Thursday, June 30, 2005

Screen Test

Nose and throat very dry from the air conditioner but otherwise wake up very refreshed. Put on brand new outfit--new polo shirt, new pants, new socks (blue with yellow chickens around the top). Pants a touch long as noted before, but ok (reminder to self, when take to tailor to get hemmed, make sure that Tailor doesn't convince to make too short. Pant lengths styles have changed. No longer becoming for bottom of pant to hit above the top shoe.) When get to work, see Libby outside. Hi, she says, Nice haircut, I don't think its too short at all. Don't care at all for her way of putting things. Ride elevator up with Libby who says that she got a rave review for her show. Ask who gave the review? A website. Which one? OK, not exactly a website, a Blog. Feel superior but still upset about hair. Go to office and ask contessa if she thinks hair too short? No, why? Tell her about Libby. Don't listen to her if you don't want to ruin your day. I think your haircut is very cute. Cute high praise from the contessa. Screen test at 4 p.m. Decide to go swimming to bring glow to cheeks. Have been reading about Total Immersion swimming and try it out. Relax forearms and wrists, kick only enough to keep legs afloat and on the same plane as torso, look at bottom of pool instead of in front of self. Very favorable results. Legs not tired at all. Feel exactly like a Fish slipping through water. Only hitch is left cup of goggle which seems to have sprung a leak. Not comfortable for eye. Stop every couple of laps and pour out gallons water. Take Shower. Swim like Fish through the wet air back to the office. Feel very happy. The contessa says, What Happened? Don't know what she is referring to. Your Eye? Go to bathroom. Left eye extremely red. Not merely irritated but as though something has Burst. The Contessa looks at it again and says fimly, it is Nothing. It will clear itself up. Try not to panic. How do you know it is ok? It happened to me once. Really? Well, my roomate at Camp when I was thirteen--it looked awful but it went away pretty quickly. Have no choice but to believe her. Take self to screen test which is in a loft in Tribeca. Hilary says hi but seems very busy, on phone and talking in a tight voice to assistant at the same time. You can wait here, she says, pointing at row of chairs. Ask for bathroom. Check out status of eye in mirror. Eye not only problem. Not pleased. Face looks very thin and weasley. (Question: How is it possible to have a Roll and still look too skinny? Answer: Don't know, but it is.) Pants appear to have grown since the morning, bagged around ankles. Eye still frightening looking. Hair only acceptable thing. Emerge from bathroom in time to go into other room for Screen Test. Try to keep Eye out of Hilary's view (pretend to scratch eyebrow, turn to face away from her, pretend to rub eye until become scared that this will make it worse). OK she says, vigorously, let's get going. She turns on video camera and sits down in chair. Stand and pretend that there is a counter in front of me. Picture self hopped up on coffee (using own experience--the morning I was a barista I drank two espressos and a capucchino, felt very very tense and like skin made of thin glass) She says her first line and I say mine. She gasps. Are you ok? She sounds more grossed out than concerned. Say, Yes, it is just a burst blood vessel. Do not like the sound of that and neither does Hilary. Start over. Both of us very distracted for rest of screen test. Whake hands when we are done. Call office and say to Contessa, Now I am Sick. Explain. She says, I understand totally. I'll see you tomorrow.

