normalcy is coursing through my veins
Thursday, February 28, 2002
Two minor things of note:

1) This article is entertaining. We have slush lunch here tomorrow. Mmmm, pizza and prison letters, my favorite.

2) Robert Redford was here today, on the floor above me. I did not see him, although I was on that floor about 18 times. Apparently, they had to close the door to the office he was meeting in, because so many people 'just happened to walk by.'

That's all kids, have a lovely evening.

Looking for a new roommate is a taxing process. You'd think that there would be plenty of nice, normal people excited to live with nice, normal people like me and my roommates. But, if you did indeed think that, you would be wrong. I count among the 'potential roommates' (I use quotation marks because, while they are all theoretically 'potential,' most of them have disqualified themselves shortly after walking through the door) a neurotic woman who has been working on her thesis for the past ten years and whose hands shook rather violently as she told us about how she needed 'quiet all the time'; a meticulous designer guy who was shaking his head at our living room as if to say 'this will not do,' and who was concerned about whether he could fit both his armoire (which he said in a very exaggerated French accent) and his grandfather's victrola into the room that is being vacated; and a guy who seemed rather quietly odd, telling me about how he is excited to live near a park so that he can wander around there reciting Wallace Stevens to himself.

But none of these can even hold a candle to Paul. Paul came in downstairs while I was still talking with the previous candidate upstairs. The first thing I noticed was that he was capital-L Loud and that he had a thick Brooklyn accent. I'll admit that this called up a particular stereotype, but I have never been one to make unfair assumptions about people, so I didn't and things went fine at first. We talked for a while about practical stuff--where he works, whether he smokes, etc. Everything was fine until he started talking about his current roommate. She apparently did some shady things, fair enough. But his response to them was, 'Women, god bless 'em, but they're a pain in the ass.' Um, hello, did he not notice that I am a woman? Strike one. Then he asked me why I chose to live with three guys: 'Whatcha live with three guys for? Ya need the protection or somethin'? Ya feel safer? Got somebody after ya?' Translation: Women can't live on their own and need men around to protect them. Strike two. Finally, we discussed the fact that he would be sharing a bathroom with me: 'Let me tell ya something, I can't deal with you women taking an hour in the shower every morning, we're gonna have to work somethin' out to get around that.' Apparently, he has no problems with making assumptions (For the record, I take less time in the bathroom than a lot of men I know). Or with making demands before he has even moved in. Strike three, my patience is shot. So then what does one do? He obviously wants to keep talking and looking around. I want to be like, 'Look, you don't have a chance in hell of moving in here, you may as well just leave now.' I settled for the 'the next person will be here soon' route and hastily escorted him out.

There were two people (out of about ten) who I think would be just fine. I hope that this random sampling does not indicate a larger trend among inhabitants of this city. Because it would mean that 80% of its residents were flawed in ways that would make them unbearable to be around on a regular basis. That's a frightening thought, but not so hard to believe, I suppose. So then I wonder, is it that they're really that crazy/awful/weird or that I'm that picky/snooty/elitist? Jury's still out on that one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Anne's site is prettier than mine. And I'm sure you will find much there to entertain you. Do check it out.
(link courtesy of Sara)

Sentences I read as I watched a manuscript being sucked into the copy machine feeder, and which stuck in my memory after:
They had sex in front of a mirror.
They rented an Acura.
"To kill Goliath," he said.
"Because you're a pro."
"The most."
"What's the birdbath made of, Peter?"

Tuesday, February 26, 2002
The monitor on my work computer is ancient. While everyone else here seems to have pristine new monitors with oversized screens, I am stuck with a mini-monitor whose plastic casing is the same yellowish color as the Atari computer my family had back in 1984. When I proposed that perhaps it should be replaced, it was suggested instead that I clean the screen. Ahem, cleaning the screen is not going to help the fact that it does that lovely little almost-imperceptible shaking thing that gives me headaches. But whatever, dutiful employee that I am, I headed straight to the office supplies cabinet to get the monitor cleaner. When I picked up the spray-can, it was freezing cold. Literally, it felt as if it had been on ice for hours. So I carried it back to my desk and read over the instructions for how to use it. Basically, it was like 'point at screen and press trigger.' But underneath the simple instructions, there was a massive list of warnings and emergency instructions for what to do if inhaled, swallowed, looked at, etc.--the most frightening of which was 'Contact with skin may cause frostbite.' Frostbite?! I guess that fits, what with the icy can and all. But still, what are they putting in this stuff that can cause insta-frostbite? And is having a dust-free computer screen really so important that we are willing to spray chemicals that come with a warnings list longer than this entry? I think I'll just keep wiping the screen off with my sweater sleeve, thanks.

