normalcy is coursing through my veins
Friday, March 29, 2002
This is sad. Go watch this and feel better.

Thursday, March 28, 2002
I have not deserted you. It's just this pesky job I have. People keep demanding that I meet deadlines and complete tasks and stuff, can you believe it?

My week thus far can be summed up as follows: Oscar party, sleep, work, work, work, Xbox, sleep, work, work, work, work, trudge through rainstorm to get ATM card, work, drink whiskey, fight to stay awake until my stop on train, sleep, take Tylenol, drink water, work, work, work, work, pass out from exhaustion at 8:30 pm, arrive at work at ungodly hour, work, work, work, work, work, work....and now blog. Exciting, no? How have you lived without the update thus far?

Of minor interest (perhaps):

The drinking whiskey (as well as the subsequent hangover) was courtesy of the premiere party for that baseball movie, 'The Rookie.' We were bad people who skipped the movie and went straight to the party, arriving early and thus unintentionally (but happily) avoiding the long line that would eventually form in front of the spinach-artichoke dip and chicken fingers.

This party was at ESPNZone, which seemed an odd choice to me. There were leather recliners with built-in remote controls in front of giant TV screens playing the movie's trailer over and over again, which we agreed was more than a little tacky. Even stranger was the fact that the guests seemed to consist almost entirely of middle-aged, Midwestern-looking men in ill-fitting suits and their equally disheveled wives (one of whom asked if she could take the cheesy basket filled with yellow rose petals, mini-baseball and mini-bat from our table--we glady parted with it).

In fact, there must have been a shortage of real famous people, because someone took a photograph of Sara and I when we walked down the red carpet to enter the gaudy funhouse that is ESPNZone. I mean, not that we're not rockstars in our own right or anything, but.... We wondered about who they thought we were, and I argued that they thought Sara was Liz Phair (she looks just like her), but then who would be photographing 'The Rookie' premiere and also know what Liz Phair looked like? See what kinds of things I think about? My brainpower is constantly being wasted on such crap.

Anyway, I suppose there were famous people there, but the only one I actually noticed was Dennis Quaid. I was otherwise too busy downing Maker's Mark and talking (probably too loudly) with Sara, who likes to refer to these Disney-sponsored parties as 'on the mouse' instead of 'on the house,' which I find funny.

And really that's all I can think of to say right now. That's what this work week has reduced me to. My brain has become a pile of mush capable only of reciting insubstantial drinking tales and insulting people who directly resulted in my eating and drinking for free all evening. (If you're reading this, kindly Disney and/or ESPNZone employees, the spinach artichoke dip and the grilled vegetable kebabs were really yummy, thanks!) Woo. Hoo.

Please return next week, when we shall return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Today's highlights:

Genius that I am, I left my debit/ATM card at the cute little imported beer/chocolates/cookies/general-good-stuff store where I purchased Framboise Lambic to bring to an Academy Awards party on Sunday night. Luckily, the nice couple who owns the store has been keeping it safe for me. Not-so-luckily, they weren't open yesterday when I went there, and so now I have to trek all the way out to Brooklyn and then trek right back into the city to meet Sara for a party. There will be celebrities and free stuff at the party. That I can't decide which of those two things is more exciting should tell you something about me. What that something is, I'm not sure.

The photocopier and I got to spend a lot of quality time together today. I think maybe we've finally worked out some of our key issues. I mean, we've still got a long way to go, but I think we might be able to make this work.

And finally: Very exciting news! Congratulations, Cate and Conor, I'm so excited for you two!

Be excited for me. I am officially taking my first real vacation since last August (!) in just a couple of short weeks. The vacation will involve warm weather, beaches, and seeing both family and friends. Anticipation for this trip is what will carry me through the pre-launch hell that this week and the first half of next will surely entail. It might have to carry you readers through too, as posting is likely to be sparse while I dedicate all of my energy to tip sheets, sales figures, and book reviews. Woo-hoo.

Monday, March 25, 2002
Woody Allen's remarks about how he came up with his intro for the New York tribute:
"I didn't write it out, but I thought it out in my shower--for about two weeks; I always feel better in my shower."
(courtesy of: eonline)

So I watched the Academy Awards last night. I guess I could post a long rant or something, but frankly, they ran late and then I had to cab it home to Brooklyn, and so I'm tired and not up for in-depth analysis. So a brief list of things that come to mind:

--I thought they did a decent job of keeping Whoopi from talking that much, which is a damn good thing. Is she the only one who doesn't know she's not funny?

--I was not surprised to see that 'A Beautiful Mind' won. Disappointed, yes, but not surprised.

--I kind of wish I'd seen 'Training Day.' I think it's still playing around here somewhere, so perhaps I'll track it down.

--Sidney Poitier is the most well put-together man. He should have just stood onstage and said, "Hello, my name is Sidney Poitier and I am dignity and poise embodied. You may clap now."

--I loved the New York tribute. And I loved that Woody Allen presented it. And that there were clips from 'Annie Hall' and 'Manhattan' in it.

--One catty fashion comment and then that's it, I swear: Who let Gwyneth wear that dress??!! To make Gwyneth Paltrow's breasts look droopy and to make her narrow frame look as though it were covered by fat bulges is quite a feat...but somehow it was achieved. We couldn't stop cringing.

And that's all I have to say for now. Like I said, I'm a little exhausted.

Friday, March 22, 2002
I just realized that I've been doing this blogging thing for a whole year. My one-year, er, blogiversary is today. I didn't really think I'd stick with it this long. I thought it would be another one of those things I get really excited about and then quickly lose enthusiasm for. But nope, I'm still hanging in there. Admittedly, it's a little sparse this week, but it's a busy time at work and there are other writing projects I am working on that have to take priority at the moment. There may be some restructuring soon, some way to incorporate the other writings with the blog, maybe even a domain name of my very own. Now, please do keep in mind that around here 'soon' means sometime in the next decade, but I figure that if I put it in writing, it will have a slightly better chance of actually happening someday.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
It's still grey and rainy and I'm still at a loss for something to say. So there will be music-talk from me today; it's like my default mode...Be forewarned, there may be babbling.

I have been listening to the walkman on train rides again these days. The decision to walk around with my own little soundtrack playing is partly due to the fact that I just always want to be listening to music. It's also partly due to the fact that I get verbally harassed less often with the headphones on...or maybe I just don't hear as much of it. Either way, it's for the better.

I think maybe I'm the only person in this city who doesn't own a portable CD player, but there's a good reason. You see, I've accumulated a massive amount of mix tapes over the years and the only time I listen to them is when I'm out wandering around with the headphones on. I like these tapes and I want to be able to listen to them and so I remain dedicated to an inferior form of technology. Aside from being antiquated, it's one of those 'sporty' walkmans, complete with bright white and purple headphones. The hideous tape-playing part can be hidden inside my bag, but the headphones, they're out there for the world to see. I am so not cool.

This morning I was listening to a tape from my freshman year of college--a collaborative effort with my friend, Jody. Making tapes together was an integral part of our friendship that year (along with staying up all night listening to music to put on said tapes and for her to play on her radio show, smoking pot, and bitching about the horrendous cast of characters in our creative writing class--nicknamed things like Art History Coke Slut and Mr. SamePoem). The mix is entitled, I am embarrassed to admit, '3 a.m. Stoners Mix.' Thank goodness my trusty tape player has auto-reverse, so there's no danger of anyone seeing the name when I flip it over. Some of the music on it is more embarrassing than the title, but some of it is damn good stuff that I haven't heard in years. And all of it makes sense in terms of where and who I was at that time. Listening to it immediately calls up the only year I ever lived in a dorm, middle-of-the-night drives home from various upstate New York bars where we had traveled to hear this band called the Ominous Seapods play (my friends and I were obsessed with them), and all those late-night lounge conversations about who we had been and who we were becoming. The music on the tape is all over the place, perfectly embodying that weird and awkward transition from high school to college.

A friend of mine once made fun of me for the way so many songs have very particular memories attached for me. "Is there any song that doesn't remind you of someplace or someone?" she said. Of course there are. But most of them come loaded, whether I like it or not. There are songs I fully admit are terrible, but I still like to listen to them if I flip past them on the radio dial because they have fond memories attached. Or songs that I think are amazing but have been faded out of the rotation because they are too painful to hear.

All of this goes back to what is becoming more and more apparent as a theme in my life: I have too good a memory. It's a problem. It leads to too-frequent bouts of nostalgia...or me being hurt because I remember something very clearly that someone else who was there has forgotten about entirely, leading me to believe that it was not as important to them. It leads to me taking a ridiculously long time to finish a story, because I have to tell you about what song was playing in the background and what time of year it was and what the light was like and what I'd had for dinner and what I was wearing and....you get the picture. And maybe you find it endearing or maybe you find it irritating as all hell, but either way, I don't seem to be able to help it, try as I might.

And so those are my rainy-day musings, do with them what you may....

Tuesday, March 19, 2002
'It's like going to pieces could fix everything'

There will be little posting today. Having caught the latest cold to make its way around our office, I am in that dazed mode where words sound as though they have been swaddled in cotton before they reach my ears. In such a state, I am apt to do things like comment on the textures of the vegetables in my salad. Now, I ask you, do you really want to hear about such things? I didn't think so.

Monday, March 18, 2002
Here's a shocking revelation: I like fan mail. Sarah B. (using the last initial so as to keep her straight from the other Sarahs/Saras in my life) sent me some. In return, I checked out her site. It is a good site. I think you should check it out too. And I'm not just saying that because of the fan mail.

Also, thanks to slatch and shortcakes for the links.

I feel loved today, woo-hoo.

Hi there. It's Monday and it's cold and rainy and I am currently resisting the urge to quote Elvis Costello's 'Welcome to the Working Week,' because, well, that would just be too easy. Instead I offer you two things (each one involving both a telephone and a film) that made me happy this weekend:

The first has to do with the voicemail service on my home phone. When you dial the number to check said voicemail, there is a personalized (as in, a recorded human voice) greeting, followed by a computerized voice prompting you to "please enter your passcode." As long as I've lived in my apartment, the personalized greeting has always been my former roommate Daniel's voice saying, "Hey." When I dialed the voicemail number yesterday, I was delighted to find that Tom had changed the greeting to a breathily whispered, "Rosebud." I hung up and dialed it again, I was so pleased. (If you do not understand why I am so pleased that someone is whispering about flower parts on my voicemail, you should read this, stat...Actually, even if you do know the reference, read Ebert's piece anyway, it's quite good).

The second involves Moviefone. Do cities besides New York have this service? It's this phone/web service where you call ahead and order tickets to a movie so that you don't have to endure hellish lines. I call this line so often that I can do a pitch-perfect imitation of the irritatingly slick, game-show-announcer-y voice of the man who tells you your options. My favorite thing, though, is when he mispronounces movie names, because his confidence never falters. This guy will brazenly say 'Chock-lit' instead of 'Chocolat' and just dare you film snobs to tell him he's wrong. Up until recently, my most-loved mispronunciation was of 'Amelie' (he said, 'A-mealy' with great gusto). But yesterday, when I called to inquire about this film, he announced it as 'Kissing Jessicastein'-- like Frankenstein, only different. Instead of a quirky romantic comedy, I envisioned a mock-horror film in which people are forced to kiss this crazy-neurotic-Jewish-woman-monster. Don't they proof the Moviefone man's announcements? Or do they just have as much of a sense of humor about it as I do?

(By the way, 'Kissing Jessica Stein' was a highly enjoyable film. Gab and Kasey agreed, so three thumbs up. Perfect for a rainy Sunday St. Patrick's Day when the last place you want to be is an Irish bar....)

Friday, March 15, 2002
Mark's lending library has moved. Check out the new site (complete with donated books from yours truly) and then read this little piece about it in the Times. Neat-o, huh?

'My fake French is hot'

'Pret a Manger' is French for 'ready to eat.' It is also the name of a sandwich-shop chain I used to frequent when I was living in England. They have recently opened a store in the neighborhood where I work, which is notorious for its lack of affordable lunch options, and I could not be more excited. Tasty and healthy sandwiches made fresh daily and the best potato chips (or crisps, if you prefer) ever (rosemary is my favorite, though cracked pepper runs a close second). Plus, they donate any sandwiches left over at the end of the day to City Harvest, which I think is pretty damn cool.

