Monday, December 31, 2007

A matter of perspective


One of the very few perks of working where I do is that I have a pass that lets me and a guest into just about any museum in New York City for free. I took advantage of it yesterday and went to the Planetarium, formally known as the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. Big mouthful. To me, it's simply the Planetarium and always will be. Some years ago it got a humongous do-over and I'm ashamed to say that yesterday was the first time that I visited the new space. Well, better late than never.

Anyway...one of the permanent installations is this immense...I don't know what to call it...exhibit, I guess called (I think) Cosmic Scales, or something like that. What's so cool about it is that it provides visual references for the size of things relative to other things in the universe. I starts with the universe as a whole entity and moves in powers of 10 down to a proton. It keeps using the same massive sphere you see in front of you at the exhibit (which is actually the outside of a small amphitheater) as the reference point. In other words: "if the universe is as big as this sphere, then the Virgo supercluster is as big as (the small half-meter sized football of a model in front of you). And so on, down to a proton. The last step is, "if a hydrogen atom is as big as the sphere, then a proton is as big as (a dot do tiny you can barely see it)."

It's a spectacular exhibit. Seriously, if you wantor need a reality check, this is the place to come. It's a wonderful antidote both to hubris and also to despair. It tells you in as gentle as way as possible, don't go thinking that you're all that special, or that your woes are all-consuming. Take a look at where you stand in the cosmic scheme of things. It's okay. Don't freak out, don't fret, don't beat yourself up. And conversely, don't go thinking you're all that and a bag of chips. There's more than you can imagine that goes on in dimensions greater and smaller than you. You've got your part to play, but it's only a part.

For me, it was a serendipitous visit. It put me in exactly the right frame of mind to greet the new year. Yes, it's all out there, waiting. Yes, it's an opportunity to jettison all the old crap and embark on something new. But it's important to be mindful that the universe does not live or die by our choices. If I screw up again (as I'm sure I will from time to time), it really is of no lasting consequence. And if I achieve great things, well, they're only great because I say they are. Out in the Virgo supercluster, nobody is paying any attention. And that's as it should be.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The most bestest holiday in forever

Well, I'm about as happy as I could be right now. I got the biggest, most wonderful holiday surprise on Friday. My son Peter, who lives in China, showed up unannounced. His brother was in on the surprise but nobody else knew. I was speechless. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have him around, even if it's only for a week.

I hope everyone has as good a holiday as I am having.

Monday, December 17, 2007

An injection of holiday spirit, more or less


You might think I'm referring to the bottle of pinot grigio that I enjoyed yesterday while the sleet pattered against my windows and I was inside being toasty warm and baking ginger cookies. Well, yes, maybe I am. It was a very nice wine. But I mean just in general. I enhanced my festive state further by putting up some holiday decorations. I managed to snurch a couple of twiggy arrangements from work that had been done by the guy who does the flower arrangements for the lobby and so forth. It's a couple of bundles of white branches tied up with silver ribbons and decorated with little silver balls. While I'm not usually in favor of the all-white look, they were free and the little shiny silver bits brightened them up. I also took the box of leftover little shiny silver bits and stuck them around here and there. I also scattered my little nutcrackers around.
The best part was I figured out that I could put my little lights out along my balcony railing and plug them in inside. Closing the door on them doesn't do any damage.

So I was feeling pretty darn festive yesterday. Then I remembered that nobody comes to my house for Christmas and nobody is giving me any presents, except my son Brian who's buying me a new teakettle. Okay, to be fair, I am going to someone else's house for Christmas dinner and then on Boxing Day I'm going to some friends' house down at the shore (yes, it's New Jersey where they have shore, NOT beach). None of that should matter because I'm not Christian anyway and in fact I don't even believe in god. But it does matter a little when there's the whole enforced festivity thing going on. But considering how broke I am, I guess it's a good thing I don't have anyone except Brian to buy a gift for. And he's 20 and not very demanding.

It's just that, with all the hype and mandatory jollity, no matter what you come up with, it's usually going to be a letdown on some level. So I'm wondering, how many other people feel that their holidays somehow don't measure up to expectations.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Moment Of Truth, Part Deux

Tomorrow evening is the reading of the second draft of my play. It's taken me a year and a half to do the rewrite after the first reading. This is largely due to the inconvenient fact that I have to work for a living and that my job (which I started at exactly the time I had the first reading) has very nearly sucked my soul out of me, not to mention several gallons of brain juice. But I'm not going to complain and carry on. Heaven knows I've done enough of that over the last year. No, I'm just going to try and keep the forward momentum going on this nutty little project of mine.

So...overall I am quite satisfied with the progress I made since the first draft. I think it is in much better shape. I took the actors' comments and suggestions and my own notes and made lots of improvements. I pared away a lot of the blah blah blah. So many words that didn't need to be there! They just get in the way and slow the story down.

One trap I think a lot of writers fall into is they fall in love with the sound of their own words. Guess what, it's not about the words. Well yes of course it's about the words but only insofar as they serve the story. Words are only part of the way that a play tells the story. And what the characters don't say is often more important than what they do say.

So tomorrow night I get to hear how many more words need to be ruthlessly obliterated. Of course there will be a third draft, and probably a fourth. But my feeling is that from now on, it will be more tweaking than major overhauling. But I'll know more in 24 hours.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Schrodinger moment


I had me a little Schrodinger moment on the bus last week. I got on and sat down behind a woman who had apparently just come from the animal shelter. She had a closed cardboard carton on her lap that said ASPCA on it and had air holes all around. My first thought was, oh cool, she just adopted a cat. But then I thought, hmmm, is the cat alive or dead? It must be both! My god, there's a quantum superposition happening right here on the #11 bus! And there's no way to tell which state the cat is in until she gets home and opens the box.

Hey, It thought it was pretty funny. Of course nobody understood what I was laughing about.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ushering in the Season of Wretched Excess

Pass me that bowl of stuffing -- I don't think I'm sufficiently stuffed yet. All around the table, people on all sides of me are saying the same thing: "I'm stuffed! I can't eat any more!" And yet they all do. Remarkable, isn't it?

Somehow I manage to escape that particular state of being. And what's my reward? I feel unsatisfied. Not that I haven't filled my stomach enough but that somehow, my experience feels incomplete. It's not food I'm lacking but rather some sense of
festivity. I think I know the problem! It's not my empty plate that's the cause...it's my empty glass! Send that vino down to this end! But I'm drinking alone. Wow, that's no fun. Well, okay, it's a little bit fun. But not as much as I'd like.

Thanksgiving...in my mind, the giving of thanks should be accompanied by a convivial consumption of liquid cheer. These guys...these non-drinkers or timid drinkers, they have managed to suck a chunk of holiday spirit right outa here.
Maybe some more cranberries will do the trick. They're red and bright and perky. Sigh. I love cranberries but there's just no substitute for a companion to share that dandy bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau with.

Never mind...on to the next feast.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Go see this movie


I've been a Julie Taymor fan since Lion King (the Broadway show, not the Disney movie). She is a visionary designer and director. She really gets the fact that visual storytelling is a very textured, multi-layered medium. And she's not afraid to take risks. The result is visually stunning production where the whole really is more than the sum of its parts.

It's really fun to see and hear all those Beatle songs woven into a story and see how they all fit. It's also neat to hear how some of them are interpreted so differently than the originals and are so good. There are some great little cameo roles: Eddy Izzard as Mr. Kite, Bono as Dr. Robert, Joe Cocker as a bum and a pimp.

Watching her work is inspiring and at the same time discouraging to me. I say, "wow! look what's possible!" And then I say, "yeah, but I never would have thought of that." But I'm glad she did.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Anything to keep from working

Tough week. But before I get to that, I have to stop and wonder how many blogs devolve into whiny little litanies of miserable complaints...kind of like this one. This one is about pain. The physical kind. Specifically pertaining to the lower back. Sciatic nerve. Any of this sound familiar? Don't worry, it will. This is a misfortune that struck me when #2 son was a mere babe. (Never mind how old he is now.) But anyhoo, it hadn't bothered me from then until last week, at which point it came out of nowhere to turn life into a misery of pain. I did all the good things to make it go away, and it almost had, but then it came back. Ow is the understatement of the century. So today, I ditched work (hell yeah!) and went and got a 90-minute massage therapy treatment. Except for the time when Leo (the massage therapist) was making me almost cry in agony, it was wonderful. And of course the agony was for a good cause. Now, 5 hours and three glasses of pinot grigio later, I'm feeling considerably better. And in another day or two, I'll be way WAY better.

I also took advantage of the day off to go see a recruiter. No, not a military recruiter, but what we in the creative trades like to call a head hunter. Someone who can find me a new job. About 99% of the tension that caused this back spasm is due to my stoopid job which I hate. So that's another good thing. PLUS, I have a HOT DATE on Friday. Life is looking pretty sweet right now. Or potentially sweet anyway.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Has it really been that long?


