Sunday, July 31, 2005

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Twelve hours without power threw my town back a thousand years. Martial law prevailed at unmanned, uncontrolled intersections. Those who made it home spent the evening wandering their property looking skyward for signs that the power might be restored by the same means it was zapped away. Once they got sick of doing that, they flocked to the few remaining locations with electricity, paid their tribute to Lord Barnes or Lord Noble, and enjoyed the feudal protection of an overstuffed armchair planted firmly in a controlled climate.

The freak storm blew through my area as I rode home on the train. While I traveled north flinching at the lightning hitting the Tappan Zee Bridge, my parents watched the power blink off and my brothers dodged falling branches in order to get to a party on time. The air conditioned air was had long leeched out of the house by the time I got home and the contents of the freezer were melting towards soupy.

When I was a kid, I really enjoyed blackouts. I'd haul out my Garfield sleeping bag and park it on the living room floor. My Dad would find his tiny black and white TV and set it up for us. The great DD search for the batteries necessary to run it was even more fun in the dark, and had the oh-so-satisfying prize of a couple of hours of Married with Children at the end. Peeing by candlelight was infinitely more pleasurable than peeing by sixty watt bulb, especially for a girl who had read the complete works of Laura Ingalls Wilder by the time she was ten. Baths were romantic. Eating ice cream was a duty rather than a treat. I dripped chocolate in Garfield’s eyeball in the name of pragmatism, in the name of economy, and by god, in the name of America.

For better and for worse, growing up has brought eighteen inches of height and a more complex notion of patriotism since my early blackout days. Unfortunately, it has also brought a tragically adult dependence on electricity for most necessities and nearly all entertainment. My recent twelve hour blackout was hardly an adventure until I remembered that fifteen years ago, it would’ve been one.

Being old enough to possess a driver’s license (as well as the right to leave my house unquestioned) means that I am almost never marooned. When the blackout hit, I ate dinner, lit some candles, sat around talking with my family, and when I was sufficiently bored I took off with my brother to the nearest electrified oasis to enjoy a frappucino and the Atlantic Monthly fiction issue. Kids, though, are marooned at least sixteen times a day. You are marooned in the grocery store, in the car, in the doctor’s office, paying the cable bill, on the schoolbus, in the bathtub, under the covers at bedtime. You are marooned at the babysitter’s, at the kids’ table, outside the video store where your mother runs into one of her friends and wants to talk for forty minutes while you inspect anthills and try to balance your tapes on your head, and, god forbid, at the Department of Motor Vehicles when your Dad needs to renew his plates.

An electrical storm when I was seven years old was the great equalizer. Everyone, my parents, my whole town, was marooned in the same metaphorical dark bedroom after Mom decided it was lights out. My one woman army of stupid game inventors (“Look, Dad, I caught an imaginary mouse!”) was suddenly a thirty-thousand strong, with new parent generals who were forced to admit that “make-believe” was a rotten excuse for a way to pass the time.

Twelve hours later the power did come back on and I decided that my horrendous, sweaty night’s sleep on the couch was not sufficient to get me through my commute to work. I took a sick day and, in perfect adult-style, spent the afternoon soaking up every possible electron of alternating current once again flowing to my house. I cranked up the A.C. and plugged in my computer. I played Bejeweled while watching MTV. It was a horrible waste of a day. It was great.

Having the day off made obscenely obvious what the tradeoff between kid-dom and adulthood really is.

Summer vacation.

At five, you may not be able to determine a single factor of your life besides whether or not to pee in your pants or save your parents the embarrassment and wait until you get home, but you do get the entire summer off. At twenty-two, I can go where I want, I can drive a car, I can buy all the candy my mother insisted would “rot my teeth right out of my head,” but I still have to answer to a Vice President through all of June, July, and August.

It makes me absolutely crazy.

It makes me want to violently shirk every responsibility I have. I’m not just talking about going to work, either. I want to cease blogging, stop showering, forget to wash the dishes, throw my laundry in the garbage, and let my car run out of gas. I want to watch TV until my retinas liquefy and then maybe sit on some swings for a while.

In dirty jeans.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Excuses, Excuses

First a blackout, then a sick day, and now playing catch-up at work. In the words of Wilson Phillips, just hold on, hold on until I get home, and all will once again be right in the blogging world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Get on the Party Bus

At least on the subway line that I take, the public transportation bag-checking has eased over the past few days. I suppose that, confident I would not blow up a train if the inspecting officers hadn't found a bomb in my bag thus far, the NYPD deemed it safe for me and the population of New York as a whole to return to their formerly unmonitored ways. A calm settled over us all. Crossword puzzles and copies of the Wall Street Journal emerged once again from briefcases formerly stowed at the office. The diaperbags full of Cheerios returned, once again silencing the toddlers woken when suits jostled their strollers. We were once again at a collective yellow alert, despite claims that we should all be on orange, maybe even red, and inspecting our fellow passengers for protruding wires.

And while it is true that I much prefer less tense atmosphere, I would gladly fork over my bags for any necessary rifling and pillaging if it means I will never again have to sit next to a man brandishing a hacksaw.

This was yesterday. The man was asleep. If I were in a psychological thriller, this would mean that I was still in grave danger, but also that I had a chance to 1. pry the microfilm out of his pocket without waking him up, and 2. get a headstart when his eyes flew open in an extreme closeup. As it turns out, in reality when you take the only remaining seat on a Metro-North train and discover that the man against the window is cuddling a hacksaw, it means you will sit in silence on both the literal and figurative edge of your seat for forty-eight minutes in wonderment that he can grasp such a sharp and toothy weapon so fervently while he is unconscious. This is in addition to the considerable (yet different) wonderment that your own H&M purse filled with library books requires continual police monitoring, but a man can canoodle with a hacksaw unhindered by his fellow passengers, or the conductors, or the police, or the armed military personnel who, for Christ's sake, should at the very least bust out the rubber bullets.

Deadly weapon! Public transportation! Isn't this what you have been training for? Put down your frappucino and protect my freedom!

I did get to work with all my digits still attached to their corresponding appendages, which was, as it always is, a nice way to begin your day. Besides, I was invited to a record release party last night and who wants to show up all stumpy?

After a dinner of Roosevelt Island's famed sesame chicken and ladybug (to be fair, I didn't find an entire ladybug. Just one, delectable, spotted wing.), Kai, Antoine and I headed down to the Mercury Lounge to see Rahim, the members of which I suppose I am connected to by third or fourth degree, which is apparently enough to get you a chair (albeit an uneven one) in their dressing room. Being in the basement of a lounge on the Lower East Side, sandwiched between cases of Red Stripe and indie kids in their pre-show clothes brought on flashbacks to my former venue of employment, the 'sco, with a vengeance. One of my favorite parts of working at a concert hall was greeting the bands as they rolled off their bus (or, depending on the band, minivan) wearing sweatpants and watching them emerge from the dressing room an hour later in layered tights and fake eyelashes and new hair.

