Thursday, January 29, 2009

That's an image from an art project called "the world's smallest postal service," which my editor sent me for obvious reasons. I feel a lot better all of a sudden. Not 100% - I had to cancel a film date with my friend Ruby Buck - but well enough to eat some real food and take some much-needed aspirin.

(Slim is playing the prettiest song on his mandolin. I think it's "If I Needed Someone to Love.")

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

tmi alert

Shortly after completing last night's dispatch, I threw up. It was very abrupt: I'd had a tummy ache, and burped, but instead I threw up and as a result had to throw out all my bedding. It was very miserable, made more so by the fact that Slim and the Engineer were working all night in the kitchen with an amplifier. Anyway, it was the sort of night where the world narrows to the bathroom tile feeling cool under your cheek and a towel seeming like an adequate blanket and reciting as many limericks as you know to distract yourself between bouts of vomiting.

I took a sick day. And had I not already been queasy, Slim's breakfast - a pulled pork and scrambled egg sandwich, chocolate shake and a side of fried okra - would probably have done it. I'm on the Gatorade and broth diet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Were I not in a benevolent mood, I might be irritated right about now. Slim has had a piece of good luck with one of his inventions and so we planned to have a small champagne gala this evening. Well, he finally did arrive with the champagne, but then realized he had left something in the car. When he walked back in, he had some random dude in Buddy Holly glasses and a deerstalker hat in tow. This, I ascertained, was someone he knew and had run into on the sidewalk. I gave him a cookie. We all toasted; I learned that the guy had been born in 1976 and was from Iowa and still had absolutely no idea who he was. It turned out he was on his way to DJ at a nearby bar's 1950s R&B night, so we all piled into the car to hear him do that. Or, rather, he and I did; we lost Slim on the way. I discovered him in Bonecrusher's apartment, wearing the latter's paratrooper cap. After much persuasion, Bonecrusher agreed to join us.

We hied to the bar, which was filled with hipsters. After a time, Bonecrusher apparently freaked out, so Matt took him home. When they'd been gone half an hour and I was growing weary of glaring at inauspicious fellows, I left. No sooner had I gotten back to the apartment, around 11.30, when there was a knock on the door; it was a shy-looking type who, I quickly ascertained, was the engineer Slim had brought down from MIT to work on one of his inventions. Since Slim doesn't have a phone, I gave the engineer a cookie and drew him a rather vague map back to the bar, and showed him the nude picture of Matt from the "Men of Snowblink" calender so he'd recognize him. He left.

Oh, I hear Matt now.

Now he's gone to find that engineer. It seems Bonecrusher had a crisis so they had to go to this very depressing bar on Meserole, leaving me alone. Fair enough, I guess. Goodnight.

I wrote on my ghostie on the website today; it sparked some really good stories, and of course a few very dismissive skeptics. I get questioning, but that level of certainty always seems to me very presumptuous. How can we know anything? "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio" etc. Okay, I'll admit to not believing in aliens - although I daresay there's some bacteria somewhere - but even then, I'd never dismiss anyone who did. And I'd sort of like to be proven wrong, in any case. More to love, and all that.

(In other news, a handsome boy looked at the Greenpoint apartment this morning. Which is neither here nor there, but I wish I had not been dressed quite so eccentrically. Or at least been wearing some makeup.We have our pride.)

Apparently the costume designer from Mad Men is starting her own line. Which is not to say it'll necessarily be vintagey, because after all that's her job. Still, good to see things launching in this economy! And I'm guessing people take comfort from more traditional shapes nowadays...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Talking of ghosts, a friend of Slim's is experiencing a really bad haunting down in Georgia. Since he moved into his house, he's been awoken repeatedly by the feeling of someone shaking him and the sound of voices, and his dog has been positively freaking out in all the approved ways. It got to the point where he had to crash on friends' couches to get any rest. So he looked into the property and found out that the site had been a major lynching spot - and the lynching tree is still in the yard! Nearly mindless from lack of sleep, he went into the yard and yelled, "I'm not here to harm you; please let me get one night's rest!" He was left in peace that night...and then they came back. Now, he's moving.

