Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In and Out

I haven't gone anywhere, just been busy, although I am about to go away for a week and so will likely not post anything during that time.

And if the election goes the wrong way, I might be too freaked out to post anything.

Oh, who am I kidding? I won't be able to shut up about it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh, dear

Last night's sleep was interrupted for about 3 hours, from 2-5 am, and I am not sure how I am going to function today. There is no reason for this sudden burst of insomnia - I'm busy at work so maybe have a lot on my mind, but it's been worse, and there was nothing in particular shoving its way to the front of my mind as I lay in bed, stupefied.

Yet, here I am.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Many faces of facebook

There are a few things about Facebook that I am getting into. One is an application called "My Farm" which enables you to plant and harvest crops in a square of land. I don't know why there is something so satisfying about clicking on a little square one day to plant tomato seeds and clicking back a day later to harvest the fruit. But it's addictive! Of course there is a fake money bank account that shrinks when you plow and seed, but rises greatly when you harvest. And, the whole thing is very pretty - my favorite are the bright blue watery rice patches in between the lush green rows of wheat. Did I mention that the creator is regularly adding fun things, like fruit trees and goats, and chickens? It's mindless fun.

Second is the tool that allows you to see "people you might know." What it does is compare the friends lists of your friends, looking for commonalities. So someone who is known by two or more of your friends is likely to be know by you. It works well (except when two of your friends are spouses and therefore have many friends in common you've never met.) But the best part is when someone pops up who is friends with two people from different parts of your life. For example, today I am shown a woman, let's call her Jane, who knows someone I used to work with at a company 2 jobs ago, and also knows a woman who I worked with at my current job (until she went back to school.) As far as I know, my two friends have never met and yet, they both share two common friends - me, and Jane. How cool is that?

Of course what I don't like about Facebook is the way that some people must update every waking moment of their lives. "Jane is wondering what to wear today." "Jane is waiting for the rain to stop." "Jane is home from Trader Joe's, thrilled with her new purchases." "Jane is excited for the weekend!" Oh, Jane. I know more about your life than my own.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Seen in the neighborhood

In the nail salon this week, one of the proprietors was reading a Korean magazine with a smiling Sarah Palin on the cover. Of course I couldn't read any of the text, but I know from experience they are dedicated Christians (a Korean/English bible is usually their only other reading material) so it's not too surprising. Meanwhile, one of the Arabic shops on Court street has a selection of Obama shirts hanging from its awning.

Friday, October 17, 2008


So after the poor sleep on Wednesday night, I decided to skip the gym and walk to work (a brisk 1 hour walk, up to and over the Brooklyn Bridge, and across Manhattan on the other side.) Get some air, some exercise, clear my head.

But in my head I popped my iPod earbuds and, having exhausted the past weekend's assortment of NPR podcasts, spun the wheel until I landed on an old "Selected Shorts" I hadn't yet listened to. (I love listening to the radio show sitting in my apartment at my computer on a Sunday afternoon; when the podcasts first came out, I was thrilled, thinking they would be heaven, but now find I usually get too distracted while walking to listen to a short story without having to stop and rewind repeatedly. And so they pile up in my iPod.)

It was a good story, one that sounded so familiar I am sure that I have heard or read it before. But not so familiar that I didn't want to keep listening. My attention was firmly caught somewhere at the very start of the bridge and I rewound for the last time, listening intently as I continued my trek to Manhattan. By the time I crossed the West Side Highway and was on my last leg before the office building, trudging through a scaffolding encased path with my fellow commuters, the emotional weight of the story landed square on me and I began to cry. Wet tears, hollow chest. I realized how exhausted I was, how much I wished I could just turn around and go home.

But I continued walking as the story finished, attempted to discreetly compose myself, walked into the building, snagged an elevator that was near empty (at least empty of anyone who knows me), and got off on my floor. Just as I waved my ID card at the magnetic reader to open the lobby doors, who walks out but the head of my department. I hadn't seen him in many days and so it took all of my energy to quickly smile and be upbeat and professional before he continued on and I could slink into the ladies' room.