I can't believe it's been two weeks since the last time I posted! Well, yes maybe I can. There's this weird thing that happens beginning at the end of October. No, I mean besides my birthday. And besides the end of daylight savings time, although now that I think about it, maybe it does have to do with that a little. This is why I know that time is relative. Because right about now is when time starts to speed up. Days get shorter and everything goes faster. Yesterday I realized that it's only three weeks till Thanksgiving. How did that happen? It's this crazy year-end time compression thing. And then, in about a minute and a half, we'll find ourselves snacking on leftover turkey and stuffing, starting to think that maybe we really ought to start getting organized for Christmas/Chanukah/New Year. And then we blink twice and we're all yelling Happy New Year and it's 2008.

I know what you're going to say, that the calendar is just an arbitrary human invention for keeping track of everyone's birthday so we don't forget to send cards and presents. (Hint hint) But I think it's more than that. I think there's some gravitational shift or maybe the year is not evenly weighted to begin with. Once you kind of crest the hill at Halloween, gravity takes over and we all just come tear-assing down to Christmas and New Year's, whether we plan it that way or not. I think an interesting experiment would be to investigate different parts of the world and see if there are some places where the gravitational pull isn't so strong. I'm thinking that Fiji might be once place. There's a good chance that non-Western countries near the equator that don't celebrate Western/northern hemisphere holidays might not feel it as strongly. But who knows? Maybe you take your gravity with you when you travel. This requires further thought.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Make me laugh, please!

Is it just me or is nothing very funny any more? Or maybe not nothing, but not much. I find that very few things make me really laugh any more. I know, I know...the world is going to hell. Yes. But the world is always going to hell somewhere. And usually when the world is going to hell, great humor and comedy abounds. I don't get it.

The Onion can sometimes do it and the current issue has two real winners. There's the lead story, "Conceptual Terrorists Encase Sears Tower in Jell-O" and "Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down to Area Man." According to the terrorists (and you have to see the image from their "video"), true terror lies in the futility of human existence. Gotta love it.

But I would just love to come across something that made me laugh until my sides hurt. That hasn't happened since, well, I don't know when. Then again, maybe it's me. Maybe I'm just not funny any more. I don't know what the answer is.

Monday, October 08, 2007

What season is this anyway?

It feels weird and wrong that it's dark so early when it still feels like summer outside. It's producing a strange sense of disconnection in me. I'm not quite hooked into the season. I felt the need to go buy some clothes to wear to work since my summer stuff isn't appropriate any more. But it was nearly impossible to get into the correct frame of mind. Everything looked drab and unappealing. I did buy a couple of things, mostly because I felt like I should. And of course when you do that, it always ends up wrong. I got them home, looked at them again and cringed. Now I have to make another trip downtown to the store and return them. I should have listened to that little inner voice that said DON'T DO IT!.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

...or are you just happy to see me?


So...what I did on my summer, uh, fall vacation:
I hiked every day. I climbed and scrambled up steep, rocky trails with frustratingly unsteady footing. I hiked along the ridgelines, high up where I could see in all directions. Not that there was really much to see. I trudged along the rocky canyon floors and sandy dry washes. I immersed myself in the amazing silence. Of everything, that was the most wonderful.

I took some pictures but not a lot. After the first 20 or so, I realized that pretty much everything looked the same, so taking more pictures was really unnecessary.

I got wet in the pool. It was quite small so actual swimming was really not possible. But it felt great to cool down after a couple hours of sweating in the desert sun.

I wrote. Yes, every day I wrote. Sometimes I had to force myself but I did it.

I napped. I took siestas. Under normal circumstances, I don't take naps. I can't. It doesn't work for me. But there, in the heat and the silence I was able to. Interesting thing about the heat - even though it got up into the high 90s every afternoon, I never once had to turn on the air conditioning. The place had ceiling fans in every room and there were doors onto my little veranda which I kept open. It was warm but totally comfortable. And the nights were wonderfully cool.

So that's what I did. I hiked, I wrote, I slept. I spoke to almost no one for the whole week. The checkout girl at the Safeway, the checkout girl at the Walgreens. Two rotund ladies by the pool. That was about it.

It may sound pathetically lonely and boring, but I loved it. I wasn't lonely or bored. I was totally enveloped by the place.

Oh yes, I also heard coyotes on a couple of evenings. They kind of sounded like squeaky doors.

Another thing about Arizona: they have great highway signage.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Conundrum


Lots of grasshoppers here. But no grass. Makes ya wonder.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The silence is like velvet

Arrived last night. It's a cluster of condo-type units at the edge of a huge nature preserve. The utter, absolute silence just took my breath away. Not barren, desolate silence, but gentle, soft silence. It was like a velvet blanket over everything.

I took an hour-long hike this morning. Not so much a hike as a scramble. Clambered over lots of uneven, rocky terrain. Climbed a couple of steep grades, took in some pretty cool vistas. Pictures to come. Even during the daytime, the silence is amazing. Dense, like it has texture. I'm loving this. I can't remember ever being in such a quiet place.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In crazed pre-vacation mode

So I'm leaving on vacation on Saturday. I've never felt so unprepared for a trip, ever. I'm going to Arizona -- my first encounter with the desert -- and I'm still a few t-shirts short of a suitable wardrobe. I missed buying shorts while they were still in the stores so I ended up making cutoffs of an old pair of jeans. I have no idea what happened to my old shorts. Lost in the move, maybe. I did manage to purchase a pair of hiking shoes online. And they fit! Ta-da! But before I go, I have a buttload of work to get through.

I've had two job interviews in the past two weeks, adding to my sense of dislocation. I have a strong feeling that one or the other of them will come through. One, however, has asked me to write a short spec piece. It happens occasionally. But I also have parts of two freelance projects to deliver before Friday. How do I get myself into these things? Well, one way or the other, it will all be over in 2 days and I'll be on a plane.

One of my main vacation activities, besides hiking and hanging out by the pool will be finishing the rewrite on the second draft of my big play. (There's also my little play, but I'm not going there now.) This will be my chance to tackle this sucker. A big chunk of clean, unencumbered time. if I can't do it next week, then I better just give up. I've been whining for so long about "not having any time." Now I'll have it, so it's put up or shut up time.

Knowing how my brain works, I'm sure I'll also find myself hatching new writing projects as I absorb the new, alien environment. This has been known to happen. Damn inspiration! I don't mind that I'm going alone. I'm looking forward to reveling in the solitude and the silence. I hope the sky is very clear. I plan to lose myself (figuratively speaking) in the starry nights.

The job thing is weird. In my mind, I'm already gone from the present one, although still there in body. But I don't want to think about that. I want to think about the desert and the stars.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Going loony


This is the most exciting news since, well, I don't know when. Maybe since Spirit and Opportunity started trundling around on Mars. Maybe even longer than that. I feel like jumping up and down. Or at least up...I'll come down without any extra effort. The cause of all this nutty behavior is the announcement today of the Google Lunar X Prize. 30 million crisp dollar bills (or the electronic equivalent) to the bunch who can land a rover on the moon, drive it around a little and send back some really awesome You Tube clips.

My world, my universe just got a whole lot bigger today. The universe of possibilities for the human race just got infinitely bigger. If we're ever gonna get off this rock -- which we'd better if we hope to survive and thrive as a species -- then it's going to be the independent inventors and entrepreneurs who get us there. Don't get me wrong, NASA has done some truly remarkable things. But they're not equipped to handle the nitty gritty of regular space travel, exploration, settlement building, industry and commerce off-world. They've got limitations, constraints, politics. The kinds of things that private citizens don't have to deal with. Plus, there's that Grail of All Grails -- the profit motive. There's money to be made out there, boys and girls, and some enterprising individuals are not gonna let a few million miles and the vacuum of space stand in their way.

I'm not going to be on an X Prize team. I'm not going to be one of the first settlers or mine owners on the Moon. I'm probably never going to leave this planet. But knowing that somebody not too far from now will move into a condo with an Earth view just thrills me to my tippy toes. We may just make in this big ol' universe after all.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Here's how I'm spending my weekend

After the stellar weather of last weekend, today is back to the usual summer hot'n'humid. And I am in slug mode, so I'm not about to join the legions of runners jogging up the block to the park. I did make a foray downtown to Bed, Bath & Beyond -- or, as I have begun calling it, Bed, Bath & Bordello -- for several unglamorous but highly utilitarian items such as a wastebasket and a doormat. I also stopped at the gourmet grocery for some fresh-squeezed OJ and some 70% cacao dark chocolate. Hey! A girl's gotta eat, ya know! And of course the liquor store for a cold bottle of pinot grigio. This has all been run-up to what is becoming the high point of my weekend: diving into the remaining cartons in the guest room closet.

