normalcy is coursing through my veins
Friday, November 30, 2001
My roommate leaves for Uzbekistan tomorrow. Yes, Uzbekistan. For several months. It's a long story--one involving magazine articles and books and the Peace Corps and much, much more. Somehow, I have managed not to see him since last Wednesday, when I left for upstate. It would be sad if I didn't get to see him before he left. It makes me suddenly aware of how infrequently I have been home lately. All this working and then heading directly to dinner or readings or films or drinks. I mean, I like being busy and all, but I think I might be overbooking myself just a little these days...

Last night, following the 5-hour training and subsequent catch-up work, there were drinks. Whiskey and Cokes, to be precise. What could have been a recipe for disaster (3 girls + one very bad day + Jack Daniels) ended up being a lot of fun. Stories were told. People laughed. I unexpectedly ran into Matthew and Lazar, who I am always happy to see. The walk home was beautiful and foggy. There were crunchy leaves and fall smells. There was even some sleep, though not enough, as usual.

There are trailers parked outside the building where I work. They say 'NASCAR' on the sides. There is also a giant satellite dish. This is all very puzzling. This morning, there were two men standing in front of one of the trailers. As I was walking past, I overheard trailer man #1 say to trailer man #2,"Damn, even the homeless people have cell phones here." And that's my story.

Thursday, November 29, 2001
Ah, but the crappy day at work has just been eradicated by the fact that (drum roll, please) I get to go to a screening of The Royal Tenenbaums next week!! (Thank you, Peter.) If you're really really nice to me, maybe I'll let you be my +1.

Is five hours of computer training for the new contract system really necessary? That would be a definitive 'no.' It made me feel like I was in high school again, what with the desire to put my head down on the desk or get up and wander away. Am I the only one who thinks that PowerPoint presentations should be outlawed?

At least there were cookies. The cookies were the only thing that saved me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001
'Leave me alone, for you know this isn't the first time
In fact this is twice in a row
That the angels have slipped through our landslide
And filled up our garden with snow
And I don't wish to taste of your insides
Or to call out your name through my phone
For the glory boys at your bedside will love you
As long as you're something to own'

It's late and there is Neutral Milk Hotel on the computer speakers.

I am hungry, will you bring me a sandwich? Portabella mushroom would be nice. As long as it doesn't have any roasted red peppers on it. I don't like those so much, you know.

Back at my desk now, being subjected to torturous amounts of catch-up work as punishment for my two extra days off. There will be little posting this week. Just so you know.

Sunday, November 25, 2001
Item not found while rooting through the aforementioned boxes:
--a paper, written for a course called 'Technologies of Truth: Aliens and Cyborgs' during my junior year of college, which may have been the best academic paper I have ever written, and which was the reason I started going through the boxes in the first place

Selected items found while going through the boxes upon boxes of things I have left behind at my parents' house over the years:
--books (hundreds of)
--a list of goals written (in disturbingly loopy handwriting) when I was 14 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school--most of these goals were academic and most were fulfilled
--the note that came with the roses Pete (my first major crush) sent to me in fourth-period Spanish, which essentially asked me out, although I was too clueless to realize it at the time
--assorted dried flowers, now unrecognizable and crumbling, that I believe were once corsages from various high school dances, but could even have been the aforementioned fourth-period roses, as they were (and are, actually) the only flowers a guy has ever sent me, and I probably would have saved them at the time--they have now been thrown away
--one Apples in Stereo concert ticket, unused, with a post-it attached that reads, "Beulah opened. Why weren't you here to go with me?"
--really bad poetry (reams of)
--the article from the local newspaper in which I was featured for winning a poetry award from the local library
--photos of me with really bad hair (many)
--an entire box of letters from Jeff, who has certainly been a faithful correspondent over the years
--another smaller box from Bridget, who I am no longer in contact with
--a third box from Joanna, who I called at her parents' house after discovering her letters
--the calculus notebook I thought I might need again someday (I was wrong)
--The Virgin Suicides stationery, unused but for one sheet, upon which is scrawled in blue magic marker, "Buck up, little camper!"

