Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gone with the Whine

I have a friend named Rose who needs to be posted about here. Rose has asked me specifically not to use her middle name as her secret code blog name--"Rose! So Victorian prostitute!" she exclaimed--but I think she quickly surmised the futility of her argument (cf The Crimson Petal and the White).

Anyway, Rose should really have been posted about earlier. She is a book lover's worst nightmare--that is, a book lover who can read at the speed of light. Seriously. And not speedread, either--properly read. I remember in our 10th grade English class the teacher handed out 15-page tiny-type packets of Faulkner's "A Rose for Miss Emily" and told us to read it and that we'd be having a test on it in half an hour. Now Mrs. Miller, our English teacher, was and is famed for her EVIL tests which require verbatim quotations from the text.

Rose flipped through her pamphlet most casually and after about four minutes set it on her desk and began to file her nails or the equivalent. Miller was livid. She yelled at Rose and stomped her foot but Rose just shrugged. "I'm really done," she said. "It's Faulkner!!" hollered Miller. "That's nice," said Rose. So Miller spitefully took the packet away so Rose couldn't cheat and sneakily read it again in a minute. Rose looked utterly unperturbed and proceeded to get a perfect score on the test (I think the class average was 67%).

Anyway, now you've heard about Rose, who is a lovely person and not really wont to file her nails all that frequently. But her story is really relevant today because I was thinking about something she said to me a long time ago and how it makes me question the validity of my own career (funny how all things eventually become instructive metaphors). (Is that how metaphor is spelled?)

Rose's favorite book was Gone with the Wind. She gushed about it and read it over and over--it was her idea of a perfect weekend activity (and being only 1500 pages it was perfect for filling up an idle tea hour on a Saturday or whatever. Grr.). I remember one summer day, though, when she called me on the phone, distressed. Something terrible had happened.

"I was re-reading Gone with the Wind," she said. "And I realized I hate it! What's wrong with Scarlett? She's just a big spoiled whiny baby. All she does is whine--she's such an annoying character!"

Rose was really upset. Was it just that she had read it too many times? Had the book always been bad? Had her taste matured? Or was it that she'd never been sensitized to the poorer aspects of the book before because she'd read it for the first time when she was so young that she had an emotional connection with the book that extended far beyond any appreciation of plot or literary quality?

After this I read with Gone with the Wind--which, by the way, I love (I find Scarlett's selfishness kind of delightful...and I can only imagine that's what makes other people keep reading, too; although Rose is of course right about the whinyness). But that's really more of a digression.

The point here is-----I want to be an editor. In theory, an editor is someone who not only knows what SHE likes but is also able to ascertain what's actually GOOD and (more importantly) what EVERYONE ELSE likes. Ok. Some some kind of literary taste is really a prerequisite.

Now I read (well, dip into, really) everything. I go to bookstores and farm opening paragraphs and marketing copy to find the perfect books that speak to me. I wade through piles of unpublished manuscripts for each of my jobs and I also have a minorly problematic one-click Amazon habit that ends up in piles of half-read used books stacked on my bed and coffee table (don't worry, the floor's not that uncomfortable to sleep on now that we've gotten rid of the bigger spiders). But there are times I think I don't enjoy any of those books. I read compulsively, the way an alcoholic drinks to survive--not because the booze tastes good or makes him happy anymore.

When I want to enjoy reading, I go back to the Classics (that is, basically, 1-15 on my hot list, and also a few other embarrassments that I didn't put on the list and only read in dark dusty corners where I think I will never be observed). And I LOVE these books. I love them beyond all taste.

The question is, are they good? Can I even tell what's good? Is it evidence of perhaps a poorly-chosen career path that I don't actually *enjoy* the books everyone else says are good, I merely read them compulsively in order to (try to) not look like a fool? Is it possible that some of the books I really love actually suck? I am shaken very seriously in my intellectual security here. I've been thinking about this all week. Is what I like any good at all? I'm worried about the implications.

Rose, I'm just wondering--did you ever come back to Scarlett? I think in your case, at least, you were doubting your own taste but everyone else still seems to think it's a classic.

