Wednesday, September 28, 2005

writing this dispatch in the small window between this morning's interview and my report-to-work time at noon. for those unaware, i made the first cut for the job i mentioned a few weeks back. this morning was my second round interview.

i was pretty nervous with my heart racing and unseen tremors in my hands, so when i rounded the corner and saw that it would be a panel interview, my body couldn't pump more adrenaline.

three people, two of whom i knew, asked questions for 30 minutes. i think i did OK, but i'm not sure who else made the cut. perhaps some library superstar will destroy me. i hope not.

the interviewers said they would confer and, by the end of the week, pass their recommendation to our director. it is out of my hands now, so i can breathe.

not having written in a while, i never mentioned the sufjan show and my trip to chapel hill. i met catherine and robin for dinner. somehow robin managed to find a friend with an extra ticket to the sold-out show. while it wouldn't have been the first time i went to a show by myself, it is always less lonesome when you have a friend to bob up-and-down beside.

the show itself? where to begin? the musicianship and the harmonies, the spirit fingers and the human pyramid--i was overwhelmed.

also, the warm-up act artfully dovetailed a cover of velvet underground's i'll be your mirror into michael jackson's man in the mirror. that is when i smiled biggest.

upcoming ways for me to waste money:
cat power at the orange peel 10/16
the clientele at local 506 on halloween
ira glass at the blumenthal 11/6

last seen: grizzly man
last heard: belle and sebastian 'lazy line painter jane'
last read: I find it amazing that a man who lives in France can sue a magazine that is published in America in a British courtroom.
reading: nick hornby the polysyllabic spree

Sunday, September 25, 2005

after friday's movie, i walked out to my automobile to find an unrolled and, what i hoped was, unusued condom on my windshield. as for the used/unused debate, i didn't pause to critically examine exhibit A. instead, i quickly found a pen in my car and sacrificed it to the cause and flung condom and pen onto the ground.

being the glass-half-full kind of jerk that i am, i thought about the teenagers who likely did this and decided, at least they didn't key my car or let the air out of my tires.

[tangent]

yesterday morning, i attended my first yoga class which i can honestly say kicked my ass.

as i was explaining to christy, i went to the studio for relaxation and calm, but i left with my shirt sweat through. silly me, not expecting a workout.

i'm just thankful that the past couple of months have been active ones, otherwise i surely would have died, leaving behind a body with no shoes on, lying face down on a little blue mat in the middle of a room full of people. it would be nothing if not embarrassing.

the moments of calm came afterwards when i wasn't expecting them. i left fully stretched, aware of my body and its movements and, even though it was only my first class, i spent the rest of the day pointing my finger at the yoga whenever something happened. this special brand of neurosis is just my way.

mental clarity and feeling of euphoria around noon? the yoga. woman smiles at me and says hello in the parking lot? the yoga. ribeyes on special at the grocery store? the yoga.

last seen: corpse bride, deadwood: season one, discs two and three
last heard: the clientele 'lacewings'
last read: charles baxter saul and patsy
reading: aimee bender willful creatures
bonus: Minnetonka HS Percussion Ensemble perform selections from Endtroducing [link courtesy of marcus]

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

when i'm waiting at the doctor's office for my turn to be prodded and weighed, i always size up the other patients. i can't help myself. i try to imagine what their ailments might be.

today, a woman in a threadbare shirt sat across from me. she wore one of those heavy stockings on her right leg to help with circulation. she passed the time by filling out a yellow and white form with little boxes on it. across the top, in bold type, it said--CONSUMER SURVEY. i wondered what she might win if she mailed it back. whatever they are promising, she won't win. the company will instead send some kind of cheap plastic-handled thing to help open tight jars easier.

the purpose of my own doctor visit is kind of complicated, but i did have my first-ever EKG this morning. the nurse asked me to lay down. she stuck a bunch of electrode-looking things all over my chest and on my arms. she said, and i quote, the test itself won't hurt, but men usually hate pulling these tabs off because hair can get ripped out. you don't have much hair so you'll be OK.

it is nice to see hairlessness playing in my favor for once.

turns out my heart looks fine and i will probably live. i am not dying of a broken heart as mark suggested.

i was encouraged, however, to break up with sweet lady caffeine, or, at least, to stop going at it so hot and heavy. the benefits of a yoga regimen were also explained to me. we shall see. at least, there's cute girls at yoga.