Hair Part 2

On way to see Dave at his new Salon, notice new little shop right next door. Shop having a sale. Find pants (only the tiniest bit too long,) two polo shirts that don't look like Uniform tops or golf shirts, and four pairs of socks. Socks very expensive, but feel that the effect of interesting socks on mood well worth it. Go see Dave in high spirits. Show Dave clothes. He puts cape around me, asks, What do you want? Do you want to keep the top long? Have resoved to be firm with Dave. (Years ago when go to get hair cut, sit down and Dave says, Why don't we keep it short on the sides and on top but a little longer in the back? Image conjured up by this discription very alarming. Say, Like a Mullet? Dave very excited. Yes! Exactly like a Mullet! Dave's enthusiasm contagious and walk out of Salon with Mullet which very quickly grows into Mullet with a Rat Tail) Tell Dave, I want it short all over. This heat, you know. He nods gravely. How about we put some color in it. Say, Dave, I am thirty. At this he looks a little hurt. His hair is an usual shade of brownish green, which is objectively unattractive, but somehow comes off looking extremely stylish. He is about six two and not a skinny boy and somehow, when is is sad, has the look of a Saint Bernard. This is very upsetting. Do whatever you want, I say, I just want to feel cooler as in colder. His face relaxes. I'll make it look messy, he says. We have a small skirmish about the Rat Tail, but he cuts it off without too much fuss. The result is great, and am very pleased. Dave refuses to take any money, but I shove a couple of twenties into his pocket mock flirtatiously. We make plans to get drinks n next week. Emerge from Salon feeling five pounds lighter. It has rained and air pleasant. Take bags home and sleep very soundly.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Very restless night. Every time the air conditioner turns on, wake up with a jolt. Try to fix by turning ac off and flinging open windows. Lie down. Very humid. Feel that can't breath. Am maybe dying. March over to window and turn AC back on. Lie down. Panic, again have trouble breathing but this time because of inadequate filter in AC which is sure to lead to Black Lung disease. Worry about bank account, global warming and probable cancer of the Eye. Spend next four hours shuffling between bed, windows and AC, but happy medium never found. Fall asleep. Wake up and have unoriginal observation that at night, small discomforts take on monstrous proportions. Understand Princess and her Pea. Office very quiet, compounded by the absence of the Contessa, who calls to say she is sick. Sick? She stage-coughs into the phone. I had to go to the beach today. You're already there? Yes, we went last night. We? She whispers into the phone, Justin, the producer-guy, we're at his place in Shelter Island. Say, stiffly, Well, since you are already there. Hang up phone. Discover that all paper in office has mysteriously disappeared. Could have sworn had at least three boxes. Office very cold. Find chair extremely uncomfortable. Become very angry when man calls to ask if would like a AAA credit card, say, No Thank You. This not enough for him, he would like to know if anybody else in the office would like to take the card. Yell into the phone, We live in New York, we don't drive. Slam down phone. Wonder if princess ever suffered from a Pea during the day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Surprise self by going to the pool this morning. Swim vigorously, and win race against woman in my lane (don't think she knows we are racing). Emerge from pool feeling like Venus being born, (except a man, and excessivly hungry--Venus looks like she ate plenty of the fish while underwater). Get dressed. Check out hair in mirror. Feel that chlorine and current hair products have undergone the fabled chemical wedding. Am very pleased. Walk outside. Air--which has the sticky and slow moving qualities of molasses--takes away appetite. Arrive at office and am unpleasantly surprised by the appearance of the Vice-Boss. She has new blonde highlighs and is very tanned. Also appears to have whitened teeth, which glow. Ask, How is Amagansett? Horrible, overrun. We are going to rent out the house and go to the sounth of france next year. We could have our office retreat in Antibes instead of Amagansett. She laughs in a lying way. The contessa pretends to do work. She is not going to be dragged into this conversation. Through no fault of my own, eyes keep slinking toward Vice-boss's hair, which looks very unnatural. Would like to tell her that she is a brunette (roots very dark), and would look much better with natural brown color, but think that she wouldn't take it well. She goes into her office. Continue thinking about hair. Thoughts turn to WB show Summerland (watched show last night, and though felt life and intelligence trickling away, unable to permenantly change channel). Propose theory to the Contessa: when the 7th Heaven people finish filming for the season, the hairdresses move over to Summerland set. On both shows the hairstylists make similar bad choices for the actors. Case in point, Simon from the 7th Heaven and Brendin from Summerland. Or Lucy vs. Suzannah. Very sad day when Francie is stripped of her powers and made to look like a Camden. The Contessa says, yes, exactly, everyone's hair looks very clumpy. Or too hairsprayed. Like to think own hair clumpy in a good way but to go the bathroom and discover that this is not the case. Immediately call up hairdresser friend Dave to make appointment. (Have no fear of phone when Vanity becomes involved.) While waiting for Dave to come to the phone, tell self sternly the fate of the world does not depend on the state of hair. Disagree strongly with self, argue that one must try to look His Best for the sake of Others. Reject thought as conceited. Dave gets on the phone, ending debate. Give Dave frantic description of state of hair. Dave very understanding and is able to fit me in late tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Personal Assistance