Saturday, November 24, 2001
Last night, Julie and I went to the mall, because what else is there to do in upstate New York on the day after Thanksgiving? (Semi-interesting fact: Black Friday isn't the busiest shopping day of the year, as popular mythology would tell us. It is usually somewhere between the 5th and 10th busiest, with the busiest usually falling on the weekend before Christmas. See what the radio will teach you if you let it?) We went in the evening and it was actually pretty empty. We didn't even have to wait in line at Ruby Tuesday's :)

Afterward, there was a trip to Barnes & Noble, my former place of employment. It's always fun to stop in and see people there. My friend Justin told me a story that made me remember that I was planning to compile a list of all the ridiculous things bookstore customers say to employees. There were copies of the re-issued movie editions of the Tolkien books on a display table. A woman picked up a particular book, shook her head sadly, and said "I can't believe they're already writing novels about it, ugh." Justin, curious to see what the 'it' was that she was referring to, glanced over. In her hand, she held a copy of 'The Two Towers' with a photo of a bearded Gandolf on the cover. It is only to be assumed that she thought that Gandolf was Osama bin Laden and that the towers were, well, you get the picture. This made me laugh long and hard.

Thursday, November 22, 2001
My parents' computer is sloooow. I have been spoiled by the T1 connection at work, I think.

The drive home was not as bad as I had imagined it would be. Traffic was maddening driving over the Tappan Zee (yeah, I just wanted to say Tappan Zee because it sounds so cool--Tappan Zee Tappan Zee Tappan Zee), but after that it was smooth, er, driving. Dan and I drank Cokes to stay awake, as we had both slept very little the night before (someday I will learn not to leave packing until the last possible moment, I swear). We sang with the CDs in the CD player. I like riding in cars with people who do not mind when I sing along, and especially with those who belt the tunes out with me. It passes the time quite nicely. I also like to dance in my seat, which sometimes inspires strange looks from people in passing cars, but hey, it makes me happy. Also, I discovered that my cell phone works here now (it didn't used to). This brings me great joy, despite the fact that I have no real intention of using it. I just like the fact that it works, if that makes any sense.

Being here has been lovely so far. My parents have both been very sweet. Thanksgiving dinner was small this year--just me, the folks, my brother and my grandmother--but nice. It is a tradition in my family to eat holiday meals at ridiculously early hours. Today we ate at 3:30. I usually eat dinner at 8, sometimes 9. What happens when I eat at so early an hour is that at about 6 o'clock I start to feel as though it's midnight. It totally screws with my perception. But my brother kept me from crawling into bed by dragging me to the house that he recently moved into (which is literally three blocks down the street from our parents' house). There was a pool table and a pinball machine. And he, my little brother, mixed me a drink. So there we were, hanging out and talking like adults (well, mostly, I mean there was pinball involved) for maybe the first time ever. It was pretty damn cool. Plus, I beat his ass at both games--some things never change :) Anyway, his place is really nice and he seems pretty happy, so that's great. Now if I could just convince him to come down to the city and visit me...

Then my parents and I watched 'The Wedding Singer' together and chatted. It floors me how much (for the better) my relationship with my family has changed in the past few years. I'm not going to go into some long, overly sentimental speech about how and why, but I think it's pretty amazing and it makes me very happy. So yeah, that's my Thanksgiving entry. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Tee hee, I think I might have gotten a little carried away with yesterday's holiday display musings. See what happens when I am at work too late?

Tuesday, November 20, 2001
So it's that time of year again. This morning, as I made my way up the steps of my building, I found myself squinting in response to the red and gold glare shining forth from the windows. Oh yes, the annual Christmas display has gone up.

Now, I am accustomed to the November tradition of dragging out the decorations. I expect a tree, tinsel, some lights, perhaps a wreath. But this, this is truly a sight to behold. Our lobby has been taken over by wooden figures who spin and twist and dance perpetual jigs for our supposed entertainment. Underneath their platform is a long red banner that reads 'TOYLAND' over and over. It is hand-crafted for this building alone, perfectly spaced so that there is exactly one 'TOYLAND' for every pane of glass. Great care has been taken to ensure we do not miss the fact that the formerly sterile lobby has been transformed into some sort of deranged wonderland populated by giant smiling soldier dolls. And if by some act of will I could turn away from the gaudy display, if I were somehow able to avert my eyes (say, by concentrating really hard on rifling through my bag for my employee identification), there would still be the sound.