I am getting frightened about our spector. I woke up last night very worried about being alone in the new house - when we move, that is. Slim was out and I curled up under the blankets and thought very hard about old musicals until the fear passed. Maybe we should get a dog. Although if his fur was always sticking straight up in panic, I guess that wouldn't be very reassuring.

On an unrelated note, Slim wants us to go to a THREE DAY Charles Ives performance at Wesleyan. Negotiating as fast as I can.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

We visited the new apartment today and guess what? It used to be a crack den! And is haunted! By the ghost of "an old, black man" according to Ludivine. She says he's beat a retreat, but Slim did indeed sense something the first time we went in...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I had a talk with a friend the other day that really got me thinking: he said that, although he's doing well in his line of work and generally satisfied romantically and philosophically, he's coming to realize that he's someone who's destined for a "small life" rather than the grander destiny he'd always vaguely envisioned. It made me sad not because there's anything tragic in small scale - I'm firmly of the belief that there are no small lives, only small actors to paraphrase whoever said that - but because he seemed to be giving up on something at an awfully young age.

What is a "big" life, though? Fame? Affecting people's lives? Leaving something behind? Even a large life is made up of tiny things - the decision is in whether to appreciate them, surely. It seems to me that if one is conscious of the scale of his existence, it's a pretty untenable state, and not necessarily a happy one. When I think of those friends I know who are enjoying an unusual degree of success at a young age - some musicians, a couple of very successful writers - I see all the excitement and challenges of a whole life condensed into a few months' time, and both the thrill and the toll of it. If most of life is made up of looking back and anticipation, it must be fairly terrifying to know that you're actually in the eye of the storm.

This has been a week filled with history, delicious meals, a failed batch of mashed potatoes, petty gossip, professional anxt, one new dress, and a redux of The Man Who Was Thursday. Today I had brunch with a friend who had made the most beautiful miniature birthday cake out of Sculpey. Then we took the dog for a walk and there was a lamppost that said "NY City" on the base and looked almost old enough to have been converted from gas. I cut my finger with the vegetable peeler. Slim brought me a sour cream doughnut from Peter Pan. A dear friend's parent is ill. Charlie got a new job at a good bar. I broke my favorite glass, the miniature glass mug with the squirrel embossed on it. And my mom is in California with her brother, trying to help him sort things out.

I'll take it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Entertaining Is Fun!

Two things: the way is now clear for a Los Angeles engagement party, taking place the same weekend as Slim's dearest friend's wedding. (It's this wedding to which I plan to wear the bias-cut green lace!) We're piggybacking, of course, and taking advantage of the fact that lots of friends will be out there already, but Gabriela's being lovely about it and it will give the In-Laws mucho pleasure. What's more, the spot where Slim wants to have it is, apparently, right up my street (which I interpret as somewhat ancient and crummy), described as "like the Sistine Chapel, if that was covered with pictures of Aztecs." Carrumba!

More immediately, there's a dance party tonight at Marie's, since they don't have downstairs neighbors for the nonce. Charlie is for some reason the DJ. I will for obvious reasons be wearing my new tiny party hat. (Not a paper one, just a hat I wear to parties, you understand. Although a mini party hat has distinct possibilities...) I am also bringing my own computer. Methinks I'll prepare "a set." It will contain, but not be limited to, Boney M's "Rasputin" and Alizee's "Moi...Lolita." Because that's just how Deej S.O.S. rolls. Or should that be DJ Mod Hatter? Whatever.

On moving etc.

As you know, we have a very lovely new apartment. We're heading over there this weekend to sign the lease and dine with our new landlords, whom I think I'll call John and Ludivine. (That's subject to change, by the by!) I'm very eager to get at the place with a camera and run some wallpaper samples by them!

Anyway, the landlord is using the same bonehead realtors from whom I was tomfool enough to take the place originally. Yesterday, as we were both working, some dude showed up outside the door and said he was there to take pictures for Craig's List. I allowed as how, had he given me any notice, I would have had the place tidier. "I would at least have taken the recycling out and made the bed," I said.

