Saturday, May 26, 2007

Breakfast and Waitress

So today was day two of the hanging-with-the-grandparents thing. They were supposed to call me around 9 this morning and tell me where to meet them for brunch. So of course they call at 8:30 and want me to meet them by quarter to 10 up by their apartment. Now, in my world, if I have to be in a restaurant before 10 on a Saturday morning, that's breakfast not brunch. Don't get me wrong, I was awake because the cats are convinced they're going to die a horrible death if they don't eat by 7:30, but I was not prepared to leave my apartment.

Anyway, we ate at this place that they love and I am utterly indifferent to with a french name and a rather generic appearance. The owner also has a Mexican place next door. Apparently he figured that his employees were all Mexican so hey, why not? I had waffles with strawberries, blackberries, bananas, whipped cream, and strawberry sauce, so I was happy even if the waffle itself was slightly mushy.

Then off to see Waitress at the movie theater in Union Square. It's a nice little movie and Keri Russel is adorable. I never watched Felicity (no really, I've never seen one single episode) but I assume that most people knew this already. All I knew was that she once got a very controversial haircut that I really didn't think looked that bad. I also loved Cheryl Hines in the movie. And the fact that it wasn't a romance. It was actually, for all it had a happy ending, quite bittersweet.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ben & Jack's

My great-uncle and his wife are in town this weekend. They're certainly not my favorite family members but they are very nice so while I never have any particular wish to see them, it's always nice when it happens. Those kind of family members. They live in an overly tidy condo in a gated community in San Jose with a balcony overlooking a golf course. It's terribly far from the life I would want, all cut off like that.

A couple years ago, when my sister and I drove around the country, we stayed with them for a few days. We'd just come from Yosemite and hadn't showered in five days. And so we walked, filthy and bedraggled, into this house with white walls and white carpets which was just utterly spotless. Anyway, the first thing we did was wash our faces and shower because we felt as though we couldn't touch or sit on anything until we did that. And we'd been washing our faces in campground sinks and such, but apparently that was rather less thorough than we hoped because we actually left face-shaped marks of dirt on their (white, of course) towels. And then we both showered (I think I got to go first--victory!) and had to rinse the dirt out of the tub. It was simultaneously disgusting and incredibly satisfying. Although, we'd thought we were a bit tan and it turned out we were just that dirty. This is neither here nor there, but I suppose it gives you an idea of what they're like (and what my sister and I are like).

Right. So. When they come into town I go out to dinner with them, my grandparents who live a 15 minute walk from my apartment (it's my grandfather's brother), generally my step-grandmother's parents who are in their 90s and quite frail, and her sister-in-law who always wears gigantic pearls. The first year I lived in New York we went to this place called March (which has since closed and reopened in the same location as Nish) which served tiny little courses. At minimum you would get a three course meal for about $70. The food was great, I'm sure, and the service was fantastic, but it wasn't the place for a group with fussy eaters and as a result the meal was not a particular success. So since then we've pretty much stuck to steakhouses and Italian.

Ben & Jack's is the former and that's where we went last night. It's a good place to go when out with the elderly and near-deaf because you can get a private room even for a fairly small party. And in keeping with the steakhouse norm, they give you so much food that you end up with at least one extra meal. I never eat at steakhouses when left to my own devices--in part because I can't afford it and in part because it's not my favorite food by any means--so I can't compare one to another. It was good; the waiters were not as polite as they ought to be. Granted, they could fan him with palms and my grandmother's father would probably still be displeased with the service (a result of age, I think) but I can't say I was impressed. And then of course there's dessert. The end result of all this was that was that I ended up uncomfortably full and with half a filet mignon in the fridge for dinner today.

Beautiful night though. Went out and sat out on the balcony with the cat until quite late.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My contributions to the decline of civilization...

So I am thoroughly embarrassed about me recent dlisted reading habit. I don't even know who half the people are and yet I feel the need to read about their lives? Or, more accurately, about the paparazzi stalking said people. I kind of feel as though I'm contributing to the downfall of civilization. It's like the department of American environments in White Noise where there are professors who read nothing but cereal boxes, and talk about whether they've ever brushed their teeth with a finger and where they were when James Dean died. And frankly, feeling like a character from a Don DeLillo novel? Not so fun.

