Tuesday, January 30, 2007

further thoughts on friendship

It's been my recent obsession, I know, but between having to leave my very good work friends and between reading that *lovely* book by Mitch Albom I have been stuck obsessing about the idea of friendship. I know I've written about it before, but for some reason at this point in my life friendship is a big preoccupation of mine.

This might be because of a big shift in my priorities. When I was younger (not much younger, but a little younger) I wasted my time trolling after romance etc. Now I feel--honestly--like the best possible partner is actually someone who is just a really good friend. I look forward most to friend dates--eg sushi on Monday with Melanie, the Filipino group gorge slash karaoke fest on Saturday, or the sleepovers on Susan's incredibly decadent down feather bed.

This all sounds trite because you see it printed on pinkish mugs and paper weights and picture frames the world over, but (yes) it is coming to me as a revelation.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I need a new apartment.

Our refrigerator is broken (won't go colder than 63 degrees--you can imagine what it smelled like when I got home from work yesterday and thought I'd reheat myself some Kung-Pao Chicken) and when I mentioned this to my roommate I learned that our super quit!! Yes, this is the super who, when he came to repair the leaky ceiling in Sarah's room, pinioned me against the door and wouldn't let go of my hand and kept kissing up my arm and telling me he wouldn't leave until I kissed his mouth. So I'll admit that I'm not exactly unhappy to learn he's gone (with his poor Albanian wife and their six children, who all lived one floor beneath us!!). But I'll also admit I don't feel supergreat about living in a dilapidated roach-infested 150-year-old walk up that doesn't have a super to at least provide some kind of structural maintenance. Humm. Nor do I feel supergreat about not having a refrigerator. This is just going to reinforce the poor barely-post-college take-out-driven eating habits I have sheepishly tried to hide from the world up until now. Rats rats rats. (Yes, I've seen one of those, too, although it was just a baby. A mouse, I'd venture to call it.)

All right, since there's nothing to eat here there's no point in sitting around. I'm going to Queens, where all the food is at.

Friday, January 26, 2007

curses!!

I have been left to my own devices for a whole Friday night and the lamentable result is I have curiously begun poking through long-ignored stacks of Asian pop (Bluenana, this is largely your fault!!! That new Utada CD was the catalyst for the old Utada CDs which reminded me of this Chinese pop song I always wanted to learn which reminded me of Whitney Houston. Ok, so Whitney's not Asian, but it's all related).

Rats rats rats. The rusty fixations of yore have been ressurected. I know I swore all this off five years ago but it's funny how quick it all comes back...

Screw this whole fucking corporate ladder bullshit! I don't want to edit books! I dont' even want to read them! All I need in this world is a karaoke machine, a noodle stand, some flimsy lacey pastel-colored tops, and a fairly pricey plane ticket. Please.

today's fortune cookie

"The best cure for misery is hard work."

Ha ha.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

further chronicles of my embarrassingly amusing (or amusingly embarrassing) weekend

So as you can imagine after the trauma of my bad beer experience (lacy hops has been proposed as a possible culprit) that I tried to take it easy on Saturday. I did brave one adventurous train ride to Flushing for a large and hideously inexpensive 6-hour dinner slash dessert feat despite the not-so-soothing rocking of the train. I should have taken the A home but I couldn't bear the thought of the long ride alone in my state so instead I hopped on the 1 with Melanie and her roommate Ava.

Melanie and Ava sat in the orange 1 seats. "You going to sit?" Melanie asked.

"No," I said, gripping the pole in front of them. "My stomach hurts. I feel like I better stand."

"Ugh. My BACK hurts," Melanie said.

"Where?" Ava asked. Melanie turned so she could see and Ava put her hand near Melanie's spine. "Here?"

"Yeah," Melanie said. "And up a little. I think it's from those bellydancing exercises."

Ava got excited. "Oo, you know what we could do? Remember that massage oil I bought? We could give each other massages."

"Oo yeah," Melanie said. "Nothing helps like a massage."

"I know," Ava said proudly. "I'm pretty good--I used to give a lot of massages in college."

"We could lay the futon out and lie down on it so we could do full-body massages."

"Oh, right. Yeah, if we lie down then we can take off our bras, right? Yeah, that will be much better. Especially with the oil."

