Monday, July 30, 2007

Unintentionally incorrect yet pretty correct

"Temporally out of order!" the sign on the laundromat ATM announced. "Will be fixed soon."

"Sorry!!" the sign seemed to add as an afterthought.

"Well, that's not right," I started, looking up from my book. Then hastily rethinking I added, "...technically."

I mean, it wasn't working for the moment, wasn't it? So that's pretty temporal. And it was the physical being of it that wasn't working, right? I mean if software could be thought of as the soul of this thing, then if it was just a broken button or flapper or what have you, maybe it would be running fine if it was just in another machine. That was temporal, no? And it is a thing of this earth. So the fact that it wasn't working now hear didn't mean there weren't a million other manifestations of it into time immaterial and or other existences that weren't working, no? If this machine eventually breaks down and they take it apart into pieces, those pieces may not function, but at this moment right now this ATM was not functioning as the whole and sum of those pieces. I mean it was working at some point in time and will be working again soon. So temporally might be even more correct than the probably intended "temporarily." Hell, why was I assuming that the person even meant temporarily? Maybe the sign maker really did mean to say temporally. Maybe he grasped something about this ATM's existence that nobody else really was willing to contemplate.

"Wow, I really, really need to learn that when I start thinking about something I need to stop about one or two sentences in because that was a big bowl full of hot crazy," I thought, mildly embarassed. Vocalization had been the only thing separating me from the loud homeless guy at the 53rd St./Lexington station. Who needed weed when you lived with a brain that worked like this sober? I decided going back to my book would be a good idea.

Postcards from London

Using all avenues to try and reach as many people I know as possible:

Same drill as when I went to Ireland folks. I'm going to be sending postcards from London because...well, I just love snail mail. There I said it. I haven't really had a chance to send much out recently, and I miss it. I still refuse to use e-billing for a lot of my bills just so I can stamp things and put them in the mailbox...that's how sick I am.

I won't be going to London until September, but I'm gonna start gathering those addresses now considering how absentminded I can be, so send those addresses on over if you want some posted mail lovin' from yours truly.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I follow people real easy

On Friday I went to check out The XYZ Affair. It was almost an afterthought since I was pretty tired by the end of the week and was planning on going home on Friday to sleep then utilize the other days of the week for...well, whatever you utilize weekends for. I hadn't really thought that part through. The first and last time I'd seen them play was a couple of months ago when I went to see The High Strung (not when The High Strung played with Richard Lloyd from Television...that was a story all to its own involving Richard Lloyd and I can't remember if I told it here already) and I really liked "The Young Philosopher." Recently they debuted a video for "All My Friends" that starred some high-level folks like Marc Summers, Michael Maronna (aw, Big Pete), and Ferguson effin' Darling himself Jason Zimbler (and he looks nothing like Ferguson now, go watch the video).

Anyhow, I decided to go finally because just going home seemed so lame no matter how tired I was because I liked their sound.

After their set I found myself yawning over and over again and decided not to stick around for the last act. I ambled over to the front of the Mercury Lounge to grab myself a CD and head on home. While standing there a girl told me, "Hey, you look familiar."

I looked around in an almost comical way though I wasn't doing it to be funny, but really thought she was talking to someone else. I answered, "Um...really?"

"Did you grow up in Albany?" she continued.

Now I was even more puzzled and wanted to get to the bottom of this as well, "...Nnnnoooooo...."


Her friend asked her why'd she assume someone grew up in Albany just because they looked familiar. The girl questioning me retorted that it was a valid question.

"So where'd you grow up?" she asked me.

"In Korea actually...kind of the opposite of Albany..." I said.

We kind of figured out that she probably saw me at the last XYZ Affair show since I have the habit of trying to stand near the front at shows. She then declared she wanted to stop by a deli across the street and asked me if I wanted to go. I answered, sure why not.

Sure, why not. People, I realized recently that I have trouble saying no to social engagements. I always answer in the positive before fully thinking it through. Not that I'm saying this girl gave me any reason to say no. She and her friend were perfectly nice and friendly, but later on she even told me, "Wow, I hope that wasn't weird of me to ask you to follow me to a deli."

For the first time in the couple of minutes I got to know her I actually realized what I'd done and answered, "Nah, I think I just follow strangers well..."