last seen: the jacket, deadwood: season one, disc one
last heard: dillard chandler 'little mathie groves'
last read: andy's great review of the sufjan stevens show in minneapolis. now i'm even more excited to see mr. stevens this sunday.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

most months pass like this. work strings the weekdays together so they all look blurred and the same, but saturdays and sundays offer that little calm. not so of late, with the weekends i mean. i may need to plan quiet time soon.

friday, i met my friend jen for dinner. we got all gussied up and went to a big-windows/dark-woods sort of restaurant to belatedly celebrate her birthday. the food was pretty good. afterwards, we bought coffee and dessert at dean and deluca which we ate while sitting in front of a movie theatre, before catching the late show. i ate a chocolate cupcake. it was the size of my fist and adorned with various shades of frosting. the high school girl ripping tickets even let us sneak our coffees into the theatre. life really is about simple pleasures, like fist-sized cupcakes and snuck-in cups of coffee. i practiced being a gentleman all night by holding doors open and not talking with my mouth full. who knows, these skills might one day come in handy again, so it is useful to keep them sharp.

later that night, i called mark because i had a feeling he might be out carousing. sure enough, he was drinking with three co-workers. against my better judgment--it was after midnight, it was not our usual watering hole, i had to work in the morning--i drove out to meet them. within minutes, i had a beer spilled on me and three girls were dancing on the bar. mercifully, the folks i met up with had been drinking for the past three hours and were just about ready to leave. the party broke up and after a short drive for one more round at our usual place, i was ready for bed.

saturday evening, i went to see of montreal who were playing in, of all places, my conservative banking-center town. while i do like a few elephant six bands, i'm not a superfan by any means. still, how could i not turn out and give my twelve dollars to support a rare indie show in charlotte? a few folks in attendance were older than me, a handful my own age, but the place was overrun by yutes. i could tell who they were not only by their horrible fashions, but also because they had a different wristband than me. green means 21 and over. polkadot equals jailbait.

finally, this afternoon was the cats versus the pats. [insert growling panther sound here] mark's mom bestowed some extra tickets, so i spent the day roasting in the stands. a cloudless sky, a hometeam win, over-priced hot dogs, what more could a boy ask for? as the guy sitting next to me said--how can you not smile when you're doing the wave? here, here, sir.

i will now go lay my head, which is sunburned only on the left side, on my pillow for the night.

last seen: crash, the 40-year-old virgin, layer cake
last heard: yo la tengo 'pablo and andrea'
last read: there are millions of parents buying books for their children's kitchen-table schooling.

Friday, September 16, 2005

the password is desensitized

a woman came into the library today to tell me that, yesterday, while she was using the internet, her car was stolen from our parking lot. this is news that would have been helpful, um, yesterday.

it turns out she wasn't crazy or lying. i'm sure those were your first two guesses. apparently, a student from the high school that adjoins our library stole her keys and took her SUV for a joyride.

it seems she was using a computer, when, all of a sudden, she was overcome by a powerful urge to retrieve her wallet which was, naturally, out in the car. she stood up and left her keys beside the monitor.

question one--why did you think it was a good idea to leave your keys in the internet lab while you went outside?
question two--if you did leave your keys in the lab while you went out to the car, does that mean you left your car unlocked with your wallet still in it?

she returned to the lab, continued typing, and it wasn't until a few minutes later that she realized the keys had amscrayed.

pure genius.

her brain power was matched only by the kid who actually stole her car and then proceeded to crash it not long after. where did he crash it? was it down the highway near something cool like the big butt in the sky?

no. he drove ten minutes away and plowed the car into some bushes at...another branch library. he was promptly arrested. his accomplice? she ran as soon as the car stopped. quick thinking, but she left her backpack in the car with her books and identification. she was arrested a short time later.

i think my job has made me numb. when this woman began recounting the story for me, my first thought wasn't oh, this poor woman and her poor gigantic car. nor was it, oh no, these kids might possibly face felony charges for a foolish prank.

nope. instead, my first thought was great, now i have to write up an incident report. i wonder if this is how cops feel?