But anyway, I was reading dlisted at work today and followed a link to Passive-Aggressive Notes from Roommates, Neighbors, Coworkers and Strangers and thought it was hilarious. In part because we all have experience with the writing or reading of such notes.

I went to NYU where they have what they call "apartment-style housing." Essentially you share an apartment with 3 or 4 other people. Freshmen year of college we had a very messy suitemate who, in addition to never doing the dishes, would leave apple cores and knives covered with Nutella etc. on the table cloth. And of course, since there's so few of you sharing the kitchen you always know exactly who the criminal was. But we, being essentially non-confrontational, would leave very general notes. And it's funny how your personality comes out in notes. Mine were always, "Hey guys, our kitchen is GROSS! Let's try to keep it a bit neater." My then-roommate would use cute little sayings like, "Cleanliness is Godliness and our kitchen feels like a sinner."

This was nothing for her, as she also once used what we thought was the messy suitemate's grater to exfoliate her feet. As we found out when we warned our other suitemates not to use it, the grater in fact belonged to Wendy. Thus it ended up in the garbage and Lorraine felt rather bad about grating her feet with Wendy's grater. It was a thoroughly bungled (but very funny) exhibition of passive-aggression.

Also funny, Slate has a photo-essay about lolcats.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Just how much can you spend on clothes?

So I'm not poor, but goodness did I feel it today. My boss gave me a gift card to Saks Fifth Avenue (after assuring me we were not exchanging gifts in our department, I might add) and I just hadn't gotten around to using it. Anyway, I don't get to Saks often because I really can't afford to shop there. I mean honestly, how much money do you have to make to be able to pay $450 for a shirt or $225 for a backgammon set or $700 for a belt (which was the exact belt I've been looking for, but that's nearly two months of my rent). A lot more than I make. I felt like I should have gotten dressed nicely just to go there in the first place.

So anyway, I went up and used my gift card on a couple little things and then walked home. Exciting yes?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What I've Been Reading (Online Edition)

I really have nothing much doing tonight so I figure I might as well be posting. Wendy and I went over to Kir's yesterday to hang out and see her cat's new (and unfortunately necessary) haircut. We also got to see a video of the FIT fashion show, featuring her totally awesome dress. And we got to see her currently in progress final portfolio as well. So anyway, all that stuff was very nice and all, and also filled my going out quotient for the weekend. After all, Kir lives a few blocks away so I did indeed need to leave my apartment. Anyway, as I said, I decided that I might as well be posting, but I have nothing particular to say. So, I thought to myself, self, surely your three readers would like to know what you've been reading online this past week. The wiser part of my mind then said, eh, I don't really think they care but I've decided to ignore it. So this is what I've been reading:

  • Wretched of the Earth-A review of Poor People (I wrote a bit about it here).

    Nhem Yen's eldest daughter, who was twenty-four and pregnant with her second child, promptly caught malaria. There was no money to get med-ical treatment (effective drugs would have cost less than $10), and so she died a day after giving birth. That left Nhem Yen looking after five children of her own and two grandchildren.

    The family had one mosquito net that could accommodate about three people. Such nets are quite effective against malaria, but they cost $5—and Nhem Yen could not afford to buy any more. So every night, she agonized over which of the children to put under the net and which to leave out.

    "It's very hard to choose," Nhem Yen told me. "But we have no money to buy another mosquito net. We have no choice."

    That is the real face of poverty: it is not so much the pain of hunger or the humiliation of rags, but the impossible choices you face.

  • The Stasi on Our Minds-Also in the New York Review of Books. It's an article about The Lives of Others which I saw a little while ago (I feel so cultured...)

    The Germany in which this film was produced, in the early years of the twenty-first century, is one of the most free and civilized countries on earth. In this Germany, human rights and civil liberties are today more jealously and effectively protected than (it pains me to say) in traditional homelands of liberty such as Britain and the United States. In this good land, the professionalism of its historians, the investigative skills of its journalists, the seriousness of its parliamentarians, the generosity of its funders, the idealism of its priests and moralists, the creative genius of its writers, and, yes, the brilliance of its filmmakers have all combined to cement in the world's imagination the most indelible association of Germany with evil. Yet without these efforts, Germany would never have become such a good land. In all the annals of human culture, has there ever been a more paradoxical achievement?

  • Citing Waste, Albany Seeks to Rein in Public Authorities--Goodness, who would have thought that could be necessary. It's Albany, so I'm sure it'll be fabulously successful.

