Friday, January 31

Hail to the Chief

Better than Balls

Last night Hannah, from work, and I went to a reading at BU's bookstore (are all college bookstores run by Barnes and Nobles these days? BU's is. Harvard's is. University of Washington's bookstore, though, remains steadfastly independent. Yeah, U-Dub!) for a book called That Takes Ovaries!: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts. It's a collection of very short essays of bold things women have done, everything from attacking back when being attacked to demanding equal playground rights in elementary school. They're written by women of all ages. Over all the stories are great, but I do think there are too many of them of women doing brazen acts that fall under the realm of questionable (sometimes it's better to just escape an attacker than to try and hurt him especially if you don't know if he has a gun or a knife). But over all, the book seems good (when I'm done reading it, I'll give it full critique). The reading, though, brought me back to my younger days in New York, when I'd hang out a women's bookstores, go to hear people such as Andrea Dworkin speak, and spend my time going to pro-choice rallies. When did I stop doing those things? When did I become a suburban frau? Actually, I stopped doing those things long before I married. Is it a phase young women go through and then grow out of? I mean, the editor of this book was easily my age or older--she never grew out of it. I think there came a point where I didn't feel I was making a difference as a single voice among many. I think I've done more by just leading the life I've wanted, by not letting my gender interfere with doing what I want (I still remember how freaked my mom was when I decided to take my three-month solo cross-country trip. Would she have been as frightened if I had been a boy? If I remember her panicked night-before-I-left note correctly, it said something to the effect of, "You could get raped. You could get murdered. You could get raped and murdered by some cop on a Texas highway." I'm sure that's not an exact quote, but you get the drift). As one of the authors put in her essay, Is just living a political act? Maybe it is. Maybe just leading your life they way you see best is enough of a statement.

Thursday, January 30

Work at Work

So, even though I said I wouldn't post from work, I tried to sneak in a lunch time blog--only to have the system screw up on my and wipe out my page (temporarily, obviously). That'll teach me!

I Choo-Choo-Choose You

A quick trip to the bookstore during lunch revealed a lovely display of Valentine's Day books. On a big table right in the front, there was a sign to the effect of "Presents for Your Valentine." And what are the hot books for lovers? Well, prominently placed were How to Dump a Guy (A Coward's Manual), Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid: The Serial Monogamist's Guide to Love, How to Spot a Bastard by His Star Sign, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: The Universal Don'ts of Dating (a book with a stick figure per page doing things such as asking a guy if she's fat, lying about missing a period, and calling his friends for relationship advice), and Dumped: An Anthology. Is it just me or does it seem the romance has gone out of dating? This is what passes for Valentine's Day? This should be on a table under a sign that reads "Bitter About Love." And while I'm here, let me say that it's moronic what gets published these days. There's Even God Is Single, So Stop Giving Me A Hard Time, a picture book of all the reasons (twenty-six to be exact) why single is good. Don't get me wrong, I like the concept. But a picture book? How about a web site instead. Or a comic book. And then there are Love Coupons, for those too inane to come up with their own nice things to do for their mates. Puh-lease! How hard is it to draw a pretty picture and write "Back rub on demand." And then there is a book--and hell if I can remember the name--that is verbatim--verbatim, I tell you--from an e-mail that went around years and years ago on what every woman should have/know by the time she's thirty. It was exactly the same as that e-mail! I've got a folder full of old e-mail forwards that I'd be happy to publish under my name. What is up with the publishing industry? Geez!

Abortion and Crime

Sang sent me an interesting article about the abortion issue. I confess I didn't read the entire sixty-seven pages, but the gist of it is that the crime rate fell roughly eighteen years after the legalization of abortion. It states, "Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime," which blatantly contradicts what the commentary on NPR had said. (Interestingly, it's the "sharpest drop in murder rates since the end of Prohibition in 1933." So what is that saying? Give the people booze and free sex and they're content enough to not kill?) Basically, fewer young males in the highest-crime areas leads to fewer crimes. While this makes perfect sense, something about this theory rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's the implications? That women in high-crime areas should be discouraged from having kids? There's a leap there to sterilizing women on welfare that makes me too uncomfortable. It's too Gattaca for me. I think I'd better read the entire report.

Monday, January 27

Two All-Beef Patties

Me and the Big Mac, we both turn 35 this year. I don't know why I find that depressing, but I do.