"Yeah, that will be great--we have that new silky blanket."

"I have incense we could light," Ava added. "And the leftover Christmas candles. That will be really relaxing."

"I can put the bellydancing tape on. That music can be really relaxing, too." Melanie looked up at me. "So, what are you doing later? You want to come over and do massages with us?"

At this point, the guy sitting next to Melanie and Ava and the guy sitting opposite them both got up. They exited different doors of the train but when their paths crossed they gave each other high-fives and peered back in the window at us. Oops. Seems we made someone else's evening, too.

Monday, January 22, 2007

sorry for the absence

Missed you.

I've been a real ass. ;)

Monday, January 15, 2007

hope

I have a dear friend who's an Editorial Ass. like myself who is in need of a new job (well, I think it would be safe to say that most of my dear friends are in needs of new jobs for various reasons, but I'll let them make those judgments myself).

Now this dear friend of mine has been in a gruesomely underpaid position (she makes even less than I do--shudder, horror) for a number of years (how many years I will leave her some dignity and refrain from saying) for a crusty editor who is nice enough (although periodically cranky) but is negligent of his assistant to the point of abuse. She has wondered on occasion whether he even remembers she is there, never mind if he notices all the invisible but highly skilled services she performs for him. My friend has seen only incremental pay raises that don't quite cover the rate of inflation and the one time she sat him down to discuss her promotional opportunities point-blank (a year ago November) he kind of rubbed his forehead and said she could still use some work on certain skills and they could talk about it again when she'd gotten better at those things. ("Those things" of course remain only nebulously quantified.)

Most days when we chat, my friend verbally abuses herself and tells me that she needs to find a new job, right now. But after all these years, my question is why haven't you already? She shrugs--it's hard to put her finger on--but there was that opening two years ago, and she was thinking about taking it, but then that one manuscript came in that she heard she was going to be allowed to handle, and she got hopeful that that assignation of new responsibility was a first step in moving her upward. There was a lateral move to a different company that came up, but in the end she thought that there was more hope for her being promoted soon at her current job than if she were to start from scratch elsewhere. After all, she's been at her job so long now--isn't it inevitable? Eventually?

The key word--the hole in the bucket--is Hope. We are miserable but we can't overcome that little modicum of hope, sparkling in the distance. Maybe I'm almost there this time? we think. Maybe? Maybe this time? After all my hard work, sacrifice, unpaid overtime, starvation budgeting, eye pain, papercuts, endured emotional abuse, unrecognized wit, good ideas that I allow my superiors to take credit for, now, surely, they'll give me that little bump that will keep me hanging on? How hard it is to know when to cut losses and turn out backs on that sparkling and seductive little mirage of Hope.

Are we foolish to hold out hope? Isn't there something to be said for old-fashioned steadfastness? Or is our hope that we will be duly recognized in good time really just a slow euthanization? An opiate for the Asses, as it were?

It's impossible to say. Well, it's not impossible to say, since it seems everyone has something to say about it. My mother, for example, has this to say: "You need to get out of that business. They're using you and they'll never pay you enough. You're worth way more money than that." And my boss has this to say: "You want everything right now; you have to pay your dues. You better get over your bad attitude or you'll never get anywhere."

And honestly--say what you need to--both those positions have merit. To the point that I feel like I'm disappointing someone no matter which row I hoe.

But whether or not the hope is actually real? Whether or not this industry is really worth it? Where is that infallible advisor (you know--a grown-up, a real one) who will tell me what to do? Who understand the ins and outs and ups and downs of every aspect of my situation but comes into the advisor role without bias or ulterior motive? Yes, it's taken me 23 and a half years to realize that person doesn't exist and that I have to make up my own mind about this one.

So the question--why am I in this business? The answer--I love books. And I still haven't figured out a better or more glamorous way (short of usurping the body of Michiko Kakutani) of carrying that into a career. And in my heart, I still want to be here. I do. And in my heart, I'm still hoping...