Monday, February 25, 2002
'where is yr next show? in honolulu.'

Bikini Kill has been on the speakers all day. I had been worried that I was going to be fired if anyone heard the lyrics, but I don't think anyone can understand Kathleen's screaming except me, so I guess I'm okay.

Jack Daniels is Not Your Friend: A Cautionary Tale
(Alternate Title 1: Why I Should Not Drink, a Meditation by Jackie-O)
(Alternate Title 2: I Am Vying with Liz for the Title of 'That Girl')

This is how it started: Saturday night I fell asleep early. Sounds innocent enough, right? This sleeping was the result of the exhaustion that follows a week's worth of late nights and early mornings. I awakened with a start at 10:30, realizing that I was late for Mary's birthday bash. In my I-napped-too-long daze, I forgot to eat dinner. When I got off the train in the city, I thought it would be best for me to stop at a deli and buy something to eat. I settled on Gummi Bears, because, in my still-half-asleep state, it seemed as though these would provide adequate nourishment for an evening of drinking (Note: I was mistaken).

Once at the bar, I began drinking Jack & Cokes, the drink of choice at the moment. After paying for the first two, the bartender told me he refused to take any more money from me. Free drinks = big trouble. I blame the bartender for everything that transpired after drink #2. Several drinks later, there was flirting with a boy I should not have been flirting with (roommate of friends, later found out is big player--classic 'my luck with boys'). Then there was kissing. At the bar. Yep, I was 'that girl' half-falling off her barstool while making out with the boy next to her. Classy, no?

Upon exiting the bar, I became 'that girl' who is so drunk she falls off the single step and lands directly on her ass. One of those falls where the pavement is just suddenly there, but you are confused as to how it got there. Aforementioned boy was kind enough to pick me up and put me in a cab. I spent the entire cab ride back to Brooklyn inwardly chanting, 'I will not get sick, I will not get sick.' My little mantra worked...for a while. Then I was back at boy's/my friend's apartment, curled up on the futon with my eyes closed, thinking that if I just didn't move I would be fine. I was wrong. Suddenly I was 'that girl' calmly announcing 'I am going to be sick now,' then slowly but purposefully making her way to the bathroom where she ever-so-daintily throws up. (Note: I have not thrown up from drinking in a long time--not since my disastrous 23rd birthday party--and I do not intend for this to ever happen again. I feel like a stupid college student).

Then there was a car ride home. I believe the boy offered to accompany me, for fear that I would pass out and be dumped on the roadside somewhere during the 8-block ride to my apartment. I refused the offer. He went back inside and (I found out today) hooked up with another of his roommate's friends.

I woke up the next afternoon with a wicked headache, a sprained ankle (courtesy of my fall), and a progressive feeling of embarrassment as the evening's events gradually came back to me. Today I am limping around, trying to avoid explaining to people about my drunken idiocy. There is a lovely purplish bruise spreading all around my ankle. It is a good thing I am finding this all funny. I only hope that you, dear readers, are also amused.

Morals of the story: #1: I should never be allowed to drink. Especially not on a mostly-empty stomach. #2: I am a magnet for stupid boy behavior and so should run quickly away from any who approach me. Especially in bars. #3: Don't fall. Falling is bad.

Friday, February 22, 2002
I sit in front of the laser printer and the fax machine. That's right, I had the bad luck to be given the desk around which the always-malfunctioning communal office equipment forms a whirring plastic barricade. It's bad enough that I am probably soaking up more weird electromagnetic rays (or whatever these things emit) than is healthy. But it's my unofficial status as 'mechanical-problem answer-girl' that really gets to me. A sampling of the questions I have been asked every week since I started:

Do you know whose manuscript this is? Why are they printing so many copies of something this big? Can you cancel it or something? Who works on this book? Are you listening?

