Thursday, August 14, 2014

A few things I'm doing...

Wanting: To have a regular schedule with a regular paycheck and regular regularity. I have a sneaking suspicion that I gently placed my regular brain into the cardboard box alongside my office detritus on the day I was let go. I have been feeling a steady stream of locationless ennui, peppered with the quasi-existential panic of not being able to pay rent in a month. I realize that there is a segment of the population that is okay with this type of non-schedule schedule. They are the types that generally freelance, own their own business and do assorted other awesome things. I am not of that ilk. My life has thus far unraveled accidentally and I always just assumed that whenever I ended up doing something, it was by mere chance. At the very least, when I think about my major life decisions, I made them without much torturous debate or real consideration of the consequences. I've been lucky (?) so far. But this lifelong pattern has just turned into me cooling my heels while waiting for something to accidentally happen or a choice to present itself rather than me going to actively look for it. What a maroon.

Watching: Pretty much nothing consistent. I realized that last year I painstakingly chronicled every film I watched. I can't offhand remember the number I landed on by year's end but if I'm going to compare last year's list with this year, I'm going to cringe at the dearth of film in my year. I have seen some great things this year but I miss the quantity. Isn't that the old adage about everything worthwhile? "It's not the quality but the quantity." No wait, I might be getting it confused with capitalism.

Excited about: Arcade Fire. In two weeks I'm spending the weekend with my favorite band by going to two (possibly three) of their live shows here in New York. The tickets for the first show were bought nine months ago in the middle of the night when Lauren texted me to say that American Express had put them on pre-sale. That half asleep euphoria of buying something I really want, in a way that felt (and likely was not even a little bit) exclusive, coupled with the wait of so many long, long, Win Butler-less days has reached a fever pitch. These shows will mark my sixth and seventh time seeing them live so it isn't as though this is a new experience. I am just a superfan. An old ass superfan.

Sorting through: Page after page after page of tiny scrap papers with dollar amounts written haphazardly. This is not an exaggeration. Over the last week or so, I have found so many different slips of paper embedded with my frantic handwriting as I try to figure out my current budget and project some sense of calm onto my future budget, a task that is becoming more and more difficult as the weeks melt away. Here's evidence:

I just found those in the back pocket of my purse.

What makes me laugh about this is that the numbers are totally useless approximately one minute after I write them down. My bank account is like a moving river...that flows downstream. Also, if this ephemera is what will comprise my estate after I've passed away, I think posterity might consider me a crazy person.

Dreaming of:  Traveling. It has become a frequent habit of mine to look up travel deals, price out tickets and Airbnb rentals despite my dwindling bank account. It is an exercise in both masochism and futility but it is also temporary. I keep checking for flights to Stockholm, Peru, and Iceland. I asked the Magic Eight Ball if my visiting any of these locations in the next year seemed likely. It said "Not Bloody Likely" and I swear I heard faint, yet mocking laughter somewhere in the distance.

Monday, August 4, 2014


There are so few days in my life where I know exactly what I need and want. I'm usually only certain of one thing and that is that I will generally wake up feeling that I am lacking something. It is probably a first world problem curse: the luxury to introspect, the gall to declare "not enough". However, as one hearty seaman once told the world, "I yam what I yam."

Anyway, today is not one of those days. I know exactly what I need and want. In no particular order:

  • A really long, confusion inducing nap
  • A flavored seltzer
  • Exactly eight more pairs of Advil or Alleve
  • Some sort of food item wrapped in a tortilla 
  • The removal of any library patron complaining about any arbitrary thing, especially when what they are really complaining about is not being able to get what they want, when they want it
  • A brief respite from the faded sort of general unease that accompanies every good feeling
  • An ice cold sidecar
(ETA: I wrote that introductory paragraph on Saturday morning and not a goddamned thing has changed today, a Monday afternoon.)