I am beginning to suspect that 'Jean Louis David' may be French for 'Supercuts.' JLD is an ubiquitous salon chain here in New York. There's one on practically every corner, offering $18.99 haircut specials, but with ooh-la-la allure. I am wary of these bright white storefronts filled with smocked stylists busily blowdrying. They have that trying-too-hard-to-be-sleek look, but the people coming out of there have hairstyles that look suspiciously similar to those of the people walking out of the salon in the mall in my upstate hometown.

Thursday, March 14, 2002
[Editor's note: This should have been posted yesterday, but Blogger was broken. I apologize to those of you who were waiting patiently all day for the promised story. I also apologize for the fact that the story is maybe not as funny or interesting today as it seemed to me in the previous day's hazy state. Nevertheless, here you go.]

I had one of those nights last night. The kind where you are so tired you have to drag yourself to some obligatory function and you are dreading it but then it turns out ot be a great time.

The evening involved a discussion that was livelier than anticipated, pizza and wine with a massive group of work folk and authors, and then many many pints at a cheesy Irish bar in Times Square. The best part being that it was all paid for by various corporate cards. An author of ours told crazy stories about hanging out with Shane McGowan and told all the crazy guys who approached us that my name was Megan and that I was from Scotland ("Go on, fake the accent, dammit," she whispered to me as I was shaking their hands). We met two roadies for Billy Joel who offered us free tickets to his Madison Square Garden show this weekend (uh, thanks but no thanks, guys) and a bunch of Northern Irish men who did magic tricks and lined up to have their pictures taken with us. Suddenly, it was two in the morning and someone broke a glass and I was drinking some mystery orange drink that the author insisted we all imbibe. And then Mary and I were in Duane Reade searching for bottles of water and snacks for the train ride home.

When I got home, I sat on the floor in front of the refrigerator drinking cran-grape juice directly from the plastic bottle (says Liz: I always seem to end up on the floor in the kitchen after drinking. What is it about drunkenness that requires sitting on the floor in front of the fridge?? ). As I was sitting there, I looked up and saw the microwave my new roommate brought with him. Now, I haven't had a microwave in any of the apartments I have lived in in New York, so this is a new convenience, and I'm thinking 'good microwave,' like it's a new pet or something. Then I stood up to look at it and in the bottom corner it says, 'Emerson Radio Corp.' and then at the top of the door it says 'Turntable Cooking.' And so then I was on the floor again, laughing and thinking about scratching potatoes, spinning Tupperware and looping leftovers. At that point, I knew it was time for bed.

I think I was still a little drunk this morning, doing that bob-and-weave thing in the shower while trying to rinse the shampoo from my hair. And I slunk into work just before eleven. Thankfully, my boss had stayed at the bar even later than I had and so seemed not to notice my tardiness.

You know, it's funny, I think before I worked here, I had this idea of publishing being all about nights like last night. Really, those nights are few and far between. That's probably a good thing, considering it makes them that much more fun when they occur and also considering the sad state of our entire department today. I think we're all in need of naptime right about now....

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
I am very very sleepy. This would not be such a problem if I could just go home and couch, but there is a work event at which my presence is requested. People will be expecting me to sit and be attentive and laugh when it's funny and clap when it's over. These are tired hands. They don't want to clap.

Someone feed me chocolate-covered espresso beans and Coke? Pretty please?

I'm guest-blogging over here today, whilst Sarah is off gallavanting in England. So don't you dare expect me to come up with clever stuff to say on my own site too.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
On a related note, I took a random unlabeled mix tape with me to the gym. Here is what I learned:

Music that made me run so hard my ponytail swung wildly:
Weezer
Le Tigre
Sleater-Kinney
The Go-Go's

Music that had to be fast-forwarded for fear of abandoning my workout in favor of a nap, a cigarette, or a bottle of whiskey:
Rufus Wainwright
Cat Power
Songs:Ohia

I did something only slightly out of character this past weekend; I joined a gym. Fiscally speaking, this was perhaps not the wisest idea considering I can just barely pay my rent/bills and feed myself as it is. But there are other things to take into consideration besides money. Take, for instance, the ten or fifteen pounds I gained this winter. Or my penchant for eating cookies instead of meals. Or my trouble sleeping, which I suspect is due, at least in part, to the fact that I sit parked in front of a desk all day and so cannot possibly have exerted enough energy to make me tired enough to sleep at any hour before 2 a.m.

Mostly though, this whole gym thing came about as a direct result of how beautiful it was outside this past Saturday. I had been walking around all day in flipflops, hanging out in the park, getting errands done. And then, as I was headed home I passed the gym I have been meaning to check out for months. And it felt like spring, and spring is always a good time for change, and so I walked in and joined. Fearing that I would just sit at home on the couch, eating cookies and thinking about how great it was that I joined and then never going, I rushed home, threw on t-shirt and shorts and headed back.

It's not so bad, this exercising. In fact, I kind of like it. That whole adrenaline rush thing works for me. And, I'm not nearly as out-of-shape as I had feared. I ran for 45 minutes on one of those cross-trainer machines and wasn't totally exhausted or sore. I even went again on Sunday. Neat-o. But don't worry, I promise not to become one of those girls who is always talking about the gym or anything. And I swear this is the last 'Jackie-o's fitness diary'-type post you'll see. I'm just a little excitable, that's all.

Monday, March 11, 2002
'What will sustain us through the winter?
Where did last year's lessons go?
Walk me out into the rain and snow
I dream a highway back to you'

Do you ever have that experience where you hear a song and it somehow clicks exactly with your time and place and mood and you find yourself instantly moved to tears? That happened to me yesterday. I was on this big, high-energy cleaning kick--tearing everything apart, throwing things away, laundering, rearranging, assembling new furniture--and then it was late afternoon and I was sitting there in the fading light on my stripped-down bed listening to the song quoted above. I was suddenly exhausted and terribly sad, thinking about all the things that have gone wrong and people I have let go and mistakes I have repeated. And then the song was over and there was still laundry waiting to be moved to the dryer and a vacuum cleaner ready to be lugged upstairs, oblivious to my complete shift in mood.

I know that's sort of cheesy and all, but why listen to music if not to be moved in some way? I had an email exchange with Sarah today about how if you listen to a song you love enough times, after a while it doesn't move you quite the same way. I mean, you still think it's amazing, you still want to hear it, but you also sort of wish you'd never heard it, just so you could have that experience of hearing it for the first time all over again.

Maybe that's what happens with people too sometimes, that something changes after repeated exposure and you just don't move each other quite the same way. I think that was what was making me so sad yesterday afternoon, how there are people I wish I could start all over again with, run into them at a party or on the street and introduce myself as if we'd never met and as if there weren't years of history already accumulated between us.

Unfortunately, short of a lobotomy, I don't think there's any way to erase songs or people from one's memory and so I'm stuck with what I've got. I guess it's not so bad, considering the flip side is that you know all the words and can sing along or you know what someone's going to say before they say it.

I have a confession to make: I have never done my own taxes. You see, my mother works for an accounting firm. So every year, I wrap my documents up in a neat little FedEx package and send them on their way. A couple of weeks later I get a neat little package back with X's where my signature is needed. I sign, and then presto! Money directly deposited into my bank account.

This is a great luxury that I have become quite accustomed to, but it does worry me just a tiny bit that I have little to no idea how these things work. So I have been doing some research. I found this nifty little list of things people can deduct but often overlook and thought I would post it. Who knew you could deduct anything job-search-related? If I'd known that, I could have deducted my flights to Chicago, bus tickets to New York and DC, online services, books, etc. from back when I was fresh out of college and clueless. Too late now, but still, good to know.

This tax stuff is actually kind of interesting. I have always loved filling in forms and playing with numbers. Maybe next year I will even do my taxes myself, just for kicks.

I have this thing about brushing my teeth. Once I get it in my head that my teeth need to be cleaned, some brushing needs to happen for my world to be right again. I'm not totally obsessive or anything. I don't have to brush after every meal. It depends on what I've eaten, where I am, etc. But once I get that icky-mouth feeling, there better be a tube of toothpaste, stat. (In a pinch, an Altoid or a piece of one of any number of those ultra-minty gums will do, but only until I can get to a sink.) This aspect of my personality has led me to keep toothbrushes everywhere. Besides the one in my home bathroom, I carry one in my bag and I keep one in a desk drawer at work, each with its own travel-size tube of paste, thus minimalizing the chances of any oral hygiene crisis.

I used to think that I was the only one who behaved like this. I treated it like a dirty secret, sneaking into the bathroom at work for a toothbrushing fix, hurrying so as to finish before anyone came in. Then I began to notice that there were others just like me. At certain hours of the day--just after lunch and right before most people leave--I have counted as many as three co-workers standing in a row at the stainless steel basins, their brushstrokes practically synchronized. I began to get braver: carrying my dental paraphernalia in full view, joining my colleagues at the sink, acknowledging them with a solemn nod. And it has come in handy, this comaraderie. Today, I found myself out of toothpaste and immediately thought of several people to whom I could turn in my time of need.

Yep, we are an office of toothbrushers. Slightly compulsive, but minty fresh.

Friday, March 08, 2002
One last little observation and then I am going to stop posting and go accomplish important work-type tasks, I swear.

Judging from the ridiculous number of search engine requests for 'Kmart commercial song,' 'Kmart background music' and the like that have led to my site in the past few days, I was not the only one bothered by this. And I am happy to be providing useful information to those in need. Helping ease troubled teevee-watchers' minds, just a small part of the joy that is 'normalcy.'

Listen to this song. It's so damn good. I'm on an all-things-Elvis-related kick at the moment (see 'currently reading' at left).

I've also been playing Gillian Welch nonstop. She's amazing. And this article about her and her music is well-done.

I'm back in music-buying mode after having taken a brief hiatus. This could be trouble.

Today's lesson

Xbox is evil. And my roommate is worse for bringing such a wretched machine into our house to begin with. These dark circles under my eyes? Yeah, they're from staying up until two-thirty on a weeknight in front of the television screen. The fact that my fingers are typing a little more slowly than usual? That's because they're achy from clutching the controller with an iron grip for hours on end.

I guess I have to take some of the blame. I do have a vicious competitive streak when it comes to games (see this post about Scrabble for further proof). I also have a history of obsessiveness where video games are concerned. I used to stay up playing Tetris for so long that I could still see the shapes moving behind my eyelids when I closed my eyes to try to sleep. The Nintendo had to be taken away from my younger brother and I at one point because I was oversleeping and making myself late for school and because my brother had this nasty habit of smashing the controller against the wall when he lost. Sad but true.

My roommate, he encourages me. His response to my pleas to be left alone to my reading is to offer to order pizza and to try to place the controller in my hand. You see, he works from home and so can sleep in and wander around in his pajamas all day after a late-night game session. Meanwhile I am nodding off on the subway and saying 'huh?' a lot at work. This is not okay. (See, I can recognize when things are getting out of hand. I do not have a problem, no sir.) I will not become that girl who is perpetually parked on the couch, frantically pressing the 'A' button, and leaning with her entire body to the right in the hopes of getting her onscreen character to move more quickly in that direction. Nope, I am placing self-imposed Xbox restrictions upon myself as of this very moment. Right. Now.

(Note to employers: This is what happens when you don't pay your employees enough. They are poor and then forced to sit around their house playing video games in an effort to cheaply entertain themselves. It would be to your benefit to pay them more, so then they could spend money going out and doing more interesting, character-developing things that would directly lead to their increased productivty in the workplace. Hey, are you listening? I'm making a convincing case here.)

Thanks to Cate & Conor for the link! Have fun on your road trip, you two....

Thursday, March 07, 2002
On a more humorous (but related) note, I once wrote a short story about two academics who treat jargon as foreplay. When I showed it to my professor, he recommended I read a Woody Allen story called 'The Whore of Mensa.' What I learned: Woody Allen is funnier than I am. Read it and be entertained.

I've been working on this anthology of young feminist writing. It is reminding me why I never quite made it to women's studies double major. The jargon is killing me. I read entire paragraphs that I suspect mean nothing.

Now, before you go thinking that I just don't understand it, let me tell you something: I used to write like that. Yep, I am a reformed jargonist. My senior seminar paper was called 'Post-apocalypticism and Collective Nostalgia,' for chrissakes. (The title also, in traditional academic style, involved a colon and a wordy subtitle, but I have forgotten and/or blocked out what it was). I got a kick out of throwing around terms like 'deconstruction' and 'epistemology.' I've read Foucault and Derrida. I've gone to conferences. I know all about 'the mirror stage,' 'discursive analysis,' and 'subverting dominant ideologies.' And I like knowing this stuff. I really enjoyed sitting down for hours decoding Positions. I like having these frameworks through which to think about the world.

But I can't stand writing like that anymore, nor can I stand reading it when it's not done by someone who really knows what he or she is doing. I feel like there comes a certain point where you have to climb outside your head and think about what these lofty concepts mean in terms of practical day-to-day type actions. Especially if you want to have any hope of reaching a mass audience. There are easier, more plain-language ways to express some of these theoertical terms, and I think it's worth the effort to figure out what they are.

Some suggestions for any aspiring cultural studies-type writer:
*Don't use words like 'foreground' as verbs. You are not 'foregrounding an issue,' you are 'focusing on' something.
*Never, ever use the phrase 'the way in which'--this is a pointless phrase that does nothing except add syllables.
*Finally, if you have to use a big theory term (which sometimes you do, there are some words for which there are no substitutes), make sure that you know what it means yourself and give it some sort of context and practical example.

And so that's my little semi-academic rant for the day. I'm sorry if I've bored you, but I have this words/grammar/writing fascination thing. That and working on this anthology has made me miss having a community of people with which to discuss said fascination. I will always be a word dork at heart...

Wednesday, March 06, 2002
After a good long stretch of substantial, well-crafted posts, I feel like posting mindless crap today. Please bear with me.

Yesterday's search for the commercial song somehow turned up this site. I laughed long and hard. So I thought I would post it in honor of Liz's latest revelation about her DMB-loving upstairs neighbors.

Random aside: More Songs About Buildings and Food is one of my favorite album titles ever.

Thanks to Chris, Sara, and Lee (whose responses arrived in that order) for providing the answer to yesterday's Kmart commercial song query. Special thanks to Chris for offering to send an MP3 :) Last night's Buffy-watching was made more enjoyable by the fact that I was no longer tortured when the commercial came on (note: it came on no less than three times in one hour). Of course, that couldn't save the episode, which was horribly boring. I should really just stop watching, but I have a hard time giving up on things.

For those who are curious, the song playing in the background is "These Days," which is written by Jackson Browne, performed by Nico, and appears on The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack (which is where I knew it from). It is not, as my roommate had been insisting, "some Bob Dylan song, I don't know which one."

(I think I might have broken some sort of personal record for most links in one post...)

Tuesday, March 05, 2002
Good things have been happening on the job front these days. A new editor was hired and there was some reorganization. I now work for the new editor and no longer work for one of the old editors (the messy one who I did more work for than the other two combined). Suddenly, I am able to keep up with my workload. I had been about a month behind schedule since November and now I am ahead of the game. I don't really know what to do with myself. Logic dictates that I should work ahead so that when we get the new list I will have enough time to get to do the interesting stuff instead of just the boring-but-necessary tasks. Instead, I have spent a good portion of today searching the web in an attempt to find out what song is being used as background music in this Kmart commerical I keep seeing. It's driving me crazy, so if you have any idea what I am talking about, please let me know.

In addition to the boss switch, I have just been informed that I should have books on this list (and if not this list, then definitely next list). Perhaps this means nothing to those of you outside of the publishing biz, but this is pretty damn cool. This means I will have books of my very own, which I will actually get to work on myself as opposed to assisting other people with them. Neat-o, huh? And...one of the editors I work for (the one who most definitely plays the mentor role more than any of the others) has been making sure to put me in contact with agents so that submissions start getting sent directly to me. Woo-hoo! Just when I was starting to feel like work was getting stagnant, I've been granted nifty new responsibilities. Now, if the pay would just catch up with the responsibilities, I would be all set....


Monday, March 04, 2002
Oh, before I forget, thanks to Meghan, Roland, and Lisa for the (recently-discovered) links!

