vii when i was six and emily was three, we had a family summit to name our unborn third sister. emily gets this year's gift award for giving said sister, joanna, a tee shirt printed with her entry, beautiful rings.

viii punch drunk love: the snack-sized version of p.t. anderson's magnolia. considerably better than magnolia, i would argue; with the exception of a few psychedelic intercuts and good-but-overused philip seymour hoffman, it avoided indie gimmicks. i also suspect that adam sandler was actually acting, which was refreshing. joe's parents recommended this, leaving us to wonder why "it's weird, you'd like it" comes up with such regularity. at any rate, i'm getting closer to enjoying films that perform like short fiction.

ix dave weekly and his northern california crew invented the superhappyfunhouse, 2003's answer to douglas coupland's microserfs. dave, like douglas (wolk, not coupland) is the sort of person who makes me want to take notes on, well, everything. wish i'd been in town for screw winter - i love the banner.

iv i've been cheating on my newsstand with a chain store that has us weekly (for work! for work!) on the shelf by 8 a.m. on wednesdays. when i felt guilty and mended my ways, newsstand man gave me a women's wear daily calendar he'd saved from yesterday's unsold issues. i was touched.

v the road to turducken: while i would never explicitly endorse meat-eating, especially in the case of chickens stuffed in ducks stuffed in turkeys (it sounds too much like "there was an old lady who swallowed a fly"), i think the black table's do-it-yourself columnist is my new internet crush. walking the public through a meat-rainbow-recipe is only the beginning of his gift - he also features guides to prison pruno (moonshine made of putrid oranges, canned fruit cocktail, sugar and ketchup) and homemade spinach cigarettes. what would johnny cash have said?

vi WPIX's yule log: as paris hilton's adventures in arkansas out-nielsened president bush's speech last tuesday, so does the yule log smash every bit of rival new-york-area programming on christmas morning. for those of us who don't have fireplaces (natch) or the inclination to buy a cheeky fireplace videotape from urban outfitters, behold! the footage seems to be on a ten-second loop - i've seen that ember before - and the accompanying seasonal elevator music is pretty horrifying, but i'm liking the 'log. if i get restless, i can always stick our groove tube on the television and have another enrique iglesias christmas morning dance party. last year was awesome.

no luck with convincing the weather to turn sour again - it will be a clear (and if this spell holds out, balmy) christmas. of course, as i wrote that a couple in an old model t ford, dressed as santa and mrs. claus, stopped beneath the fire escape and yelled holiday wishes up to me. all is seasonal, in its own special way.

the twelve days of xmas, in factoids -
i the corporation's holiday party at tavern on the green was what i had hoped it would be: tipsy confessions, an executive dirty dancing with the mailroom staff, someone puking on the dance floor. apparently the friday afterward is legal's busiest day of the year for sexual harassment calls.

ii excellent rasputina show at the knitting factory last sunday - a concert dvd taping was in progress, so everyone was on their best behavior. rollicking covers of "rock and roll," "barracuda," "bad moon rising."

iii the return of the king: the nazgul fortress was much more frightening than mordor was - that doesn't seem right. fortunately shelob looked more like a tarantula than a black widow, thereby sparing me the disgrace of peeing with fright. enjoy your profits with my blessing, peter jackson.
(to be continued)


i was going to rhapsodize about acquiring and embellishing a christmas tree last night, but everything is cuter in australia:
Our tree is up. Amelia J loves it - she looks up at it and says "TA!", and waves her hands above her head - which is her way of singing "twinkle twinkle little star". She's upstairs at the moment, in her cot - and she's meant to be napping - but I can hear that there is a parrot in the gum tree outside her window snacking on some tasty blossom and it's squawking and Amelia is saying "Hello! Hello!".

(loobylu's claire)
ours is nice too, of course. george is coming over to admire it.


snaps from grant and valya's wedding, 10.03: the furies (the director, the blogger, the bride), pride and prejudice (my foot, metameat).


i keep expecting the cats to get excited about the snow - i mean, they can chase sunlight reflected from the face of my watch for forty-five minutes at a stretch - but they don't see thousands of fluffy white house flies, they see slow rain.

i watched the "we got him" news for twenty, thirty minutes this morning, felt dirty, and flipped over to the closest antidote i could find - at the time, ice skating. i kind of hate ice skating, but it's less bizarre than watching medics comb nits out of saddam hussein's hair.


BLIZZARD 2003 ended last night for everyone but airport travelers. someone salted the hell out of our sidewalks, so the neighborhood is pudgy curbs under a fisheye sky.

sometimes i think "via chicago" is the alt-country sibling of belle & sebastian's "this is just a modern rock song." it's the anthem of the day.

I printed my name on the back of a leaf
And I watched it float away
The hope I had in a notebook full of white,
dry pages
Was all I tried to save
But the wind blew me back via Chicago
In the middle of the night
And all without fight
At the crush of veils and starlight
I know I'll make it back
One of these days and turn on your TV
To watch a man with a face like mine
Being chased down a busy street
When he gets caught I won't get up
And I won't go to sleep
I'm coming home, I'm coming home
Via Chicago


did you know that viggo mortensen / aragorn has a fifteen-year-old son with x's exene cervenka? i sure didn't.

we are to fete sarah knight this evening with birthday dancing at guernica, a hip hop club in the village. did you know that guernica means cheescake factory decor in spanish? i sure didn't. they play lots of dr. dre, though, and i feel like representing california when it's snowing. also i can't dance to anything else.


our christmas tree guy has a three-pronged jestery santa hat and a pile of douglas firs on the sidewalk in front of the rite-aid up the street. but they smell great, the trees, and they look pretty good and only cost $20, and i yearn. it's annoying to write press releases about decorating all day and come home to blank walls and the vague odor of cat problems.

home sweet home in legos, sort of.


finally brought it to The Corporation's attention that, while the new york work week is 35 hours and i've been paid accordingly, It instructed me to follow a 40 hour schedule; It apologized profusely, promised back pay for the last three months, and lopped an hour from my upcoming days.

i celebrated with a very long nap; no sleep for me tonight.

top ten excerpts from nothing personal, a thrash album by the best friend* of this goth i kinda dated in high school:

10. Twice my heart fell / Off of this shelf
09. You've got to cut this Safety Pin Romance
08. When I [EXPLETIVE]ed you I [SAME EXPLETIVE]ed myself
07. Carnal Suicide / Carnal Suicide
06. I wear my flesh like a blanket / You wear yours like a beret
05. I dedicate this dirge to you my love / To listen to as I die
04. I tried walking next to your friend Zeus today
03. Chanting madly / Never does / A dumb boy make
02. I can't run any more / It's not fair to anyone involved

*his band was called CUTTING ROOM FLOOR.


first snow of the season around eleven today. i thought it was flurries of ash, so i grabbed some guy to confirm: yes, he said, the first snow of the season! it's helpful when passerby realize what one wants to know.

bonus: the first time i've ever set my lunch on fire, as it was all windy and the paper bag came too close to my lighter. mmm, melty salad.


those were e-mails, incidentally. one was from me, but not the first; i am not in france. at least, i don't think so.

big bad bomb threat on the 20th floor a few hours ago. i think the intercom guy phoned it in himself - he's obviously too, too fond of making announcements about nearby fires.

joe's in arizona. i'm grouchy and lonely.

the black table, a grouchy and lonely site with helpful ratings, craigslist summaries, lots of profanity (look out). i like.



I'm going to France tomorrow nite.
I need these two key phrases translated, so if anyone knows French

and can help out, that will be great.

1) I will pay you 30 euro to speak American to me.
2) Please stop hitting me. My friends have money. I can take you to

their house.


according to jerome (a real frenchman!), those would translate like this:

> 1) I will pay you 30 euro to speak American to me.
Je te donne 30 Euros si tu me parle en anglais.

> 2) Please stop hitting me. My friends have money. I can take you to
> their house.
Arrete de me taper. Mes amis ont de l'argent. Je peux t'emmener chez



not totally sure of my verb forms (damn you and your conditional-speak), but

something like:

Je vous payerai Euros trente si vous parlerez anglais.

S'il vous plait, arreter! Mes amis ont trop d'argent. Je peut vous prendre

a leur maison.

Also when I went to Spain my boyfriend gave me these three key phrases:

Donde estas los servicios? (Where are the bathrooms?)

Mi novio es muy fuerte et proteger. (My boyfriend is very strong and


and in extreme cases: Yo tengo syphilis! (self-explanatory).


jerome (crackhead frenchman that he is) was kind enough to translate yours

back into english! :)

I will pay you dollars thirty si you speak English (in the future beyond

now and today).

Please stop (but the tense is false. Phonetically it is the same, but

tense is false). My friends have too much money. I can grab you at their


On Tue, 25 Nov 2003, Y wrote:

> okay, obviously this supposed frenchman is on crack. I mean, my 9 years of
> wells school system french with summers off are far superior to this
> bullshit he's spewing.


that shit is funny. and true!


not that anyone is interested in grammar at this point, but

> Je te donne 30 Euros si tu me parle en anglais.

would mean "i give you 30 euros if you speak to me in english."

that tense is crap.