Monday, February 26, 2007

it's so hard to sit here and plug away at my computer

when I know that just around the corner is the most fantastic cocktail lounge.

Friday, February 23, 2007

as you can probably tell

my ambitious intellectual weekend is off to a great start.

I mean

Hilary Duff doing a duet with herself?!? What could possibly beat that?

I'm sorry but

The Lizzie McGuire Movie is totally one of the best movies ever. How did "What Dreams Are Made Of" never become a Top 40 hit?!

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I am sick. Everything that could possibly be physically wrong with me (without actually being serious enough for my doctor to tell me to do more than take some tylenol) is wrong with me.

Luckily I have a vat of Chubby Hubby in my freezer. Oh be not shy, end of work day! Grace us with your benevolence!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

to give you an idea of my new work environment

Overheard conversation, 4:59 pm Wednesday afternoon:

A: "Do you have any idea where XXX is?"
B: "No, sorry. I know he's stepped out. He's either left for the day or stepped out for lunch."

[in what world do leaving for the day and stepping out for lunch potentially come at the same time?! at 5 pm?!]

And yes. It turned out he HAD stepped out for lunch.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

important questions

When I go to Serendipity 3 on Thursday afternoon, will I have the Forbidden Broadway Sundae, with its huge chunk of the deepest of chocolatey chocolate cakes, pudding-filled frosting center, and thick glooping melts of real fudge topping? Or will it turn out that I can't, in fact, say no to the Can't Say No Sundae, with its almost deadly peanutbuttercake center and chocolate lava sauce?

It's definitely Forbidden....but I Can't Say No! Forbidden, but Can't Say No. Forbidden, but Can't Say No. No nonononono! How will I decide?!?

Then again, Strawberry Fields *ARE* Forever (light fluffy cheesecake with real fresh strawberries and lovely floaty strawberry ice cream).

*GOD* my life is difficult.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Editorial bun continued

Remember how today is postponed Valentine's Day? In that spirit, here's a little soft-core editorial porn for fellow Asses. This may or may not be loosely based on a true story.

The lights are low. You've lit all your cheap pillar candles, and their undulating flames make sinuous shadows on the wall. It has been a tough week at work, full of deceit, humiliation, and busywork, but now you are far away from your periodically psychotic boss and a tall, dark, and handsome stranger is kissing your librarian belly. Everything is perfect. Ooops. Except you forgot to take down your editorial bun. Surreptitiously you snap the elastic and try to shake down the bun into a semblance of sexy hair.

The tall, dark, and handsome stranger looks up to gaze seductively into your eyes, and his face falls. "Umm, honey?" he says. "What happened to your hair?"

"I took it down," you say sheepishly.

"Umm. Would you mind putting it back up the way it was? I think it's really sexy like that."

Hear that, ladies? These are some sexy editorial buns we've got.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Moonrat hits the town

Guess what I did last night?! I went to a cocktail bar with three female friends, drank from a selection of martinis, and danced until 2 o'clock in the morning! Editorial my ass! I can be cool, too. Yes I can.

I even took down my bun. This once.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I got my first paycheck!!

Yay! I really work here!!

(Either that or the publisher is merely constructing an elaborate and expensive charade. I'll take either.)

moonrat race

I'm sitting in my new office (yes, I have an office here) and trying to figure one thing out: why did they hire me? What could possibly have qualified me for this job?

More specifically, I'm worried about my age. The assistant is my age and some of the interns are older than me. I have no excuses for myself.

I'm trying my best to convey an aura of authority and knowledge while maintaining a sympathetic but rather distant demeaner. I think that's the best strategy.

Meanwhile, it's a rat race--from my precarious position I have to scuffle desperately at the woodchips and pull out enough projects in a very short period of time to prove myself.

First I have to prove myself to myself. If even I don't believe I deserve to be here, how will anyone else?


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Yesterday was not Valentine's Day.

Bluenana has put forth that yesterday was not Valentine's Day. She provided a number of good reasons, and I am here declaring a variety of overlapping reasons of my own.

Yesterday was not Valentine's Day, but instead the day

1) that was supposed to have been a snow day
2) that it was 1 degree below zero if one counts the enigmatic wind-chill factor
3) on which one would be caused physical harm trying to venture out of one's Soho office for even a moment to so much as buy a card to send to one's mother
4) that the Prince Street door of Kate's Paperie was locked, causing one to walk through the blinding sleet all the way to the Broadway entrance. Boo.
5) that I woke up at 3 in the morning with an upset tummy and was unable to fall back asleep, thus resulting in my passing out unceremoniously in front of the TV at 8:30 pm (very romantic)
6) that it was so cold and windy in Harlem that my roses froze and died on the way to the subway station, and needed to be clandestinely thrown out on the way to work this morning
7) that it was so cold I didn't even have enough feeling in my feet to realize they were soaking wet (damned boots), so I was walking around all day asking people "eww, what's that smell?" only to find out in the evening the smell was, in fact, my socks (a smarter or more awake person might have put two and two together)
8) that a florist burnt to the ground in Brooklyn (according to Fox news). If that's not a karmic reason to cancel I can't think of one.
9) that the waitstaff at Swish--Melanie's and my "favorite" Upper West Side shabu-shabu joint--were even bitchier than usual. I mean, a certain degree of bitchiness and inattentiveness is to be expected--Swish is the only place I've actually dined and dashed, but honestly, if anywhere makes you wait 45 minutes for a check it seems like they don't WANT you to pay for dinner--but seriously, on Valentine's Day? They refused to seat us despite all the empty booths because we were only a party of two. Instead we had to stand in the windy entrance way for 20 minutes while we waited for one of the 2-person tables to open up. Naturally our entrees were delivered 20 minutes apart, and the check was set down in front of us before the second entree had arrived. Oh well.

So although I was neither sat on by a 300-pound man nor elbowed in the face at the bus stop, I am seconding Bluenana's motions that

a) yesterday was in fact NOT Valentine's Day
b) Valentine's Day is hereby rescheduled for President's Day

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

4:12 am

It seems I'm up for the day. I woke up almost an hour ago now and thought it was some passing fancy and that I would fall back asleep but no, nooooo.

Am I sick if I think this insomnia is a good thing because it means I might be able to get some work in before work?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I have the best job in the world!!!

And you might think this pronouncement is hasty, as a) my boss is out of the office so I haven't had the chance to experience normal workflow, b) it seems my new company has an international reputation as being totally chaotic, c) I don't get my own phone, and d) it's not clear yet what my job is per se, since no one was around today to tell me, so mostly I sat in a room by myself, YET I know for a FACT that I have the best job in the world!!!! beCAUSE

THERE IS A WHOLE PANTRY FULL OF FREE FOOD!! Cans of Progresso Soup, bags of English muffins, boxes of Orville Reddenbacher, packets of coffee, an unlimited supply of frozen hamburgers. I hear they're even branching out to offer fresh fruit. HEAVEN. I shall NEVER RETIRE.

Monday, February 12, 2007

further reflections on practical Buddhism

On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, the local Buddhist temple in any Japanese city, town, or village will sound out 108 bells to cleanse its parishoners of the 108 deadly sins (I don't know what the 108 sins are but I'd LOVE to know some day to see how many I can check off my list).

Before the ringing of the bells and the general exculpation, though, there is a big spiritual scuttle to prepare oneself (shitaku suru) both mentally and physically for the cleansing and for the new, fresh start it will bring. This is why Japanese people spend the last week of December frantically cleaning their houses--every single speck of dust from the old year is supposed to be beaten out, lest it carry through to the new year some remnant unpleasantness or stashed-away sin. Debts must also be settled--it's inauspicious to give oneself anything but the cleanest of slates with which to start afresh.

So this is New Job's Eve for me. The would-be Buddhist in me says I should be cleaning my room, maybe sorting out outfits for the rest of the week to dave myself time and stress in the morning, or at the very least folding the two Santa's sacks of laundry I washed yesterday and then left on my stripped bed. Or at the very VERY least pushing the launndry onto the floor and re-sheeting the bed so I don't have to sleep in my sleeping back in the furniture-free common area tonight (with Mr. Bug the cockroach, wily thing).

