Thursday, December 30, 2004
As Meera and I parted ways after a lovely afternoon, I scooted up Mass Ave toward the 66 bus stop nearest the Harvard T station. Now, if you've ever had the misfortune of needing to catch this bus, you may know that you can see your fate for a solid three-minute walk/run before you actually reach the bus stop. You cross in front of the church and can see either many chilly people tapping feet impatiently or a big ol' bus glaring down at you and threatening to leave before you can risk your life crossing the street to get to it.
I stepped up the pace a bit once I assessed my own situation earlier today and saw that the bus was, indeed, glaring menacingly and looking a bit more like a steroidal race horse than most buses do. I rushed to the curb of the intersecting street as the bus edged away from the stop, caught by the same traffic that would kill me if I tried to cross. Dammit dammit dammit.
The light turned. The bus loomed away. I crossed slowly, dejectedly even. I idly gazed at the traffic of buses that weave and pass in that strange and unexplainable section of Cambridge, and lo, another bus reared its way toward the stop.
And, get this... it was a 66.
I had my change all ready in my hand from my fevered walk of moments before, which was lucky because I was a little stunned at my good fortune and could have forgotten to pay altogether.
The change clinks into the thinger, I briefly say "H'lo" to the driver, a white guy with a Boston accent who replied with "How ahh ya." Before I'm even in my seat the bus lurches and we're off.
The really great thing about boarding at Harvard ISN'T the waiting outside in the blistering cold wind among crazy people who drool tobacco juice on their shopping cart brimming with grimy blankets, although that's pretty sweet, too. No, oh no... the great part is that the bus comes to you fresh, bodyless, empty. Any seat could be yours, my friend. Put your feet up, stay a while... relax...
But this bus was really empty. Except for me. Running on the capable heels of the bus I had only just missed, all of the stops were vacant until we rolled across the bridge into Allston proper. This afforded some leisure time for your favorite JoBiv to sit awkwardly in a lit-up bus like a lone goldfish in an olympic-sized tank. And then he started talking.
"How do you like your limo ride so fah?"
"It's a little weird" (nervous chuckle)
He honks a few times, "Gahd there ah tons of people out right now. It's like an early rush owah."
"So ah you doin' First Night this yee-ah?"
"I dunno, prolly not."
Honk honk HONK. Awkward silence? Hard to tell...
"Um.. it's so expensive for what you get."
"Yeah, who wants to pay for a crowded bah where you still have to pay for drinks? And then to drive home... it's suicide. Not that I would drive home drunk. Not since I got this job..."
I'm not kidding. He said that. He said other things about First Night and New Yee-ah's in general, and then we finally had another passenger. And then a third. Slowly, normalcy regained, I no longer felt the burning strain of a forced conversation and he started yapping at other people. Apparently, this is how he passes his shift, with obnoxious honking and conversations chosen at random.
But really, I'd rather think that I was chosen, especially. Maybe not by him, but by some power that decided to send me a second-chance bus and set me in it like something enshrined. Garishly, of course, which is how most things are enshrined. But can you see me there, in my not-really-a-coat and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamscarf, tucking myself against a window and seemingly talking to myself, nodding and smiling queen-like for the invisible passers-by? It must have looked glorious, JoBiv ensconced in a burning chariot of fuel-efficient public transportation...
Don't worry, you, too, may get your time to shine.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
And lunch with Meera tomorrow. She's worth the exception.
But yes, I'm screening calls. Even YOUR calls. I'm sorry, but it's necessary for the moment.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Saturday, December 25, 2004
"Because it's awfully thin. You can't have pulled all of that out."
"It's not thinning. I'm thinning it."
"That solves the ol' problem of having too much hair, I guess."
"It could be falling out, maybe."
"Are you sure?"
Friday, December 24, 2004
23 Dec 2002
Subject: Cool Yule!
Jo Biv, my sweet monkey: I am ever so sorry for not-mailing you lo these past several months. Fortunately, the doctors have found a cure for the dreaded bastard gene and I'm being treated for it with a series of painful injections directly into the eyes. Ahhhh, what a relief it will be when I'm no longer a bastard!
I hope you are having a fantabulous Christmas and that your New Year's is also swell. I hope the fat cat brings you everything you want and that he doesn't eat all your Christmas cookies. I'm sorry that I haven't seen you in a while. A loooooong while. Oh, how I miss you!! Please come visit sometime if you have a chance. Perhaps a jaunt to Bean Town is in order soon.
Ok, gotta run. I miss you, kid! Merry Christmas! Tell the fam I said hello!!
I miss you, Jo!!
Merry Christmas. Love, Shane
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
I put up on ad on cragislist to whore my childcare skills to those in need and I got two replies. The first mom, J, has a nearly-six-yr-old girl with Cerebral Palsy who needs help getting off the school bus and into the house on Thursdays. The second mom, M, has a three-month-old baby girl who needs care 3.5 days a week.
Simple. I can combine them and make me some money.
Both moms contacted me to set up meetings, which I think of as interviews. Yesterday, on the coldest day EVOR, I took my little notepad of directions and headed out into hell to meet some families.
First stop: J's apartment.
On Cypress Street, in a section of Brookline where houses are embarassingly close to the road and embarassingly un-vinyled, I find the pink house with five steep and narrow steps leading to a battered front door. I ring what I assume to be a doorbell and eventually a young woman with hair hastily pulled half-up comes rushing to the door with apologies for making me wait a bit in the cold. She lets me in, introduces herself, then to the boyfriend and the brother, and leads me to the second room in the house, Sierra's room. The lavender walls have Dora The Explorer decals on them, and a confusing set of bunk beds, a large tv, and two dressers dominate the room and further dwarf the tiniest 5 yr old I have ever seen.
"Sierra, our new friend Jo is here!"
The little girl is wedged into a corner of her room with a big Trader Joe's bag by her side. She sits on her legs with her feet pointing behind her; tightly curled, tiny feet... I think, "Does she walk? How am I going to do this?"
She turns to see the stranger in the doorway, and I see this tiny, fragile-looking elfin face, long eyelashes poking out for emphasis of cuteness. She tells me something I can't understand - clear speech problems - and Mom eventually translates.
"She's cleaning the bunny's poops."
Actually, she is delightful. I spend an hour with J and Sierra, learning all of the rules of Sierra's life. She is not allowed to sit "in a double-u" and you have to remind her "to use leftie" and she needs "stretch-time"... all of these reminders come bolting out of J's mouth every five minutes, and Sierra obeys, shifting and pulling her body with all her effort to sit cross-legged, holding a piece of paper in place with the impossibly curled "leftie" while she uses the dexterity of rightie to draw a picture. Occasionally, J pulls Sierra to sit between her legs, pushes the little girls legs out straight, pressing on the knees, flexing her feet, flexing her fingers.
Meanwhile, boyfriend Chris and brother Dan play darts - the sharp metal kind - out in the hall. Despite Dan's cuteness (he was playing guitar when I first came in) I wonder at the fact that these two are drinking Heinies at 4:30 on a Monday night while J attempts to pull dinner, Christmas, and Sierra together.
Through the course of the meeting, which I discover is a relieved hand-off rather than an interview, I find out that this bedroom used to be a living room and Sierra used to sleep with Mom, and that they need a new roommate because this woman is moving out - do I know anybody? - and Chris prefers that Sierra doesn't play in his and J's room, he likes his privacy...
I ask for a tour of the house. There's a section of hallway with photos taped in a kind of gallery, a kitchen with milkcrates used for storage and two large (I can't help but think of drinking games) tables. The roommate's room in the back of the house is crammed full of crap. She's moving in January and it looks pretty crazy.
Before I leave, Sierra wants to show me how she can write her name. She's nearly six, after all. She uses a piece of orange construction paper and a slightly darker crayon, pressing the paper in place with leftie and squiggling a large, happy S. She gets the long line for her I down and then gets distracted by her bunny, Dusty. I ask her, "where does the dot go?"
She finishes her name with some elegant "cursive" and then asks me to write my name. I say, "Mine's easy, it's just two letters. J..."
She lights up, "Like Mommy!"
As I'm wrapping my scarf around my neck, she says, "I like it." J picks her up and I tell her it's an Amazing Technicolor Dreamscarf, and the things on the end are all scarflettes. It's like having lots and lots of tiny scarves. She giggles and I ask her to pick her favorite. Very carefully, as though they're fragile, she picks through the fringe and finds one with two shades of blue. She finds a red one to match Mom's sweater. She runs her fingers through the fringe like it's long, luxurious hair. I resist the urge to hug her. I'm already in love.
