nasty of a customer. Sometimes though I flashback to the bitchy people I had to be nice to when I was in retail, and I find myself over-arguing a point. Because I learned the hard way that if you fuss, they listen. But it takes awhile to get me to the fussing point. Look at what happened at TWC just 2 days ago? I let them walk all over me and walked out with a DVR that I didn't even want, and a service I'm not ready to start paying for. I'm supposed to be on a budget now with mortgage payments starting in a couple of months...

Wake Up Call

I woke up this morning to a shock in my email box - a receipt for PayPal payment of $10 to Skype. Which, I did not authorize. I know what Skype is, but I've never used it. I immediately reacted by emailing Skype, which is probably not the best idea, if it's some kind of scam, but I also contacted PayPal and opened up an unauthorized transaction claim.

I also changed my password. How can anyone charge my PayPal account without a password? But who would have known my password? I know this is just $10, but if there is a security breach it could become much bigger. (My PayPal balance is fairly substantial due to online orders for my mother's business and due to recent Ebay sales I've made.)

I hate feeling violated.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Nines

I'm not sure what to make of this film. At one point, near the middle, I was ecstatic and enthralled. At the end I felt something fall apart, in a similar way (although not as badly) as "Vanilla Sky," because the "explanation" playing out on screen was contrary to what I wanted to be true. Fortunately, in the case of this film, I don't know that what they told us was the truth...

Should I back up, or is it okay to be confusing about a movie that's essentially confusing?

"The Nines" is three interwoven, parallel stories, each featuring different characters played by the same actors (Ryan Reynolds and Hope Davis, among others.) The story plays with the idea of reality and fantasy, of art and its creation. On top of that, it's interesting and enough of a puzzle that you can wonder about it after but not feel entirely diminished by the weight of your inability to understand.

It's rare that I walk out of a movie without really getting it. ("Mulholland Drive" and "Primer" are two I can think of right now.) I possibly might consider seeing it again.

I think it's worth it.
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