Sunday, January 26

It Isn't Super and No One Has a Bowl

My play-by-play commentary:

The Buccaneer fans don't look even the tiniest bit menacing. The Raider fans, though, are not ones you'd want to meet in a dark alley. By fandom alone, this game is the Raiders.

Celine Dion is singing "God Bless America." Do you think the organizers don't know that she's Canadian? And that no one likes her? (And don't give me any crap about Canada being part of the Americas. Irrelevant here.)

How cool would it be if, as the players introduced themselves and said what colleges they went to, they also said what their GPAs were?

The Osbourne's Diet Pepsi commercial hands down the best of the night.

Does anyone really care who wins this game?

Melissa Rivers has done the unbelievable: sunk to new levels with Help, I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, a celebrity survivor show, which apparently, has done well in the U.K.

"There isn't any fire, there's no emotion. I mean these guys are fighting for the championship of the world." Um, yeah. If by "championship" you mean "the single sport of football" and by "world" you mean "the self-absorbed United States."

Why are car commercials so boring. Isn't there anything interesting they can say about a car? Yawn.

Do you think Jon Gruden is sitting there on the sideline calling out, "Hey, anyone want a little time in the Super Bowl? You can play on the winning team. You, water boy? Wanna play? Yo, Brad? Your mother want to get in this game?" How much are advertisers bumming that a lot of people have already flipped the channel.

Who do you have to sleep with to get to be a Dial-a-Down guy at the Super Bowl? More specifically, who do I have to sleep with to be a Dial-a-Down guy at the Super Bowl?

How much longer until reality TV does a sports show? And I'm not talking about the police report on the 11 o'clock news.

"The Raiders are clearly back in the game." Yeah, but the viewers aren't and the advertisers are screwed anyway. They should've just stayed in the game from the beginning.

I miss the Bud Bowl.

Apparently it wasn't all that clear to the Raiders that they were back in the game. Whoops.

I guess you can't judge a team by its fans. Game's over. And I still don't care.

Friday, January 24

The Rant Not Taken

So apparently I spew out a weekend's worth of blog, and then have nothing else to say? Well, that's not exactly it. What's happened this week is I got all fired up about things when I'm nowhere near a computer, and then by the time I return, I can't recapture the original angst. For instance, on the 22nd, I was burning about the NPR commentary from a formerly pro-choice person (although the rebuttal had me feeling better). The interesting thing about both commentaries is that they came from angles I wasn't really expecting. The anti view was that child abuse hasn't gone down and that women feel like they have no choice; they will get family and boyfriend/husband support for abortions but not for raising a child. The pro side took a strictly medical view: she's a neonatal nurse who has spent too much time watching horribly sick babies suffer and die. My passion for this issue is strong, but my desire to rant about it right now is not, so consider yourself lucky to not have gotten an earful (eyeful?) of my pro-choice views. I think I'm just too tired, because Adam's got some sort of cough that kept me up all night. Which is another thing I could rant about: how as wonderful as marriage is, sometimes it's nice to have a bed to yourself. I could also rant that we had to reclaim our garbage can from our neighbors who took it (as Adam said, "Does it get any more suburban cliche than that?" Actually, he mangled what he said, but that's what he meant). I could rant about the fact that we need a new car (in this weather, Adam's heat works only intermittently, and things seem to just keep falling off). I could rant that work went from snail's pace to slammed, but I don't write about work here. I could go on for a while about how much I just do not care about this year's Super Bowl, because the idiot Dolphins blew it, and how much I really don't care about the Oscars, because I haven't seen any of the movies that are going to be nominated. I could rant... well, actually I couldn't. Because it's time for me to get myself to work. Rant averted.

Tuesday, January 21

Cold Enough for You?

I know it's incredibly trite to talk about the weather, but I can't help it! What is with this state? Today's temperature is practically balmy compared tonight. Today is high of 20 degrees, low of 5 degrees. But tonight--when I have my sewing class and I can't just go straight home and climb into my super warm bed--it's going to be a high of 0 degrees and a low of -5 degrees with a wind chill temperature of -25 degrees! No joke! They said it every five minutes on NPR this morning. This is supposed to last the week, until Sunday, when temperatures may hit 30. Give me the rain any day. (According to Yahoo MA weather, it's currently 13 degrees but "it feels like -5." I'm thinking of canceling my afternoon interview... I wish!) Okay, hopefully that will be my last weather rant for a good long time, although I can't make any promises.