Second Stop: Anna's
A girl needs to eat.
Third Stop: M's condo
On the other side of Brookline, nestled cozily amongst parks and formerly shady oaks, amber light pours out of the beveled windows of solid Victorian doors. I find the address I need, walk up three gorgeous flights of stairs, and come to a friendly welcome mat and another beautiful door.
M answers, dressed in her evening relaxing clothes - knits with drawstrings - and welcomes me to her home. The place is cozy but not quite moved into, with boxes in the hall and some bare walls. The walls are dressed in dark wood framework, some of it carved, and a huge brick fireplace gives the space even more grandeur, if possible. Ruining the effect, somewhat, toys, books and cloth diapers litter the floor. With a glance I notice that they are THE toys and books to have - LaMaze, DK, etc. This is only one room, the living room, and I can see a huge dining room and a split kitchen that allows for another table.
M offers me a seat on a comfy couch, and I'm introduced to her husband, S. He totters off to make tea after commenting on the cold, and M pulls out a notepad. A notepad, I tell you!
"So," she says, "I've read over your resume," which I had sent more for effect than any serious desire to have them check it over thoroughly, "and see you've had a summer of nannying experience. Tell me what that was like."
As I talk about Baby Nora and jLiz, she takes notes, nods, and suddenly I remember that she's a family physician.
Soon she's asking me what I think my strengths and weaknesses are, where my career in childcare is headed, what do I get from the experience of caring for children... after 15 minutes of interrogation, S comes out with the tea and complains that we cannot possibly have tea at this table with the tablecloth looking as it does.
No shit, they change the tablecloth.
Sitting at the table we catch up S on my answers thus far, and he adds a comment here and there. I have the distinct feeling they've put others through a similar ringer. They ask me about where I'm from and my family, and I ask them the same questions, polite and trying to be interested. Suddenly we hear a quacking noise from a distant room. M got up to retrieve the baby, while S and I talked about art and printmaking and a couple of the beautiful pieces in the home.
The quacking came closer, and cuddled in M's arms was a tiny being in a pink terry pajama suit. Lil Pea rubbed her eyes and continued to pretend to be very upset without convincing any of us.
At this point, I knew it would be a bad idea to hold the baby. It was clearly her Hour of Evil, even though I was assured she's a very good baby. I knew that she would not like the smell or feel of my strangeness, and sure enough, once in my arms she worked up to a code yellow cry.
After switching the baby between Mom and Dad for a while and making some more pleasant small talk, I put on my coat and wrapped up, wishing the family a happy new year and saying I hoped to hear from them soon...
Fourth Stop: Home
There is a scheduling conflict between the two jobs. Lil Pea needs care 3 or 4 days a week, including Thursdays. That gig, of course, offers a lot more money. During the interview I found myself saying that I wasn't available Thursdays, and I thought to myself, "You jackass... you are JOBLESS. Make yourself available..."
But I can't. I think of Sierra gleefully crawling after her bunny and pulling on my scarflettes, and I'm already melted.
Well, I have one job. We'll just see about M and S and their sweet baby girl.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Even more wonderful, the person calling me was my friend from St. Bona's, Jack Sprat. (Actually Mazurak, but we called him Sprat, which is much more fun to say.) The conversation began thusly:
Sprat: Hello there
JoBiv: Um... hi...
Sprat: Is this JoBiv?
Sprat: This is Jack
JoBiv: Whoa... Hi Sprat!!
Sprat: Mambo #5 came on the radio, so I started dancing in my kitchen, slidin' around and acting like an idiot, and I thought of you and had to call you.
JoBiv: Is that a compliment?
Ahh Sprat... He always works this way. He and I became friends because we both write poetry, love jazz music, sang in choir together, and spent a lot of time in the media wing of our college, where both The BonaVenture (newspaper) and The Laurel (literary magazine) came to life through magic, caffeine-induced hysteria and tomfoolery. Jack is one of those journalists who wishes he could be a poet full time, but alas, this does not pay the bills. His poems are very good, and he always begins his explanations of them with, "I was walking out in the woods, and I was inspired by..."
It's fun to be around a person who frequently runs head-on into inspiration, and these people tend to call me when inspired by something, and the something is always amusing.
JoBiv: Did the dancing involve jazz hands?
Sprat: It did, and sort of a nice sidestep move with a half-jazz hand flutter out to the side.
JoBiv: Holy crap, Jack. You're killing me... (giggling uncontrollably)
Sprat: I had an invisible partner at one point, too, and boy was she limber...
The last time I saw Sprat... Well, it could have been Shane's funeral, but I don't remember anyone who was there, really. So many faces. I know we talked on the phone around then, and shared some memories. The last time I remember seeing Sprat, it was the weekend of my graduation. He was a year ahead, and so I was hugely surprised to see him walking through the main doors of The Hickey Dining Hall. (No really, it's called The Hickey Dining Hall.) At the time, I remember that my parents were hovering on both sides of me, my brothers were getting drinks, we were all standing around, and I was miserable with the anxiety of graduating and the sappy sweetness of my family being so proud of me, beating all of my older brothers to a college degree. And then Sprat burst in, gave me a big hug, and told me he was there to make sure that his friend Ernest, an exhange student from... was it Singapore?... graduated and got on the plane back home before he could officially start a life of crime in the states.
Sprat: I'm in Mississippi now
JoBiv: What the hell? Closer to Alison? (girlfriend of 4 yrs)
Sprat: Yep, starting a job tomorrow at [enter some paper's name here].
JoBiv: That's craziness! I mean, good for you!
Sprat: Y'know they call Jacksonville "Jack-town," so I had to move here.
Excellent logic, Sprat. Excellent logic.
So today's neighbor blog comes from Jack's roomie from over the summer, a guy named Pat. His blog is mighty smart and humorous, and Jack has some cameos in the summer months. According to Sprat, I have to like Pat's stuff because I also have a blog (which he has never read, only hearing about it last night). Okay, and because he thinks we're both funny. I haven't been too funny lately, however I think my chat with Sprat has lightened my mood considerably. Don't you?
Sprat: I'm a little worried, because I've heard they don't like Yankees down here.
JoBiv: That's scary country, Sprat.
Sprat: I know. And it's serious bible belt country, too...
JoBiv: Did I mention the word "scary?"
Sprat: So I think I'll make up a bumper sticker or a t-shirt or something that says, "Jesus loves Yankees too."
Ahh Sir Spratly... You are brilliant.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
I've been thinking about my brothers a lot lately, especially since my brother Tom called the other week (so mysterious!), and because I miss them more when I'm with them. When I'm actually with them, you heard me, and I will be with them shortly for the annual holiday soul massacre. Also, I've been having conversations with people who think guys are scum, even some guys who admit to their scumminess. I seem to be the only person I know who doesn't believe in guy scumminess.
This may seem odd to you, if you know how much and how easily I'm hurt by my brothers, but it has nothing to do with scumminess. I think that if they were sisters we would have the same emotional leverage with one another, and we would hurt one another unknowingly just the same way.
I'm sad about the way guys have been made to feel inferior, clumsy, and inherently scummy. Why isn't anyone else sad about this? Why is it okay that every sitcom on tv has a bumbling, clueless, under-qualified, sometimes scummy dad? Is it okay for women to believe that the men in their lives have that guy inside them at all times, and shout whenever a shadow of that cliche appears as though they have irrefutable proof? Simultaneously, this allows men to slip into the stereotype and shrug their shoulders as if to say, "you should have known. I'm a guy. I'm a scum/idiot/blunderer. Don't you watch sitcoms?"
Rise above, people!
Strange diatribe for a Sunday night, admittedly. My brain keeps moving around on me and making some things crystal clear and others very, very foggy. No answers here, folks.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Met me for yumminess at Zaftigs and even
Continued to the Booksmith and later, yes even later,
Accompanied me to The PaperSource, where I did math in my head
Successfully. This is auspicious evidence
That Kate influenced the cosmos today
And made it bearable for me, even if in doing so
She further neglected a much neglected paper
For Cathie's Crit class. Ah, Kate,
Who is lovelier than thou?
That's a poor poem, but you get the gist.
Friday, December 17, 2004
I have not left my apartment in two days.
It occurred to me, earlier, that I have trouble recalling the details of my flight on this coming Wednesday. It's the ONLY THING I have to do, really, in the next coming weeks, and I keep forgetting it. How's that for your subconcious commandeering your waking life?
I say it's the only thing I have to do, despite my many lists. (Obsessive list making - symptom #3?) I say this because it's the only thing I have to do that affects other human beings and will make me feel horrible if I don't succeed at it. The rest of my lists can reasonably wait until after I return, but that's an unhealthy way of thinking. I shall limit it as much as possible.