Now that Brian has taken all of his sweaty-smelly young guy clothes and belongings and headed back to college, I can finally turn the second bedroom into a space that other people can actually use. All the remaining cartons from the move were stashed in the closet here, just waiting for this very moment. So, glass of wine in hand, I have begun!

It's like I'm having flashbacks! While tearing up 10-year-old bank statements and cancelled checks, I'm remembering the guys I was dating then. It was right after I got divorced and I was casting the net rather widely. (As opposed to now, when I've become completely disillusioned and pulled the net out of the water completely - but that's another story.) Anyway, as I work my way through the pinot, I'm doing some weird time traveling. I'm looking at some of these old checks and I don't even remember who the payees are that I've written them too. Then an old rent check goes by and I go, "oh man! look what I was paying back then!" Or some weird name crops up and I'm thinking "who the hell was that and why was I paying him $74.12? And then there's a check to my ex and I'm wondering why the fuck I was giving him money at all. He should have been giving me...well, never mind. That's a long, strange tale and it's not over yet. But I think when all is said and done, everything comes out even in the end. At least I hope so.

And then there's the 12-year-old tax returns. I don't need to keep them, do I? I mean, why would anyone want to look at them? What value could they possibly have? But then you think of, oh, Law & Order, and how they sift through all this seemingly irrelevant old stuff and come up with the murderer. So I'm thinking, maybe I should save them in case I get murdered or am accused of murder because you never know what kind of information they'll be able to glean from my stupid tax returns. And besides, after I get rid of all these bank statements and financial statements and such, I'll have so much room left that a few years' worth of tax returns won't seem like much.

It all seems so quaint now, these paper checks and paper statements and paper receipts. After resisting for quite a while, I have whole-heartedly embraced online banking and electronic bill-paying. So these days, I get very few actual bills and no actual bank statements or checks. I can see them all online. So never again will I be accumulating this shit. I have left that job to Bank of America. And you can bet your whatever you bet that they've got these things archived away on some backroom server. So when the detectives from whatever precinct it is come looking for my records, it's they and not I who will have to come up with them. And then there's all this space that is magically appearing in my closet. I'm dizzy with ideas about what to do with the space.

And by the way, there's clean sheets on the bed now.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Today I'm quitting! Well, maybe


Every day now I go to work with the idea in the back of my mind that, if I get disgusted enough, I can always walk out. I heard somewhere that some suicidal people actually become more daring and confident after making the fateful decision. They figure, "well, if it gets too bad, I can always kill myself." Strange and counterintuitive. But it has made going to work a little more entertaining for me. I keep wondering now if this will be the day. I know, you probably think I'm a quit-tease. I flirt with quitting but never actually do the deed. Well, not yet anyway. But I am actually looking for another job.

I also got a possible lead on a whole buttload of freelance work. That would be great because I could work at home. But it would also mean I'd have to pay for my health insurance and do estimated taxes and all that crap. Also no paid vacation. I had set a deadline of being out of there by the end of September. But that's only 4 weeks from now and I have to give at least 2 weeks notice. So that means finding something in the next 2 weeks. Can she do it? Tune in next time....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

All that jazz


Since rock music and I began to grow in different directions, I have gotten more and more into jazz. It's great because there is this virtually infinite universe of music that I haven't heard yet, so I get to discover new things all the time. And now that head-banging isn't what floats my boat, I can listen to lots of different styles and instruments and musicians. I'm having a great time. It also makes me feel like a grownup, which is occasionally a good thing.

So I went to hear some Brazilian jazz last night. It was a trio of Brazilian musicians plus two American guys. They also had a female singer, also Brazilian, for a few songs. I went to the early set (it being a work night and all) so they were just getting warmed up. I wish I could've seen the later show. They must have been awesome. The sax player (one of the Americans) looked like a shapeless, dorky kind of 1940s businessman, like somebody out of a movie you'd see on MST3K. But he was wailing! It's kind of reassuring to see a gang of jowly middle-aged white guys being the hippest cats in the room and just totally cutting loose. My friend and I got to sit right in front of the bandstand, although to be honest, there wasn't a bad seat in the place. It's small, holds maybe 150 tops. Everybody should get doses of live music at regular intervals. It just feels great. And it's especially cool when it doesn't blow your eardrums out.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Just floating


Kind of a peculiar weekend, but not bad. I have come to the conclusion that one of my best friends (who considers me her best friend) is actually, at the core, boring. It's weird because she appears to be anything but. Works at the United Nations, speaks three languages, has a great sense of humor, is a wild and wacky broad. And we do have some crazy fun together. But after all of that, I find she doesn't have a lot to say that really holds my interest. It's complicated. I think what it partly is, is that other than the couple of subjects that she knows about and is interested in, she runs out of things to say. I feel guilty, especially because she's always thrilled to see me, but it feels like the same thing every time. Not sure what to do. Maybe nothing.

Saw Bourne Ultimatum today. Wahoo! A real adrenaline rush! I loved the jerky hand-held camera work that make me feel like I was right in the middle of the action. I can even forgive the fact that the kind of electronic surveillance they were doing simply can't be done. I can also forgive the fact that he was able to just walk away from any number of deadly car crashes. It wrapped the whole story up very nicely. A lean, mean thriller.

Crazy weather. It's chilly and rainy in the middle of August. But no matter. The rain has lulled me into this floaty sort of dreamstate. It's also late and I'm tired, which is contributing to my state of being. Very nice.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Spending the weekend on I-95

I drove down to Washington, DC this weekend to visit family. Washington's a pretty neat city and I could see myself living there easily. The weather was great and it was really nice being there. But the traffic on I-95 just sucked out loud. It was raining and dreadful when we left and that killed the traffic for about the first 100 miles or so. I won't go into the tedious details but suffice it to say that instead of the usual 4 hours, it took about 7 and change. On the way back not so bad. We made it in a little under 5.

I have a tendancy sometimes to, shall we say, apply my foot rather heavily to the accelerator when I hit the interstate, but the thing that amazes me is that I can be doing 80 and people will pass me like I'm standing still. Those guys, I stay as far away from as possible. A really cool thing is that now, my E-Z Pass works on all the tolls between New York and Washington. I don't have to stop at tollbooths any more! Just cruise on through. They even have the express ones on the NJ Turnpike - you don't even have to slow down for those! But those little pleasures don't count for much when the average speed is 30 mph.

Sometimes a teeny little paranoid crumb of my brain grumbles about how E-Z Pass makes it easy for Them to track my travels. And sometimes I think it would be cool to swap transponders with my other friends who have it. That way They'd never know for sure where anyone was. But then I figure, fuck it. Paranoia requires too much mental energy, which I'd rather use on something else more constructive.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Blah blah blah

Last week in my Italian class, we got to talking about the death penalty. It was pretty funny, the bunch of us struggling with complex sentences with all kinds of conditional tenses and so on, while trying to find the words to argue about capital punishment. It's a fun class and there's always plenty to laugh about, but it reminded me how frustrating it is not being able to make yourself understood. We take language for granted, at least when we all speak the same one. We can scream and yell at each other and completely disagree with what's being said, but at least we understand it. And we articulate our opinions without even thinking about it.

It also reminded me of this linguist I heard on the radio, talking about Eastern and Western languages. He said that in Western languages, it's the responsibility of the speaker to make himself understood. In Eastern languages, it's up to the listener to interpret what's been said to him. In the West it's all about specificity; in the East it's all about context. They're not so concerned with getting the details nailed down. It makes it pretty easy to get out of just about anything, it would seem.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Just applied for a great job

I just sent off my online application to WNYC, which is the big public radio station here. It's for a copywriter in their fundraising department. It's exactly the kind of stuff I've been doing for ages, writing direct mail for non-profits and member acquisition mailings and all that kinda crap. It sounds like a really neat job and a neat place to work. And I gotta get out of where I am. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Progress report


So here's what's happening with the amazing blooming snakeplant flower. This plant has a wicked survival instinct. No wimping out here. This baby responded to 3rd degree burns by mobilizing all its troops. It seems to have done an internal triage too. It immediately cut the nutrient flow to the leaves that were too damaged, strengthened the ones that could survive and started pushing up new ones. And then there are these wacky little flowers. I doubt I will ever see this again -- not unless I torture another snakeplant. And regardless of what some may think, I'm not a florasadist.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Because white walls are boring


I've accepted the fact that getting this place to the state I want is going to be more of a marathon than a sprint. Things like money and time, they tend to slow the process down. But one major step has been accomplished: I have started the painting. This big room is a combined living room/dining area/kitchen. And eventually it will also have my office in one corner. So I figured one way to define the space was with color. This is a tad brighter than what I saw in my head, but I'm very happy with it. The other half of the room will eventually be some sort of muted reddish brickish color. Something like that.