Receive job posting intended to be posted on (nonexistent) job board. A Filmaker is seeking a personal assistant for ten hours a week. Assistant must be willing to type letters, file, make the occasional tuna fish sandwich and pick up squash Racquet at Paragon sports. Pay at twelve dollars an hour. Tell the Contessa that although am an assistant of a certain sort, Would Not be able to be a personal assistant. Perhaps if Very Young, might be able to run around on behalf of someone else. Otherwise, might want to spit in said sandwich. Or worse. The Contessa replies if she was on the ball and happy with her life, then a job like that wouldn't bow her. Strongly agree, but say that this state (on ball and happy with life) very rare state and one that have only rarely personally encountered. On the contrary, am bowed by most of Life. But a lovely thought. Propose that this is the way Tom Cruise feels these days now that he has reached OT-VII status in the Scientology organization. On the other hand, feeling that able to take on the world single-handedly surely very tiring.


Work on Murder Mystery this weekend. Write scene at beginning of book in which main character, Emiliano (like Zapata), faints in Cuzco, Peru and is caught by war photographer named Parker. Parker an attractive man who, after catching Emiliano, is snatched away and flirted with by bossy older sister Adelita. Reread what have written and realize that not entirely unlike own life. Bossy older sister Sigrid getting married in August and perhaps subconsiously belive that there is only one Man to go around and Sigrid got him. In reality do not want her fiance for self at all. Have discovered that he has very bad foot hygiene. But think, not for the first time that the subconscious has its own agenda. Take break from work on book to read an alarmingly jaunty article about visiting Alaska before it melts. Think tone is utterly inappropriate. Also think about worldwide distruction. Panic. Am reminded that Freud wrote that the fear of death is actually the fear of sex. This sends thoughts to gay pride parade, which I am not attending this year and which I don't fear. Do fear the Heat. Am undoubtedly deceiving self once again.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Receive call from Hilary. She says that she is really sorry but that screen test will have to be moved to next week, on Wednesday, in fact, is that ok? She talks so fast that am unable to think properly. Say, Great. Hilary hangs up. Tell myself sternly that This has Gone on For Far Too Long. Must cancel screentest. Find her card on desk and pick up phone. Begin dialing her number. Get voicemail. Hang up. Wish had just left a message because machine much easier to deal with than person. Dial number again. Hilary answers, says, Go Ahead. Am struck wordless. Hang up. Feel that in general would do much better on the phone if could increase stamina. Dial again. Hilary, again, answers Go Ahead, but am expecting this odd way of speaking, and forge ahead. We have very nice talk about Sides and espresso machines. We agree that I will come in on Thursday instead of Wednesday. Hang up.