The sound is inescapable. I can hear it as soon as the revolving doors release me with their customary whoosh. Sure, there is the traditional jingling, and then the tinny renditions of carols pouring forth from some Muzak-simulating box hidden beneath the front desk. But it is the other noise that gets me, the arthritic creaking of those grinning dolls' joints as they move their limbs back and forth, saluting us, the noble employees, and trying in vain to place the star on top of our tree. Yes, it is that noise that sticks with me even after the echoes of 'Joy to the World' have faded from my consciousness. It is the sound of their rasping protests so at odds with their painted-on grins that I fear will lead to X-mas-themed nightmares.

I suppose, however, that I should consider myself lucky. After all, I spend only a few minutes in the lobby each day. It's the security guards and desk attendants I feel sorry for--the uniformed men and women who scan our IDs without even looking at the picture are the ones who suffer most. Just imagine if you stood all day next to those mechanical monstrosities, listening to them suffer without so much as an oil can to offer up as resistance. Think about what it could do to you, the psychological damage that could result from such repeated exposure. Day after day, well into January, as these displays never come down promptly after the holiday has passed. I would offer to take their place for a couple of hours, give them some brief respite, if I didn't think it would end with me running screaming from the building with my hands pressed tightly to my ears. No, I am not strong enough.

So alas, I will remain just a visitor passing through TOYLAND on my way out into the chilly evening air. On the other side of the revolving doors, I will be greeted by the whizzing of tires over pavement and the honking of cab horns. I will be grateful for every erratic burst of sound as I make my way toward Grand Central. But I will not forget those I have left behind to endure the agony. No, my thoughts will be with them as I drift into half-sleep on the train. I will pray for a power outage or a faulty wire that causes movement to cease, anything to offer them some peace.

Observation for the day: The coating on Advil tastes very much like the coating on M&Ms.

Ohmigod, Ethan Hawke just walked past my desk. Who says publishing isn't glamorous? Well, okay, maybe glamorous isn't quite the right word. Perhaps stylishly grimy would be a better description.

Oh, if only this had happened back in 1994, when I was 17 and still believed that 'Reality Bites' was an amazing movie and that Troy Dyer was every girl's dream come true. Then it would have been a life-altering experience. Now it's just something to make the day a little more interesting. But still....

You should know that there are new and interesting ideas a-brewing. But they are still in nascent form and so are not being announced to you just yet. Soon though, very soon. In the meantime, be excited. Sit on the edge of your seat in anticipation.

'I wish you would
come pick me up
take me out
fuck me up
steal my records'

It's on repeat. I can't stop listening. Ryan, baby, you make being heartbroken sound so pretty.

Monday, November 19, 2001
I am wearing new plaid pants. I bought them this weekend for just five dollars. Be jealous. I feel so old-man-professory in the best possible way.

Sunday, November 18, 2001
Yes, it's Sunday afternoon and I'm at work. It's okay though. When I work on the weekends, I get more done in two hours than I usually get accomplished in an entire 9-hour workday. No one to hand me some package to messenger, no phone calls to answer. And I can play my music loud on the computer speakers (it's Ryan Adams right now--Amy, I know you would approve). Besides, I like being here when no one else is around. There's something quite amazing about being alone in places that are usually crowded with people. At first it's a little eerie, has that 4 a.m., too-quiet feel. But then you settle in and it's kind of nice. During my junior year of college, I wrote this whole meditative essay on getting to know a place, really inhabiting a space. I will have to dig it out. I will have to dig a lot of old writings out. I have this urge to return to things lately, product of fall-time nostalgia and recent emotional turmoil, I suppose. And in some ways, it's not good to dwell...but in others, like re-working old things that were good but written when I was too young for them to be fully realized, that's not a bad thing at all.