last seen: after the thin man [clip]
last read: april march 'moto shagg'
last read: A tri-state collaboration now seeks to find a 21st-century solution to balance economic development and historic preservation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

when i go running, i don't wear my glasses. that means that i can't make out the details of people's faces if they aren't standing less than ten feet away from me. sometimes folks wave from across the road as i pass. since all i can see is the shape of a person with their arm waving back and forth, i'm not sure if i know them. i just have to pretend that i do and wave back. it makes me feel old, this not being able to see.

the other thing that makes me feel old are these two black hairs that have sprouted off the side of my ear. i have to cut them with tiny scissors every couple of weeks.

off the side, i can handle. i just hope i don't turn into one of those old men who have thick ropey strands growing out of the ear hole proper. if that happens, i'll just start drinking beers at the VFW every afternoon and calling all women sweetheart, no matter their age or if they're strangers.

last seen: pursued
last heard: the baskervilles 'this was the weekend'
last read: It also revealed that instead of toothpaste, she'd been brushing with blue Cakemate decorator frosting. "They both come in tubes," she shrugged. "I got mixed up."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

the past few days

had a job interview
there is a tiny library, one of our oldest branches, well-established and within walking distance of my house; they need a new manager. it sure would be fun to run my own show. too bad, the grapevine says, the honchos have someone else in mind. grapevines can be right or wrong. maybe i was invited to round out the cast of also-rans. we shall see. if they offer me the position, no one will be as surprised as i am. i should hear something inside of two weeks.

taught a class
to pack all of my anxiety into one twelve-hour day, i had the job interview in the morning and helped teach a workshop that same afternoon. three teammates and i taught a (don't laugh) time management class to a roomful of library managers. my section rocked and i kept most folks laughing throughout my 45 minute talk. many seasoned vets came up afterward to pat me on the back or comment that they didn't know i was so funny, since i'm usually so quiet. i basked in all of the praise, then simply exhaled, happy that the class was over.

coddled my cinephilia
during my much-needed friday off, i caught one movie at 4:15, then sped across town, in the middle of rush hour traffic, to catch a second at 6:45. i haven't done anything like that before. perhaps i've crossed the line into obsession.

lost seven dollars in nickels
i attended my first poker night in over a year. the group meets irregularly and, due to scheduling conflicts, i've been unable to make it the past two times. each of us starts out with about twenty dollars in change. i left with thirteen bucks which isn't bad considering the nights where i lose everything, have to hitch a ride home, wind up drinking a bottle of mouthwash with some hobos, then wake up in the alley behind friendly mart. at one point last night, i was up by a lot, but i lost big on one particular hand, confident that my flush would beat whatever mark was holding. alas, four of a kind is better.

fisticuffs, almost
so, it all started with donuts.

the poker game broke up sometime around 1am. michael, mark and i had a hankering for donuts. we drove to the shop and it was closed. the next best food option was an all-night diner close by. at that time of night, it is typically populated by loud drunks. they've been out for a while and wind up at this diner because it is one of the few 24-hour joints in town. we decided to go anyway.

the three of us walked in and found a booth. nearby a table of five guys sat drinking beer out of cans. i didn't even know they served alcohol at this particular diner. i was there for pancakes and the only thing i had been drinking all night was cheerwine.

at one point, their entire table turned in our direction, smirking. before i knew what was happening, i called out, what's going on, fellas? i think they were as shocked as i was. finally, one of them stammered, i, uh, we, uh weren't, didn't mean...

they finished their meals and left about ten minutes later.

while it's true that macho, bullshit, saber-rattling doesn't suit me, i have to admit, it felt kind of good, even if i was worried that we were outnumbered and they had one really huge guy who could have easily killed all three of us.

volunteered
mark and i visited the charlotte coliseum this morning. katrina evacuees are being housed there and the library has a small booth with donated books. over the last week, many evacuees moved into temporary housing around the city, however, 170 remain. we spent some time sorting and straightening books, then hung out, waiting to answer questions. i was prepared to give information about the city or make referrals to other agencies or just listen, but most folks were either at a church service on the lower level or boarding buses to attend the saints/panthers football game.

hiked and festival-ed
the rest of sunday was spent hiking at crowders and eating gyros and baklava at the greek festival. it has been a full weekend and, now, i must sleep.

last seen: me and you and everyone we know, junebug
last heard: scout niblett 'hot to death' [thanks, pinky]
last read: By the time night falls on September 11, Osama bin Laden will have been at large for 1,461 days. America vanquished world fascism in less time: We obtained Germany's surrender in 1,243 days, Japan's in 1,365.