Monday, January 20

Our Weekend in New York

in elevatorI'm not sure why we don't go to New York more often. It was four hours door-to-door from our house to the Bear's apartment, including stops for gas and food. Very doable. Parking in the city was a breeze--got a spot just across the street from her apartment. She and Dave have a magnificent apartment for New York: high ceilings, lots of light, and elevator in the building. The rooms are big and they've decorated them with just that Claire and Dave flair, so it's all great fun. They made us waffles and coffee to fortify us for our New York adventure.

Nature's History

Hayden Sphere with planetsFirst stop was the American Museum of Natural History where we watched the Harrison Ford-narrated planetarium show, The Search for Life: Are We Alone. Of course, Harrison Ford annoys me (he was incredibly snippy to me during an interview I did with him for Amazon), but getting over that, I just love planetarium shows and they really could be about anything and I'd be happy. The BearI know Adam really enjoyed it as well: he said it was one of the best movie naps he's ever had. We watched the Big Bang theory and checked out the relative sizes display, although half of it was lost on me as it would said, "If Hayden's Sphere is the size of your brain, this model is the size a raindrop would be," and I didn't figured out that Hayden Sphere was the big round planetarium starring me in the face. rhinoAfter a while, I declared I was bored by outer space, so the four us tooled about the museum, getting goofy over the stuffed animals. As Adam says, there will never be another museum created like this one again, since shooting animals and stuffing them for our pleasure is kind of frowned upon these days. Oddly enough, all the primates have a look of surprised fear on their faces. Wonder why? The best part of the museum for me was a photograph exhibition called "Beneath the Antarctic," of a diving expedition. Incredible views.

Glug Glug

Hi LifeThe rest of the evening was spent hitting the Hi Life bar, then dinner at Max Soho, a game of Apples to Apples (and if you've never played this, which I hadn't, it is a really fun game if you've got a warped enough group, which obviously enough we did), and finally back to another bar, the Ding Dong. Adam and I called it an early night (what else?) and headed back for some sleep.

Funny thing, walking into the Ding Dong, I was reminded that New York places all have this incredibly identifying smell. The bars have this vaguely smokey, woody smell to them. The apartment buildings have the odor of a melange of foods being cooked at once. The clothing stores often have a slightly moldy scent. My nose alone brings back so many New York memories.

Self-portrait in NY apt. buildingI wonder sometimes if I could live in New York again. Picturing myself there takes a bit of work. I love how much there is to do. I love how convenient everything is. The subway makes getting from point A to point B a snap, as it's a much more extensive system than it is here in Boston. Of course, the flip side of that is that sometimes it's nice to just get in a car and go, and not have to deal with waiting for a train or walking to a subway stop in the bitter cold (and I just heard that they're raising the subway fares from $1.50 to $2, which is pretty criminal, if you ask me). The dirt and the noise I can live with. The biggest stumbling block, I think, is where to live. When I was 24, living in a tiny box with a loft bed and no closets and only the occasional mouse (although the cockroaches were regulars) was fun and cool and made me feel independent and oh-so grown-up. At 34, it's not so fun and cool, and really, I'm a little sick of the independent and grown-up bit. Seriously, though, having a lot of space is a priority for me. Having my own office makes me incredibly happy. A kitchen that can fit two people cooking together is not something I like to think of as a luxury. But in New York it is. You can have that if you live outside of the city, but then, you wouldn't be living in New York. All things to contemplate as Adam evaluates what kind of job he wants to take.

Sunday in the City

The Tweedle TwirpHeaded downtown on Sunday morning to stow our belongings at the Tweedle Twirp's and then met an old buddy at Benny's Burritos for lunch. Tweeds was right: Benny's just isn't what it used to be. It wasn't bad, but nothing like it was. By the time we were done with lunch at 1, Tweeds was fully awake, so out we went for some shopping. Unfortunately, my primary destination, Industrial Plastics, was closed, but we managed to do some damage at Canal Jeans, which is closing its humongous store on Broadway this week. (This feels like the end of an era for me. I outfitted myself primarily from Canal Jeans when I was New Yorker. My first winter coat came from its vintage section. All my black tops were from the five and ten dollar bins. My cute purple-flowered vintage dress was a Canal Jeans special. Of course, Balducci's also closed this past week, but without the fanfare of Canal Jeans. Well, unless you count security guards escorting the employees out, although I read they were all offered jobs in other markets--the employees, that is, not the security guards. Not that I've shopped at Balducci's more than twice in my life, if even that much, but it was nice to know it was there.) We got in on the second to last day for a bit o' shopping at Canal Jeans. Adam loaded up on 501s, whereas I found a lovely vintage, faux-fur-collared cream colored coat for a mere $15. I will look stylin' in that thing. Grabbed a couple of tops, and off we went. Visited Pearl Paint (for Martha supplies), and wandered in and out of stores, checking out the tres hip boutiques of NoLita, which I have major problems accepting as an actual area. When one section of town becomes too Gapped out (like Soho), they just invent a new one for the ten-foot-by-twelve-foot closets they call stores.