We Compare Evenings

The Contessa and I share stories about the night before. Report that Libby's show both boring and offensive (alarmingly common) and that husband Raskolnikov creepy. At the mention of Raskolnikov, the contessa gasps, oh him. At this get very excited about the prospect of scandal, but the Contessa has nothing except that he looks mysterious. Am very disappointed that she doesn't have anything more specific on him. The Contessa seems to sense my disappointment and says, well, she's also heard that he is some sort of Genius. Ask, In What? Math, the Contessa says firmly. Or maybe he is an Artist. One or the other. In frustration, try to create scandal of my own. Tell the Contessa about my faux pas. She says Don't worry, he won't tell Libby and if he does, she won't care. How do you know? I ask. Because this is a revival of the show she did right after September 11th. People got up and left during the show that time. She told me people just don't understand what I'm trying to do. We are mortified on Libby's behalf. The Contessa and I agree that if we were in a performance and someobody left in a huff we would shoot ourselves immediately. We move on to the bridesmaid's dress fitting. The Contessa says that it is confirmed beyond a doubt that the dress has a cape. When she tried to object to the cape on the grounds that it made her look like she was in a third-rate production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Bride snapped at her, well maybe you it would fit you better if you went to the gym. Which, the Contessa says, aside from being extremely nasty, is not even the same topic. Ask, What did you say? The Contessa gets her regal look on her face, I told her that she could shove her cape up her (vulgar word). I gasp. Are you still in the wedding? The Contessa says, Well, I didn't actually say that, later I just wished I had. In the moment I couldn't say anything. Which was fine because after that she apologized and said she was under a lot of stress and could I please forgive her. We cried together and then it was fine. But there is no (other vulgar word) way I'm wearing that cape. Ask, Who is this Person and Why are you Friends? The Contessa says, we were friends in college. But I think we are Drifting Apart. Have long train of thought about Drifting Apart. When younger, thought that drifting apart sounded like the saddest thing in the world. Didn't like the idea of people being unable to make up with each other. But now think that certain people are best set adrift. Do not like the cynical turn my thinking has taken.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

One Woman Show

Do not wish to subject anyone else to Libby's show, so go by myself. Bring Sides to pass time while show starts. A very small black box theatre with three rows or chairs on two sides of the room. Look at program and see that the running time is an hour and a half without an intermission. Am seated next to a very young man with a full beard, wild curly hair and hooded eyes. He looks like Raskolnikov at the very end of Crime and Punishment. The Imagination takes over and I have a very involved fantasy about who this young man killed and why. This train of thought oddly comforting. For the first (and only) time think that Libby's show may be fun. The theatre goes dark and the lights come up on Libby, who is sitting in a chair. She starts monologue about washing her hair. It turns out that she is washing her hair on September 11th. In Battery Park City. She has to run out onto the street in wet hair. The day progresses. Think, but am not sure, that the point of the show is that she was inconvenienced by the buildings falling down. She tap dances in between numbers, calling out the steps to the audience, shuffle, ball change, shuffle ball change. Realize with horror that a very bad fit of the giggles is coming on. Pinch thigh Very Hard, but this makes things worse. Only recourse to have laughs sound like choking fit. Do so. Rashkolnikof gives me a sympathetic look, and offers me a lozenge. I whisper to him, god this is bad. When the lights come up, wish to flee the theatre but am afraid that Libby hasn't seen me and I won't get credit for coming. Wait at the front of the house. Libby comes out. She introduces me to Raskolnikov, says, you've met my husband before, haven't you? Shake R's hand. Say to Libby, you have so much energy. Go home on subway.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Show off Rolodex to New Man. See how it is alphabetized? I say. He says, thank you, Great, what is the next project? Become huffy but realize that he thinks that rolodex expected, not a feat. Can't think of next project. Hear myself say, I can organize old programs, in an over-eager way. Do not feel eager and am very disappointed in my need to please. The old programs are in heaps in the Rat Room. Even thinking Rat Room gives me the feeling of cold water trickling down my back. There is no light in the rat room so one must bring a flashlight and put a brick in the door so that it doesn't lock behind oneself. The contessa says she is Afraid of the room and can't go in, but she will hold the door for me so that I don't get trapped. She also offers to hold the flashlight. Am very jumpy. While moving a box, a paper rustles and I let out a tiny scream. This causes the contessa to scream too and drop the flashlight. We calm ourselves. (think that fear of rodents is very unoriginal and would much rather have a creeping horror of poodles or bicycles). Once calm, moving the boxes going fine until think about the Cask of Amontillado. Afraid that Contessa will play a practical joke and slam door on me (it doesn't happen). When emerge from the rat room with many dusty boxes, dirt in hair and grime on hands, Hilary calls. Says she is sending Sides. This forms strange image in head. She can't possibly mean mashed potatoes and braised greens but don't want to ask what Sides are (why?) Remember that meant to cancel screen test as don't want to act, but in the moment, on the phone, what I want most is hilary to not be mad at me (why?) Say, Great, I can't wait for the Sides. Wait by fax machine. Sides turn out to be, disappointingly, pages from a script. I am to audition for the part of Barista in, what seems to be, a very poorly written independent film. Once, tried to have a real barista job but got sent home after two hours. But I trust (again, why?)that in the screen test there will be no real espresso machine or customers.