I don't like this whole flying thing. I haven't spoken to another human being in person since H-Bomb said, "have a nice Christmas, Jo Anna," last night at some point. And yes, she mispronounced my name. I haven't touched another human being since I gave a bus transfer to a bus driver and his hand closed around my fingers. Creepily, I might add.
What I'm saying is that I'm a little leery of throwing myself into holiday traffic with full gusto, holding my own amongst strangers. And then sitting buttcheek to buttcheek with a stranger on the plane for hours. And flying by way of DC - so unnecessary - unloading myself into another airport full of strangers hopped up on holiday spirit or humbugs.
Dear reader, I didn't tell you that when I last went home for Baby Girl's birthday party, my Aunt Paula said, "Jo, your hair looks so different... it's sort of smooth and straighter or something."
"Yeah," I said, "It's long enough to weigh itself down."
"There's something else that's different..." she said, voice loud and nasal.
I shrugged, hoping she'd drop it. "Well I think I finally have the curls under control." (You may laugh, gentle reader.)
"I know what it is! You've had it thinned!" Then she ran her fingers through my hair and felt the back where it's thinnest, frowning at me and looking at my mom, who watched this whole interaction intently. "They did a pretty uneven job of it..."
What if I miss that flight? They wouldn't come to get me, right? What's the worst they could do?
So, you may be happy to hear that I have crossed several things off my list. F'rinstance, I took a shower. I also put other things on the list and got to cross them out immediatly upon finishing: putting up an ad offering childcare on craigslist.com, responding to a few ads (a mom needs help with 2 mo. old twins! goodness!), and calling around to secure enthusiastic references. jLiz has agreed, despite the fact that I pinched her baby. Not on purpose... it was the damn car seat's fault.
Today only has one major list item to overcome: Finagle a reason to leave the apartment.
Harder than it seems, lemme tell you, because I can't spend any money, even though Hoot is on sale at the Booksmith and I still need to buy jewelry supplies for christmas gifts.
Think think think...
Or rather, finagle finagle finagle...
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Stefan, very kindly, tried to help me come up with Things To Do before I leave for Rochacha. If y'all have anything to add I am definitely open to suggestions.
Things To Do:
List A: Do these things today, Jo.
1. Take a shower.
2. Send an invoice for two projects completed in December
3. Get printmaking supplies for the Christmas Card Extravaganza
4. Start cutting plate for aforementioned Extravaganza
5. Get a movie or figure out similar reward for getting off your ass today.
List B: Do these things before you leave for Rochacha, Jo.
1. Visit the Career Center (without panicking or crying).
2. Feed self every day.
3. Figure out Christmas gifts for brothers' girlfriends/wives. (Well, one wife, two girlfriends.)
4. Call friends in Le Victoire and establish Escape From Alcatraz-esque plans for Christmas week.
5. Finish and mail Masshealth application.
6. Print and mail Christmas cards.
I've already bungled my plans. I came straight to the Simmons lab instead of showering, because I was already on the 66 bus and didn't think I'd leave my apartment if I let its inviting, uterine warmth envelope me.
And I can't send the invoice (though I've filled it out) until the latest editor actually manages to open the document I sent him and tell me everything's fantastic. (Which it is. I actually liked this last project.)
I like the word envelope. The envel part sounds kinda swanky and luxurious, and the ope part seems a bit comical on the end. Pop pop pop. Envellopop. Opie dope envelope. Lope... I like that word, too.
Right! Back to (fake) work!
Monday, December 13, 2004
I was thinking about how Miss Sarah and I shouldn't wash our hair every day, and how other people think that's gross, which is unfair.
And then I thought of Les French, the people who lived above me when I lived in Ireland (some of whom were Dutch, but that spoils it), and how they somehow magically broke every rule without damaging their reputations or friendships. And I pondered why. This is what I came up with.
Affront #1: They are French. (Except for the Dutch ones.)
Counteraction: They moved to Ireland, ON PURPOSE, which means they are of that select line of Frenchpeople who do not want to live in France. I call that good judgement.
Affront #2: They speak French
Counteraction: They never gave me the feeling that they believed French to be the most romantic language on earth, mostly because half of their vocabulary was vulgar.
Affront #3: Deficient laundry skills
Counteraction: Like cartoon characters, they would wear the same outfit repeatedly, which meant I could recognize them from great distances and in most stages of inebriation. Very helpful.
Affront #4: Deficient personal hygiene skills
Counteraction: They always had the coolest hair! And by the way, if you're beautiful and have an accent, you somehow never smell like ass.
See? I told you. MAGICAL.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Well, there was a little hitch, but you have to expect a hitch with 14 yr old cashiers. Not his fault, certainly. The 16 yr old manager simply didn't inform him on how to handle a free food coupon so that he could feel important when he pressed some magic button to make it all okay.
I did not, as Sus suggested, get the most expensive product Stah Mahket offers. I got fillets. Thank you, Sus.
(And thank you, Papa Warhovah.)
Friday, December 10, 2004
I missed Susan P. Bloom's holiday booktalk. Why? Because I'm afraid of people, especially people who might be concerned about me, and therefore did not stop by her office two weeks ago when I should have stopped in to ask about her booktalk. I'm a putz.
I like using Yiddish words and phrases during Chanukah. Makes me feel slightly less goyish. Although, why shouldn't I feel like a goy?
Back to my joblivion... I'm not paying attention in general. I am getting a lot of writing work done, which is good, but I didn't really notice that today is December 10th, or a Friday, or any other number of important things. I exist somewhere in my own brain, some tiny pinpoint of a place, where there's enough insulation around me that I don't have to care about most things.
I forget, sometimes, how easy it is to become invisible. It's not a superpower, you just fold in and become unimportant until you're that pinpoint and no one can see you unless they're really looking. And not many are really looking.
But then I know how hard it will be to unfold later. I've done all this before and it's counterproductive to Life. In a weak gesture of resistance, I've tried to keep up with David, I've emailed jLiz and Christi, I even called my brothers Cripps and Smacks last weekend. PHONE calls, not telepathic calls (which don't work, turns out). Smacks called me back to say he'd call me back. Later, I mean. He didn't, though.
It's too bad he didn't. I need to know what colors his girlfriend likes so I can make her a christmas present. I haven't decided what to make for the boys' girls this year. I've screwed myself over by giving them gifts in the past. It all seems so odd when I can't do anything for the people I really love, my friends here and all over. I mean, to put so much effort into a gift for girls I see on a quarterly basis for three hours altogether... If it's any consolation to the friends I love, I put more work into the Christmas cards I send you. When will I see any of you again? I can't even fathom it - having enough money or courage. Or time.
See, now that I'm pushing at the insulation I have to think again, and thinking leads to dwelling, and dwelling leads to NOTHING GOOD AT ALL. Stop stop stop.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Apparently, Shane has a park named after him. This park. I think it's on the college campus, but can't say for sure. Colleges do crap like this, though, so it makes sense. And I think I detect the Allegany Mountains and a cheap lookin' aluminum shed, which are likely components of a St. Bonaventure University landscape.
I'm not convinced that they had Shane's three hearts in mind when they created this park. Conspicuously missing: drinking fountain spouting cheap beer, swingset (with curly slide), full-size naked photo of Janet Reno, and Muppets. Any of 'em.
I hope you've noticed that I'm trying not to dwell on Things, but they pop up out of nowhere and bitch-slap me. Like this park... I was just loping along with my day when, POP, Uncle Chuckles sent out a mass email with this park photo. The photo was taken in September on the only sunny day western NY ever had. Truly remarkable.
And last week Katya invited me to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas with her and Anne. Did I ever tell you how Shane was obsessed with Christmas specials and had them all on tape under other titles, like "Chuck F (Uncle Chuckles) Lights the Menorah," and "Carlton A Sings the Blues?" We would order a pizza and watch Christmas specials, especially Muppety ones, perched on Shane's bed-on-bricks and turning up the volume when his nextdoor neighbor Joe D started singing along with Sinatra. Shane called it The Joe Datillo Variety Hour, or Joe D Sings Romantic Standards, or Joey D Live In Concert.
Okay, not dwelling. Moving on.
I will also try not to fill my blog with weeks of Going Home Soon Anxiety and Slowly Recovering from Trip Home Angst. I will not go on and on about how my father plans to abduct me THIS time (he's already finagled a way to get me on a plane - scary), or how my mother's voice cracks when she tells me she's really, really, REALLY looking forward to seeing me and can't I stay longer?