After some investigation, my friend Kasey and I learned a valuable lesson this weekend: It is substantially cheaper to rent one of those mini-van U-Hauls than to rent a car (and, in some cases, to take a car). Only $19.95 plus mileage. Why don't more people take advantage of this? It seems to me that the roads should be full of them. Just think of the possibilities. You could select a designated driver and rent one for a night of drinking in the city. Everyone you haul around could chip in a couple of bucks. You would probably make money on the deal and they would all save money by not having to pay for a cab ride home. Or you could rent one for a day trip to the beach in the summer. The empty cargo area in the back would be perfect for tossing in towels and frisbees. Okay, yes, there is the line and the paperwork. And yes, there are only two real seats in the vehicle. But still, the possibilities are endless.

The reason we rented one was so that we could make a road trip to the Ikea in New Jersey. Working in publishing means that my books quickly overflow my bookshelves and so I was in need of new ones. The thing about Ikea is that you never leave with only what you came for. Suddenly, it doesn't seem good enough just to have bookshelves. You find yourself saying things like 'I've always wanted a CD tower.' Or you suddenly must have those potholders shaped like ladybugs. You've always dreamed of owning quilted ladybug items and besides, they're only two dollars each! I'm not kidding, the store inspires madness in people. I found myself racing with my cart to the self-service furniture area for fear that someone would beat me to the last silver 'Billy' bookcase.

The other thing about Ikea is that it always seems like it's going to be fun and then it's not. Here is what Ikeas (or at least NYC-area Ikeas on a weekend) are all about: Screaming children angry with their parents for dragging them away from the ball pit; customers with loud voices in standoffs over the last Husar bureau; spaced-out couples overwhelmed by the selection of kitchen cabinets, so dazed that they ram their carts into the back of your (newly-healed) ankle; and lines--massive lines of tired and hungry people wanting nothing more than to get home so that they can put themselves through the frustration of the trying task of attempting to assemble their newly-purchased furniture.

By the time I got through the line, scratching my head in wonder at the hundreds of dollars that had suddenly vacated my checking account, I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed. The problem, of course, is that exiting the store is only the beginning. There is the loading and the unloading, the cleaning-to-make-space and the assembling, the rearrangement. Just thinking about it exhausted me. By the time everything had been dragged up the stairs to my room, it was all I could do to put the Pixies CD in the player and collapse on my floor with a box of cookies. There I sat, half-catatonic, until the phone rang and distracted me from my racing thoughts of 'Where will this go?' and 'How can I possibly muster up the energy to put this together?'

Needless to say, there are unopened cardboard boxes scattered throughout my apartment, morning-after remnants of my Swedish furniture bender. I like to pretend that I will put them in their proper places tonight after work, but really they will probably remain wherever they have been dropped until next weekend, when maybe I will have recovered enough to tackle their construction. Of course, I'm thinking I should have someone help me this time. The bookcase I bought two trips ago ended up having to be leaned against the wall because I managed to put a piece in upside-down, leading to a lovely rocking effect. And the shelves I bought last trip? Yeah, they're still in the packaging because I got so frustrated trying to install the brackets so that they were level that I feared I would smash them to pieces if I didn't immediately put them out of sight.

I need help.

Friday, March 01, 2002
Aunt Jackie-o's helpful hints for cleaner living:
It might not be the best idea to wash down your caffeine-laden Excedrin Migraine pill with a full can of Coke only hours after drinking a large cup of coffee. Shaky fingers and/or blurred vision may result. Lesser side effects may include rambling (yet effervescent!) speech, excessive foot-tapping and/or pen-clicking, and multiple unnecessary trips to the mail drop just to have an excuse to walk around. Suggested treatments include the ingestion of multiple gallons of water coupled with frequent bathroom trips. If symptoms do not improve, seek the advice of a professional bartender.

The milk cartons in New York City have two expiration dates. They say 'EXP Mar 05' and then underneath that they say 'EXCEPT IN NYC: MAR 02.' The NYC date is always about three days earlier. I am perplexed by this. Are New York dairy cases set at lower temperatures than anywhere else? Or is it that we are just that far away from any cows?

These are things I think about while I am making coffee in the morning.

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