Thursday, November 15, 2001
I have "I'm Looking Through You" in my head. I have been on a Beatles kick lately. Sometimes the roommates and I like to play their CDs loud and sing along. We do this while cleaning the kitchen. Or late at night on a Tuesday when we should be getting ready for bed. I sing harmony. I always sing harmony, even when the original recording doesn't have any. You can hold this against me if you want to, I don't care, it makes me happy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Okay, maybe I was wrong. Maybe the twice-daily bomb threats aren't such a bad thing. I mean, it gives me an excuse not to get here until ten, and then it provides a break at just past two in the afternoon, right when I am starting to drag. Allows for a brisk walk, some fresh air. And I have discovered a number of good places in this neighborhood to get a cup of coffee and read. So yeah, not so bad once you start to fit it into your routine. Kind of nice even.

There are things I re-read when I am feeling upset or down. Like comfort food, except in literary form. They are almost always the same things, though a new one does get added every now and again. The list (probably incomplete) is as follows:
Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen
Lorrie Moore's Like Life (particularly the story entitled 'Joy') or Self-Help (the whole collection)
Jeanette Winterson's The Passion (although this time I was disappointed, finding that passages I had once underlined now seemed trite. Is it possible I've outgrown these sentiments?)
a Robert Creeley poem called 'The Rain'
a David Foster Wallace story called 'Everything is Green'
certain passages of Rick Moody's The Ice Storm

No particular reason for my sharing this, I was just thinking about the things I return to, and wondering if others have their own lists. If you do, will you send them to me?

Tuesday, November 13, 2001
Check out Lisa's site. It's cool. And besides, she has good taste, my site is one of the things she reads instead of dressing for work :)

I am so ready to go to my parents' house in nice, boring upstate New York for Thanksgiving.

This morning the train I was on stopped between stations and the lights went out. This is not an unusual occurrence. I was annoyed because I was frantically trying to finish a manuscript, but that's about it. Except then there wasn't the normal reassuring announcement saying, "There's a train in front of us, we will be moving shortly." No, instead there was rustling and then police officers coming in from other cars, looking around, but not saying anything. At which point, my hands started shaking. And I couldn't even distract myself by reading because the lights were out. So this went on for a minute or two and then the lights came back on and we pulled in to the station, still without a clue as to what had just gone on. I had to get out at Bowling Green and sit on the bench taking deep breaths for a few minutes before I could convince myself to get on the next train.

Of course, then I finally arrived at work and everyone had been evacuated for bomb threat #5. I thought that was over, since there were no threats yesterday, but perhaps they were just taking a break for Veteran's Day? Maybe they had a nice long weekend. Call me crazy, but I find it unsettling that it is becoming normal to leave the office for 45 minutes twice a day while they search the building for bombs.

I haven't been away since this all started. At first, it was because I was freaked out and I was worried if I left that it would be too hard to come back. And then I was just too busy or too broke. I think I am finally starting to feel the effects of everything. I mean, I love this city and my life is here and I have no intention of moving away anytime soon...but I have never craved a vacation as much as I do right now.

Monday, November 12, 2001
This is my weblog translated into, um, well I don't know what exactly. But it made me laugh. You can translate your site too, if you so desire.

(Thanks to Sarah for the link)

Presto change-o! I just did a magic trick and made the post that used to be here disappear. Aren't you impressed?

Thursday, November 08, 2001
So I got to work at ten this morning, which has become my usual arrival time. Except today everyone was out on the street because of a bomb threat. I shrugged, found Mary and aked if she wanted to wander with me rather than stand around gaping. As I was saying to Liz, bomb threats don't really make me that nervous. They're almost always false alarms. This is my logic: Terrorists tend to operate using the element of surprise to their advantage, so I feel like the fact that there is a warning means that it's not real. Perhaps this is just my means of comforting myself, but it's what I think.

The truly frightening thing happened on the walk back from H&M. We were walking along and this woman, who appeared completely normal, turned to the guy next to Mary and I (it was clear she didn't know him or anything, she just randomly turned around) and screamed "TRASH! You are GARBAGE! FILTHY TRASH!" and then she started *kicking* him. Here was this very prim and proper, conservatively dressed businessman who was just completely taken aback and stunned. And Mary and I were standing right next to him and didn't know what to do. Then the crazy woman kept walking (but turned around to scream "TRASH!" a few more times) and we were standing next to the man ,who was clearly both embarrassed and upset, and his eyes were welling up, and we were all just sort of awkwardly exchanging looks. So then, in an effort to make him feel like he was not the only one things like this happen to, I told him about the time this man came up to me when I was standing on the subway platform. put his hands on my shoulders and quietly said, "I could push you," and then walked away. The man kind of walked alongside us until he got to his office building a few blocks away, not saying anything, obviously still shocked.