> Arrete

is the worst conjugation of an -er verb, even allowing for a wacky imperative

form, that i've seen since junior high, man.

1) aimes-toi des cacahuetes? j'ai besoin d'un taxi.
2) va te faire foutre. jerry lewis est mon pere.


uh, i still gotta go with the GUY WHO'S FROM FRANCE here.


what X asked for:
1) I will pay you 30 euro to speak American to me.
2) Please stop hitting me. My friends have money. I can take you to

their house

Z's french:
> 1) aimes-toi des cacahuetes? j'ai besoin d'un taxi.
> 2) va te faire foutre. jerry lewis est mon pere.

Z's french translated:
1. do you like peanuts? i need a taxi.
2. go stuff yourself. (literal, equiv. fuck you) jerry lewis is my



on dogs, i wrote an angry letter to the daily news about this horrible staten island guy whose puppies burned to death when he took them to the vet's for tail-cropping. they, erm, chopped and chewed and published it today, which should probably teach me something.

take another ride to see me home
listen to me! i'm on the stereo stereo
oh my baby baby baby baby babe
gave me malaria hysteria

what about the voice of geddy lee
how did it get so high?
i wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy?
(i know him and he does!)

and you're my fact-checkin' cuz



of the many good reasons to look at dogs, the most recently notable is that they tend to mirror my reactions to new york city. a six-pound yorkie echoed my take on the shoe department at barney's yesterday: yeah, the beady look said, i don't really get this scene either. there's a beautiful, pudgy, stoic bulldog named petunia who gets walked around sixth avenue on my lunch breaks during the week. she and i stare at each other so regularly that she plops down at my table when her owner passes me on the sidewalk. i like that.

meeting #2 with also lauren, now a lit grad student and shepherdess of disaffected freshman writing students, was a success. i'm glad we established that she's not in cambodia any more - she sent me a marvelous e-mail about concerts in brooklyn that involve cages and roller skating. a good woman, that one.

sonic proselytization track list.

name that tune!

I realize we kept piling up these presents because it was as good as free advertising for the firms involved, but I couldn't be cynical. I got such a kick out of all those free gifts showering on to us. For a long time afterward I hid them away, but later, when I was all right again, I brought them out, and I still have them around the house. I use the lipsticks now and then, and last week I cut the plastic starfish off the sunglasses case for the baby to play with.

next to phil & co, i fail time out's "are you a true new yorker?" feature miserably - especially with the whole getting-angrily-lost-in-queens-when-you-can-see-the-manhattan-skyline,-it's-right-goddamn-there thing - but i do have little mantras for cursing the people who insist on meandering down the sidewalk directly in front of me. they should perish, i could help them perish.
In a locks-to-locks comparison, [Wesley] Clark would be judged more favorably. [Howard] Dean's hair looks as though it was ordered from an old Sears catalogue. But there's a certain Mayberry charm to Clark's barbershop cut. Yet who can linger over Clark's perfectly trimmed, supreme-Allied-commander hair when his taut profile is competing for attention? His jaw line is so perfectly sharp that a draftsman could use it as a straight edge. Clark has an ideal nose, one that should be cast in plaster and used as a teaching aid in a course on rhinoplasty. Given all that, he doesn't even need hair.

(today's washington post)


gratuitous my-cats-are-cuter-than-yours photo

because, honestly, they are.


san francisco's acorn books, truly a mouse that roars: since giving them a customer feedback card a year ago, i've received weekly e-mails with hyperlinks to purchase rare books in the categories i mentioned. someone actually rummages through their intake piles every week to see if they've bought anything by ted hughes or eavan boland - extraordinary. give them money. for this, maybe.

alibris, a portal for independent bookstore inventories, is also quite fine - but i'm still more impressed by the acorn guys.



if stars are lit,

it means there is someone who needs it,

It means that someone wants them to be,

that someone deems those speckles of spit


And overwrought,

in the swirls of afternoon dust,

he bursts in on God,

afraid he might be already late.

In tears,

he kisses God's sinewy hand

and begs him to guarantee

that there will definitely be a star.

He swears

he won't be able to stand

                                        that starless ordeal.


he wanders around, worried,

but outwardly calm,

And to someone else, he says:


it's alright.

You are no longer afraid,

are you?'


if stars are lit,

it means there is someone who needs it.

It means it is essential

that every evening

at least one star should ascend

over the crest of the building.

(vladimir mayakovsky, 1914)

it isn't that nothing has happened in the past few weeks; on the contrary, october was zesty and marvelous. it's that the things were mostly exciting in a very subjective way, like seeing a nun on a bicycle or ethan hawke's puppy having a poo. no one wants to hear about that, really.

stewart et al. came over last weekend for sonic proselytization - somber, focused listens to other folks' music. one assumes he'll post the track list at some point; i believe my five choices were

iron & wine - promising light
britney spears - e-mail my heart
rainer maria - the contents of lincoln's pockets
the modern lovers - pablo picasso
the fucking champs - winter of our discotheque

joe and i are starring in the weeping walls, a low-budget horror movie in which maintenance workers broke a pipe upstairs, the neighbors use their kitchen sink, a strange tinkling sound comes from nowhere, and the ceiling bulges and slithers. it's pretty awesome. our super is not being very super about it.

i was death for halloween. i looked good.


rest in peace, elliott smith.

jesus, this year has been brutal.


paul called sunday night to bid us adieux before leaving for guatemala. in the same way that his mother felt sure he should wear a tuxedo to val and grant's wedding, i felt sure he should have a tee shirt saying MY PARENTS WON'T RANSOM ME. then my mom called before her trip to nantucket. i forgot to warn her about dirty limericks.

the hazmat review sent an issue proof the other night - huzzah, four poems instead of the one i expected! if you're in san francisco, rochester, or borders, you can pick up a copy at new year's. the collection is 90% better than my pieces, or about what i wanted.


the haiku duel is over.

let's all pity the poor fan who sank last night's game for the cubs. in my morning tap dance across america's newspapers, i must have read a dozen articles about the guy. was it in colombia that a world cup player was killed for costing his team the series? this isn't as dramatic, one could argue, but most of the time i fear baseball fans more than i fear colombians. soccer only damaged me that one time, when i dreamed of a goal kick and woke up spraining my toes against the wall.


you shall know our velocity! / dave eggers: sometimes i think that young people shouldn't write about being young. maybe they should write about it, but only once, or they should write and write and then sit on their material so that it can be fresh and unexpected when they publish at age fifty. eggers is a good guy, and i liked his nonfictional heartbreaking work of staggering genius very much. this novel is also about death and perceived futility, also confessional and exclamatory and consciously maudlin, and it's way over the top. not so poignant with the same themes, at least when characters seem so similar to, well, eggers as eggers in work. i could be resenting him because i myself can't fictionalize, but my poems are short. less space in which to be self-indulgent.

i say skip the novel and go to an eggers reading instead. he's too flighty to risk posturing so much in person, and he's quite funny off the cuff.

on writing, paul and his novel still need an agent. i still need to buckle down and write something more substantial than fake haiku.

frantic octopus
sheltering in laundry bag
cannot match our plaids


i was thinking that if i got to work extra early, extra chipper, the universe's late birthday present would be a closed office. no, no, the media waits for no woman.

after-hours celebrity sighting, courtesy of mari as we chomped pierogi in the east village: the y tu mama tambien guy who wasn't tenoch. it was a very good call - i was too busy reading the TRICK OR BORSCHT signage to peoplewatch with diligence.

happy birthday, lauren - i'm not ignoring you! i thought you were in cambodia*!

*the second-best honest excuse ever; the first involves sandra and a research station in antarctica.


and then i was in the penthouse of the magnate's skyscraper with the waify actress and the rapper's posse, cringing as people set their champagne flutes on furniture i couldn't afford with a year's salary. it's tempting to adopt a how to learn swedish writing style, to refer to notable people by profession and attempt to tell office stories - but kidchamp is too far along to do anonymity well. if you're ever in the mood for silly celebrity stuff, drop me a line - that could work.

the dark side, today's dark side of feeling overqualified for my gig is that when something goes wrong, i'm extra-ashamed about looking incompetent. in the hierarchy of fifty things i'm regularly asked to handle, the lowest five are the ones that come back to gnaw on my ass. it's a lame echo of being the kid who got 50% scores on tests after forgetting to flip the page. who, erm, took the driver's permit exam five times, though there were only three versions.


it's a week of creaky bones: val the beloved college roommate was married on sunday, and other lauren and i are turning twenty-five in a few days.

on the first happening, i have learned that it's unwise to flip around in a wedding program when one is maybe getting caught on the wedding film. that paul develops the ability to breakdance when he drinks for two. that happy crying is still a bit sad; that showing up at kinko's at four in the morning in a tuxedo will not excite comment.
Growing up in postwar Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger showed no political interests and certainly no political ambitions. In fact, he claimed no ambitions at all. "All I want is to go out in the world with a stick, a hat and a monkey," he would say.

