Thursday, March 31, 2005

last post from nyc

Thanks, New York, for seven years of living in the center of the universe. I'll miss you.

More soon from far and away...

Just in case you couldn't tell my truck was from Brooklyn...

1 more day

Wow, this is really happening. Yesterday was the longest day. I've been feeling like time is off its hinge (not unlike my laptop) and when I think about things that happened yesterday morning, it feels like a week ago. I woke up at 5 AM and couldn't get back to sleep, so I started packing like crazy. I picked up the truck and while I'm going to have to clean the cab before I spend a week in it, otherwise I was pleased. The most mighty man I know came over to help me and between the two of us, we loaded all the books and furniture in less than an hour. When the second shift showed up, there wasn't too much left to do at that time, so we found a home for the truck after some interesting parallel parking experiments, bought a stronger lock for the back door, and made final trips to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. and the Chip Shop. The third shift arrived in the evening and entertained me while I tried to assemble the remaining items in my apartment that had been thrown willy-nilly during the truck packing. My phone will be shut off by tomorrow morning, so I'll try to post one more time tonight before I hit the road.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

2 more days

Last night, in the words of pop duo The Carpenters, I said goodbye to love. I don't recommend it. As a consolation, I did have a delicious dinner at Butter and saw Steve Erickson read from his latest novel, Our Ecstatic Days. Time Out had the time listed wrong, so we missed the first few minutes of the reading, but it wasn't long before I was engrossed in Erickson's tale of a single mother and a mysterious lake that appears in the middle of Los Angeles.

Of all the things I felt I needed to take with me when I left, my bed was at the top of the list. I am about to embark on the project of taking it apart so I can get it out the door of my apartment. Otherwise, the vast majority of my belongings are packed and ready to be loaded into the truck I'll be picking up today. The time is nigh...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

rats! (or things I won't miss about new york)

A couple of summers ago, I heard a scratching sound in the cabinets beneath my kitchen sink. At first, my cat was trying to reach under the cabinets and play with the intruder, but before long, she would take a wide birth as she walked from the livingroom to the bathroom. I had always had something of a phobia about rats, but the sound of the rodent pushed me over the edge. I could tell it was not a small pest at all and I was too afraid to look, so I just taped the cabinets shut. Sleep did not come easily.

The next day, when the rat appeared to have gone on a brief hiatus, my boyfriend came over and attempted to calm the situation by clearing out the cabinets for me after I discovered a shredded bag and a pretzel that had been carried from one end of the cabinets to the other. (Lesson #1: Never store food anywhere that could seem like a rat buffet.) He stuffed steel wool in the entry hole and we nicknamed the rat "Buddy." All seemed fine until that night when I was awakened by the sound of Buddy chewing through the steel wool like it was cotton candy and rummaging around in the cabinets again.

A panicked call to the landlord got the super over the next day and he installed a thick steel screen over the hole. I was satisfied that the rat could not get in, but I was not prepared for what would happen next. All night long, Buddy chewed with what sounded like teeth made of small chisels at the wood around the edge of the hole, trying to make it bigger than the screen that was blocking it. I was well on my way to losing my mind by the morning, so while this may not have been the most humane thing to do, it had to be done. I waited until Buddy seemed to have returned to his daytime haunt and emptied my pepper spray canister into the hole. I don't know whether this killed him or merely turned him off, but Buddy never returned.

I was reminded of this horror scene when I was packing yesterday and had the television on in the background. Fear Factor came on and one of the stunts involved the contestants carrying dead rats in their mouths from one end of a room to a bucket at the other end. It was too much for me to handle. It should be too much for anyone to handle. However, if you haven't had enough of the rat talk, you might enjoy this piece in the London Review of Books (via Maud Newton).

3 more days

My trips on-line have grown precarious. I sit in this one low IKEA chair that started to fall apart a few months ago. Now the busted peg will never stay in place and if not for the support of the wall behind it, I'd be on the floor. Yesterday, a hinge on my laptop decided to give up the ghost, so now I can't close it and have to carefully hold the screen or it might unfold completely. So I'm risking a lot in order to keep this blog up to date.