Of course, the trip wouldn't be complete without a visit to the new minimalist Prada store in what was part of the Guggenheim Soho. (Is it just me or is the Prada site a little minimalist itself?) I think more gawkers than shoppers were in there, but I guess they expect that with such a design. A trippy store that words won't do justice. I was ogling a pair of shoes that I thought were quite fetching but the Tweedle Twirp wouldn't let me get them because the heels were too high and Adam wouldn't let me get them because they cost $3,240. But they were purty.

"And They Lived Happily Ever After"

What is it about the Strand bookstore that the moment I walk in, my mind turns to mush. I've got plenty of books on my Amazon wish list, but the minute I'm confronted with the rows and rows and rows of review books, my mind goes blank and I can't remember a single title that I want to get. I am therefore forced to roam the aisles and discover completely new books to buy, thus increasing my pile of to-be-reads into an unmanageable state. In a state of shock, I just idled through the labyrinth piles of books. I did show some restraint and only picked up Abandon by Pico Iyer (because NPR gave it such a great review), Advanced Sex Tips for Girls: This Time It's Personal by Cynthia Heimel (because Cynthia Heimel was Carrie Bradshaw long before there was a Carrie Bradshaw and she's funnier and I think she's missed out), Her by Laura Zigman (for no other reason than it looked fun), Enough About You: Adventures in Autobiography by David Shields (David is a former professor of mine and I love his writing style--he's the one who got me interested in writing creative nonfiction), and Love Works Like This: Moving from One Kind of Life to Another by Lauren Slater (I've read her book Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, which both annoyed me and intrigued me at the same time, which I think makes for a really compelling book. But my image of her as a person is rather scary so I'm repelled/fascinated by the idea of her entering motherhood. You'd have to have read her previous books to know what I'm talking about.) (Ugh, and as I'm writing this, I realize I forgot to get the new Milan Kundera book.) Adam managed to walk out with just one book, which serves him right as I wanted to hit the road early, but he said we should go to the Strand, and therefore can't complain that I walked out with too many books I just don't need (although really, isn't every book a necessary book?).

And that was the perfect way to end our New York weekend.

The Highlight of Our Drive Back to Boston

A billboard in Connecticut that read: "Keep taking my name in vain. I'll only make your rush hour longer. --God"

Friday, January 17

Am I Verbose?

I had one of those days when things just weren't clicking. I have two stories that I had to have finished today: one article is supposed to be 700 words and the other 900. My drafts on these came in at 795 and 1014. After begging the designer for more word count and getting laughed at, I spent the afternoon cutting them both down, only to discover that I ended up with 840 and 1026 words respectively. I think this is why I'm not the one in business school: never did grasp that addition vs. subtraction thing.

Off to bed, because tomorrow morning we're going to wake up early to head down (yes, down) to New York for the long weekend. So you may not hear from me for a few days.

Thursday, January 16

HBS MBAs Too Rich

My thanks to Diana for sending me the article about Harvard funding education for those going into public service. Diana assured me my "standing in the CWITs should remain untouched by those do-gooders striving for careers in public service." Absolutely, especially given that none of the money will go to people in the business or law school because "departing students are typically offered large salaries."

Interesting. So instead of encouraging law students to become public defenders or prosecutors (please note, that the starting salary for public defenders in the state of Massachusetts is $35,000 a year, which according to my last calculation, means you could pay off your student loan in... um, never?) or helping business students to work for nonprofits, we'll just assume they'll go into big businesses and make megabucks. Seems to me that this is a vicious cycle. Charge so much that students have to go to work for big business, then don't give them any money because they are going into big business. Why not have a program like ROTC for business schools? We'll fund half your education (or whatever) and you commit to four years of work in a nonprofit after grad school. All those folks who would be going into nonprofit anyway would jump at it. And those who wanted to go into big business and earn those megadollars could just keep on moving.