LONDON (Reuters) - Call him Moore, Sir Roger Moore.

The former James Bond actor, 75, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth on Thursday for his work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nation Children's Fund.

"(The Queen) congratulated me on my work with UNICEF, which she said must be very satisfying -- and she also mentioned 007 too," Moore told Sky News.

Moore became a television star in the 1960s series "The Saint" and took over the role of secret agent 007 from Sean Connery in the 1973 film "Live and Let Die." His last Bond film was 1985's "A View to a Kill."

The London-born actor collapsed while performing on Broadway in May and was subsequently fitted with a pacemaker.

"I was very fortunate to get my heart sorted out with a pacemaker and it's ticking away like mad and doing a little overtime today," he said.

He even had a word for fellow actor turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, who stormed to election victory in California and will become the state's next governor.

"If he does all the things that he says he will, then California will be an even better place to live in," said Moore.


descriptor of the day: maurice villency-ish

that is all.

To get a firsthand look at the singles factor at work in the [Howard Dean] campaign, I go to a fund-raiser on the Upper West Side one rainy Saturday night. It’s a two-bedroom duplex with a rooftop terrace, and the walls are plastered with posters of Clinton and JFK. The guests (the ones without wedding rings) are engaged in full-frontal flirting, chatting over Rolling Rocks about Dean’s views on Israel and Whoopi Goldberg’s show of support. Upstairs, two twentysomething women and three hipster guys are introducing themselves. When I ask if they came with ulterior motives, they grin. “You don’t go to a birthday party just for the pinata,” says Sam, a six-foot milk-fed brunette, “but you’re glad it’s there.”

(new york magazine)


en route from the grocery store, i share a crosswalk with six sixtysomething women in bondage pants. what i took to be punk patches on their motorcycle jackets turned out to be airbrushed portraits of antonio banderas as the archangel gabriel. ON THE EIGHTH DAY, said their sleeves in gothic silver caps, GOD CREATED ANTONIO BANDERAS. they had peachy-colored old lady hair.

i challenged paul to a craptastic haiku duel. we'll let you know when someone emerges.


i find an unfamiliar pair of boxer-briefs floating around in the bedroom laundry. they're black with a white waistband, so when i put them on my head i look like a nun. "what's your confession?" i say. "those are my dad's," says joe.

moving sucks. we painted the bedroom a bitchin' shade of incredible hulk green last night, and the fumes in the apartment made us both so drunk that we slept through the alarm today. until late this afternoon, i thought i was going to get fired - it was the largest pr crisis i've been able to cause as a lowly peon. luckily, one of my pitches on a charity event last week got pickup in a national paper. the bowels unclenched a little.

also loving the fact that we paid someone $485 to hide our wonderful bed somewhere on the west coast. the air mattress lost its appeal like six days ago, as did constant takeout food. judd and sarah note that there's a $20 tax on walking out the door in this city, which explains why i've maxed out my credit card and have no furniture, no food.


rest in peace, dear departed Johnny Cash.


yesterday's urban moment, courtesy of the union square L stop: a girl in overalls with a guitar and a crisp voice like suzanne vega. instead of making my sternum rumble, her amp sent vibrations through the big stock pot in my lap. we were en route from phil's, where joe prepared an italian feast on saturday. another friend had written MEAT SAUCE on his lite-brite for the occasion. on the train, a teeny girl had a huge pug, mellow as the buddha, hanging in a baby harness on her chest.

lots of bagpipers practicing scales on the train this morning. i think my building was supposed to seem somber and supportive, but the patriotic stuff makes it look like a car dealership. a woman is singing bette midler's "from a distance" on the patio.

given that popular sentiment has tended toward mourning and caution lately - bush is not popular here, especially since he skipped out on the trade center memorial today - i'm surprised that nationalism is so prominent on the street. i find the I LOVE NY MORE THAN EVER shirts moving, the USA business not so much. there's talk of the administration using this anniversary to push for strengthening the patriot act - again, not so much. i wore black, but i usually wear black.

the final move is saturday. attribute recent silence to titanic struggles with the broker, who decided at the last minute to trick us into living in a shoebox. our actual place, not the original apartment but a larger rental in the same building, is what i'd call cozy. we'll be leaping over our bed to get to the bathroom, but the view is lovely. time to find a non-ikea couch that wants to fit through the 31" hallway.

California's wacky recall drama may not solve state money woes, but it's paying off big for product pitches.

Several companies, including Taco Bell and the candy mint Mentos, are using the popular voter revolt over the governor's seat as a backdrop for new national commercials and marketing blitzes.

Taco Bell has named several of its menu tacos after candidates, and polls customers daily on which taco-candidates they prefer to order and eat. The beef taco is named for candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gov. Gray Davis is represented by the chicken soft taco and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is the chalupa. All the other 127 candidates are represented by the grilled "Stuft Burrito."

"Arnold's taco has been in the lead this week," said Taco Bell marketing chief Greg Creed. "We want customers to put their vote where their mouth is. Customers can 'buy votes' this way."

(new york post 9.10)


maybe the ikea 'abandoned lamp' commercial got me anthropomorph...izing appliances - maybe i've never lived somewhere old enough that the buildings predated centralized air. that's not true, but the point is that i can't stop staring at external air conditioners. they look like forlorn pets, or like ebenezer scrooge when the ghost of christmas present takes him to visit the cratchits. it's to the point where i've stopped assuming their falling condensation is pigeon pee - no, it's appliance tears. if i had one at my window, and i probably will, i'll be sure to make it feel included.

another night of writing at the local bar, another place of lonely things. either brooklyn people are ridiculously, uniformly nice (also probably untrue), or taking a notebook to the corner just invites intimacy. i'm not a good customer - i buy one drink and then smoke for an hour - and i don't think i look particularly pitiful: joe has met me here twice, so i have the appearance of friends. somehow everything is free, though, and i end up swapping life stories with the bartenders. largely happy stories! but they keep giving me things, and i don't understand.


also amusing: bad imagery is excellent PR. i decided a few months ago that the guys who write headlines for the post and the daily news have the best jobs around - i mean, someone got paid to suggest THE BIG ZAPPLE (the east coast blackout) or A SAUSAGE & BATTERY (major league baseballer hits a sponsor's hot dog mascot). on a smaller scale, that's press releases. it's like writing limericks for a living. for more serious pieces, alliteration that isn't stylish enough for A Real Poem is great when you want the denver post to pick up a bit about some woman's organ transplant. am i lazy, or am i responsible recycler? who can say?

i vow, however, that esses will never become dollar signs in my copy. there are some things that even scavengers won't touch.


it amuses me that a daily web page is to be the biggest of my duties at work. it's a corporate blog, really - i'm reading thirty periodicals and posting magazine gossip and book signings rather than music blurbs and what i ate for lunch. one could do worse - one perhaps being joe, who was stuck at his firm until three-something this morning. there are pleasant aspects of that as well, though - it's like all nighters in college, but his earnings are directly proportional to how long he's awake.

i had vegetable soup for lunch.


in an utterly unabashed play for continuity, i'm on my umpteenth visit to the bar down the street. i regret, for the bar's sake, that i'll be moving again next week: their movie nights are decent, the bartender now lets me bring my own music, and the patio vibe vaguely recalls my beloved gypsy den.

wrote and lost two posts in my notebooks, in duffel bags, in the weird attic space in the third sublet. i hate to differentiate them by saying they were uneventful, but they were in fact even more uneventful than the norm. gist: more homesickness on the flight back to new york, we've moved again, lots of weird san francisco reminders about.

met joe's friend katy when her band played on the lower east side sunday. i knew, thanks to a CD, that she had a gorgeous voice, but i wasn't expecting her to rock out so capably on her guitar. wish we'd caught her punky show in brooklyn on saturday. i may be cheapening whatever value my praise would have by heaping it on most of the shows i've seen in the last few months, but we've been very lucky, and luckier still to know such talented people. dear nora will be coming to a town near you - check them out.

oh, amusing starfucking notes, and what a combination: cornel west helped me sort my luggage situation at the sacramento airport. then the deer-in-the-headlights girls who turned up for katy's opening act were claire danes and michelle williams (?) of dawson's creek fame. no katie holmes, but i expect jacob to be proud of me anyway.

via ebay, we are now the owners of a dark green velvet duvet. we'll complement this with an acid green bedroom wall and my debbie harry pillow, assuming i can keep this needlepoint thing going. still going with an arms race theme for the kitchen, though i despair of finding suitably mismatched dishes at thrift stores. the call there could be heavily affected by whether or not we have a dishwasher. as i am the manual dishwasher and i have butterfingers, wimping out and getting nice new stuff could be a bad, bad plan.