Rahim and the Navies were scheduled to end the night and both bands ended up being great. The two bands that started the evening, however, were something else entirely. The night was scheduled as a dual record release party for Rahim as well as the J-Henry Band, who played first. To say the band sounded like a Budweiser commercial would be futile, because the lead singer (J-Henry himself? Who knows. It's a crazy world.) mentioned three or so times that he wanted to get his songs into a beer commercial. Their set was forty-five minutes of uninterrupted nostalgia for a southern life the band has never lead. They might've succeeded in convincing the audience that they really were good old boys pining for the South had they, firstly, not brought their entire audience with them on a full-size "party bus," and, secondly, hidden the fact that the "party bus" came from New Jersey. It wasn't a total loss, though. One of their fans looked strikingly like Captain Lou Albano. That's something. Also, Kai had several Bacardi and Cokes on the band's tab. That's something, too.

After J-Henry and his "J-Girls" and his J-Drummer and J-Keyboard Player left the stage, his J-Drunk J-sister-in-law rounded up the J-riders on the J-party bus, gathered the rest of the J-baked ziti someone had brought for their party, and they all returned to the land from whence they came. A British band whose name I don't think I ever knew took the stage, wore some eyeshadow, and played some dirgy broodrock. This gave me ample time to take a walk and make a phone call, so I suppose that there is something, too.

The second half of the show was excellent. Rahim is a solid band with some crazy percussion schtick that involves the drummer, his set, an extra floor tom, and collaborative drumming with the bassist. They are fond of the hand clap, and I support this. Additionally, one of their songs features a solo for plastic whistle--I belive this is the one you can download on their site. The band who played before them, the Navies, were also good and had a really refreshing amount of backbone to their style. It was comforting to see that three guys with floppy hair in girl pants can occasionally play like the eighth-grade Rage Against the Machine fans we all know they once were.

The night was fun, and I crashed on Kai's couch before returning to work this morning. Despite the fact that I took a shower, I still kind of smell like smoke and other people's sweat and beer that I didn't even drink, but rather sat in. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad my office's bathroom overflowed all night. The distinctly urine-y aroma nicely covers my own party funk, and even if this means I'll be hurdling a puddle of potential biohazard all day, I'll take it. It's all about the small miracles, that's what I always say.

And, y'know, when god gives you lemons, or lemonade, or whatever, it might just be a metaphor for pee.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Strike that, Reverse It.

Forgive me if I put on my Roger Ebert hat and warm up my thumbs for imminent voting, but I saw the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this weekend. Since it's generally frowned upon to throw your cherry Icee at the screen and pitch a fit during a feature presentation, I have no choice but to vent my frustrations here and now:

Thumbs down, man! Two big, emphatic thumbs down (and maybe even a certain other finger pointed skyward) for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Willy Wonka devotee from way back. The Gene Wilder original is one of my all-time favorite movies, so when I heard it was being remade my thumbs were already inching groundward. Then, though, I heard that Tim Burton was directing it and decided to reserve my judgment until I had actually seen the film, or at least a preview, or even just until they had actually filmed some of it.

I suppose that meeting my expectations would've been near impossible, what with my investing my childhood, two hours on the train, and $10.25 in this film. I am sad to report that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory didn't simply fail to meet my expectations. My expectations arrived at the theater twenty minutes before showtime, found a prime seat, and kicked back waiting for the film to show up. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sauntered in, kicked my expectations in the balls, laughed, hawked an hour-long gob of phlegm, and then rolled the credits.

It's difficult to know where to begin with what I disliked about this film. Some of it, I'm sure, is just preference; I prefer Mike Teavee's shrill mother in the original to his combed-over nerdy father in the update. I prefer the original Veruca's musical tantrum to the squirrel attack that does her in in the remake. I prefer the longer lead-up to Charlie's finally finding a golden ticket; in the remake, we're barely rooting for him and he's already walking through the gates.

But there are a number of shortcomings I don't think are just personal. One would think given Tim Burton's fascination with all things mechanical, the chocolate factory would be a feast for both the tastebuds and the eyes. What we got, though, were an assortment of computer rendered machines and boring bubbling containers that could've been in any Tim Burton movie. His factory looked less like a different sugary dimension and more like an exterior stolen from his Batman set and filled with props from Vincent Price's Edward Scissorhands workshop. Though the effects in the original were objectively more primitive, they were so much more mouthwatering. In the Gene Wilder version, the machine that produced the three-course gum actually smashed tomatoes to pulp and had a compartment full of live bees making honey. In the remake, a big gray machine spits some (maybe real, maybe computer generated) fog and out squirts a stick of gum. The fun of the original Willie Wonka was in knowing that none of his machines could possibly work without some kind of magic. In the remake, there's little joy to be found in a machine whose parts look like they could actually produce gum.

For all the talk that Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka is darker and scarier than Gene Wilder's, I found him to be (I'm foregoing any attempt at a mature description) stupid and annoying. His appearance aside, Depp's Willy was less a menacing recluse and more a tantrum-throwing child who never grew up. Throw in a ridiculous backstory about an estranged dentist father and the audience understands all of Willy's seeming nastiness, from why he comically stutters over the word "parents," and to why he picks off the factory visitors one by one. There's nothing dark or scary about a pale, toothy loser with an Anna Wintour haircut who just wants to make nice with Daddy. By giving Charlie the upper hand--allowing him to refuse the prize of the factory unless his family can come along, and then orchestrating the Wonka family reunion--Tim Burton has given the kids in the audience the power to dismiss Willy as less smart, since he's in need of a kid's guidance. How's he scary after that?

Gene Wilder never let his whole hand show. From the moment he exits the factory with his fake limp and somersault, there's no telling what he's got up his sleeve. His Wonka was darker, not only because his factory was scarier, but because he was consistently in control of the contest, his visitors, the plot, and therefore the movie.

And speaking of scary--when did it stop being okay to scare the bejeezus out of kids? The original Willy Wonka was creepy, and not just because of the Oompa Loompas and their dirges. Willy Wonka intentionally inflicted fear, but it was necessary and enjoyable for the movie to make its candy wonderland all the more heavenly by incorporating a dark undercurrent as a balance. The Wonkatania's trip through the factory's psychedelic tunnel of terror, for example, is every bit as delicious as Wonka's edible meadow. How can you possibly compare the awful footage that flashes in that tunnel (the eyeball! the chicken decapitation!) to the boat in the new version, which just, y'know, goes kind of fast?

This is why kids today are stupid. They aren't allowed to be scared. I'm all for sitting down the entire population of children under the age of ten and forcing them to watch not only the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but also underwear-soiling children's classics like Return to Oz.

