Monday, October 29, 2007

No, seriously

Obviously I don't live in California, so my exposure to that state's governor is limited, but the recent wildfires have forced him onto my TV screen at unexpected moments. Yet, every time I hear him speak, I want to giggle, it sounds so much like a parody. A joke. You know, like next you expect to hear someone do Marlon Brando's Stanly Kowalski as a math teacher. ("Algebra!")

Living on the edge of the world

I sit here at 6:47 am, sweating, because yet another in the long list of things I hate about this apartment is that it's HOT. When I complained the landlord said, open a window, because he's, you know, an environmentally conscious guy who sees the direct correlation between an ineffective thermostat and the huge heating bills he shoulders.

I can't open a window now because it's dark out and my windows face the street and the whole world could watch me sitting here in the light.

I went to two open houses yesterday. One was in a neighborhood where people often tell me I should look, but one which I've long resisted because even though it's just 6 subway stops further out, that feels like another borough. They say it's a great neighborhood for bargains, and this apartment really drew me because it was huge with a nice layout and many closets. And? Getting off the subway, I found myself literally at a crossroads between two highways, one which I had to cross via an overpass before finding the apartment building. And it was a nice, big apartment, and it's not too expensive, but I couldn't live there. It doesn't feel like a neighborhood, like the neighborhoods I enjoy. It felt like my old place in Queens - small ugly single family homes interspersed with large brick apartment buildings, nary a store or restaurant in sight. It's also entirely dependent on one subway line, which happened to be undergoing construction this weekend so I had to return home by riding one stop further and then circling back. That makes it feel even more remote, when getting anywhere depends on one single letter of the alphabet.

The other was closer, at the fringes of the neighborhood I live in now, although near another busy highway. The selling point is a private backyard that's been built out with a wooden deck with partial roof and storage benches and shed. Even in the sunny chill of a fall day, it was beautiful. The apartment itself is somewhat small, but more than that it felt depressing - subtle things like a big pile of creepy-looking insulation caked around the bottom of a heating pipe, ugly plywood closet and cupboard doors. I don't know if all of my stuff would fit in there, but I don't know if I could live in there even if it did. The bedroom windows face the street, like here, but there I'd be on the ground floor, alarmingly vulnerable, and on a street much more remote than this one.

I saw two movies: "Lars and the Real Girl" and "Gone, Baby, Gone." More later.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I did it. I applied for this. Maybe this is why I didn't get that apartment, so I could afford to go to Italy.

There is a reason for everything, right?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Happiness is a Friday.

Yesterday was tough. I started out with a phone call from a particular bitchy woman from an administrative services group at work, calling to lecture me about something I'd done incorrectly, who spoke so nastily when I tried to explain myself that I finally cut her off with a "Thank you for your time," and hung up. A co-worker two cubes down who only last week told me she thinks I'm always so calm and laid back at work, finally got to see me mad. The day got progressively worse, with a few last minute (urgent!) projects that were lobbed in my direction, but fortunately I was able to identify the more appropriate (better) person to work on them. (It's not that I don't want to help, but when it's clearly not my responsibility nor something I'm very good at, and I'm already swamped with things I am supposed to be doing, I have to volley back.)

Miraculously, my living room cable came back in time for prime time. I slept on the sofa bed, away from the footsteps in other bedrooms, and with an over-the-counter sleep aid. I feel great, although when I woke up at 4 am to use the bathroom, the cable was out again. But I fell right asleep after, which is huge.

Friday. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On, insomnia

I have been awake since 3 am. Footsteps, someone coming home late and loudly. By the creaking of my ceiling it sounded like the woman upstairs, but it's the guy next door who works the weird shifts and usually clomps through his apartment when he comes home. Or maybe he came in with his usual heavy boot stride and she woke up and was suffering like me. (When I went into the bathroom at 4:30 I could hear the rush of water in the wall behind me as she flushed her toilet.) Maybe the two of them came home together; maybe there is something going on between them.