I made fairly grand advances in the packing department yesterday. I'm feeling slightly more relaxed in that arena, but I've started having nightmares about brake failure and joblessness. Last night, I had dinner with some friends at a very cute Italian restaurant near Union Square, Borgo Antico. I don't think I'm going to eat again for awhile once I leave New York; I'm beginning to qualify for the glutton's circle of hell.

Monday, March 28, 2005

half orange

The other day, someone said I was going to find my "half orange" in LA, apparently a Spanish idiom (media naranja) meaning "soulmate." For some reason, it made me think about this quote, which is not about soulmates at all.

"The future is that which — tomorrow, later, next century — will be. There's a future [le futur] which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future — l'avenir, to come — which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected. For me, that is the real future: that which is totally unpredictable, the Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future beyond this other known future, it's l'avenir; in that it's the coming of the Other when I am completely unable to foresee their arrival." - Jacques Derrida

4 more days

I woke up this morning to the news that because of all the rain they got in California recently, the desert is wildly in bloom, even Death Valley. I take that as an extremely good omen for my upcoming drive.

Yesterday I cleared out some bookcases, so I could give them away. They've found a home up the street. From there, I proceeded to organize, pack, clean, organize, pack, clean. When I couldn't take it anymore, I quit and finally watched Manhattan for the first time. I thought it was an appropriate selection for this week. I know this may cause an angry mob of cineastes to assemble outside my door with torches, but I just really don't get the "genius" of Woody Allen. I was hoping Manhattan would enlighten me. While the cinematography was quite breathtaking, I was relatively unmoved otherwise. Plus, who can look on the relationship between 42-year-old Isaac and 17-year-old Tracy with anything but retrospective creepiness after Soon-Yi? I kept wondering if it was somehow acceptable in 1979 for men in their 40s to date teenagers, but I don't think it was.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

5 more days

Five hours of packing yesterday. I was totally wiped out, mostly emotionally, so I read some of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and took a two-hour nap to prepare for my farewell party last night. A very nice friend organized the gathering at the yummy tapas restaurant, Pipa, which is part of ABC Carpet & Home. To get to the restroom, you actually had to walk through a closed-off portion of the store. Many friends turned up and they all coordinated to get me New York-themed gifts (see photo below), which worked out well because I had received LA-themed gifts at my work farewell party. A lot of people were meeting for the first time, and it was a testament to the spirit of everyone who came to see them getting along so well. Of all the things I'm leaving behind in New York, I know I'll miss my friends most of all. Fortunately, for only a couple of benjamins, I can get back here at a moment's notice.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

before the poison/forever hasn't happened yet

NPR just had a piece on the new Marianne Faithfull album, Before the Poison. She collaborates with PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, which seems like something that should have happened long ago. I'm also looking forward to the new John Doe album, Forever Hasn't Happened Yet, which features contributions from Neko Case, Dave Alvin, Kristin Hersh, and Grant Lee Phillips. A product of all this leaving I'm doing is that memories seem accessible to me in an unusually vivid way. Writing this post, I remembered seeing Marianne Faithful at the Central Park SummerStage in 1999 and also seeing X in a half electric/half acoustic show at the LA House of Blues a couple years before, both well worth remembering.

those wacky germans

At this hotel in Berlin, each room has been designed to individually evoke a kind of artistic vision. Some of the rooms are just plain bizarre and apparently, the premium on comfortable beds in Germany is not very high. If this idea is intriguing and you live in New York, you can always check out Ye Olde Carlton Arms.

6 more days

I am now officially unemployed for the first time in 20 years (except for a very brief time in the early '90s in between working for a corrupt Internet start-up and cocktailing at a club on Sunset Boulevard). It hasn't hit me yet. Yesterday was an incredibly stressful and emotional day. I hadn't anticipated how long it would take to clear out a computer I had used for four years and how sad it would be to say goodbye in bulk. When I finally got home, I popped a bottle of champagne someone gave me last weekend and shared it with a friend in the packing rubble of my apartment.