A few other things I am consciously not dwelling on: joblessness, increasing hairlessness, increasing fear of phones, insomnia... Lookame not dwelling! Holy cow!
Monday, December 06, 2004
How astoundingly beautiful is this picture? It's an oxygen bubble inside a water bubble at zero gravity. This was taken on the International Space Station, and it's just about the only thing that really grabbed my attention of all my research for the Mars project.
I got a tiffy email from my editor today. She said something like, "How's that project coming? I'm just asking because our deadlines aren't as flexible as they used to be here." Haha! She should get into politics. "No, it's not ME telling you to get it in on time, it's THEM... THOSE people... the MEAN ones. Don't shoot the messenger!"
I really should get right to work on the 32-pager, but my eyes hurt, my fingers are frozen, and I'm very, very tired. Also frustrated... there's this job at Houghton that I want to apply for, but I can't find writing samples (I know, I know, but I can't share my freelance work according to my contract). I just figured out that my disk of work from the Writing class disappeared along with my purse that day on Newbury Street.
Sigh. I hope I have print copies of all that stuff. Wish me luck on my search.
Did the neighbor blog thang today, so click the subject line! This blog is so... pretty. See what you think.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
David the Great is one of my two best friends from college. (The other is Allie. She's in Chicago, according to rumor and a message on my machine.)
You may say, "Pick a college, Jo. It's gotten confusing."
I'm talking about St. Bonaventure University, the ol' Brown and White. That doesn't sound appealing, does it? I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time a month or so ago, and the character in that book has a strong aversion to brown things. He would not like SBU. Besides the mud, there are also Franciscan Friars, who wear brown robes. The Allegany River usually looks brownish, as well.
BREAKING NEWS! David has discovered the sad fate of the sweater I lost last night.
drblouin1: i pay attention you know
JoBiv: prolly more than I ever do. thanks for that
JoBiv: frinstance, i lost a sweater yesterday
JoBiv: due to my lack of attention to details
drblouin1: did the detail gnomes take it from you
drblouin1: they quizzed you on it and then determined you could not recognize it from tuna
drblouin1: then they absconded with it
drblouin1: didn't they
drblouin1: they always do that
Oh Doctor, you're a godsend.
Saturday, December 04, 2004
I didn't think I'd ever make a statement like the following, but epiphanies, as is their nature, do take one by surprise and cause strange things to fly from one's mouth (or fingertips). And so I say the following.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who know where to sit, and those who don't.
I have been thinking of my childhood, and how my family seemed so different from my Aunt Paula's family. I thought of family holidays, how we always got to her house early, and my brothers and I drifted around, unable to settle in one place until finding that we were forced to make room between apologetic Cousin Olga (my Russian grandmother's cousin, resembled Uncle Fester) and critical Great-Aunt Lee (who had fingernails like tetanus needles). Even while hanging out with our cousins, who sprawled across their carpet or flung a leg over the lazyboy's arm, we shifted uncomfortably on couch cushions or leaned against a wall.
Well, sure, that's someone else's house. But in my own? Every family meal caused some anxiety when it came to seating. My brother Tom seemed immune, but then again no one wanted to cause trouble because he was scary. But Cripps, Smacks, my parents and I could not find a routine. We kids did not want to sit within my Dad's reach (which is an alarmingly large area due to his freakish ape arms), and we had to allow for Cripps being a lefty. And if we could avoid it, we would try to sit in a non-Death Seat. The Death Seat forced you to get up for the things that someone else forgot to bring to the table - butter, salt, milk - and somehow also forced you to pass everything across the table between my parents, situated at the poles.
And then there were the varying qualities of the chairs to think of. One was so damaged that it acted like one of those gliding front-porch rockers, which was a pleasant sensation until my mother screeched at us to stop breaking the chair.
This isn't a nature v. nurture discussion, however, and my point remains. We do not know where to sit. Ever. If you've been in a class with me, or to a restaurant, or in my home, or in the T station, you know this to be true of me. I hover, float, perch, but never settle. It takes me months to wear in a chair and command it to be my favorite place to sit, and then it always feels like a thing forced.
Here's the thing I've noticed, though, that makes this a true epiphany. Those who know where to sit usually get their way. The rest of us compromise. I try to pat myself on the back and admire my own compassion and hospitality, but really, I want to sit anywhere I want and magically transform my seat into a throne with my very presence.
I'm not saying that know-where-to-sitters AREN'T brimming with compassion and hospitality, but they do know how to fulfill their own needs so that they can deal with the world with some outward show of confidence. But I can't speak from that side of the fence, so this is only conjecture.
This photo of Audrey Hepburn makes me wonder about her. Do you think she knew where to sit? She seems so squarely positioned, but there's some uncertainty in her eyes. Do you see it, too?
Friday, December 03, 2004
My daily routine for the last two weeks forced me to stay in my apartment until after lunch so that I would not be tempted to buy lunch elsewhere. Since I also stay in bed until my roommate has safely disposed of herself, this makes for a later start than might be advisable. I figure, however, that since I am in no way a morning person I am actually preparing myself to be fully useful for the second half of the day, instead of lying to myself and saying I've done eight hours of work by 5 or 6pm. Sensible, no?
The main thing, really, is that I am oh-so-proud of myself for spending nary a dollar on lunch food for the past two weeks, which balances out the food bought for my Thanksgiving meal. Such extravagance demands some punishment in these paycheckless hours.
And so, for two weeks, I have woken up at 8am, listened to Heather prepare to leave the apartment FOR TWO FRICKIN' HOURS, rolled out of bed to shower, turned on Ellen, made breakfast, poked at my guitar and strategized things. Then at about 1pm I convince myself that I'm hungry and warm up my leftover potatoes or squash soup. Don't tell me they're probably too old to be good. I'd rather not think about microbes.
Then I put on my socks and sneakers. That takes a long time and I don't know why. It's up there with the three hardest parts of the day.
And today, all of the day's efforts were rewarded as soon as I let the arched door of the Castle Warwick close behind me.
First, I noted the clear and lovely sunshine beating its way through the nekkid trees. Lovely blue sky, as well. People looking busy up and down Beacon St. as crews washed windows, hung holiday lights on aforementioned nekkid trees, unloaded fruit for the Russian grocer, and a strange young man in a long wool coat and nice pants walked toward me with arms outstretched, a beaming smile on his face.
"JoBiv!" said he.
"Kevin Drumm!" sez I.
Imagine the slo-mo scene of lovers leaping through a field of wild flowers, hair a-flowing, violins soaring...
... except with me and Kevin Drumm, a friend from college whose hometown neighbors mine, and we're not running, and we just hug and smile at each other pleasantly and try to catch up in three minutes, knowing we won't make a date to hang out or see each other until the next chance crossing.
Drumm updated me with good news - a promotion, general busy grown-upness, demanding but satisfying job... It was a "casual Friday" and he wore Dry Clean Only slacks and a shirt that requires ironing, but, he urged me to notice, no tie or suit jacket. Oh... I see.
"How are you, JoBiv? What's new?"
This is where I'd like to make up a story.
"I'm doing ab-fab, dahling. I've just signed a recording contract with Verve and my first novel is off to the printers as we speak. I was just strolling out to meet friends for lunch on Newbury... I do adore people-watching and wearing pointy-bitch-shoes, don't you know..."
"Oh I'm good! I've been doing this freelance writing gig and I'm kinda laid off from it..."
"You should get on unemployment... Man, during the holidays and everything..."
"Um... except it's by contract..."
"OHhh... Oh. Well, you'll find something."
"Yeah, and the great thing about freelancing is that it takes forever for the paychecks to come, so I'll actually continue to get paid for a few months! AND," trump card, wait for it, "I get to wear jeans every day, you know."
Kevin Drumm chuckles in the right places, we laugh at how grown-up he seems, how little pot he's smoking these days and how seldom he drinks. He wishes me luck, we hug again, wish each other a happy holiday...
There are worse things than getting a big friendly hug the instant you walk outside.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
While watchin' me some TV this morning I was a little stunned by a commercial that came on for caskets. Did you know that funeral homes cannot legally refuse to use a casket that you buy at a factory outlet? Smart consumers, belly up! I have images of a coffin section in BJ's and Sam's Clubs across the nation. Wow.
It made me think of my Grandma Fabrizio, because I remember the day my mother returned from a visit in Syracuse to tell us that Grandma had bought caskets for herself and her husband, as well as burial plots for themselves and their two daughters in the Russian Orthodox cemetery (on seriously pitiful real estate, only rivaled in piteousness by the Jewish cemetery across the road). She had also had her teal (no shit) dress sent, the one she wore to my cousin's wedding in 1988, to the cleaner's for preservation and storage, and instructed my mother on the jewelry she preferred to wear.