  • Ordinary People: An Edward Hopper Retrospective-Comes complete with a slideshow of paintings we've all seen before.

    I believe that Hopper painted with reproducibility on his mind, as a new function and fate of images in his time. This is part of what makes him modern—and persistently misunderstood, by detractors, as merely an illustrator. If “Nighthawks” is a illustration, a kick in the head is a lullaby.

  • Atheists with Attitude-Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and how they really don't help the cause of atheists. Which is too bad, really.

  • Grey's Anatomy recaps at Television Without Pity-Because the recappers are just as annoyed with the recent course of the show as I am. Killing the stepmother? That's one show that needs to get back on track. Seriously.

  • Interchangeable Parts-I read a bunch of hockey blogs, but this one has been my favorite of late. They do fab game recaps and while they will sadly not have any more Sabres games to recap as of today, I'm sure the recaps will continue to be great.

Other stuff too, of course, but these are the things that are on my mind at the moment. And really, this was much more fun then folding my laundry as I should be.

Also, blogger isn't letting me preview the damn post so if this looks funny, I blame it on that.

Andrew Bird

Wendy and I went to see Andrew Bird at Webster Hall on Thursday. This was all part of my not terribly elaborate plan to turn Wendy into a fan. The plan basically consisted of having her come to the concert with me and hoping she liked him, while simultaneously refraining from making comments like, "his last name is Bird and you like birds so you should like him." This plan was nearly sidelined by the fact that Wendy is sick. I'm finally feeling pretty good after spending the last couple weeks feeling icky but whatever I had, I clearly passed it on. And on Thurday and Friday she was in that oh-my-god-I-want-to-die phase of this particular illness, telling people I'd given her the plague. But she came anyway and had a very nice time. We sat on the couches at the back and she was glad she hauled herself out of bed.

Anyway, Bird was great which was no surprise. He always comes off as just a genuinely nice person. And despite the fact that his music is riddled with postmodern anxiety and all that implies, with the looped sounds, the at times fraught lyrics, etc. I find his music strangely comforting. I think it's that he's using technology to create music in a way that's really very organic. The constant changing and evolution of the songs, the fact that he can do that when working with a band, the complexity of it all, makes me feel quite peaceful even when the subject matter isn't.

And I can't say enough about his cover of Oh, Sister so I just won't say much about it all except that it's painfully beautiful.

A couple dark, but good sounding videos that someone put up on YouTube from the show Thursday:

John Crowley and Sara Langan

Now, admittedly I'll generally take any excuse I can get to hide in my apartment. And the rain Wednesday night seemed as good an excuse as I was likely to get. It was, after all, fairly disgusting out. But I love John Crowley's writing and KGB Bar is only a block and a half from my apartment, so I pulled on my rainboots and a jacket and off I went. Really it would be fairly sad to plan a trip somewhere for weeks and then not go because you would be required to walk a block in the rain.

I've been to KGB before, or course, but never on Fantastic Fiction night (fantasy books once a month). I like KGB fairly well, although communist nostalgia does nothing in particular for me and it's generally too crowded for comfort. They put together a wonderful set of readings and from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I love that particular shade of red. But anyway, Fantastic Fiction night. Funny because as soon as you walked in you could tell there were fantasy fans in the audience. There's a number of very particular looks. The most instantly noticeable is the man, slightly balding, with the squarish black glasses and a goatee. Then you have that one guy with the receding hairline and stringy brown hair down his back. And of course there's the girl in the fishnets, badly proportioned plaid skirt, and black t-shirt with too-long, damaged hair of that particular shade of brown that really should be dyed. There are normal looking people there as well, of course, but there was definitely that particular fantasy fan look out in full force. Also, I would later realize, that particularly fantasy fan sort of social awkwardness that seems to allow them to bond happily while discussing world building and barbarians and just makes me feel like I need another drink. But anyway, the point is that I was standing there being a judgmental bitch when the reading actually started.

