Wednesday, April 27, 2005

i ripped open a single-serving envelope of non-dairy creamer and stirred its powdery contents into a cup of hot brown water. the kind of coffee, served in waiting rooms or at church socials, which keeps you awake, not by virtue of its caffeine content, but, rather, by temperature alone.

on the bright side, the heat blisters that formed on my tongue and the insides of my cheeks had a wonderful coffee-like flavor to them which carried me through to lunch.

so began my day, at 7am, in a high school multi-purpose room surrounded by other grown-ups gathered there to judge senior exit presentations.

i was paired with a mother who admitted, halfway through our time together, that she surreptitiously reads her ninth-grade-daughter's email messages to make sure no weirdos are writing to her. i only spent about four hours with this woman, but in addition to her spying, i also learned that she was originally from the bronx, currently runs a dance studio, and that her uncle's diabetes is so bad they might have to take his legs.

no more dancing for that guy.

last heard: harry belafonte 'jump in the line' [thanks to a cd that arrived today from christa]
last read: zadie smith the autograph man
reading: sarah vowell assassination vacation
bonus: The backlash narrative is more powerful than mere facts.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

even though it was unseasonably cold this morning, i decided to head to the park after my chocolate chip pancakes. i threw a camping chair into the trunk and aimed my car in the direction of a local park. at this particular park, there's a terraced hillside and, at the bottom, a small man-made lake.

as i expected, the crowds were thin due to the chilly temperatures, but a few hardy souls gathered in spots. a group of men fishing, a few families huddled together at picnic tables under a shelter, and, on the hillside, people like me sitting in collapsible chairs trying to read.

almost everyone was wearing sweaters or coats. the fishermen had the hoods of their sweatshirts up with the drawstrings pulled tightly, so that it pushed the skin around each man's face into a chubby crinkled ring.

the clouds moved fast above us. we were only warm when the sun broke through and could shine on our knitted caps and khakis. clouds came and gusts of wind followed. with each brisk breeze, a few more people would stand and start to pack their things.

forty-five minutes passed before my gust of wind came, the gust that broke the camel's back. i stood up. a girl sitting nearby stood up, too. we folded our respective chairs and walked back to the parking lot.

last seen: the interpreter, pulp fiction, nil by mouth, i heart huckabees
last heard: the clientele 'from a window'
last read: These are heady days to be an obituary writer.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

few things bring as much joy as opening the door to check the mail, greeting the postal worker who just happens to be strolling up your front walk at that very moment, and then having said postal worker hand over a small bubble wrap mailer which you can see, before he even hands it to you, is adorned with actual handwritten addresses.

about the only thing better is doing all of the above except you're handed two small bubble wrap mailers when you weren't expecting either one. that's what happened to me this afternoon.

the first was from my mom. it contained some recently-snapped family photos including a few of my sister who's in the family way. she's starting to show. she's all beautiful and glow-y. i was happy to receive the family pictures. for whatever reason, all of the family photos i have seem circa 1980s. it's as though none of us owned a camera during the clinton years.

the other small bubble wrap mailer was from curt at magic marker records. it wasn’t completely unexpected because i did mail them a check a couple of weeks ago, but i put it out of my head, figuring it would be months before i received my stuff. his small bubble wrap mailer contained their new comp; plus, an album by heikki called 2. i've had these discs on shuffle for the past few hours and they are quite good.

if you're feeling blue, i seriously recommend getting some small bubble wrap mailer action. email me and maybe we can trade.

last seen: birth
last heard: heikki 'nothing lasts'
last read: no, beautiful woman, i was frowning because i thought of something that is sad but completely unrelated to what we are talking about. look, i am smiling now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

early in the week, one of the honchos asked me to attend a day-long conference. she planned to be there, the library director planned to be there, and a few branch managers, too. while she's not my direct boss, she's the kind of person you don't turn down if you hold any hope of future promotion.

after attending the morning session, then working my noon-9pm shift at the library, tuesday turned into a 14-hour day.

the workshop, held in the ballroom of a local hotel, was mostly worthwhile. a room full of non-profit groups sitting around trying to figure out how they could partner and how demographic changes in our town might influence our various services. some of you might be falling asleep by now, so i won't go on, but this kind of thing gets my juices flowing. i have very bland juices.

the only thing i will mention is the name of the conference-- success in the 21st century. i hate it when the name doesn't tell you anything. will we be meeting to plan a war? develop a space colony? what?

last seen: the courtship of eddie's father
last heard: sufjan stevens 'seven swans'
last read: The local not-for-profit, Preservation Watertown, lost a lawsuit it filed to block the demolition. [editor's note: this is the town i lived in during high school.]