How old was I? I must have been 12 or so... Some other season, we somehow ended up driving around Syracuse and my parents felt like visiting some ancestors in various cemeteries. Why do people do that?
Why go for a drive
just for a drive?
Why seek comfort from
Don't remember the poet. Just the lines. As I was sayin', I have this memory of sitting on a little hill by a huge tree next to my brother Dan. Could it have been Dan? He never sat still. Maybe the cemetery affected him. But there we sat, in the cemetery where my father's family was buried, Peaks and Barrs - blueblood types. It was a pretty place with rolling hills and orderly, white stones. Lots of those synthetic veteran rosette ribbons poked out at funny angles like perverse flowers.
My parents stood a little bit away from us, and my Mom said, with rather a hysterical little laugh, "Well, it's settled then, I can't die!"
My dad put an arm around her and kissed her face or temple or ear...
The Russian Orthodox priest had resold my mother and aunt's plots. Someone else had been buried in them. If we had been in that cemetery I'm sure my brother and I would have leapt up to see the proof. As it was, we just sat quietly and looked at our shoes, and thought of our mother dying. She looks terrible in teal, and I wondered what she should wear. I had the sudden knowlege that it would be me, someday, instructed in what earrings she would prefer for the wake and whether they should be removed and kept as heirlooms before the burial.
She wore simple gold hoops, then. Every day. And a tiny gold charm with her monogram in a circle on a thin gold chain, and two emerald rings, simple bands with muddy stones, that my father had bought from whatever he scraped together in the years they struggled for luxuries. And there was this silky dress she had that emphasized her waist. Would anyone see her waist at the wake?
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
You're The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!
by C.S. Lewis
You were just looking for some decent clothes when everything changed
quite dramatically. For the better or for the worse, it is still hard to tell. Now it
seems like winter will never end and you feel cursed. Soon there will be an epic
struggle between two forces in your life and you are very concerned about a betrayal
that could turn the balance. If this makes it sound like you're re-enacting Christian
theological events, that may or may not be coincidence. When in doubt, put your trust
in zoo animals.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Is that Carrie Fisher? Anyone?
The quiz itself amuses. Do partake.
You're The Mists of Avalon!
by Marion Zimmer Bradley
You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Did you all experience the same shudder of foreboding just now?
First issue: Christmas present. Singular. Now I'm not usually so petty come Christmas time, but this year I NEED things, because I cannot buy them for myself. I have one item of tupperware, for instance. I do not own a sharp kitchen knife. I no longer own a serviceable pair of proper winter shoes. I haven't gotten a hair cut (unless you count voluntary pulling out) since May. I'm not even talking about the things that would be just lovely to have, like subscriptions to literary magazines or copies of books I've been coveting. I NEED THINGS.
Second issue: What the hell could it be? What are they forcing on me? The imagination runs quite amok, I tell you.
I think, maybe, they could be sending me an albatross. Perhaps a dead one. That would be symbolic. And until I make my peace with them I have to wear it around my neck...
Or, possibly, it could be this rather inconveniently sized bookshelf that I left behind when I moved. Worse, this big trunk of my grandmother's, the size and weight of a full coffin.
The problem, I think, lies in the term, large package. How large is large, mother? Bigger than a bread box? Smaller, I hope, than a coffin? HAVE YOU SEEN MY APARTMENT??? Okay, it's roomier than the last one, but I still don't have room for anything large. I just upgraded to a queen-sized bed this year, which leaves me with just enough room to crack my elbow against my bedroom door when I flail out of bed in the morning.
More likely they've bought me a computer, despite my numerous protests, and I will set it up on the far side of my bed, in lieu of a desk, and I'll never have to leave my apartment EVOR again.
Fear of all fears - they've somehow managed to buy me a car and they're being cute about the "package" thing.
This afternoon I did a double-take on my way out the door. There was a package for me in the foyer. During the uninformative phone call, my mother told me she was sorry that she couldn't gift-wrap said item and I am allowed to open it before Christmas. She made it sound like it would come straight from a store or something. This package had labels with her handwriting. I took it upstairs and ripped at the paper. It was white on the outside, printed with white roses on the inside. Clever. The box was nearly weightless but there was a "Fragile" sticker on it. ("Frah-jee-lay... is that Italian, honey?") The giftbox inside was printed with a fancy country-store style insignia. "Oh god," thought I, "it's something porcelain and touching." But it was so light! Maybe it was a check! I pulled aside the clouds of white tissue paper in a frenzy, dreaming of actually Christmas shopping in STORES this year, rather than smushing together sad craft projects.
What did all of my frenzy reveal?
A red, velveteen bow with green christmas trees silkscreened on and gold glitter here and there. It's a nice bow, as bows go. Someone had pinned a small gift card, which was inexplicably crumpled, to a christmas tree. "Put this on your gift before you open it. - Mom and Dad. Lots of love." (Yes, that was the order of the message.)
It's coming. The Present. It could be in a FedEx truck as we speak. Slowly, it approaches, biding it's time, dreaming of the day it will finally arrive in my foyer and fulfill it's sick destiny. I live in terror.
A footnote - I also live in terror as I await the day when my brother Cripps passes on this blog's address to my parents. I blame the Imholt sisters.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Yet further proof of love:
Letter from Sarah! (Or SMI, which makes me think of the Peter Pan character, Smee. But Sarah's cuter and she's no slave to a pirate captain. Actually, she is in no way like Smee.) She wrote me a lovely letter, replete with Spiderman stickers, glitter glue, and de-stressing card thingies. Gollee she's crafty. And a giver by nature.
I frickin' love mail.
Received some news from Miss Meera, but I suspect she'll want to tell you herself. Oh goodness... that doesn't mean you should all attack her at once. I'm sure she'll tell y'all when she catches her breath. But I do feel some anxiety for her, and paradoxically I also have to indulge in a long sigh of relief.
Sweet Meera. I think things will be okay.
I hope we actually keep up with this Book Club idea of Sarah's. Very good one, I have to say. I'm hoping it will help me to feel a bit more connected on a day-to-day basis. Or a month to month basis?
And I am not ashamed at all to talk about TMWB in my blog. After all, there is a slight chance that she'll assume it's the OTHER MWB. Hahahahaha... I'm not a nice girl. (Sarah, do you get it yet?)
Saturday, November 27, 2004
JoBiv, what are you talking about?
I'm talkin' bout Sus, who sent me a buttload of coupons for free Gorton's products. Free, I tell you! And I thought, when she asked me if I'd eat any Gorton's products, that a big truck would back up to the doors of the Warwick building (my building, that is - it does have a fancy name), and dump 60 pounds of fish in the foyer. Boy would my neighbors be mad. Boy would it be funny. Regardless, coupons are preferable. And now I can have protein! Yay! For FRIZZLE.
Sus also answered all of my many questions in her letter, and my curiosity is now satisfied. Except for the new questions that have sprung up. She also very lovingly lectured me on a few points, and I needed that. Thanks, Sus.
Yet further proof that I have the best friends in the world:
I called MeeraLove yesterday, as requested previously, and she invited me to see A Shot in the Dark (second Inspector Clousseau movie) at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. Her treat! The movie, if you've never seen any of them, was very funny and silly and groovily representative of the swell '60's. Much enjoyed.
Then, wonder of wonders, Meera treated me to Chinese food! It was almost too much to take! Such niceness! I do love Meera and Ross and their matching scarves.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
I finished my meal a few hours ago. Quite proud of myself... corn pudding, a sweet potato, mashed potatoes, turkey leg, TJ's cranberry sauce, green beans... yum. I'm a chef, it turns out.
Did I mention that my parents sent me flowers? A dozen white long-stemmed roses. Or is it long-stemmed white roses? Anyway, they sent them. Nice of 'em.
Still not answering the phone, but ended up talking to people anyway. I called the house and talked to my cousin Mixx, who sometimes acknowledges our family (especially when his parents are in Rome during Thanksgiving). Talked to my brother Smacks, who mentioned his girlfriend (the twin sister of Tom's best friend) at least sixteen times. Cripps was not present, but my parents managed to import a baby to replace our Baby for the holiday. Two, actually... family friends of ours appeared. Baby Sam (2 weeks older than Baby) talked to me on the phone. He said, "egeesh?" which is baby for "did you know they all hate you right now?"
I did, Sam. Thanks for pointing it out.