What the hell is wrong with people?

Tuesday, November 06, 2001
Laugh, because this is really funny.

I don't care how high you are, it is not acceptable to eat the last remaining piece (no, not even piece, more like quarter) of your roommate's birthday cake that she spent hours making, leave the crumb-coated pan lying on the counter as a reminder, and then lie to her about it when she asks you if you are the culprit.

This is especially unacceptable when said roommate has had a terrible day and just seen an incredibly depressing movie and has spent the entire train ride home thinking about things that upset her and really just wants to curl up on the couch eating leftover birthday cake and watching Seinfeld reruns.

Please do not expect her to feel bad for you because you feel guilty about the fact that you contributed to making her cry, as it is not her job to make you feel better. And finally, please do not force her to spend her first half-hour at work engaged in an email argument with you about why she doesn't want you to go buy her a new cake. Just apologize and then let it go.

(Just friendly advice, not speaking from experience or anything).

Monday, November 05, 2001

Okay, the searches that lead to my site just keep getting weirder and weirder. Anyone have any idea what 'Debate : The Masks men wear with examples' means?

Sunday, November 04, 2001
Hmm, I just noticed that I have recently started using people's real names instead of nicknames. Interesting....

A summary of last night's events, in three parts:

Before the party:
There was the mini-panic in the pasta store when I was trying to decide which kind of ravioli to buy and how much. And then there was the fact that I had to go back out to the store twice more for things I had forgotten (would have been four times, but I started delegating responsibilities to guests on their way after a while). But then Gabrielle showed up and helped get the kitchen aspect running, for which I am very grateful. And Sara brought the candles and Mary the ice everything worked out okay. Oh, and I changed my clothes three times, in the end just wearing the dress I wanted to wear in the first place, but thought was ‘too much.’

During the party:
People showed up and gradually began talking to one another. Cheese and crackers were served. And calamata olives. I was told to go downstairs and talk to people rather than help in the kitchen, thus forcing me to relinquish control, which is not my strong suit. Then salad (my favorite kind—pears and gorgonzola and walnuts), then pumpkin ravioli with walnut sauce. Regular ravioli too. People ate and talked some more. I opened presents (People actually brought presents! Good ones too.) I thought about trying to organize board-game playing, but then thought that no one would be as excited about it as I would (I am a dork, I know) and so didn’t ask. People left for smoke breaks, then returned. More talking. Talking, talking, talking.
Then sleepiness. Then leaving.

After the party:
I surveyed the living room, sighed, offered the remainder of a bottle of pinot noir to the roommate and his friend, who had just returned from the movies and were setting up a chess board. I blew out candles for the second time that evening, this time the kind that do not go on the cake. I walked upstairs to the kitchen and shook my head at the massive mess, then made a half-hearted attempt to throw a few things in the trash, before muttering ‘tomorrow’ and heading off to bed. I slept. Hard. Like a carefree child. Or someone on Valium. Or simply someone who had been up very very late the night before.

Saturday, November 03, 2001
I am now officially 24 years old. I think this is a good thing, as 23 was a long year. One in which I learned a lot/changed a lot/etc....but really long.

I'm excited for tonight. Last night there was a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a mixer. When I called Mary to ask her where I could buy such a thing, she suggested BB&B. When I asked her if she was sure they had kitchen things, she said, "Oh yeah, it's in the beyond." Tee hee. Stores like that are trouble for me. I am the way about household things the way some women are about shoes. I went in for a mixer and came out with stainless steel mixing bowls, wine glasses, candles and candleholders. What was I saying yesterday about control?

There was cake-making. And then lots of fussing over its appearance. There was sleeping late instead of yoga. Now there will be pedicures, and then cooking, lots of cooking....

Does anyone have any chairs they could loan me? I don't think I have quite enough...

Friday, November 02, 2001
Tee hee, this is what Liz said when I told her that I was being a control freak about my birthday and having a dinner party so that I could have exactly what I wanted to eat exactly the way I wanted it:

"that's so funny that you're controlling the dinner and cake... maybe you could have a 'control' theme, you know, play 'control' by Janet Jackson repeatedly, or require your guests to wear exactly what you want them to wear, or only allow them to speak when you want them to... that could be sort of fun."