Then we'll see who's got time to be afraid of clowns.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Search and Destroy

I went to bed last night to the Channel 7 news going on and on about the new MTA regulations, under which police officers can examine a commuter's backpack or purse at random. I woke at five to the same news, only slightly amended by a groggy reporter emphasizing not the necessity of new safety precautions, but to "leave anything you don't want a cop to see" at home. At my train station, a recorded warning played on a loop, exhorting the possibility that your crap could be rifled through at any moment.

I thought the fuss had to do with informing people that a bag search might happen if you gave anyone reason to believe you might explode. Of course I was wrong, though, and decended the stairs to the subway this morning to find a wall of cops asking me to please step to the side and open my purse, as well as a TV camera documenting the whole thing. At first I assumed everyone's bags were being checked. Again, wrong. I forget I emit some kind of "shady character" signal that sensitive receptors like police officers and, god help me, airline security agents pick up instantly. So while a cop donned rubber gloves and insisted I open my bag for him to inspect, I watched the rest of the crowd go by unmolested. It took longer than it should have because I was carrying the new Harry Potter book and my wallet and the debit card I'd extracted from it all in one hand, and I think my fumbling was mistaken for nervousness.

I mean, I'd totally inspect a girl reading a magical children's book. She's exactly the type to take out a subway car or two.

Satisfied my H&M imitation leather purse housed no ticking bombs I was allowed to get on the train. I'm sure I'll be searched again this afternoon when I head back uptown. I wish they could've given me some kind of hall pass to skip the security checkpoint for the rest of the day. A stamp on my forehead? A tattoo on my arm that says EX-CATHOLIC FROM WESTCHESTER--UNLIKELY TO HAVE EXPLOSIVES IN BAG (HIGH RISK FOR A NEXTEL, SOME VALIUM, AND A TINY TUBE OF PUREL)?

I have to admit that I do feel safer today. This has nothing to do with the new security precautions, though. I feel safer because it appears that Batman does indeed exist, and that last night he was crimefighting on the roof of the adjacent building. The normally immaculate rooftop patio was in thrilling disarray; the fence is toppled over and the furniture is upset. Best of all, a long white rope is anchored on a taller roof top, stretched down across an alley and coiled around a pipe near the patio, then tied to a fire escape. This is obviously how Batman escaped once Two Face stomped his Batarang to bits, or whatever that thing is called that shoots out the rope to swing on.

The NYPD can take their crappy bag search and shove it. I'm putting my faith in the Dark Knight.

(Except that this is exaggeration, so please don't Patriot Act me.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Terrible Teenybopper

Last night I did the very important thing that I've been meaning to do. That's right; I left my disturbingly huge pile of laundry on the floor, neglected to make my lunch for today, forgot to wash my hair, and even ignored the dog because it was time to watch Brat Camp.

I don't know if anyone else had the same routine I did in high school, which was to come home, take a nap on the couch, wake up to watch Sally Jesse Raphael, and head to work to accompany second-graders on your acoustic guitar as they sang "This Little Light of Mine."

Yeah, so, the cheese stands alone.

My point is that I used to watch Sally Jesse every day, more out of habit than actual interest. Sally Jesse had two topics: My Husband is a Control Freak! and the ever popular My Out of Control Teen is Ruining My Family!. One could only assume that a true sadist lurked behind the famed red glasses. Despite seemly surface, Sally was hellbent on having a weeping housewife on her set at all times. Whether her child or her mate was causing the tears was inconsequential so long as they were flowing. Sally had Kleenex perenially in waiting on a table that might house a plant on another, more functional talkshow.

[My other point is that I may have had a more exciting adolescence if I had spent less time learning the chords to "Jesus Loves Me," and deciding who got to play Mary and if she indeed had to hold hands with Joseph and if she got the distinction of riding the rickety donkey on wheels or if she would have to drag it.]

On the wifebeater shows, the last fifteen minutes were occupied by some sort of Dr. Expert on wifebeating (prevention thereof not techniques for) who would elicit some kind of teary apology from the husbands, or at least a grudging acknowledgement that yeah, it's probably not okay to make your wife eat dinner in the backyard. But the troubled teens (oh those terrible, terrible teens!), they would be hauled off to boot camp halfway through the show by an ex-Marine named Sgt. Julu. In the middle of the last guest's request for her mother to, ahem, convey oral affection on her posterior, Sgt. Julu would burst from some hidden doorway and descend on the stage, his neck veins like mountain ranges on an elementary school globe. Before they knew what was happening, the troubled teens would be in a prison van on their way to the morgue, where they would "see what it feels like to be dead," and from there whisked off to boot camp. Apparently all it takes to break a teenager is to make them get up early, wear pants with lots of pockets, and run half a mile.

Not that that wouldn't have worked on me.

Anyway, I've been enjoying the terrible teen genre since I was myself a timid teen, and I suppose it had some psychological value to see the behaviors I secretly wanted to express punished, and my non-expression of them vindicated. I could've been a great terrible teen. I had a strategy worked out and everything. If ever my mother saw fit to bring me to Sally Jesse and confront my maneating, meth-fueled ways (and if ever I saw fit to adopt maneating, meth-fueled ways), all I'd do was give Sgt. Julu the silent treatment. The kids always yelled back, which gave Julu something to work with. But come on, the guy can't hit you; what is there for him to do if you just absolutely refuse to speak to him?

This is why I enjoy Brat Camp. Aside from the captions they put under each terrible teen (Shawn, 17: Angry Punk), I think I'm once again reminded that the path I didn't choose leads to pooping in the woods.

The other thing that's fascinating about Brat Camp is that, instead of military boot camp, the terrible teens are forced on a forty day wilderness adventure with a guy who calls himself "Little Big Bear." To be fair, he acknowledges that this is his "Earth name." He and his coeducators (Shimmering Aspen, Fire Shaper, Mountain Wind and Glacier, among others) have somehow convinced many, many wealthy parents to give them what I assume are generous sums of their children's trust funds despite the fact that they have hippie dreadlocks and names that sound like men's deodorant scents.

This is empowering. I've decided to follow suit.

May all the powers of the Earth be with you,
Princess Venus Moon Dirt Rock Shrub Tree Cactus Ostrich Sea Cucumber Please Give Me Your Money I Won't Use It To Buy Weed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Have My Cake and Weep in It Too

The fallout from a party I was not invited to is all over the kitchen. I was initially shocked that someone had party at all, given that the generally held belief my office is that egg salad on crustless white and a couple games of internet Scrabble make for a bitchin' lunchtime. Walking in to find the detritus of some occasion worth celebrating was so out of character for this place that it was more terrifying--in a how many of you have been bitten?! kind of way--than it was heartening. Upon closer investigation, though, the signs of sentient life and even, dare I say it, mirth suggested by yesterday's party were crushed by details depressing down to an atomic level.

Grown people had eaten ice cream cake.