Time for movie #3 and another glass of wine. Pumpkin pie later if my tummy ever rumbles again.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Okay, to your credit, none of you asked. But everyone else did.
I'm having what has become JoBiv's Traditional Thanksgiving. I watch the parade, cook dessert and some kinda bread, watch some movies, cook mashed potatoes, turkey legs, open a can of cranberry sauce, microwave a sweet potato, pour a glass of wine, clean up after the meal, call my parents, get annoyed with my dad who has invariably kept the phone off the hook so he won't get telemarketer calls (like that happens on holidays), pour another glass of wine, watch another movie, fall asleep due to the effects of turkey and wine combined...
It'll be a nice day.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Who needs sleep? Tell me what's that for...
Symptom numero duo: Insomnia.
The facts are as follows. On a good night, I get seven hours of sleep. On MOST nights, I get about four interrupted hours. In the peak of insomnia I get a half hour of drifting before I jolt awake again. This is peak time.
I am tired.
When I do sleep enough to dream, the dreams are vivid and usually distressing. F'rinstance, I dream about my teeth falling out, over and over. I nudge around my mouth with my tongue and they loosen. Or I bite into something and they topple out. Or they somehow end up crushed into rubble. In one dream my bottom teeth tipped out, but as they fell they never clinked on the floor. They flew around like a tiny flock of birds and hid up in the corners of the room where I couldn't reach them.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Here's the math problem for you.
I had $340 in my account. I received a paycheck for $700, so now I have $1040. My rent is $825 a month, so soon I'll have $215. Then I pay the regular bills and I'll have about $150. Then I'll have to send the minimum payments of $15 for my two credit cards (to which I owe about $1000 altogether). And I owe H-Bomb $10 for last month's rent, because she kindly gave me a little leeway by paying $10 extra. If you're keeping track, that leaves me with $110.
Okay... That'll get me by, right? That's just fine until the next check comes, right?
The next check will be in the mail around December 2nd. $700.00. I won't get paid again until mid-January.
Okay, so, NONE OF YOU are getting Christmas presents. I love you and everything, but I have to conserve my resources. Let's see... I have rice and glue. I need to eat the rice, so I can't use it for art projects. I have some frozen green beans, too. They're not even mine. They're leftovers from K-Dawg. They'd rot before they got to you, though, so they're not much of a gift. And I should prolly eat them, too.
"JoBiv," you say, "why don't you get a job for the holidays in the retail industry?" Well, I'll need every moment up to my December 13th deadline for these projects, so if they still want me then...
There was also a nannying job for the month of December in Beacon Hill. No, I wouldn't get the holidays off. 55 hours a week. Craploads of money. I think my brothers would officially disown me. My mother would send me migraines telepathically. My father would just cry into his scotch and let my brothers soothe him with reminders of how uppity and useless I've become anyway.
My parents, by the way, have offered to fly me to Rochester for Christmas. I was theees close to telling them to send me the money and let me buy a train ticket and keep the rest. But of course they think this is the nicest thing they could ever do to me... send me to an airport during the holidays. Yeah, your anxiety-ridden daughter will LOVE that. No worries, I still have about 5 panic pills left. I feel a little like I'm in that Zelda game and I have 5 of those heart/lives left before GAME OVER pops up on my screen.
Jesus H fucking shitballs.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Pennies from heaven
Each silver cloud contains
Pennies from heaven...
I GOT PAID! And in rapid succession:
a. I rode on the T in the company of four men in colonial dress
b. I ate a fabulous dinner, with MEAT in it!
c. I got a free drink at the Pour House! Sweet!
d. I talked with two brits who needed advice on which club to go to because they refused to stand in line for Foggle My Goggle.
e. I received two long-stem red roses from a girl on the T who was headed to Germany the next day and didn't want the flowers to rot in her absence.
f. I SLEPT!
Wow. And now I'm going to buy the following luxury items: fresh fruit, ground beef, and CEREAL!
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Tonight! It should be interesting. I know, I know Mr. Brunsen (my 12th grade English teacher), interesting is a meaningless word. There are a couple of conflicting expectations for tonight, however, and so I cannot say, "Tonight will be loads of fun," or "Tonight will be a circus of horrors."
Tonight there is a First Light Festival in Brookline. For those of you who don't live in Brookline, or do live in Brookline but don't know about it, First Light is a celebration of consumerism with a general nod of support for small businesses. It is also the night that the town of Brookline first turns on their Winter Holiday lights (snowflakes shapes, of course, because anything else would offend somebody).
By the way, that's just dandy with me. I like thinking of some 4 yr old saying to himself, "Look, they lit up the Christmas lights," while another little kid says to herself, "Look, they lit up the Channukah lights!"
First Light was fun last year. K-Dawg and I cruised about and collected free cupcakes here and free cider there and watched youth choruses and cringed at out-of-tune violin quartets. Yes, all of these things, and more, can be found at the First Light Festival.
I have two concerns, however, for this night of nights.
1. H-Bomb's mom is flying in to stay for the weekend. H thinks that this festival is the perfect way to welcome her mom to Brookline. That's generally okay with me. I won't necessarily have to keep up my end of a conversation. Instead, I can say, "Oh, gee, we'd better get down to the flower shop before all of the free roses run out." I don't think it will be THAT easy, though. H-Bomb's mom, I should mention, does not like the following things: jazz music, museums, cultural enrichment in general. (She voted for Bush.)
2. I have been SO GOOD at avoiding crowds of people, and tonight I will thrust myself into the center of the throng. Not a delicious thought. I should see lots of people from the preschool, too, and they're sure to ask me what I'm doing and I'm sure to fake-smile them to death and lie through my teeth about how fabulous life has been as they lie throught THEIR teeth and tell me how great I look. And God help me if I forget a child's name!
I will also miss K-Dawg a lot and try not to pout.
Wish me luck!
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Even when I told the H-Bomb that I'd have the text of this Mars project written today, I knew it was a lie. As the words formed in my mind, I knew it was a lie, and as they somehow made it past my lips I nearly laughed out loud.
I don't have a natural interest in Mars. I can't tell you why that is. I have no natural interest in space exploration whatsoever (which makes my affection for Star Trek: The Next Generation all the more misplaced). When I think of humans in space, my innards go all cold with terror and this sense of bewilderment comes over me.
I'd like to take this moment to blame my father for making me watch Important Films as a child. I don't think he noticed that I was only seven when the Very Important Film 2001: A Space Odyssey was on TV for some reason. (I believe I was even younger when I somehow got trapped into a viewing of The Birds.) Cripps and I were particularly vulnerable to my father's Important Film moments. Dan didn't have the stamina. And Tom was high somewhere. I think Cripps and I would try to out-cool each other by watching these movies with my dad. I thought it was doubly impressive that I was a mere tot compared to Cripps.
I'd also like to blame my mother for watching those boring-ass Nova shows on PBS. Again, I would try to show everyone my incredible maturity by sitting through these shows without yawning or fidgeting. It was a matter of pride. I always felt like I had bested some clever enemy if I made it all the way through, as though I'd survived 13 consecutive days of Chinese Water Torture.
I'm trying to summon a bit of that moxie now. When I get these assignments I think, "Oh, I wouldn't choose to research this, but I'm sure I can find something that interests me." I remember opening up the cover sheet for this assignment. I groped for my usual reassurance. I found nothing.
Mars. Hoo boy.
Allow me just one more moment to spread blame, if you can muster the patience. I find the NASA websites unimpressive. The information is scattered and written with deadpan exactness. I have no personalities to draw on, no stories from which to elaborate, no thrill of discovery to propel me forward. I somehow can't force a chipper tone while telling 4th graders that we've sent rovers to Mars because scientists are pretty sure we've ruined our planet and we might need a back-up plan as Armageddon approaches.
Anyone else I can blame? Ah yes! I blame The Yankees and El Nino, and the Bush administration. Will alla y'all get off my back so I can write this ding-danged thing? Christ in a bucket...
Lucky Person #1: the cleaning guy in my building. Something about the weather. I was going to make fun of his proton-pack style vaccuum, which is our usual topic of conversation when I'm not clammed up, but he pointed to the sky and smiled and mumbled something about the "nice day."
Lucky Person #2: the T driver.
Lucky Person #3: H-Bomb.
I'm losing enthusiasm.
Monday, November 15, 2004
So yesterday, I decided that I'm going to TRY to run into people. I mean, actually attempt to talk to them. Yesterday's tally is as such:
Lucky Person #1: the Liquors Foods guy with the bad haircut. I went beyond the usual, "Hi, how are you," to comment on the snow. He commented back. Oh, the thrill!