I like this idea. I could have sent personalized invites that said things like, "Sara: Wear that skirt that I also own, because I will not be wearing mine." Or "Tom: Wear that tie with the pink stripes that I always make fun of, because then I can crack jokes all night and everyone will think I'm witty."


Aww, thanks Liz, for sending the birthday love my way. Guitar-playing is always welcome. (As is just about any other form of attention :)

I've been meaning to post this for days, and then I was reading Amy's site and was reminded....

For a while, I had this idea that I was going to be the first white-girl rapper from upstate New York. It seemed inevitable. I mean, come on, at the age of eight, I memorized all the words to the Beastie Boys' 'Fight for Your Right (to Party)' in an effort to impress Jason Janowsky, the fourth-grade dreamboat. (I will, however, admit that I thought they were saying 'corner mag,' whatever that was, instead of 'porno mag,' but give me a break, I was eight). Years later, Joe and I would fire Tribe verses at each other at parties, just to make people laugh. And then there was my brief obsession with that Rahzel song, 'All I Know.' For weeks I walked around talking about 'Sam Goody blockbusting up your HMV,' much to the amusement of everyone I knew.

So then Lee once jokingly referred to me as '' (look, I'm getting the story right this time :) and I started telling people it was going to be my rapper name. Except recently I have also considered A-Z (pronounced so that it rhymes with Jay-Z, and inspired by a perfectly worn tee shirt I own that says 'A-Z Auto Radiator'). I am also still open to suggestions....drop me a line if you have one. If I like it, maybe you'll win a prize (but probably not, so don't get your hopes up. I am both busy and poor).

Ooooh, one of the bosses is taking me out for sushi today. And it's not even my birthday yet :)

Thursday, November 01, 2001
The postings have been sparse all day as I have been exhausted and slightly hungover. I do not drink so often or so much as I used to once upon a time, and so when I do, I tend to feel extra-crappy the following day, even when (like last night) I don't have that much. It probably didn't help that I got about 5 hours of sleep....Also, I didn't have time to shower this morning. I smell like an ashtray. I feel as though I need to be disinfected. This morning before I left for work, my roommate was chasing me around with a bottle of Febreze, claiming it would do quite nicely as a replacement for showering. A noble effort, but ew.

All in all, however, it was a successful Halloween, I think.

The details (as if you asked):
Got dolled up in slinky black dress and fishnets, did my hair, put on glittery makeup and my sparkly scarf, plus that pair of giant hoop earrings I originally bought for the pirates and wenches party that I ended up not attending. Was telling people I was a gypsy or a shoddy imitation of Stevie Nicks, which seemed to work for most people. (Except for Sarah's old neighbor, who said I just looked like a dressed-up New Yorker. Rats, cover blown).

Met Sarah at Barmacy. Drank vodka tonics with her former neighbors. Caught a snippet of a go-go dancer show. Walked downtown to Niagara (a bar I am not so fond of, but they played le Tigre last night, thus redeeming themselves just the teeniest bit). Met up with Julie and her date, sushi boy. She has been calling him this (or, alternatively, 'freaky sushi boy') ever since she found out what he planned to be for Halloween, which was (you guessed it), a piece of sushi. Pretty cool costume actually, even if it did prevent him from sitting down. Chatted for a bit, mentioned we were going to KGB, everyone came along.

Arrived at KGB just as show was starting. Sat through some stories (well, at least most of us did--Julie and sushi went home midway through), then listened to the band, which was great. Tab was there. Lee played toy piano. Tommy set off a giggling fit that spread through our entire row. I forgot to take photos. People danced. Then it was 2 a.m. and there was supposed to be pizza, but instead there was a cab ride, a cell phone call, and then bed. Ah bed, where are you now? Waiting patiently for me to return from my late night at work, I'm sure.

Everyone is blog-crazy these days. I have inspired all of my friends to start them (well, except for the friends who inspired me by having them first). Fuzzy Sweater is the latest. Check it out, Sarah's cool. And funny. We like funny.

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