In pursuit of that penultimate bulleted point, let me relive some good feelings and tell you about what a wonderful birthday gift I got from my sister and friend this year. They took me to see the Cabaret revival currently on Broadway. To say it was wonderful would sound incredibly trite, but I have never mastered the art of writing about music. (Sincerely, how do people do that? How can you write about music without succumbing to a litany of comparisons to the things that came before it? I digress.) The set design and the audience design is so evocative that, had it not been for the proliferation of tourists in their "dress up" khakis, it would have been easy to believe we were having drinks at the Kit Kat Club. And as we all know, in there "life is beautiful." At least during Act One.

Cabaret is one of my favorite musicals of all time and I have seen the film version countless times. I feel a little like Sally Bowles whenever I paint my nails green ("I think it's pretty!") and the story never fails to surprise and move me. I hadn't known that no one else in my group knew anything about the show and I'm glad I didn't give away the ending beforehand. What I noticed, however, is that there were certain members of the audience who might have benefited from knowing the ending beforehand, considering that they were unable to pick up on pretty obvious cues that story changes dramatically from Act One to Act Two. There were still people catcalling Alan Cumming as he makes his final, heartbreaking appearance. Did I ever mention how terrible and stupid most people are?

Anyway, it was another fantastic birthday gift by the fantastic people I have in my life. I'll hold on to the memory during tomorrow, my actual birthday, when I'm not doing anything apart from applying to more jobs and working in the evening while simultaneously getting older and saggier.

Like clockwork, the balance of the universe makes itself a major plot point in the everyday things I observe throughout the day. This afternoon, on the eve of me getting older, I am at work in the young adult room. I witnessed a group of 16 year olds (that would mean they were born in the same year I graduated college) interacting with each other. One of the girls was wearing a Nine Inch Nails tshirt, waxing rhapsodic about the concert she attended recently. One of the boys said "I've been spending some time with 1984." He meant Orwell's dystopian novel. He said that today's dystopian novels paled in comparison. When his friend approached the group he said "Do you know 1984?" to which his friend replied, "The Van Halen album?" Another kid, on not being able to remember the name of a song said "I better get my AARP application ready." And yet another kid, later on, imitated Beavis' Cornholio routine. I felt a bit dizzy and displaced, as though I were watching a scene from a teenage movie about the 90s. I felt dizzier still in the realization that enough time has passed to make my youth and everything in it retro to these teenagers. The world of my early years is so old that it is idolized and referenced by a new generation. While it made me so happy that some of the best things are the things that seem to have staying power (pleated, tapered pants notwithstanding), such a realization (and on the eve of my birthday!!) must needs be the catalyst for feeling like...well maybe it is better if I express how I feel in the language of today, photographs:

Happy birthday to me!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pleasant, detached

As per usual during my more unfocused, grappling times, I've clocked an inordinate amount of time scouring the dusty corners of the internet, a few of those anvil heavy reference sources that I never think about unless I've completely  run out of things to look at. I've been searching for things like population densities of different areas of New England (in case I ever wanted to move to Littleton, New Hampshire), the Occupational Outlook Handbook (for median salaries of people who type out captions for television networks...not much, in case you were wondering), (for my weekly dose of existential dread) and, of course, cat videos on YouTube ( I am only human, after all.) I'll let you work out which of those is most amusing, but what what most consumes my time: apartment listings.

I'm not ready to move by any means; I usually never am. But even when I'm freshly moved into a place, I still rummage through apartment listings during down times. It might qualify as a hobby at this point. I do this for many reasons. As I've discussed at length in this blog, I am perpetually restless. I'm coded that way and I like the possibility that there is a vacant apartment available to me, in my price range, just a phone call away. Aside from the thrill I get from seeing inside living spaces of strangers, (I especially enjoy photos of places where the previous tenant has not yet moved out and it looks like a Saturday morning after a true Friday night with scattered shoes and and crumpled clothing everywhere, a half empty bottle of Pepsi on the nightstand, a palpable image of regret and unshowered living), I imagine that the descriptions are rife with hidden meanings and metaphors. I like to project the apartment descriptions onto the landlord or to the previous tenant or to who I'd be after a few months of living there.

Affordable, bright and spacious!
Clean clean clean!
Includes all!
Separate Dwelling!
Sunny and Large!
Brand New!

The saddest one is:

No pets.