Friday, March 25, 2005

can't explain

In an earlier post, I mentioned calling an ambulance for an old man who was having a heart attack. I had been walking near Gramercy Park when I saw the man, probably in his 70s, trip on an uneven piece of sidewalk and fall down. I helped him up and he started complaining of chest pains. After he told me he had recently had a heart operation and the pain seemed to be getting worse, I finally convinced him to let me call an ambulance. By the time the EMTs arrived, he seemed more concerned with his broken watch and getting my phone number than the chest pains, but I was glad he was on the way to the hospital.

Well, I never heard from him, but I assumed all was well. Then this morning, outside my train station in Brooklyn(!), who do I see but the same man?! We had a joyous reunion at which he told me he was still not feeling great and I suggested he quit smoking. I've gone years and years in this city without running into any number of friends and acquaintances, and I find it quite odd that I saw this man again.

get your raindogs on

Could there be a more comprehensive Tom Waits site than this?

falling apart

This picture best captures what I feel like these days.

LA blogs

Thanks to S.H. for the LA blogs now listed under Los Angeles in the Links column to the right. I'm going to do some research and add some more soon.

7 more days

Yikes! A week from now, I'll be somewhere on the Jersey turnpike. I am completely overwhelmed and I don't expect my last day at work is going to help me in that department. Yesterday, I tried to prepare my assistant for any question, event, or problem that might occur after I leave. There's no replacement for me yet, so I'm trying to make sure she suffers as little as possible. After work, I took her out to dinner at Chango to thank her for being the best assistant ever. Another colleague joined us and we tried to pretend this wasn't our last dinner together, which was not all that easy. When we parted, I said, "Don't hug me! It makes it real!"

Thursday, March 24, 2005

who signed off on this?

The American version of The Office is terrible! It's like the ugly, annoying neighbor kid who imitates everything you do and is never, ever funny.

when a door closes...

This isn't the most focused photo, but I love these doorknobs at work.

8 more days

Today is my next to last day at work. My office is starting to resemble a florist's shop. I spent yesterday preparing customized data CDs for the various people who will be taking over my responsibilities. I'm sure they were thrilled. After work, a group of colleagues treated me to a stuff-yourself-'til-you're-sick dinner at Blue Smoke. They were people I don't see all that often anymore, so it was a really sweet gesture. I had to avoid the meat with bones in it because it's one of my eating peccadilloes, but the mac & cheese was divine. Someone gave me the soundtrack to Ray, so I think I'm going to play "Hit the Road, Jack" as I drive off into the sunrise.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

true spanish girls wear heels in a blizzard

Today I made my debut on the website Overheard in New York! Scroll down to "Wednesday One-Liners, Por Favor." Combine this with an incident the other day where I had to call an ambulance for an old man who was having a heart attack and I think I've done everything I need to do before leaving for LA.

9 more days

More books were packed yesterday, still barely making a dent. My apartment looks like a disaster zone. I tackled the cabinets under the kitchen sink, clearing out most of it until I came across some pest poison my landlord had put there after I spied a mouse a few months ago. The little green pellets sort of turned me off, so I took a break and met a friend for lunch at Bar Tabac. Afterwards, I scored some helpful packing supplies at The Container Store and decided against buying more audio books because you'd think by the price that they came with gallons of gasoline. I had a farewell meeting with my lovely dissertation advisor, ran some more errands, and came home. By then, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, so I watched some Deadwood and passed out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

love the questions themselves

"I want to beg you as much as I be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves...Do not now seek answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." - Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

10 more days

I find it very hard to believe I only have 10 more days left in New York. I spent yesterday assembling my CD holder for the road (it turns out the 128 size was perfect), packing two boxes of books (which barely made a dent), emptying out my computer desk and helping my neighbor reassemble it in his apartment, and getting rid of a stack of floppy disks by transferring their contents to my laptop. Judging by how far I still have to go in the packing department, it's a damn good thing I've got 10 more days.

Monday, March 21, 2005

this week's netflix

Real Women Have Curves: Dear Hollywood, please give me more charming antidotes to the idea that being above a size six is shameful.