Now, please don't think I'm defending MBAs in anyway here. I just think that a valuable way to make better, more responsible MBAs is being passed by.

Revisionist History

My mother accuses in my comments section (for those of you who don't read comments sections): "AH HAAA! Your mother tried to teach you to sew on buttons, but no, you said you were going to be chairman of the board of IBM and you would hire someone to do that for you...."

This is incorrect. I, at no time in my life, ever wanted to be chairman of the board of IBM. What she may be referring to is those years between the ages of 14 and 18 when I thought being the president of Chase Manhattan Bank, after a nice career as an international banker in Geneva, might be the thing to do. Tons of money, a penthouse apartment in Manhattan with a view of the city, fancy schmancy furniture that the full-time maid/chef kept clean, and a string of handsome boyfriends also came with that package (but not husband--never husband. The idea of husband didn't enter my mind until I hit my 30s).

What, didn't everyone know that at one time, my aspirations went beyond CWIT? There was a time when I wanted to have a CWIT? Yes, folks, it's true. I spent my freshman year at the University of Texas and on my application when it said pick your school, I checked off the box that said "business." (Ah, Texas. The only school that required no essays, no real application form. Just a bunch of check boxes. I, apparently, check boxes quite well.) Two semesters of calculus (As in both) and two in economics (Bs in both) made me realize how much I hated business. So I ran away and joined a film school.

(And for the record, it was my dear mother [yes, the artist] who said--when I told her I was going for my MFA--"Oh, an MBA! That's a great idea!" I corrected her, "No, an MFA. In creative writing." She replied, "What the hell are you going to do with that? An MBA is much more practical.")

Wednesday, January 15

Sew What?

My eyes are just tiny slits this morning, barely able to open up enough to see the screen. Last night was my first sewing class and as anyone who knows me knows, I am not an evening person. Normally, right here, right now in the glorious a.m. hours are my prime time. So as I was falling asleep in my lemongrass shrimp dinner before class last night, I said to Adam, "Not going to make it. Need caffeine." The fact that the lovely weather was one of those "15 degrees, feels like 4" (which it is right now), didn't help a whole lot (that weather simply screams for a warm bed. You thought it was the wind, didn't you? Nope. It was the screams of the weather). So off to Starbucks we went where all I had was a tall nonfat latte. Just a single. No big deal. Except that I've been off of caffeine for a long, long time. It did the trick. I was up and alert in class. And after class. And when I got into bed. And as I tried to fall asleep. And at 3 a.m. Seems to have lost all of its effect now. But then, caffeine raced through my veins like it was Dario Franchitti and I was the Monaco Grand Prix. (Okay, I have no idea if Franchitti actually races the Monaco Grand Prix, but he's the only race car driver I know of--and only because he's married to Ashley Judd--and the Monaco Grand Prix is the only race that came to mind.) (Another digression: Want to marry a celebrity but want to do away with all the nasty stalking? Just create your own marriage certificate and vows and tell everyone you've married Judd Nelson or whoever your famous love happens to be.)

So (Sew?) was it worth it? Yep. I know how to thread a sewing machine. Big step for me. The teacher is a trip. She's an attractive Russian woman in her, I'm guessing, 40s, who is very no nonsense. "You don't like the projects we are doing? No I won't change them. This is my class. This is what we do." She went around the room and had us tell our sewing background (mine is I can sew on a button in a pinch, but not very well), and whenever anyone mentioned that they knew someone who knew how to sew, she would bark out, "And why did they not teach you!" On one hand, very accusing, but on the other hand, just too funny. She was very concerned about why people were taking the class ("Are you taking this because you want to learn? Or because your mother wants you to learn?"). She also told us she would be very offended if we drop out of the class. So I guess I better stay in it. Besides, next week is buttons, hooks and eyes, and snaps. How can I pass that up?

Monday, January 13

The Female Partner's Perspective

I've been giving more thought to the partners working the admit weekend. I've decided I should submit the following "A Female Partner's Perspective" for next year's edition of the student handbook. You all remember how much I liked last year's, right? A conversation with a to-remain-nameless CWIT recently just reinforced all of this (yes, this is better than working on the novel):

You will be graded on a scale from 1 to 3, with 1 the highest and 3 failing. This is a forced curve, so not all of you will pass. A rare few of you who are outspoken (in the right way) and who excel in all areas will become Cook Scholars, which entitles you to a lifetime of nanny services. After all, business school is all about winning. And not only is Harvard not the exception, it is the epitome. You are no longer you. You are an HBS spouse. And at HBS, we take the CWIT (corporate-wives-in-training) program seriously.