This is a dedicated post for you, Mr. W. Although to you, my dear friend who needs a new job, and to my other dear friends who might read this and relate to some degree, my heart also goes out. Ed.Asses, unite in foolish hope. I'm lighting the candle to the idea that there's still a candle to light (let's all crowd around and use it to read our after-hours manuscripts; maybe we can keep one another warm).

in honor of the birth of Martin Luther King Jr

I have consumed further nice things:

4 assorted mini cheesecakes from Magnolia bakery (pecan praline, chocolate swirl, white chocolate macadamia nut, and pumpkin!)
kitsune soup
sweet eel sushi
California roll
Almost Illegal Pecan Pie rice pudding from Rice to Riches (cleverly got it to go so now I have a nifty new red spaceship-shaped Tupperware container!)
very nice green tea (three cups)
cinnamon spice tea (one large cup)
pumpkin cream popover (from the Japanese cream puff place on 8th Street and 6th)
Angus skirt steak
garlic mashed potatoes
Caesar salad
steamed broccoli and carrots
half a bottle of Beaujolais
additional cheesecake

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

catalog of nice things

that I have consumed today:

shabu-shabu with beef slices, fish cake, spinach
cellophane noodles
green bubble tea
almond egg custard tart (from Egg Custard King, or Egg King Custard as Melanie calls it)(oh was the crust flaky)
matcha latte
pecan pie
mini canolli

The Chinatown Express to gastronomic bliss.

Sarah is back!

She was supposed to have come back December 27th, but they had to perform another surgery, and then apparently she was delayed again for other medical reasons. I was worried but she came back late last night. Her boyfriend picked her up from the airport and drove her here. She is a little thinner but otherwise she looks the same. It's hard to believe I haven't seen her in almost two months.

She's only back for a little while, though. She's going back to her parents at the end of February for a month of radiation treatment. I guess that means that the hardest part of the treatment hasn't even happened yet. I'm a little surprised she shelled out for the two extra plane flights when she's not going to be able to work for the next two months, but I'm glad she's back and I hope everything works out. It's nice to have a full house again.

Friday, January 12, 2007

this is not a happy story

so reader proceed with caution.

Sammy told me about this pigeon because it seems like the kind of story I like. And he was right! The pigeon story goes like this:

So Sammy works at a downtown car dealership. There is a ledge about twelve feet tall over the bays of his fellow mechanics and on the ledge sit a bunch of pigeons. There's this one pigeon in particular who has a green head with a little dark face and a white body and who can't fly. Sammy's not sure what's wrong with this pigeon but every so often he tumbles off the ledge, lands on his feet on the ground, and walks around in a circle for awhile.

Sammy's bay neighbor is named Joe. Joe is a 50-something Queens-bred Puerto Rican guy but because he spent 20 years in the army he picked up the inevitable Army Southern Drawl. Every time the pigeon hits the ground, Joe picks him up in two hands, looks him in the face, and says, "Now listen here, boy. I done tol' you you gon' get KEELT down here!" and he throws the pigeon back up on the ledge. A few minutes later, the pigeon will fall down again and start walking around in circles again, and Joe will pick him up again....etc.

Isn't it a cute story?

Sammy told me this story on Tuesday. Naturally I immediately developed feelings of attachment for the pigeon. Then, on Thursday, when Joe wasn't in the garage for some reason, the pigeon fell down and SOME GUY NAMED GEORGE RAN OVER HIM WITH A CAR!!He done get keelt.

I just can't believe it ends this way.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the Williams-Sonoma apple

Every year a particular agent friend of Phill's sends him a giant boxed Williams-Sonoma caramel apple that is crusted in various nuts and bits of chocolate. In other words, a symbol of everything I ever wanted in the world. Last year, after much hemming and hawing, Phill (who is on a strict diet that focuses mainly on various creatively titled chemical sugar substitutes and includes nothing remotely related to fruit, chocolate, or caramel) admitted he would never eat the thing and gave it to me. I chipped it open and ate it piece by piece during the week between Christmas and New Year when no one else was in the office. It was my small reward--it, and the bar of soap Phill bought me for Christmas--for my long hours and hard work.

This year I saw the apple arrive (being the mail gopher) and I unwrapped it and left it in his inbox and waited patiently. The days ticked by and I would see it in his office in its box, ignored. I knew eventually Phill would remember the apple...and me.