and for the living room - hang on, i'll be done soon - we found supercheap camel-colored club chairs and a mahogany sideboard, reasonable because a monkey refinished it. but the hardware is original! this clashes horribly with joe's monolithic stereo equipment, but he has made me see that fine sounds are their own excuses. finally, my wonderful mum is framing an anti-nuke poster i plucked from a fence in london eight years ago. i am deeply, thoroughly, lamentably excited about nesting in our eventual apartment.

thirteen: a little more conventional than the excellent welcome to the dollhouse, but earnest in a the-co-star-helped-write-the-thing-when-she-was-that-age sort of way. red balls, the store where the girls shoplift and try to look like scary hookers, is known to my friends and sisters as That One Place On Melrose That Lauren Likes, That Gave Me A Headache. i was never popular and lithe like the girls, but i did shop there in attempts to be so. not sure if there was supposed to be odd teen movie resonance in the fact that the lead's mom (holly hunter)'s boyfriend also played the slimy alpha male high school boy in clueless, but if so - and why not - it was an inspired casting choice. worlds better than one's average pubescent dystopia film.

after the quake: a collection of six stories grouped loosely around the 1995 kobe disaster. though it wasn't so closely linked to that theme, i prefer "honey pie," a tale of ambiguous affection, the idea that early middle age is frightening and wrong, and the frustrations of a short story writer. the protagonist in this case is, in my memory, the first murakami character who really suffers for his inability to get things on paper. creative frustrations have certainly happened before, but this guy needs closure in life and otherwise - everyone else settles things without going back to the page. no handy, magical realism closure here.

the other five stories are fine, and certainly worthwhile if one is simply looking for a murakami fix until something else is translated into english, but vintage paperbacks are awfully expensive. i'd say hang on and borrow mine.

work began again today. The Corporation reinitiated me with meaty assignments, at twice the rate at which they appeared last month. this is good, as i spent the last part of july trying to extend the meaty parts and pretending that the busy work wasn't happening. now i will have partial use of an intern, whee, which is roughly as important as having one poor soul get behind me at the end of a gargantuan line. it's nominal and silly, but let's be honest, it's slightly comforting.

told my supervisor about the eventual apartment location. she noted that i'd be even closer to the offices when they revert to their original location (in 2-3 years). flattering and horrifying that i could be here when that happens.


i'd been wondering when the really substantial california feelings would kick in. hello boys, been expecting you.

it's not the beach - i still love it, but we've been growing apart since i went to college (and no one outside of my immediate family is able to dive through the most robust waves, bless them for trying). it could be the excellent food, though i usually snag the fancy thank-you fruit baskets at work (The Corporation admires and doesn't eat their partners' gifts). it's been established that most of my friends are elsewhere, and i see more of dad on the east coast than i have in years. mom and the sisters are excellent phone buddies, so...?

i'm always asked for directions, for help with a dressing room, for the prices of random things. i could flatter myself and think that i look comfortable everywhere, but i think it's that i don't appear to be from anywhere else. i'd like to seem californian, or somethingian, but i don't have an accent, a look, regional figures of speech (excluding the time paul called me appalachian).

i found this weird little can of coke in one of my tchotchke boxes when i was packing the apartment. it was fifteen years old, a present from my elementary school best friend, back from visiting family in singapore. it was probably just like the cans they have there now, but it could have been a cool addition to our theme kitchen. i drank it on the porch and tried to think deep thoughts, instead.

it gets cheesier: said friend also brought me a miniature novelty mug from san francisco. i was going to throw it away, but mom said she was thinking of having a garage sale.

my favorite scene in monty python's the meaning of life comes toward the end, when the restaurant glutton explodes and the french waiter (eric idle) tells the cameramen to follow him outside for it, The Meaning. he takes them to the cottage where he was born, becomes intensely uncomfortable, and tells them to fuck off. in a less eventually misanthropic way, coming back to leave is like that.


i should be awake and perky when mars is closest to the west coast tonight - 1:53 PST, i think? for years i was annoyed at my inability to sleep and eat at appropriate times without friends around for cues - bedtime was eleven this morning, and i had a popsicle and an egg for lunch at eight - but if i hadn't been drinking coffee in front of the six o'clock news, i wouldn't know that i should be stargazing in a few hours. and no lines at the grocery store, hey.

when repacking joe's old pants loses its magic, i've been stitching debbie harry's nostrils. decided i needed a hobby that would yield something comfy for the apartment, and i'm too clumsy to knit, so needlepoint it is. i blew up and photoshopped an old blondie photo, bought a bunch of green yarn and strange tools from the people at 'the fuzzy penguin,' and have spent like twenty hours sewing and listening to NPR. addictive stuff, that. the next project will be a big yucky bug, or joe strummer.
Star light, star bright... we look up and we hope the stars look down, we pray that there may be stars for us to follow, stars moving across the heavens and leading us to our destiny, but it's only our vanity. We look at the galaxy and fall in love, but the universe cares less about us than we do about it, and the stars stay in their courses however much we may wish upon them to do otherwise. It's true that if you watch the sky-wheel turn for a while you'll see a meteor fall, flame and die. That's not a star worth following; it's just an unlucky rock. Our fates are here on earth. There are no guiding stars.

(salman rushdie, the moor's last sigh)
08.26.03 davis

i'd forgotten about the way california smells. hyde street in the city had flowering trees, and we were close enough to the wharf and north beach to catch breezes of ocean air and italian food. san francisco has nothing on davis, of course - quasi-rural as it is, i'm getting notes of orchards, mown alfalfa, mom's terrifyingly healthy garden, and some very promising thunderheads - but it's a nice thing to remember after months away. oddly, the moving-out-forever snifflies began when i got final whiffs of our corner store (windex, firewood, produce) and the laundromat.

my evil uncle-landlord did me the favor of obliterating what i remembered of the apartment itself. perpetual construction is still going strong, and he propped all of the doors to our place wide open (vile dung weasel) - there was a half-inch of sawdust and particulate crap on everything i own. he also painted the building, an ugly but stately grey lady, coral and baby-shit-brown. sometimes i wish rich people had good taste, or tastes similar to mine, so that i could vicariously enjoy the cool stuff they can afford. at other times my uncle really pleases me, for all the dough in the world doesn't get him much more than c. 1985 cocaine magnate furniture and a silo of smooth jazz. rock on, buddy.

'marriage ruins a beautiful mind'?
In a paper for the Journal of Research in Personality, Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, declared that evolutionary psychology explains why male scientists, at least, lose steam as they age. Scientists achieve great things, he argued, because, like rams butting heads on the African veldt, they're attempting to woo mates and ensure their genetic heritage. Once they marry, their drive to achieve declines.
implausible and deeply amusing - two great tastes that taste great together.

08.18.03 nyc > minneapolis

though i love the dutch and people bound for ghana, i wish they'd picked another day to fly. i look weird when i run and i look weird after traveling all day, so getting through a packed terminal and out of new york was altogether not glamorous at all. this is what one resorts to thinking about when one has read the skymall and airline magazines and one is too lazy to start rushdie's the moor's last sigh. it's not easy, being uninteresting and uninterested.

the ghana folks were visiting accra, my fictional home in our high school marriage simulation. i became a u.n. representative overseas after my 'husband' told me to to skip college and stay home to raise our ten children in the presbyterian faith. he never remarried.

who would have the audacity to put vile artificial butter on their in-flight snacks? northwest airlines, that's who.

the fun eventually concludes in san francisco, where i'll be preparing our erstwhile furnishings for new lives with my mom, sister 1, and carefully screened classified ad respondents. joe should be doing this. i want to pretend that my stuff has a wonderful new life on acres and acres of farmland - i can't be the one who saws the sofa in half if it doesn't fit down the renovated staircase.

if we were too hip for the inwood sublet, our brooklyn sublet is way too hip for us. it's a studio loft in a renovated williamsburg factory, a block from the waterfront. the conceptual artist / owner generally hosts sculptors and painters, but he tells us that business has been horrible since bush's tomfoolery in iraq. it's us instead of arty expats, then - he must be pretty disappointed.

the big cat was desparate to reach the loft's sleeping level this weekend. we're both in day 2 of hard core sleep deprivation, as he registered his displeasure by sitting in the bathtub and howling until four in the morning. a bit hoarse as of noon today, he's now learned to flush the toilet to get my attention.


(notebook, 8 pm) i assumed that the power outage would send my friends home from work, so i had a vague idea that i would walk south until i could take a taxi to phil's. then it dawned on me that everyone would be hailing cabs - if the cabs were operating - and it would be best to stay here. the digital phone network went from perpetually busy to broken an hour ago, so i couldn't tell anyone where i was going anyway. so much for revisiting the excitement of the stanford blackout of '97, when my candle hoard was larger than the dorm's.

when was the last time this city was in near-total darkness? if you've seen 28 days later, picture a long shot of the london flat where a strand of christmas lights picks a single window from dozens of skyscrapers. maybe one in twenty-five apartments has a bank of candles, and the occupants of each lit room are peeping out to look at each other. my lights are at the coffee table, but i like this imagined idea of people asserting themselves - i am, i am, i am. i can't think of another reason to waste so much light at the edge of a room. makes me want to write a poem - no, really.