Sara Langan read first. I'd never heard of her before. She seems like an absolutely lovely lady, although she should really stand up straighter and either wear a bra in the first place or wear one with a lot more support. Because if she was wearing one it wasn't doing its job. Judgy, remember. Anyway, the fact that she's so nice and charming seeming makes it a bit of shock to realize that she's a horror writer. Horror isn't my thing. I mean, really isn't my thing. It rates way below dragons and elves and fantastic quests, which is saying something. Because at this point they're pretty low on my list. Which isn't to say I would never read horror. I'd read anything provided someone I trusted recommended it to me. But it would take a lot of convincing. It just always seems to include slithering and swelling and the fetishization of horrible things. Now, I understand that it's horror writing and thus supposed to horrify. I get that it's supposed to make one feel uncomfortable. And for the record, based on the section of her book she read, I feel quite comfortable saying that Langan does that well. But it feels too much to me as if it's horror for the sake of horror. Or discomfort for the sake of discomfort. And if there's not some important point, some understanding that can only be reached in this way, then what's the point?

A brief google search for "purpose of horror" informs me that the purpose of horror is to challenge us, to force us to think differently. For this view, take a look at "Is Horror Literature?" which was the first link that came up on the google search. I remain unconvinced. Because let's be honest for a moment and admit that the reason for reading fiction, for the vast majority of us, is pleasure and entertainment. That's certainly why I read. Do I want to read books that contain something deeper, that change or expand my worldview? Absolutely. But I also want to enjoy the act of reading. And we can come up with all the justifications in the world for something but if we didn't like reading then we wouldn't do it. Thus, when I'm reading, or listening to someone read, about getting aroused while eating bloody dirt or what-have-you I don't feel so much challenged as concerned that this provides some kind of entertainment for people. Some kind of visceral thrill. And why is that? I don't know, but it's something I don't like. If anything I think the appeal of horror, the fact that people read and enjoy it, is more interesting than the writing itself.

Crowley read second. And let me just say that if I were a writer (which I am not) and did readings (which, it follows, I do not) then I wouldn't want to read with Crowley. Not because he doesn't seem like a very pleasant and gracious man. He does. He has a livejournal as well, which does nothing to change my opinion on that. It's just that he's such a wonderful writer. I don't mean in terms of plot, characterization, etc. (although that also) but simply in his use of language. In the way he forms sentences. Langan's writing was perfectly effective. She's clearly a good writer. But it's impossible, for me at least, not to compare the people reading, and in this comparison she suffers. Then again, nearly everyone would.

Anyway, Crowley has a nasal quality to his voice that took a bit of getting used to not because he has an unusual or unpleasant voice but because I, for some inexplicable reason had always pictured him sounding rather grander and more "serious." Like Nabokov, but from New England, so without the accent of course). I have no explanation for this mental...not image, I suppose, but the auditory version of such. It just was. And I actually am happy that he sounds as he does. It's much more pleasant seeming. He was reading from his latest book, Endless Things which is the conclusion of his Aegypt series. I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, though probably not in the near future. I started Lord Byron's Novel recently and have Otherwise sitting on my shelf, so those will come first. Not having read said series, I didn't know who any of the characters were, or anything about them, but I enjoyed the reading regardless.

By the time I left it had thankfully stopped raining.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

love is more thicker than forget

My favorite e.e. cummings poem. There's been a bit of interesting talk about him on a message board I frequent and some wonderful poems posted, but this one is the one I love best. I first read it in some how-to-write-poetry book from which I got little. The poem is the only thing I remember about it.

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

Sunday, May 13, 2007

This and That

I've done nothing particularly interesting to read about this weekend. I did go to a graduation party out on Long Island yesterday. While I do not generally consider myself a big fan of the island I do like it once you get to the part where there are lots of trees and the roads are all twisty. For the occasional trip anyway. This particular house though, would make me consider moving out there. Mind you, I would need to make more money than I anticipate making and all, but it was a lovely house and an even lovelier yard of the sort I wish I had growing up. I lived in a very nice area but it was all fairly new and lacking in character. This place was more of the distinct and individual sort. Also present: good food, adorable dogs, and nice people. So all in all it was worth the train ride out.

And today all I did was run errands. I did finally find a pair of jeans that fits properly though (or will once I get them hemmed) So that's a plus. The only pair I had was huge on me, so it's nice to have a pair that actually fits.

Anyway, such excitement. One interesting(ish) thing is that I am in the beginning stages of planning a possible (and very cheap) weekend trip. However it requires a couple things to go right. Namely Wendy's mother finding functional camping supplies stashed somewhere in their basement and my grandparents agreeing to lend me their car. I have my father working on the car though. He is to remind them that I am a very responsible driver and neglect to mention that I only drive once every six months or so and therefore might be a bit out of practice. I suspect he'll do a good job because the idea that I would leave the (awful) city voluntarily to go on (something so wonderful as) a hike in the (spectacular) outdoors fills him with glee. What would really make him happy would be for us to successfully plan the trip to coincide with an ADK hike which we could then join, but I don't know if that'll work out.

