Wednesday, September 29, 2004

you don't want me to write about time management. i don't have my cornflower blue tie on and i don't have my action item list in front of me. still, i can't help myself. i have to tell you about the to-do list that i drafted this morning.

before i get too far along though, i should tell you about my new job and my new-new job. the new job started a few months ago. the promotion to a sexy and glamourous position, naturally, meant added responsibility. gone were the leisurely hours on the reference desk where i could post to my weblog or kill time following links around all music. (this last bit actually doesn't hurt too bad, since their redesign is horrible and clunky and requires a login to see some things and their page is, somehow, slower, but i digress.)

the new job meant that my day was full. every moment was now occupied by some task needing my attention, some paper needing my signature, some email needing my feedback, some person waiting to talk to me, or me waiting to talk to some person. it wasn't uncommon for me to stay late or come in early just to get things done. (yes, at a library.) the saddest part is that when i wasn't at work, i was thinking about all of the things i had waiting for me in the morning or on monday.

then i found out about the new-new job. for weeks, there were changes happening above me. it was no secret that management was shaking things up. i heard whispers about reorganization, i heard murmuring about new duties, then i finally heard about how all of the stuff that was happening above me would change my responsibilities.

it would not be right to use this forum to complain; mostly and especially since i don't want to get dooced. suffice to say that none of my duties were taken away, but now i have twice as many as when i started the sexy and glamourous new position a few months ago. the best part = all for [insert drumroll here] no additional pay!

one silver lining in this grey cloud is that i will have many, many more bulletpoints on the ol' curriculum vitae when it comes time to shop my wares again. also, there are at least five other people in our library system who have the same job i do and are probably feeling the same way.

a perfect for-instance is the to-do list i mentioned in the opening paragraph. it had thirty-two items on it. true, a few of them were just emails, but thirty-two! if i had notary sitting beside me, they could look at my list printed on a green 5x8 index card and put a little embossed mark on your screen, right between the two brackets below, and it would look official:

[stamp here]

last seen: mildred pierce, how's your news? [editor's note: if you need something to brighten your day, you should go here and listen to track one, their theme song. guaranteed to make you smile.]
last heard: brian wilson 'wonderful'
last read: In his early 20’s, after an adolescence colored by his mother’s subtle domination and his fears of latent homosexuality, he published his first science-fiction story and decided he’d found his vocation.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Good luck, investigation ship!!!

any weekend that i can meet friends for dinner, attend an arts festival, complete a listful of very not-fun errands and chores, go to michael's for a cookout, and still have time to watch at least four movies before the sun sets on sunday qualifies as a productive weekend for me.

i met mark and sam for dinner on friday evening, then we headed over to the charlotte film society's screening of godzilla. the print playing in theaters now is the original japanese film. it contains references to hiroshima and nagasaki which were cut from the american version. in addition, they have thankfully taken out the horrible dubbing and those shoe-horned perry mason scenes.

not long after we sat down, we spotted ed and wendell ambling down the right side of the theater. sam called out, motioning them to our row. i had a feeling we might run into folks we knew at this particular screening.

the restored japanese dialogue made for some funny subtitle antics. at one point, right after godzilla attacks a small fishing village, a team of scientists is sent to survey the damage. we see them boarding a boat. dozens of well-wishers crowd the dock, waving and holding streamers; one of them yells something in japanese, as japanese well-wishers are wont to do, and, across the bottom of the screen, the subtitle read:

Good luck, investigation ship!!!

--that was my favorite part of the whole movie.

last seen: last tango in paris, godzilla, les carabiniers, coffee and cigarettes
last heard: the baskervilles 'this was the weekend'
last read: Sting...is, without question, the most hated man in rock. But who are Nos. 2 through 10? [thanks, jenn]
reading: michael chabon wonder boys

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

my advice to you is to bring two novels to the waiting room.

i did not follow this advice. i arrived around 9am. stuck in a corner as it was, this particular waiting room had two walls made almost entirely of glass. they faced the eastern sky and took on the full heat of the sun as it rose. there were three other people in the waiting room, talking much too loudly for that particular time of morning. when they paused from their talking, their heads would turn, almost magnetically, toward the television which for some reason was tuned to an infomercial about pilates.

i reread the same two sentences over and over. this lasted seven minutes, then i excused myself and settled into a weathered wooden bench out front. within in an hour, i'd finished the last 50 pages of my book. i sat there for a short time listening to construction workers nearby sing songs in spanish, then i decided to move back inside in search of other reading material.

the group of three had grown to four and were now discussing their diets and their vitamin deficiencies and how each of their spouses hated vegetables. i listened to this for a little while, then quietly wandered over to the coffee table to trawl through the months-old issues of motor trend and espn.

the crowd of four eventually thinned until the only people left were myself and the most chatty pregnant woman i ever met. not the charming kind of chatty either. no, she was the kind of chatty who will ask you questions and then interrupt you as you attempt to offer a reply. the kind of chatty who is having another kid in the hopes that it will talk to her, since her husband won't. the kind of chatty who, when there is a rare lull in the conversation will talk through the questions on who wants to be a millionaire, because she can't stand those brief, palate-cleansing kinds of quiet that mark the beginnings and endings of healthy conversation.

oh no, that's wrong. she's wrong. i'll bet cedar is the only hardwood tree out of those four trees. i have them all over my backyard, i should know. by the way, i have two kids and one of them is ADHD. he's a handful, jeez.

so, my advice to you is to bring two novels to the waiting room. either that or learn to harmonize with mexican construction workers.

last heard: the kleptones A Night At The Hip-Hopera [via metafilter]
last read: joan didion play it as it lays
bonus: five annoyed San Franciscans you’ll meet in heaven

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

i guess it's official. george bush really fucking hates peace train.