Deadwood, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2: This HBO series, in case you missed the media blitz, portrays the lives of the gold-rushing inhabitants of Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876. Matching The Sopranos for violence and profanity, the setting and characters grow addictive. After the first episode, I was interested, but by the end of the second episode, I was hooked.

American Pimp: This documentary by the Hughes Brothers (Dead Presidents, Menace II Society) is a trip into the lives of pimps, providing history and interviews with the biggest players of "the game," interspersed with footage from films like The Mack. I would have liked a little more ho time, but I guess that's another movie.

taking new york with me

Now that I have a mere 11 days left in New York, I'm starting to grow nostalgic for the city (read: freak out), so I've been taking pictures as if that will somehow capture my time here.

Empire State Building from Madison Square Park

25th Street & Madison

25th Street @ Madison

Wim Delvoye's installation @ Greater New York 2005 exhibit

Jean Dubuffet's Groupe de Quatre Arbres (1972) @ Chase Plaza

Trinity Church on Broadway @ Wall Street

Trinity Church Graveyard

Friday, March 18, 2005


Reminiscent of Ghyslain Raza a.k.a. The Star Wars Kid, this boy demonstrates that teenagers will find all manner of amusements when left alone in their rooms.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I've overstayed my welcome

I got the letter I've been graduate school wrote to tell me I'm taking too long to complete my degree. So tell me something I don't know. There was an element to it that made me sort of giggly, like when you're getting away with something for a long time and someone finally calls you out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

it's an honor just to be nominated...

I have happened upon two entertaining competitions under way:

To uncover the world's worst ex, and TMFTML are hosting The Cruddy Award. Boy oh boy, are there some episodes from my 20s that could rival the best of them, but I will not participate.

Every month over at Nerve, excerpts are pitted against one another for The Henry Miller Award, given to the best literary sex scene. Since it's almost impossible to describe sex in writing without completely taking the magic out of it, many other interesting literary style choices are brought to the forefront.

32% nerdy and proud of it

According to this "highly advanced test," 32% of those surveyed are less nerdy than I am. If I actually complete my Ph.D. this year, my score will automatically go up 2 points.

Monday, March 14, 2005

we'd like to accept you, but... just look too damn good in leather pants. Archivists at Florida State University have uncovered an ad from the '60s in which Jim Morrison plays a clean-cut student denied acceptance because the school is suffering from a lack of resources. You can view it here.

I'll miss views like this...

Saturday, March 12, 2005

no esther for you

This story of Julia Stiles getting booted from the film version of The Bell Jar makes me feel happy inside. Maybe she'll learn not to count her Oscars before they're hatched.

Friday, March 11, 2005

is it slander if it's true?

Most people call that last one "English major"...

palm americana

I was recently forced to buy a new Palm Pilot. I'm going through them at a rate I used to go through portable cassette players as a young chit. Not quite, but it felt that way when I had to buy a third Palm in about as many years. The other night, I was checking out the new features and discovered Palm Reader, pre-loaded with two novels already: James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans and L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I am intrigued by the executive decision that decided on these two titles, together. Of all the books that could be scanned and digitized into tiny letters on my tiny screen, why these? Were they the most reputable books that are now only watched as movies? If I buy a Palm Pilot in Amsterdam or Mumbai, what books do I get? Do they actually think I'm going to read The Last of the Mohicans this way when I probably wouldn't read it in book form? Puzzling...

spit lit?

Apparently, London's "annual celebration of women's writing" is called the Spit Lit festival. I don't get it. Anyway, this is a fairly depressing article on the lack of literary heroines over 40. In some ways, literature is even worse than film when it comes to giving this very large demographic a voice (that demographic being women over 40...not literary heroines).

Via Bookslut's Michael Schaub, who adds: "Asked for comment, the publishing world stuck their fingers in their ears and commented "NA NA NA NA NA NA WE'RE NOT LISTENING NA NA NA NA NA NA."

the hairy call

For anyone who's ever witnessed Jonathan Ames's hairy call, you might enjoy this animated tale with music by One Ring Zero.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

does anybody really know what time it is?

This morning...