Friday, May 11, 2007

About Grace

This is the next book for the aforementioned discussion group and I've just started it so I don't know what I think of it yet. I do know what I think of the cover (and in case you haven't picked up on it I'm totally one of those people who buys books for their covers).

The hardcover had a gorgeous, eye-catching cover. I love it.

And then, for the trade, they switched it to this crappy snowflake cover.

Everyone knows that in real life snowflakes are beautiful and delicate and at times a bit breathtaking. But that's partially because they're so tiny that the detail seems impossible and partially because they melt when you so much as breathe on them. On the cover of a book? They're mostly really boring. Also, I hate white book covers because they just get all grungy and look like crap.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Your Rocky Spine

I've been listening to this Great Lake Swimmers' song constantly for a while now and think it's incredibly beautiful. It's basically an extended metaphor, either comparing a lover's body to the land or the land to a lover's body. It's hardly a new concept, but it's one that wears well, I think. Lyrics:
I was lost in the lakes
And the shape that your body makes
That your body makes

And the mountains said I could find you here
They whisper the snow and the leaves in my ear
I traced my finger along your trails
Your body was the map
I was lost in there

Floating over your rocky spine
The glaciers made you and now you're mine

I was moving across your frozen veneer
The sky was dark
But you were clear
Could you feel my footsteps?
And would you shatter, would you shatter?
Would you?

Your soft fingers between my claws
Like purity against resolve
I could tell then there that we were formed from the clay
And came from the rocks for earth to display

They told me to be careful up there
Where the wind rages through your hair
It seems to me that the landscape they describe is also distinctly North American. Not only because their Canadians but because the specific images of a glacier carved landscape, exposed rock, frozen veneer, seem particularly new world to me. There's a sense of discovery and the elemental that feels as though it couldn't come from a more thoroughly settled European background. The myth/reality of wide, unsettled spaces.

It reminded me, momentarily at least, of John Donne's To His Mistress Going to Bed. This part:
License my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America, my new found land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned,
My mine of precious stones, my empery,
How blessed am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Now, the Donne poem and the song have fairly little in common. Basically just the comparison between the lover's body and the American continent(s). But still, I always like to reminded of things I love by other things I love.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Brief History of the Dead

I read this for a book discussion group I've just started attending, which is nice because I love to have people to talk to about what I'm reading, if only once in awhile, and it's something I haven't really had lately. I love seeing books in a different or clearer light because of what other people say about them. I also think it's interesting that the reading of books is treated as such a solitary thing when, of course, storytelling is by its nature communal. So, anyway, I'm really enjoying these monthly book discussions that I've been reading for.

The first, and most noteworthy thing about The Brief History of the Dead is the concept. The city in which half the novel is set is a kind of alternate plane, I suppose, in which the dead live for as long as someone on Earth remembers them. When the last person who remembers them dies, they vanish. To where, noone knows.

It's a brilliant concept, and at the beginning the whole book seems quite promising. There are these beautiful and poetic descriptions of people dying and coming to the city.
The girl who liked to stand beneath the poplar tree in the park said that she had died into an ocean the color of dried cherries.For awhile the water had carried her weight, she said, and she had lain on her back turning in meaningless circles, singing the choruses of the pop songs she remembered. But then there was a drum of thunder, and the clouds split open, and the ball bearings began to pelt down around her--tens of thousands of them. She had swallowed as many as she could, she said, stroking the cracked trunk of the poplar tree. She didn't know why.She filled like a canvas sack and sank slowly through the layers of the ocean. Shoals of fish brushed past her, their blue and yellow scales the single brightest thing in the water. And all around her she heard that sound, the one that everybody heard, the regular pulsing of a giant heart.
It's wonderful writing. The image of a dead body sinking through the water while fish swim by sounds like something you'd see at the beginning of CSI when I describe it, but the choice of words, the context, the structure of the sentences, make it almost breathtaking.