It's out of paper. Where's the paper? Why isn't there paper here?

The fax machine says 'sleep.' What does that mean? Can you switch the mode? Oh, I'm sorry, are you busy? Well, anyway, could you just come look at this?

Whose is this? Could you just look through this stack and distribute it?

Why isn't it going through? I pressed 'send.' Why won't it send? Do you know? Is it broken? Will you watch it for me and see if it goes through while I go do my work?

It's not printing. Why isn't it printing? Why is this light flashing? Could you be a doll and call office services? Oh, you're on the phone? That's okay, I'll just wait until you're finished and then pester you some more.

Okay, that very last sentence was fictional, but you get the point. I am not the guardian of the office equipment. I either do not know the answers to your questions or do not want to be bothered with them. Go away. I have taken to affecting a puzzled look accompanied by a shrug and a meek, 'I-don't-understand-these-silly-machines-tee-hee' smile in order to avoid dealing with their demands, but it doesn't seem to be working. I am going to start lying and giving them incorrect answers next. I'll let you know how that goes.

There are some perks though:

Perk #1 is watching the head honchos come over and stand in front of the fax machine, scratching their heads ponderously while turning their single sheet of paper every which way, trying for the life of them to figure out how to feed it into the fax machine. Sometimes I offer to help right away. In my best kindergarten-teacher voice (the same one they use when they are asking me to do some menial task) I say, "Oh, do you not know how it goes? Here, let me help you." Then I make a big show of demonstrating the proper positioning. Other times, I just wait and see how long it takes before they admit their incompetence and ask me for help. It depends on my mood.

Perk#2 is watching the people who don't know about the 'manual feed' option on their word processing program try to print something out on company letterhead. For these people, sending letters is an athletic event. They come over, delicately place the stationery in the special feeder tray, then sprint back to their desk around the corner, desperately hoping that they are fast enough to beat the person down the hall who is right that second about to push 'print.' I am mean, because I take great pleasure in watching this routine. I could explain to them about the printer properties menu, but I don't. Instead, I watch the excitement, the breathless competition, the heartbreak when the mission goes awry. It's better than television.

So that is my office-inspired rant for today. Please forgive me for my acerbity. It is 7:30 on a Friday and I am still at work, these things are bound to happen.

Thursday, February 21, 2002
There seems to be a winking epidemic going on in my office. Last week, as I was walking past a woman in marketing whom I don't know all that well, I politely and unsuspectingly said hello. Her response was a wink. And not just an ordinary wink either, we're talking an exaggerated, stop-walking-and-scrunch-up-one-half-of-her face-wink. Then she walked on without a word. I was a little disturbed, I felt a little, well, icky. But I was able to block it from my memory and get on with my day. Then yesterday, I got an email from Sarah, saying that a different marketing person had winked at her.

I have two fears. One is that the marketing department is being slowly and methodically replaced by alien creatures who communicate by winking. The second is that everyone here is involved in a game of Murder (you know, the one where you 'kill' people by winking) that I don't know about and they all secretly hate me for spoiling their game by not playing along.

Sharing the dream

Inspired by Liz's post about her lounge singer aspirations (we have many strange things in common--I am beginning to suspect we are long-lost somethings or other), I sent her an email detailing my own lounge ambitions, and I thought I'd share:

For many years (I think from age 6 to age 10 or so), I wanted nothing more from life than to be a lounge singer. I had a bright pink spaghetti-strapped dress (with an embroidered strawberry at the point of the very-low-cut v-neck) that I would pull from the dress-up chest and wear over my OshKosh overalls. I would wander around the house, being careful to weave as if either very drunk or very world-weary, probably both. This was always done while carrying an empty longneck Pepsi bottle in one hand as if it were a bottle of Jack Daniels, a pencil in the other as if it were a cigarette, all the while trying to look sultry, and crooning.