The day didn't get much better after that.

And now it's Friday and I am off to grab a train to another city to host another client event that will result in a really late train home tonight.

Tomorrow I will do nothing but sleep and laundry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nightmare on Amity Street

Last night I had one of those horrible nightmares that start with my "waking up" in my apartment and wandering around in a half-daze. If I didn't know better I'd think that maybe I was sleep-walking, but I'm nearly positive that is not the case. (I live alone. So maybe I am deluding myself. Maybe I really do wander around the place in a stupor.)

In the dream I heard noises in the kitchen so got out of bed and then heard the doorbell ring so stood in the hallway outside the bathroom and pressed the buzzer to let the person in (although there is no intercom or buzzer in the bathroom hallway, and even in the dream I knew I was just pretending to do this.) Then I heard people talking and walking up the stairs (how, when I faked it?) and so I tiptoed into the kitchen and peered through the small slit in the door's peephole (not opening the whole peephole, which would be obvious) to see my neighbors across the hall walking into their apartment. Okay.

But then there were others, still in the hallway, and one came right up to my door and started pounding. I backed away, all freaked out, and now my mother was sitting up on the sofa bed asking, "What's going on?" (My mother is not here, and when she was, she slept in my bed and I slept on the sofa bed.)

I told her to call 911 and there was more pounding on my door. "Who is it?" I asked, but there was just more pounding. Then the door burst open and three men came in.

"What do you want?" I said. "I'm calling the police."

One guy said, "Tape and condiments."

I said, "Noooooooooo" and somehow managed to push them back out into the hallway and push the door closed, but of course it was now broken off its hinges so they just pushed back inside. One opened the refrigerator and started grabbing food and eating it, and the other two just wandered into the living room, ignoring my mother who was holding my open cell phone toward me.

I grabbed it. She'd reached a 911 operator but didn't know how to tell them where we were, so I gave the address and started to describe what the guys were doing. "They are eating my food and asking for tape." Even in the dream I realized this didn't sound urgent enough so I stepped it up, talking about how three burly men had forced themselves into my apartment and were ransacking the place.

The men ignored me.

I woke up.

Two hours later, I'm still awake. The dream sounds pretty harmless, almost comical, when I write it down, but at the time it was terrifying. I really felt like I had gotten out of bed and these guys were in my apartment. About an hour ago I went into the kitchen for something to drink and paused at the door to the hallway, and then peeked through the peephole slit. Of course nobody was there.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

This is probably my favorite film so far this year.

Friday, October 10, 2008


This is going to be a filmtastic weekend, to make up for my inability to find time to see much in recent weeks. First up: "Religulous" with Bill Maher.

First things first: Before many movies these days, the National Guard has a commercial. Today, for the first time in my experience, the audience booed at the end of it. I guess it's obvious that an audience of religious skeptics might not be the biggest military fanatics. They also laughed quite happily at the trailer for "W," Oliver Stone's new film skewering George W. Bush.

Back to "Religulous," which is basically Bill Maher wandering around the world interviewing people about religion. He has fun with it, taking pains to argue and provoke and smirk at the preposterousness of what he's told. There are even a few interesting tidbits, like when he demonstrates the parallels between the story of Jesus and similar stories of ancient gods in the Mediterranean thousands of years earlier. (Some of this was new to me. Many ancient gods were born on December 25? Really?) He also finds a "Vatican Senior Priest" outside the Vatican, who has such a healthy and humorous skepticism that I'm not quite sure I buy that he was for real. Maher slams Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and the ol' punching bag, Scientologists. (Sadly he doesn't visit a Unitarian Church, but probably would not know how to deal with a group of people who don't prescribe any particular dogma, who in fact believe in doubt and skepticism.)