Monday, September 20, 2004

i have a new car. well, it is actually a couple of years old, but i bought it yesterday which means it's new to me. i spent the better part of sunday afternoon walking around a huge lot and, at the end of the day, i drove a toyota camry home.

car shopping typically ranks just below dental surgery and just above stand right here and hold my purse, i'll be right back, but sunday's procedure was mostly painless. preparation was the key. i did my financing beforehand and arrived armed with a short list of vehicles to consider. i also brought along my two trusted associates to ask all of the questions i didn't know how to ask. for example, mark discussed the finer points of the engine with the salesperson; i think i even heard one of them use the word torque with a straight-face. meanwhile, i tried out the power seats.

on the way out, michael asked whether i wanted to visit my nine-year-old teal ford escort with spoiler one last time. i told him it was better this way, maybe neither of us would cry. mark reassured me that they were taking it to a farm where it could play with other ford escorts. i felt better.

last seen: hidalgo, sky captain and the world of tomorrow
last heard: nick drake 'saturday sun'
last read: raymond carver what we talk about when we talk about love
reading: joan didion play it as it lays

Thursday, September 16, 2004

i have never been very good at guessing the ages of strangers. i'm learning though that people in their middle teens often exhibit an everyday awkwardness, a kind of social ineptitude, that marks them in much the same way that different kinds of feathers help you pick out various birds.

part of the process of maturing, it seems to me, lies in one's ability to endure any number of mortifying social situations. the pain for the rest of us comes in having to observe each tiny teenage social death without visibly wincing or laughing out loud. such was the scene a few days ago when i saw a young girl get attacked by red ants.

she was standing close to another group of kids but was obviously alone. i knew this because the other kids were being loud and were dressed nicer and had formed one of those circles which clearly demarcates who is included and who is not included in the fun. besides, the about-to-be-attacked-by-angry-ants girl was kind of frumpy and bookish and lonely. i'm not being rude, i'm just telling you what i saw.

if you've ever been swarmed by ants, you know there is that moment. you feel the little insect legs crawling on your skin and then you look down and realize that they are all over your clothes, then the music builds and the camera, still focused on your face, pulls away higher and higher. your arms reach into the sky and you start to yell just like andy dufresne at the end of shawshank.

we were in the school parking lot and i was about twenty-five yards away and i saw that moment. the girl ran across the street brushing at her shirt and pants and finally collapsed onto the curb, still swatting at her own body. almost by instinct, a group of teachers realized what was going on and rushed over. there was a flurry of four sets of hands frantically brushing at her clothes and helping her take off her shoes and socks.

soon they all stood around catching their breath. when they finally looked back in our direction, a hundred people standing on my side of the street kicked at the dirt or turned their heads; we didn't want them to think we watched the whole thing.

last heard: the gentle waves 'weathershow'
last read: If Metros don't start having more children, America's future is Retro.
bonus: ...the relieved exhalations of bespectacled girl-nerds all over North Carolina... [editor's note: i'm not even sure what the final sentence of this post means, but it made me snicker nonetheless.]

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

fire alarms used to be these giant pieces of red metal which jutted out from the sides of buildings. when they sounded, i could hear the little hammer striking the inside of the bell many, many times per second. they often rang for such a long while that i could train myself to listen in different ways.

at first, my ears concentrated on the ring part-- that clear, lingering bell sound which came after each little hammer strike. the drums in my ears would start to go numb and i shifted which part of the sound i was listening to. blocking out all of that lilting bell ringing, i concentrated only on the succession of clicks at the exact moment of each hammer strike. soon all i heard was a long steady buzz of clicking metal and no bell sound at all.

where i work now, the fire alarms are nothing like this. for one thing, they are all interior alarms. i haven't noticed a single one on the outside. we may have them somewhere, but i have yet to spot any giant hunks of red-painted iron hanging off the side of our building.

also, since mine is a new building, all of the alarms are these slim red plastic-y looking boxes that sit almost flush against the wall. instead of a ring or a click from a tiny metal hammer, these alarms emit a piercing wail in one- or two-second-long bursts.

today i discovered that toddlers, visiting from a local daycare for storytime, do not appreciate the sound of piercing wails in one- or two-second-long bursts. in fact, many of them become confused and start to cry. this makes it even harder to get them to hold hands and walk to a safe patch of grass across the parking lot.

last seen: wattstax, the village, sweet sweetback's baadasssss song, hot lead and cold feet, being there, the royal tenenbaums, the odd couple, harvey, garden state, humoresque, the big lebowski, the weather underground, sumo: east and west, dinner for five, hero, true romance, alien versus predator, cactus flower, margaret cho: revolution, matchstick men, cold mountain, two weeks notice, alice doesn't live here anymore, garden state (again), suddenly, last summer, outfoxed
last heard: the fiery furnaces 'straight street'
last read: rohinton mistry family matters, don delillo white noise, chuck palahniuk stranger than fiction
reading: raymond carver what we talk about when we talk about love