The most frightening thing about this story is that my dream was inspired entirely by watching that comedy routine of Bill Murray's where he is the gross lounge singer with his shirt opened to reveal a hairy chest and a big gold medallion. Why I wanted to be him is a mystery probably best left unsolved, but hey, it's good to have goals.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002
So I've been on one of my insomnia jags again lately. This leads to a lot of late-night bad-TV-watching. A couple of nights ago it was 'Losing Isaiah,' a terrible movie starring Halle Berry, which, after about an hour of mindless staring, I realized I had already seen (doubtless as part of some other bleary-eyed 2 am viewing spree). Last night it was Blind Date. There is something so perfectly tasteless about this show that I just can't resist. I mean, where else can you watch a pretty blonde PhD candidate in behavioral science make horrified faces and fake-laugh her way through dinner with a 35-year old man whose sense of humor revolves around retard jokes and who walks oddly like Billy Bob Thornton's character in 'Sling Blade'? Quality programming, I tell you.

*An addendum: After an email discussion of the many wonders of Blind Date and other shows of that ilk, Liz's vote for quote of the day is: 'I prefer watching these shows to actually dating,' courtesy of yours truly.

One of my roommates is moving out very soon. If you or anyone you know is looking for a place to live in New York and you are nice and sane, please let me know.

Monday, February 18, 2002
I have the day off for President's Day. I should be out frolicking in the park. Or at the very least, going to the grocery store. But no, I'm sitting in front of the computer. Which is, granted, slightly better than sitting in front of daytime television, but still...

I had one of the best weekends I have had in quite some time.

Sarah already beat me to this, but: On Friday there was an impromptu blog girls pajama party at my house. Sarah, Sara, and Liz joined me for an evening of red wine, single beers bought from the deli on Flatbush, cupcakes from Dizzy's, and Waiting for Guffman on DVD. What else could a girl ask for? This may just have to become a regular event.

Saturday there was a co-worker's birthday party. It began with too-big-for-my-mouth cheeseburgers at the Corner Bistro (yes, even I, Miss-'I-only-eat-fish' was persuaded to have a burger), continued with tequila shots at KGB bar (I hate tequila, but I love the ritual of the salt/shot/lime deal), and ended at a hookah bar sometime after 3. It was the most fun I have had going out in quite some time, and I am glad. I was beginning to worry about how comfortable I was becoming with spending evenings parked in front of the television, finding myself feeling oddly sentimental about the Olympics. (Winter depression, anyone?)

Finally, last night there was 'Amelie' at Sara's. Somehow she ended up with a copy of a screening tape. How I knew it was a screening tape: by the large white letters that appeared above the letterbox every 20 minutes or so that said 'Property of Miramax Films. For Screening Purposes Only.' Oops. Anyway, maybe I was tired, maybe I am cynical, maybe there was just too much hype, but I did not love this movie as much as everyone told me I would. Yes, it was inventive, and visually it was stunning. Yes, Audrey Tautou is the cutest thing ever (she even made me want to go back to the long skirts and Doc Martens look). And yes, it is nice that people are still making sweet films about human kindness in the midst of all the glamorized violence. But frankly, I found myself a little bored by the end. One can only take so much of 'will they or won't they get together' before one ceases caring. And so that's my armchair critic's opinion. Go ahead, throw tomatoes, I know I'm the only one.

K, time to head out into the last remaining bit of sunshine now....

Friday, February 15, 2002
A numerical breakdown of my day (in two parts):

Time spent in email volley with person I shouldn't be talking to: 90 minutes
Time spent emailing people I should be talking to, but not right now: 2 hours
Time spent emailing in ridiculous slang with Liz: 1 hour
Time spent pressing 'back,' 'refresh,' and 'look for tickets': 90 minutes
Time spent at lunch: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Time spent actually doing work: 45 minutes

Number of times I was told something was 'urgent': 2
Number of times my response was 'Hold on, I'm trying to get tickets!': 1
Number of times the phone rang: approx. 900
Number of times it was someone I wanted to talk to: 3
Number of times I actually picked it up after looking at the caller ID: 3

Anyone care to place bets on number of days before I am fired? Just kidding. Sort of. I really hope my bosses never read this.

I got tickets!!!

Now, for those of you who do not understand my obsession/frustration with trying to get these tickets, B&S is one of my favorite bands, and they haven't toured on the east coast in I-don't-remember-how-long. I honestly think it was almost five years ago. That's a LONG time. I was even willing to abandon my Ticketmaster boycott to get them, fucking eight dollar service charge per ticket and all.

