normalcy is coursing through my veins
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Big air kisses

Thanks to the following sites for recently linking normalcy:
the text obscured
This Fish Needs a Bicycle
Tell me you're crazy
twisted pear

Speaking of etiquette

Please, please, if you live in or are visiting a major city, don't ever bring hot food on the subway. You should avoid bringing food on the subway at all, but if you absolutely must eat on the run, please stick to dry items (e.g. crackers or pretzels) which give off no discernible odor. No one wants to be forced to breathe in the scent of your Whopper while trapped underground in an overcrowded car with half-functioning air conditioning and inadequate ventilation.

A special note to the woman on the train back from lunch today: The fish fry you brought onto the subway completely spoiled the delicious meal I'd just eaten. In case you were wondering (which I'm sure you weren't, as you were too busy smacking your lips and licking your fingers) the fried-fish odor mingling with the lovely scent of strangers' sweat was indeed what led me to change cars at 23rd Street. I hope you had horrible indigestion.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Maggie wrote an article about etiquette for the Morning News. You should read it. Especially if you're one of those people who takes cell phone calls during dinner.

Go see I Am Trying to Break Your Heart if it's playing anywhere near you. It's good stuff.

Monday, July 29, 2002
Beyond Some Assembly Required: The Trials and Tribulations of Air Conditioner Purchasing

Finally fed up with living on the top story of a brownstone, directly beneath the heat-trapping roof, in a tiny room not unlike an oven in the summer months, I bought an air conditioner yesterday. Hurrah, you say, and I would concur, but....

Air conditioners are heavy. I learned this lesson from my roommate and Lee, both of whom shared tales of woe involving the attempted lugging home of their own AC units. Thinking myself newly wise about these matters, I promptly called a car to pick me up at PC Richards. I even enlisted a store employee to heft the contraption into the trunk of said car. Sarah (who I had asked to come along in order to convince me that eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the next two weeks would be well worth the cool, sweet relief this machine would provide) and I then collapsed into the backseat of the car, satisfied with ourselves for having completed our mission. This self-satisfaction was unearned, however, as we had forgotten about the steep stoop up which we would have to carry the awkward cardboard box. While the sidestep method seemed a good idea at first, it resulted in an awkward angle that strained my back muscles in such a way as to make sitting in this chair right this very moment one of the more uncomfortable experiences I have encountered. Then there were two more flights.

We opted to roll the box up the stairs to the top floor, using an end-over-end technique that was only slightly impeded by the worn (and thus slippery) carpet covering the wooden steps. There was back-sliding. Toes were caught beneath box corners. Flip flops were cursed and kicked off. Sarah got a lovely view down the front of my dress as I bent over our cargo in an attempt to find someplace to grab hold. At one point, Sarah (who had not slept the night before because of the moving of her own belongings into storage) said that she felt very macho "like a big strong guy," which I somehow heard as "My dick is up high." This phrase was then repeated in fits of giggles for the duration of the Sisyphean task. Many minutes and several bruises later, we managed to haul the beast into my tiny bedroom. Again, there was celebration. I might even have done one of my gleeful dances. The hard part was over. Let the installation begin!

It should be noted here that I am one of the least mechanically inclined people on the planet. The bookshelf in my bedroom rests against the wall for support, as I assembled it incorrectly. Its base is uneven and it leans enough that it would tip over under the weight of all of those tomes without something holding it up. My last attempt at putting together Ikea furniture involved one stepped-on hammer claw (ow), two lost bolts, three bottles of Bass, and more exclamations of "Fuck!" than I can count. Knowing this about myself, I handed over the assembly tasks to Sarah (my hero!), who seemed happy to set about inserting tab A into slot B and the like and was quite competent about the whole thing. After only one brief consultation with the instructions, the pieces seemed to be in place. All that was left to do was get the monster into the window.

There was some heaving and maneuvering, some sweating and some toiling, a lot of swearing and some bad jokes, a few nasty scratches dug into the inside of my arm, but finally the air conditioner rested upon the window ledge. Then Sarah and I got nervous, envisioning our arms failing, not having quite enough strength to keep the machine from crashing the three stories to the pavement (and possibly crushing some unsuspecting passerby) below. We decided we would wait until the aforementioned knowledgeable roommate returned home. He returned and helped me move it into place, sealed it off with the piece of insulation I had previously thrown in the trash can, thinking it needless packing material. I plugged the sucker in, it rumbled to life, and cold air filled the room.

Sus and Sarah and I celebrated with a pasta with fresh pesto and grilled vegetable dinner (prepared by moi) and then christened my newly-cooled room by sitting on my bedroom floor, eating truffles and looking at photographs whilst listening to the Flaming Lips. Ah yes, we thought, this is decadence! And then a fuse blew and the power on the top floor went out. No more music, no more lights, and, saddest of all, no more air conditioning.

No problem, you say, just flip the switch. Right, well. The switch is in the basement, which can only be reached by going through the landlord's apartment. The landlords don't often answer or return their phone calls, and we believe they may have gone out of town. We still have no power. I slept in the living room last night (after having fallen down the stairs trying to lug my blankets from my bedroom in the dark). As if that weren't enough, I forgot to mention that Sarah is staying with me while she looks for the next place she will call home. Her first night involved us crashing in the too-hot living room, both of us trying to share the air circulated by the measly window fan I'd brought downstairs after the glorious Frigidaire had replaced it, in some kind of pajama party from hell. All of this on the night before the first launch meeting at which I have had to present a book.

I have been trying to call my landlord's place of employment all morning, but I keep getting a very odd busy signal, leading me to believe that he has skipped town with no plans to return. I envision him and his wife laughing as they drive at full speed in their getaway car, amused by the prospect of those crazy kids upstairs having to make do without power for the foreseeable future. I am also, just now, beginning to suspect that we have secretly been selected to appear in the latest reality television show, wherein they torture unsuspecting tenants to see how long it takes for them to crack. FYI, little hidden director person, it's probably not going to take me very long--I don't do so well without sleep. So if you want to play my breakdown for ratings, you should start working on that right now.

Says my roommate: It could be worse.
Says I: No water for eight hours a day, loud construction and a fine allergy-attack-inducing dust settling onto my sheets early each morning, no power on the second floor, potentially rotting food in the fridge, landlords who don't return phone calls. Oh, you're right, it could definitely be worse...If the house were on fire, maybe.
Says my roommate: I forgot to tell you, the house is on fire. (I'm kidding.)
Says I: Ha. No really, ha.

Thursday, July 25, 2002
Pretty Words: A Conversation in Elvis Costello lyrics

Lee: My Strunk & White is at home for no good reason.
Jackie-O: You can look at it online here. I find it odd that you can access the entire book online for free. It comes in handy.
L: That's rad. You are this year's girl.
J-O: As long as no one wants me broken with my mouth wide open, I guess
I'm okay with that. But I warn you, I might be bored to distraction being this year's girl.
L: And you probably won't practice the looks from the great tragic books that were later disgraced to face celluloid.
J-O: It's at times such as this I'd be tempted to spit, if I weren't so ladylike.
L: I know it don't thrill you, but I hope it don't kill you.
J-O: Oh, I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused.
L: And they call you a name that they never get right, and if they don't, then nobody else will.
J-O: But oh no, it does not move me, even though I've seen the movie.
L: But you go to the movies where they smash it up. You want to feel your heart pumping, it makes you feel good.
J-O: Though I try to stop it, it's like a narcotic.
L: You think it's over now, but this is only the beginning.
J-O: Don't start me talking, I could talk all night.
L: No matter what, I don't want to go to Chelsea.
J-O: It was a fine idea at the time, now it's a brilliant mistake.
L: Don't you think that I know that walking on water won't make me a miracle man?
J-O: I don't know how much more of this I can take. I'm filing my nails while they're dragging the lake.
L: These bones, they don't look so good to me.
J-O: If I am haunted, I'll call it my imaginary friend.
L: Sneaky feelings... you can't let those feelings show.
J-O: Okay, I have no response to that one except loud laughter.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Yep, it's that time again, folks. That lovely time when our managing editor stalks the hallways screaming about everyone's fucking fact sheets being fucking late again. And what the fuck is wrong with us, anyway, that we can't get our fucking jobs done in time?

Now maybe it's only because my fact sheets were turned in two full hours before the deadline, but I kind of appreciate our managing editor's frankness. For the past week, much of our office's communication has consisted of terse comments forced out between tightly clenched teeth. There is something refreshing about someone willing to scream and curse loud enough for anyone (including the head honchos) to hear, and then stomp away.

And no, I am not just sitting here satisfied while my co-workers face the managing editor's wrath. I, too, have been subjected to his angry words. I have, however, discovered that the best way to deal with this particular person's fury is to throw it right back at him. And really, who wouldn't get some satisfaction out of starting the work day with a couple of rapid-fire "Fuck yous"?

Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Cheap entertainment

When I log out of hotmail, that MSN screen with all the news headlines and assorted articles shows up. Every once in a while, I click on one of the links. Today, for obvious reasons, I followed the 'How to save cash when you're living week to week' link. It led me to a list of money-saving tips, all of which I had either already thought of or had no interest in doing. It also included this gem:

Host movie nights. Save the $30 or so you’d spend on two movie tickets, soda and popcorn by renting some videos or DVDs and making your own snacks. You can have a theme, like film noir, or something from the Molly Ringwald oeuvre.

Now, while it is funny simply to think of Molly Ringwald as having something so refined as an oeuvre, it is even funnier that her so-called oeuvre is listed right alongside film noir, as if they were comparable movie night themes.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Dear solicitors,

I expect to receive a ton of junk email in my hotmail account each time I open it. It doesn't even irk me anymore. But I wonder about you people. How effective a marketing strategy is sending out the same email to the same list of names day after day? Does anyone even open them? When I think of you, which isn't often, I imagine a room full of bored women filing their nails and bored men scratching their heads and watching the clock, all waiting for the one person out there who believes you possess WEIGHT LOSS MIRACLES to reply.

Also, a little tip for you: If you're going to send me an email advertisement, at least get my name right. Subject headings like "nigel1, you are a WINNER!" or "aaron, we have a message 4 u" are pretty much going to ensure that your messages go straight into the trash. Come on people, even the credit card offers I receive in the mail come with the correct name and address.

Just trying to be helpful.

All my best,

Saturday, July 20, 2002
If I have to be in the office on a Saturday, I suppose I should at least be grateful that I can listen to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots over and over again. Just lovely. Go there now.

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Little things

1) Inspired by Liz's elevator stories, I have one of my own to tell: Yesterday, when I stepped into the elevator, I was faced with two very preppy, very white banker guys. They were talking and seemed not to notice my presence.

Preppy Banker Guy 1 (gravely): It's like Biggie said, "Fuck a dollar and a dream."
Preppy Banker Guy 2 (nodding solemnly): Right on, man.

Why was no one in the elevator to exhange raised eyebrows with me? I had to hold in the guffaw until I rushed out the automatic doors and safely onto my floor.

2) Last night, while wandering around our neighborhood and slurping Italian ices, Lee and I discovered Southpaw. Dump and Todd Barry were playing for just eight bucks. Not that I had eight bucks, but hey. Who'd have thought there would be a little club right across from the local Key Food?

3) One of the bosses brought me cookies. This was very nice of her. I ate them and was very happy for a while, but am now crashing. This post was supposed to be witty and is rapidly plummeting toward the mundane. I blame it on the sudden sugar depletion.

Perhaps you will remember the Young Guns II Haiku Contest? Well, I wrote a haiku about Viggo Mortensen and it was a co-winner. Last weekend, I met Viggo and showed him my haiku. Sarah B. has all the details.

Okay, change in plans: How about just contributing to the Buy Jackie-O an Air Conditioner so She Can Get Some F-ing Sleep Fund? That's a much easier goal to reach. If you're feeling particularly generous, you could just order me this one. I like this one; it has a remote control.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Comments have been installed. This is a trial run. They may stay, they may go away. Enjoy.

I don't understand why the donations aren't pouring in. C'mon, people, I expected more from you.

I should have started a site like this one a long time ago. Of course, anyone who wants to make a donation to the Get Jackie-O Out of Credit Card Hell fund is welcome to email me. We'll set something up.