Rule 1: You no longer have your own name. Even if you did, you are now your husband's appendage. "I'm Joe's wife." Taking your husband's name doesn't earn you points, because that is a given. If you kept your maiden name, well, you lose three points right off the bat. On your name tag, write in big letters, "Cruella Snodweiner, wife of Herbert Snodweiner the Third."

Rule 2: Be friendly, but not too friendly. Remember, your new friend's husband may one day be the investor your husband needs for his new venture capitalist firm. So be helpful to the other CWITs, but always maintain the upper hand. Say, "Oh, what a darling hair cut. I know just the place in town where you can go to get those roots taken care of." Say, "What an unusual shade of lipstick!" Say, "Has it already been six months? Losing baby fat is harder than it seems, isn't it." Earn 10 points.

Rule 3: Did you just ask where the male partners are? Ha ha ha ha. You get two points for making the fellow CWITs laugh, but you lose 5 points for asking such a ridiculous question.

Rule 4: Receive 1 point for every section social function you attend. Lose 2 points if you actually try to engage a non-partner in a conversation that lasts more than .75 minutes. Safe topics: the weather, what they think of the Enron case study they are reading, what their job was before HBS. Unsafe topics (immediate failure): what you think of the Enron case study that you read while your husband was playing golf with his professor; the inspections in Iraq; what your job was before HBS.

At the end of the two years your points will be tallied and your class participation will be measured against that of your fellow CWITs. After these scores have been carefully tallied and analyzed, gauging for future party-throwing potential and the ability to realize maximum profit when your husband divorces you for his prettier, thinner, blonder wife, a final ranking will be determined. And in a ceremony that occurs the same morning your husband graduates with his MBA, those numbers will be tossed out and the coveted CWIT of the Future Award will be given to the woman with the best manicure.

Can I Borrow a Cup of Ideas?

I am waiting to be struck with inspiration. I muddle along, reworking my novel from third person to first person (wondering all the while if I shouldn't also be putting it in the present tense, but I simply can't decide if I like the present tense), waiting to be hit with a smack of inspiration that says, "Yes! Yes! I've got it! That's where the novel is going!" But alas, the skies are clear and no great ideas are falling from it. Of course, perhaps it would be better if I dedicated actual solid chunks of time instead of just dabbling here and there. But still. It's too enormous for me to wrap my brain around it. Maybe I just start a new novel... No, no. That's how I got into trouble in the first place.


insulation gearAdam and his father spent the day yesterday (his last day before going back to school, which means I'm losing my houseboy) putting insulation in the upstairs, so I wouldn't have to complain constantly that I'm cold (which I always am) and crank the heat way up. The timing was great as I just paid last month's heating bill, which was absolutely outrageous. So they worked dutifully the entire day and I did the only sensible thing: I left the house. I met up with Wendy for lunch and then we went to explore the Fogg Museum and to do a little shopping. I got to tell you, some women may have felt guilty, going out while their husbands are slaving away, but not me. Nope, not one bit. And the bonus? When we woke up this morning, the room was lovely and toasty.

Sunday, January 12

The Kind of Morning It Is

I'm reading this book called The Frog King: A Love Story and on the cover is a quote from Bret Easton Ellis that reads, "Probably the funniest young-guy-in-New York novel since Bright Lights, Big City." So I think to myself, "What an ass, comparing this book to his own book and who does he think he is calling his own book funny and yadda yadda yadda." I'm really inappropriately annoyed at Ellis, until as I'm brushing my teeth, I think, "Ooohh! Ellis didn't write it! Jay McInerney did!" So I owe an apology to Bret Easton Ellis. Although it's really his own fault: all of them--Ellis, McInerney, Tama Janowitz--they all pretty much wrote the same novel, didn't they? Not that I haven't enjoyed them. And it's not any different than what I'll say in another five years about all those authors who wrote that collective Bridget Jones's Diary knock-off.