Either way, this sucks for me.

Part of the trouble is it's one of the few times of the year when I don't have my fan on, which creates a white noise that semi-protects me. In the summer, it's because it's hot, and in the winter, it's because the radiator makes it just as hot.

Will it be different if I move, or am I just too light a sleeper? Yesterday, for example, I was actually woken by the sound of my upstairs neighbor's alarm clock going off, which I was grateful for, as I'd neglected to set mine and had a flight to catch.

I still want to move. I have a lead on another coop that I'm going to follow up.

* * *

Airport note: yesterday on the way home, I was going through the airport security check and one of the guys picked up my bag from the conveyor belt and asked, "Is this yours?"

"Yes," I said.

"Well, they're calling the troopers as we speak. You're in big trouble."

My heart skipped, but then I saw a hint of a smile on his face.

"Big trouble," he said, and pulled from my bag the mini bottle of water I'd forgotten I had with me, the same bottle of water I'd been given on the plane on the first leg of my journey.

I apologized, and said I'd meant to throw it out when I got out of the cab. He handed me my bag and I walked away, thinking, don't passengers get arrested for joking around with security people? I guess it's okay if they initiate it.

* * *

I could just go to the gym an hour early.

* * *

Cable problems again. I don't know how to handle it. When I call to complain, and run through the whole long tale of everything that has happened so far, the only solution they can offer is to send YET ANOTHER TECHNICIAN over to deal with it. And they "fix" it but it never sticks.

I seriously need to move.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The formerly-thought-of-as-"my" apartment is listed again, but with another broker, and at a significantly higher asking price. Clearly the sellers fired the first broker, but was it because they blamed her for my deal falling through, or did they, as some have suspected, jettison the application process (through their "friend on the board" who was supposed to provide the broker with insights as to what happened, but never did) because they realized they could get more $$? I am not usually the suspicious type, but I wonder.

The annoying part is that the new broker is listed on the website I use to search (it combines feeds from multiple realtors and so saves time), so now for every search in my range I'll see that damned place. I'll know when it goes into contract, etc., etc. I'd rather forget its existence. When I first saw the listing I felt really terrible - angry, sad, frustrated.

I have not made a decision as to what to do next. Still look to buy/Look to rent something else/stay put. I said I would wait until my business trip last week was over, but I'm still not ready. I hate that my apartment is filled with boxes, but I hate the thought of unpacking even more.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Massage and George Clooney

Friday, to mark the end of "hell week," a colleague and I got massages at the hotel spa where we were staying. When asked, I told the masseuse when my last massage was, but as I lay there on the table, I began to do calendar math and realized it was actually another, similar, work-related occasion. Time somehow has twisted itself around, because it took me quite a long time to assure myself that it was on that trip, and not on another business trip, or, as I had carried in my head for some time now, in a more exotic locale on vacation.

And then, we set out for home. She drove me to the ferry near her home in NJ, and I rode back to Manhattan, against the flow of commuters, and then hopped into a cab across the Brooklyn Bridge and home. It was fast and uneventful. Home, ready for bed, a great night's sleep and a deservedly lazy Saturday. Ahhhh...

Saturday was to be for only things I wanted to do, not things I needed to do. I even went to see "Michael Clayton" in the early afternoon, but managed to doze off a couple of times during the movie. I can't believe I was that tired still, but there I was, sitting quietly, closing my eyes softly, and half-dreaming about things that only slightly resembled what was on screen at the time. I don't think I missed anything important in the film, or at least I understood most of what had happened near the end, but it was strange. I managed to pull myself awake (shifting in the seat to another position, swallowing another big gulp of Diet Coke) and made it to the end of the movie without another relapse.