I did this painting, with some help. I hate painting and I'm really not very good at it. Even though (as you can see) I taped out all the trim, there are still some places where the color got on the white moldings. And there are a few places where I missed little spots. Chalk it up to a) inadequate light and b) inadequate painting ability on my part. But it's done and it didn't cost me anything other than one gallon of paint and a couple rolls of masking tape. But the next time, I'm paying somebody to do it for me. I really don't like to paint.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Gettin' in that summer zone


It's not a bad thing. It's not much of a thing at all. There's just this "do-nothing" feeling that comes over me, even while I'm hatching ideas to take advantage of the beautiful summer weather. I end up lounging around, not getting dressed on the weekends until about 11:00, sitting outside with my feet up. A good time can be had for absolutely no money if you know what you're doing!

Back to the weather for a minute. It really has been (so far) a lovely summer. We have only had a handful of really hot, sticky days. Right now at nearly midnight it's cool and breezy and crystal clear. Tomorrow is going to be a gem of a day. I keep waiting for that disgusting week of high 90s every day, with really high humidity. It hasn't happened yet. Last weekend I drove out to a beautiful little nature center in New Jersey and wandered around in the woods for a while. Just perfect.

Tomorrow I'll take another picture of the little flower stalk on my snake plant. It's grown since the last one. I hope it does actually flower -- I'm dying to see what it looks like. Some of my petunias are all bloomed out so I'm on a search for replacements. And don't say impatiens! I have nothing against them in the abstract, it's just that they're everywhere. And to me they've some to represent a lack of imagination. (I hope I haven't pissed off any impatiens lovers.) And I am getting to be very fond of petunias, which I never used to care about. I think they come in way more colors than they used to. I have some dark violet ones that are really fragrant at night. I am going to go out and smell them again before I got to sleep.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Amazing discovery


Having just suffered a near-death experience last week (see previous post) my crippled snake plant suddenly sprouted what looks like a little flower stalklet. I never even knew these things bloomed! I'm absolutely stunned. Maybe it needs to be in extreme stress, and this is like a desperation move to guarantee the next generation. I know there's a pine tree whose cones only pop open with the extreme heat of a forest fire. So who knows, maybe this is similar. Or the plant doesn't give a shit and it's just doing what it wants. Or maybe it got confused. Whatever the cause, it's doing something I've never seen before. Pretty cool.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Had a small catastrophe

Fortunately, no cats were involved in it. It most concerned the snakeplant you can see in the photo below, next to the railing. Well, it had been sitting in front of the outside of the air conditioner in the living room. The A/C got turned on and ran for many hours before I stepped outside and realized that the poor plant was getting absolutely fried! I pushed it away from the heat blast but the damage had already been done. About half of its stalks had already collapsed from the heat and some of the others were burned. The way you see it now is after I performed emergency amputations and cut off all the mutilated stalks. It was a pretty big, healthy plant. Now, it's a shadow of its former self. I apologize to it every day and water it more than it actually needs, which isn't really a good idea. But I feel so bad! I'm sure it will recover eventually. This is another one of those plants that's virtually impossible to kill. But I came pretty close! At least I know now not to put any plants in front of the outside A/C vents.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A sort of a soggy 4th


It started out just kind of grey and overcast, like it looks here. By 9:00 it was alternating between drizzling and dripping. It didn't seem to dampen the fireworks -- a surprising amount of which we were able to see from here. The main stuff was elsewhere but having been there and done that I was happy to sit on my petite veranda with a couple of buddies and eat and drink and carry on just fine by ourselves. Now I'm seeing a little bit of lightning. Fireworks of a different kind. All in all a very pleasant, low-key and fairly well soused 4th. The damn sniffle is still bugging me though.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Feel like a cold is catching me

It always made more sense to me to say it that way. I try and run like hell from the cold that's trying to catch me. Many times I'm successful. I don't know about this time yet. I'll know better tomorrow. It's been a year since I had a cold. I wouldn't mind so much but ever since I had pneumonia, and then bronchitis about 8 years later, whenever I get a cold it ends up settling in my chest and I cough and hack and wheeze for about 2 weeks, long after the rest of the cold is gone. It sounds terrible, like I'm dying or something. And it's really uncomfortable. I guess my lungs are now predisposed to hang onto these things. Especially the right one, which is the one that had the pneumonia the worst I think.

On the flip side, I have a pretty strong immune system so I don't get sick very often. And I have this trick that works for me -- if I feel like I might be getting sick, I take 2 aspirin every 4 hours for about 3 days and whatever I was going to get goes away. It doesn't always work, but at least 75% of the time, which is pretty good. So I'm going to go take 2 of them before I go to bed and we'll see what happens tomorrow. You might want to try this. I can't guarantee it will work for you, but give it a try.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A pretty garden in Old Salem


I was just looking through the photos I took when I was down in North Carolina in May. We took a walk through Old Salem, which is one of those old villages like Colonial Williamburg but smaller and more modest. We didn't buy tickets so we couldn't go into the blacksmith shop or the candlemaker or whatever. Been there, done that in other places, so I didn't really care. But we walked around the little streets and looked at all the buildings. What's interesting is that there are private residences scattered throughout the place. This beautiful little - well, not so little - garden is not an exhibit but somebody's actual garden. That's like a full-time job, right there. That's beyond my gardening talents and certainly beyond my ambitions. I was always in search of the zero-maintenance garden. It doesn't exist, of course, but it was like my holy grail. Lots of daylilies; you can't kill those things. Hardy perennials, that sort of thing. Now I just have little planters filled with purple petunias, a fuschia hiding in the corner, three little tomato plants, a couple of house plants that will go in when it gets cold and a pot of mint. That's another thing you just can't kill.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A bottle of Pinot Grigio just doesn't go as far as it used to



Or maybe it goes too far. A friend came over after work today and together we polished of a bottle of chilled-not-quite-enough Pinot Grigio that I picked up on my way home. Took maybe an hour, with lots of blah blah blah in between. But it seemed liked it disappeared way too quickly. I squoze out the last few drops by wringing the neck of the bottle -- try it next time, I swear it works. But it didn't really help the contents last longer.

Fast forward several hours and I find myself still unable to do any meaningful work. Oh sure, I can pass for intelligent, but I assure you the resemblance stops there. I just don't understand how all those famous writers used to work under the influence of multiple (and large!) doses of distilled spirits. Unless they were all lying. Or maybe they were just better drinkers than I am. Ever notice how it's always the macho men who make these claims? I'll bet Joan Didion or Margaret Atwood or Toni Morrison ever talked about how they used to go out and drink the night (or day) away and then go home and polish off several brilliant chapters. Events conspire against me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Getting to feel like home

I'm finally starting to feel like I live here instead of just visiting or pretending. Yesterday I bought new lampshades for the bedroom at a store called - appropriately - Just Shades. And guess what, that's what they sell.

I've also been collecting take-out menus from some of the restaurants nearby. So far I have ones from a Thai place (really good!), a diner (great fries and burgers), an Italian place that makes wood-fired pizzas (haven't ordered from them yet) and an Asian fusion place (haven't ordered from them either). I need to get one from the Chinese place on the next block. There's also a place called Cafe con Leche. I'm not sure what they serve but it's a pretty safe bet that it's Mexican of some sort. I have to scout out the area for others.

There's a market right on my corner. I hesitate to call it a supermarket because there isn't anything super about it. It's more like a rabbit warren. The aisles are just about wide enough for two carts to squeeze past each other. There's not a super amount of any one kind of thing, but there's a little bit of everything. And they do have some good produce. It's also open 24 hours, which doesn't mean anything to me, but it's a good place to go for a loaf of bread or some milk or things like that. Shopping here is an activity which requires a very different mindset from the 'burbs. It means going to many more places and buying fewer things at each of them. No more throwing all the bags in the back of the car. Now it's a matter of thinking, "can I carry it all?" I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and dragged the stuff home on the bus. This is why rotator cuff injuries are a common ailment in the city. Seriously, that's what my physical therapist told me when I was doing rehab on mine after surgery. She told me that it happens because people walk around the city carrying things all the time. Eventually the wear and tear causes the tendon to, well, tear. So you don't need to be a big-league pitcher to have rotator cuff surgery. I am proof.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Over-chocolatey chocolate

Since making the jump from milk to dark chocolate, I've been boldly going where my tastebuds never went before. I've been trying all kinds of "dark" and "semi-sweet" and "special dark" and all kinds of other, way goofier nomenclatures of chocolate. And I have been introduced to chocolate elitism, which if you don't know, is very similar to coffee elitism. I swear I heard these two people in Whole Foods involved in a passionate argument over whether Madagascar chocolate was tastier than Guatemala.