It's true. Someone will say they are doing something or going somewhere and will ask me if I feel like doing said thing or going to said place and I always answer automatically, "Sure!"

Sometimes, immediately after answering, I'll find myself doing the thinking then going, "Shit, were they asking just to be nice? Fuck, do I even know these people? What the hell did I just say yes to??"

This doesn't happen all the time. I'm not saying someone drives up in a white van with a bag of candy and asks me to help them look for their lost cat and I'm there or something. More like usually the context is I'm talking to someone I'm just getting to know or even people I know and as the conversation goes along on its appointed track it gathers that sort of friendly, fun momentum so that when someone pops in a "Oh, hey, by the way, I'm doing this at my house!" I going along with everyone going, "Awesome! Yea!" I go, "ME TOO!" Obviously someone giving off creepy vibes like squiggly stink lines isn't going to trigger this response. I'm just sort of game for things though.

I'm not really mad at myself for having developed this "Sure, why not" reflex since a lot of pretty cool things that have happened to me in the past year or so have been a result of this. Getting to know people, chilling at their house, going out and grabbing drinks, hanging out in new places doing some new things, it's all good stuff. However, I'm thinking I might have to reign it in a bit.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The slow inexorable march towards douchebaggery

I fear I'm becoming more of a douchebag as of late. Or I'm just becoming more of a New Yorker by the moment! (Heeeeyoooooo! Come on, it was funny, kind of.)

So after maintaining for years that I refuse to purchase or wear sunglasses because they make me look like a douchebag, I have given in. I don't think sunglasses make you a douchebag per se, but I've never been happy with how I look in sunglasses. They were just not for me. Those who know me know I've had this same argument with my glasses for years.

I've always maintained I look like a dork in glasses. Not that everyone looks like one in glasses, but just as there are people who make glasses look like an extension of themselves, there are those that look as awkward as a sloth with a lorgnette in glasses. I am of the latter group. And not just that they look wrong on me, that they make me look like a total dork.

The reason I gave in to sunglasses are very...douchebaggy. Vanity has gotten the better of me. Remembering hearing somewhere that starting around your mid-20s is when women begin to lose the elasticity in their skin and where skin damage begins to set in permanently, I decided I needed a pair of sunglasses for the summer so that I didn't have crows feet by the time I was 30. Sadly enough, it's also the same reason why I've started taking multi-vitamins.

Even though I'm the type of person who always hated being in direct sunlight and would find shade to hide in and practically died in the summer, my bad eyesight made me sensitive to sunlight so I squint quite a bit in brightness whether or not the light is very strong or if I'm directly in it.

I decided to solve the douche problem the same way I solved my dork glasses problem. Look for the cheapest, most obnoxious pair I can find that I'm in love with.

I did not get glasses until I was starting college. I always had bad eyesight in one eye, but when I was going to pack and leave for school several hundreds of miles away on another continent, my mom became terribly worried about the mystery headaches I'd been getting throughout the years. I've had blood tests for it and even X-rays. Some doctors suggested maybe I was dehydrated (could be), but also sometimes I'd get headaches that had a lot of the typical migraine symptoms such as spots of light that'd warn me that soon the waves of nausea would hit me and I'd roll around in bed for the whole day moaning with an intense headache and feeling like I had to throw up. However, none of the doctors thought I had migraine issues.

So while getting a check up to get myself a prescription for glasses, I was informed that my right eye's eyesight was severely deficient compared to my left. I had been fine so far because the good one was carrying the brunt of the work. There was also a chance that this imbalance and eyestrain could cause...ah-ha! Headaches! Anyhow, it was suggested that while preferably I should maybe wear glasses, that I should at least have them around to wear while I was reading or on the computer extensively just to prevent further eyestrain.

So off to get glasses I went. Unfortunately, I dreaded this since I was pretty sure I'd find nothing that would look right on me. Sure enough, no frame, thin, frames, colored frames, everything just made me look weird. While my mom discussed in hushed concerned tones with the framesmonger about how to solve this problem I quickly scanned the display and decided on some thick, plastic, black frames. It didn't seem like it was trying too hard to look hip, it reminded me of the army-issued frames, and I figured, "Hey, if I'm going to look like Dorkstein McAsswipeston, let's go whole hog."

My mom AND the framesmonger both looked highly skeptical when I held them up, but when I put them on it was an "aaaahh~" type of moment. I had found my glasses, and at least I looked like an actual dork instead of a dork not trying to look like one and it worked.