Today--January 10th--I was doing some filing and I noticed the apple had moved TO STEPHANIE'S OFFICE. Phill has given the apple to STEPHANIE!! How can this be? How could he do this? Does he like her more than me? Gulp.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

I am such an Ass[istant]

Fucking asshole author Dr. Ben (the same one whose transmittal I had to completely redo over Christmas) has dlivered a manuscript with 300 misnumbered source notes together with a mislabeled call-out sheet that uses completely arbitrary and hard-to-find words on the page as citation cues and therefore needs to be redone AGAIN and I have to go through by hand and FIND all his fucking notes and RENUMBER them and RENOTE them and REPRINT them and GIVE THEM BACK to production and I hate him I hate him I hate him I hate him and then he calls me to confirm that I obeyed his orders and turned over the correct manuscript to production! I AM NOT YOUR FUCKING SECRETARY.

Ugh. How I Spent My Day. [where is the gin.]

Thursday, January 04, 2007

apologies

A friend has admitted that her boyfriend finds my blog rather unreadable because the posts are too long. This is actually very good news, because it means someone was at least attempting to read my blog!

So apologies for those who have slogged through all this time; I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep it short. Edit, edit, edit, as my AP English teacher used to admonish me. If only he were still standing over my shoulder.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

nose to grindstone

The diet and fitness book industry thrives off of our most favoritest key phrase (and one we like to chime at marketing meetings all year long): New Year, New You! Nothing frees up January cash (can we say BnN giftcards?) like the combination of post-holiday fat and the social pressure to remake yourself.

So why not be a cow and go along for the ride?

Saul Bellow (I think it was good old Saul) tells the story of the Woman on the Diet. The Woman on some whim begins to tell all of her friends that she needs to lose weight and that she's going on a diet. She talks about this so much for various strictly communicative purposes that eventually the friends start to repeat it back to her and reference her diet in various ways. When she hears it from them, she realizes in her head she is on a diet, and next thing she knows she actually is on a diet. Viola! A nifty psychological trick, and one we employ only semi-subconsciously (wow--if "semi-subconsciously" doesn't look like a bushism then people have been having too much fun with Latin lately).

Nikki has pointed out to me there's a difference between "resolutions" and "goals" so I will put down here (in public declaration!!) two different categories.

Resolutions:
-I will write in my blog, for it has manifold attractions: 1) it is a good writing exercise and helps me keep limber access to the approximately 74 words in my vocabulary; 2) it helps me decompress; 3) it gives me fodder for future works of fiction because some day I will look back on all the inane things I do and think they are fascinating and priceless, and I shall turn them into a bestselling Great American Novel that will sell millions of copies, if people are still reading books then and haven't just decided to stick with their PDAs; and 4) acting as an easy-access and unfettered journal, it allows me to preserve my immaturity. As a very wise mentor (I think it was Dr. Archibald) once pointed out, although your own personality change isn't really discernible to you, the user, nor even immediately identifiable by those who see you frequently and might comment, the fact is that each and every day you add to your bank some kind of experience you didn't have the day before (albeit, in my case, cube-monkey experience) and you become that tiny bit more mature (and by mature I mean most literally aged, although there are many ways to age) than you were. The only way to create an honest and true character at a certain level of immaturity (and without an insufferably Thomas Hardyish fond reminiscence of innocence and naivete kind of voice) is to retain, for yourself, some vestige (most conveniently written) of your own bygone silliness. Not that I intend to discontinue being silly. I hope you see what I'm saying here. For I have taken a good long while to say it.
-I will write other things, too. I'm not sure what right now but you know. These things must shape organically.
-I will seek out opportunity when I see it and not make excuses for letting things pass me by.
-I will call my aunt on the phone at least once or twice a week.
-I will be a nice person. Well, nicer. To most people.

Goals:
-I will develop my career.
-I will write one new novel.
-I will rewrite one old novel.
-I will revive my quest to find an agent who will tolerate either of my novels.
-I will not set myself impossible and unachievably monumental goals and then excuse myself for failing them by referencing their impossibly and unachievably monumentalness.
-I will lose 25 pounds and learn to speak Arabic, Farsi, French, and Tagalog. And Turkish. While cooking delicious gourmet meals and running on the treadmill.

The last one was a joke, since I don't have a treadmill. (The second to last one was not a joke.)

Hmm. In retrospect, I do not observe that I have delineated effectively between the "resolutions" and the "goals." Alas, I do not give a fluffy.

Buono capo d'anno, piccirilli.