But alas, no. The inner Buddhist in me only experiences unenergetic dismay at the idea of getting up off my belly. Darn tootin' langour.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

pretty good

So the laundry process prompted a whole spin-off train of thought that I can't help sharing.

When I was a kid I either read in the newspaper or had handed out to me (or, it's possible, heard Garrison Keilor read on public radio) a story about a pretty good guy. The pretty good guy was born in a pretty good town where he went to a pretty good school where he did pretty well among all the other pretty good students. On the list of pretty good colleges he was able to get into one that was pretty high and he worked pretty hard and god pretty good grades so that when he graduated he got a pretty good salary for a pretty good job at a pretty good company blah blah blah. The point is when you figure out that a pretty good salary for a pretty good job at a pretty good company is actually nice-talk for "shitty mediocrity" your heart leaps into your throat and you vow that that will never be you.

I vowed; yes I did. I was horrified by the prospect of being pretty good. I was sick to my stomach with the idea that I might be an average somebody with no distinguishing characteristics. Being anything less than a star would effectively be failure.

The competitor in me (unvanquishable, even in times of philosophizing; figures, don't it) snorts and walks away from the monologue at this point, since, after all, this defeatist thinking is what we'll let everyone else use to keep themselves down. But for fuck's sake here. When did the average child become a disappointment? I wasn't any less brainwashed than a little girl conditioned to find a husband was; I just learned to revel in a different kind of unhappiness.

But seriously--would it matter if I just worked a regular old 9 to 5? What if I didn't drive myself into the ground with convictions that my job wasn't good enough, that I didn't make enough money, that my boss wasn't looking out for my interests, that blah blah pretty good blah? What if I just paid my bills and sometimes took some bus trips or went out drinking or, ever so occasionally, maybe to a karaoke bar? What if I dated a blue-collar guy who would come over in the evenings so we could watch tv together and fall asleep with some Chinese take-out? We wouldn't worry about doing cultural things because we wouldn't even really be into that (now that we're not pretending for those pretentious better-than-pretty-good people). But we'd make each other happy and we'd have friends who loved us and who invited us to their weddings when they got married and their baby showers when they got pregnant and we'd buy them and their children gifts and take them out for ice cream and it wouldn't really matter in the end that we only made enough money in a year to rent. Because we'd be happy--or--never even mind that. Because most of the rest of the United States lives just like that. My ancestors lived like that--the lucky ones. So why do I have to make myself unhappy convincing myself that I'm unhappy with what I have?

All this exposition prompted by a friend's recent kvetching that "I can't go to my high school reunion this way." I'm so sorry that she's been brainwashed to think the same thing I've been brainwashed to think. It's the tritest thing in the world to say that fiscal/corporate success isn't what makes a person happy but sadly we've been conditioned to think that we're not even worth ourselves if we don't have the stock portfolios and bank accounts to show for our corporately charmed lives. The saddest thing is that she has--and hopefully I have--so many other things to be proud of.

Fuck it--you know what they didn't talk about in the pretty good cautionary tale? The pretty good guy's pretty good wife (or maybe his pretty good gay lover, who was almost certainly a pretty good cook). Maybe they had some pretty cute kids or a pretty productive vegetable garden. Maybe on weekends they have a pretty good time playing D&D in their neighbor's pretty awesome basement (he's got some pretty groovy blue Christmas lights). Best yet, he's a pretty fun guy to hang out with, and a pretty loyal friend with a pretty good music collection. So who gives a crap about anything else at all?

my most fondly cherished dream (dead serious here)

is to have my very own washer and dryer. That day when I don't have to leave my apartment, trek down four flights of narrow dirty marble stairs in stiletto heels and a nightgown (all my socks and clothes are in the laundry bag, duh) carrying said 38 pounds of laundry bag to go compete with the line of hyenas scratching one another's eyes out for use of one of the four (sometimes five) functional washing machines at the Kleener King on the corner...That is the day I shall know all my dreams have come true.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

so lazy

I've been alternating between lying on my bad and lying on my floor in front of the computer for the last 21 hours. I got invited to a birthday party but I can't bear the thought of leaving my house. I don't have any groceries so I've eaten some leftover dumplings and half a block of apple-smoked cheddar cheese that Sammy scrounged up.