I found myself in the same situation looking at sunglasses at one of the cheapo stalls on St. Mark's. I knew they were going to be the pair I bought as soon as I laid eyes on theme. The frames were a slight translucent red that melded into the magenta coloring of the shades. The actually hook part that went over your ears was silver with a kind of weird art deco type of design to it. I doubted myself and tried on a couple of others, but I ended up walking out the store with the red sunglasses and another pair just like it in black. I looked like a douchebag, but hey they were only $6 and I'm way more comfortable working the fact that I look like a douchebag in them than trying to find the most understated normal pair.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Crumbs of the weekend

A bit of randomness going on in my head on my way down to the Jersey for a friend's birthday.

"Look at how fluffy the clouds are on top yet so flat on the bottom," I said. The train sped along smoothly providing a contrast between the swiftly changing scenery on the ground and the slow-paced flow of the clouds above. The sky was impeccably blue.

"I think its a type of cumulus," I informed no one in particular in my head.

A few moments of silence lapsed.

"I almost said cumulonimbus, but I think those are storm clouds," I continued. "But the weather hardly looks like it'll take a turn for the worse. I assure you, if we started seeing some anvil-shaped clouds, that's what we should be worried about."

No one in particular thought no one really asked for any assuring, but nodded in a noncommital way.

"It's strange the things you remember. I hadn't studied about clouds since the fifth grade," I marvelled guilelessly.

No one in particular humored me with silence.

Neko Case at SummerStage 7/20

Ed. note: A bit late, but I actually wrote this beforehand, but ended up wondering if I should edit the content a bit or not and forgot about posting it. It was a bit personal, but I liked how it read and I haven't written longform like this in a while. I don't know, seeing Neko live again after a couple of months, the weather, the setting must've brought out the memories, emotions, and the whinyass writer in me; after a stressful couple of weeks working long hours I guess I felt like I had to vent. It was also a bit long. However, after having recently confirmed that the posting of this in its original form with post-mortem relationship talk probably won't set off drama bombs (I'm hoping) since all parties involved seem relatively over it, I'm offering it in its entirety. I really did like the original form anyway. It's no Hemingway, but it's I wish I could crank out this much more often.

I had never been to SummerStage. Considering it was free, I figured you had to camp out beforehand to get any chance at decent seating. I work relatively near where SummerStage is and didn't really have an excuse, but the fact that it started at 7 with gates opening 90 minutes beforehand still left me wary with my stuffy office job that ended too dangerously close to 7. However, having missed a chance to see the for free New Pornographers with Kate, and absolutely adoring Neko Case, I decided to brave it out. It was a sea of giant ridiculous sunglasses, awkwardly cut/tailored hip dresses, tight pants and "they must've done it on purpose" bad haircuts to view at to your heart's delight. I arrived before Kate, and glumly sat on one of the ineffective bleachers to sadly text her that "Seats are ass. I think standing might be better if you want to see anything."

Though was it really about seeing Neko? I mean, it'd be great yes, but Neko's voice. That voice! I began to think...

Neko Case was the soundtrack of the months-long death rattle and eventual demise of my previous relationship. Tolstoy famously wrote at the beginning of Anna Karenina, "All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I posit that no matter how unique or perfect you thought your relationship was, all break ups are pretty much the same. Mine had a lot of things going on in it that probably doomed it or something, but the general cause of it was the cliched tumble of long-distance, lack of communication, and "irreconcilable differences."

"In California" had always been a favorite of mine. One of those random songs I can listen to over and over again. However, the lyrics about setting out on your own to an unfamiliar place in hopes of some vague success and leaving someone you care for that didn't seem to understand your situation or reasons for leaving hit a little too close to home the first couple of months that I moved to New York. I had effectively given up a chance to finally be closer to someone I had been involved with for a while if I had just stayed in Chicago, even though until the very last moment I had to make a decision I scrabbled a bit to try and see if there would be any way for me to stay even if I worked at a Borders or something until I found a Chicago job, packed up and moved to a new city and dealt with all the myriad of the usual stressful situations a broke 20-something year old with college debt goes through. Though the lyrics sang of the Black Dahlia and the 405, the line "It's the same old town that bled her try/One more starlet one more time/Bound to make it do or die," seemed to fit with the sentiments I felt about big and bustling New York and the scary new real world job that was actually using my degree.