Monday, April 18, 2005

[photographic evidence, courtesy of ed]

Sunday, April 17, 2005

i shut down a bar around 2:30, bought potato salad and slaw enough for 25, cradled a sleeping three-week-old baby, lost a pint of blood, almost fainted, fell asleep in my front yard, and awoke to the sound of bottle rockets.

it was kind of a busy weekend.

those things didn't all happen on the same night; rather, they were staggered over two days.

riley, the baby, belonged to my friends katie and paul. i held her for an hour at saturday's cookout. i thought it might make good training for my impending unclehood. riley slept for the better part of that hour thanks to the patented slow-rocking with gentle butt-pat method i employed. occasionally, she would open her eyes, yawn, stretch, shoot me an unconcerned look that said i don't recognize you, push out her lower lip, then curl back into a tiny ball of sleep in the crook of my arm.

the lost-a-pint-of-blood thing i should probably elaborate on. lost makes it sound like i was attacked by a cougar. actually, i went to donate blood this afternoon. i've done it many times before and never had a problem, but, today, as i sat in the cantina afterwards, enjoying my pepsi and an oatmeal cookie, i started to get that warm, light, detached feeling that generally accompanies the loss of consciousness. i asked to lie down. the nurse put a bag of ice on the back of my neck and gave me a bendy straw for my pepsi. soon i felt much better and was released back into the wild.

last seen: medium cool, butterfield 8
last heard: curtis mayfield and the impressions 'i'm the one who loves you'
last read: Its mandate is to draw up elaborate "post-conflict" plans for up to twenty-five countries that are not, as of yet, in conflict.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

my folks live about six hours away in northern virginia. they moved there after i graduated from high school. whenever i make the trip, my visits are over too quickly. we spend long weekends laughing and sharing meals, but soon i find myself back on the highway driving home.

since i'm never there for an extended period, i feel like i haven't taken full advantage of washington dc. hopefully, this will all change in june as i have plans to stay for at least a week, giving me ample time to amble.

sure, i've been to a few cool places but here, dear reader, is where you come in.

have you been to our nation's capital and the surrounding environs? what is your favorite place? visited a less-visited attraction?
do you have recommendations for record shops or ethnic restaurants or interesting things to do?
is there an alternative weekly paper i should know about which would list concerts and such like?

the only plans i have so far are tentative:
-catch a ballgame with my dad the weekend i arrive
-make the sojourn to the afi theatre in silver spring. coincidentally, they happen to be running a documentary festival the week of my visit.

last seen: the incredibles [there was a package on my doorstep today. my mom sent me the dvd. she's the best. make sure to check out vowellet, the 9-minute sarah vowell interview on disc 2.]
last heard: dear nora 'early to bed'
last read: He brought the sold out auditorium's 900 attendees to their feet with material from his forthcoming Illinois (due July 5th on Asthmatic Kitty), the follow-up to the universally lauded Michigan, delivering the show-stopping "Chicago."
bonus: john bolton: in his own words [who?]

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

the video i watched at today's time management workshop was shot in the very early 80s. it opened with images of various clocks. an alarm clock, a cuckoo clock, a grandfather clock. each flashed across the screen, set to music which was very trendy for its time. next, there were photographs of calendars and daily planners.

finally, james whitmore, the old man/prison librarian who hangs himself in shawshank redemption, appears on the screen wearing a smart blazer and large-framed glasses. he utters the following--

life is time,
time is life.


[brief pause]

you waste your time,
you waste your life.


[brief pause]

but, if you master your time,

[long, dramatic pause]

you master your life.

let's make a vow to talk like that tomorrow, all actor-ly and profound.

it sounds like a cross between stereotypical fortune cookie talk and mildly-racist, indians-in-old-westerns talk.

i'll do it when i order lunch or when i'm holding the door open for that one lady and you do it when someone asks you how your morning's going.

last heard: philip glass 'symphony no.3'
last read: Five words that sound great? you, are, my, sun, shine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

after dinner and after the movie, the jen(n)s and i sat on these little chairs in front of the ice cream parlor, making fun of other patrons and eating our cold treats. i selected a flavor called birthday cake because i was curious what the distilled essence of every flavor of birthday cake on the planet tasted like. if you're wondering, it tastes like vanilla with extra sugar.

jenn told us an interesting story. it seems an acquaintance of hers is getting married soon and has waited until the wedding night to know her husband in the biblical sense. she has a child from a previous relationship and made the decision not to engage in salacious acts again until she was married.

naturally, all of this is a matter of personal choice and who am i to judge, but it still fascinated me that a person my age would make such a decision. the way i figure it, if you aren't a character in an old movie or else amish, why wait?

jen and i were puzzled by the news. my mind raced trying to think up scenarios by which this arrangement might work. surely other things had transpired, just not beast-with-two-backs style. no, according to jenn, no such thing had happened.

baffled.

i told them it was just bad business. who wants to have this conversation in a few weeks- oh, you like that? gross. there are so many other reasons why relationships are doomed, why hold out to discover that sexual incompatibility is one of them?

i can always spot the dark cloud in every silver lining.