(Thanks to Sara for the link)

Monday, July 15, 2002
Sure signs that today is not going to go so well:

Upon arriving at work, I realized that the dress pulled from the back of the closet, the one I never wear, is one I never wear for a reason. If I bend over, I come dangerously close to exposing my bright white ass to the world. I always wear this dress with black tights, which makes the bright white ass factor less noticeable. Unfortunately, it is too hot for tights right now. So I'm pretty much going to spend the rest of the day literally covering my ass.

It took me half a cup of coffee to notice that the milk in said coffee was probably bad. The horrible aftertaste has not, as I had hoped, been obliterated by the toothbrushing. I am waiting to be horribly ill now.

I was asked to bring someone a drink today. Such requests happen very infrequently, but whenever they do, I have to fight the urge to bow upon handing over the styrofoam cup.

No less than five "urgent" things have been dropped on my desk in the last hour. These come in addition to the multiple "urgent" things I did not complete on Friday in an effort to actually take a half-day for once in my life.

I can't get that goddamned Eminem song out of my head. It follows me wherever I go--on the rerun of SNL I watched this weekend, at the gym, blasting from the tinted windows of cars on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. I loathe this song. Loathe it. And yet, "This looks like a job for me," continues to enter my thoughts approximately every 1.5 seconds. Help.

"I was dancing at a bar where people don't dance"

Everyone wave hello to Liz, who is right now probably swaying in her cubicle. When I arrived at her desk to pick up a check, she leaned toward me and stage-whispered, "I'm drunk." After a quick rundown of the night's activites (complete with demonstrated dance moves), she sat down and slurred that it was lovely talking with me. She then picked up her bottle of Poland Spring and told me she was "going to drink the water because that's what she made the water for." Highly entertaining indeed.

Disclaimer: We here at normalcy do not condone drunkenness in the workplace, but we do request that, should you find yourself in this state, you stop by our desk and dance for us. We like dancing.

Sometimes I phone you when I know you're not lonely
but I always disconnect it in time

Have I mentioned how much I love Elvis Costello? Damn Virgin Megastore and their Best of British sale for tempting me to buy more cds I can't afford.

Friday, July 12, 2002
Lee interviewed me about office hours and snack drawers, amongst other things. Go see for yourself.

Thursday, July 11, 2002
Jackie-O, Grammar Girl?

This issue came up in a conversation last night, so I thought I'd post the rule:

Farther versus Further
Though very few people bother with the difference these days, there is a traditional distinction: farther applies to physical distance, further to metaphorical distance. You travel farther, but pursue a topic further. Don't get upset if you can't keep it straight; no one will notice.

Uh, I notice.

(thanks to Jack Lynch's page for ready grammar reference)

Jackie-O, M.D.?

To the person who got here by searching for: My computer is giggling randomly: I can offer you no advice except maybe to try searching for auditory hallucinations instead.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002
While this article did not, as I had hoped, provide miracle solutions to my sleep-related difficulties, it’s still pretty interesting.

Happy birthday, Cate!

Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Jeffrey Eugenides writes about Elvis Costello. I can barely contain myself.

Monday, July 08, 2002
Lessons learned over my long weekend:

1) Bus travel is made much more pleasurable by functioning air conditioning. This lesson was learned when, after transferring to a second bus in Binghamton, I discovered that the air blowing out of the vents felt warm. Of course, the driver waited until we were fifteen minutes into our trip, in the middle of a highway running through barren upstate farmland, to announce that the air conditioning was broken, thus preventing any of us from pitching a fit to the very personable and understanding bus terminal staff. I contemplated organizing my fellow passengeres (all six of them) to bum-rush the driver and force him to pull over until an air-conditioned bus was able to come and pick us up, or, at the very least, to smash the windows so as to allow some fresh air to circulate. But it was really too hot to do anything except lie comatose in a pool of my own sweat, so that's what I did.

2) It is actually possible to gain five pounds in four days. I can even provide instructions if you wish. The instructions are easy: Eat, eat, eat, eat, sleep, eat, eat, sit around, eat, eat, eat some more, sleep. Repeat daily. This works especially well if the eating involves homemade pierogies smothered in sour cream, homemade banana cream pie, and homemade strawberry shortcake, as well as various grilled veggie products smothered in cheese. Guess who's going to the gym tonight?

3) The air in New York is indeed toxic. I always suspected, but it has now been confirmed. After a mere four days spent upstate, my skin was so happy that, upon my return last evening, Sarah was prompted to ask if I had changed my makeup routine, proclaiming that I glowed and looked wholesome. Today, less than twelve hours later, I have red, allergy-related bumps on my upper arm. Goddamned city air.

4) Lantana is a really smart film. If you don't believe me, ask my mom. Or read a review or two.

5) Lucinda Williams provides the best bus-riding soundtrack possible. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road gets my vote for best CD to take on a road trip.

6) I need to get away more often. I think this one's pretty self-explanatory, don't you?


It is with great dismay that I admit I did not get a perfect score on this grammar quiz. I missed the lie/lay question. I have read the lie/lay rules approximately five hundred times but still haven't mastered them. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002
It is true that I am here late because I have a ton of stuff to get done before leaving. It is also true that I am here late because it is hot like fire outside. I would sleep beneath my desk tonight, but alas, I have to pack for the weekend away.

More disconnected thoughts

I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Sweater's thoughts about the 4th. My weekend will be fireworks-free. I am going to my parents' house upstate, where I will recline in their (blissfully air-conditioned) living room, reading, writing and watching videos, for four days straight.

I saw the Powerpuff Girls movie this weekend and loved it, in part because there were adorable children everywhere offering their individual commentaries and in part because it's a damn good cartoon. Read more Powerpuff stuff.

I also saw Sunshine State. (Hey, it was blistering hot this weekend, what else was a girl to do but hide out at the movies?) It was also very good, but without adorable kid commentary. Here's a tip though: Don't wander into a movie on a sweltering afternoon just as the previews are starting. There just might be very few seats available. You just might have to sit in the second row, where you will be forced to contort your neck into near-impossible positions in order to watch the film. The resulting stiffness might even linger for days, causing you to briefly entertain the fantasy of suing the person(s) responsible for designing the theatre, collecting a hefty sum, and then finally being able to dig yourself out of debt. Of course, you would never do such a thing; it's really not your style...But, now that you think about it, that just might be the perfect way to show your American spirit this weekend.

Zu-wah, zu-wah, zu-wah-da-la

Confession: I like to listen to dance music while doing certain tasks at work. The lyrics are inconsequential (please see heading of this post if you need proof), so I'm not distracted by them. And I find that the repetitiveness, the steady thumping, propels me toward quick completion of data-entry-type projects like the preparation of fact sheets. The 'currently listening to' link has been updated to reflect this predilection.

A related aside: While looking up the Amazon link for World Clique, I saw that the release date was 1990. Twelve years ago. I'm getting old.

Alissa started a blog without telling me, but she has now been forgiven and linked at left. We are all about the new links these days.

Monday, July 01, 2002
New link in 'the regulars' section at left. Catherine's site is cool. Go there now.


Last night I had a dream in which I was sitting alone on a school bus seat, cracked green vinyl sticky against my legs in the heat. I was turned sideways and could see all the way to the back of the bus. I was singing a song (I am not sure which song, but I have this sneaking suspicion it was a Fiona Apple song. Don't ask.) really loud. Half of the other people on the bus (all adults, although it was clearly a school bus) were staring in awe, while a few other pointed and laughed. And I just kept singing and picking at the hole in the seat, glancing up occasionally. I had no idea where we were going or who anyone else was, but I was really into the singing. And I couldn't really hear anyone else's voice, just mine. It was kind of creepy. I guess that's what I get for watching Vertigo right before going to sleep.

This morning I played Outkast loud and danced around my room while getting ready for work. I cracked myself up thinking about the look that would be on my roommate's face if he returned from his trip at exactly that moment, to find me dancing around in a towel, singing, "Burn muthafucka, burn American dreams," into my hairbrush handle.

I am currently drooling in anticipation of the soy macaroni and cheese I am going to be eating for lunch. No one should be this excited about soy cheese.

< # blog girls ? >