"I remember your face when I showed you the ticket/Said you were happy for me, your heart wasn't in it/Just a phone call away/Now there's nothing to say/As the days roll by, disconnected," Neko would croon each time the song would pop up on my music player. For example, there'd been the overblown arguments the first couple of months when I started the job, when I'd fall asleep mid-conversation late at night due to not being used to a 9-5 schedule and just simply being exhausted from the stress of being at work. Me explaining that I wasn't doing it on purpose and him frustrated and telling me how thoughtless it was. There'd be my sulky indignation when he'd finally snap and tell me he really didn't feel like hearing about how sad and lonely I was in New York when I'd snap back that I'd had talked him through his own frustrations about the people and situations he was meeting in grad school.

If I had to pinpoint a moment where shit started going down, it was one particular low blow that was the harbinger and the beginning of the end. It was winter when I'd planned to go visit him, but right as I was about to cement things I got a call from my mom calmly informing me that she might be getting a divorce from my dad. He had punched her in the face during an argument the night before and was now in jail. She wasn't sure, but all she was worried about was my brother and how she'd provide for him. While my ongoing parents' storied history physical, verbal and emotional turmoil was nothing new to me, for years I had wanted my mom to get out of her marriage and seeing the chance I was hysterical on the phone telling her that she shouldn't worry and to send my brother to come stay with me while she figured things out or went back to Korea or whatever, but just send him to me. She said she'd consider it and I informed the then boyfriend about this, saying how there's a chance how I couldn't make it this time around, but maybe we could reschedule. Somehow this turned into an argument about how I obviously was not as committed to this relationship if I couldn't visit which just blew my frazzled mind at the time because:

a) my DAD was in JAIL because he PUNCHED my MOM in THE FACE. He knew about problems my parents had had. Maybe not in detail, and I'm sure I didn't tell him everything because I had gotten into the habit of keeping a lot of thing about my parents to myself throughout the years*, but just that it was something not good, and even if he didn't know all the history beforehand...

b) DAD was in JAIL because he PUNCHED my MOM in THE FACE. How can someone not respond to that in shock and understanding that I was trying to get her away from that situation, and if it meant having my brother be with me for a while, then so be it. I wasn't blowing him off to go to Cancun with my friends, I had a real family emergency going on here.

c) And in a mildly related note, in the midst of all my sputtering and teetering between being pretty fucking angry about his response and also capitulating in trying to convince him that "Yes I cared about him and wanted to see him, but just couldn't. How about Spring Break? A weekend? I'll take vacation days off then." and him answering, "No. No. No." to each option because he would be too busy studying, it made me remember how he'd told me how I was being "kind of creepy" a little while back when I was upset he couldn't visit me. I mean come on, how do you get over the fact your own boyfriend called you creepy for missing him? I wasn't setting up a shrine and killing puppies, I had just commented on how I had cried because I was sad and disappointed I couldn't see him and probably won't see him in months.

As you can tell, the last bit with my mom and brother still stings a bit to this day. I can admit to that. While I'm over a lot of things, yes, a small irrational part of me still wishes that someday he'll apologize for that one. I know he won't, but that's just how a feel about it because that was one of the worst points in my life when a lot of bad shit sort of converged at one point and I can put aside my being nice and polite for one moment that unlike all the other situations in the relationship, this one for 100% was an asshattish thing to do without any doubt of who did what. It wasn't just that it was about me. This was different, it was about my family, and when it comes to my mom and my brother I don't suffer bullshit gladly.

In the next month or two, "Set Out Running," started to nag at me more and more. I just simply felt he was not happy with me. I wasn't blaming anyone. This wasn't one of those breakups where someone fucked up immensely. When people would ask me why I broke up with him afterwards, I really couldn't give much of an answer except, "It's complicated, there were a lot of little things." The reason I gave him and the reason I knew myself was that it just seemed the longer we were involved the more and more happy he was to be with me. Not that he'd admit to this. Instead he'd turn around the argument to, "Why can't you believe that I like you? I can't tell you that I like you all the time. God, don't give me that martyr complex." I wasn't trying to do him any favors, in fact I was trying to tell him I have no desire to be with someone that makes me feel like they don't want to be with me regardless if they do or not. It doesn't matter how many times you tell someone you like them when all you do is pick a fight or find something you don't like about them, it feels like you don't want to be with them. You know, the fun type argument no one's going to be winning and it's pointless to figure out who's right in because probably nobody is. I just wanted him to listen and acknowledge that he'd heard what I was saying, but no matter how I couched it to him it was something personal and it just sounded like I was pointing out that he was a big jerk. It started to resemble a bad, 90s, stand-in-front-of-brick-wall, stand up comedy act, "What is up with men and why won't they listen? When a woman says this, a man hears this. Am I right, folks?"