(notebook, 9.30 pm) hospitals have backup generators and someone's radio announced that the subway was successfully evacuated, so i'm allowing myself to be specifically worried about joe stranded at 42nd street (170 blocks from home). i hope his building had the foresight to get people out early, and that he walked to phil's place in chelsea. my cell phone is running out of batteries, but i don't want to turn it off and miss his call if i fall asleep and the power comes back. a neighbor said that the outage originated at niagara falls, that new york and most of jersey are dark. something else on a radio about how much this will cost the city, and that no, it wasn't a terrorist attack.


have developed a fixation on picasso's lobster and cat, thanks to yesterday's trip to the guggenheim with mum. to paraphrase the leonard nimoy should eat more salsa foundation: lobsters are excellent, and cats are excellent, and if picasso's version of their meeting hung in my kitchen - i would be an unstoppable force of excellence. the print would detract from our chosen 'arms race' theme, but one could argue that the lobster is reagan's star wars programs. i will, in fact, argue thus.

an equally powerful if less feasible fixation on dwarf dachshunds: nerves were frayed before the guggenheim visit, so i played the highest 'get happy' card in my hand (visiting the puppies at 86th & lexington). one wouldn't assume they were universally effective, but my god - the two pound, ten-week-old doxie girlpup could have drawn coos from a stone. fortunate that i didn't have (cough) $1799 to spare.

the brooklyn sublet begins tomorrow, the adventure in inwood concludes friday, and i have started feeling limbless when i'm not carrying disinfectant and paper towels. arrivals are easy, departures not so much.
SINGAPORE - The Singapore Tourism Board honored Ricky Martin by naming a yellow orchid speckled with crimson spots after him.

"Hello, sexy, how are you?" the 31-year-old singer asked the dainty flower during the naming ceremony Friday at Singapore's downtown Botanical Gardens. "You're supposed to talk to your plants, right?"



o, those furniture sellers. i need to stop browsing and have a nap.
Plush Red Chair of Cyndi Lauper Fan - $10

Super comfy chair owned by a Cyndi Lauper fan. It cannot make the move with us, so we must let her go. Please take her from us.

Nelson, the IKEA table - $15

Buy Nelson. He needs a new home. He is in excellent condition, and will be your friend. He is hot and chicks dig him. He is on sale on ebay.

Sexy Saucy Velvet Rocking Bench - $50

Rocking bench, ideal for sitting and making out is for sale. We have decided to stop making out, so we want someone else to enjoy it.

(per craigslist new york, natch)


i could have imagined that my father and i would run around manhattan for a last-minute pre-wedding coffee, though i tend to place myself at the center of those scenarios. on a parent as a groom, i'll but say that it's weird to watch an habitual stoic cry at the drop of a hat.

pre-ceremony, we were sent to the bathroom to change; it was mark twain's bathroom, so i didn't complain. it was unnerving to be utterly overlooked for the photos, but i'd made a point of saying that i wanted no part of publicized shots. reminded myself of that, tried not to feel like a red-headed stepchild.

dad's spoor, as joe would say, was all over the event - a humorous reading at the altar, gourmet potato chips beside the hors d'oeuvres, lamentable power ballads at the reception - but it did seem like new york was ingesting him. taking him from us, rather.



field trip to soho last night for neighbor judd's first gig with his new band. urban legend confirmed: there's a huge black woman trapped behind his rib cage. she was in fine form. i'd like to see him tour with the gossip, but that has more to do with the world's collective need to see him dance in his knickers. a worthy thing, mind you.

sister 2 arrives from los angeles tonight, sister 1 from belgium tomorrow. two days of demonstrating to friends that i was justified in bragging about them, then my father's wedding on sunday. this is another of those times when i feel i've been miscast - i suppose it's odd to say here that i dislike negotiating personal relationships around strangers, but empirically, come on. the occasion is deeply weird. an appropriate, neutral descriptor - weird.

The term mayhem is the violently depriving another of the use of such of his members as may render him less able, in fighting, either to defend himself or annoy his adversary. And, therefore, the cutting off, or disabling, or weakening, a man's hand or finger, or striking out his eye or foretooth, or depriving him of those parts, the loss of which, in animals, abates their courage, are held to be mayhem. But the cutting off his ear or nose, or the like, are not held to be mayhem at common law, because they do not weaken, but only disfigure him.

(blackstone's commentaries on the laws of england, 1765)


a job for joe, also. woot!

i hadn't much to contribute to the magazine meeting, so i copied a bit of the gibberish in the november issue proofs:

exorem ipsum dollor sit at
consec teur
adipis sing elit
no nummy
nim euismod

turns out it was The Corporation's version of lorem ipsum. am i the last person to have heard of this? it's very exciting, especially compared with issue proofs.

Lorem Ipsum, or Lipsum for short, is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.


Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney college in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC.

1914 translation of Section 1.10.32 by H. Rackham:

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

again with the sort of luck that makes me nervous. we've signed a lease on a one bedroom apartment that's five blocks / two avenues from my office, ten blocks from central park, two avenues from rockefeller center, a stone's throw from sarah and judd, and $250 below the rent we were afraid we'd pay. for neighbors we've an art gallery, a foo-foo pet store that shelters and fosters adoptions for homeless kittens, and a new age candle store that burns incense all day. clearly the apartment is haunted or cursed, but who would care at this point? the apparent catch is that we can't move in until 10 september, as the building manager is renovating the place. wait, that's good too.

so i'm going to come out in favor of apartment brokers. they can be bloodsucking weasels, but ours knocked off a sizable portion of the rent to absorb her fee. rah-rah-roo.


utterly reasonable weather, satisfying busy work, the news that i can end my internship early and move out here without rushing - clearly something awful is going to happen. i'd like to believe in unadulterated good fortune, but i've read too many books. beyond that, new york seems, even more than san francisco, to be a giveth / taketh away city.

thinking in the shower this morning about how i'll miss the ugly-ass clawfoot tub in our old place. in a terrible fit of something, the previous tenant painted it fifty-two different colors, most notably on the toes. it was big and comfy, though, and the lip was large enough that the cat could sit and swipe at my feet through the bath foam. and the cranky old green pantry, impossible to open, the amateur yellow living room that a generous friend called 'tuscan farmhouse-ish'...i've visited a lot of places, but i've only nested in two. i'm tempted to take an extra year in manhattan to justify another big settling-in. i guess we'll see if i can swing this office thing for so long, if i can keep the poetry going and tell myself that i needed more time for kick-ass drafts. it could work, but i haven't been back home since i started toying with leaving for good. nostalgia, she can be a gym sock of quarters to the head.


i could vomit in disbelief - They made an offer, i accepted, i have a job. again, the moral leg work was already behind me, and boy did i want to scratch the itch to move. if you please, forgive the physical descriptors. i register all stress with twitches and rumbles.


ITEM! The Corporation has been making noises about creating a permanent position for me. i'm not worried about jinxing myself by discussing it - in fact, i'd welcome some, nay any sort of resolution. at this point i would, in fact, sell out: it's so darn nice to be in a city with lots of friendly locals, so darn nice to buy food with cash. also, with apologies to jeng and enjelani, i confess that i love wearing nylons.

ITEM! so we're trying to move to the city. joe has become the unofficial brooklyn broker, and i in turn pimp the upper east side. we were both infatuated with lofts in war-torn williamsburg, but who has the furniture to fill those things? who has the cash to ship furniture from san francisco to even sort of fill those things?

ITEM! we need a $15 couch.

ITEM! screw you, hugh hefner, and your crazy fabulous library -


don't read the pilot's wife. okay, if you're trapped under something heavy and it's the only thing within arm's reach. but otherwise.

we're attempting to make big plans. more on that soon.


charlotte bronte? kind of a bitch.
In the afternoon; Miss Ellen Lister was trigonometrically oecumenical about her French lessons. She nearly killed me between the violence of the irritation her horrid willfulness excited and the labour it took to subdue it to a moderate appearance of calmness.


I came back
Abyme to the last degree, for Miss L[ister] and Miss M[arriot]t had been boring me with their vulgar familiar trash all the time we were out. If those girls knew how I loathe their company, they would not seek mine so much as they do.

("All this day I have been in a dream," untitled manuscript)

menial jobs are crap, and sure, i hate children too...but damn, baby.


movie cinquains: the summer blockbusters (?)

bruce almighty

i wept
for jennifer
aniston, for the state
of cinematic comedy,
for us.

28 days later...

's dead
hip, reanimated
younger sibling. british 'zombies'
please us.

pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl

no plot,
humor, johnny depp as
hunter thompson as a pirate:

terminator 3: rise of the machines

it's true,
i preferred this
to the matrix sequel.
sci fi should be perfect or, as
here, camp.

charlie's angels: full throttle

pokemon, with
a mild concussion and
a bad case of the hiccups, at


a.s. byatt smacked j.k. rowling and her admirers with the op ed kid glove today. i just finished harry potter and the order of the phoenix, so i'm feeling a bit defensive - but the thought of a rebuttal makes me giggle.
Ms. Rowling's magic world has no place for the numinous. It is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip. Its values, and everything in it, are, as Gatsby said of his own world when the light had gone out of his dream, "only personal." Nobody is trying to save or destroy anything beyond Harry Potter and his friends and family.