Anyway, the other day I was on line at the so-called gourmet grocery in my new neighborhood and they have all these imported chocolate bars at the register. My friend picked out two and we brought them home. 75% cocoa and 85% cocoa. For comparison, I think Hershey's Dark (which I like a lot) is maybe 60%. The 75%, I have to say, I really did like. It had almost a fruity flavor and there wasn't any fruit in it. But the 85%, that's where I draw the line. It's just too intense. And not in a good way. It has no charm, no finesse. It's just a bludgeon of chocolate on your tongue. When eating chocolate becomes as much of a chore as eating vegetables was as a kid, well...why bother? Then again, maybe it's just this brand. Lindt Excellence. One of the cool things is that there are so many brands and types to explore. It could take years to complete this project!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yikes! I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by fermicat. Not wanting to break this venerable tradition, here are my 8 random things about myself:

1. I have two sons. They are 19 and 23 years old. The younger one just finished his sophomore year at North Carolina School of the Arts and the older one (as a couple of you may know) lives in Shanghai.

2. I am a lay dummy science geek. I love reading about science, especially astronomy, cosmology, subatomic physics and all that crazy higher dimension math stuff. How much of it do I actually understand? Not sure. Probably not very much. But I love how it stretches my brain. So much of it is theoretical anyway.

3. I'm a playwright. Yes, I'm one of those artists who toils away at a day job that's sucking the creative soul out of her. But one of these days....

4. I am also divorced. But unlike fermicat, I haven't met a suitable replacement yet.

5. I am a huge blues fan. Don't know why, but it really speaks to me.

6. I've come to the conclusion that there is pretty much no food that can't be improved by adding either Tabasco or creme fraiche. Or both.

7. I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder last year,

8. I was born at the end of October and I have always considered my birthday as the unofficial start of the holiday season.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Balinese Shadow Puppet


In response to a request, here is the aforementioned shadow puppet. It is a wayang kulit puppet. Traditionally they were made of water buffalo skin. I bought it a long time ago as a gift for my ex. I took it when I moved out. When I have some extra money, which hasn't been for quite a while, I collect folk art puppets.

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's down to days!



Those of you who have suffered through this whole moving adventure (or misadventure) with me can get ready to breathe a sigh of relief. I know I am. Day after tomorrow (Thursday) it will all be over. I will be out of here and into there. It will be moderately painful or extremely painful but at least it will be over. I had a packing party yesterday. Two friends came over, we drank mimosas and packed. And goofed off too. Probably a little more than we should have. But boxes did get filled. The problem with packing is that the more you pack, the more shit appears. It's a paradox. I am still so not ready. I can't believe I had so much crap in my kitchen. All those dopey little appliances. All those boxes of pasta and beans. All those freakin' cans of chicken broth! How the hell did that happen?

I'll be taking Wednesday off to do all the million things that haven't been done yet. Take down and carefully pack all the art and artifacts. I am a collector of exotic little pieces of folk art. Like a flying frog from Indonesia and a Balinese shadow puppet and a Burmese horse puppet. Things that don't take kindly to being shoved into a carton.

And taking down the window stuff. And packing the lamps and the stereo. And oh shit I still have to pack all my CDs! But fear not, my whining will shortly come to a very welcome end.

Memo to self: next time I move by myself, I'm paying the movers to pack it all!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What is it? The beginning of time!


Is this not a beautiful thing? This is the Large Hadron Collider under construction at CERN in Geneva. By next summer, those happy physicists will be slamming protons together, hoping to recreate the same conditions that were present when the universe was less than a trillionth of a second old. They're hoping to find -- finally! -- the Higgs Boson. And they're expecting to discover all kinds of weird and unexpected stuff. I wish I were a physicist.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Damn, I'm good!

Okay, I still hate my job, but a cool thing happened that I feel very proud of -- which was primarily my doing. So I'm going to brag just a teensy bit.

I just found out today that the museum was awarded a federal grant, from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. I WROTE THAT PROPOSAL. ME. I DID IT. And it was my first federal government grant. And we got it. The whole amount. That's because i did a kickass job at it. See...when I get to do what I'm good at, good things happen. Sadly, much or most of my time is taken up doing things I'm not that good at and frankly hate. But today, I'm feeling good about it all.

If I cared about the place, it might be even better.

Monday, May 07, 2007

What's going on inside


My interior universe has been really bubbling lately. I mean this in a good way. Now that the serious craziness at work has subsided and my brain has been allowed to resume some of its natural meanderings, it's been finding its way to some really interesting places. A new idea of it all -- sort of my very own Grand Unified Theory -- is starting to coalesce. Not too pretentious, comparing myself to Albert, right? But what the hell, we're all entitled to postulate our own theories.

This one has been growing little by little for quite some time. A little thought here, a crumb of an idea there, accreting over the months. Years, actually, when I think about it. Who knows, maybe the intense pressure at work accelerated the process. Kind of like creating diamonds or something. Or maybe it's just a matter of critical mass. But anyway, some amorphous, cloudlike overarching notion is floating in there. The most frustrating thing -- every so often I'll feel like I'm just about to understand something clearly and then poof! it's gone. Just out of reach. But having seen an atom or two of it, I now actively pursue it in my head. A fun little activity I engage in when I'm falling asleep.

So I've managed to say a lot about this "theory" and yet have also managed to avoid any mention of what it actually is. Clever, no? Thing is, it's not in any kind of form that I can actually articulate yet. Be assured that when it is, I'll be happy to share it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Yup, that's me, spacing out again. Hey, I'm entitled! While I'll admit I'm not quite as deranged as I was a week or two ago, I'm still in that grey zone. Three weeks and counting till moving day and I'm sure I'm not as far along as I should be. But at the same time, I'm feeling dislocated and temporary because furniture has disappeared and cartons are starting to stack up in visible places. I swore three years ago that I wouldn't go through this again so soon. This is my fourth move since I got divorced -- okay, that was...(how long?) 12 years ago. But even so, to me that's a lot of moves. The thought of doing it again fills me with dread. But at least I'll have way less stuff to deal with.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

That Empty Feeling

A guy (a friend of a friend of a friend) came by and took away a bunch of furniture. As luck would have it, he just moved to town and needs to furnish his apartment. So for a modest fee I parted with my kitchen table and chairs, big unused desk/table and a whole Ikea bookshelf, storage system. And for good measure, I also threw in a little Ikea night table. Good deal for him -- and for me. But the downstairs is pretty empty now, as is the kitchen. Well, at least I have room in the kitchen to put cartons when I pack them. But it's very unsettling to me. It's all in transition.

And wow -- did I pull a lot of junk out of the bookshelves and drawers. The floor downstairs is covered with crap! It boggles my mind how easy it is to accumulate stuff without even realizing it. I'm definitely throwing out lots. Gotta be ruthless. No room for sentiment. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The countdown begins

It's now 30 days until I move. So much to do, and basically me to do it. I'm not exactly in denial now; it's more like I wish I could be in denial. Can't sleep more than 4 or 5 hours a night. Thinking of seeking out a little pharmaceutical help (legal, of course -- that way it's covered on my health insurance). So here's what I've done so far: I've cleaned out two closets. I've dragged over about 10 bags of crap -- you know, the kind of stuff that after the movers take everything there's still all this other shit left behind. So I'm doing it in reverse this time; I'm taking it first.

Also, I've packed one carton full of videos. Also I have put some stuff in the new closets. Not much, but some. Mostly I threw out bags and bags of old clothes, sheets, shoes, and like that. About 10 bags. I called the Vietnam Vets and they came and took it all away and left me a receipt for my taxes. What I can't figure out is how I managed to accumulate so much shit in just a couple of years. I guess I brought a lot of it with me when I sold my house.

The other thing I did was I went to the paint store and looked at colors. And I bought three samples to try out. It's the coolest thing what some paint companies are doing now. They're selling little half-pint pots of the stuff for 4 bucks a piece. What a brilliant concept! So I bought three different shades of something like terra cotta, took them home to see them next to my furniture and realized it probably wasn't the right direction. But I know what I want now. I know the color. I can see it in my mind. It's a sort of Tuscan orange/gold/parchment. I went to the Benjamin Moore website and played with colors in a virtual room. Lots of fun.

You know what really cracks me up? Paint color names. Here's just a few I found earlier today: Rhumba Orange, Sharp Cheddar, Electric Orange. My choices the other day were Red Parrot, Bonaparte and...I forgot. Goofball Red or something. That's not it but it might as well be. I did a piece of a scene in the play I'm working on all about paint color names. It's a favorite little mental game of mine.

I've been doing a really good job of procrastinating tonight. The freelance job that I've been whining about endlessly is still in progress. Just when I think I can see the end, they send me more stuff. At least the money will pay for the move, but it's turned my brain to tapioca along the way. So even though they're expecting stuff from me tomorrow, I've found all kinds of creative ways to not work. I'm so good at this, I should get paid for not working.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where are we going...and why are we all in this handbasket?

