normalcy is coursing through my veins
Friday, August 30, 2002
An amazing limited-time offer

If you come over to my desk in the next fifteen minutes with a boom box held over your head and "Bang the Drum" blasting from the speakers, I swear to God I'll marry you straightaway. I mean it. I need to hear that song. Now.

Amy did not forget to take pictures. Go check them out.

Thursday, August 29, 2002
I forgot to take pictures

Today, I met Lee and Amy for lunch at Chat n' Chew, home of NYC's best mac and cheese. Now, amazing mac and cheese aside, this would not have been a particularly noteworthy occasion had it not been Amy's first trip to the Big Apple and her first in-person meeting with yours truly! Needless to say, comfort food was consumed, stories were told, laughs were had. And yes, in case you were wondering, Amy is as neat-o a person as her blog would indicate. (Lest you underestimate the power of the word neat-o, it is high praise in Jackie-O-speak). Sadly, the title of this post is true. I didn't remember to bring my camera. Next time.

(Amy, I hope you had a safe trip home. And I'm not kidding about those books, you know. I expect a full report on my desk Tuesday morning.)

I'm just going to let this link speak for itself.

(Thanks to Sarah for pointing me to it.)

Smart like a cookie

So remember how I said it was going to rain and that carpeted sidewalk was going to be transformed into a swamp o' nastiness? Yeah, it happened.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002
The new plan

Buy a guitar and start writing country songs.

When I was a kid, I used to croon along with Patsy Cline with an obviously affected twang. I had daydreams about singing at county fairs and ending up at the Grand Ole Opry. I still prefer drinkin' to drinking. I am oddly drawn to cowboy boots.

This plan could work, don't you think?

Monday, August 26, 2002
Swept under the rug

One of the hotels around the corner from my office building seems to be housing the U.S. Open players. Every morning last week there were Official U.S. Open Vehicles parked in front of said hotel. There was also a temporary walkway set up so as to route sidewalk traffic around the entrance to the hotel, where there seemed to be renovations going on. Today, when I walked past, I saw the end result of these renovations. They have carpeted a fifty-odd-foot expanse of sidewalk directly in front of the hotel entrance. Yes, folks, you heard me correctly, these crazy people have covered a New York City sidewalk in thick pile in order (I would assume) to impress tennis players.

This idea is a disaster in so many ways. First, the carpet is a beige-ish color. Already it is scarred by black marks from luggage cart wheels and dirty footprints. In addition, the sky is currently threatening rain, at which point the rug will undoubtedly become a soggy swamp into which the stilettos of some of the non-tennis-affiliated hotel guests will sink, possibly resulting in turned ankles, not to mention unsightly water spots on expensive leather. Second, this is a temporary venture and thus a huge waste of materials. In a week or two, it will all be torn up and scrapped, revealing the familiar worn concrete beneath. Third, it doesn't make any sense. If you were really trying to impress tennis players, wouldn't you install a temporary walkway covered in grass or clay? You know, to make them feel at home. Finally, they have to think of average workers like me, unsuspectingly stumbling upon this plush sidewalk on their morning stroll. Do they have any idea how jarring it is to take one step and be transported from pounding footsteps and deli-meat-scented air to soft strides and new-carpet smell? I mean, I can handle such an interruption of routine, sure, but there are others who might not be so stable. I worry for them.

Thursday, August 22, 2002
"I can't believe that!" said Alice.
"Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."
Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are childhood favorites of mine. And no, I'm not one of those people who likes it because of the drug references and such. I own no black light posters or mushroom-shaped candles. I am simply in love with the magic of the stories. Lewis Carroll was brilliant. I can recite Jabberwocky from memory. All you have to do is ask.

I am not doing so well with words at the moment, so there will be a vacation photo instead.

Yes, it's dark and grainy. I like to maintain an aura of mystery.

(Thanks to Liam for sending along a big batch of photographs.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2002
I, Ms. Jackie-O, have arrived safely back in the city. You may now rest easy.

There will be stories, but there is currently too much to process for me to craft a quality post. Be patient, please?