It's not that I have anything against ice cream cake, per se. I like ice cream, I like frosting, I even like that chocolate gravel mortar that separates the layers. It's just that building in a timed self-destruct into something as fundamentally happiness-inducing as cake seems kind of like punching a baby in his soft little head. Ice-cream cake could be okay if you took it from the freezer and ate your slice fast enough to maintain its structural integrity. But that's never what happens.

Ice cream cake is always rushed into a party ("Stat!') bleeding melted chocolate through its box and thrown on the table just in time for the candles pressed into its soupy top to stay put through a high speed "Happy Birthday." It's depressing. Everyone gets their pint of cake in a bowl and slurps it up with a spoon. I eat ice cream cake and I feel like I'm at Cortlandt Lanes during the great Birthday Bowling Party Craze of 1989, surrounded by once again by fellow first graders more interested in daring each other to lick their borrowed shoes than shove their sticky fingers back into a bowling ball.

Besides the ice cream cake remnants, I found half a pizza in the fridge and four or five half-empty bottles of soda left to sweat on the counter. I'm sure the soda bottles will sit there until their contents evaporate, or else a passive-aggressive office martyr rinses the bottles, places them in the recycling, and tapes an anonymous note to the fridge about environmentalism and personal responsibility. The pizza will sit in the fridge with the other orphaned leftovers and, untended in such an arctic environ, will be forced to grow its own fuzzy gray blanket for warmth. Sometime in October a passive-aggressive office martyr will get rid of it, but tape an anonymous note to the fridge about hygiene and respect.

This is why I refuse to tell anyone here when my birthday is. I don't think I could handle sprinkles stuck to the corners of people's mouths, or red plastic party cups filled and refilled with Diet Pepsi, or glasses hanging from neck chains in a roughly analogous "let my hair down!" gesture. I'd rather suck up my cake through a straw in private, thankyouverymuch.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Red Sox It to Me

It might have something to do with the obscene amounts of Oregon Trail I played as a kid, but whenever I'm in a car for a couple of hours all I can think about is how much longer it would take me to get to my destination if I was stuck with a couple of oxen and a wagon as my only means of transport. Especially if that wagon was laden with the copious amounts of buffalo I'd hunted--I was good. Damn good.

Granted, it wouldn't take as long for me to get from New York to Boston in my wagon as it would for my brother Mike. One night way back in the winter of '94, his spare sets of clothing, rifles, ammunition, wagon axles, and even his actual wagon and oxen were all mysteriously traded for wheels of cheese when he took a bathroom break and left his wagon unattended at the Oregon border.

I have no idea how it happened.

Anyway, I'd suppose it's the amount of time I spent keeping my CGI family cholera free and rolling slowly west that makes me marvel at how I can wake up in the New York suburbs but eat breakfast north of Boston.

This weekend I trekked northward into the vast and uncharted expanse of territory known to the intrepid as New England. It's true that we had a leg up on our trailblazing forefathers (and foremothers, and forebitchingkidsinthebackofthewagon) what with the horsepower of our Jeep's engine and all, but our journey did have its perils. My gas station non pareils melted in the car. Having to eat your candy with a spoon is far worse a fate than being bitten by a rattlesnake or flipping your wagon while fording a river.

Kai and I left early Saturday morning and made it to Peabody after a ride through the scenic sections of the Mass pike, comprised of an endless array of architectural renderings of that ubiquitous Boston franchise, Dunkin’ Donuts. I also received an enlightening lecture from Kai on my flawed pronunciation of the name of nearly every town we passed. I felt pretty certain that, with a solid seventeen years of reading the English language under my belt, Peabody would be pronounced pee-bah-dee. Not so. It’s PEE-b’dee. Likewise for Swampscott (“swamp-skit”), Gloucester (“glosster”), and New York (“asshole-town”).

We checked into our hotel, which located in an industrial park and intended for businesspeople on extended stays. Each room came complete with a tiny kitchen, silverware, a couch, the works. There was even a “guest pantry,” which you could access with your room key to avail yourself of the $4.00 Swanson fried chicken TV dinners, or ramen noodles, or frozen Snickers bars.

So, what I’m saying is, I though I had died and gone to heaven. Wrapped soap! Microwave dinners! Folded towels! An unnecessary blanket tucked right into my bed!

A toilet sealed for my protection. A toilet sealed for my protection.

The room also had wireless internet access for $3.99 and accessed with a username and password I had to request from the desk clerk. I walked back to the room with a post-it bearing my username and motel-chosen password. “P-word,” she explained to me, “is for password. People sometimes get confused by my code.”

In case I had any doubt what kind of an establishment I was staying in, my password was “freedom.” Perhaps I’m being judgmental, but I’m willing to bet that the kind of freedom I was typing in wasn’t the first come, first serve on the bus kind, but rather the Suck it, Frenchie! kind. It’s a strange state of affairs when it’s almost assured that if the word “freedom” is invoked, exactly that is about to be curtailed.

Anyway, freedom firmly in place, I was able to access the internet while Kai got dressed up in her Kennedy costume and her friends Kelly and Denis convinced their dog Claude not to pee on our carpet. Much.















Claude. (It's real strange to call something that looks like that by your father's name.)
















Jackie Okaileenassis.
















"Kaileen's Graduation Tent" was conveniently located next to "Kaileen's Boozin' Trailer."

I used to go on vacation with Kai's family to their cabin on Lake Winnipasaukee in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. It was her dad's side of the family, so for a week or so in the summer I got to pretend that her two hysterical aunts, her little cousins with the thick Boston accents ("Let's go to McDawnald's! Then let's go shawping!"), and her grandparents were my family as well. I pretty consistently adopt my friends families, or, rather, force my friends' families to adopt me. That thing about having never seen my uncle's house even though he lives twenty minutes away'll get 'em every time.

I spent two days with her family, who are comfortingly loud and nutty. They span the spectrum of wacky from depressive to histrionic and each would take pages to do full justice to. The important part, the part that got me, was that when I was sitting in my hotel room with thirteen of them, and the wrapping paper was flying off of Kai's presents, and the dog was chewing all the bows, the whole family was comfortably making fun of each other and scooping from a box pieces of cake they were all too full to finish fifteen minutes earlier. You could tell that even though they were in a hot motel room in July, it might have been Christmas; all it takes to make a holidy is to put them all in the same place.

And I'm sure that no one would've been abandoned by the side of the trail in Missouri just because they had diptheria, or ate some bad fruit.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Suck This

I'm on the train on the way home from work (work by the most academic definition; I read CraigsList for three hours, talked to my boss about having bats in her house, and drank a cup of Lipton’s) and I have a large baguette penis.

I acquired my whole wheat phallus because I choose the wrong bag at every possible juncture. This morning I threw my brand new computer in a stylish yet completely permeable houndstooth shoulder bag and left the office to find it just barely beginning to rain. Very fortunately, they’re doing some work on the huge building on the corner so I could dodge the droplets under some scaffolding and slip onto the C train across the street. Taking that train instead of my usual one lets me skip ten rainy outdoor blocks, but it makes my whole trip a little longer and necessitates taking the shuttle from Times Square, the worst of all forms of transportation. I’m including both family station wagon to Florida and junior high school bus in that estimation. However, I did get to sit next to an extraordinarily good looking fella on the C, so I don’t really have the right to moan.

But back to my bread dick: once I got to Grand Central I tried unsuccessfully to find a free plastic bag to protect my laptop. The next best thing was finding something I could purchase with the three dollars in my wallet that would need to be packaged in a plastic bag big enough to transfer my computer into. There were surprisingly few options. I couldn’t afford a whole Junior’s cheesecake, or a shirt, or a decorative mirror from the shop with all of the decorative lamps, and decorative vases, and decorative mirrors. Finally I noticed someone walking around with an obscene loaf of bread, and tracked down a reasonable $2.15 whole wheat baguette which the cashier ever so kindly wrapped in a Hot and Crusty plastic bag.

Which leaves me with a safe laptop, but also a huge loaf of bread propped between my legs because there’s no room on the train to do anything else with it. I could probably handle flaccid baked goods with more grace, but this thing is really unwieldy.

Despite the stares I’m getting from my fellow passengers, and the way that mothers are ushering their children past me with more than the usual hustle, I think this baguette erection hasn’t been a total bust. Should I ever be asked to develop an accurate artistic representation of what it felt like to be on the South Beach Diet, I would instantly know what to do.

California! Here We Come!

I dated Adam Brody from roughly 11:00 p.m. to 5:04 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. Then our romantic idyll was smashed to smithereens by my alarm clock.

I’m not entirely sure it would’ve worked out for Adam and I anyway, through no fault of his own. He is every bit as cute as one would believe him to be if one had accidentally watched four or five episodes of The OC while running one’s daily four miles on the elliptical machine. He is also very charming and, if my dream-memory serves me right, smells really nice. No, I think our relationship would’ve been doomed by my warped conception of “sweet nothings,” which, in my dream, turned out to be murmuring “Man, you’re the only reason I’d ever watch that lame show!” into his ear.

It’s rare that I have dreams starring celebrities. There was a series of dreams I had in seventh and eighth grade starring Eddie Vedder in a variety of cameo roles, strangest of which involved the pair of us painting a mural of black bears in their natural habitat all over the second floor of the Jefferson Valley Mall. Around the same time, Kurt Cobain once taught me my piano lesson, but I think that had more to do with leaving my radio on as I slept than a visit from beyond the grave. Besides, he knew very little about Bach.

It’s also rare that my dreams take place in my house. Most often, when I say I had a dream about having breakfast in my kitchen, I mean that I was eating toast at my kitchen table, which was in my grandma’s kitchen, which was in Mohansic Elementary School, which, when you went outside, was located in the middle of a frozen lake I had to cross in Fanhstock State Park during my fourth-grade Girl Scout Jamboree. My dream house is an amalgam of every place I’ve ever been. Having Adam Brody in my actual bed, in my actual room, in my actual house made the pain all that much more acute when he vaporized at the sound of my alarm and the first signs of dawn.

I suppose I can’t expect the most articulate and well-coiffed of Hollywood starlets to get up when I do. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been great if he did, and then we took the train together, deigning, of course, to give an autograph or two to businessmen who recognized him from the photo collages on their daughters’ walls.

Then for the remainder of the ride we’d make out in the bathroom like thirteen-year-olds at the last camp dance.

Instead, I’m sitting on the train and my only seat partner is a middle-aged woman who’s Blackberrying like a bandit. She has also removed her shoes and is wiggling her toes against the seat in a way that would be highly seductive if the seat were a man (Adam Brody?) and I weren’t going to expel the contents of my stomach all over her sensual interlude. Feet and I do not mix well, and watching a dirty foot trace slow, romantic circles on a grimy seat is just about the last thing I want to be doing at 7:15 in the morning.

Adam Brody!

Come back! I didn’t mean it. I love your show. I love watching The OC more than I love most things, especially the man with nipples so large as to be medically fascinating, who is sitting across the aisle in a brown spandex turtleneck. Please, come back!

I’ll be waiting here, in my nursery school classroom, in my great-grandmother’s Yonkers apartment, on that island I stayed on off Alabama, okay? I’ll leave a light on.















Happy 200th post, y'all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Out of my last three work days, I've managed to leave my access card at home for two of them. It's not that huge an issue because I rarely leave my desk, let alone my floor, but it's the very first issue of my day and therefore, by definition, it's unsavory.

On Monday when I forgot my card I called my boss and she ran over to let me in. This is fine and not awkward. This morning, however, I discovered I left my card at home (fie!), then discovered I left my cell phone at home (foiled!), then discovered a phone in the vestibule (victory!), then discovered my boss wasn't in her office (vexation!). So I really was locked out. Locked out third-grade-style too, in my jeans and severely office inappropriate ratty Converse sneakers, chewing on a hangnail and looking as concerned as if I'd been booted off the schoolbus to find my mom was still at my brothers' tae kwon do class.

Of course in the thirty seconds it took for someone else to show up with a card, the little old lady who lives in my head and knits yards of paranoid fantasy started clicking her needles. I would be sitting in the lobby looking obviously underdressed and conspicuously under the age of forty, which would single me out to the Human Resources director (who would without a doubt be the next person up the elevator) as being a delinquent college student hellbent on stealing textbooks for her fall classes in plant biology. No, I'd explain, I work here, I really do, and I was a creative writing major! I don't even know anything about plant biology! The HR director would ask me what plant cell walls are made out of, and my knee jerk reaction would be to spit out cellulose, and she would hustle me to the elevator despite my protests that I'm just an editorial assistant who's really good at Jeopardy. I would have no way to get back upstairs after she instructed security not to let me back into the building, and I would be immediately fired because I couldn't call upstairs to explain my absence since my cell phone was sitting on my nighttable.

What actually happened was less disastrous to my tenure at the company, but only marginally less awkward. The next person up the elevator was actually the V.P. of my section, to whom I had to stutteringly explain why it is I was loitering like a sixteen year old smoker outside the 7-11. He kindly beeped me in, and then regaled me with a ten minute story about the landscaping of one of my company's international offices.

I'm not sure whether it was more difficult to feign laughter at his weak jokes about air travel and passports and shrubs or to hold back tears at his declaration that he knew he had made it when he was granted access to the foreign branch's parking garage.

It was made abundantly clear to me that the yellow brick road to equal success begins at my desk and extends into the future. Should I trudge along it for thirty years in my V.P.'s footsteps, the ever-growing promised land on the horizon will admit me through its golden gates and bestow into my trembling hands the unspeakable honor of free parking in Germany.

Bear down upon your spreadsheets, ye administrative masses! Sharpen your pencils to a razor point and fill out expense reports 'til it is but a nub in thine grip! Toil tirelessly in the fields of paperwork and overnight mailing until you too, my lowly wretch, are plucked from the sty of entry-level employment and installed at the Right Hand of Management!

Amen, ye shall exclaim as you pull your half car into its designated spot in Germany! Hosannah in the Highest!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

With Great Wrath and Furious Anger

Last night it was hellfire and toaster-oven hot; I’m talking baked to a golden brown, molten center of the earth, drop-it-like-it’s hot. I braved the (liquefying) pavement and the unbearable subway to visit Kai’s apartment after work and consequently had to take a much later train home after we went to dinner.

Of course, the MetroNorth railroad being the stalwart of efficiency and customer service that it is, only three cars out of the six cars on my train had working air conditioning. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the windows opened in the climate uncontrolled cars, but the truth was that riding in the hot cars would’ve been like climbing into one of those public service ads aimed at delinquent teenage mothers and instructing them on how not to suffocate their children by leaving them in the car when they run into the supermarket. Or to buy condoms, this time.

I got to the train sufficiently early to get a seat, a prime seat, a front row seat to the horrible tango between the half of the train walking forwards to find a seat, and the other half of the train walking backwards because there aren’t any left. One, two, together. One, two, fuck you buddy, I’ll see for myself if there’s a seat or not. One, two, squish by the guy who won’t move. One, two, I guess he’s just going to stand in the aisle for the entire ride to Poughkeepsie. One, two, have it your way, douchebag.

By the time the train started moving, there were still people (mainly families of tourists) who insisted they would find an oasis of empty seats in another car, but to anyone who rides this horrible train regularly it was pretty apparent that there was one cool seat left, and that it was next to the old, old man sitting in front of me. A wily commuter slipped past a family lamenting their return to the fiery pit of the fourth car and descended on the old man. “Mind if I sit here,” he asked.

“I have a cold, I wouldn’t recommend it,” the old, old guy answered.

The commuter stared at him like he had three heads. There was one decent seat left on the entire train, and this guy was worried about a little rhinovirus? I’m writing from the train right now (this laptop thing is a miracle) and on the seatback in front of me I can identify what looks like at least two bodily fluids, not to mention stickers removed from another laptop, one I am choosing to believe was not stolen from its owner and then stripped of identifying markers. Anyway, my point is that if you take this train every day, the guy next to you having a cold ranks about as important as global warming, in that it is vaguely terrifying in some remote section of your brain, but one that is so remote it doesn’t get any say in your day to day.

The commuter smiled and tried to sit down, the universal sign for tolerance in its most pure form (that of another’s mucus potentially getting on, like, your face), but the old guy would not relent. The commuter gave up, and walked past.

He didn’t get but two seats away when Leonard, as I was to learn the old, old guy’s name was, began offering the seat next to him to other passengers. The only difference between the commuter and the passengers he was hand-selecting? The commuter was black.

The man eventually gave his seat to the extraordinarily young wife and stepmother of an extraordinarily sweaty man and pipsqueaky kid, respectively, details I learned from the loud conversation I was treated to for the duration of my ride back to Cortlandt. Leonard and Bridget, the wife, hit it off really well. They both found the black woman who got on at 125th street unbelievably funny. They both like London. They both hate L.A. They both had been to Gotham Bar and Grill in the last week.

They both needed to be punched so hard they’d have to relearn the alphabet.

There isn’t enough wreaking going on, here in the double-oh-five. If my gravestone is to read anything, I’d want it to say Kathy Cacace: She wreaked a solid amount of vengeance. It’s times like last night when I’m upset that I can’t pull a sword from my bag, point it to the sky, summon a flurry of lightning bolts and thunder claps, and, as the clouds gather and swirl over my head and the wind makes my hair do that She-Ra thing, and as my potential smitee quakes at my feet and maybe begins to leave a stain in his Dockers that runs right down to his support socks and orthopedic sneakers, I begin to wreak some serious vengeance.

I’m pretty positive I wouldn’t feel bad about actually making a head roll.

I’m at 125th street, which means I’ve got roughly ten minutes until I have to run off this train, run across the main concourse of Grand Central, run down the stairs to the subway, and position myself for prime seat pouncing. It also means I’ve just realized that I have no idea how the hell I’m going to get this onto my work computer. Maybe there’s magic wireless.

If not, the sword’s coming out of the bag.

Hold, Please.

Having suddenly found myself to be the kind of person who owns a fancy laptop computer, I decided to fashion myself into the kind of person who uses their fancy laptop on the train. It was me and the businessmen this morning, in the technological big leagues. I could pretend for a solid forty minutes that we were all corporate pistons firing at full speed, maximizing our time and churning out important documents while the rest of our fellow commuters (pity them, pity them) slept. Together we chugged coffee out of our commuter mugs, flipped the spillproof lids closed, and turned back to our keyboards. We were unified, them with their last minute Power Point touch-ups, and their intricate excel spreadsheets, and me, with my blogging and my midwest-state-themed indie rock which they never need know the better of.

I have such a crush on Sufjan Stevens, but I don't want to tell anyone about it out loud because I have no idea how you prounounce his first name. Soof-jan? Soof-yan? Suff-jen? Bill? This is besides the point, which I am getting to, which is:

The business men working on their computers on the train are doing work that they can make use of at the office immediately via internet connection. Caught up in the fervor of the commuter-with-computer clique, I forgot that the thousand words I composed are stuck on my computer until I get back home, or any place else with a wireless connection.

It's a doozy, though. There's a whole lot of smiting and vengeance. I'm fiesty at a quarter to seven in the morning.

At three minutes to two, however, I'm mainly freezing and a smidge sleepy. It's unbearably cold in here, yet again, and I'm weighing going outside and walking around the block to warm up against the possibility that my head may actually explode if I cross the threshold too quickly between my fifty-five degree (for real) office and the ninety degree (for realer) outdoors. Plus, I didn't get my nap on the train this morning, what with all the feigned productivity, and now I'm kind of tired.

So, what it boils down to is that you're going to have to wait for my blog today, until roughly six-thirty p.m., Eastern Standard Time, at which point Dorothy and I will enter my house, she will magically connect to the internet, and I can upload that puppy. In the meantime, think warm thoughts. I'm going to go get some Tropical Skittles from the vending machine (the least of my three evil candy choices, the other two of which are Wild Berry Skittles and Twizzler Nibs. NIBS!), consume only the blue and orange ones, and then sit with my hands in my armpits in lieu of typing and in hopes of regaining sensation.

What's that, my life is totally sexy? I know.

Monday, July 11, 2005

We're Not in Kansas Any More

I welcomed a new addition to my electronic family this weekend. Dorothy, my sleek new Toshiba Satellite M45-S165 notebook computer replaced one deceased Mr. Hugh Littpackard as the object of my technological esteem. The HP will be buried near Phil, my former iPod, and the empty grave of Steve, my other former iPod who is missing and presumed dead.