A surprising number of people - including many students of literature - will tell you they haven't really lived in a book since they were children. Sadly, being taught literature often destroys the life of the books. But in the days before dumbing down and cultural studies no one reviewed Enid Blyton or Georgette Heyer - as they do not now review the great Terry Pratchett, whose wit is metaphysical, who creates an energetic and lively secondary world, who has a multifarious genius for strong parody as opposed to derivative manipulation of past motifs, who deals with death with startling originality. Who writes amazing sentences.


It's become respectable to read and discuss what Roland Barthes called "consumable" books. There is nothing wrong with this, but it has little to do with the shiver of awe we feel looking through Keats's "magic casements, opening on the foam / Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."

(a.s. byatt, "harry potter and the childish adult," nyt 07.07.03)

honestly, though? byatt is a bit snotty. loath as i am to harp on the old mediocre-lit-as-a-stepping-stone string - especially in the case of readers who should be old enough to know better - the fantasy genre is a byzantine niche. terry pratchett (better than rowling, not a real 'fairy story' maestro) doesn't leap from the shelf, it's true - i found him when he collaborated with my beloved neil gaiman (sandman &c) on good omens, and i found gaiman on a schoolmate's recommendation after she caught me reading robert jordan ('the wheel of time'). jordan makes the harry potter books look like the faerie queene; i'd love to hear byatt's take on him.

[to be continued]


on saturdays we putter with things we should have discovered long ago. example (via languagehat), snippets of conversation between several of murakami's translators-slash-biggest-fans (excluding daniel handler and the notably fantastic alfred birnbaum, that is). key points:

- jay rubin translated the short story "kangaroo communique" for zyzzyva in the fall of '88 - probably the first time murakami appeared in english? i should give cranky editor howard junker et al. more credit.

- all god's children can dance, a collection of pieces on the kobe earthquake (vaguely akin to underground, on the tokyo sarin attacks?) has been available in english since last year, back when i had money to spend on hardcovers. fah.

there was a lovely comment about how the japanese language is processed in the elbow, but i'm not nearly diligent enough to find it at the moment. it's only midafternoon, you see.

Having anchored Galaxie 500 in the late Eighties before founding Luna, [Dean] Wareham is a bit of an indie intellectual. [Britta] Phillips, meanwhile, joined Luna on bass a few years ago after fronting several bands, performing as the voice of Jem on the Saturday morning cartoon "Jem and the Holograms," and appearing as a drugged-out guitarist in the forgettable flick "Satisfaction."

(women's wear daily, june 24, 2003)

many thanks to paul for resuscitating kidchamp. i was having near-digital-death visions of ancient, awful weekly world news posts.

my old fiction on demand request finally bore fruit; thanks also to aaron, then, for writing me a story even though he'd already worked with carapace. i had shellfish on the brain at the time, as pru and frock the thai devil crabs were new to our household.

the weather has finally turned, and we're told to expect a ninety degree afternoon tomorrow. my office attracts people who wear lots of deodorant and prepare decently fresh food, so i'm happy to weather the heat down here. as for inwood, where bags of cat turds tend to expand and explode - we won't talk about inwood.

sleep before substance.


Paul here, trying to fix the site. Pardon our mess.

old, not stale: found verse in the new york times.
When Ari Fleischer leaves his job as President Bush's press secretary this summer, what will we remember about his tenure? His ability to stay on message? His calm demeanor? Or his poetry? In his nearly three years at the White House, Mr. Fleischer has produced volumes of verse, much of it in collaboration with Helen Thomas, the United Press International correspondent. (All language taken from White House transcripts.)

Helen, bonjour; I like your chapeau. (Jan. 8, 2003)

I'm happy to take your questions, Helen. (April 14, 2003)

Always interested in your opinion, Helen. (Nov. 27, 2001)

I'm not sure what you're driving at, Helen. (Jan. 16, 2002)

You're mixing up two stories, Helen. (Dec. 14, 2001)

It's a wily paraphrase, Helen, wily. (Jan. 23, 2003)

Keep going, Helen. (Oct. 9, 2002)

Let events take their course, Helen. (Jan. 23, 2003)

Go stand in the corner, Helen. (Feb. 26, 2003)

I'm sorry, Helen? (Dec. 20, 2002)

Helen? We're back to Helen? (July 3, 2002)

Helen, I dispute the premise of your question. (March 5, 2003)

Helen, I do not accept the description of the premise of your question, and the manner in which you asked it. (April 1, 2002)

Helen, without accepting the premise of the way that question is phrased, let me tell you what the president thinks. (March 25, 2002)

Helen, the president's position is well known on this. (Dec. 20, 2002)

Helen, again, the president has made his point clear. (April 12, 2002)

Helen, you don't have the floor. (July 10, 2002)

Helen, your views on this are well known. (Oct. 9, ,2002)

Helen, we all know you have opinions. (May 17, 2002)

Helen, with your support, the answer will be yes. (June 20, 2001)

Helen, I've addressed the question. (Sept. 28, 2001)

Helen, Helen. (May 14, 2002)

Helen? Helen? (July 3,2002)

Helen. (May 29, 2003)

Hart Seely is editor of "Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld."


THE SECOND QUESTIONER (cf 06.11.03)an upscale boutique near times square

1: where are you from?

2: san francisco!

1: i knew right when i saw you that you were not from new york. what a beautiful personality!

i was wearing ratty beach sandals and sporting a wicked sunburn, so no, i did not blend.

the california adventure ended at 0900 EST today. it began and ended well, and a couple of pleasant things happened in the middle - like sister emily graduating from stanford - but most of the trip was, sadly, a simmmering crock of shit. i won't bore or betray anyone with lurid detail; i'll say that my siblings are two of the most and only trustworthy people in my life. our gang of three is the only viable family member combo lately, which is wonderful-awful.

stanford was sunny, earnest, predictable. i developed a brief and searing crush on em's departmental commencement speaker, a comp lit professor who wore mardi gras beads and quoted clytemnestra in greek. so very many reasons to be a grad student.


i cheated most energetically on the sam beckett bio, but it's deirdre bair's and The Corporation's fault - i've been managing twenty minutes of reading before melting into bed each night, and it's just plain unsatisfying to take SB's life down a week at a time. he's sedentary, she's occasionally overzealous (still good, mind you), i'm lazy. i'll get to closing ceremonies when i'm back from california (toward which i'm hurtling).

on said cheating, possession was worth it. i'd feared it would be cheeky and self-satisfied a la the lecturer's tale or david lodge's o-so-hated nice work, but nay. like george eliot, byatt's quite handy with a number of styles'n'genres. i do appreciate those freakish writers who can cheat on prose with poetry, and vice versa.
Tonight, he began to think of words, words came from some well in him, lists of words that arranged themselves into poems, "The Death Mask," "The Fairfax Wall," "A Number of Cats." He could hear, or feel, or even almost see, the patterns made by a voice he didn't yet know, but which was his own. The poems were not careful observations, nor yet incantations, nor yet reflections on life and death, though they had elements of all these. He added another, "Cats' Cradle," as he saw he had things to say which he could say about the way shapes came and made themselves. Tomorrow he would buy a new notebook and write them down. Tonight he would write down enough, the mnemonics.
unpretentious, just nice.

on laws and sausages, i'd actually tired of magazines by the time i got to the airport. a shame - flights and collages are my only real justifications for glossies - but unavoidable: i've been waist-deep in those little fuckers for two straight weeks. newspapers, too - i'm averaging about five a day. at least papers are related to the work and aren't the work itself.

the local smoking laws, part umpteen: as of wednesday, it's illegal to sell mail order cigarettes to new york residents. weird, for a second there i thought i could make decisions for myself.


"where are you from?" says the writer. what? "you know, are you in college? no, i'm just - here. "well," says the executive editor, "where are you from?" life...? i longed for my unfrequented desk and the press release about corn.

on unusual choices, i'd have to exhaust a lot of cat costume options before i made one to look like anne of green gables.
Isn't her coquettish red hair cute? Let's give her a broom and this lady with little red hood, is likely to start cleaning up your room. The country-tone blouse are made of the same material as the hood, presenting a consistency in the appearance.

make your own tombstone.


our apartment's absent owners seem like the sort of people who would own a tent. i'm thinking they keep it in the secret closet we're not supposed to open. i'm thinking i could sneak it out and camp on the roof, where the moonlight is gentle and the air doesn't feel like soup, and i'm thinking that joe would stay inside, that the neighbors would lock me out and i'd be forced to shimmy down the fire escape again (which is, mostly, not fun at all). ideas are mostly worthless.

in the debate team years, i had a collection of labels from embassies who'd send me policy papers before conferences. today i received an mp3 of an oprah-related interview from a radio station in seattle. i think the mailings are - complementary?


as joe has heard in exhaustive detail over the last few hours, douglas is a remarkable human being; in a world of my making, individuals who could locate tofu hot dogs and half-price sandman back issues in the span of an hour would be promptly canonized.

the weekend became nice and sluggish after friday's peripheral celebrity extravaganza - long train rides, quality time with byatt's possession (so far, a hit), realizing that sleeping until ten is, empirically, a luxury. we like it when down time feels valuable.
Small things
make the past.
Make the present seem out of place.