Monday, August 19, 2002
My Throat is Filled With Needles: Why you should feel sorry for, and then turn quietly from, Lee.:

For the past four days I have ingested little more than fruit juice. There was Welch's Harvest Blend, a multi-vitamin combination of white grape, apple and pear juices. This was followed by a cranberry and apple blend, fortified with calcium and multi-vitamins. Interspersed throughout was the drinking of a liter of V-8. I have also ingested about three to four gallons of water.

This is not the mark of a new diet. I am not trying to flush my system in an attempt to purify myself before making a big decision, or going to sleep. Instead, I am sick as an angry mule.And slowly, slowly, I am recuperating. But slowly is just not fast enough. And here is the trouble: my throat is filled with needles. It is possible that my throat is filled with needles of the strep brand, but I wouldn't know because my medical insurance has yet to kick in, so to speak.

But, oh, it gets better, regarding the medical insurance. I was informed today, in an impromptu rendevous with a member, I suspect, of Human Resources, that my medical insurance will not cover any pre-existing medical condition previously covered under any other insurance for at least eighteen months. The example given was Hodgkin's disease. Now, I do not have Hodgkin's disease, which I related jokingly, and with am upward tilting head and smirking laugh. Then, I was told that this does not just mean Hodgkin's disease, or the serious diseases, but really just about anything that I was ever covered for prior to being covered by this medical insurance. My asthma wheezed, and my allergies broke out in a series of congestions and rashes. Not the thing this currently ailing body needed to hear. Head hung, I retreated to my desk whereupon I commenced to type important documents all day.

My throat still hurts. Hear me whine. Send me medicine. My address is on the back of the reply card.

Thursday, August 15, 2002
Why I left upstate New York, a short essay by Jackie-O

Every once in a while, when it's ninety-nine degrees in Manhattan and I'm fighting my way past the idiots on the unbearably hot subway platform only to be pushed out into the polluted air and honking horns at street level, I wonder why I moved to the city. Then, I come back to central New York, and it all becomes clear.

Today I took a bus to Syracuse, where my friend Julie was so kind as to pick me up. We decided to have dinner there before driving the forty-five minutes to her house. She suggested Thai food, which made me happy, as I like Thai food very much. We drove to the Thai restaurant, only to find the parking lot beyond full. This surprised me a little, so I asked Jules what was going on. She informed me that the Trans Ams and Camaros flooding the lot were spillovers from the Bennigan's next door, which has a happy hour special on Thursdays. For those of you not familiar with Bennigan's, it is not a fine dining establishment. I was having trouble understanding the appeal. That is, until I saw the clientele stumbling back from the tent (oh yes, there was a tent set up in the scenic Bennigan's parking lot) to find their badly parked cars.

A sampling:
Guy with white (yes, white) mullet; woman with big, permed blonde hair behind wheel of ugly white sportscar, scary overtanned woman making out with scary bald boyfriend in muscle tee against hood of ugly teal sportscar. You get the idea.

After we had circled the same small patch of concrete for about ten minutes, a helpful man in white knee socks pulled all the way up rapped on Julie's window and told us "they" were making everyone leave the parking lot who wasn't supposed to be there. We kindly informed him that we were actually trying to go to the Thai restaurant, at which point he looked perplexed and walked away.

Finally, we were able to pull into a space and enter the restaurant, where all of four tables were occupied. After a nice meal, we retunrned to our own personal yellow-lined hell. The plaintive wail of Alanis Morrissette's "You Oughta Know" floated on the breeze from the beer tent. Ah, we thought, what a perfect after-dinner serenade. No, that's not true. We actually had to resist the urge to press our hands to our ears. Just as the ears were about to begin bleeding, we noticed something strange. In one of those truly magical moments where the crowd comes together to form one cohesive voice, the Bennigan's folk were crowing along with the song. Alanis, they seemed to be saying, we, too, have crosses to bear. We, too, are here to remind you. And yes, he really oughta know.

Dumbstruck, Julie and I stared at each other in open-mouthed horror as the crowd burst into applause. Was it possible that we had somehow missed the news of Alanis's Bennigan's tour? Or was it just that these people were too drunk on two-dollar Pabsts to realize that the radio can't hear them?

Let me tell you, we peeled out of that parking lot as fast as we could, all the while wondering how we managed to turn out semi-sane after being raised in such environs. I say semi-sane because the car conversation included talk of Jules's obsession with Peter Cetera...but that's a post for another time.

Last night the staff of Lee saw them some Beck.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Wisdom from the roadside:

Driving through Millport, New York on Route 14, there are some interesting signs to be read. I think I've already written about the Taxes + Taxidermy sign (although it's certainly worth mentioning again). Well, today, as we drove through, I noticed a sign next to a greasy diner. The sign read: JESUS LOVES YOU. I have a fondness for reading messages such as these out loud, in the most deadpan voice possible. Today I was feeling particularly inspired, so I turned to Beth, my faithful traveling companion, and said: "Jesus loves me, this I know, because the billboard tells me so." Laughter ensued.

Jackie-O Returns (briefly)

I am in the midst of a short stopover at the parents' house before continuing on my journey to Maine for Jeff and Amy's wedding. I couldn't resist an update. My vacation (thus far) in numbers:

Days on vacation: 5.5
Bus trips taken: 1
Bus trips remaining to be taken: 2
Hours spent in car: approximately 10
Hours remaining to be spent in car: approximately 18
Allergic reactions to sunscreen: 1
Benadryl tablets swallowed: 4
Mosquito bites incurred: 6
New people met: 11
Wine tastings attended: 4
Wine glasses broken: 1
Speedboat trips taken: 4
Sailboat trips taken: 0
Falling stars seen while lying on dock: 12
Books read: 2.5
Hours slept: 38
Dollars spent: 54

I think I like the looks of most of those numbers, don't you?

Pouty and Shaded With a Bit of Remorse: What should have been a simple day in the life of Lee.:

Yesterday, I was ill. So ill, in fact, that I left work early to go home and sleep. Sleep, perchance to heal. And yet, it was not a normal trip home at all. The subway was rife with activity. There first being three girls, probably high school girls although one looked old enough to be midway through college. Two of them were energized and of high spirits. The third, however, did not crack one smile, and barely looked at the other two. A fun time out on the city was not entirely in the cards.

After they departed from the train, my sleepy attentions drifted to a couple chatting in the corner. Upon what was to be known later, I admonish myself gently for not paying close enough attention to the woman's reactions on the train, though my delerium is to be held partly accountable for vagueness of detail. Either way, when we arrived at the station, ascending in the elevator to the street level, I did then note that while he was snapping fingers and smiling broadly in the most Anglo-Saxon of ways, she was pouty and shaded with a bit of remorse. There was a gold band on his ring finger. I did not see one on hers.

The walk home was uneventful enough, until I arrived at the apartment itself, where things spiraled downward in the most dramatic and humorous of ways. First, this must be told: I am housesitting. As such, there are small details of the house that I am unfamiliar with. Here is one: the lock on the door has a large switch on the inside. I had been flicking it earlier to get the door to lock on its own from the outside. Quite clever of me, yes. Little did I know that the switch would work the same whether I was outside or in. And of course, there is no keyhole on the inside. And so, feeling more ill than before, really just wanting to go to sleep, but knowing of course that in a few hours I would have to leave and move the car (for those of you unfamiliar with the practice of alternate side of the street parking, be thankful), I closed the door behind me. Then, I turned to go back out in order to purchase some Pedialyte on the advice of a friend, and some sore throat drops because vomiting makes my throat burn. The door did not open.

Oh, drama of dramas. But, you must remember that I was already feeling dreary and you know how you just want everything to work out desperately perfect when you are sick? That was me. Only, I was locked inside the house. Then, I went to the backdoor, thinking I could maybe hop out onto the street (this house backs up to other houses). No such luck. Instead, I slammed my finger in the door. Front window? Barred. But... I thought... I could get somebody to come over and let me out. But who?