The best one is:

Pleasant, detached

I would be interested in starting a business that wrote apartment ads for a nominal fee. I'd employ thesauri and foreign languages. I'd consult the great American songbook for lyrics to describe basement apartments.

How does this apartment make you feel?
Well sir, all I can say is if I were a bell
I'd be ringing!!

There's gotta be an untapped market there. I mean, particularly for places like this from The Worst Room:

Newark, NJ $440.00

"No windows or door I will cover the doorway with a curtain of your choice"
"Width 5 1/2 feet, Length 7 1/2 feet"

 could instead read:

"Smooth, creamy walls adorn this hushed, arcadian paradise. Have open access in your life with this unobstructed dwelling. Dynamic amenities include brand name, special edition appliances for all meals of the day. I have not said all! You will have more choices in fabrics for your singular curtain than Jay Gatsby had pastel shirts.

 Good things come in small packages!

Where do I sign?!

Friday, July 11, 2014

7/10/2014- Rubber Band Rejection

I DO have to work my part time job this morning but that doesn't make the fact that Thelma the cat woke me up mad early by licking the blinds like some sort of weird fetishist in my bedroom any more tolerable. Effing cat.

So yesterday this is how my day went:

8:00 am- Stopped into my neighborhood bagel shop to get a coffee and got stuck behind a sweaty, shirtless man in bike shorts buying lottery tickets. I mean he was going for broke with one lottery ticket after another after another after another. I suppose if one finds oneself in a bagel shop of a Thursday morning not wearing a shirt, one has reached a type of nadir that only winning the lottery would cure. All or nothing.

8:30 am -- Arrived at my parents' house to meet my dad's "car window guy" and to make sure everything went smoothly. My grandparents were home but my grandfather's every morning consists of getting my grandmother ready for every thing. I was unaware that "car window guys" operated like cable guys and only give arrival times in three hour increments, but they do. (Seriously? How many appointments can they have?) I killed some time on my laptop doing, what else? Applying for jobs. The car window guy arrived at 10, made a ton of old timey jokes (think "Take my wife...please!") and was gone by 10:30. I spent about an hour chatting with my grandfather about the World Cup and planning some far away future trip to Honduras with him to Puerto Cortes. We realized it was my grandmother's birthday and smiled quietly to each other and to her over her cereal bowl, all of us knowing nothing about what she did or didn't understand. All this goodbye without going away...

11:00 am-- I arrived back at my apartment to get ready for an evening in the city. I checked my email and found a rejection letter from a job I had interviewed for last week that I really, really, really wanted. The disappointment was palpable and made worse by the fact that the woman who sent the email didn't even bother to change the position's title in her blatantly form letter. It said how regretful they were that they could not offer me a position for which I did not apply. I did interview there but for something entirely different. I suppose I could have silver lined it by disassociating myself and laughing at how I am like a rejection superhero (Gets rejected from phantom applications! Can be rejected in a single bound! Marvel at the otherworldly decibels of rejection she can withstand!) Instead I closed my computer and cried for an hour. I suppose I could be the kind of person who handles rejection badly but I have developed a rubber band elasticity when it comes to "It's not you, it's me." I get the worthless, useless feelings out in the immediate aftermath and then it gets added to my rejection file cabinet, along with the dead case files that I take a peek through every so often (usually during slow days or other rejections.) But this one hurt. It really did.
In the middle of all that, I got a random text from Jason with a joke about a Rick Steves' impersonation that we first talked about in Spain last year. So I did one of the best things to do which was to stop crying and start laughing. I went to the mirror and stared out of my swollen my eyes and said goodbye to that opportunity and I feel remarkably over it. Rubber Band Rejection.

3:00 pm -- Got in my car and drove to the city. It was an uneventful ride, scored by Arcade Fire and my singing along. I say uneventful but only because it has become de rigeur for me to almost die a few times, driving on the scenic Southern State Parkway, a place that has modeled itself after Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome. Or NASCAR. One of them. I was very nearly side swiped by a blue van filled with passengers bound for the airport. I know this because the advertisement on the back of the van said "Airport Shuttle" and asked if I liked his driving. I didn't.