"That's okay," said he, "one apartment, I had to go through stacks of garbage."

I didn't really think it was an equivalent situation, but if he wanted to do shoddy work, it was hardly my business - except to the extent that I think the landlord will be nicer about everything if it's let.

"Please just give me a few hours notice when you want to show it," I said, and he agreed.

Not an hour later, I got a call."We're outside," he said. I barely had time to put on a Karen Dalton CD, turn off the overhead and light my pine candle (even though I know it should be cinnamon.)

The couple who came in seemed like nice enough kids. I know I made the realtor nervous when I described the building's policy as "don't ask, don't tell." Also when I took them aside and slipped them my number and said urgently that they should call me if they want to know anything about the building. Although if they're not interested in hearing about bed bugs, mice and sinisterness, it's hardly my fault.

For Those Kind Enough have expressed concern over my fight with my dad, thank you and it is okay! We had a great talk. He was upset that I should take what he said so much to heart, and it's true that I am overly-sensitive and hard on myself at times. In general, I've been in a very low frame of mind, and I think some of that just bubbled up.

Enough of that! I tried the new cupcake shop, Butter Lane, last night. It was very expensive indeed!


...I write something for the blog where I work and it elicits negative responses, I try to respond to each person individually, because I think generally it's a failure of my writing and I do think I owe it to readers who take the time to read and comment. I hate to do posts that seem mean-spirited or not thoughtful, and I do think some of what I have done lately has been a little unkind. Not, perhaps, by blogging standards, but certainly by my own. The thing is, I have become very short-tempered with personal essays. That sounds hypocritical, but it's through writing them that I've come to feel that way: as I have said before, people in and of themselves are not terribly interesting. Or, they are, but not in the good-writing sense! In order for something to qualify as more than a solipsistic blog post (and no, this does NOT qualify!) it must have some larger application, as all good writing does. Because something is nakedly rooted in experience is no excuse: all writing is rooted in experience! Making that naked does not excuse anyone from normal standards! Certainly not anymore: personal essays are not a novelty and unless we're somewhat critical, it's really going to atrophy as a genre. A commenter asked, how would an editor feel if someone dismissed HER emotions? Well, not good: but also, not shocked! It is a risk someone takes in making her personal life public fodder. If you're going to make it material, you've already stripped it of a lot of its - well, not preciousness, but certainly right to privacy!

The other thing I'm not sure folks always understand is that, in writing about the personal, there's generally an element of distance to it. You've looked at something objectively, twisted and conflated and fictionalized and structured, and it does not have the raw emotional weight of the unstudied experience. This is what it means to use something as material, and while I'm supremely thin-skinned, on principle I think we can take it.

I've been thinking about this a lot, as yesterday the site's editor did a bit of a crack-down on personal off-topic commenting, primarily for reasons of safety. I have often thought that the way the site manages things is a bit like democracy: the worst form of government except for all the others ever tried. I am frequently struck, when I read other sites, by the incivility! Jezebel is a special community, definitely. But as we know, we're all watching evolution in progress, a practical application of philosophy such as we have not seen since the 18th century! It's natural that emotions should run high because these are real issues of intellectual freedom and community and governance.

None of which is any excuse for my being ungenerous!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tears For Fears

I'm in a bad way! I guess the emotions of the day are still running strong, because I started to cry while reading about one of Robert Lowell's (many) hospitalizations for manic-depression. Then I started to cry again while watching Privileged. That's right, Privileged.

Happy Inaugural!

No one needs to hear from me that even those of us mired working in the Apple could feel the joy the overwhelming sense of fellowship in the air after 9/11 but not united over despair! Who could have believed it?!

(The Mobile Azalea Trail Maids are onscreen now!)

I was slightly disappointed by some of the more pedestrian rhetoric of the speech, but that's probably more to do with unrealistic expectations than anything - the message was stringent and got across - and of course we wept...I was also very touched by Obama's heartfelt acknowledgment of the wait staff at the luncheon, and cried some more. And, in general, across-the-aisle fellowship makes me happier than almost anything. (That's what comes of growing up in a politically divided family!)I was relieved there were no boos for Bush - that we could hear, at least. I was tensed for it, and was glad optimism and sense of place prevailed. It was the right note to begin on.