On Saturday my reliably unreliable desktop computer went on the fritz. After a couple of false starts and a dazzling blue screen error, it became clear that it was irreparably, irreversably fucked. In the last five months I've had to 'system restore' the thing at least five times, and completely reformat it twice. I could barely get it to turn on this time, and when I finally got it to reformat I had lost everything on it; all the music I hadn't backed up (and that I had paid for!), all of my recent photos, all of my recent writing.

After a brief crying jag and nearly tearing off the CD tray with my bare hands or maybe teeth, I decided it was time to bite the extraordinarily expensive bullet and get a new computer.

Meet Dorothy.

She's a little pricey, but she comes with a rebate. She's svelte, she's sleek, she sounds great, and most importantly she has not crashed, frozen, or even stuttered once since I brought her home yesterday. I nearly gave her a name of the "Phil" or "Steve" ilk, but realizing that all of the electronics I've been asked to engender who've been male have let me down, I named her after Dorothy Parker whose book of short stories I'm reading.

I have another meeting, so I'll leave you to tenderly trace Dorothy's curves on your screens. I'll finish the rest of this from home. From my bed, if I damn well please! I've got a laptop!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Photoblerone

For Friday, some minimally arty pictures of my (every) day:

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My car. Zero to sixty in, oh, say, an hour and a half.


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Bowling Baglady, c'est moi.


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Swingline, baby. That's how we do.


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I was hoping to get a picture of that strange bottle of water that often appears in the bathroom, but it wasn't there today. It was a half-day Friday after all, and I'm willing to bet the water bottle weirdo is in the Hamptons like the rest of the office.


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See? Arty.


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Home again, only this time I'm accompanied by my good friend Tropical Storm Cindy.

F to tha R-ied, M to tha AN

Thomas Friedman, as usual, said basically everything I was trying to say yesterday in the Times today, only he said it way better. Rat bastard.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Feeling Old and Shot and How

Very little going on today is funny, which leaves me in the awkward position of having to either talk about very serious things, or find some marginally funny things to talk about. Since I'm listening to the saddest song in the world, which I accidentally came across today, I'm leaning towards the first of those two options.

[As an aside, the saddest song in the world is called "13 months in 6 minutes" and it's by the Wrens. It's sad in that great way, though. I noticed how sad it was even though I couldn't make out half the lyrics, and then I looked them up, and then it turned out the song was way sadder than I could've imagined. How 'bout them apples? Find it and listen to it. Actually, I'll see if I can make it available for download, maybe. It takes place in Secaucus, New Jersey! So sad. Part of it sounds like "Good King Wenceslas"! I'm telling you, it's unbelievably sad.]

I got into half an argument this morning about what happened in London (half an argument because I decided to stop arguing), most of which I'm gonna rehash here. Of course, it goes without saying that this morning's events were terrible, especially if they were indeed in reaction to the G8 summit, which is one of the noblest causes that the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations have been involved with in a long time. Why would anyone orchestrate an attack in response to erasing third world debt and providing increased aid to developing nations?

The argument stemmed from the fact that someone made a couple of comments about wanting to "fucking kill" all the terrorists, and about their "dirty fundamentalist" hands. While I'm not trying to twist this individual's words, and I do indeed believe that anyone involved in the bombings should be brought to justice, I believe just as firmly that such hateful speech can be very dangerous.

The danger in anyone saying the terrorists "should be fucking killed" is who can be included in that such a blank slate identity; "terrorists" are not a people. It's not the same as saying "we're going to fight the Nazis" or "we're going to root out Communists." Historically, those were self-identified groups who were united around common goals. Terrorists-with-a-capital-T don't exist as one unified group; one is not born a Terrorist, but becomes a terrorist with a violent action. There is no TerrorLand where they come from, and there is no single creed that binds everyone who commits these kinds of acts together.

Just like Osama Bin Laden's terrorists had little to do with the terrorists of the Iraqi insurgency, the terrorists of today's attacks in London may have a completely different rationale. It would be impossible to unite groups like Al Qaeda, the PLO, and the IRA under a single banner, despite the fact that they have each been labeled The Terrorists at one point or another.

I am in no way defending the actions of any of these groups. Like any rational person, I adamantly condemn violence perpetrated against innocent parties to make a political statement. Nor am I insisting that the author of the original remarks meant to include in her statement anyone besides the individuals directly responsible for what happened in London. I just fear that on a larger scale, for lack of a clear definition of the group we want to "fucking kill" all of, "The Terrorists" can become a synonym for Muslim, or Brown, or Not-American, or Non-Western; this is as unfair a branding as calling every Christian a fundamentalist abortion-clinic bomber. Similarly, everyone who holds fundamental religious beliefs should not be automatically scrutinized as a terrorist either--consider fundamentalists like Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi.

When United States responds to events like these by invoking the cause of freedom, I believe we have an even greater responsibility to protect freedom, in its purest form of tolerance and in the name of innocence until proven guilty. We're talking about life and death, the terms should be clearer. When our country is in a "war on terror"--which, to my understanding, is an abstract noun as opposed to a specific, armed opposition--I worry that the vague nature of our enemy is amorphous enough to be manipulated to suit any aim, whether it be as honorable as the liberation of the persecuted or as base as a desire for oil.

I've been getting e-mails all day from my company trying to allay my non-existent fears about terrorism in New York. They advise me to get enough sleep, eat nutritiously, cease smoking, take a walk, or do a crossword puzzle. They also remind me that in case I need to talk to someone, I am always invited to give the company-provided mental health hotline a ring, lest I forget this Human Resources talking point of my (very generous) benefits package. My mother's also taken the time to call me and let me know that if I see bomb dogs or armed military personnel on my subway, I shouldn't worry.

I'm more concerned with the fact that they were simulating bioterrorist attacks in Grand Central station (with "non-toxic" gases), and for the whole week it went on I thought they were always setting up for a laser light show I was always narrowly missing in order to get my train. Seriously, their equipment looked like it was about to start shooting spinning neon pink spirographs on the wall. There I was, pissed I'd miss the moment when they dimmed the lights and the Deep Purple blasted out of the PA system, when in fact it was just a lousy bioterror drill.
I'd like to get in touch with the Transit Authority of New York and, after thanking them for their proactive scientific studies in Grand Central station, encourage them to investigate just how it is I've entered the ladies room near the pretzel stand on the lower level and twice found that someone pooped on the toilet seat. Where's their fancy equipment for that one?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Shut Yer Plymouth

Today's blogging was delayed by some necessary hustling to get a reprint folder together before my boss's three o'clock meeting, as well as an unnecessarily long "Town Hall" meeting in the crowded sixth-floor conference room. The only way one can tell one is on the sixth floor instead of the seventh floor is the color of the walls. Beige, instead of light gray.