4:30 pm -- I parked by my sister Lorraine's apartment and walked to the subway which takes approximately 90 minutes. In yesterday's heat, it took 2 hours. I got on the subway and unwittingly sat across from a woman who looked like a female Drew Carey. She was having heroin nods and lit up a cigarette right there on the subway just like it was 1962. I transferred trains.

5:15 pm -- A beautiful man boarded the subway car and we made eye contact a hundred times over the course of the ride. He was 6 feet tall with golden brown hair and smooth, tan skin. He wore a watch (how quaint) and carried a gym bag. We smiled a few times and he got out at 34th street, only to get right back on. I felt a little buzzed. We both got out at that eternal confluence of sweaty humanity, Union Square. He floated ahead of me and looked back twice. Then he saw a man he recognized and proceeded to slam his gym bag into his butt and the spell was broken by blatant bro-hood. Meh. It was nice while it lasted.

5:45 pm -- I arrived at Tortaria early, before my friends. I decided to get in out of the oppressive heat of Union Square and have me a nice cold margarita. It was perfectly dark and cool and smelled of garlic and avocados. The bartender gave me what can most accurately be described as a "margarita slushy". The consistency took nothing away from it's flavor (and effect). The place was half full will a mix of students and tourists and happy hour seekers. My friends arrived and sitting for a delicious dinner over margarita slushies with two dear friends should be prescribed by medical professionals to heal all that ails you. We were sitting next to a group of four men in business casual wear. If pressed, I'd have to say they were all born in the 90s and I remembered suddenly how young the world became while I was off somewhere, getting old.

7:00 pm-- We walked to the multiplex at Union Square, a place where I spent a good chunk of my 20s. My sister Lorraine was waiting there for us because we had tickets to see Rifftrax's version of Sharknado. It turned out to be everything I dreamed it would be. My stomach and my face ached when it was all over from laughing so much. It felt so good to be reminded that that, however rare, is still a possibility.

10:00 pm -- I rode the subway home with Lorraine which is always one of my favorite things to do. Her move to London seems to be solidifying more and more each day so I'm doing my best to hang on to every moment I get now.

11:00 pm-- I drove home in the hopes that it would only take me exactly as long as it was designed to. Unfortunately, there was a horrible accident on, where else? The Southern State Parkway so there was traffic. When it is that late at night, when you are in a sea of gridlocked drivers, most too tired to even be annoyed and when you have spent the day talking and crying and laughing, the best thing to do is to sing loudly along to Rufus Wainwright. Trust me on that.

And that was my day. Not a hallmark or an event I'll remember, unprompted in 40 years, but one I'd like to.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Isn't it ironic? Actually, I'm not sure.

Time was I could channel my freakouts loudly on paper to my journal. No longer, my friends. No longer. I've sat staring at computer screens begging for the muse to poke me in my ear or pick little ticks out of my hair or something else annoying enough to make me write about how I'm slowly freaking out about the (mostly) jobless nature of my existence. But nein. Nada. Zip.

So here's something that just happened at the library that amused me. We are having a program called "Become an Optimist". I'm well aware of the notion that I could greatly benefit from attending the program but I'm working and it is completely full and there is a waiting list. Anycrap, a patron called about an hour before the program was scheduled to begin and asked if she could attend. When I told her it was full she said "I just never expected the program to be successful, so I never called."

The most ironic people alive will just never understand the joy they give the world.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Realizations, with bullets.

In applying for dozens of jobs, I realized a few things. Here they are, with bullets.

  • My laptop's software is severely out of date. I'm not entirely certain that I'm not working with the same level of technology as I was in 1996, borrowing my roommate's Brother word processor.