Been thinking some about the whole Don Imus incident. I used to listen to him all the time up until about 3 or 4 years ago, when he started getting way too self-involved and tedious. I don't condone his comment for a microt, but I think in a way what happened was a good thing because it really brought home to a lot of people just how subtle and pervasive racism and sexism is in "our society". And I think there is a sort of double standard. And I also wholeheartedly agree that the idea of civility in social discourse has been completely obliterated. The question is, how to change that, when half the conversation you hear on the street or on the bus or wherever is fuckin' this and fuckin' that she's a fuckin' bitch and whatever else you hear. I'm all for using the right word at the right time, and sometimes fuckin' is the right word, but rarely. Not when there are so many other better ones around. And of course it's not just the words themselves but the hostility behind them. Why is everyone so fuckin' angry at each other all the time? Did we used to be? I don't remember that we were.

I think the loss of civility has gone hand in hand with the increasing stupidity. People seem to think and speak and act with less thought and less nuance and consideration. By that I mean that they don't consider things. They don't examine ideas or thoughts or issues. They blurt without thinking. Their worlds and their brains are getting smaller and cruder and coarser and less hospitable to sprouting complex thoughts. Present company excepted of course.

It makes me sad.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Playing hookey

Let me clarify. It's not strictly a day off from work. I'm working at home. Mostly I've been working on a freelance job that just never ends. I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the client just informed me today that "we're about half done." Imagine my joy. I've been working late at my day job nearly every day, getting stressed to the point of meltdown and then coming home to work on this other thing. Amazing my brain works at all lately.

Also let me clarify something else. I didn't, strictly speaking, play hookey. I didn't wake up this morning and call in sick. It's an official work-at-home day, sort of. My boss suggested I do that and, well, who would turn down such a generous offer? Actually, I kind of manipulated her into offering, but she doesn't know that.

Even though I've been working pretty much all day, it's been a nice mental health break. I could use a lot more of these.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring in fits and starts


First daffodils and pussywillows. Now baseball. I don't care that it's chilly and damp today. I've seen the sure signs of spring. So no matter how pathetic my life has been recently, nothing can stop the tilting of the northern hemisphere toward the sun. At least my pathetic life can't. And isn't that a good thing?

I've been thinking recently about how utterly insignificant we all are in the cosmic scheme of things. But rather than make me feel even more pathetic, it actually makes me feel kind of great. Because when you break it down to the tiniest level, or conversely, take it up to those higher dimensions, we are specks of equal value with every other speck. (At least with the 4% of the universe that isn't dark matter or dark energy. But I'm not going there now.) Having reduced myself to the speck-ular level, I fit happily into the fabric, just like all the other specks. Part of the whole, rather than standing apart from it as an observer. Think of it as my own goofy little superstring theory.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

My cell phone is missing!

I just discovered a little while ago that my cell phone disappeared. I know I had it this afternoon. I was talking on it while I was driving home at around 1:30 or so. (Used my bluetooth headset -- didn't break any laws.) And I brought it in from the garage. At least I brought in the headset and the phone isn't in the car, so I'm fairly certain I brought it in. But it's not in the house now. I tried calling myself, and nada...no ringtone, nothing. I did go out again, but I'm not sure I brought the phone. In fact I think I didn't. But somehow, it's vanished. Weird how a thing that up until a couple of years ago I got along without perfectly fine, now suddenly I feel completely lost without it. And the thing is, I haven't a clue as to where it might be. Musta fallen out of my pocket or my purse somewhere. Or maybe it got sucked into another dimension. I wonder if they'd get a signal over there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Let me crawl under a rock

This has truly been the week from hell...and it isn't over yet! At work, I committed a colossal blunder, one that could end up costing my museum a vast sum in lost funding. And nobody knows yet except me (and one other person). Yes I admit, it's my fault. But it most certainly wouldn't have happened if we hadn't all been so overworked, overloaded and overstressed. If I had had the proper amount of time, I would have been on top of this project. My brain wouldn't have been scattered and fractured and burned out.

When I started work there last summer, this same grant proposal was being worked on. At that time the department had twice as many people working in it. There was an admin assistant who knew the thing backwards and forwards. And they had an outside guy who came in especially to write the thing. And they were all still running around like lunatics at the 11th hour, trying to get it all done and out! This year, there was me. And my manic boss whose best thing is making everyone else crazy. For weeks my friend in the department and I have been saying, something is going to fall through the cracks. Something is going to fail. Well, it did. Unfortunately on a very important project. But honestly, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. The system was overloaded and it crashed.

At least it has thrown into focus for me how much I really don't like this job. I didn't like it when I started and I really don't like it now. It's too tedious to go into the whole thing, but bottom line is, I gotta get out. How is it that I've managed to cram as many uber-stressful things into my life at once? Moving, looking for new job. Now all I need to do is get married again and I'll hit the trifecta of most stressful situations. Lucky (or not) for me, there's no potential husband around.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Saving My Sanity

I've been an absolute basket case for the last week, ever since I signed the lease on my new apartment. I've been in a flat-out panic trying to figure out how I was going to be able to pack and move in four weeks while all hell was breaking loose at work and I had not a minute of extra time.

Thanks to my landlady, I have come to a realization. There is in fact not enough time to get it all done. But just because the apartment is mine as of April 2nd, doesn't mean I have to move in before the end of April. So I'm going to push it back to sometime in May. Yes I know it means still paying for my current place for another month but you know what, it's a small price to pay to keep my sanity. As soon as I realized that, suddenly the knot in my chest went away. I felt okay about the whole thing. I now have time to sort through my stuff, decide what to keep and what to get rid of, just basically figure it all out.

I know it seems like a pretty obvious thing, but it took me a while to get there. Sometimes the most obvious things are the ones you totally miss.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On a completely different topic...


I read an interesting article the other day about black matter and black energy, which make up 96% of the universe.
The writer says that it's like the ultimate Copernican revolution - not only are we not the center of everything, we're not even made of the same stuff as everything! If all the stars and planets and galaxies suddenly vanished, the universe would be basically the same. We're utterly irrelevant. According to the cosmologists, dark matter is not "normal", meaning it doesn't react to gravity or electromagnetism. So trillions of atoms of it could be passing right through us at any time and we'd be totally unaware of it. Talk about parallel universes! Kinda takes the pressure off, though, doesn't it?

Well, who'd a thought?

Day 4 (?)
Crazy. I was expecting this to take months. Hoping it would take months, in fact, because I couldn't face the prospect of actually moving. We never get what we want. Or, we get what we want but not how we want it, or expect it. It's not 100% certain, but it looks like I'll get the apartment. A perfect case of be careful what you wish for because you might get it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gone and done it

Yes, I have. I put a deposit down and filled out a rental application. What a ridiculous exercise that was! I told my cute little real estate guy that when they run my credit rating, they're gonna want to pay me to move in! He said, they'll probably ask for an extra month's security or a co-signer because my salary isn't high enough. I asked him if he realized how utterly laughable that was, not to mention insulting. I didn't take it personally of course, but I'm not going to get a co-signer. I don't need no steenking co-signer. I'll show 'em my tax returns from last year. I might even consider an extra month's security but seriously guys, forget the co-signer. If they don't want me, the hell with 'em.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Day of Decision -- it's too soon!!!

Day 3

I saw four places this afternoon -- and one of them I loved! One was too expensive and not great anyway. One was not very intresting. One was quirky and really interesting but not really that nice. But then there was this REALLY GREAT PLACE! It's all brand new, just renovated. Lots of really nice details, like crown moldings in all the rooms. The kitchen is gorgeous. Beautiful granite countertops, all new appliances and really nice cabinets with lots of drawers. It's open to the living room with lots of counter space. I think there's room for my dining table. And how about this -- it has a BIG balcony!

The small bedroom is bigger than the one I have here but the master bedroom is smaller. But even so, I think it's big enough.

Drawbacks: there's only one bathroom, although it's brand new with very nice fixtures. Also, there's no garage in the building. So I'm going to have to find somewhere for my car. And I'll have to go back to taking my laundry downstairs and sticking quarters in the machines. But the price is in my range. Oh - I forgot to mention, I really like the neighborhood. It's pretty much exactly where I wanted to be. And one of my really good friends lives right across the street.

Now I have to make a decision! I hate having to make really important decisions under pressure! I didn't want to put myself in this position! It's probably the nicest place I'm going to find that I can afford. But this is a big deal. And I'm so not in a hurry to go through the whole moving thing. AAAAHHHHHHHHH! I don't know what to do!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A foray on my own

Day 2
Saw a place on craigslist. It was being listed by the onsite rental agent, so I went on my own. I felt a little guilty but what the hell. The building is new, six stories high. It's in an area that's kind of on the fringes of the main residential part of this particular neighborhood. It's in midtown, which is...kind of hard to describe if you don't know it. It's a combination of businesses and working class residential buildings. But they're starting to build and renovate farther and farther west, which means farther from the center of where life happens. So, the rents go down but the nice things that make a neighborhood desirable also go down. This mean artists live here. Which is a good thing. But it also feels kind of isolated. The building's on the south side of the street and the apartment is in the front, which means the windows face north. But, they're not really windows, they're walls of glass. Which means there's more light. But it also means that you're very visible from the outside. There are blinds on all the windows but even so, I'm not wild about it. Also, the windows face across to a brick wall. There's one window that faces west so I would get nice sunsets, but eh. The rooms are small. I would have to jettison about half my furniture. I'm thinking no on this one. But at least I took a look at it.