Did you see the marine put out the special riser for little Sasha?

Did you see Bush I's fur hat, aptly described by GK4 Former Fiance as "cunning?"

Wasn't the Hall of Statues (or whatever it's called) creepy, a bit like the White Witch's garden?

Didn't that first luncheon menu from 1953 - creamed chicken, ham and potato puffs - sound delicious?

Didn't you like the mandatory oohing and aahing over the crystal bowl? (Which, besides its base, was pretty nifty.)

And wasn't the poem awful?

As Simon Doonan aptly said, it's trivial...but I've loved Isabel Toledo since reading her profile in The New Yorker - and do read it if you get a chance, it's inspiring in every sense of the word "romantic" - and was delighted she was Mrs. Obama's choice. (Prior to that I just liked the few frocks they carry at Barney's.) As to the getup itself, it grew on me: reminded me somewhat of a certain 60's cocktail ensemble I have (maybe I gave it to Eloise, actually) and the bow seemed ill-judged given the wind, but overall striking and interesting. Here's a bit that just came out on

Vitelio Toledo, Ruben’s father and the couple’s pattern cutter, was particularly proud to have worked on it. The seamstresses, almost all immigrant women, also took particular pride in participating in a historic moment. Ruben told me that they added a very fine inter-layer of pashmina to help keep Michelle warm on the dais.

To parse the design: It’s an outfit designed by a strong woman for a strong woman. The lace is intensely feminine, and a Toledo signature; the combination of a coat and dress is a statement of classical “good taste.” But the detail is edgy—the jewelled neck, the chiffon tie, the blurring of old-line definitions of what is “appropriate” for day and evening—that is adventurous, and shows, on Michelle’s part, real sophistication about current fashion.

Prayers to anyone felled by the stresses of the day...looking at you, Mssrs. Kennedy and Byrd.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What is there to do...

but be as kind as we can to everyone?

Always bears reminding!

Re-reading Here Is New York because I think its lessons - self-reliance and the willingness to be lucky - are valuable ones. In that sense, if you can make it here, you can make it just about anywhere. By the same token, if you can live kindly here, and still be happy with how you've lived the day, it's a good apprenticeship. I can see why people don't like having their humanity challenged all the time, and needing to re-learn it in small and private ways that can grow strange without great care. But there are worse challenges!

In other news, The Bachelor makes me very, very uncomfortable

I was terrifically impressed by Not Quite Nigella's Obama Inauguration pizza. If you read the text, you'll see it was an earnest tribute, which is why she was at such pains to get it right. Well done, NQN!

W-A-S-H-I-N-G-T-O-N Baby D.C.!

Not to be a Debbie Downer...but what, exactly, is everyone doing in D.C.? Sure, some of the many pilgrims I know have balls to attend, and all seem to have a few inches of floor somewhere, and I know the energy must be incredible, but...what are they doing? Just standing around? No one will be able to get anywhere near the Mall, surely?

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be standing around a few hours south myself (work calls) and I'll be doing as much as possible tonight so as to head somewhere besides my house at noon...but I can't help wondering!

Modern Love

Simultaneously, two network channels are showing, respectively, Dr. Martin Luther King on the Washington mall, and...TMZ. Mickey Rourke is entering the airport with his dog Loki.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Maybe The Only Good Mashup Ever

Check it:

Missed Connection

Girl on the f train- got off at 14th street - m4w - 19 (brooklyn to 14th street. )
Reply to: [?]
Date: 2009-01-13, 6:38PM EST

You were beautiful. You asked an older woman for her map. You look like Catherine zeta jones but better. I was sitting with my rather oafish friend who was yelling. I was wearing a russian hat. Just wanted to let you know you are very cute.

(tuesday night around 6pm)

On The Town...