So phew, glad that's over, we shall resume normal posting now.

For anyone who has ever tried to order internet pre-sale tickets through the evil Ticketmaster (who I will not even link to, I hate them so much), especially for an amazing show like, say, Belle and Sebastian at the Hammerstein Ballroom, these haikus (inspired by recent efforts by both Sara and Sarah) are for you:

Twelve o'clock on-sale
Fingers clicking mouse buttons
Refresh, you fucker

Everyone else is
also trying to order
Stop it, stop it now!

It's one hour later
and still no effing tickets
Time to go to lunch

Thursday, February 14, 2002
Favorite headline of the day (courtesy of Salon):
Miss America denies reports of unhappiness

'But since their wings have got rusted,
you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.'

Well, perhaps red pants would be more appropriate. Yep, that's right, I totally forgot it was valentine's day and wore my bright red pants today. The first time someone said 'nice pants' on the subway, I simply said 'thanks' and went back to reading my manuscript. The second time, I began to wonder. Then I stepped off the train and into Grand Central and was confronted with vendor-men everywhere, screaming 'Happy Valentine's Day!' and 'Roses five dollars!' Suddenly I realized my mistake. Just call me the valentine fairy. No, really, I dare you.

Weirdest thing I have seen in quite some time:
A man with a very complicated-looking camera taking a long time to frame the perfect shot of a Valentine's display in the window of a lingerie shop in one of the Grand Central corridors. The display consisted of a bunch of women's thong underwear, all in various shades of red, rose, vermillion, pink, etc. arranged in a geometric pattern. I worry for these people, I really do.

And finally, a retrospective:
Last year, I went on a first date on Valentine's Day. Same theme as this year, me being completely unaware of this minor holiday's approach. I thought I was just making plans for 'next Wednesday.' Thankfully, the guy had no clue either. We both laughed about it. And then we were both horrified by the roaming rose salesman who interrupted us mid-dinner by shoving his cellophane-wrapped wares in my date's face and rather forcefully asserting that it was his responsibility to buy 'flowers for the lady.' The lady would have felt weird about getting flowers and the guy would have felt weird giving them, so at least we were on the same page there....

The year before, I had my first job interview in New York. I spent the night before by myself in a hotel room in the financial district, spending thirty dollars on room-service soup and sandwich and running up a long-distance telephone bill to California because I was petrified to leave my room (that fear seems funny now that I’ve lived here a while, but it was not at all funny then). I woke up on the 14th with a fever and a sore throat, the interview went terribly, and I spent that night on my friend Susanna’s living room floor before hauling my ass to Port Authority the next morning for the five-hour bus ride back to my parents’ house. I had been pretty unaware of the holiday that year as well, only realizing that I’d missed the entire day when, while waiting for the bus, I noticed a couple sitting across from me. They had fallen asleep wrapped around each other with a bouquet of day-old roses balanced on their knees. It was kind of cheesy, but there was something sort of sweet about it, and, despite my illness and my terrible mood, I was happy for them, whoever they were.

And so that’s my story....

Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Oh, and before I forget (again), thanks to Jeff for helping me make my archive links the same size as all the other links at left.

So yeah, Oscar nominations were announced today. Mostly what I expected, save a few surprises. In the 'huh?" department: Sean Penn for 'I Am Sam.' In the 'surprised-but-pleasantly-so' department: Renee Zellweger for 'Bridget Jones's Diary' (I don't care what you say, I love that movie and she was damn good in it). And where is Gene Hackman's nomination? Surely the printers accidentally left his name off the list. They will realize their mistake and add him tomorrow, right?

But for me the real question is: Why is Whoopi Goldberg being allowed to host the Oscars again? Am I the only one who remembers how not-funny she was last time? Two words: Entenmann's commercials. Stick to them.

Monday, February 11, 2002
I can always tell when messenger packages are going to be delivered, even before they have actually arrived at my desk. 'How,' you might ask, 'is she able to predict such a thing?' I wish I could claim to have great psychic powers, but it's actually just that the man who delivers them wears so much cologne that I can smell him coming when he's still on the other side of the floor.