last seen: guerrilla: the taking of patty hearst, melinda and melinda
last heard: stereolab 'metronomic underground'
last read: If it were an individual, king-of-the-mountain battle royale, I could endlessly pummel 12-year-olds without mercy.
bonus: I forgot to mention that it was the 50th Michaelpella.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

after fooling with the print for 20 minutes, the projectionist finally came downstairs. he started talking, found his voice too small for the large room, and slowly crescendoed. he apologized and told us our tickets would be honored on another day.

i could hear a wave of sighs and see other patrons shifting in their seats. maybe some of them were on dates or had gone through the trouble of arranging a babysitter to be here. i continued to eat my free popcorn and waited to see what would happen.

someone sitting just to my left and one row ahead of me called out to the projectionist, told him to show something else since we were already here.

yeah, other people said.

the projectionist, thankful to be presented with an out and hoping to quell violent revolt, quickly agreed.

people called out the titles of two or three other films they knew played earlier that day. finally, the electorate in this audible democracy decided on some german comedy i never heard of.

i abstained from the vote. really, i was busy eating popcorn and i don't like shouting in public places. i stayed for the film.

the man who called out to the projectionist, the one who voted the most loudly for the german comedy, fell asleep two-thirds of the way through the picture. he fought it valiantly, jerking his head upwards each time his chin touched his chest.

last seen: schultze gets the blues, witness, young adam
last heard: holly golightly 'a length of pipe'
last heard from mark: you have the sensitive-guy shit down, now you just have to get with the nailing shit.
last read: the successful propagandist is most often his own first victim.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

crisply griddled and served with grits and a runny egg, livermush has long been the fuel of commerce at athens restaurant in charlotte, north carolina, but a sticky pour of maple syrup takes the third forkful over the top.
--esquire (march 2005) pg.139

tomorrow morning, around 10am, sam and i will brave the aforementioned breakfast.

athens is not a mile from my apartment and i've been there many times before. i usually just get pancakes. i had no idea they were world-renowned for anything, least of all for some mysterious meat substance.

i briefly skimmed the Best Bites of Food in the USA article when the issue arrived in the mail, but didn't catch the athens blurb until sam pointed it out in an email, a week or two later. at that point, what else could we do but accept the challenge?

the creaking sound you'll hear around mid-morning will be my arteries hardening, but, on the bright side, if i live, they sell teaberry gum at the register.

last seen: dial m for murder, a room with a view
last heard: elizabeth cotten 'going down the road feeling bad' [editor's note: this record is one of my favorites. it will make you happy. i promise.]
last read: At the moment, there is no national organization that tracks Carnegie library buildings, but some states monitor them.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

i have a new next-door neighbor, perhaps i mentioned this. at present, she is entertaining company. i believe they are filming def comedy jam in her apartment, except louder and with more swearing.

in exceedingly more pleasant news, i noticed on my walk this morning that the bradford pears are in bloom. i stroll this time of year with my neck perpetually craned, looking at branches that pass just above my head, white blossoms standing out against the field of blue.

each gust of wind knocks a few more petals off of each tree until the sidewalks in my neighborhood are dusted white and pale pink. the petals shift in the slightest breeze. the rains come, plastering each one flat against the pavement.

the only other thing i did today, besides walk and nap, was cook. pancakes for breakfast, jamaican jerk chicken for dinner and, for tomorrow's lunch, egg salad. there aren't too many things that give me as much joy as peeling hard boiled eggs.

last seen: orlando
last heard: beatles 'for no one'
last read: Naturally, cooking ranks with the Navy and the yakuza as one of the great tattooed vocations, though the images sometimes differ. [via kottke]

Saturday, April 02, 2005

i think it's fair to say that most of us have had to wrestle with big questions about religion to arrive wherever we presently find ourselves.

personally, i value equally the catholic tradition i was reared in (because it gave me a foundation), the jesuit tradition i was educated in (because it encouraged me to question all things), and the odd hybrid of atheism and agnosticism where i now find myself perched.

still no matter your spiritual proclivity, you have to respect a man whom so many turn to for spiritual guidance, especially at a time like this, when all he believes is about to be tested.

like so many others, i will spend the evening anxious, sitting close to a television, waiting to see if roy williams can pull it off.

last seen: sin city, cut, oldboy
last heard: elliott smith 'pitseleh'
last read: If I open a neighborhood bar I'm gonna call it THE BUSY SHOE. If I open a gay bar I'm gonna call it THE BUTT SHIP. In either case Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb" will be played every two hours.

Friday, April 01, 2005

here is why i love my mom so much.

even though i'm almost a 32-year-old, she still took time out of her day to email me the following warning. she told me to be on the lookout for colleagues and strangers who might want to play practical jokes on me because it's april fool's day.

so, if anyone was planning to rest a bucket full of water atop a slightly ajar door in the hopes that i might walk through...the joke's on you, buddy. i've been warned.

last seen: the last of the mohicans
last heard: belle and sebastian 'my wandering days are over'
last read: i give boring people something to discuss over corn.
bonus: most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps!