Thursday, January 31, 2008

I love "Lost." (No spoilers)

Yeah, I loved this episode. Season 4 is going exactly in the direction I'd hoped.

* * *

A friend invited me to a rally for Hillary this weekend. I don't know how I feel about that. I haven't made up my mind yet. I still don't know who to vote for in next week's primary. I didn't expect to be this torn. I don't know that I understand the differences enough between Obama and Clinton, and so I feel that I would be okay with either as my President. The question is, which would I feel better having as my Candidate? In other words, which has the better chance of beating John McCain?

* * *

The young guy in the Korean market has been AWOL for the past week or so. Of course I am immediately guilt-ridden that he was caught giving me "discounts" although I realize that it's more likely he would have been caught giving them to many people. Maybe he is a chronic flirt.

Or maybe he's just on vacation.


Finally, stress that kills my appetite. It's 1:30 and I never ate my breakfast, am halfway through my sandwich and not interested in finishing it. Usually by now I'm chewing on the cubicle walls for sustenance.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

maybe not so numb

I can't turn the TV back on. Suddenly "Lost" just doesn't seem to matter. I feel like throwing up.

Losing it

What is meant to be an enjoyable night, the "Lost" pre-season premiere last season wrap-up episode (complete with "pop-up" notes and trivia!) has lost its luster, due to another annoying fuck-up re: the apartment. Weirdly, I am beyond being upset, I'm strangely calm. Numb?

Apparently the sellers' lawyer agreed on a closing date without confirming with them, and so they are caught by surprise, and said lawyer has been AWOL all day to explain to them. Meanwhile, I don't really have any flexibility any more to push the date back. This is a "friendly" sale, broker-free, and so the seller wife calls me to talk about it and her husband is in the background shouting, "Well, she might just have to fucking wait! We're the fucking sellers!" Usually he's a really nice guy. I guess this is why lawyers handle these things.

Oh, "Lost." I crammed in all of seasons 1 and 2, managed to slip in only two episodes of season 3 so far. Tomorrow is the actual season premiere. I know I won't be able to keep it on the DVR until I catch up - too little other TV for the media (or work colleagues) to focus on. But I may have to just turn off my phones tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Words from then

The box under my bed turned out to be letters, from the late 70's to early 80's, my junior high, high school, and college years. They were written by me and a friend, and I have both sides of the correspondence - I seem to recall her handing them all over to me during her own frantic packing before a cross country move.

But they weren't from me to her, technically. We wrote in character, characters we'd created when we were 12 and carting plastic model horses over to each other's house, when the characters were the horses' owners. Long after the horses began to gather dust, the "people" kept on, coming to life in the letters we wrote for them to their counterparts in the other household.

This kept up after my family moved away, when mail was the preferred method of communication for us girls (pre-internet, and phone calls were costly), and then on through college, and her travels in Europe. I don't know when the last letter went between the characters, but she and I, the authors, still write each other frequently after 30 years. (Even now, as most days, I have a half-finished letter in my bag to her.)

Some of those characters evolved into college stories, a few even making the transition to adulthood and to finished pieces. I consider those long years of scrawling notes in different handwritings (for each of my "people," naturally, had to have a different handwriting), as early training in the development of voice and character.

But I can't read the letters, because I know that they won't live up to my memory of them.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I slept until 8

Yes, this is worth writing about! Do you not know me at all?

Of course, this means that I can't go to the gym and then make to church on time. So I have a choice: physical well-being, or spiritual.

Still trying to decide.

* * *

If I have faith in the timetable I have created, I will have only 3 more weekends in this apartment (and the last will hopefully be spent at the other, empty one, painting.) This thrills me more than I can say.

Yesterday's accomplishments: got rid of record albums; pulled all old framed posters/prints from closet and sorted into keep vs. dump piles; packed suits, off-weather coats, closet organizers; wrapped and packed wine glasses and other glassware; shredded two plastic bags full of old paperwork (which then became packing material); finished wrapping and packing small framed photographs from walls; watched seven episodes of "Lost" and made popcorn.

Oh, and met a friend for dinner and went for a stroll by the new apartment. Of course as we stood outside, the current owner came bounding out, and I pretended it wasn't awkward with inane "I"m really not a stalker" banter.

Today's goal: sort through two boxes of paperwork under my bed (old writing and old computer manuals and disks); sort through piano music; watch more "Lost."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Going, going, gone

Ha! Two of my neighbors wound up fighting over the albums. I could have just left them in the hallway.

Vinyl thoughts

Today I finally pulled my box of record albums from the back of the closet. My vinyl history is frozen in the 70's and early 80's, because after that my turntable broke and I never replaced it, choosing instead to ride the cassette tape and then CD wave. I have Billy Joel and Barry Manilow, my childhood heroes, plus random oddities like The Thompson Twins and Men Without Hats. And of course Air Supply, and Hall and Oates, and Queen, and Foreigner, and Kansas.

They are still packed in the box from the move I made from upstate NY to the city in 1989. That's nearly 19 years. I've never done more than open the box and peer inside. I think it's time to let them go.

The box is heavy, but I think I will just take it down and set it on the sidewalk with a "Free" sign. Hopefully someone will want them.

Lost in boxes

I am a fairly organized person, and this is why it is taking me so long to pack. I can't just throw things in boxes. I need to sort, review, make decisions. I read through many childhood letters before deciding which to save and which to shred. (Shredded paper, by the way, makes great packing material. And it's recycling! Although I imagine I'll be less happy when I'm unpacking and my new apartment is a whirlwind of tiny paper bits.)

So this is partly why it seems like I've been packing for months and still have more to go. (That, and the aborted fall move.) Also, I have not been gung-ho all-out, but focused on one discreet area each time (a file drawer or a particular kitchen cupboard.) Today, though, marks the start of the push. I plan on spending most of today getting stuff done.

This is also because it's going to be cold today, so not much reason to want to leave the apartment, and also because I am madly trying to re-watch all of "Lost" before the season premiere next week. Packing while watching makes me feel like I am not just a couch potato. I finished season 1 last week, and plowed through the first 4 episodes of season 2 last night. And that's not a pace that will get me through season 3 by Thursday night.

I'm glad I'm doing it (though wish I'd started sooner.) There is so much I forgot in the first season, and it's interesting how what little tidbits we got back then seemed so perplexing but now are so clearly connected to everything else. It is a reminder of how well written this show is, and how the long drawn-out reveal is the only way to tell this story the way it deserves.

Friday, January 25, 2008


A long week, even though the work part only covered four days. I still have 43 hours in my time sheet. (I don't get paid by the hour, but we track our hours by project codes so they can evaluate our "utilization.")

I still have no firm closing date. I didn't realize this would be such a negotiation point. I just want to be able to schedule movers, time for painting, time off work. I want this all to be over and me in my new home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gym notes

This may not be the most disgusting thing to find in the gym shower (and I refuse to judge that contest!) but today on the shelf above the shampoo there was a clean, dry gum wrapper. So, someone brought their unwrapped gum into the shower with them, and then started chewing?

More disgusting was walking back to my locker and my pile of clean folded clothes waiting for me on the bench nearby. A woman was standing above my clothes looking in the mirror (not standing, of course, at the middle or other end of the bench where nobody's clothes were) and she proceeded to sneeze without covering her nose or mouth. Right over my clothes. I was so taken aback I just froze and stared at her as she walked away, saying nothing.

We won!

I don't mean to be hardhearted about it. I really do think it's sad. I just find it disturbing when people relate to celebrities like they are people they actually know. It's my whole problem with US Weekly and People and all of the like. (I remember when People first came out, and it was positioned as a magazine about "real people" with interesting stories.) (Unless I am crazy and making that up to make myself feel better.)

It's the same way that I feel about people who say "we won" when referring to a favorite sports team. The response in my head is usually, "What position do you play?" although I rarely say it out loud. (A friend told me a woman in a bar said that to him in the same circumstance, and I wanted her number. No, not like that - to shake her hand.)


It was hard to escape the morning news onslaught at the gym. But here's a question - why is it so odd to find sleeping pills beside someone's bed? Isn't that the logical place to keep them?

Oscar ruminations

One of the nominations that puzzles me is Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: the Golden Age." Didn't that movie get almost unanimously panned? Wasn't it in and out of the theaters in the blink of an eye? Is it just that people think she should get the nomination, since she got one when she played the same role in the first Elizabeth film? I think she really deserves her nomination for "I'm Not There," though. Her scenes were the only I really enjoyed in the film (sorry, Heath, but I keep getting your scenes confused with the parody from "Walk Hard.")

I am very happy about Ellen Page's nomination, although I think her performance in "Hard Candy" was just riveting, and probably more deserving. But maybe her new fame will bring audiences to see that film now.

One good thing is that there are very few nominated films I haven't seen. I will have to rent "Away From Her," a movie I avoided only because of a current family situation that made it seem just too close for comfort.

(Ugh, the early morning news is on in the background and I am forced to see that Mel Gibson has positioned himself as the official spokesperson for the loss to Hollywood of the younger actor's death. What a way to take advantage of a tragedy for your own PR gain.)

Wet rag

I am a cold-hearted bitch. Yesterday afternoon my office buzzed with the news that a certain young actor was dead (I'm omitting his name to avoid the visitors who searched looking for places to post), and I had nothing to say. "Omigod, isn't it tragic? Aren't you just sick about it?" Well, yes, and no. We're not talking about a family member here, or even a co-worker. I am very sad at the thought of a young person dying, but sad in the way I would be to learn of a non-famous, regular-guy, young man dying inexplicably. Is it more tragic because he's famous? Because he has "so much potential?" Doesn't any young man, say, a young father of a two year old, who lives in the Bronx, and drives a taxi and speaks with an accent that isn't quite as sexy - doesn't he have great potential also? To be a loving father, a proud grandfather, a devoted husband? A good neighbor, good citizen, good friend?

I didn't say any of this. I didn't say much. I thought instead of how devastated I was when I learned that John Lennon was dead or JFK Jr, and how much more meaningful that seemed - but was it? Am I just too old to get it? Is this how my parents and their peers felt when anyone else famous died, after James Dean and Marilyn Monroe?

(Oh, now I've stacked the search deck.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

3 1/2 out of 5...

Nominees are:
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Surprised to see "Michael Clayton" but I liked it, just didn't like it THAT much. I'm not unhappy with it though.

(I get 1/2 for suggestint "Atonement" as a possibility for te 5th slot, right??)


Oscar nominations are this morning. Already? My vow to be moved into my new apartment by Oscar night is frighteningly close. (And no loopholes -by "Oscar night" I mean the scheduled night of the ceremony, whether or not said ceremony takes place.)

My predictions? Best picture will include "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," "Sweeney Todd," "Juno," and one other. ("The Savages"? "Atonement"? "Diving Bell and the Butterfly"?)

Only time (2 hours, at which point I'll be soundly at my desk at work) will tell.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I didn't go to church yesterday, but last Sunday was the celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday anyway. The new minister, after acknowledging how inadequate he's always felt in trying to give a sermon on King, both because of his feelings of smallness next to the great man and his acknowledgement that as a white privileged male, he can't ever come at it from any other place. His voice broke as he admitted it and you could feel the emotion waver around the room. And then he continued on, more forcefully, about how much the congregation has the ability to have an impact, and how he's going to make it his charge to work with us to do so.

But the really emotional moment was when we all stood to sing the last song, "We Shall Overcome," and he asked that we all join hands. I was at the end of a row, so became the link between the elderly man behind me (who could be heard snoring during the earliest part of the morning) and a young woman in the pew ahead. I was turned facing the room, and it was like we were in a large circle. And somehow, as the verses continued on, I felt the weight of emotion break over me unexpectedly, my voice cracking and forcing me to continue in a dry whisper. When the song ended you could hear the sniffing and blowing of noses as the music director played the closing song on the organ; so many of us, suspended in sadness.

The surprise was how it crept on me; I think now that there is something to be said for clutching the hands of strangers, for sharing in the delivery of a song that has such an emotional history. I can see where other churches are able manipulate that emotion to their own ends. But it wasn't like that at all. When you tear away the trappings of dogma and guilt and scripture, all you have is a group of people, experiencing human emotion.

The moment that ruined christianity for me was when I attended a "Spirit of 76" concert with my mother and some friends. My mother didn't realize it was put on by a born-again christian group until we were packed into the large room. I don't recall much of the show, but during one of the more emotion-laden songs, the performers started coming into the audience and pulling people on stage. One came up to me and asked me if I'd been saved, and I said, no, and she told me that if I didn't accept Jesus as my lord and savior, I'd burn in hell for eternity. And she walked away to find another more responsive target. I was 13.

I remember going to a pancake house afterwards, and being completely shattered. I had been raised a Catholic in a very lax manner; I'd been baptized and taken first communion and been confirmed again as a pre-teen. Although I didn't know what I really believed, I knew that it wasn't that only those who went through a "born again" ritual were doing it right. But I also didn't want to be left out of heaven, if there was one, because I'd chosen the "wrong" sect. I didn't want to believe in a god who would allow that to be true.

And so began my detachment from religion.

The UU minister told a joke at the previous week's service (here in full, as I've discovered he has his own blog of his sermons):

There's an old joke about the fellow who was walking across a bridge one day, he saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. He immediately ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!"

"Why shouldn't I?" the man said.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Well ... are you religious or atheist?"


"Me too! Are you Christian of Jewish?"


"Me too! Are you Catholic of Protestant?"


"So am I! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"


"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"As am I! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"

Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915."

To which the fellow said, "Die, heretic scum!" and left the other one standing there on the rail.

That sums it up perfectly, don't you think?

Bob's your uncle

Saturday at the gym I was surfing channels and stumbled on one of the network morning news shows, which are so much better on weekends when they are not trying so hard. The segment was on hairstyles, titled "the bob is back!" with mini-makeovers from three everyday women going from long hair to a short, chin-length bob. My weeks and months of boredom and frustration with my own hair culminated in that moment and I vowed to make an appointment for my own cut at the local hair stylists which I'd pass on my way home. Do you know how long it has been that a ponytail has been my daily, bored, boring go-to look?

And now my hair is too short for a ponytail. That was, of course, the whole point. I've had this haircut before, and I know it will grow back, but it is strange to have a whole box of hair accessories and have no need for most of them. I can't decide if I really like the look though. Of course I don't look like Katie Holmes (and just by typing that, I open myself up to random blog searches), but I didn't before, when both of us had longer hair, so why would I now?

* * *

There is this young guy who works in the Korean market down the block, mostly on nights and weekends. I imagine he is a son or nephew or other relative of the proprietors - not just because it seems to be common culturally, but because he has the relaxed confidence of someone who is related to the boss. He's very friendly, has told me about how hard it is to work and go to school, and regularly teases me about my attempts to always pay with exact change.

Lately, though, he has taken to rounding down the cost of my purchases. At first it was just charging me $2 for a $2.19 bottle of soda, but once he rang up a few items for a total of $7.68, then hit a few keys again and it shot back down to $7.00 even. I don't know why it makes me uncomfortable. I don't think he knows about the incident that happened there; he wasn't working that day and he's never made any reference to it, so I don't think he's thanking me in any way (for what?)

But I have started to be a bit uncomfortable about it. We're not really friends, I don't even know his name, and he knows little about me other than I have a thing for caffeine-free Diet Coke, baby carrots, cottage cheese, and Toffee Peanut Buzz Clif Bars. Yet I can't believe he's flirting with me (I could be older than his mother.) I guess I could say something next time, like "you don't have to do that," but I wouldn't want to offend him, either, and so I've found myself going into one of the other similar stores on my way home, and then I feel really guilty walking past.

* * *

In front of the same store, there is usually a man - a homeless man? I don't know. It seems like he has some kind of arrangement with the store, standing out front as if he's guarding the flowers and things out there, although I've never seen him watering or filling the plastic barrels with fresh flowers.

And, yet, he never asks for money, like similar men posed in front of the other bodegas. He doesn't even hold an empty cup or jar. For years I've walked by him, and I am nearly positive I've seen other people give him money, but I can't be sure.

Now, since the "incident," when he came inside the store to see that all was okay while I was calling 911, he has started to greet me with a friendly "hello" and smile each time I pass. And so I say "hi" in return, always wondering, would he be insulted if I gave him money?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dreams: mine and Cassandra's

"Cassandra's Dream," the latest London-based film by Woody Allen, feels as much like London as Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" felt like New York. I know I am not the expert on all things London, but I swear I thought through most of the movie that the characters were in a small, claustrophobic town. Even the outdoor scenes never felt outside, but on sound stages. (My observation during "Eyes Wide Shut" was that Kubrick re-used a U.S. mailbox in several scenes meant to take place on different blocks within Manhattan; you could tell because the mailbox had a very distinct swirl of graffiti. Of course graffiti on a mailbox is more in line with the NY Kubrick left years ago than reality.)

Anyway, that was an unnecessary tangent, as what I really found lacking in "Cassandra's Dream" was not the sense of place, but a sense of dramatic pacing. Too much of the film is setting up for the central action - the crime that these two brothers (Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, both better in their roles than the film itself) are meant to commit. The problem is, and I've bitched about too revealing trailers before, the entire setup has already been revealed to the audience in the trailers. Even if you hadn't seen any of the trailers, I imagine any semi-literate adult would get it far more quickly than the plodding, talky, first hour or so assumes. And, then, the crime itself happens off screen - not necessarily a bad decision, since this is about the psychological impact, not the physical act - but it causes the buildup of tension and suspense to plummet. I also think the movie could have benefited from more time with the brothers in the aftermath, but we don't get that as much as we could. (I could be unfairly comparing the film to "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," which portrays another set of brothers drawn to a deed neither has the stomach for. And then I imagine Farrell in the Ethan Hawke role in "Devil," brother to Phillip Seymour Hoffman instead of McGregor, and I think we have an amazing movie. Oh well.)

The other obvious comparison is to "Match Point," which was on cable early this morning and therefore reminded me it was a much better-paced, more focused film.

* * *

I thought I'd remembered more from my dream last night, but now all I can recall is that I was visiting someone (my mother?) and again, needed to get home and there were all these other plans to drive people here and there, and I wasn't on the agenda, and I kept trying to speak up that I needed a ride home, and people stared at me blankly.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I give up

Of course!

5 am on a Saturday morning and I'm awake! Why wouldn't I be? It's a three day weekend and I have no particular plans that require my being up early.

Last night, my HD DVR started to freak out, shutting itself down and rebooting, its display window running through a slow list of numeric codes. I moved to the bedroom, where both the regular cable box and modem were functioning fine. Which I translate to mean the HD DVR is broken again. You know, the one I first got on Labor Day weekend, which has been replaced three times, and necessitated 5 (or 6? like childbirth, I've buried the associated pain of that time) service calls.

It appears to be functioning now. (Of course, as I have no need for it now.)

So, having moved into the bedroom to watch tv, stretched out on my comfy bed with my favorite pillows bunched under my head just so, I of course immediately fell asleep, and missed the end of one of the few shows I like with new episodes ("Friday Night Lights" - someday I'll dive into the saga of how I, a football anti-fan, fell for that show.) Damned DVR was not recording, so it's off to the internet this weekend to watch it. (How spoiled we've become! I miss a tv show, there are multiple avenues to see it again, and yet I am annoyed when I can't have it exactly the way I want it.)

Yes, falling asleep at 9:30 is not a surprising cause of a 5 am wake-up the next day. But I still feel tired. Isn't this a pattern elderly people fall into? Next thing, I'll be having dinner at 5 pm.

Can I crawl back into bed and try to doze off? (What would happen if I tool a "sleeping pill" now? Would I lose much of tomorrow?) I might have been okay, once I'd gotten up and used the bathroom, but I was just barely back in bed when I had the sudden need to return and use it again, if you get my drift. Not meaning to be vulgar, but more advanced bathroom needs result in a more awake brain, when all is said and done.

I feel like I could be so productive if I could just give up fighting it and use this time wisely. Work on a draft of a short story. Update the family business website I am responsible for. Answer emails I keep forgetting are in my inbox. Scan photos. Research short story contests.

But my brain, despite being too wired to sleep again, is too sluggish still to function at top speed. I'm exhausted having just dribbled this out here. And yet when I slide back under the covers, my brain will just race, race, race, thinking of all the obscure things that I've neglected, until I shoot up into a sitting position, too tense to stay still any more.

I wish the gym opened before 8 on weekends. I wish I still drank coffee.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Yesterday, although starting out poorly with little sleep, turned strong in the first half, with a very successful meeting and surprise invitation to lunch by one of the executives I've been trying to develop a better working relationship with. Then, back to my borrowed office, where I tried to get some other work done, only to get bombarded by last minute requests for emergency projects - from all sides. A little bit of hysteria crept into me. I had to hustle out of the office, through the suddenly falling snow, back to the train station where the departure board was littered with notices of cancellations.


But, oddly, not my train, which remained boldly "On Time" up until its departure. (Apparently ours wasn't coming from far enough away to feel the affect of bad weather; even the Acela from DC to NYC was canceled though.) They let anyone holding any ticket on our train (in these security-cautious days, an Amtrak no-no), warned everyone of crowded cars and limited seats, and yet I got on, and had my own two-seater like many around me. False panic.

Of course then, scurrying to finish answering urgent-project emails on my Treo, I received a message that my mailbox was overfull and I could not receive or send until I signed on with my desktop computer and cleaned out my inbox. Why was it full? Because of the huge files sent to me regarding the project that I no longer could communicate with anyone about.

It should have been a welcome reprise, a forced moment of peace on a rolling train (I love trains), free to read or write or snooze. Remember? Back when we couldn't answer email or dial into conference calls or work on spreadsheets on our laptops when we were in transit between cities? Back when the notion of a "quiet car" would only be interpreted as no screaming babies or loud groups of teenagers?

The train was only 10 minutes late getting in. At 9 pm, I was back at my desk at home, work laptop perched on top of my closed home laptop, deleting old files and watching my inbox swell with new ones. Two people, seeing me alone, started IM chatting with me. A club of late night workers, one whose more permanent invitation I intend to politely deny.

But the "sleeping pill" worked better last night. I took it at about 10 and slept pretty soundly until 5:30. Not so bad. There is a "winter weather advisory" right now, and though it appears to be just rain here, the suburbs where my co-workers commute from are harder hit and so the office will be empty, not that it isn't on a Friday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I dozed off from about 3 until 4:55, and since my alarm was set for 5:15 anyway, I got up. I suppose I can sleep on the train. Other than my meetings, my day isn't that eventful. The main reason to go is to stay on their radar, to remind them that I am there to support them as well as NY. Political face time, really.

So I started to post this and my keyboard wouldn't work. I'd hit the keys and nothing would appear on the screen. I exited out of blogger only to find out it was everything - my email, web addresses, etc. What gremlins invaded my computer since I posted earlier? The same ones dancing and giggling around my bed, determined to not let me sleep? I re-booted, as I waited wondering how soon I could get in front of the Geek Squad if need be. (Take advantage of that extended warranty.) But, all is well now. Mystery is unsolved.

In my last span of sleep, I dreamed that I was up and getting ready for the trip, but for some reason all of my clocks were off and I couldn't figure out what time it was. The alarm clock and VCR clocks was flashing, like there had been a power outage, and the cable boxes were going through an extended reboot, without yet displaying time. (I have a few other, pretty, ornamental clocks that run on batteries, but all are packed now, and so they were in the dream.) I reached for my treo to check the time but was distracted by email that came in, and also realized that the car service that is taking me to the train had left a voicemail, but I couldn't figure out how to access it, but I somehow knew that I had missed my car. I tried looking out of my window to the street, but I couldn't get the curtains opened, and only could see blurry dark shapes along the curb, including one ominous-looking one pulling away.

Then I woke up.

When I went back over my blog confirming my list of movies (I write them in my diary, too, but was at work compiling it), I stopped when I came across postings about my dreams. None of them seemed remotely familiar, and yet as I was writing each I felt that I was capturing the mood, look, feel, visual of each very well. Now they read as if written by a stranger, and I see nothing. I guess it goes to show that real memories, recorded, can be revisited with just a few words because the memories themselves are real, while dreams were just fleeting thoughts that have little long-term staying power.

Or something like that.

Times like this I really wish I hadn't given up caffeine.

I am screwed.

I fell asleep at 10, woke at 1:30 to use the bathroom, have not been able to fall asleep again since. My alarm is set for 5 am as I have an early morning train to Philadelphia. The longer I stay awake, the more aggravated I am that I can't sleep, and so the harder it is to fall asleep. I think about taking a sleep aid thingy (I hesitate to call anything non-prescriptive a "sleeping pill") but what if it knocks me out for too long?

Ugh, ugh, ugh. If I were confident that I could rally myself enough to function through the several meetings I have in Philly today, I'd just stay up and sit here at the computer and write.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The one you wait for

The one day of silence should not have been an alarm - I was just so busy telling every live person I know the good news, and so was negligent in informing the virtual ones. The actual meeting was short, friendly, and pleasant. There was no need for "spin," as questioning me seemed the furthest thing from their minds; instead, they wanted me to ask questions. It ended with a "welcome to the building" and was followed up yesterday by a call confirming that they "unequivocally" approved my application and are excited.

In addition to the obvious elation and relief, I feel some anger toward that other board, who damaged my confidence. How dare they leave me worrying about whatever unknown thing it was that made them turn me down! How dare they make me doubt myself! Seriously, if there weren't enough parallels to a bad relationship and breakup, here we have another. It took the good loving of another man to heal my wounded heart.

Now, it's on to the final stretch. Yay!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Anticipation, part 2

Board meeting in a couple of hours. I am more confident than I expected to be, which is a good thing. The only potential land mine is the question of why I got turned down by the last coop board - I didn't think it would even need to be addressed, but they've asked me to bring backup for the large deposit I made into my bank account in October. Which was, of course, the return of my 10% deposit from Coop #1, and the backup is a letter from my lawyer indicating that. So the elephant will be loose in the room and I will have to feel my way through it. My instinct is to blame the 15% vs. 20% because I feel like if I say, "I have no idea! They wouldn't tell me why they turned me down!" it looks like there is some scary thing in my past that this board would want to stay clear of also. I mean, you never really explain why you left your last job in an interview, or why your last relationship broke up to a blind date... there always is a way to spin it. My next two hours will be finding that "spin." (I'm in marketing; this should be easy!)

My biggest fear right now is that the interview is in an apartment on the fourth floor of the building, so I have to climb three flights of stairs and arrive breathless. Definitely not the best way to present myself...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Persepolis" and a Sunday

Last night I took a different over-the-counter "sleep aid" from the one I have used in the past (doxylamine succinate, or generic Unisom vs. diphenhydramine HCL, or the ingredient in tylenol PM) and what an amazing difference. Maybe all the other variables were aligned perfectly, but I slept soundly from 10:30 pm to 8:00 am.

Just sleeping until 8:00 am is a gift, especially when it's a bright and sunny day like today. I am up and highly motivated, sitting here thinking of all the things I want to do today.

We have a snowstorm warning for tonight into tomorrow. Makes me think about soup. Sunday afternoon, organizing/sorting/packing, soup warmly bubbling on the stove.

* * *

I saw "Persepolis" yesterday. I'm not revising my top 10 list for it. It's good, fun, enjoyable, but not, in my mind, tremendous. I know that it was made from a series of graphic novels, and it felt disjointed, with individual chapters focused on key moments in the author/artist's life, but no overarching sense of story. I get it, that's life; we live in stages, in set pieces, without all that we do contributing to a lifelong theme that drives us, but it doesn't bring the same kind of film satisfaction. The film is mostly a flashback and we're brought back to the opening scene at the end, but it's also somewhat of a beginning, as it's the young narrator on the brink of re-starting her life in Paris. So much like a "to be continued" and yes, so much like life - but a bit of a letdown as a movie, I think.


Tonight for the Golden Globes there will be a "press release" instead of a formal ceremony. If this happens for the Oscars, I plan on issuing a press release instead of hosting an Oscar party. I'm not joking - I think it would be funny. However, since my goal is to have the timing of that be in sync with a housewarming party, I might position it as a "press conference" for Q&A related to my canceled party announcement.

Today: Pack one more box in the kitchen, which allows me to get rid of the shelve unit I have. Go through a file drawer of "unknowns" - I have all of my writing files and personal files (health care, finance, warranties, etc.) and I have no memory of what is crowding the bottom drawer of the cabinet. It might be copies of writing samples from old jobs. At this point, I don't know that I'll ever need all of them. (I think I've scanned most of what is important anyway.) Is anyone going to assess my potential value to their firm based on a newsletter article I wrote back in 1990?

I also need to order more boxes, but I will not pull the trigger on that "to do" until after the board interview. I remain somewhat superstitious, although I will go on record (and I have, verbally, to several friends) that I am moving out of this apartment no matter what. I will start looking at other rentals if I have to, but I am not staying here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Others, and others and others

It has been pointed out that I didn't include "The Lives of Others" in my top films of 2007 list. I looked back and noticed that I saw it on Oscar weekend, which probably helped cement it as a 2006 film (and it won for best foreign film last year.) But, I didn't include it in my 2006 list, either! So I guess now my top 10 has 13 films in it... and today I am seeing "Persepolis" so who knows, I may have to cram in 14, or do some serious pruning.

We'll see.

Speaking of spying on your neighbors, this weekend the coop board is reviewing my financials in preparation for a meeting with me on Monday. I didn't realize how anxious knowing that would make me, but it has.

Pet peeve number 17

Personal trainers who do not teach their clients to wipe down machines (or even to carry a towel) when they are teaching them to use the machines.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Brother, can you spare your inane comments?

A co-worker just stopped by for typical Friday morning chitchat, and all was pleasant, until somehow, she started in on how the homeless people you see begging outside probably make more money than we do. And how this guy who sets up "camp" next to a building near where she lives, "has it made."

Come on. If it's that luxurious a lifestyle, then why don't you give it a shot? If you think they are undeservedly earning more than you, with far less effort than you, why aren't you out there with your handmade sign and coffee cup?

I didn't say that, exactly, but I did point out that I don't think he actually would consider that he 'has it made."

I think sometimes people are uneasy and uncomfortable in acknowledging that they are more fortunate than other people - white, middle class, reasonably healthy (mentally and physically), educated - and that anyone who isn't must be somehow at fault, and must be abusing either "the system" or the good intentions of the people who toss loose change at them.

Do you seriously think that a man sitting on a square of a cardboard is better off than you are?


Finally got all the necessary pieces together for my coop board package (despite an unanticipated, uncontrollable delay that nearly cost me my sanity) and now I have to simply wait. This is the stage where it all went terribly, terribly wrong last time, and since I still don't have any clue what the problem was then, I am nervous. No, not nervous - scared shitless.

It's raining out. I can tell by the sound of traffic outside my window plowing through the wet streets. How quiet will it be in my new bedroom, with windows facing backyards and other windows? I hope I have a chance to find out.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Quick catch-up

I just posted my list, but never shared my opinion of the two films I saw over the weekend: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "There Will Be Blood." Is it enough to say both were great?