Friday, September 09, 2005

back from virginia where i had an opportunity to relax with family and meet my niece for the first time. everyone is doing well.

if you were wondering, my father did, indeed, teach me how to polish my own shoes and even sent me home with a bag full of supplies. i have a wooden brush now. i am prepared.

on monday, we drove into shenandoah national park, conveniently located right beside the family homestead. we watched a film at the visitor's center where i learned about the civilian conservation corps. they were responsible for constructing the scenic overlooks along skyline drive. it made me like FDR even more.

after the film we wandered outside. a young japanese couple sat on a blanket, lunching in front of their tripod-mounted video camera. the mountains their backdrop, they smiled and held saucy spare ribs up to the lens.

last seen: the constant gardener, sahara
last heard: tullycraft 'our days in kansas' [editor's note: i somehow missed the fact that tullycraft released a new album back at the beginning of the summer. robin was kind enough to point readers to the track above. it is really swell and legally downloadable here.]
last read: Toward the end of her life, what she admired in movies was less a revolution in form than an affecting radical humanism—"inwardness" and "a cinema of personal dilemmas which are never resolved."

Friday, September 02, 2005

i can remember some nights when i was a little boy, my whole family gathered in the living room watching television and my father sitting indian-style on the floor polishing his combat boots.

there was a whole ritual. he worked the polish, in small circles, into the black leather using his middle and forefingers which were wrapped tightly in the corner of an old undershirt. the upturned top of the polish can sat in front of him, filled with just a bit of water. a candle there too, waiting to be lit. he would move its flame along the boot. then from all of this, by some sort of weird alchemy that my little boy mind could never keep straight, his boots would shine.

i was always good at watching but i hardly asked questions; not of my father, not of anyone really. because of this, there are a lot of things i don't know how to do. shining my own shoes is one of those things.

now that my dad's not in the miliary, he wears dress shoes but i'm pretty sure he still shines them himself. i always just drop mine off with this korean guy on sharon amity road who charges $4 a pair.

since i'm heading up to virginia for a few days to visit everyone, i called my sister this morning.

i asked, does dad still shine his own shoes?

yep, she said.

do you think if i brought mine up, he would show me how to do it?

are you kidding? he'd love to show you. he loves teaching people how to do things. it would give you guys a chance to, you know, sit quietly and talk.

...and bond.

yeah, and bond. and you know, he would start to tell you about the history of shoe shining and how it began, like in germany or something. then mom would come in the room and hear dad talking and say, "jesus christ, kelly, he just wants you to show him how to shine his shoes."

my sister's right. i'm pretty sure that's exactly how it will happen which is why i love my family.

last seen: northern exposure-season two, disc one
last heard: sufjan stevens 'the tallest man, the broadest shoulders'
last read: a night out with james and mark

Thursday, September 01, 2005

with new books by aimee bender, zadie smith and myla goldberg arriving soon, my dance card is filling up quickly. by the way, did you know that they made a film version of bee season? it's true; you'll be able to see it soon. i suspect it will be horrible and not live up to the book, but i'll probably go see it on opening day.

fall is my favorite time because it means sweaters and mugs of hot beverage and reading outside with no mosquitoes.

[this concludes the light-hearted section of today's post. hurricane updates below.]

the last few days have been anxious ones as i tried to reach friends in louisiana by phone. i kept receiving the dreaded all circuits are busy. the last time i heard that message was when i spent the whole morning trying to reach my dad at the pentagon on september 11th.

i finally spoke to derrick. his family is safe. those who were in new orleans managed to get out early, though some may not have houses to return to. i still haven't heard from my friend erin who recently moved to the lakefront or jean-paul who has a house in mid-city. there are many others i've lost touch with over the years; i know they still live there and i've been worried about them.

my friend, bryon, moved to mississippi about a month ago. i just received an update through a mutual friend. bryon's house was destroyed and, apparently, his baby was trapped for a short while. everyone is safe now, living with the in-laws until a new house is built.

hug somebody today.

last seen: downfall
last heard: june carter cash (feat. johnny cash) 'the far side banks of jordan' [editor's note: this is perhaps the saddest song i've listened to on repeat since i went through my 'he stopped loving her today' phase.]
last read: Seriously, baby. It’s the anti-aphrodisiac.