Also, no drawers in the kitchen. And no microwave.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Illusive Apartment: The Search Begins

Day 1:
Met my agent during my lunch hour at a building near where I work. He is the son of the woman who helped me buy and sell the house I no longer own. She was fabulous and I made out like a bandit on that transaction. Her son is very cute and seems to know what he's doing. Since I said I was fairly open as far as neighborhood, he figured he'd show me a few places downtown in the financial district, which is literally a few blocks from work. After 9/11, a lot of effort was put into making downtown an attractive place to be again. So developers were given lots of incentives to convert half-empty office buildings into residential ones. The problem is, it's not the kind of neighborhood I'd like to live in. It's very busy and crowded during weekdays and fairly dead the rest of the time. More and more people are moving in, and I see more baby strollers every day, but even so, I don't like it. And the apartments, well...even if I liked them I couldn't afford the nicer ones. The rooms are small and the worst thing is, most all of them are dark. The is the area where the original city was built back in the 1600s, so the streets are narrow. And the buildings are all tall so very little sunlight gets into these places. Too grim for me. And too expensive. So at least one positive thing came out of today's looking: I know I don't want to live down there.

I'm gonna poke around on craigslist over the weekend but now that I'm using Jeffrey, I think I'll let him do most of the legwork. The next thing we're going to see is on Tuesday. He says it's very nice. It's on a high floor and has lots of windows and a great view. If I remember, I'll bring my digital camera.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Big decision, other big problem solved

I've been talking about this for months now and I figured either I'd better shut up about it or I'd better do something about it. So I've opted for the latter. I'm about to begin apartment hunting. I'm moving back into the city. Enough of this lurking in the burbs at the city's edge. I no longer have a reason to be here. Most all my friends live in the city. Those that don't have cars and have no problem with driving in. I work in the city and my commute is now an hour and 20 minutes each way. I have a real problem if I want to do something after work because the buses run less and less frequently the later it gets. So tomorrow I'm meeting a real estate agent on my lunch hour to look at a few places. I don't have a lease now and I don't have to get out of my place at any particular time so I can look until I find something I really like. Of course I'm going to have to pay more but I'll save on utilities because most apartments in New York include gas, heat and water. So I'll only have to pay for electricity. Some even include AC, but not too many. This month, my utility bill was $350. But those savings will be offset by having to pay for a garage. I am NOT parking my car on the street. So I'm pretty excited about this. What I'm definitely not excited about is packing. I'm trying to not think about that part.

The other big problem solved was a structural problem with my play. Two nights ago I figured out how to fix it. I'm thrilled! Now I can go ahead and write the scenes. For me, the hard part isn't the writing, it's the construction of the story. Now that I' know how it works, it shouldn't be too hard. Yahoo. This calls for more Peeps.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Life begins again, and not a moment too soon

In my universe, there are two sure signs that spring is on the way. The first happened a couple of weeks ago when pictchers and catchers reported to spring training. And very shortly now, I'll be able to hear that very special clack of the bat on the ball -- the unique and wonderful sound you can only hear in March. Once they come back up North and into their full-size ball fields, the sound is different. Less intimate, less immediate. Minor league ballparks come close, but it's still not the same as spring training games. But for now, just knowing that the guys are down there is great.

The second sure sign of spring -- well, I saw it today. I can't believe it had evaded my seasonal radar till now. But be that as it may, I was in CVS, scouting for nifty little who-knows-whats, and there they were. Marshmallow Peeps. Yup. Peeps. I don't know why they hold such a special place in my Hierarchy of Important Icons but they do. It's largely symbolic, I think. I mean I do eat them but my affection for them has to do with much more than just soft, sweet squishy stuff. A Peep embodies everything hopeful about spring. The sense of renewal, of anything being possible. Kind of like the confectionary version of the bat on the ball in a Florida ballpark.

Of course now they make Peeps for every season. But you know they're not really Peeps. They're just Marshmallow-y shapes that taste the same as Peeps. Real, true Peeps are the chicks. Not even the bunnies count. And yellow. They have to be yellow. I mean, whoever heard of a pink chick? Or even worse, purple? There's just certain things you shouldn't mess with. And Peeps are one of them.

But today I can forgive them, because now I know spring is truly on the way.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why is there never enough time?

I should be doing my Italian homework about now. Actually I should have been doing it several days ago. The class isn't till Saturday but I know I won't have a chance tomorrow night or Friday night. I missed last week's class because I was out of town. It doesn't make it any easier that I'm not 17 any more, and new stuff -- especially new stuff in a foreign language -- doesn't stick in my brain as readily as it used to. That's part of the reason I started taking Italian. Because my brain needed to get back in shape. No, that's ridiculous. I started taking Italian because I love the way it sounds. And I've always wanted to learn. And after I learn Italian, I want to learn Brazilian Portuguese, because I think it's the sexiest language on the face of the earth. Got French beat by a landslide. I've been studying Italian since last summer. But two and a half hours, one day a week is not the best way to learn. I get the whole concept of the verb tenses and moods but who can remember all the conjugations? And you know, Italian's one of those languages where nouns are masculine and feminine, so things have to agree, which is a whole thing in itself. And then of course there's this thing called work, which takes up far too much time in my opinion. Far too much time and brain juice. Especially these days. I'm plum outa brain juice by the time I get home. Then there's this crazy play I have to rewrite. And who's got the time -- not to mention the brain juice -- for that, I'd like to know? And then...I have a new freelance project to start on because my job (the one which sucks up all my brain juice) doesn't pay enough. I took a hefty pay cut with this job, at which point my friend who snookered me into taking the job promised that I'd be able to keep my freelance clients, and it wouldn't be a problem to take a little time now and then if I needed it. But with all the staff cuts, I now have about three times as much work to do as I did when I started, so of course I can't take the time here and there. So I'm forced to squeeze the freelance work in at night and on the weekends, when I'm supposed to be doing my Italian homework and rewriting my play. There really is just never enough time. But I do really look forward to seeing Angelo, my Italian teacher. I've got quite the crush on him.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Holy Shit!


I'm sensing a theme here...or is it a pain in the ass obsession? Could be. But come on, admit it, this is one kickass nebula. Thor's Helmet, it's called. Also known as NGC2359. Not quite as catchy but a little more informative...if you know the code, that is. Me, I don't know it. But I don't care. I only that when I look at it, I get all goosebumpy on the inside. Go think about that for a while. I'll never make it in this lifetime. I probably won't even make it to Mars. But in my mind, I'm already there.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A little jaunt to gallactic center


Imagine if our li'l world were located closer to gallactic center, instead of being stuck out here in the boonies. I went out to dump some trash tonight and looked up at the sky as I did. One of those clear, cold winter nights when the sky is crystal clear and the stars nearly pop out at you. Considering how much light pollution there is near my house (street lights, house lights, a big honkin' city just a couple of miles away) it's amazing how many stars I could see. I stood there, transfixed. It was like someone gave me a present, that's how wonderful it was. There have been many times when I have been out in rural areas at night, when I could see the Milky Way like a band across the sky. And that was pretty spectacular. But imagine how mind-blowing it would be to step outside at night and see something like this. I look at it and I feel like I'm falling into it. Cosmic. Truly.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Another Kitty Pretzel



This one is not quite as twisted up as Moxy but trust me, she would do that too. Seems I keep getting inspired by fermicat's photos. Well, you know what they say...imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Strange and beautiful soundscapes



I have become addicted to the ambient music channels on my iTunes. I don't have a 'pod - I just listen on my computer when I'm working. Most music is too distracting for me to listen to, but this stuff is perfect. But it's not just that it's inoffensive audio wallpaper. The music generates strange and beautiful soundscapes in my head. All kinds of fantastical universes and environments. Or just altered states of brain activity. I really love this stuff. I can just zone out and write and let the music (or whatever it is) inhabit my head. Way cheaper than drugs, and completely legal!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A weird little thing

I picked my car up from the body shop today. The door panel looks good as new...oh wait! It is new! They replaced it. And the door opens from the outside again. No more leaning over from the back seat. Only there's this one weird little thing. I kind of smells like skunk inside the car. Not a lot, not enough to be really bothersome, just a little. But why? How? I don't get it. I hope it goes away. When I took it in, it still even had the tiniest bit of new car smell left in it. After a year and half, that's pretty good! So where did this skunky aroma come from? I'm at a loss.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I've got this kid...

