normalcy is coursing through my veins
Saturday, December 29, 2001
Snippet of tonight's cocoa outing conversation:

Cortney: So I had a dream that Britney Spears was dead.
Me: Really?
Cortney: Yeah, and it was weird because I was just like "Huh, no more Britney."
Me: *laughs hysterically*
Cortney: And then I was a black woman. In my dream, I mean.
Me: Oh?
Cortney: That happens with me a lot. I've been a man in my dreams too. I think maybe I was a man in a previous life or something.
Me: Whitney Houston used to be in my dreams a lot when I was younger. She was a recurring figure.
Cortney: Now that's weird.
Me: Yeah, she was always singing. Just normal conversation like "How are you?" But she would sing it. And I don't even like Whitney Houston. At all.
Cortney: Hmmm, well maybe it was a sign of some sort.
Me: Yeah, like an indicator of my future friendship with you and your black woman dream-self.
Cortney: Exactly!

I love old friends who you don't have to make small talk with.

The soundtrack section has been updated (and is possibly going to be revamped soon). In the meantime, Sarah should be quite pleased that two of the songs come from the mix CD she recently gave me.

Tonight I am going out for cocoa with the one person I wanted to see this break but hadn't managed to yet. Yes, cocoa. (Do you think I want to brave the bar scene in my hometown? Are you kidding? Besides, it's cold, and cocoa is yummy.) We'll probably go to Barnes and Noble because it is the only cocoa-selling place open past 9 besides Dunkin Donuts, where we will not go because it is seriously lacking in atmosphere (unless, of course, you define atmosphere as flourescent lights and weird old men who sit in booths by themselves, endlessly sipping coffee, breathing heavily, and casting vaguely sinister glances at anyone who walks in).

I have been to Barnes and Noble (which is, mind you, my former place of employment) four times in the past week. I suppose this is a sad commentary on the state of entertainment options here, but I don't mind so much. I have to admit that I secretly really like the place. Don't get me wrong, I will always buy from smaller bookstores if I can help it, but I find the place itself--the actual space--oddly comforting (although not so much this one, as it inevitably means awkward small talk with former co-workers). I always know where everything is, they play classical music, and if you go late, it tends to be fairly uncrowded. They let you sit around and use them as a library. I often visit the Park Slope B&N when I need to get reading done but can't concentrate at home. There's something soothing about the blandness of it that lets me settle in and relax. Go ahead, think I'm crazy, but it works for me.

Friday, December 28, 2001
I have new hair. It is not all that different from my old hair. How it is new: it is parted differently; there are shorter pieces (sort of almost-bangs) at the front; there are highlights and lowlights (which has 2 effects--making the 2-inch roots I had disappear and making it look like my natural color is darker than it actually is); the ends are all razored-looking how I like them. Woo-hoo.

Every time I get my hair cut, I get myself all excited about doing something dramatic. This time I was either going to go platinum or dye it dark. The time before that I was going to cut it ultra-short. And then I get there and I make lots of little changes that no one will probably notice when they see me, and I will be disappointed even though it was my choice not to do something drastic. I'm a haircut neurotic. Pathetic, but true.

Thursday, December 27, 2001
Okay, so here it is, the first of my year-end lists. What follows is a list of my ten favorite albums of this year. They are in order based on how frequently I find myself playing them, and they are not necessarily 'the best,' but I like them just fine.

1. Ryan Adams--Gold
2. Guided By Voices--Isolation Drills
3. Daft Punk--Discovery
4. Le Tigre--Feminist Sweepstakes
5. The New Pornographers--Mass Romantic
6. David Byrne--Look Into the Eyeball
7. Lucinda Williams--Essence
8. Bjork--Vespertine
9. Weezer--Weezer
10. Sparklehorse--It's A Wonderful Life

Honorable Mentions:
Rufus Wainwright--Poses, Basement Jaxx--Rooty, Stephen Malkmus--Stephen Malkmus, Jay-Z--Unplugged, Gillian Welch--Time (The Revelator), Jon Brion--Meaningless, Bob Dylan--Love and Theft

Wednesday, December 26, 2001
Since my family does our holiday thing on Christmas Eve, Christmas day is usually pretty low-key. This year, some friends and I decided to go to the movies. We saw 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' which was good....except for the people behind us, who talked through the entire film and who apparently had never seen movies before, because they had comments about everything. Let me give you a few examples:

(After a scene where Gandalf does magical fireworks type things)
Annoying Man: Woo-ee, wish we had us some of them for the fourth of July.
Annoying Woman: Yeah, that would be cool.
Me: *groans and shifts in seat*

(After the scene in which Elron proclaims that 'these nine shall form the Fellowship of the Ring')
A.W.: Didya hear that? The Fellowship of the Ring! That must be where they got the title from.
A.M.: Must be.
Me: *turns to friend* You have got to be kidding me.
Friend: *grabs arm* I know, I know.