Dramatic reenactment
  • There are a surprisingly large amount of people who wander around downtown in my neighborhood in the middle of weekday afternoons. I mean, allowing for some staycations and students, overall, doesn't everyone have jobs???
  • I have to start giving myself props for my ability to speak and write eloquently, even when I am talking utter and complete bullshit. I am honing this skill in spades throughout job applications and cover letters. Truly, this is one of my gifts. If I were a sociopath, I'd be remarkably successful. Normally this kind of self involved thought would disturb me but I'm just glad that I'm good at something. I literally just came up with a teaching philosophy statement that I pulled from the nether regions of my butthole. Or maybe I gleaned it from various online samples, I don't know. Related question: Why is it not possible to answer questions honestly on job applications? Instead of employing my mad writing/lying (wrying?) skills, I could simply say, "I am not in any way passionate about this part time job I'm applying for but rather I am desperate for a source of income and would do a good job under those Pavolvian circumstances." Frankly, that should be good enough. Too much emphasis is placed on the expectation of "passion" on the part of the employee. Can't you people just be happy that your applicant NEEDS MONEY and will work as hard as they can in order to get money?

  • Even in bulleted format, I am capable of going off on tangents.
  • I just spent 3 hours, I repeat THREE HOURS filling out an online application for a PART TIME JOB. I get the vetting process and that they won't hire just anyone but I feel like a significant part of my brain has died. 
  • I really advise against job seeking and online dating simultaneously. It is an exercise in masochism. 
  • I need to go outside to take a walk because my butt hurts and I feel deflated. I just realized that butt and deflated were used in the same sentence. Maybe I need a nap.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Various levels of fidelity

Oh, hello!

I am still unemployed. However, despite this uncertain, cloudy sensation of SO MUCH TIME PASSING, it has in reality only been 20 days. Thankfully, my freakouts have become intermittent as opposed to constant and gnawing. As of today, I've applied to 48 jobs. I have gotten no callbacks. If I wanted this kind of silent rejection, I would have gone into acting. Or been a real writer.

I've been doing my ever loving best to fill up my time in such a way that I don't feel like an utter dirtbag with no job. It helps that I have a part time job to fill up the hours on certain days. I've started an exercise program and I finally got around to getting rid of that old laptop that has been in my possession since 2007. I took a bike riding class last weekend and I have been practicing singing at the top of my lungs during the quiet afternoons in my apartment. The conversations I have with myself have progressed from scintillating to slightly disturbing and Facebook has become a tether to the working world. (You guys are just like me, always online but at least you are getting paid for it!) I'm all caught up on Orange is the New Black, Law and Order SVU, Kroll Show and Inside Amy Schumer. I've read like, four books and endless piles of magazines. I have enrolled in a thumb twiddle workshop and gave myself a part way decent pedicure. I take 6 supermarket trips during the week instead of my usual 3 and my emails to friends have become luxurious, self indulgent opuses that I usually get so embarrassed by that I end up deleting them and sending pared down versions with the bare minimum of "I'm doing just fine, yes. I am totally NOT daydreaming that I'll sprain my ankle but have no health insurance to fix it properly and walk with a limp the rest of my days, no. But yes, I'll totally take you up on your offer of dinner and lunch and drinks." (I honestly have the BEST friends ever.) I'm spending way too much time poring over job ads that say things like this:

"Comfortable in an agile environment of rapid iteration and experimentation, prototyping at various levels of fidelity."

as a requirement. And asking myself "AM I comfortable in an agile environment of rapid iteration? Should I put THAT on my resume?" I've been hanging out for hours with Jeff Buckley and Frank O'Hara and Wes Anderson, wondering if it is at all ironic that back in those not so long ago days when I was working 6 days a week, 13 hours a day, ALL I dreamed about was the ability to do exactly what I'm doing now which is a whole lot of bullshit nothing and doing it with abandon, accompanied by a cloying worry that I'll start talking to myself in public like Jasmine, only not as blonde and in a decidedly less designer homeless outfit.

Future me?

I'm tempering my free time with invented tasks of decluttering, organizing, writing, wining, channeling, planning, driving, walking and oh dear god I just need a job. I'm getting all Colonel Brandon up in here. "Give me a task or I shall go mad." My career is like Elinor, thrashing around on the bed of a really bad head cold.

Before he was the Governor, he was Colonel Brandon. Either way, he had jobs.

Look, all I'm saying is, please hire me. Is that too much to ask?