Wake up to discover pimple on nose which has made the whole thing red. Have very low moment. Decide to pay special attention to clothes today to counteract Biology. Remember with excitement that have procured correct size of shoes first seen at Steven Alan, gray hightop Vans with orange laces. Find pants, a little bigger in the seat and thigh than usually care for but can't think why they were shoved in the back of the closet. Are made of cotton with a thin stripe. Put on new whale belt, going for preppy look, and with a flash of inspiration, finish off outfit with brightly striped polo shirt. Pay attention to hair--in dire need of a cut. The application of product makes the top of the head look slicked down and the sides fluffed up. Take a look in full length mirror. Am horrified to see that look exactly like a Clown. Kick off shoes (note: return immediately) pants (off to goodwill). Throw shirt on bed. Consider calling in Sick. Sure that the Contessa wouldn't mind, but remember that am obligated to go to Libby's show after work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Lesson of the Rolodex

Rolodex project coming along nicely until it comes time to print labels. Somehow every time try to print, only the first page comes out. One time, get all of the pages to print, but addresses cover the seam between the labels rather than sitting on the label proper. Yell at the computer. The Contessa says, I wish I could, but you know I can't help. She pauses. Why don't you call Libby? This lightens the mood. When the laughing stops, realize with horror that don't have any other option. Call Libby. Libby comes downstairs. She looks at the computer appraisingly. I say, the computer won't print the (vulgar word) labels. Libby says, You know, lots of times people blame the computer like it is a person. But 99 percent of the time it isn't the computer's fault, it is actually Human error. Am very close to murder. (Certain that jury could be convinced it was justifiable.) Libby gives the computer a very firm look then clicks the mouse twice. Now try it, she says. The labels print perfectly. Am stuck between gratitude and extreme irritation. When Libby leaves, see Hilary's business card on desk. Feel that brain is slowly making the business card go away so that next time I look at the desk I won't even see the card, all I will see is Part of the Desk. Know that once this happens, will have no chance at all of calling. This thought does not enable me to pick up the phone. Will call Later. Turn chair to face labels. Unstick label and put on card. There are many labels and many cards but find this sort of work calming. Have morbid thought that if institutionalized, would very much enjoy working on Crafts: lanyards, yarn and popsicle stick mandalas. Ask the Contessa if she thinks this is Weird. Continue putting labels on cards. I don't think its weird, she says, I think about it too sometimes. I would wear a robe and slippers and sit in the garden all day. This is an idealized and highly offensive view and am apalled at the Contessa and myself. Discover that the job of sticking the lables on the rolodex cards done. Am shocked. Have been actively dreading the project for two years and it took all of one day and a morning to finish. It is Better to Do Things Right Away. Will try to remember to transfer this new lesson to the rest of life. Have no confidence that lesson will stick.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Good Luck