He's one of those kids (and I use the term loosely now) about whom everyone always used to say, "He'll go far!" Well, he certainly did...about as far as you can go before you start getting closer again. All the way to the other side of the planet. My dear firstborn now resides in China. I won't go into the whole story of how he ended up there, but there he is, in Shanghai. Of course when I tell people that, they always say, "Oh how interesting! What does he do?" And that's where I go all mumbly. I don't know how to describe it.

He's sort of in partnership with some other guys he met over the last couple of years there. (By the way, he's all of 22.) They're trying to put together all these various development projects. Construction projects, financing projects, what have you. They're spending lots of time going to lots of meetings with lots of different Chinese officials and businessmen in lots of different cities trying to put these deals together. If any one of them works out, ka-ching! We're talking major bucks. But so far, he hasn't made a dime at it. I guess the short way to put it is, he's a wannabe player. Sometimes I tell people he's honing his world domination skills.

He's really, really smart. He's like a knowledge sponge. He didn't speak a word of Mandarin when he went to China, and now he's totally fluent. People who know him are all convinced that he's going to be wildly successful.

And yet, I still have this vision of him 20 or 30 years from now, a shady-looking middle aged guy with three-day-old stubble and frayed cuffs, scrounging drinks from some young yuppie types, feeding them all these stories about how he used to be somebody important.

It's a mother thing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Strange Day


This picture has nothing to do with my very strange and unsettling day. It just makes me happy to look at it. It's sort of an antidote.

12 people got laid off at work today. I was not one of them. I'm still not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Right now I'm leaning toward bad. It was not a total surprise, although I didn't know it would be that many. A few I am very happy to see gone. They made working there very difficult. Others I liked, some I didn't really know very well. But even so, it was weird. What it means for those of us who are left is that we will have a lot more work to do. A lot. And of course there's no more money in it for us. Financial problems are the reason all those people were let go.

Instead of feeling optimistic and psyched about the challenge, I am feeling a like a huge boulder is about to be dropped on me. Also, at the staff meeting after the deed was done, we were told that the board is considering merging our museum with another cultural institution in the city. When that happens, it probably means we'll be let go. That won't happen for many months, if it does. But I think it will. So I'm thinking I should probably start looking for another job now. Because even if we do a spectacular job at bringing in new funding, we're still going to probably lose our jobs. I could be wrong, but I think it's definitely time to start looking. I really don't feel like job hunting right now.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mojitos strike again

I thought my head might explode today. I actually became distraught...over something totally not worth it. After slogging through some incredibly stressful days and swimming through some evil dren without breaking a sweat (or at least without creasing my brow too deeply), I finally blew a gasket over a stupid newsletter. But it was so bad, in so many ways, I couldn't wrap my head around it. Let me explain that I have in the course of my working life created and put together god knows how many newsletters. It's one of the things I do. And here was one that was so awful, I mean just so unbelieveably bad! It set my teeth on edge. And the person who did it had no idea how awful it was. She thought it was fine. That's part of what sent me over the edge.

I knew at noon that I was headed for mojitoville after work today. And that is exactly what I did. I met a colleague at the bar. My boss in fact. And she told me that half the staff is being laid off on Monday. I, sad to say, will not be one of them. But the perpetrator of that newsletter atrocity will be. And again sad to say. I'll probably be asked to take on that task. That's fine, but I already have enough to do. But since we're losing three people from our department, we'll all have to take on some new responsibilities. More money, did you say? Not a chance! That's one of the reasons we're losing all these people...financial problems.

Why stay, you ask? Inertia for starters. I'm already there. Also, even though the salary sucks, they do pay 100% of the health insurance. Which is not to be sneezed at these days.

Should be an interesting week coming up. More news as it becomes available.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More fungus


Inspired by fermicat's fungus picture, I searched out a shot I had taken about a year and a half ago at a cool little nature reserve not far from my house. This place is a great place to lose yourself, figuratively anyway. It's not really big enough to get seriously lost. But it has enough places where you can feel completely removed from everything. I grew up near an enormous wildlife sanctuary. Probably hundreds of acres. There were lots of hiking trails; one went up a (small) mountain to a fire ranger's watch tower. I loved the feeling of being completely surrounded by trees. Interesting though, because one of my favorite things is being able to see a long way. I love huge views. I loved the view from the fire ranger's tower. But back to the trees for a minute. I love the sensation of complete quietness. No other voices. Just tree noises and maybe birds. Nothing like it.

So why do I live and work in a huge city? What can I say, I'm very complex.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stupid Way To Start The Day

Some jerk in a Ford Bronco sideswiped me this morning. I was sitting at a red light, in the far right lane of a four-lane limited access sort-of-highway. The light had just turned green and I don't think I had even started moving when the aforementioned jerk comes up on my left and plows into my door. His excuse was that the woman in the car next to me wasn't going fast enough, so he swerved to go around her. Never mind that I was there. He was angry at her! Brilliant, huh? He also hit her but I think I got the worst of it.

So we all pulled over and traded information and called the police. They were very nice (and pretty cute, too) and told meI was in the clear as far as fault, which I already knew. I had a nasty dent and scrape on the driver's side door, which is ugly but is only cosmetic. Then I discovered that I couldn't open my door from the outside. The cops tried it and they had the same problem. So now, until I get it fixed, I have to get in the back and reach up to open the door from the inside. Put me in a rather cranky mood. And it also made me an hour late for my Italian class.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Router Issues Redux

So I went and got a new wireless router. I didn't get the Mac Airport router because of the price - about $189. I opted for the cheaper solution, another Linksys. Right away, things began to go south. No instructions, no user manual. Instead, a setup tutorial disk. Great! Except it's only for Windows. So I try the tech support route. I call Verizon. My experience with them is hit or miss. Either I get a knowledgeable person with real problem-solving skills or I get a moron. This time it was moron. They made a token effort, then told me to call Linksys. Of course Linksys tech support is only there until 9 PM and it was too late.

So I figure, I'll try their website. Gotta be something there. Bingo! Downloadable instructions. Which I do. Only problem is, it's only for Windows. So I poke around some more. A link! I try it. It gets me closer. It gives me the numerical IP address -- which I now remember from the last time -- that I need to go to to do the setup. Problem is, the page won't load. I try three different browsers. No luck.

So I just plug my ethernet cable into my computer for the time being. Works fine, but kind of blows the whole notion of a wireless laptop. I hustle home from work today so I can spend some time on the phone with tech support. I'm on hold for about five minutes and then there's Bangalore Bill. I can't hear him too well because that big earthquake off the coast of Taiwan had really caused havoc with the fiber optic cables to Asia. But anyway, we start trying stuff. He finally comes to the conclusion that the router is faulty. He says bring it back and get a new one. But that still doesn't answer the question of why the page won't load.

So...(feels like it never ends, right?) I check out the community forums on the Linksys page. I hit paydirt! Jackpot. Right there is a posting about the problem with the new WRT54G routers and how Macs can't load the setup page! Yippee! The guys posts a link to the download for the firmware that will fix the problem. I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it. I download the thing. I try and open the thing. It won't open. I update my Stuffit. The thing still won't open. All the air has gone out of my balloon.

I think I'm going to bite the bullet and get the Airport router. I've already spent more than the difference in aggravation.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tired of being the smartest kid in the room

Went for drinks after work to that place with the killer mojitos, which I'm sure I mentioned before. $5 during happy hour -- you can't beat it. Anyway...there were three of us; me, a co-worker and our boss. I got into a conversation with my co-worker about an art exhibit at one of the museums in the city. We were chatting away about American expressionists and our boss was trying gamely to keep up. But it was obvious she knows close to nothing about art. That's fine. She's a good sport and a very loyal boss.

But I got to thinking about when was the last time before this that I had a conversation of any substance with anyone I worked with. You know, about something besides movies, TV and food. No, even counting those things. It was probably several years. And I realized that I was tired of always having to dumb myself down to fit in.

I wonder where the smart people are. That's not to say that everyone at work is a moron. Okay, maybe a few of them are. But most are reasonably bright, or at least good at their jobs. But no one with real wit and intelligence. Or at least some intellectual curiosity. Well, now I know there's one at least. Can't tell you how happy that makes me.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sometimes the good guys actually win

Well, who'd a thought? The abysmally bad situation at work has taken a 360! The stupid, ineffectual president of the board of trustees resigned and the nasty, petty, incompetent executive director was fired. I'm very nearly speechless. This is very, very, very good news for me and my colleagues in my department. It means that the people who were trying to discredit us and force us out are gone. Of course it also means that now we have no one to blame but ourselves if we fail to accomplish what we want to. But that's a good thing. I'm all for accountability.

But yipee! No more having to try and raise money for stupid programs that nobody wants. No more being stymied and undercut. Now we get to set the agenda. Or at the very least, our ideas will be listened to.

This year is starting out very interestingly.