(After a scene where someone gets stabbed)
A.W.: He got stabbed!
A.M.: Yup.
Me: *turns around and glares*
Friend: Amber, stop that. You're not in New York.
Me: I don't care, they're ruining the movie.

(After a scene in which one of the characters is shot with an arrow)
A.M.: Shit, that hurts!
A.W.: *laughs wickedly*
Me: *turns around and shushes at them loudly* Could you please be quiet?
Friend: Amber!
Me (indignantly): What?!

Thankfully, they then shut up. Unfortunately, it was with only half an hour of the movie remaining. I should have done it sooner, but I was discouraged by my friend. Unbelievable, these people. I mean, really. I kept expecting them to be like, "These moving pictures are pretty neat." And I know I'm a picky person about movie-viewing etiquette, but this was truly out of hand.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001
Oh, and I am guest blogging over here if you want to check it out :)

Merry Christmas! (If Christmas is indeed a holiday you celebrate...otherwise, Happy Tuesday!)

Upon arriving back at my parents' house today (after a day spent eating yummy sandwiches and browsing at the bookstore), I found a Christmas card awaiting me. Let me first note that this is only the second Christmas card I have received this year. I should then say that I don't think I ever sent out my new address when I moved this last time, so it is quite possible that there are Christmas cards piling up at my former residence...or at least that's what I like to tell myself.

But neither one of those things is the point of this post. The point is that this particular Christmas card was from this guy I was sort of seeing (as much as one did that type of thing on my college campus) during my sophomore year of college. He graduated that year and left for Japan. I sent him a letter and a Banana Yoshimoto book and got a postcard in reply. I then sent him a letter from England and never heard from him again. I haven't thought about him in years. So I open this card and there's this message about how he was at his parents' house for the holidays and was cleaning out his old room and found the book and was thinking about me. It was really quite sweet. Makes me think I should have tried to contact the people I was thinking about when I was going through my stuff at Thanksgiving. Also makes me wonder who else thinks about me every once in a while even though they haven't seen me in years. For a long time I assumed that people always meant more to me than I did to them (there were years of such thoughts...what can I say, I was a sad tomato for a while there) and that they would just wonder why I was sending them anything. I don't think that anymore...but I still don't often make the effort to track them down. So anyway, it was nice to hear from someone I haven't heard from in a while and to be reminded that, quite simply, I have mattered and am remembered fondly. Now I just have to be better about sending out such things myself :)

And that's my happy little holiday story. I hope you all are well.

Monday, December 24, 2001
From a local television commercial:
"Psychic Amber
Discover the path to your dreams!"
This is followed by lots of low-budget swirly effects and new-age music playing as well-manicured hands are shown laying down tarot cards and lingering just above a crystal ball.

My mother just called me in to the living room so I could see this and we could laugh. (Oh, and it just occurred to me that there are some of you who won't understand why this is funny, but it's because my real name is Amber). So I was wondering, if I got a manicure and a crystal ball, would you pay me to tell you your future?

Answer: Four.
Question: How many places did I have to go to in order to find a copy of the Sunday New York Times in my hometown (which is, mind you, in New York state)?

I was watching television today (I haven't had cable in any of the apartments I have lived in, so when I am visiting the parents, I suddenly turn into teevee junkie girl) and I actually watched an entire infomercial. I don't think that's ever happend before. But it was for this collection of Johnny Carson videos with his favorite moments from the show, and they were showing these little snippets...

Perhaps I should explain. I was weirdly obsessed with The Tonight Show when I was a little girl. When I say little girl, I mean six or seven years old. Way too young to be up watching The Tonight Show. But my parents were sort of lax about bedtimes (hmm, more clues to my future sleep pattern problems) and even when they were insistent upon putting me to bed at a reasonable hour, I would sit up inventing plays for my stuffed animals to perform and then sneak back out at the first sound of the show's theme song. There was a desk right next to the living room doorway, and my seven-year-old self fit quite nicely into the space where the chair was supposed to go. From this hiding spot, there was a perfect view of the television screen, so I could watch and then creep back to my bedroom as the credits rolled.