Seriously, "Blood" is a stupendous film. It's so non-Hollywood: stark, bold, unapologetic. The first 10 minutes or so have almost no dialogue, and very little light. We're in an 1890's mine shaft with Daniel Day Lewis as oilman Daniel Plainview, listening to nothing but his breathing, trying to make out the shape of his hand in the darkness. And because of that, we're in a mine shaft with Daniel Plainview. And then you're totally with him for the next two hours, even as you have no comprehension of what makes this man tick. You just watch him tick, wildly, insanely, and hold on tight for the ride. The last few scenes, where later in life he is confronted by some of the other characters he's wronged along the way, are brutal in their intensity, both physical and emotional. This is a movie without redemption or explanation, and it's all the better for it.

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" also deserves all of the kudos it is getting, as it's a remarkable film, allowing the viewer to practically climb inside Jean Dominique Bauby, the magazine editor who became almost completely paralyzed after a massive stroke at age 42. The camera work is amazing; for most of the movie you see only what he can see, with his limited mobility, and the result is claustrophobically terrifying. He learns to communicate by blinking his left eye, and writes a memoir on which this true film is based. It sounds terribly dull, but in fact it's very light-hearted, as he has a very comedic voice and fanciful nature. He dreams, he fantasizes, and he remembers, and the film goes with him, escaping the narrow view of his paralyzed world in joyful escapades. All the reviews point out the lyrical quality of the letters the beautiful French women who help him "speak" recite, and it's true. I walked home from the theater singing the French alphabet.

Envelope please...

I had to do a re-count, as I realized that one of my potential favorite movies wasn't on my handwritten list. So, instead of 60 films, it turns out I saw 62! And here are my top 10, with the caveat that I still plan to see "Persepolis" this weekend.

1. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
2. No Country for Old Men
3. There Will Be Blood
4. Once
5. Kite Runner
6. Starting Out in the Evening
7. The Savages
8. La Vie En Rose
9. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly
10. Atonement
11. Across the Universe
12. Sweeney Todd

Yes, there are more than 10. I can't help that; it was a good year. There are a whole slew of films closely following, too, like "Zodiac" and "Waitress" and "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" and "Eastern Promises" that I just couldn't fit into the top tier.

This is also a really personal list. For example, I think "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly" is a better quality film than "Once" or "Kite Runner" based on its beauty and style and clarity of voice. But it didn't touch me quite as much as they did. Ditto the top three - I think "No Country for Old Men" or "There Will Be Blood" are probably, on the whole, more admirable movies than "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," but I enjoyed the last more, because it's more my kind of film.

Even now, staring at this list, I think, maybe I did like "Waitress" more than "Sweeney Todd," and were "La Vie En Rose" and "Starting Out in the Evening" really that much more than the strength of their powerful acting performances? Ah, second guesses.

As I said earlier, there was no obvious clunker (like "Just Like Heaven" in 2005 and "The Black Dahlia" in 2006), but quite a few that I found dull or pointless or downright annoying. In no particular order:

"Becoming Jane"
"Nanny Diaries"
"Introducing the Dwights"
"Eagle v. Shark"
"Jane Austen Book Club"
"Margot at the Wedding"

Now, I'm not going to get cocky here, but my favorite film for the past two years, as recorded here, has won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Yes, I was one of those soundly ridiculed for loving "Crash" and not thinking its win a travesty. And "The Departed" was my favorite last year. Somehow I don't think that this trend will continue. I think that either "No Country for Old Men" or "There Will Be Blood" will win, but I'm sticking with my choice, for the reasons above.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

In Hot Water

No hot water at the gym today - but the sign wasn't up at 6:30 when I walked in, only at 7:50 when I finished my workout. Which meant I had not choice but to turn tail and walk home to shower. (Hair needed washing and icy shampoos are not my thing.)

This has set my entire day off on the wrong foot. I am already riding high on anxiety this week, re: the coop. I don't need added aggravation.

(Although I'll be going to the same gym if/when I move, I'll be only a block away, so this kind of thing will be less of an inconvenience.)

Sixty degrees of separation.

It's supposed to be in the mid 60's today, 30 degrees above normal. If it were a weekend, it would matter, but when it only affects the brief time going in and out of the office, it's hard to appreciate it much. It's possible I will leave work early to drop off my coop application at the management company (only if my mortgage commitment letter magically appears this afternoon), which means I may experience that free, hooky-playing feeling of unseasonably warm afternoons.

Or I may not. Although, to be clear about it, if it doesn't happen this afternoon, I'm likely going to lose it. The process of finalizing this coop application has almost killed me. I need to move on.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Good year!

Wow, I just pulled together my movie list for 2007, and it looks like I saw 60 films. Sixty! I only saw 42 in 2006. (Each year I include movies I see in January that came out the previous year, so it equals out.)

Great thing is that there is no obvious clunker in the list, and even those I didn't really like weren't all that terrible. I need to think about my top 10, too; I think it might be hard to narrow it down.

Reason number 33 I need to move.

Remember the june bug from last week? Well, he made it out to the hallway and was crushed by someone that same day. He is now lying on the floor, in a corner next to another apartment door. Let me repeat that: he has been lying, dead, in the hallway, next to another person's door, for at least a week.