A woman cracking and twisting.
Black atoms falling down
on green leaves.

If I am ever to go back
to what I loved first
here are words to be wished on -

(almost, you can see, an incantation).

Summon blue air
out of a corridor between
a mountain range and a sea
(this at least has never changed).

Empty out the streets.
Fit the cars easily
into their parking places.
Slow the buses down by thirty years.

Observe a brave, fiery shower
above a plate
of bacon and potatoes

(we are nearly there).

Now say dinner for lunch.
And teatime for supper.

And see how it comes again -

My little earth.

My city of white pepper.

(eavan boland, "the old city")

at the shea stadium project ALS benefit: the DJ, as if to taunt me about knowing that ferris bueller is present, plays "twist and shout". mister met, the malevolent fuzzy baseball mascot, breezes by the catering table and gooses me for the fourth time. i growl. the woman in front of me jumps and gestures apologetically with her hamburger-in-process: "it's harder than it looks!" sic semper lauren and famous people.

joe returns from the men's room. "this guy was staring at me while i picked my teeth, and i look over and it's matthew broderick."

on a higher note, katie couric clucked at me for dispensing cigarettes to the PR staff. and so.

paul's back.


on the second day she stuffed funeral announcements, read five hundred press clippings about cher, and met a man named otter. The Corporation is wily; it keeps us docile with curious errands.

the arrangement is sinister. i'm tired enough when i arrive that the reptilian part of my head is utterly satisfied with accomplishing negligible things. i perk up on the canada-bound train, read something nice for half an hour, and plan to be the artistic mistress of the universe; by the time i'm back at the apartment, i'm sleepy and fit only for stupid home-things. when the day job is utterly unrelated to what one cares about, it's frightfully easy to forget that anything is exciting. but little brain wants to be engaged all the time -

it would be nice to think that one role is enough, that i could afford to eat if i busted my ass in the field i love. i've accepted the fact that i need to wear another hat, but i seem to have assumed that i'd be more flexible about it. no, apparently i need two perfect jobs.



day one of the internship (shouted into a cell phone in a large lobby): YEAH, H-----, I HAVE THIS YOUNG GIRL DOWN HERE LOOKIN' FOR YOU. SAYS SHE WANTS A JOB.

i was upset about my hourly rate, but it would be awfully awkward to accept large amounts of money for xeroxing old magazines all day. it's nice, at least, to know that The Corporation would rather watch me staple than gnaw at my still-beating heart. literally, anyway.

the creatures in (this one guy's) head (my favorites).


on this day in 1964, groucho marx broke bread with t.s. eliot.
...At any rate, your correspondent arrived at the Eliots' fully prepared for a literary evening. During the week I had read "Murder in the Cathedral" twice, "The Waste Land" three times, and just in case of a conversational bottleneck, I brushed up on "King Lear."

Well, sir, as the cocktails were served, there was a momentary lull - the kind that is more or less inevitable when strangers meet for the first time. So, apropos of practically nothing (and not with a bang but a whimper) I tossed in a quotation from "The Waste Land." That, I thought, will show him I've read a thing or two besides my press notices from Vaudeville.

Eliot smiled faintly -- as though to say he was thoroughly familiar with his poems and didn't need me to recite them. So I took a whack at "King Lear"...

That too failed to bowl over the poet. He seemed more interested in discussing "Animal Crackers" and "A Night at the Opera." He quoted a joke - one of mine - that I had long since forgotten. Now it was my turn to smile faintly...

We didn't stay late, for we both felt that he wasn't up to a long evening of conversation - especially mine.

Did I tell you we called him Tom? - possibly because that's his name. I, of course, asked him to call me Tom too, but only because I loathe the name Julius.

Tom Marx

a grossly belated time article informed me that june carter cash passed away. my country music scholarship isn't far enough along that i can say much about the carter family dynasty, but she was one hell of a collaborator with her husband. their relationship had a spooky where the red fern grows quality - given that and the way he's been looking in publicity for his latest album, i fear he's not long for this world. one can't really picture him playing backgammon with bob hope for the next twenty years, but - johnny cash, please don't die!

the new york times doesn't seem especially enthused about howard dean.
...Dean manages to cast himself, like John McCain. as the candidate of "straight talk," when in fact his straight talk seems calibrated not to offend.

This balancing act will get harder as the campaign season gets more intense. The only sure way for Dean to get beyond it is to attach his campaign to some larger agenda for the country, something that defines him more as a problem-solver than as a protester. That hasn't happened yet. Dean's campaign caught fire before he really figured out what he wanted it to be about; even on his signature issue as a doctor, universal health care, he allowed Dick Gephardt to seize the initiative by getting there first and with a bolder, albeit pricier, plan. At least so far, Dean seems more prepared to exploit people's rage than to channel their passion into something positive, and historically speaking, that is not a winning formula.
or a bit cold on the idea of protest candidates, at least. i love the fact that dean galvanizes liberals - his speech footage is awfully nice - but i do quake at the thought of a (slightly) more (but not) popular (enough) ralph nader. gore was preferable to bush; even dick gephardt would be preferable to more bush. not sure if it matters, yet, that i like dean - electability's a dirty word these days, but it's awfully important.

and there are the concealed weapons and capital-punishment-in-some-cases issues to consider - i'll think about endorsing you, howie, but i'll have to sleep on it.


charlie is loving his post as the head of our apartment's cockroach patrol. we have either the world's fastest cat or the world's dumbest pests - yesterday he took a winged fellow down, no sweat. i'm hoping for a transaction similar to boston's, where i let the first one go with a warning and he told his buddies to steer clear of my stuff. i'm supposed to have faith in rehabilitation.

about to conclude my heart-to-heart with samuel beckett. the biography is a real enabler, as SB lived with his mother for nearly thirty years before catching the serious publishing train. moreover, his youthful volleys were often laughably short poems. we like this.
Is he his own strength?
What is its signature?
Or is he a key, cold-feeling
To the fingers of prayer?

He is a prayer-wheel, his heart hums.
He is eating the wind -
In patient power of appeal.
His footprints assail infinity

With signatures: We are here, we are here.
He is the long waiting for something
To use him for some everything
Having so carefully made him

Of nothing.

(ted hughes, "crow frowns")

placement is everything. at the shakespeare garden in central park, a robin built her nest atop the romeo and juliet sculpture - you could see her babies' beaks peeking out from juliet's bosom. goddamn ridiculously cute. later that night, i found myself talking to a random british guy in a club. what's that smell? sez he, and it turns out he had dropped a burning cigarette butt directly into the cuff of my jeans. which were, at that point, on fire. i knew the resurgence of pants in my life was going to end badly -

the aforepictured paul wouldn't crow about getting an 800 on the GRE lit exam. me, i have no problem bragging about him.


Paul got new glasses.


addendum & microrant: ray, one of our favorite renaissance men, is a strong supporter of nyc tap water. i'm happy to concede that questionable pipes may be my culprit - excellent excuse to commandeer friends' tubs.

ooh ooh, make that addenda - my new favorite commercial, in turn, is for the nissan xterra: "a million uses and counting", spoken over the opening strains of the velvet underground's "heroin". i love television.

and hate annika sorenstam, supergolfer and the first woman to compete in a PGA tournament in something like half a century. (admittedly, an excerpt from) her sound bite on failing to qualify for the second round: "i know my place." you've come a long way, baby.


manhattan folk: norman rush, author of whites, mating, and (now) mortals (also known as the peace corps author i discovered when hunting for a copy of the satanic verses) will be speaking at the barnes & noble near the lincoln center on june 3. drop me a line if you're interested in coffee around then - it's the night before my corporate internship kicks in, so i'll be overdosing on idealistic books.

i gave barnes & noble a few dollars, which was bad. it gave me a decent women's journal (kalliope), though. not sure how the following ties in with their theme issue ("desire"), but i liked it (go go MFA students gettin' published) -
It hurts to have three goldfish
in a five-gallon tank. Two gold, one black.

To lord over living beings with eyes who see
me coming, flutter madly at the surface to tell me

they are hungry. I decide when and if
everything, clean water, food.

They are meant to bring luck
and after two months, I know what it is:

not "good", but the staving off of bad -
the humility of the oppressor who faces

her terrible power every day.
Who tries to imagine trading places

and achieves it, fast as a fin ripple,
but then it's gone and I am still out here

putting my face to the glass; their expressions
are not so alien, we are animal and animal,

but still we do not meet. They refuse.
Especially their leader, the big gold one.