Two phone calls later, roommate is on her way over. Thank God. I passed out for thirty minutes while she hopped on the subway to let me in. We walked out to the street, and parted at the drug store where I went for a bottle of grape flavored Pedialyte. That stuff is genius. I drank the liter, and passed in and out of consciousness, finally waking long enough to watch Black Narcissus and an episode of First Person by Errol Morris. It reminded me that I want to add a link to his website on that you., and I will go do that now.

Monday, August 12, 2002
This post is dedicated to the word Moist.

This morning was my first back in the New York commuting melange after ten days of relative calm in the Midwest. I suppose it's always hard, adjusting one's self back into the speed and abruptness of subway survival... this morning I almost ripped a few people New Ones before even getting onto the damn train. Add to this the fact that I'm staying with a friend for a few weeks and today was my first time trying out a new route. So I hopped on the L train at Lorimer and found myself standing with my ear directly in front of the open mouth of a young man of Eastern European descent. He and his friend stood conversing loudly (and of course I neurotically suspected them of saying lewd things about me in whatever language they're barking on in) in an otherwise quiet car. Then one of them pulled out a pack of gum and offered a piece to the other. They commenced chewing, still open-mouthed, still maintaining full volume in their conversation. Now they're barking in Yugoslavian and chomping on their gum, loudly and with total disregard for my delicate and rapidly-growing-more-and-more-annoyed ear canal which was one foot away. Like old senile people without teeth smacking their gums, only they were young and had all of their teeth. Absolutely the most vile sound I can imagine. I'm imagining it now, and... ugh, UGH. I edged frantically away as soon as space opened up, but it felt to me that there was just nowhere to go in that car that the moist, sloppy sound of their gum chewing wouldn't follow me. It was on me.

At Union Square I bolted from the train, the echo of their saliva-laden cud swishing in my sullied ears. I settled onto the 6 train because the 4,5 had just left and I figured I had the time. And just as the train doors are closing, who jumps onto my train? Into MY car? The fucking Europeans! Two stops later (fucking six train! fucking dead batteries in my Discman!), one of them had settled into the seat next to mine (of all the seats!) while the other one stood holding the bar to my right (of all the fucking bars!). My eyes were clenched shut as I sat there praying that I could will myself into temporary deafness. Punishment? Is this some sort of punishment?

Just as I found myself at the threshhold, unable to keep my upper and lower palates from staying locked together any longer, the fucking Europeans ambled off loudly at the 33rd Street exit. Sanity restored itself quickly. The End.


postscript: I really don't have a problem with Europeans in general. I know lots of nice ones, actually. In the current world climate, being an American, I suppose I shouldn't be throwing stones. But I'm still a little pissy about this, so there you have it.

Friday, August 09, 2002
Amy here, back in my guest-posting spot. I'm going to attempt to not fall on my face and upset the masses during the one-and-only Ms. O's short absence. So, in that attempt, I bring haikus. Not world-class haikus, but the fact that they concern two things that dreams are made of should be enough. (Note that I know haiku writing is nothing new. It's been all the rage more times than I can count, but the fact that I'm a poetry idiot [And it shows!], makes this attempt new and fresh.)

The Main Course

southwest chicken, small.
no tomatoes, i will wretch.
worship subway. drool.

made with love and with
plastic gloves. oh subway, please
go steady with me.

not easy, i swear.
but take me to subway and,
you'll get under there.

Washed Down With

ice cold caramel color.
hope i don't die now.

I know, I know. Not enough Diet Coke love, but you'd be surprised how hard the word phenylalanine is to work in there. You'd also be a little disturbed if you knew how many times I've used it today alone.

Friday, August 02, 2002
Status report

Physical state: a little sleepy
Emotional state: happy but for brief waves of ire directed at a certain author who shall remain unnamed (much the same way I remain unnamed in the acknowledgments section of his book, despite the fact that I have read and line-edited four drafts)
Song playing in head: Rebel Rebel
Song playing on speakers: I Saw Reflections
Looking forward to: leaving the office, seeing Signs
Dreading: walking through unbearable heat to the subway
Chuckling to myself about: a certain scene involving a romantic moment and an intrusive horse in The Lady Eve
Wishing you all: a lovely weekend

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