There are some great laughs and some cringe-inducing moments. But then it all goes downhill when Maher takes the last minutes (how many? felt like 20 but likely more like 4) to pontificate on why he thinks religion will kill us all. It reminded me of why I stopped watching his HBO show - it was great when he interviewed people and got into verbal battles, but he lost me when he talked directly to the audience. I guess it's also part of the whole "show, don't tell" approach I prefer - the film did enough to sell the idea of religion as "ridiculous," so let it stand for itself, don't swat me over the head with it.

Fear Street

I'm torn between feeling insulated in my little happy world and thinking the doomsday predictions of what this financial mess means for this city might be realistic. For now I'm staying on the naively optimistic side of the fence. It's calmer here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Andy Rooney is an idiot

I know this isn't news. And normally I would not have any occasion to judge him, generally avoiding any exposure to his insipid old-man whining. But now that "The Amazing Race" is stuck on Sunday nights after "60 Minutes," which itself comes on only after a football game ends, it's a constant game of checking in to see how far the schedule has been pushed back this week because of the game. (Seriously, why don't networks just admit that a football game will always run 25 minutes into the next show's time slot, and schedule their line-up appropriately? Don't they know how long football games last by now?) So invariably I wind up landing on Andy Rooney's segment as I'm flipping back and forth, and leave it on, secure in the knowledge that "TAR" will shortly start.

Problem is, of course, that means Andy Rooney is on my TV. A few weeks ago we had him bothering commuters in Manhattan, stopping them on the streets to ask what they carried in their "big bags" and then expressing disbelief that the reading material almost everyone seemed to carry wasn't being read "on the clock." Despite several of his victims explaining how they read during their commute, he fixated on the idea that their companies are losing productivity while their overpaid staff curl up in a corner cubicles with the latest Nicholas Sparks. It's clear Rooney has never ridden a train or a bus. Or worked in an office.

But a bigger offense was this past Sunday when he tried to wrap his mind around the financial crisis. He went for big laughs by whining, "What's an AIG and why should I care about it?" Maybe not in those exact words, mind you, but along those lines. Considering that AIG is the largest insurance company in the world, it just makes him look like an ill-informed idiot. Even if he wasn't sure what AIG was before it hit the major headlines (is it one of those companies who pays me to be old?) he should have figured it out by now. Look it up in a book or something.

Note to self: Leave the TV on mute until it's successfully segued from "60 Minutes" closing credits to the delicious Phil announcing "Last time, on The Amazing Race..."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Caption me

So why is it when a character on TV says "For god's sake" the closed captioning says "For heaven's sake"? I'm guessing "heaven" is less offensive than "god" but why would the hard of hearing be more easily offended?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Antic and the Candidate

Today was Atlantic Antic, the annual street fair along Atlantic Avenue where local merchants, restaurants, and community organizations line up for blocks, offering food, music, and stuff, stuff, stuff to buy. Every year I stumble upon a gem or two, a shop I never knew existed or passed without noticing. For the past three years I've invited a friend to go with me, and each year I've been disappointed that the friend doesn't enjoy it as much as I do - they rush past the booths I want to stop and browse through, or pause too long at the ones I'm quickly bored with. So this year I went by myself, which is what I thought I wanted. But I felt alone among amid the hand-holding couples and stroller-pushing families.

The character of the Avenue changes as you move west from the water, and so does the festival, from Middle Eastern to Latin to Caribbean. Falafel gives way to rice and beans to jerk chicken. Entertainment shifts from belly-dancers to a couple singing Johnny Cash and June Carter songs, to a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black." Kids dancing, parents swaying, lots of smiling.

This year there were many many people selling Obama buttons, t-shirts, and posters. (No McCain. There is no contest, not at the Antic.) I bought two buttons and a shirt. I watched as two little girls had their picture taken with a life-sized cardboard cutout of the candidate. A woman told me that she'd gone to the Democratic convention, and that she'd been fighting from the start, collecting signatures to get Obama on the ballot, back when nobody thought he had a chance.

And it hit me, really hard, that if he doesn't win, I'm going to be really really upset.
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