The problem is, all that potential basically fizzles away, into an unsatisfying book. The characters are a source of nothing so much as indifference and one doesn't find oneself emotionally invested in the story in any way. And the ideas Brockmeier is playing with never seem to be fully fleshed out or explored. His themes: memory, survival, human connection, are interesting but it never feel as though he's giving them their due. The city of the dead feels more like a convenience than a fully realized location and the characters suffer similarly. Are they symbols, stereotypes, simply very boring people? I don't know but somehow their interior lives seem to be painted in only the broadest strokes, a collection of quirks and habits, leaving them somehow impenetrable despite the omniscient narrator. In the end the book is more frustrating than anything else, a record of missed opportunities for the creation of something special.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shopping etc.

What could be more mundane then my writing about my shopping Saturday shopping. Next thing you know, I'll be taking pictures in the grocery store just so I can truly document all the boring, quotidian details of my life with you. Anyway, I was walking around the neighborhood last night, because when I get antsy at night I tend to kind of bounce around in circles in my apartment which is problematic for two reasons: a) it's really obnoxious b) it has led to me spraining my ankle on not one, but two, occasions. So anyway, out walking. And I saw a dress outside a store on 2nd Avenue and thought, I must have that dress. But I then decided I didn't need the dress and didn't go into the store.

Then--and could this story get any more inane?--this morning I decided that I really did want the dress. And also that it was high time that I went shopping for new jeans since the only pair I have has a saggy butt and is just generally too big. Calvin Klein has a serious vanity sizing problem and it needs to stop. Because I'm not a size 2. There's just no reason I should have to replace size 4 jeans because they're literally falling off. It's absurd. Also, I was in a good mood this morning, which is a shopping necessity for me. I'm not a retail therapy kind of girl. I find the whole process stressful.

Anyway, the ladies who run this store are delightful and keep making suggestions and bringing you new things to try and saying things like, "oh, this one looks really cute on." Then they poke their heads into the dressing room (it's just a curtained off space) and give you their opinion on the dress. I loved them. The dress I wanted was only available in medium and large and the medium was quite a bit too big, so I tried on other stuff instead, and found this really cute black dress (and I took pictures of these to show my mother, so I might as well post them here as well). It's very simple and made of that material that you can just kind of ball up and stick somewhere without having to worry about it getting wrinkled. And the detailing is really quite nice. It goes all the way around to the back.

Anyway, it's a nice floaty summer dress even if it's not in a summery color. And, I can pair it with a cute cardigan and get away with wearing it to work. Because it's long enough that I can consider it business casual. With the top covered, anyway. And yes, I used all these things to justify buying a dress I wasn't planning on getting.

I really needed the justification, too, because it turned out that the dress I'd seen outside was a small, and they went and stripped the mannequin for me. The black dress is at least, although a casual fabric, pretty simple and multifunctional. The mannequin dress? Not so much. And I have nothing in particular to wear it to. But I think that, paired with the right shoes and bag, I can just wear it casually when out and about. And it does have a summery look to it. Incidentally, my dad is totally going to see these pictures and call me up all, "so when are you going to start exercising your arms? Because you really should." Oh the joys of having an exercise fanatic for a father and flabby arms.

Anyway, having bought my dresses and moved on to looking for jeans, which was a disaster and shall have to be attempted again tomorrow. Then I decided that I needed black sandals to go with my new black dress, so off I went to Sacco because I figured as long as I was spending money I might as well add shoes to the list. Unfortunately they had no black sandals that I liked. Even more unfortunately, they did have brown sandals that I loved. So you can add that to the list of impulse purchases today. Again, justifiable though, as I needed a pair of brown sandals I could get away with wearing with a dress as well as jeans. My only other brown ones are rather chunky and super-casual. I did wind up buying a cheap pair of plain black flip-floppy sandals at Aldo, so I got what I needed as well in that regard.

It was nice to spend so much of the day walking around too, since it was beautiful today. I got one of those mangos on a stick (the ones where they slice it so it looks kind of like a giant, edible flower) and a lemonade-y flavored smoothie at Jamba Juice. And when I got home I went out and read on the balcony with the cats. Pyramus has to wear a little halter and we attach him to a chair with a leash, because he once tried to climb over the edge of balcony and we live on the fourth floor so it wouldn't be pretty. Provided he survivde it, the vet bills might kill Wendy and me. Bonnie, meanwhile, got kicked inside after a little while because she keeps trying to climb over to our next door neighbors. As soon as we get around to buying another, she too will be forced to wear a halter. Despite that brief drama--she was not a happy cat--it was really lovely.