LP2: Liz T., my pal and guitar teacher!
LP3: Nadene, another student of Liz's, as well as friend of K-Dawg.
LP4: Guy at concierge desk at Berklee. I asked him for a pen. FEARLESSLY!
LP5: Katya the Great! I visited her at Sorento's after finding that I forgot my T fare back to Brookline. I like visiting her on Sundays and watching the kitchen at work.
LP's 6, 7, 8: other employees of Sorento's, especially Pointy Head Guy who looked straight at my boobs and said, "How you doin'?" every time he passed me.
I know what you're thinking... Eight people in one day! That's outrageous! How does she do it? Well, I have to say, it hasn't been easy. Right now I can only strive for quantity, but I'm sure quality is riding the coattails...
Saturday, November 13, 2004
So when I entered the building's foyer last night, I was in a dreamy snow-sprinkled, but still solitary mood. Then I noticed a package on the floor below my mailbox. It was for ME! It was from Sarah! It's still from Sarah, actually, and a mess of goodies sits on my kitchen table now: bubble wrap, Tazo tea, the Amelie soundtrack, and a pencil. There was a magnet, too, but I put that on the fridge right away. Goodies! For me! I am loved. Thank you, Miss Sarah. You have made my November.
Friday, November 12, 2004
The H-Bomb is on a plane headed to Florida. She takes her inferior taste in television and her all-night dinner and ice cream eating and her penchant for interrupting and scolding with her. When I go home there will be no one to ask me, "So, how's your work coming?" and so there will be no reason to say, "Slowly, but I think it's coming." There will be no reason to tuck myself into the kitchen so she can't watch me eat and I don't have to listen to her smacking her lips as she eats. That will be good. I won't blush and start guiltily as she catches me pulling the bad hairs out. For three days I will be H-Bomb free. It could be glorious.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
1. got out of my bed and got dressed
2. filled out and mailed MassHealth application
3. emptied and de-molded the trash cans
4. put on shoes (harder than you think when I have a monster blister)
5. left apartment
6. said "Thank you" to T operator before exiting the train (sans stutter)
7. talked to one person (Sarah Allen) and waved to another (Dana) in library
8. performed jobsearch on yahoo and boston book builders
9. completed two pages of text for Mars project
If you'll notice, I neglected to shower and eat. Since it is safely past rush hour, I shall go home to do those things now.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Maybe these are thoughts I only have when I don't talk to other human beings enough.
Monday, November 08, 2004
But today I walked down Beacon to buy eggs at Trader Joe's. On the way back I passed Thai Basil, a restaurant much-frequented by JoBiv. Over the past few weeks I've noticed a Phenomenon. Most days, if I'm paying attention, I notice a styrofoam bowl full of thai noodles or soup or fried rice, and a styrofoam cup of soda sitting on the brick ledge that lines the restaurant's front.
At first I thought it was sitting there for some chef or waitron's break. (Don't you hate the term waitron?) I don't tend to walk back and forth enough to know if it's gone at the end of the day. Over the last week I've noticed that it's there in the morning, before the restaurant opens.
I think, maybe, there's some lone homeless person in Brookline who profits from the chef's charity. Being homeless in Brookline is frowned upon, however, and maybe a cop made him shove on to other pastures, like Roxbury.
OR, it could be an offering to some god I don't know of, or some snarling night beast that only appears after the last waitron (there's that word again) wraps his/her last bundle of fork, knife and spoon for the night.
Or it could be for me. I could use the free meal. I've thought about taking it. If it weren't for my fear of spinach and embedded seafood, I might just walk off with it.
For now, it's bananas and eggs for JoBiv. Thank you, Mrs. Warhover, for the stroke of brilliance.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
This is what happened. The H-bomb needed an ingredient for her famous Pumpkin Pudding.
I asked, because I'm a culinary expert on Saturdays at around 6pm, "What is the ingredient? I might just have it already."
H-bomb replied, "Pumpkin pie spice."
I sez, "Um... really?"
She showed me the recipe. Sure enough, it read "pumpkin pie spice." I thought that was a little silly, and being an expert (sometimes), I thought to myself, "I bet it's actually allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg."
And being a know-it-all, I made a BIG MISTAKE. I called Them. YOU know who... M&P. The Parents.
Phew... they didn't answer. I left a voicemail. "Hey Mom n' Pop, do you happen to know the spices for pumpkin pie? My guess is allspice, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Lemme know. Bye."
The bastards called me back.
Now usually I screen my calls, much to the annoyance of my friends. Tonight, hoping I'd spare aforementioned friends some annoyance, I picked up. It was my Dad.
The important points of the entire painful phone experience are thus:
1. I was right, those are the spices in pumpkin pie, however you can buy them in the form of Pumpkin Pie Spice, all in one go. Clever.
2. My parents are "there for me" if I have a mental breakdown from my current jobless status and not-so-subtley hinted that I should move home if I can't handle things on my own, which is to say, "We knew you couldn't handle it on your own."
3. My mother badgered me into releasing the following top secret information: I don't have health insurance (what did they think?), I broke up with my therapist (I didn't tell her that it was because she kept telling me my dad is an alcoholic) and I am no longer on the very helpful drugs as a result. Whew.
4. During conversation number 3, I located my lingering stash of Ativan and let one dissolve beneath my tongue while my mother reminded me that if I would only get pregnant and move home she'd love to take care of me...
FIE ON THEE, PUMPKIN PIE SPICE!! FIE, I say!
And, to all of my patient friends, I'm not answering the g-damn phone EVOR AGAIN.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
If anyone wants to help in the apartment-to-bomb-shelter remodeling process, come on by any time!
I... just... DON'T YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND??? This man no longer gives a flying fuck about his approval ratings. He's IN! He can do whatever he wants with, we can be sure, NO reprimand from the legislative branch and little more than weak protest from the judicial. Let's sit back and watch what happens in North Korea, shall we? That'll be a ball. And you can stay healthy until you're 85, right?
Oh, and you're blissfully happy that no one's going to raise your taxes. I'm so happy for you. I guess you DON'T want health care, or literate children, or advancements in technology that could prevent us from turning Alaska into one, big, ugly, oil mine and keep us from incinerating planet Earth like a giant flaming marshmallow. You NEED that money for other things, like assault rifles. Go on, get out there and buy one! PERFECTLY legal, my friend, and it's your God-given right to use that rifle of yours to kill living things. God LOVES it when you kill living things. Especially with assault rifles.
It's gonna take a LOT MORE than bubble wrap to calm THIS JoBiv down.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
For the rest of you, I thought I'd update you on my symptoms, because, as symptoms, they let you know the status of The Problem (though we're not sure what that is).
So, Symptom Numero Uno: hair-pulling. It is SN1 because it's the most obvious and I have trouble controlling it, even in public. I REFUSE to say that I can't control it, because I refuse to surrender to a bad habit. Anyway, I pull out the hairs that I feel don't belong on my head - they're coarse and wiry and stick out in weird directions. I don't like how they feel. They're easy to pick out, but I tend to pull out three or four innocent hairs with the bad ones. And then, because I have proof of bad ones, I go back in for more, fishing the same little pond until there's nothing left or until I wig out and sit on my hands.
Status: Still in progress, but the patch near my neck on the left side is growing back. I look like a bit like a late-80's skater with the shaved under, long on top look. But not really. I had a bad spell the other day while watching Mystic River. There was no one there to warn me not to watch it, which is a bloomin' shame. H-bomb couldn't know any better.
Prognosis: The problem with stopping the hair-pulling is that the bad hairs come back. And I feel like I have to take them out again. And right now the Resistance has reconvened, I just know it. I'm feeling antsy. Not a good sign. Imagine piles of hair on the floor to allay election anxiety.
Suggested treatment: I could play with my FOM pillow, but it makes me sad because KDawg gave it to me and it appears we're not talking. I sometimes paint my nails so I can scrape off the polish. Other good replacements: bubble wrap, removing stickers, tearing napkins, scraping wax.
I'm taking bubble wrap donations.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Look at this picture. Look at all of the lovely young people gathered. What era do they represent? Hmm, well the girls in the orange and red dresses seem to come from the 60's, the guys could be rather conservative fellas from any post-WWII decade (in fact, the white dude could be my gun-totin' Carolina cousin). But that girl in the purple... with the tonal dye job and the elaborate head of curls... she's your local high school's nightmare princess, circa 2004.