Sammy says I need to go or I'll regret it. I suppose he's right. Mff.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Today some of us went to a goodbye lunch for a woman who worked in another department. We learned over lunch that this woman--who is very smart and put-together--had actually been in editorial for six years before finally getting tired of being an assistant and switching departments.

This was sobering news for us, but she approached the subject with stoic virtue, saying the experience had helped her learn the editorial world wasn't for her, and had helped her find her way to her new career, which is really perfect for her. "Besides," she added, "I've heard that in old school publishing if you were an editorial assistant basically the only way to be promoted was for one of the editors to die."

"Yes," said a particularly unassuming editorial assistant at the table. "That's why I'm going down to my bait 'n' tackle shop and buying a rifle to bring in on Monday. Janet's lived a good life." She then looked right and left and said, "Did I say that out loud?"

Amen, honey. A. Men.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

7:05 am

I've been up for more than two hours already. I finally told the freelancers they have to lay off sending me random work to do and assigning me consecutive deadlines. This is the last time I get up before dawn to crash-edit a manuscript that has nothing to do with my real job.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

congratulations Jalexis!

My friend Jalexissmith (the very one who posts comments on my every entry) paid lots of money to call me all the way from Japan last night, and since she made my day I thought I'd embarrass her by telling the world she's gotten a scholarship to law school!!! (Which I think is especially amazing since a) I didn't know it was possible to get a scholarship to law school, b) she has a very well thought-out and worthy aspiration and totally deserves nice things to help her get herself there, and c) now she'll have lots of unused money floating around so she can come visit me.)

(check out her blog, jalexissmith.blogspot.com, for some mad ikebana photos. and, if you look really hard, an only mildly embarrassing photo of yours truly. i'm the one with all the feathers.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

my super-romantic so-called life (the mystery, the intrigue)

Today at the copy machine I learned that there is a rumor going around (at least among the production team) that I hadn't in fact taken a new job but had secretly gotten married when I went to France in December and this was some kind of elopement. If. Only.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

in further apartment news

the very large window has fallen out of the wall in my room. Conveniently it is at least 10 degrees outside (not including windchill) so if I huddle under ALL my blankets I probably won't freeze to death in my sleep.

Oh yeah, and more good news--we've met our awol landlord! Did he come to replace the refrigerator, you ask? Oh, no, but see, in absence of a super he has come to collect three months of overdue rent. My checks are getting cashed and I'm out my third-of-my-salary each month, so SOMEONE's being dishonest with my money here.

%&$#ing %&$#.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


So Phill thought I was at a follow-up medical appointment when I was in fact at a follow-up interview (I never lied, but I perhaps misled him by allowing him to believe that it was a medical thing).

Now I have actually been called in for an appointment to follow-up. Of course I will lose my medical insurance when I leave Phill and I won't get it back until my 90-day probational period at my new company is over, so I have to somehow see if I can schedule an appointment this week. The letter says there is probably nothing wrong but they just want to run some tests--which is exactly what I told Phill about the interview (oh clever double-language, how you have bitten me in the bottom). Asking for time off during my last week? Blech. No one is going to be happy about this. Karma, I tell you.

apparently they are "soup only" dumplings. humm.

Thanks, Melanie.

Friday, February 02, 2007


I don't know HOW it is possible for innocent frozen dumplings can come out of a thorough pan fry and steam with their delicate skins turned to thick, smoking black ash but still have raw red pork insides.

I don't care. Fuck trichinosis. I'm tired of waiting. I'm eating them anyway.

Friday night

and I *should* go out to a gig a high school friend is playing in the city (especially since he invited me to a previous gig and I lazily didn't go to that one either) but I *want* to sit on my sleeping bag in the middle of my unfurnished living room and watch movies I've already seen on cable channels with too many commercials. Maybe there could also be some hot cocoa.

Worst yet, Melanie is dragging me to a party for one of her friend's friends so that I'll have something to do while waiting for our midnightish rendezvous with her boyfriend and high school friend and bevel of drinking buddies I haven't met. Mff. I'm too middle-aged for this nonsense.