Saturday, January 11

Like a Sore Thumb

We went last night to Kevin and Shannan's where they made chili in preparation for the section's Super Bowl chili cook-off. Mmmm, good chili. Being the good Minnesotians they are (is that what you call people from Minnesota?), they made this appetizer that looked yummy. It was a puff of mashed potatoes on top of something. We asked what it was and they said, "Just try it!" so I dutifully popped one in my mouth. "Not bad, " I said, as I tried to figure out what the heck the flavor was. Sausage? No, not quite. Ham? Not exactly. The Minnesota part should have given it away. You all know what it was, don't you? Shannan laughed as she said, "They're Spam cupcakes!" Truly not bad. I ate two more. Apparently, it's a prize-winning Spam recipe. I'm just excited that I, who's so extolled the pleasures of the Spam museum, is no longer a Spam virgin.

But that wasn't what I wanted to talk about. Last night we walked into the party, and Shannan said, "What kind of beer do you want?" I said, "No beer, thanks. How about some water?" Everyone stopped to stare at me like I was crazy. I suddenly felt very defensive and I said, "I've sworn off beer until I lose another six pounds." Everyone expressed wonder at my willpower. I can't imagine what it must be like for someone who truly can't drink. Don't get me wrong--no one made me feel uncomfortable about it, but I definitely felt like the odd person out as the only one without a drink in her hand. But I've put on ten pounds since coming to Boston and in the past month or so, I've dropped four of them. Drinking just adds weight on to me, not just for the calories but because I lose my food inhibitions when I'm drinking and I would have scarfed an entire plate of Spam cupcakes. It's going to be tougher as Adam's semester starts and all the drinking events begin again. But until Jazz Fest, I'm drink free.


Keeping that book and movie blog makes me realize how lame I am when it comes to watching movies and reading books. I read every night before I go to bed, but really that's the only time I get quality time with my books. I need to carve out more time, but I'm not sure when to do that. That's one of the benefits of the single life--much more time to curl up with a book. Not that I'd trade curling up with Adam for curling up with a book, but reading is nice too.

Wednesday, January 8

Reality Bites

Reality junkies like me live to see how low the networks will sink next. I just watched the first episode of Joe Millionaire, which most of the TV watching world knows is a series about an average Joe construction worker, earning $19,000 a year, pretending to have inherited $50 million dollars as twenty women compete for his affections. In the last episode, he'll reveal that he's truly just a regular guy, barely making ends meet to see if the woman is really a gold digger or if she likes him for himself. I won't even go into the blatantly obvious flaws with the whole premise of this show, but I will be watching all the way through, if for no other reason than it's fun to watch the women cry when they don't get picked (does that seem cruel? Well, what did they expect going on a show to compete for their dream millionaire husband). All these women talked about how excited they are to get to be with a rich guy and how they all want to be provided for. I'm sure many women and men would love to be provided for, but they don't blabber about it on national TV, getting starry eyed as they excitedly talk about money. No fewer than eight women made comments involving the words "fairy tale" or "princess," as in "I'm a princess and this is the life I deserved" (an almost exact quote).

But Joe Millionaire wasn't the point of this. The point was the furor being raised over The Real Beverly Hillbillies, a series CBS would like to produce in which they take a true family from the Appalachians and plop them in Beverly Hills a la the old sit com. (Hey, does this sound like Frontier House in reverse to anyone else?) As the biggest opponent says, "The joke is that this family won’t know how to live with money, servants, modern appliances, prepared food, and other conveniences of 21st century life... CBS’s show will ridicule and mock people based on stereotypes and economic status." Valid points. I actually think this does cross a line because it takes advantage of those who may not know what they're getting into. (I'm judging this on the book that we're actually discussing in book group tonight, Rick Bragg's All Over but the Shoutin', which I wouldn't necessarily recommend, but apparently I'm the only one who wouldn't.) Anyone in this day and age who chooses to go on The Bachelor or, starting next week, The Bachelorette or The Real World or whatever knows exactly what they're getting into. If they get the family they really want, odds are they're not spending luxurious evenings sitting around a television, getting their fill of Survivor and Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire. This is out and out mockery. But should we expect more from the same networks that are bringing us The Will (families fighting for the family fortune)? (By the way, check out ABC's casting page to find all the reality shows they're looking to fill: want plastic surgery? to try on a new family? prove you're the All American Girl? This is the place.)

Of course, you know this all just makes me one big fat hypocrite. Because if they do get this show on the air, you know I'm going to be the first one to set up the Replay to make sure I get every episode.