The movie was good, although a bit formulaic for me. (Bad corporation, single piece of damning evidence, over-the-top cover-up, imperfect hero with secret vice and cute child), but well acted, especially by George Clooney. I agree with the suggestion that this used to be the kind of film you'd see starring Robert Redford, etc. (I submit Harrison Ford) and that Clooney brought a level of talent to it that most of those others (again, I offer Harrison Ford) would not. But I think that's what stops me from fully loving the movie - it's more like a Harrison Ford movie than a "Syriana" or a "Good Night and Good Luck."

Or maybe I really did miss something when I dozed off.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hotel facts

The shampoo and conditioner in this hotel is tangerine/basil scented. I think it's supposed to be trendy and aromatic, but I feel like I smell like an appetizer.

I don't understand hotels that give you an ethernet cord that's barely two feet long for your internet connection, which requires you to remain chained to the desk in the corner of the room, and then don't have an outlet within reach of same desk. I didn't choose this hotel (it was chosen for reasons other than internet access, namely, the ability to provide rooms for many hundred people at a relatively short notice, and at a somewhat convenient distance from NYC), but I also don't understand hotels who don't simply have wireless in the rooms. I like to sit up in the white fluffy hotel bed and check my email in the morning, not sit here stuck in a corner, out of sight line of TV or anything but the side of the armoire.

Others on this trip exclaimed over dinner at the huge sleeping rooms. Either I travel much more than them, or I am in a junior room, because mine is what I'd consider average.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On edge

I am traveling today to a nearby city for a multi-day meeting that I helped plan and execute. Over 700 attendees, so there are many of us behind the scenes. I am "carpooling" with a colleague, leaving the office shortly to grab a cab to a ferry to another colleague's hometown, where she will pick us up for the final (driving) leg. I am ready to go. I am sitting here, my stuff beside me, all set. If I were going alone, I'd be gone, out there, waving down a cab, happy to be early at the ferry (which I've never been to), but when I travel with others I usually bury my nervous nellie nature and follow other's more laid-back schedules. But today I am even more of a bundle of anxiety than usual, no doubt because the next three days will be jam-packed intensity, and I just want to get it started so I can get it over with.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


And, all of a sudden, it's autumn. After several weeks of lingering summer temperatures, we have cool sunny days. Boots instead of flip flops. I bought a new pair of boots last week and they are so comfortable I am afraid I might just wear them every day until spring. They are dressy enough for skirts, so even when I wear them to work with the intention of swapping for a pair of the dressy shoes in my bottom desk drawer, they somehow manage to stay on my feet all day.

Ok, so you know what is making me miserable? The 55 pounds I lost last year has dwindled to 40. Slowly, to be sure, but with a boost of 5 pounds in the last few weeks that has made the difference between fitting into my new clothes and not. I keep reminding myself that I did it before, that I know how to turn this around, that I refuse to keep sliding upwards back to my old weight, and yet, every time I get two or three positive eating days under my belt, "something happens" that destroys my resolve. (A cupcake party at work, a client dinner, my birthday.) I need new resolve, because none of these things are insurmountable. None of these things are anything but excuses.

And yet, as I prepare to leave next week for three days in Atlantic City (a business event, with many hours of work and potentially zero minutes of enjoyment), I think that I will have no control over the food that is served to me during that time, so why bother behaving now?

The trouble is, I see the holes in my logic, I know the games my brain is playing to please my palate, but the only time I have the drive to argue back is when I'm trying to pull up the zipper on a skirt that just doesn't quite fit any more.

Friday, October 12, 2007

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

Since I last wrote about my fish, I've lost four more. I don't know if it's a water quality issue, although I've been following the same cleaning/water changing routine I've followed for years, or if it's related to the ugly algae that has been popping up lately. (A different algae than the types that have plagued me in the past - this one is bright green flowing threads that latch onto the gravel and the plants. In the past I've had the minuscule floating algae that turns the water bright green or white, and the thick black carpet of sludge that coats the aquarium floor. It's odd to think that these grow simply from tap water standing in a heated tank.)