I promise not to regale you with tales of jean shopping tomorrow.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I was supposed to go see 110 in the Shade starring Audra McDonald with my grandmother today. Unfortunately McDonald's father died recently. Normally you'd get an understudy, but apparently McDonald is a big enough star that they just cancel the show and let you switch the tickets to a different date. So I just went out to dinner with my grandmother at a Mexican place called Iguana where we go from time to time because she gets extra air miles when she pays on her American Express. And she gets to speak Spanish with the waitstaff. Except this time around our waiter didn't speak Spanish so she was out of luck. Also, she considers a dinner incomplete if we don't get dessert, so the good desserts there are a plus.

I was not totally looking forward to this dinner though, because I didn't call her on her birthday. And only one of my cousins did (thus getting tons of brownie points he totally doesn't deserve). She was out of the country and I don't like leaving messages on answering machines enough to call when I know someone's not going to be home. So she waited for me to call and when I didn't she called to say, "I noticed you didn't call me on my birthday. But that's ok...I know you love me anyway. [Etc. etc.]" You know the stereotypes about Jewish mothers and grandmother's and their expert guilt trip. Yeah, my grandmother is pretty much the embodiment of that. Unfortunately she had the misfortune of getting saddled with children and grandchildren who refuse to be guilt-tripped.

As it was, it wasn't that bad. She made sure to mention in many circuitous ways the lack of birthday calls, in between telling me about the biography of Victor Amadeus II she just read among other things. I pretended obtuseness on the birthday subject and was actually interested in the rest of it, so it was a nice evening.

I forgot (as usual) to call and let her know I got home safely. In a few days she'll call me and when I answer the phone she'll say, "Oh good. You are alive!"

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Peter Bjorn and John and Other Irritations

So today has been a long day, in the great tradition of said phrase. On Friday the vet told Wendy that the budgies (now named Heloise and Dirk incidentally, so hopefully Wendy's got their gender's correct as it's still a little iffy at this point) had psitticosis. And since this lovely bacteria is communicable to humans Wendy and I both had to go to the doctor today. Where we were told, "Ok, call is if you have headaches, fever, or are coughing a lot." And to top it all off it turns out they don't have psitticosis at all. Heloise is totally healthy and Dirk appears to have the birdie equivalent of AIDS. In case anyone's counting that makes 3 or 4 pets with compromised immune systems. Poor baby. Hopefully he'll wind up being fine though. And the appointment wasn't a complete waste because I also got a tetanus shot (now with added whooping cough protection!) and the first of three HPV vaccines. So my arm, shoulder, and the left side of my neck are achey, but if I step on a rusty nail I'll be fine.

And that took me to three o'clock. About a month ago I impulse bought a ticket to see Peter Bjorn and John at Webster Hall. So despite the fact that I've been feeling kind of gross lately I felt like I had to go. I didn't particularly want to see the opening bands though (in fact I still have no idea who they were) so I figured I'd just go around 9:30. Watched the Sabres suck (and seriously, they should stop that because it's getting kind of annoying) for a couple of periods and then headed off to the concert. Only to find out that they wouldn't be on until 10:45. So I watched the last 4 minutes of the game at the Village Pourhouse, during which time they did not suck but also, according to the NHL, did not score, and then went home for awhile.

I got back to Webster Hall around 10:30. Two vodka cranberries with too much ice and too little vodka and $18 dollars later, the band actually came on. One of the girls standing next to me had at some point prior to their appearance said, "Swedes are like Germans, right, so they should be on time." Huh? When has a concert ever started on time? So at 11:10 they came on and I discovered that Peter Bjorn and John? Are really boring. Very, very boring. They're like indie-pop elevator music. What was I thinking when I decided to go to that? So I stayed for about 4 songs and then decided that I might as well go home rather than stand there stewing.

As it turns out, I probably should have worn rainboots as it was pouring pretty hard by then. Oh well. By the time I got home (after a brief stop at Pommes Frites because when I'm cranky I crave greasy food) My pants and shoes were completely soaked. And I had realized that the combination of not eating anything between 9 am and 11:30 pm and my being a complete lightweight had actually left me a bit drunk. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. So I wound up home, around midnight on a Tuesday, eating fries and watching Ma Vie en Rose. Really not such an awful way to spend the evening.