Just got back from a big shindig in an immense space in Williamsburg. When we got there, various people in the kitchen were topless for no very clear reason. There was one room for dancing and one that seemed to be devoted to drugs. Oh, and there was music playing in the bathroom, which was immense like everything else.

I was wearing a new, miniscule cocktail top hat that Slim gave me for Christmas, which excited much comment from various people, including one scrawny hipster named Pierre who claimed to be in porn, and a guy in a fuzzy leghorn who said I was "an odd bird" and offered to put me in a film; talked about vintage fashion with a gal in a spangled early-60s taffeta, and old-fashioned names with a girl called Edith. Did a little dancing to some soul music in the dancing room with a tall fellow in architect glasses who was actually a pretty strong leader; Slim talked about tailoring with a guy in long underwear and what looked like a turban; then the cops broke things up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Note On Technology

I don't often get all Gizmodo, but I'm fascinated by the idea of willful anachronism in all its forms, and this guy surely qualifies:

I’m creating a new kind of camera, designed to maximize the
emotional side of the photographic experience and minimize
productivity, to ultimately let the audience focus on their feelings
rather than on their performance.

This camera seeks to undo all the convenient advances of digital photography which have distanced us from the humanity of photography.
The camera will be split into two halves, each one intimately linked with
the other, to be held by two emotionally linked persons, in this case
Claudio and Clio, husband and wife. The Capturer half will be able to
capture a visual memory which will be immediately sent to the Memory
Plane, a median dimension where memories fluctuate until attracted by
the other half, the Attractor.

In addition, if you send an image to someone in the same vicinty, it takes several days. Someone on the other side of the world, however, will receive his immediately, as this would, presumably, facilitate human interaction. Of course, it's rigid: but I suppose no more than human relationships themselves? The point is whether something so artificial can really do much good. Philosophically speaking, it's problematic, but I do like the idea of using modern technology to make life harder! It gives me the same sense of contentment I got when they ended the Concorde (not that I wanted that, mind you.) It's rare we move backwards. Also, I like crackpots. And what great names for a married couple!

To Make You Happy

This is one of my favorite songs!

If you are feeling down...

Just got back from the V. Woolf, which was very meta, as it was all done tongue-in-cheek play within a play style: Virginia Woolf originally wrote Freshwater as an at-home theatrical for the Bloomsbury set to lampoon various eminent Victorians, and so this production retained the silliness and deliberately amateur air intended. It was kinda ridiculous - and far from riotous, unless, like the Bloomsbury set, you find Victorian manners to be the most hilarious thing in the world - but a good time nonetheless. There was also a scene involving some anachronistic bunny-hugging and turkey-trotting, which really got me wanting to learn turn of the 20th-C dances.

Both the L and the 7 down, so getting home a hassle.

Now, there's a party but I am not see, I'm feeling down. I got an email from my dad yesterday - very thoughtful, very loving, very considered - in which he said taht while they're very proud of me and feel me to be a talented writer etc., they've been surprised and disappointed by the tone of some of my work - which is hard to read. You see, I am not uniformly proud of the quality of work I do - it's hard to be, at high volume - and had already been feeling down about this, and wondering how to better it. Then too, I was frustrated, because I've asked my folks repeatedly not to read a site that's quite explicitly not for their demographic. I care a lot - too much - about my dad's opinion, especially knowing how uncompromising he's been in his own work choices, at times to the detriment of his career and financial prospects. I also hate, by the way, communicating via email! It's really the surest way to misunderstanding and bad feeling: all the coldness of the written word, with the impetuosity of unthinking speech.

I also yelled at someone on the subway, which made me feel bad. He was making a big fuss over the little hat I was wearing and kept coaxing me to turn around "just one more time" I guess so he could admire it, while I was trying to decipher a complex set of heiroglyphs about the 7 train's weekend route. Finally he stepped between me and the sign and I lost it and yelled, "Leave me alone, mister!" That was uncalled for. If you're going to wear a jaunty hat, you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences.

To The Light Play House

Tonight, am going to see Freshwater: A Comedy, Virginia Woolf's only play. If that sounds oxymoronical, well, you can see why I've always been eager to catch it.