I had thought that I'd refrain from buying more fish, since it would be easier for the move, but now I might venture out this weekend to replenish my stock. The fish I have left are all schooling fish, who thrive in larger numbers, and seem a bit lonely now.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Selected Shorts

Last night I went to "Selected Shorts," this time featuring selections from the new "Best American Short Stories." Stephen King, the guest editor, introduced the stories. It was the first one I went to that was completely sold out. I bought my ticket a couple of weeks ago and could only get a seat in the very back row, so my image of Stephen King is a very small blurry man who looks older and skinnier than I'd expect. At least I could see him - shortly after he opened, a tall man came and sat in the empty seat in front of me, forcing me to crane my head from one side to the other to see anything or anyone on stage. Hey, it's a reading, I guess seeing is overrated.

The stories were good and the readers (Joanna Gleason and Judith Ivey) really talented. But both were really long; the second went on so long I think I may have dozed off for a few seconds at one point. I glanced at it in the subway on the way home (having brought with me my copy of the book, in vain hope that King would appear in the crowd for autographs) and the story isn't that long. I think it's Ivey's drawling delivery, which is quite lyrical and lovely, but seemingly slowed the pace of the evening. Isaiah Sheffer tried to give his usual farewells and acknowledgements at the close, but the crowd was already standing and exiting. This is a polite Upper West Side literary crowd, but one with an apparent curfew.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Remind me of the stages of grief

On gym mornings, I usually wake up before my alarm clock goes off, but still manage to dawdle enough that I am racing to get everything together to be out the door by 6:30. Today I was up at 4:45, which isn't unusual, but somehow I am sitting here at 6:03, ready to go. I could, of course, just leave, get to the gym early, finish early, get to work early - but something about a few more minutes here is nice.

Yesterday my lawyer said he would be surprised if we learned any more about the board's decision. He's ready to ask for my downpayment back, but agreed to wait a day or two to see what the realtor unearths. After speaking to him, I realized that it's over. The end. Finis. I have to banish from my head the fantasy images of my future home. I will never know where the piano would have fit best in that apartment. I will never know if painting the kitchen wall light green would overpower the room, or if I would be able to find a stained glass transom window to fit the space over the bedroom door. Or whether their cable service is more reliable than it is here.

Now I have to decide: stay or go? I can stay here and continue to pay cheap rent and save money, and be depressed both by my lack of progress in updating my life, and the shoddy condition of this apartment. (If I take this route, I will need to invest my own money into fixing up the place, but financially it would benefit me over the long run.) Or I can look for a new rental, something bigger and newer and different and more expensive - which will make me happier but will decrease my ability to save each month, meaning that I'll never be over the hurdle of having enough to ever buy.

But one good thing - when I no longer have a future of mortgage payments looming in front of me, I can afford to do this.

Monday, October 08, 2007

On a Monday

I slept through the night last night for the first time in many months. Maybe it's a direct result of my sporadic sleep on Saturday night. But I still don't think the full brunt of what is happening has hit me: I don't feel that punch in the gut sensation I get when someone breaks up with me, or I lose a job, or have a fight with a friend.

Today will hopefully be a day of learning and knowing.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Across the Universe

I loved it.

Three films: Jane Austen, Ira & Abby, and Eastern Promises

Yesterday before I got the mail, I went and saw "The Jane Austen Book Club." (I went early, to a $6.50 matinee, and the ticket person gave me change for a $20 instead of a $10. When I first went back to tell he'd made a mistake it looked like he was about to argue with me until he realized I was giving him back money, not asking for money. "Wow, that's really honest," he said. Why do people first assume you're trying to screw them, not trying to help them?)

I was bored during the movie. It had some interesting actors (notably Emily Blunt from "The Devil Wears Prada"), but too many uninspired storylines that the film didn't explore deeply enough, leaving me to care very little about any of the characters or their fate. There is a marriage at the end, and it's of the one woman who you learn nearly nothing about, so it's not like you want to applaud her happiness. There were endless scenes where I wondered, why is this even in the movie? Like a scene where one character shaves her girlfriend's legs and tells a long boring story about her childhood. (Okay, later this becomes a plot point in the breakup of said relationship, but since you don't have any time to care about them as a couple, their breakup isn't that interesting either.) Yawn.

So last weekend, or was it two weekends ago, I saw "Eastern Promises" and "Ira and Abby." "I&A" is a romantic comedy written by and starring Jennifer Westfeldt, who wrote/starred in "Kissing Jessica Stein," which I liked. This one? Not so much. The character of Abby is so preposterously frothy, it's hard to believe in her or care for her much. But the film pretty much belongs to Ira, played by Chris Messina, who I only know as the corporate guy Claire falls for in the last season of "Six Feet Under." He's more interesting than Abby, but when the film is all about his love for/relationship with her, it doesn't help when she's a nothing. There are the requisite sets of parents played by familiar faces: in this case we have Robert Klein and Judith Light, and Fred Willard and Frances Conroy (hey, playing Chris Messina's character's mother-in-law, as she was never quite on "Six Feet Under.") The movie is farcical without being particularly funny, romantic without being exceptionally sweet.

"Eastern Promises," on the other hand, I really did like. It's a film from David Cronenberg, who directed last year's "A History of Violence," and it stars that movie's great Viggo Mortensen. (Career check: Maria Bello, who was fabulous opposite him in "A History of Violence," got stuck with "The Jane Austen Book Club" this year. Who said that it's hard for women over 40 to find interesting roles?) If you've heard anything about the film, you've probably heard about the fight scene in a steam room in which Mortensen fights off a series of attackers in the nude. It's a spectacular scene, although it gets a bit gorey, it's pretty intense. The rest of the movie is an interesting mystery/thriller about a Russian crime family squabble which is dropped in the lap of a London midwife (Naomi Watts, who isn't Cate Blanchett, no matter how many times I imagine each in the other's roles.) I like that it doesn't try to be all aobut the Russian mob or solve any big questions about right or wrong, but gives us a sliver of a story that you can see stretches on before and after this film.

I'm contemplating going to see "Across the Universe" right now but I don't know how I feel about a running time of over 2 hours. I would like to occupy my mind, though. Today I bought a new shower curtain, which I sorely needed, but I was putting off, thinking I'd just buy a new one for the new apartment and live with the one I had for a bit longer.

I am ignoring my wall of boxes.

Where my brain is at

The shock has worn off somewhat. I spoke to my brother at length about it, and then the realtor called me back and we talked some more. Since the coop board never even met with me, it's clearly a financial decision. Not much I can do about that, except that I wish the realtor and the mortgage broker had not been so positive and encouraging. But the realtor is going to investigate what the reasoning was, and has vowed to get me in front of the board for an interview. She also told me that they'd rejected another buyer last week, so they might be getting tight-fisted.

I don't know how I feel, truly, yet. Disappointed and enraged, yes. Feeling like I was dumped on the eve of my wedding, but thinking if that's who I was going to marry, then fuck him, I'm better off. To paraphrase Woody Allen, do I want to be a member of a club that won't have me as a member?

Number one bad feeling is having to explain to everyone, to answer every well-meaning inquiry of co-worker and friend. It makes me feel small and stupid and worthless. Number two bad feeling is the dread of having to unpack all of my boxes; or, conversely, to have to walk by them for weeks until I get the energy (and a big bottle of wine) to do so.

Number one good feeling is getting my deposit back, and having control of my finances again. I don't have to give up plans for some of the home improvements I had in mind - I can still buy a new bed and upgrade my TV furniture and reconfigure my bookcases. Without the increased financial burden of a mortgage I can easily afford to do this. Number two good feeling is waking up today and realizing I don't have to pack anything, that the day is free for goofing off if I so desire. I can stop feeling guilty for "wasting" time, since I have all the time in the world.

Back to the bad is the depressed thought that if I stay here I will have to force myself to take care of some of the apartment crap I've been ignoring - get a professional to fix the peeling paint in the living ceiling, replace the dying ceiling fan.

I don't know how I feel. I slept badly last night. I decided to sleep in the living room, in front of the big TV, and spent most of the night watching bits of movies before dozing off again. "Fight Club." "The Daytrippers." "Go."

But I didn't wake up with that sense of terror that grips you as you slowly rise out of sleep into consciousness and remember what is bothering you. So maybe that's good?

I think I'm really not accepting it yet as final. The realtor wants to fight for me, and maybe there is still a chance that something could change. So I have to believe there could be.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Love and Death

Last night I came home to find my cable miraculously fixed. As I was spinning through channels to confirm that, indeed, all was ok, the phone rang and it was TWC calling to let me know they'd done some work "in the neighborhood" and wondered if it had fixed my problem. Yes!

Today I got home and found a letter, a one sentence letter, telling me that the coop board has rejected my application. I don't know how to deal with this. Naturally it is Saturday so I can't call my lawyer. I called the real estate agent who was sorry and said she'd try to find out what happened, and maybe it's something that can be addressed. The fact that they didn't even want to interview me is really upsetting - does that mean there's something inherently wrong with my financial picture?

I want to call someone else because if I just sit here alone I'll go crazy. But if I call someone I'm afraid I'll get hysterical crying.

I was packing this morning. Will I need to unpack?

This sucks.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Get out!!!!

My apartment is tired of me and is doing its best to shrug me off. After last week's attempt to force me out with a stopped up bathroom sink, it's set the ceiling fan on me. I've had to run to the circuit box twice after one half of the outlets shut down, and both times the ceiling fan welcomed the returning influx of electric with a shower of sparks. (Now that sounds overly dramatic - more like two sparks. Still scary.)

Meanwhile, I am entertaining another Time Warner Cable repair-person tomorrow (not sure why I need the gender political correctness, as in my nearly 20 TWC service calls in the past few years, I've yet to see a female technician.) Maybe my apartment is just bored with my company, although I'd propose that forcing me to sit inside for a block of 4 hours (2 to 6 pm! I should make this a standing appointment) is probably not what my four walls intended.


On Monday everyone involved in my apartment purchase woke up and noticed it is October now. I had calls from the lawyer, the mortgage broker, and the real estate broker, all checking in. I have nothing to report. The coop board has had my application for almost three weeks, and has not called me. When I called the management company to check the status, the woman working there barked at me (as I am told she barks at everyone.) I have no answers, and I'm not even frustrated with the process any more. I don't have the energy. I've been lulled into a state of limbo, where I might forever reside with half my life packed in boxes and half of my savings sitting in someone else's lawyer's account.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

No, no, no

Yes, my HD cable crapped out again. I called and they want to send someone again, and I caved. I don't know what my other options are. Cancel service? That requires my trekking into the store on a Saturday to drop off my cable box. And going back to get it once I move. And, it means I will have absolutely no service on the HD TV in the living room. At least now I periodically get some channels (although right now, just the Showtime channels which are offered free this week. I think that is meaningful, but don't have the time to call TWC back to share this tidbit of info. I feel like I'm one of the doctors on "House" playing with diagnostic theories.)

What this means to me: I watch TV in the bedroom, where the old digital box still works with my 20 + year old TV. Lying in bed watching TV means I fall asleep; last night it was 8:30. Seriously! I woke up at 10 briefly, but for the most part I slept straight through.

Monday, October 01, 2007

(I found this in my draft folder from Labor Day weekend. I'm posting it as is, because I don't know where my thoughts were going.)

On Monday I sat in a park near the movie theater, enjoying the beautiful weather. A few other people were sitting on the benches near the basketball court, but it was fairly quiet, sunny, breezy, and bright. There's something therapeutic about sitting there, watching the random guys running across the court, the younger kids slipping under a basket when the play takes the action to the other side. Sometimes
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