I'm not sure exactly why I liked it so much. I'm certain I didn't understand most of the jokes. I do know that I liked the funny hat he wore when he was doing his Carnac the Magnificent routine. And I liked the fact that he often had either an animal or a child actor on the show. All things worthy of a child's excitement...but not really enough to justify how insistent I was upon seeing it every night. I don't remember how long this lasted. A couple of years maybe.

So then I was watching this infomercial today and, embarrassing as this may be, I was actually thinking about ordering these videos. There were all these clips that I remembered having seen--like teeny, ET-era Drew Barrymore curled up in a big plush chair...or any one of a number of zany animal visits gone wrong. And then there was the simple theme song (back when it was all big and brassy--none of this Jay-Leno-Kevin-Eubanks crap) and Ed McMahon's "Here's Johnny" and just the way Mr. Carson himself would laugh uproariously with his guests and at himself.

I don't know, maybe I'm on a total nostalgia trip, but there was a certain magic about that show for me that most definitely does not exist in current talk shows. Or on TV in general. I mean, I'm not really going to order the tapes or anything...but it was sort of nice to be reimmersed in my television past for just a little while.

Sunday, December 23, 2001
It is so lame (but in an endearing sort of way, you have to admit) how excited I get about all the year-end best-of issues/articles/special editions that come out around this time. I'm serious, I'll read anyone's list--people I've never heard of and whose opinions I have no reason to trust. Music, movies, books, television. I think I would read about dog-food commercials, as long as "Best of 2001" appeared somewhere in the title. And it's not like I run out and buy these items or anything, I just like seeing what appears where and in what position. Why this sick fascination? Wny this obsession with lists? Dunno, but you can probably expect a couple of lists of my own before the year is over. Unless I can restrain myself. (Which is unlikely, so don't get your hopes up or anything).

I arrived safely at my parents' house just a few short hours ago. I was just in time to help my insomniac mom with the Christmas cookie baking, which got me thinking about how weird it is that everyone in my family stays up late. And so then I logged on to check email and maybe post something here and my grandparents were online and wanted to IM with me. Now the fact that I have grandparents who IM is pretty damn impressive to begin with, but then add to that the fact they're up at almost one in the morning...they're like super-grandparents. Hmmm, I think perhaps I have just gained some insight into why it is that I am unable to sleep normal hours.

Thursday, December 20, 2001
Sarah is very quotable these days. Today, as we were wandering in search of Crate & Barrel (note to self: next time check citysearch before you leave, as now is not the season for aimless sidewalk wanderings--those shoppers are vicious), she told me that she thought the words to Glad Girls actually went, "Hey black girls, I only want to get you high." Good thing I set her straight by putting this song on my holiday mix CD :)

Ugh, for some reason, I can't make the font size of my archive dates smaller (so as to match the rest of the newly updated links in the sidebar). Usually this is the kind of thing I can play around with and figure out (despite the fact that I know next to nothing about what I am doing), but for some reason, I can't seem to make this work. Help? Pretty please?

This site is my new favorite discovery. Of course, I should have checked it out when Amy and Liz linked it, but it was only this morning, when I learned people were coming to my site via his, that I really gave it the attention it deserved :) I couldn't seem to find an email address (though I don't doubt the possibility that it's there and I just missed it), so here's my public thank-you for linking my site instead.

Now go, scoot on over and check it out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001
I don't think I have ever been so removed from the holiday spirit as I am this year. I mean, I'm never one to throw on a Santa hat and flit about singing carols or anything, but usually I have a day or two where I wander around in the cold, admiring the white lights (I love white lights). Maybe a day of furious shopping, enjoying being immersed in the chaos that is gift-hunting in New York. But not this year--this year I have yet to start my shopping, yet to brave Macy's or Bloomingdale's or even the cute little specialty stores in the West Village that Joanna and I had so much fun poking through last December. My office holiday party was yesterday and I could barely manage to put in the requisite half-hour appearance and have a glass of too-sweet white wine before sneaking back downstairs to my desk.

I can't figure out exactly what's going on with me. I mean, some of it is the general mood of everyone in this country, I'm sure. And then there is stuff like this that makes me really nervous. It's also that the weather doesn't feel particularly wintry (I never thought I'd say this, but I am really wishing for some snow about now)...And that we don't have a tree set up in our apartment. I have all these domestic urges lately. I want to string lights and drag home pine trees and bake cookies and stuff. But it seems kind of silly to do it for myself, so then I just don't do it at all, which leaves me strangely disappointed. I'm sure it will be better when I'm upstate, but for now, I can't shake this vague disenchantment...

Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Quote for the day (from Sarah, of lovepants fame):
"Look! I got a tape and some cheese from a the mail!"
(this was accompanied by much ecstatic giggling)

Monday, December 17, 2001
Fragments from my Friday night, as excerpted from the two non-business-related emails I have written today:

It started with me not being able to find the bar I had suggested as a meeting place (due to my friend's terrible directions and not my own idiocy, thank you very much). He laughed when I called his cell phone to tell him that I was standing outside of where it was supposed to be and it was not there. We met on a street corner instead and then wandered into a bar on 2nd Avenue. The bartender was someone I went to college with, making her the third college person I had run into that week. We drank whiskey and talked about films. The PowerPuff Girls played on the teevee with the sound off. A man with a cane and a pipe (neither one of which he appeared to actually be using) wandered back and forth. We did not stay long, as neither one of us was that thrilled with the atmosphere and it was getting crowded. We went to the dive-iest of dive bars and played obnoxious amounts of songs on the jukebox. We played three songs in a row from 'Doolittle.' We sang with The Pixies while leaning against the jukebox, as that was really the only place where you could hear the music. We were given free drinks from a crazy old man bartender who thought we looked 'like good people' and who was very happy that I gave him the five dollars I found on the floor as a tip. We were told by the (very oddly matched) couple whose cracked vinyl booth we took over upon their departure that 'this was a very romantic booth.' We laughed at them. We walked around drunk, holding hands. All in all, quite successful, I think...We're supposed to have dinner and go to a movie sometime this week.

I'm still waiting to discover his hidden tragic flaw (you know, secretly married, actually an ax murderer...or just a carefully concealed jerk) but in the meantime, I am having fun...

Dearest Reader,

Your patience is requested. I still love you, I swear. It's just that I currently reside in pre-holiday tip sheet/late transmittal/contract request hell. They don't let us write blog postings from these depths. Communication with the outside world is strongly discouraged by dirty looks and nasty reminders (always taking care to cc the head honchos, of course). There will be postings galore once I am away in the wilds of upstate New York, I promise you. Will you wait for me?


Friday, December 14, 2001
Check out distraction and other casual occurrences for my lovely addition to their request for suggestions for cover songs :) And then send Cate your own fabulous ideas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001
The new quote (at left) is from this song. Read, listen, fall in love with the wonder that is Ben Lee. And then check out Ben's Faves, which is just the cutest thing ever. When I'm famous, I am going to post such things on my official site.

Latest installment of 'Who signed off on that?'

I have mentioned before that I read the ads on the subway when I have forgotten to bring a book or when my attention span is wandering. I have also mentioned that the ads are frequently strange or alarming. The most recent in the strange category is the campaign for this game show called Smush on USA. It appears to be a game where new words are invented by 'smush'-ing two existing words together. For example: another word for lawyer + name for prehistoric man = attorneanderthal. (You're supposed to laugh and comment upon how clever the writers are now...Come on, they're waiting...Laugh, dammit.) There are equally clever images to go along with these 'smush'-ed words--like a gorilla in a suit, carrying a briefcase. Ha, now that's funny. No, really.

So I have two questions and then a complaint.

My first question is this: In this time of cutbacks and budget restraints, how is it that a game show that airs at 11 pm weeknights on USA gets funding for a massive subway advertising campaign? If you have extra money to throw away, USA, you could always send it my way. I promise I would put it to better use than this.

My second question: Why does this show exist in the first place? I could see it being a cheesy board game, can even envision the commerical now. (Look at that family laughing at those wacky made-up words!), but a five-nights-a-week show? Can you say 'cancellation'?

And finally, the complaint: If you want to waste your money on not-good advertising for a not-good show, that's your business. But please don't subject me, the hapless subway rider, to truly icky 'smush'-ed words. I keep seeing an ad that reads: mexican stuffed tortilla + the grime between your little piggies = burritoejam. This is accompanied by a giant photo of a foot with little burritos sticking out from between the toes. Uh-uh, not okay, never needed that image in my head.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001
See, Liz is also perplexed by our building's overly-elaborate holiday display and people's reactions to it. Today I saw a woman taking photographs with her point and shoot camera. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

The layout of the hotmail page that appears when I first log in to my account keeps changing. This interferes with my autopilot feature. You know, the one where you just know where to click with the mouse without even looking? So that you can sign out while answering the phone and finding a file? Yeah, when the features aren't in the same place all the time, strange things happen....