My day is a rainbow of light and joy, ranging from the deepest taupe to the brightest khaki.

I get a kick out of the fact that our all-company gatherings are called "Town Hall" meetings. It's got a great, old-timey ring to it. If the conference room were indeed a town hall, and the whole lot of us were pilgrims, or some such people who wear the bonnets I'm picturing on everyone, and the president of my company were some kind of Miles Standishish leader, we would undoubtedly never have made it to the First Thanksgiving. We would've stood around asking questions about whether or not the maize we talked about during the last town hall meeting was definitely, for sure going to feed everyone because two town hall meetings ago we were promised an up-to-date directory of the whole colony and that has yet to materialize so why should we believe anything that management has to say, especially when our no-sick-day bonuses are never going to be given out what with all the shake-up in HR? By the time our maize concerns were settled it would've been winter, half the colony would've frozen to death in their seats, and the rest would be gnawing their dead children in a boredom-induced stupor.

I'm convinced that the tai chi woman on my train is not only annoying, she's the Angel of Death. You may recall her mysterious appearance on the day I found out I didn't get that job I really wanted; she was the one squatting and stretching right in the middle of my public transportation breakdown. Well, yesterday she appeared on my train, like the Raven itself, and I came home to a letter telling me I hadn't gotten the latest job I applied for.

It's her fault. I swear, the flash of her white thigh emerging from under her polyester business suit bottom as she draws up her leg like a Great Dane ready to mark the whole train as her own is enough to throw off the entirety of human existence. It could've been Mother Teresa up for this job. I could've been William fucking Shakespeare, but if I had happened to notice her, right behind me, legs akimbo, it still would've been enough to suck me into her dark vortex (her metaphorical dark vortex) where nary a particle of employment can reach.

So here's to you, Mrs. Tai Chi Face, the 5:12 hates you more than you could know.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

We Thought it Was a Goner, But the Cat Came Back

Watching (and minorly assisting in) Kai's move on Friday from cosmopolitan Yorktown Heights to the much less interesting hamlet of Manhattan has really kicked my ass into looking for an apartment. Kai's new one bedroom on Roosevelt Island is spotless, has a great view, and is situated in a building with a doorman, a gym, and an elevator that somehow anticipates where you want it to be, so it's always on your floor when you press the button.

While I was screwing the legs onto her brand new coffeetable it was pretty easy to start inserting myself into life in her building; you know, jogging down to the gym where I josh jovially with the oncologist on the adjacent treadmill about how I would just starve to death if it weren't for FreshDirect.com, because who can be troubled to go grocery shopping these days? Ha ha, we'd laugh, then collect our packages from the mailroom, then have highballs on the terrace.

If I lived in Kai's apartment, I'd so know what a highball is.

However, this morning while browsing the Craigslist apartment listings, I remembered that I make roughly 3/8 of Kai's salary. Which is why I'm comparison shopping neighborhoods based on their rape rate to studio rent ratio. Six-hundred dollars a month and forty rapes a year? Or nine-hundred dollars a month (no utilities included) and six rapes a year? Seven-hundred dollars and twenty-three rapes, but also four murders? If there's laundry in the building, I'd be willing to learn jujistu and carry some pepper spray.

The apartment urge was only intensified by spending Saturday night in the Park Slope apartment of my dreams, or what would've been the apartment of my dreams had it not housed the world's largest cat. I'm not even talking about the world's largest domesticated cat. I mean the world's largest cat of any family, genus, or species. Sarah Kessler, who was house-sitting the apartment, had warned us of the extraordinarily obese cat. Brad himself owns a pretty girthy feline so we mistakenly assumed it couldn't be all that much larger than the garden variety overweight pet.

Sarah let us into the apartment and went to the bedroom to greet Angelo, the fat, fat cat while Brad and I set our stuff down in the living room. Eventually she came back, and I decided to go see the cat myself while Brad and Sarah talked. Sarah told me Angelo was right on the bed.

By the time I was halfway down the hallway, I began to believe Sarah was perhaps a tad batty. There was no cat on the bed. Much in the vein of the "swans" my high school photography teacher would "feed," (to explain the story: there were no swans. She was throwing entire bologna sandwiches out the window to nothing.) I wasn't entirely sure that Angelo wasn't a "cat" rather than a cat, a sort of imaginary friend to keep Sarah company during her week in Brooklyn. There was absolutely no cat on the bed. There was nothing on the bed, in fact, besides the white bedspread and a big gray pillow.

However, when I reached the bedroom door and hit a particularly squeaky floorboard, the pillow picked up its head. The pillow let out a low, guttural quack that I'm sure could be digitally manipulated into a meow, but in no way did it resemble any normal cat noise in its organic form.

Angelo is a cat that can be mistaken for a pillow. Angelo weighs forty pounds. Angelo has four food bowls. Angelo has to lay down to eat. Angelo is heavier than two bowling balls.

Angelo also jumped up on the sofa bed with me and Brad in the middle of the night. The bed was crowded enough with just the two of us in it, so there was absolutely no room for a forty pound cat to cozy up. After I tried a few times to coerce Angelo back onto the floor, Brad took over, pried his claws out of the mattress, and booted him off the bed.

The record album that is my brain gets stuck in its paranoid groove at the strangest, most inconvenient times. In the half-second it took for Angelo to hit the floor, I was able to imagine an elaborate scenario in which the cat, who has trouble walking around as it is, would break all four of its legs when his I'm-a-cat-and-I-land-on-my-feet impulses kicked in, but the injuries would've been so severe that the cat would immediately go into shock and would be unable to quack at all. However, the downstairs neighbor would've heard what sounded like at least two bowling balls being thrown against the floor and she would come stomping up the stairs to ask us to quiet down because she has kids and they're trying to sleep because they have camp in the morning. We would insist that we hadn't dropped anything, being that we had fallen right back to sleep after kicking Angelo onto the floor and we barely even remembered the episode, but the neighbor would barge into the apartment anyway and she find Angelo laying on the floor, in shock, with four broken legs and possibly even a bone sticking out of one of them and blood staining their nice wood floors, and she would accuse us of abusing the cat, and Sarah would insist she had no idea what had happened and she would blame it all on Brad and I, who also had no idea what had happened because only wanted the fat, fat cat off the bed, and cats are supposed to have legs that support the rest of theri bodies. The neighbor would be screaming and trying to pick up the cat without further injuring any of its broken stubs, but she Angelo would be too heavy to lift, and so we would try to splint his legs with popsicle sticks and while we waited for the emergency vet to come (which I undoubtedly would have to pay for, even though I only had like twelve dollars in cash and I'm sure the emergency vet wouldn't take plastic in the middle of the night) Sarah would force us to write a note Angelo's owners explaining what had happened.

Then Angelo landed on the floor and waddled away, peeved but no worse for the wear.

I tell you, being crazy takes a lot out of you. My brain could poop a marathon runner.
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