Tuesday, January 7

Okay, One Thing About Work

This doesn't really count because it's not about work per se, but about an interview I just did. For a piece on how education has changed, I interviewed an alumna from the class of '41--she's almost 89 years old. I have never spoken to anyone who had such a wonderful, upbeat attitude. Everything was fabulous to her, and sincerely so (as opposed to those you meet where everything is faaaabulous, dahling). She ran a private kindergarten after high school to make money to go to college, and she charged kids 50 cents a week (she said to me, "That was during the deep depression. You're awfully young, dear. Did you know we had a depression?"). She picked them up in her 1927 Ford Beech wagon in the morning, worked with the kids till 3:15, then hopped a bus and was in class in Boston (she lived way out) by 4:30. When we got of the phone, she sang me a line from a song, as she says she always does. If a positive attitude will keep you going, this woman will live forever. I'm trying to remember her as I go through my frustrations of the day, and it does help somewhat. (I'll be sure to scan in the article I write about her, so you can see what I mean.)

I Just Can't Say

A lot of times I don't blog, not because I don't have anything to say, but because I don't have anything I can blog. Big difference. There are days I'd love to go off on rants about people I know (are you reading this, wondering if it's you? Honestly, it's probably not you), work, or things are too personal for a blog (and, yes, there are things too personal for a blog). That's how I've been feeling of late. Lots to say, nowhere to say it except my newly resurrected private journal. Times like this I understand the joy of an anonymous blog--but then someone always finds it, don't they, and then it's definitely not anonymous anymore (hmmm, could this be an interesting plot point for my novel? Could work...).

Saturday, January 4

On My Nightstand and in the DVD

For a few years, just after grad school, I kept a log of all the books I'd read with just a sentence or two about them. When I went traveling, and I had to pare down what I carried with me, I stopped doing it (which is remarkably similar to my vegetarian ways: for five years no meat, but then when traveling, poof, I found I needed to pare down my restrictions and I started eating meat again). I've missed doing that, if for no other reason than I have a bad memory, and often I'll pick up a book and think, "Have I read that already?" To that end, I'm going to try again with a book--and movie--log. My self-imposed rules are 1) I can only include it if I read/watched it all the way through (none of those good-intentioned reads that I only make it halfway through) and 2) all movies and books make it no matter how embarrassing to me. I'm starting fresh with the new year--no back filling for me. There's a permanent link on the right nav if you're ever curious about what's entertaining me.

The Sound of Snow

I was trying to come up with the sound of snow for the heading of this entry, but I'm at a loss. There's definitely a flutter or a whisper. Of course there's the crunch of it beneath your feet, the whoosh of it when I'm throwing of hunk of it at Adam, and the groan of it as it's melting and sliding off the roof. I'm still amazed by the snow. Just the sheer fact of it. Today was a pajama day all around. In Seattle, you had crappy day after crappy day of rain, but it was the kind of rain you could still be productive in, the kind of rain that just made you vow that this would be your last year in Seattle as you went about your normal run/work/errands/play (and, of course, once the sun poked out in July, you once again swear your eternal devotion to the most beautiful, most glorious city anywhere on earth). But here, the weather is entirely different. Today, so far, we've had about six inches of snow, and it just keeps coming. I sat at my desk in my flannel p.j.s (a Hanukah gift from Adam), alternately finishing up a freelance job and staring out the window at the wintriness of it all. Snow in New York was a completely different experience--it wasn't as complete. Here, the limbs of our tree in the front year are bowed nearly to the ground under the weight of the snow. Mounds, as tall as me, line our front yard where the plow piled it up. After I finished work, Adam and I bundled up and walked down to civilization to pick up a DVD and buy food for dinner. Swaddled in so many clothes made me vaguely remember my mother dressing me in layers and layers when we lived in Westchester, and how I would waddle around, feeling itchy beneath the clothes. I still feel itchy beneath the clothes.

Wednesday, January 1

Happy New Year!

Okay, even though I promised a posting of my New Year's resolutions, I've changed my mind. First of all, they're all pretty prosaic. Second of all, well, I guess there was only first of all. Blah blah blah, less sugar. Blah blah blah, less alcohol. Blah blah blah, write more. Really it was all too Bridget Jones to repeat here. So take my word--I have ten beautiful resolutions that I shall keep this year. And if I succeed, perhaps I'll tell you about them next December.