By the end of the relationship I found myself walking on eggshells about a lot things to not spark yet another argument. Early on, he used to get annoyed when I'd mention something about my school. I'd describe something or some such and while he'd be fine sometimes, there'd be the rare times he'd say something that felt like he'd hold a grudge against the school I went to. Something like "Well, I wouldn't know that since I don't go to some kind of private school." I eventually rationed out things I said about my school, but he also seemed to have gotten over it over time so that wasn't a big deal, but just as an example. Then there was music. Before we had started "dating" we'd been friends to some degree and my love of music and live shows was not unknown to him, however I'd notice more and more he'd poke in a comment about how he "just didn't get X" or how he'd "never heard of X."

One fateful evening after I had gone into rapturous descriptions after having seen my favorite band and being fairly impressed with some of the opening acts, he laid down the law that he never wanted to hear about my favorite band ever again even though before this incident he'd started listening to them per my suggestion and knowing I liked them even included them on a mixed CD he'd given me once. So I started not saying much about bands or bands I went to go see unless he asked. I don't know, I'm not real talkative but I talk a lot about things I like, so was I rubbing it in his face? Who knows. Afterwards, I'd try to keep music talk tight and short so I didn't sound like gushing about it, which is hard when you're the type of person to gush over music. I once told a band, "Well, I'm generally in love with music all the time, but I can definitely say that at the moment I'm in lust with the sound of this band."

It wasn't a matter of feelings, it was all there yes, and I believed them, but I guess the best way to describe how I felt about it was that I started feeling like that friend seeing a friend being in a destructive relationship in my own relationship. Like I said, I was his good friend, or at least thought I was, before all this, and I finally went, "Uhoh, this is that same creeping feeling I get when one of my friends makes a douchebag choice and is dating that girl that you really don't understand why he's with because he always complains and shit yet says he's happy to be with her and means it."

I wasn't laying blame on whose fault it was. I wasn't saying it was his fault if he was unhappy with me, and I started to realize it wasn't my fault and it's wasn't necessarily my duty to continue to try and make someone else happy when I couldn't or felt like I was miserably failing most of the time, but how do you explain that? I mean this was a guy who was thoughtful if he wanted to be, but at the same time admitted to me, "Quite honestly, sometimes you make me miserable and I don't feel like talking to you." Yea, no surprise the break up happened about three weeks after that, when at a final blowout he irritably informed me he was not in the mood right now because he had to watch his TV show. It was like my cup had reached its cap and like my portable AC automatically shutting off to fan mode when the water tank is full, the hydraulics in my heart and brain did something and a switch went off in my head and I thought instantly, "You know what? I'm done with this" (Yea, I know, how is that for reaching hyperboles?). Everyone was just damn fucking tired is what it was and I'm sure a part of him was relieved about the whole thing as well.

Pre-breakup, it was the sound and overall package of "Set Out Running" that I fell in love with. The lyrics of, "Swallow that horizon/Hunger beyond hunger/Til the cloudy blue Pacific/Took the air in my lungs" were delightfully macabre and picturesque for me.

During-breakup and post-break up it all rang so true, I'd mournfully howl along to:
"Want to get it all behind me/You know everything reminds me/ I can't be myself wihtout you/Want to crawl down deep inside/The springs inside my mattress/Where I cry my dirty secrets/'Cause I just can't shake this feeling/That I'm nothing in your eyes." The difference being that during the former, I'd be sobbing and hiccuping along, while during the latter it was done with a bit more anger.

However, post-post-breakup, whenever "And if I knew heartbreak was coming/I would've set out running" came up, I'd just give a tired sigh and tell myself, "Tell me about it."

But no matter what the situation is, whenever I hear that song, the jolt of the instruments coming in when Neko sings, "get it all behind me" still makes me almost put my hand to my heart and take a sharp, quick breath as if I'd just been physically hurt. Always has, always will. It's a great song and great arrangement.