I am thinking of perhaps compiling a list of office etiquette and then posting it somewhere conspicuous. Close to the top would be: Do not bathe in cologne/perfume. Also under consideration:

--Do not close-talk when there is even the slightest possibility you might have nastaholic* coffee breath.

--Please close the door to the conference room if you are going to have a loud meeting so that the girl who sits across from said room can spend more time getting her job done and less time shooting you dirty looks.

--If something is late or someone has done something wrong, please contact that person directly rather than, say, sending an email and cc-ing the higher-ups. Passive-agression makes people hate you and leads directly to a decline in productivity due to daydreams about ways in which to disrupt your anal-retentive little professional life.

Suggestions? Our office thanks you in advance for your contributions.

*Thanks to Liz for introducing this lovely little word into my vocabulary.

Thursday, February 07, 2002
Things to do while home from work for two days in a row with a respiratory infection that you spent a week and a half trying to convince yourself was 'just a cold':
*Watch Ricki Lake give people fake big asses and then videotape their experiences with their new booty. Wonder if you are having a fever-induced hallucination.
*Fall asleep on the couch. Have weird, daytime-talk-show-inspired dreams.
*Read the first 35 pages or so of all the manuscripts that have been piling up on your bedroom floor. Don't remember anything you've read. Place back in a neat pile in the corner.
*Crawl back into bed at three in the afternoon. Have weird bad-manuscript-inspired dreams.
*Call a doctor's office. Any one, it doesn't matter (as you haven't gotten around to finding a doctor in the almost 2 years you've lived in New York). Ask them if you can see someone today or tomorrow. Listen to them laugh. Say, "But I'b sick dow" in your best stuffy voice and sigh with relief when the third place you call takes pity on you and gives you an appointment for the next day.
*Fall asleep with the cordless phone in your hand, so that your roommate has to wake you rather than try to pry it from your fingers. Let him bring you orange juice and ginger ale.
*Finish The Corrections. Admit that, despite all your reservations, it's a damn good book.
*Swallow gigantic antibiotic pill. Cringe because you have this weird fear of antibiotics (which makes no rational sense considering you have no problem with the occasional cigarette or recreational drug). Become even more afraid at how much better you feel just a few short hours after taking one pill. Read label to make sure you are not experiencing any of the possible side effects. Drink juice. Read label again, memorizing potential dangers. Wonder if you are feeling itchy or nauseated. Ask your roommate if you are crazy. He will give you 'that look,' you know the one.
*Scratch your suddenly-itchy arm. Watch your roommate shake his head at you. Laugh at yourself.
*Take a prescription decongestant too late in the evening. Realize it has the same effect as speed. Try to go to sleep at a decent hour and find yourself lying in bed, neurotically staring at the ceiliing, making exhaustive mental lists of things to be done, phone calls to return, bills to be paid, blog entries to be written, etc.
*Finally fall asleep sometime after 3 a.m. Have a weird nightmare in which your roommate (the same one who brought you OJ and ginger ale) is a psycho killer.

Things to do on the day you return to work after taking two sick days in a row:
*Walk carefully past your dream-psycho-killer roommate's door in the morning, not wanting to wake him, just in case there is some kernel of truth to your dream.
*Don't come into work until ten-thirty. Take deep breaths as you listen to 19 new voicemails and weed through 43 emails.
*Bite your tongue to keep from telling your boss (the messy one) that you really don't have time to be wading through the disaster that is his office for half-an-hour looking for a contract he misplaced.
*Get overly upset when the copy machine malfunctions. Resist the urge to smash the copy machine. Talk to the copy machine in soothing tones in an effort to convince it that it wants to work with you and not against you. Talk loud enough that someone walking by asks you if "everything's okay."
*Wonder if insanity was amongst the possible side effects of your medication.

Of course, these are all just suggestions. I don't speak from experience or anything....

Monday, February 04, 2002
Think of what the past did / it could've lasted / so put it in your basket

They're on repeat, I can't stop listening. It's just like Friday night at a grimy bar. Except it's Monday morning. And there's a desk in front of me. And the music's coming from the computer speakers instead of a jukebox. Okay, so maybe not just like, but as close as it gets.

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