Scraggy Old Man in Street: Hey! Is today Saturday or Sunday or what?
Me: Thursday.
Old Man: Thursday. Thanks.

Three blocks later...

Handsome Young Latino on Corner: Is today Friday or Thursday?
Me: You're the second person to ask me that in five minutes! Thursday.

But then I it Thursday? What makes me so sure it's Thursday? No one else seems that sure about it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

yes yes again

It warms the deep-down cockles of my heart to think men like this exist in the world.

yes yes

In this week's New Yorker, Adam Kirsch tackles the legacy of Charles Bukowski and explains why he is so easy to love and so hard to admire. This prompts me to post my favorite Bukowski love poem of all time:

when God created love he didn't help most
when God created dogs He didn't help dogs
when God created plants that was average
when God created hate we had a standard utility
when God created me He created me
when God created the monkey He was asleep
when He created the giraffe He was drunk
when He created narcotics He was high
and when He created suicide He was low

when He created you lying in bed
He knew what He was doing
He was drunk and He was high
and He created the mountains and the sea and fire at the same time

He made some mistakes
but when He created you lying in bed
He came all over His Blessed Universe.

- "Yes Yes" by Charles Bukowski

things are gonna get easier

I just remembered a perfect New York moment that occurred on Saturday night. I met three friends for sushi in the East Village and afterwards, we stood outside the 2nd Avenue F station, talking and saying goodbye. A happy-go-lucky (read: high) homeless man approached us and pegged us as "creative people." He made us go around and list our various creative outlets and somehow, all five of us ended up in a rousing rendition of the soul classic "Ooh Child." Nice.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

this week's netflix

The Grudge: I had seen a few scenes from Ju-On (the Japanese original) that really creeped me out (that little boy's big empty mouth in particular) and someone I know had to return the film to the video store the night it was watched in order to not sleep in the same apartment with it. So I was hoping for a good scare and I'd say it delivered. In some ways, Bill Pullman's death was the most disturbing scene in the movie. There was something invidious, though, in the way the majority of the victims were white, terrorized by these Asian ghost-demons. I think I prefer Japanese horror originals, even if they don't feature the uncanny Grace Zabriskie.

I Heart Huckabees: Yawn. Is Charlie Kaufman the only writer in Hollywood who can pen truly poignant existential plots? The release of this film did get me to watch David O. Russell's 1999 film Three Kings, which was quite interesting in light of our current situation in Iraq.

Monday, March 07, 2005


I woke up to a breed of whoahsome anxiety this morning, which I suppose is normal considering I'm about to uproot my entire life. I was temporarily soothed by a good friend and...

...some guggenheim...

...some gates...

...and some more gates.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

speak, søren

To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self. - Søren Kierkegaard

Saturday, March 05, 2005

the arcade fire have disappeared from my IPod

Even if he is a much more successful writer than I am, it's good to know other people like Neal Pollack are skidding into middle age by my side.

Friday, March 04, 2005

in search of lost Proust

In case you were wondering who is responsible for keeping the last three volumes of Proust's masterpiece out of our grubby American hands, it's that dastardly Sonny Bono.

calling all picassos

Yet another excellent way to waste time at work...not to mention feeding your soul. (Of course, I would never waste time at work. I am only addressing all the time-wasters out there. You know who you are.)
Later: I am now l'artiste!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

thank you, mister mitchell

I am enjoying the hell out of David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas. Sometimes I forget I'm reading it and then I remember and it fills me with joy. Cloud Atlas was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won The Morning News Tournament of Books! If you ask me, it deserved to win them all...and just a little piece of my heart.

south by southwest

You can download MP3s from all the bands playing the South by Southwest Festival here. Check out:

The Be Good Tanyas
Laura Cantrell
Dogs Die in Hot Cars
The Earlies
Richmond Fontaine
Jolie Holland
Keren Ann
Kings of Convenience
The Lascivious Biddies
Daniel Johnston
Aimee Mann (natch)
Raul Midon
M Ward
Amy Rigby
Mavis Staples
Trespassers William
VHS or Beta
Willard Grant Conspiracy

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

covers everything with hair, even aluminum cans

This made me miss my girl D.