I snapped back to the present and wondered if was a good thing or a bad thing that the SummerStage setting was perfect for such feelings. A slight breeze was blowing and it was hard distinguishing whether the shivers came from the music or the seemingly unseasonable cold.

We spotted a girl in a burgundy corduroy sundress. I turned to Kate and asked, "Isn't that some sort of fashion oxymoron? It's like the coolest cut of a dress paired with a really warm fabric."

Kate answered, "Yea, but it's perfect for exactly this weather."

"Yea, like right now and never again," I agreed. Then added, "I bet she carries it in her bag all the time with a thermometer and barometer so she can whip it out and put it on when the weather conditions are just right."

I barely saw Neko's flaming red hair above the sea of people. It really was that bad. She was pretty much obstructed entirely halfway through. Near the end of the evening as people started leaving the performance area, Kate's friend Chris, quickly ran forward saying, "I need to get a good look at her at least once." That's how bad the seating was handled and how full it was.

I still swayed, along with the trees, to her voice. Just being able to hear her is a tremendous thing. It's full, yet feminie without and heart-achingly sexy without being cloying. Yet it's not overpowering. I loathe to say "strong." I think "convincing" is more like it. Her voice is very convincing. I refuse to say she yodels, but I always said it was like she noodles with her voice like you'd noodle on a guitar. Just artfully executed arpeggios.

The trees continued to sway in time to the start and stopping honkytonk of "Set out Running."

When she began to sing "The Tigers Have Spoken," I was a little amused considering we were a short distance away from the Central Park Zoo. A song about a melancholy tiger too used to human hands meeting his demise was just too interesting a juxtaposition to the animals kept in a man-made park along Fifth Avenue.

"Hex" was headily sweet and slow filled with a complex combination of longing and a bit of bitterness that probably would've been just at home on hot sticky summer evening listening to it crackle from a radio on the porch with the song plaintively rolling up and down, "You took my heart/Cast it aside/Laughed when I cried/Like it was just no big deal/And here all alone in the dark/I know just how you feel." Played against the crisp, cool Central Park air, it ended up more like a mint julep with its syrupy sweetness that balances against the bite of the mint and bitter bourbon on a canvass of crushed ice and chilled pewter mug.

The rustling of leaves almost seemed to be part of the song for "Maybe Sparrow."

As usually Neko seemed to be happy to be in front of people. Anyone can tell you that the stage banter between her and Kelly Hogan is also a large part of the performance.

"I could just talk all night," she said addressing simultaneously the audience, Kelly, and no one in particular.

"Whenever someone says, 'Fuckin' play!' It just makes me go, 'You know what? I don't want to anymore,'" she added with a good-natured laugh.

Darkness fell and fireflies began to flicker on and off as the banjo flickered off into oblivion at the end of "Favorite."

When Neko busted out "California," I literally cooed and clapped giddily. At the end of the song I looked to Kate and simply said with a content sigh, "That's one of my favorites."

The evening drew to a close with more favorites and an encore. "John Saw That Number" was excitedly requested for earlier in the evening, and just happened to be on the set list, which Neko noted with amusement. "Are you looking at our setlist?"

It was a group of screaming young women who wanted to hear "John," so when she finally got around to playing it her and Kelly joked that this was for the "hot for gospel girls."

* Aw fuck, well it's not like I care anymore anyway, so here's one of many stories that I don't feel so weird about sharing because I think it's a little funny. In high school I'd borrowed "Memoirs of a Geisha" from my teacher for a book report. I'd almost finished it one weekend when yet again my parents were fighting. I ran out when I heard my mom screaming only to see that my dad had tried to throw hot coffee at her, I called him a few choice names, got into a bit of a tussle with him and shoved him finally throwing the book in my hand at him. I don't know if the book had a week binding or if it was old or what, but once it hit the ground the pages kind of exploded everywhere. I shoved the pages back in best I could and there was a little coffee barely on the ages of some pages. I ended up returning it to the teacher making up some story about a kitchen table accident and offering to pay for it if she wanted a replacement. Where's the funny you ask? Well, people who know me know how I get about books; refusing to dog ear pages for example. So I actually was also a bit mortified that I was returning the book to my teacher in the state that it was because that's not how I treat my books. It's just weird because thinking about it now my thought process was, "Oh hey, so yea I don't want you to know my dad tried to scald my mom, but also, I'm really sorry about the book...really really sorry. Like I'm not this type of person, honestly. I treat books with respect, so please don't find out I tried to throw a book at someone."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More than meets the eye: Making bad jokes about serious situations

Coworker 1, rushing back in after unsuccessful attempt to leave: Don't go outside. It's a mess out there.

Coworker 2, still working at desk: At Grand Central? Yea, a transformer blew up.

Coworker 1: Is that what happened? They were chasing us out. Some official type guys were running around saying, "Get out, a plane crashed into the building!"

Coworker 2, unperturbed and still typing: No, no. It was just a transformer.

Me:...Well, you know, it'd both technically be kinda true if it was like Starscream know what? Nevermind.

Cowroker 2, slightly chortling: No,'s funny...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

There goes my budget

New books and new sneakers. I wasn't planning on spending anymore money, but truth be told I have shoes that are once again falling apart. I tend to wear my sneakers into the ground and way past their expiration date, tears holes and everything.

It's weird how things work out though because after having to tape together the remnant of one shoe last week I told myself, "Man, I need some new kicks." And despite my moratorium on spending I found myself in a buy one get the second pair half off sale of sneakers I love. I've always had good luck with getting sneakers I love on sale. A pink and black pair of Converse I got for 25 bucks one time, and Vans slip-ons were acquired for around 20 dollars at another sale.

Anyhow, I was already mildly annoyed yet almost OK with the shoes expenditure since they were kind of necessary, but then I decided to go chill at the Strand. BIG MISTAKE.

"You can't buy any books, OK? We've been good about that. Going to the library and stuff. Just looking. We're looking," I told myself walking in. HA! Yea, more like walk out with two books. But hey, it's not my fault. That's expected to happen when one walks into the Strand. I mean, "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" was available at a mere 7.95...knocked down incredibly from the usual 27.95. How can you resist??? But then I felt bad about buying just one book so I bought "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay." I almost added a third to the pile before I mentally slapped myself and shook myself with a, "NO. NO. What the hell, man? You don't have money for this shit right now. You walked in here saying you'd just look. Just STOP."

The Strand...enemy to my budget. I seriously can't remember the last time I walked in there and walked out without at least one book...damn you.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Tinkerer and the mice

I always enjoyed putting crap together. Having a kid brother who wasn't very patient was fabulous in this aspect, since it meant I could show him how his transforming robots came together (when he was too frustrated after trying to insert an arm into a leghole or the chest plate wouldn't collapse properly making the robot look like a hunchback), piecing together his Erector sets (when he got annoyed with all the twisting and turning required for the nuts and bolts), snapping together Lego sets (that he wanted to look exactly like on the box but didn't feel like going through the instructions), and being ad hoc mechanic for his numerous mini cars (which he just wanted to flip on and race but didn't want to figure out why the motor was running and the wheels wouldn't turn). I wouldn't go as far to say I'm a fantastic mechanic or electrician, but I will say I'm like those crows in those scientific videos who figure out how to pull shit out of bottles with twigs and whatnot. Basically a bumbling instinctive tinkerer.

I contemplated on this fact as I found myself at my door this morning at 8:30 wearing nothing but a shirt and panties and armed with a screwdriver. My doorknob had been worryingly loose the past three days and I was scared that it would fall off at the most inopportune time. The worry finally catching up with me so that it interrupted my getting ready for work and put me in the awkward position of trying to tighten the screws to the doorknobs whilst bracing the outside of the door against one knee to hold it steady and praying no one was going to come walking down the hall to catch me straddling my door bottomless. It was all worth it when on a test twist the door knob failed to wobble ominously and I actually could twist it and not have it futilely spin around more than necessary. Boy, was I glad I bought that ridiculously large toolkit when it was on sale on Father's Day last year. What? I'm the head of my "household" now so I can give myself a Father's Day gift like a toolkit.

Living in an apartment out of school has given me too many random moments to tinker with things. More so than I would want to. Freaking out because your toilet won't stop flushing at 2 am is entirely different from putting together an Erector set. Luckily, after looking under the hood I figured out what the problem was and luckily it wasn't an issue that required me to pull out all everything and replace it. It was just a bum flapper valve that needed replacing.