I HATE anachronistic hair. This show supposedly submerges the viewer in the politics and culture of the 1960's, and yet they couldn't give THAT girl a beehive or a flip or a Twiggy boy cut. It is as though the producers are unwilling to disguise her in full 1960's charm, lest we think the show was actually filmed in the 60's and lose the point that they are very clever to have artifically rejuvenated an era for our viewing pleasure. They had to leave one hint, right?
One GLARING hint!! AGH. So annoying.
I had the same problem with Kiera Knightly in Pirates of the Carribean. With Hollywood highlights and yet more artful curls in otherwise straight hair, she looked ready for a cardboard cut-out beer display than a film set in the 18th century. Oh yes, I get it, she's spritely and rebellious, and therefore a modern audience identifies with her far more than we would with a wigged and constantly corsetted embroiderer.
I'm telling you people... anachronistic hair ruins all chance of my viewing enjoyment!
And that's not fair, considering how much I love Johnny Depp.
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Why don't we wear costumes every-damn-day?
Or do we already... How philosophical, and possibly cynical, of me.
As I was saying, I love wearing a costume. I love becoming someone else, or maybe exploring some extension of myself. You may say to yourselves, "JoBiv, you did the toga thing again. We've seen it before. It's cheap."
In so many words, yes, and good thing. As of tomorrow I will have exactly $73.65 in my bank account and $11.80 in my wallet. Thrift is of the essence.
You may be delighted to hear that I embellished my toga this year. I happen to own bronze fabric paint. I don't recall why. As far as I know, I'm not a middle-aged lady who lives in a modular home on a sassafras farm in Dying Valley USA and paints kittens on sweatshirts to sell at craft fairs and corn festivals. But gee willikers, that paint came in handy. I made a kind of semi-fancy border on my twin sheet, ironed some pleats here and there, and bought (for fitty cents, no worries) a bronze ribbon to tie it up at the shoulder. Like I said, FANCY. My hair kinda does the Greek thing anyway, so that was no expense, and I slapped on some make-up from my days as a 13-yr-old shoplifter.
I looked hot.
And hey, the costume lasted through two parties. If you'd been at the first one you'd know that it had to withstand some trials, and I think you'd forgive some of the odors embedded for the following night.
That party... let me just say, in fairness to Stefan, I was warned. He did mention that his roommates were friends with lots of people who are into drugs. It was perhaps my own limited imagination that caused the shock and horror upon sighting a young man cutting cocaine on a cd case later that evening. When I think "drugs" I generally think, "those silly stoners. I bet they'll burn some good music for me." Most of the crowd belonged to that category (although they neglected to share music... most were unequipped), but it's a testament to my naivete that I did not expect coke. Or is it? At any rate, that kid was the exception and not the rule.
And no, there were no needles. Settle down.
I did have a good time, however, and managed to meet some interesting people and consume about five Reese's pb cups. The ones that come singly. Why do those taste better?
The second party was a Children's Lit free-fer-all. The first person I saw upon entrance was Katya, and she set the tone. She wore pink pj pants, a soft flowered thermal shirt, pigtails, a bib that said "I love my daddy," and a binky, and she was sucking on a baby bottle full of white wine (3 buck Chuck). The hardest substance present: blackberry brandy. The most disturbing costume: John Stamos.
Okay, Kate was a close second. It was the bib, I think.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Everything's gonna be just fine.
To the right, a lovely celebratory group shot of Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, Doug Mirabelli, Gabe Kapler, and Babyhead.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
I love how reflections look like shadows but have a different relationship with light. They're like shadows with more personality. Just like Jon Mayer is the Angelina Jolie of male musicians.
Okay, not like that, but that's a funny comparison, no?
Speaking of the GRE's, answer me this:
Pluck is to quail as:
a. shear is to sheep
b. grin is to frown
c. Jon Mayer is to Angelina Jolie
I think I'm so funny.
Still in a funk. It's not the same funk, it's kind of a Latin Funk, like Yerba Buena. I have energy in my body and none in my mind (which is not to say that YB's music is brainless, just that it's Latin Funk and I am brainless). My paper for Bloomers goes along swimmingly despite this. Curious.
Monday, October 25, 2004
Sweet woman... thank you for splitting a watery strawberry frappe and a reuben with me yesterday.
I took yesterday off, my first day off in three weeks. My brain was tired. I couldn't think in straight lines. The global warming project took on behemoth proportions and I could. not. finish. it.
Now it's done. It's the worst one yet. I hate it. I hate that I made it. I hate that some day children may have to read it. I'm digusted with myself. Gah.
Meera and I were discussing the things we should actually be doing if money didn't matter. We could both go to MFA Writing programs and become poets. We could work on different art disciplines, because we are rahther talented. We could just live. I could sing, right?
But really, what's stopping me, except for blinding, mortifying fear?
Oh, the money thing.
Friday, October 22, 2004
I had one of those really scary mornings today. I don't know where it came from. I woke from a broken sleep with my mouth open, which I really hate, and suddenly I wanted to cry. I felt like everything was swirling away from me and I would never touch anything familiar again. I had to hang on to the sheets to keep from washing away with it all.
It made me moody. That may sound silly. To me it sounds understated. I am at least glad that I have reached a point in my life, after a handful of therapists, theories and frustrations, when I know myself well enough to kick my own ass, cry in the shower, and get on with it.
I had this song, "Such Great Heights," from Iron & Wine in my head. It's soothing, even for a love song.
thinkin' it's a sign
that the freckles in our eyes
are mirror images
and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned
have to speculate
if God himself did make
us into corresponding shapes
like puzzle pieces from the clay
they will see us waving from such great heights
come down now, they'll say
everything looks perfect from far away
come down now, but we'll stay...
Tonight I'll hang out with The Maldenites: Christi, El Gato and El Jefe. We're carving pumpkins, and then they'll try to abduct me for a sleepover. I think it will be good to escape my own bed.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
"So it seems like the World Series is no longer a big deal." - Sus and I thought this as well
"NFW. I mean... nfw. w? nw. nfw." (No effing way)
"Manny had esatlee zero RBI, but he's savin' up for the World Series." (Makin' fun of the way Manny says exactly.)
"Could be worse, I could have pants on." - discussing the numbing powers of Sox shock.
Will we ever recover?
I chose this photo (thank you Globe, don't hunt me down and fine me, please) of the Blessed Virgin Pedro gazing earthward, embraced in the loving arms of a smiling, good-humored-as-always Millar, because it captures my mood exactly.
Sigh. Life is nice.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
I have no idea who this girl is, but she looks like fun. Click away.
My favorite painting has suffered from my neglect. I should go visit. This is El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent. There are, I believe, at least two other Sargents in the museum. One is a portrait of Isabella herself with the backdrop of an oriental rug, its pattern like a halo or crown around her head. The other... well I just think there's another, but I don't recall which. I know the MFA has that one with the four little girls in the big room... forget what it's called but it's amazing.
I bring up this painting because my roommate gave me a kind of compliment last night. I was busy putting leftover chicken on this one wine colored plate we have. I said, "I love this plate," because I often say happy things like that. She said something like, "That plate makes me think of you." That may sound odd to you. It did to me. She qualified the statement: "That COLOR makes me think of you."
As darling as it is that the H-Bomb thinks of me (I hope it's a happy, yay-I-have-a-decent-roomie kind of thought) when she sees that shade of red, I kind of like the fact that she associates me with the color. It's one of my favorite colors, and I didn't think I wore it so much as I must. I guess I chose that color as an identity at some point. I want to be more like it - deep and a little mysterious, with hints of both sensuality and joviality.
I was thinking of how a plate could remind H-Bomb of me, and it led me to this thought: I always think of the color yellow when I think of that Sargent painting. Why? Because you almost say "yellow" when you say "El Jaleo?" Because of it's placement in the museum among Moroccan artifacts and tiles, and Morocco makes me think of sun on sandy walls and they are slighty yellow? I've never been to Morocco, so I could be full of crap about that. It could be the proximity of the painting to the inner courtyard garden - perhaps a yellow lily I saw there... Maybe it's the unnatural light hitting the dancer's arms and face and casting her into such dramatic shadow.
I have no idea.
But I used to wear yellow all the time when I was wee. A series of school portraits from grade two to maybe six show my face in various summer-tanned shades, my shoulders and chest in a bright banana-yellow shirt. I remember each outfit very clearly. I chose each one because it was not pink, foremost, and also because I always thought yellow was the equivalent of softness. Who would make a yellow shirt out of burlap? No one. Yellow is the color of chick feathers and lemon merangue.
At any rate, I'm taking votes from the Peanut Gallery. When did I go red, as it were?
HAHahahahaha... I just thought of the big U! Perhaps I've found the answer. Still taking votes.