He wiggles and gasps through his gills
bobbing pockmarks in the water's surface

to imitate the spray of food he wants
as badly as an addict, relief

from boredom and confinement.
It works every time. I know

I could wait, for days if I wanted, but I stop
what I'm doing and drop in the pellets,

watch them gulp the floating bits. No gladness wells
from my good deed, only a mild pause in the horror

that eats at me, the knowledge
that I own, possess, three fish.

(elly clay, "surface tension")
i'm hip to that guilt.

at long last, another rejection trickled in. the editor complimented my spelling and productivity ("Well, you've written at least 6 poems, plus those published. Promising.") and guessed at my last name's origins. again, i seem to get more attention for my cover letters than i do for my work - if only job applications turned out that way. maybe i'll tell him i'm a blender heiress when i write back ("Send again. NO promises.").


local tap water adds an element of intrigue to the tub: i try to be imaginative and think that the fizz and color are the result of a fancy bath bomb, am mostly successful. again, germs are only as potent as one's misgivings. it's certainly soak weather, as the news promises drizzle and gloom for most of the weekend. spectacular view of the hudson river from the roof - the water meets the clouds when it rains like this, as it does on the best days in san francisco.

post script to tuesday's thrills and spills: tom is now tom, esq. lordy, they grow up quickly (congratulations, darling) -


the day's horrid news, of course, is the buffy series finale. its holy shit stupendous news, on the other hand, is that stanford accepted my little sister (the rock star). congratulations, baby jo - they have good taste.


i've been on the subway 33 times since our move. something like half of those rides were to/from our peaceful apartment in the middle of nowhere, so i'd say i've spent about 20 hours peoplewatching. which breaks down to

- 3 spoken word recitals
- 1 a capella "the lion sleeps tonight"
- 2 fistfights
- 1 trip that began at night and ended at dawn
- 10 passengers who gave me directions

and one cute baby. elsewhere, it's been an extravaganza of cute babies - when our outgoing plane was stalled in south dakota, three pairs of wistful grandparents-to-be convinced parents to lend their infants for cuddling sessions. the older couples had grown children who refused to have kids of their own, they said. six tired people caught cat naps after giving their babies away; six misty-eyed people cooed and paced and traded sad looks. is that my mom on solo trips? thankful, so thankful for little sisters who plan to breed.


if i had piles and piles of money, i'd be tempted to swap them for buffy set pieces on ebay - most are generic crystals from the magic box or tchotchkes from buffy's bedroom, but giles's leather satchel is awfully tempting. with huge piles of money and the right connections, i'd go after spike's chip or an orb of Thessala. favorite show, how you'll be missed.

good mail (highlights from a recent junk forward):

Dear Sir,

We are pleased to introduce WASHING MACHINES to you as follow, if you are interested them, please don't hesitate to contact us, we will send you our WEBSITE to you by return e-mail for your considerations.

If you are also interested some of the follow items, kindly let us your detail requiries:

A05 leather/fur dress
B09 water fountain
C01 food, beverage & tobacco machine
D06 saloon car
D14 drumper
E04 submarine vessel
F01 ball
G06 scraping machine
J02 robot and mechanical hands
J03 automatic system
N01 highways & roads
N09 intelligent projects
N13 elevator installation


Thanks again for your kindly assistance and waiting for your instructions.

excellent mail (from douglas):

>so how important is it to sanitize one's hands after the subway and such?
>i have this theory that my antibodies will have superpowers if i allow a
>certain amount of grime into my life - like if i don't stress now,
>someday i'll be able to drink mexican tap water. my theories usually fall
>apart, though.

I've never done the hand-sanitizing thing, and it never seems to have been

an issue. Or check A.E. Housman on the same subject:

There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
- I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.


previous entry courtesy of metameat's p.r. kerschen. apologies for my lack of introduction; i invited him to appear at will.

though i have been beyond writing distance for a good portion of the last two weeks, i'm also plain old reluctant to speak about new york. i do love to explore, but i'm too poor to engage with most of what i see. i dearly love writing in cafes, pubs, what have you, but the new citywide smoking ban (while excellent for employees) is fatal to me. if cigarettes are illegal indoors, alcohol should clearly be legal outdoors. look (cough) to las vegas. bringing a candle and a notebook to the roof, in turn, will fizzle when the weather turns and the tar begins sticking to my bum. how did emily dickinson accomplish so much indoors?

the museums are lovely, though - joe agreed to accompany me back to the butterfly conservatory, where the atlas moths were as jaw-dropping as i remembered. can't say that i fully appreciated matthew barney's cremaster cycle at the guggenheim (we missed the film screenings, so i amused myself in the installation portions of the exhibit by rewriting boston's "more than a feeling": deeply annoying, you're so pretentious, &c), but the picasso and braque pieces were impressive. we joined an intensely excited crowd for the matrix reloaded yesterday - i'm prepared to praise its choreography and effects, of course, but even laurence fishburne's outrageously shakespearean delivery couldn't elevate sloppy writing. cardinal rule of junk food consumption: if you don't interrupt your candy with something substantial, you'll ultimately feel ill.


I spent Thursday and Friday in the dying town of Goldfield, Nevada, population 350 +/- 25, seat of Esmeralda County (said to be named after the dancing gypsy in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, on the grounds that this barren land was a dance of wilderness and destruction, or some such). There are no motels in Goldfield, and one place to eat, dubbed the Mozart Club. At the Mozart Club you can get a hamburger, or a cheeseburger, or a "Mozart Burger," which is a cheeseburger topped with a thick slice of ham. Vegetarian options are restricted to grilled cheese, and a salad bar which essentially affords you the opportunity to dump ranch dressing on a big plate of lettuce.

On my second day at the Mozart Club I met 83-year-old Mr. Karl, who paid for his lunch at the same time as me. I know that he was 83 years old because he told me several times. He also told me his birthday (3 June), his sun sign (Gemini), and then he asked me if I had a car.

"Sure," I said, "but it's down at the courthouse."

"Would you do me a favor?" he asked. "I've got to walk down - got to pick up a TV antenna - my dog destroyed the TV antenna and I got a fella to fix it. Need to pick it up. It's windy out there."

"I see."

"Would you give me a ride?" he asked. "You seem like a nice young man."

As we walked to the car he explained that he knew where platinum was located in the surrounding hills. He went dowsing for platinum, he said, but he refused to divulge the particulars of his method. He claimed to have found a billion dollars' worth of platinum. He also said that I should buy stock in Ford, since Ford had sent a disease to China to disrupt the Chinese economy, and it showed their business savvy.

In the car he told me his name several times: Karl, used to be Karlstein but he changed it to avoid anti-Semitism. I could look him up in the telephone directory, he said, and went on to give me his number anyway. Maybe he could hire me. He had a bunch of projects that he was working on, which he hoped to give to the government as a way of repaying his country. He had been in discussions with President Kennedy and his brother the attorney general, but after their assassinations the dialogue stalled.

We stopped at a trailer; nobody was home, but Mr. Karl's antenna was on the front porch. He picked it up and we drove to Mr. Karl's house, which was situated on top of a hill. He had a view of all of Goldfield, such as it was. He asked me to note that he had the best property in Goldfield. There were a billion dollars of platinum located on the property. An aged yellow Lincoln Continental sat in the front yard amidst heaps of scrap metal; he asked me to admire it. He said that he had taken out the steering wheel - who needs that? - and then explained the engine. It was an implosion engine that required no energy to run once you gave it the initial kick. People said that such an engine defied the laws of physics, that if it existed we couldn't have a universe, but there it was. He had known Buckminster Fuller and they had talked about impregnating the metal with carbon compounds, so that it would run more smoothly. He and Fuller had devised a planned community along the lines of Fuller's geometry - not those domes, but using those angles. You could put up three more Renos on the highway outside Goldfield, and it was going to happen. The hotel downtown, that had been tied up in litigation for a decade, had just been sold and they were going to reopen it, with a real coffee shop. It would turn Goldfield around; all those towns would spring up on the highway, and the thing, he told me confidentially, by way of thanks for giving him the ride, was that you could still buy the property. Anyone could buy it. Now was the time.

Mr. Karl had trouble working the handle mechanism on the passenger door. Several times during his speech, I leaned across him to push the door open, but it kept falling back closed.

"You're getting your exercise today," Mr. Karl noted.

"Yes," I said.

"How old are you, anyway?"

"I'm twenty-four."

"Twenty-four. Two eggs. Double yolks. My God, you have good teeth."

He had never married any of his girlfriends, he said. He wasn't a queer, he just was never able to tie himself down. There had been five girlfriends. His dogs were running around inside the house, I should see his dogs. He'd put in vinyl floors himself. But did I have somewhere to be, he asked? Oh, I had to be back at the courthouse. Well, I should give him a call sometime. Maybe he would hire me. I pushed the door back open for him and he stepped out, carrying his TV antenna, then started up the path to his house.