Not that I particularly relish having to put my hand down into my toilet's tank. Yes, I know the water that comes in is clean, but I'm pretty sure my toilet is around 10 years old and the inside of the tank proves it. For its own sake I was tempted to pull everything out and clean it so that it could go on chugging another 10 years, but considering the fact that I'm most probably moving out next year I wasn't cleaning out the weird gunk and mold that had accumulated in that thing. Especially when I have a pretty good feeling they're going to take a chunk out of my security deposit for some other random household mishaps that I haven't gotten around to fixing. Besides, that flapper valve shit was TOTALLY something the super should've been taking care of and since nobody was answering my calls or emails forget it.

My previous apartment living situation didn't require a whole lot of fixing up on my part, but we had an entirely different problem that made me and my roommate our own exterminators. We had mice. Quite a bit of them actually. We'd put out traps and catch probably 5 in a month's time. Then there'd be a lull when they'd all figure, "OK, you go in that apartment and you DIE," but they'd be back. They always came back.

The good thing was, I was never scared of mice, but it's still goddamn annoying. They were pooping, thieving bastards. I remember the last straw when I decided I couldn't put up with this bullshit anymore. It wasn't the drugs dealers in the lobby, it was the damn mice. One day I had bought a brand new loaf of bread, and being mice-conscious, my roommate and I always stashed our bread in the fridge. Unfortunately, I got pulled away to my room while putting the groceries away and left my bread on top of the fridge. The next morning, when I came out to the kitchen to make a sandwich I thought, "Oh shit, the bread."

It looked fine from my vantage point, but like in horror movies where the guy grabs the girl who has her back turned to him by the shoulder and spins her around only to have her had fall off, I picked up the loaf and flipped it over to open it, only then noticing the huge gaping hole right in the middle of the loaf. The poor loaf looked like a soldier who had thrown himself onto a landmine. I was seething.

"SON OF A BITCH! I DIDN'T EVEN GET TO HAVE A SINGLE GODDAMN SLICE, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!" I roared as I chucked the loaf into the trash. It wasn't even that they had gotten to my bread. Hell, I should've known better having lived with them so long, and I should've put that bread away that day. It was the fact that they had gotten to it before I did. That would not be tolerated. It just felt unjust.

My roommate and I were ruthless too, discussing best way to lay traps. None of that humane traps shit, there were too many of them for that. And they kept coming too because the whole building was a decrepit mess (I even looked it up, the building was built sometime during the 19th century). Our apartment was clean, it wasn't our fault the whole building was mouse mansion. They had to die.

I grew pretty hardened to mice death. I remember only freaking out one time. I heard the snap of a trap in the middle of the night and ambled into the kitchen where I saw a little pool of blood holding the exact amount of blood you think a tiny mouse body would contain. A little bit away from it was the trap. Not weird since depending on how small the mice were, the velocity of a snapping trap could flip it pretty far from where you set it. But where was the mouse?

In a split second I assumed that the trap had snapped off a leg and the three-legged mouse had limped away, but there was no blood leading away from the pool or the trap. So what? Did it fucking evaporate? Or maybe it was injured but hiding around the corner somewhere like Sigourney Weaver, ready to pounce on me like I was the alien and had somehow inadvertently stepped into a mouse horror movie that was actually being shown at some mouse theater somewhere (Loudass mouse audience member: "No, bitch! She right in front of you! Get the fuck out of that apartment! You already lost a goddamn leg in the trap!"). I calmed myself down enough to squint hard at the trap and noticed that the trap had actually flipped over and I was staring at the back of it. I sighed a sigh of relief, and gloving my hand in a turned inside-out plastic bag, I picked up the trap, noticing the tiny mouse underneath it. And in a swift flipping motion the mouse body and trap were bagged.

Watching "Ratatouille" last week was a way different experience for me than my friend. Rather than exclaim, "Oh, how cute," or even the other extreme of, "Oh, how gross," I ended up ruining the movie for my friend thanks to my overfamiliarity with rodents.

"Oh wow, how'd they get the pitter-patter of them running around the kitchen like that so well? You think they recorded them and stuff? Gee, you know, they look just like that when you catch in the traps. That's totally for reals. The mouth falls slightly open and you see a glimpse of the top teeth...OH HEY! They even got the quick breathing thing they do...such attention to detail."