There is a dance party later tonight; between the two, somewhere, is Life, one supposes.

Ugh, glutted with cake.

Wore my wool jumpsuit last night on grounds of frigid cold. (Mine was a fraction of the cost because, apparently, no one else wants to look toasty warm or look like Betty Grable in How to Marry a Millionaire!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

R.I.P. John Mortimer

John Mortimer has died at 85, after numerous wives, plenty of children, what looks like a lot of fun and, of course, Rumpole.

My brother, for several years of his childhood, was unable to go to sleep without Leo McKern growling a dramatization in his ear.

A friend just sent me this...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On Guardian Angels Etc.

The plane crash here over the Hudson was truly amazing - the loss of life, that is. Lack thereof, I mean. (Sorry, tuckered out.) Even hypothermia etc. seems minimal, given the frigid temps. A southern queen on the bus was bubbling over because his cousin was on the flight; he'd seen her just last night. "I told her to have a safe trip and then her plane went down!" he said excitedly.

Dined with a dear, solid friend tonight at a tiny, BYOB spot that, even at 7 degrees or so, had a line of impatient would-be diners outside. Sadly, Dan's lady-friend has been a recent casualty of the economy - the second person I know who's been laid off this week - and while she's philosophical and optimistic, the realities of day-to-day living are, of course, no joke. There are, of course, no shortage of invincible summers around, but the rapid maturing of the zeitgeist had better be dramatic to justify the hardship for this many fine people. Some people recommend the reading of War and Peace when in doubt; I'm trying it.

(Why, on Law & Order, is everyone they interview so insolent and preoccupied? I'd be shaking with suggested guilt and the effort to be conscientious if a couple of homicide cops came to my workplace!)

Slim's scared of the cold and, when he ventures out at all, wears multiple pairs of trousers. Today he didn't set foot outside the apartment; we listened to a lot of Doc Watson and ate some scrambled eggs instead...which is living, of a sort.

More on this later, but I'm having a blast (or the quiet, thoughtful equivalent thereof) with the letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, which I highly recommend to anyone who likes letters, poetry, good prose, or simply clear thinking. I warn you, it's a powerful incentive to wax epistolary.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Feelng terribly, terribly overwhelmed right about now...we have taken an apartment in Bed-Stuy and the moving I need to tell my landlord and wrangle over the security deposit, which I loathe and which in any case he's entitled to as I overflowed the bathtub...and I need to refill a prescription...and are having far too many people over for dinner in a few days...and, and, and other petty things.

Here is what I must needs do:
1. Call the pharmacy and see if they've got my prescription; if so, fill it; if not, call the dr.

2. Go downstairs and talk to the landlord; if not there, leave note I wrote.

3. Cash some checks.

4. Do a shopping for Fri dinner; also, make schedule.

5. Put on pants.

I have been wonderfully sociable lately and it's getting in the way of living a little bit, also very stressful. At any rate: last week, Slim wanted me to meet him at this party thrown by the friend of a guy who runs this boutique with whom S has become friendly. Fair enough, but then I learn said party is at some private underground club and chock full of models and the "host" was about 7 feet tall and wearing a corduroy jacket and I was in jeans and a parka and in short it was awful and I sort of teared up and ran out. Otherwise, things are well.

The apartment is beautiful in all the ways one hopes for when the neighborhood itself is, if not liminal, at least lacking in the standard gentrified amenities. But if our dashing and beautiful new married-couple architect landlords (she's French!) don't mind, we should be able to take it. I will post some pics of things like stained-glass skylights and original tilework when we go back to do some planning. The decor will be a little Charleston, a little James Iha.

I got a good 30's bias-cut lace dress the other day. I thought it was a little big, but when I pulled it tight against my frame (which is really the point of these dresses), the Russian saleslady said I looked "too small, like baby," and that I should keep the excess in, so as, I guess, to look less babyish. In any case it will be just the thing for a wedding this spring.

Got another ill-judged haircut. Wanted to look like Isabelle Adjani and don't, in the least.