From Greil Marcus's Real Life Top Ten:
(a suggested translation of a recent New York Times Book Review list of The 9 Best Books of 2001)

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: "The important thing to know about Jonathan Franzen's novel is that you can ignore all the literary fireworks and thoroughly enjoy its people." Translation: "You have to ignore what a prick Franzen is in order to read the book."

I quote this because I have been reading said book. I kept saying I wasn't going to, at least not for a while, but then I gave in. I mean, I work in publishing, it was kind of like a duty. And I have to admit, I was intrigued. How could you not be? I won't read it in public though, as I don't want to be that girl (as in 'that girl who reads The Corrections on the subway'). Nope, that will not be me. Still, I am reading it, in private, just a small section at a time, as there are also other things to be read. The characters are compelling and I want very badly to know what happens to them. But there is a certain smugness (of the wink-wink-look-at-me variety) that keeps me just distant enough from it...which is why I liked the above translation.

Friday, December 07, 2001
I overheard two funny conversations on my lunch break today:

First woman: I never met any of his friends in the seven years I was with him. That should have told me something, huh?
Second woman: *shakes head mournfully*
(This prompted me to nearly spit out my falafel. I mean, seven years?)

(At the Starbuck's across the street from where I work)
Woman in line in front of me: Could I have a decaf cappuccino, no foam?
Cashier: Um, that's called a latte.

I like to talk about famous people who I don't know and refer to them by their first names. I don't know why I like this, I just do.

Last night there was a screening of 'The Royal Tenenbaums.' Since I have been asked not to reveal anything about it by a certain person who sometimes reads this site, I will say only this: You should really go see it when it opens. I mean it. Go.

Oh, and one more thing: If I ever make a movie (hey, stop with the snickering, it could happen), I want Mark Mothersbaugh to do the music. He's amazing. And if you won't take my word for it, listen to Wes.

Quote for the day (from my coworker Julie, who is being very actively wooed):
"It's hard being irresistible." (This was accompanied by a really dramatic hair toss.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2001
Okay, so today they told us we are not allowed to order books from the warehouse anymore. This does not bode well. I am beginning to worry just the slightest little bit.

On the brighter side, I came home from Sara's last night to find out that the Cute boy (yes, please do note the capital 'C') I met on Friday night had called. He left his phone number, just in case. Tee hee.

Monday, December 03, 2001
Bad things are happening here. This morning I came in to find that I am no longer going to be paid for overtime. Ah yes, welcome to the recession. Yet I am still going to be expected to work just as much. Hmmm, does anyone else see a problem with this equation?

Then there was the news that a co-worker friend had been in a car accident this weekend. This is not good. That makes the third person in our department to have something bad happen that requires them to take a substantial leave of absence. I am beginning to think we are cursed. Send good karma my way?

Sunday, December 02, 2001
Where has the weekend gone? There was supposed to be time at home, reading or watching movies or something. I purposely didn't make plans on Friday night so that I could go home and do nothing. Except then I was at work until 8 (Short version of a long story: one of the bosses is out of the office indefinitely and so I am basically trying to do her job as well as continue to assist the other two bosses. Can you say stress?) and a co-worker asked if I wanted to go have a drink since we both were here so late on a Friday. Sounded low-key enough at the time. Then suddenly it was 4 am and she and I were still sitting in 2A talking with these guys who we'd met some hours before.

Now, I know that I am 24 years old and that's still pretty young and all, but I can't do the stay-out-drinking-until-4-am-and-then-get-up-and-have-a-productive-day thing anymore. Nope, a night like that equals me parked on the couch in front of the television the entire following day and then bedtime at 8 pm. I did manage to meet Sarah at the flea market for an hour or so, get some fresh air and some coffee. But that was about all I had in me. Am I getting old already? Oh, and I remembered the other reason I don't spend much times in bars anymore: Somehow I spent forty dollars. And I didn't even pay for half of my drinks. How do people do this on any sort of regular basis? Call me lame, but nights like that are strictly a once-in-a-while thing.

So now it's Sunday and I'm at work. And then there is a dinner party for Gabrielle, whose birthday is today. And then the week starts again. Can I have my weekend back? I'd like to start over :)

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