Yes, I could sweep it up, but part of me is curious to see how long he'll lie there before anyone else in this building (oh, like the person who killed it or the person who has to step over it every day), lifts a finger. Wanna bet my movers will be here before that ever happens?

Oh, oh, oh

I had things in my head to write, and then forced myself to shower and dress for work before coming back to the computer (after my usual hour of sitting and "waking up" at it earlier.) Now, my brain is empty.

I am on the usual frantic quest to see more movies, namely the ones that have made various top 10 lists this year, so I can objectively make my own. (No, not to be a mimic, but if nine critics id a movie as one of their faves, I feel cheated not to be able to evaluate it on my own.) This weekend it was "There Will Be Blood" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." More later on each...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

You know the "Do Not Call" list has expired when...

you get a call which consists of a recorded voice informing you that the "warranty" on your "vehicle" is about to expire, and you don't own a car or even have a driver's license.

Edited to add:
Online research indicates that registration has not, really, expired.

The Federal Trade Commission will not drop any telephone numbers from the National Do Not Call Registry based on a five-year expiration period pending final Congressional or agency action on whether to make registration permanent.

On a Sunday

Why do the weekends after short work-weeks always make you feel so cheated? It can't be Sunday already. (Although I heard my upstairs neighbor up at 6:30, which is her usual weekday rise time, and had a mini panic attack that maybe it was Monday, and I had to go to the NY Times website to calm myself that I didn't lose an entire day somehow.)

Yeah, I was fully awake at 6:30. I woke up at 4:45. Christmas vacation had pulled me out of that insane routine, even to the point of needing an alarm on work days. I don't know why I'm back in it, other than a pure exhaustion that hit me last night and had me dozing off in front of the TV at 8:30.

This, my friends, is the wild and crazy life of a single gal in the city.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Reason number 41 I need to move.

A three day work week almost killed me. Actually, it was amazingly quiet (enough so that everyone remarked on it incessantly) and I got a lot of piled up stuff done - but not as much as I might have, if the slow pace hadn't seeped into my bones and brought out my lazy side. But that also made it felt like a longer week.

That lazy side felt it wanted to skip the gym this morning, but I am sitting here doing many things that I procrastinate about at home - scanning family photos, for example. (Damn, I wrote "many" and then when I paused in composing my list, I realized other than scanning, I'm just sitting here listening to NPR and staring at the dust on my desk and thinking about what I might pack next.)

Yes, I'm packing again. Nothing is yet confirmed, but I am frighteningly hopeful. There was a bump in the process this week - a necessary piece was slowed down by ineptitude, something out of my control and so even more extremely frustrating and aggravating. Still, it should all come together in the next month or so, which means suddenly it will be moving day and I will be in panic mode.

And, here's the thing: if this coop deal falls through, I will not stay in this apartment. I am more than ready to leave. I will find another rental, lick my wounds as I throw away extra rent money on a place that I can at least feel happy in. The longer I stay here, the more I hate it. We had a few very windy, icy cold days this week, which turned the back windows (both living room and kitchen) into wind tunnels, as the gaping opening at the top widened with every blast of arctic air. (Source is old window openings and standardized new windows forced to "fit" - the actual windows are slightly too tall to allow you to raise the top half enough so that it clears the latch in the center that would hold it securely closed. Emblematic of the shoddy level of repair/upkeep that is standard here.)

I now started playing around with them (adjusting color, centering, etc.) and printing, so my computer keeps freezing from the excessive multi-tasking. So I'll end this in mid-I-hate-my-apartment-rant.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back in the saddle, again

I didn't sleep well last night, no doubt anticipating today's "back to work" day onslaught. I tried to curb it by going into the office myself on Monday (for a few hours at least) to deal with the bulk of things that piled up over the past two weeks, or at least categorize them into consumable piles.

Part of my freak-out is an extended wait for a response from the mortgage broker, who's been on vacation, but in whose hands the next stage of the process lies. I hope she's back today; as it is, another month has passed and so I need to print and copy another set of bank statements for my coop application. Sigh.

Last night I dreamed I was looking at "the apartment" again, although once more, it was radically different. It had wall-to-wall carpeting, which really upset me as I'd thought it was wood floors, and in one room, it felt like shaky plywood under the carpet. In fact, the seller ran across the room to answer a ringing phone and the entire floor shook and I felt my heart drop. I wandered back to the main room and she asked me if something was wrong, and I told her. She said, oh, it's not that bad, and began to jump up and down, but that floor was solid. And I woke up.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Two for one

In the past few days I've seen two movies about Afghanistan: one somewhat disappointing, and the other incredibly moving. Can you guess which was which?

Interestingly, I was out of sync with most reviewers, including the NY Times and those tracked on Rotten Tomatoes. I thought "Charlie Wilson's War" was somewhat dull and one-note, and was really surprised by how much I enjoyed "The Kite Runner." Why have my tastes converged so far from the median? Maybe I'm just tired of "big" roles embodied by the likes of movie stars like Tom Hanks (all middle age thickness and graying hair) and Julia Roberts (all southern big hair and red lipstick), and find fresh, unknown faces, more interesting and compelling. Criticisms of "The Kite Runner" included the inauthenticity of the setting, and yet a man sitting behind me said, with some apparent authority, that they'd "gotten most of it right."

I don't know. I have yet to put together my year end list, but I think that "The Kite Runner" will be in my top five.
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