Sit self down in front of computer this morning to work on Murder Mystery. Discover half an hour later, that have paid bills, read newspaper online, and have lost badly at chess (to the computer). Tell self firmly that must get writing right away. Brew new pot of coffee. Write a couple of sentences. Become frustrated. Feel that the introduction of charaters is too difficult and decide to jump to the Foul Deed. Manage to get ancient Incan knife into the heart of an already poisioned man but run up against several problems--am not sure who does the poisioning, who does the stabbing, and am not even sure who the dead man is. (Do know that the victim is a man.) Read what I've written. The body is discovered in a tent, the river roaring in the background and the rain comes down in sheets. Think that this is very evocative. Rush off to work before reality can intervene. On train, sell mystery and get at a two-book deal. Idea optioned by Movie Studio. Buy an apartment in Brooklyn and invest the rest of the advance. Arrive at work in high spirits. The Contessa is already at her desk. She sighs. I say, I hope I'm not the cause of the sigh. She doesn't say anything and become alarmed that I am the cause. Feel that moment is extremely awkward if this the case. She says, I just never thought I would grow up to be a Secretary. Do not like to have it put that way, and her bad attitude threatens to torpedo my good mood. Thankfully, regain hold on fantasy life. Am successful mystery writer and have reserves of compassion to draw on. Console the Contessa who, it turns out, received a rejection from a well known journal. Say firmly, You just have to Keep On Trying. Reserves of compassion dealt serious blow by arrival of the New Man who asks How is the Rolodex Project Coming Along. Spend the rest of the morning typing names and adddresses into spreadsheet. The Contessa and I agree that the New Man has impeccably bad timing and ought to be taken out and Shot. Eat lunch in Washington Square Park. Watch two small children, blonde brother and sister, splash in the fountain. They play a game with very complcated rules. The sister (who wears glasses) marches the boy around. When some mysterious goal is met, they shriek with laughter. It is sunny and warm but not at all humid. Think these children are darling. Another child, younger than these two, comes into the fountain and attempts to make friends. Original children become very sarcastic with the younger child. Every time he says something like Hey, Let's Sit Down in the Water, the other children look at each other and ask, What did he say? What did he say? What did he say? and laugh cruelly. Become indignant on behalf of the smallest child. Do not care for sarcasm in young children and get up to leave. See Suzy next to the Arch. We give each other looks of hatred, but kiss each other on the cheek. Suzy asks about screen test. Have forgotten about screen test until this moment and feel the horror of my existence. (Note: call up and cancel screen test.) Suzy says, well good luck. We say goodbye to each other. Wonder, for the rest of the afternoon, if Suzy meant good luck! or good luck. Feel, not for the first time, that The Emotions rule life more than The Fates.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Too Old for This

The Contessa says, I am getting Too Old for this. She is wearing the same clothes today as she was yesterday. Her face is pale greenish. She clutches a paper cup of coffee. Too old for What? I ask. (Am afraid that the voka and sodas and the Jameson I discovered when I got home have made me look as bad if not worse than the Contessa so think that I know where she is going with this line of thought.) Contessa says, I Am Too Old to have some creep say he is into Spanking. Am deeply embarassed and hope that the Contessa will keep the rest of her story to herself. Don't you want to know who spanked who and why? the Contessa asks. Would like, a lot, to just sit and not talk. No, I don't want to know, I say. The Contessa feigns deafness. Well, she says, this is what happened. The gist is that she and Suzy went off with the producer to another bar and then another and then ended up at the producer's loft. The Contessa spent the night. At some point, before the producer passed out, he wanted to be spanked. The Contessa takes a very very long time to get to the spanking. What do you think about that? the contessa asks. I think it is Funny, I say even though I don't. You can write a story about it, says the Contessa. Say, stiffly, that is Not a Story. Well, she says, unoffended and still chatty, what happend to you? Tell her about Hilary and the screen test. She claps her hands. Do not care for the clapping and say so. The Contessa calls me a Grump. Am left in silence for approximately a minute and a half. Who is the Screen Test for? She asks. Tell her. She turns pale. Screams. Very trying for the ears. The contessa explains, Justin, the producer of the movie I'm having the screen test for, is the Same Justin who likes to be Spanked. Say that out of loyalty to her, will cancel my appointment. (Very rare, but very satisfying when one is able to sacrifice someting one wants to give up anyway.) She says, No You Have to Go. Say, Why? The Contessa is stumped. She rallies. Because you don't want to pass up the Opportunity. (Do not remind the Contessa that she knows exactly what these things are like. When she first moved to New York she had a commercial agent who sent her out to auditions. Shockingly often, she had to put on a bathing suit and dance for the casting agent & the director. Once the director even told her to Drop it Like It's Hot.) Agree to go to screen test, if only to stop conversation. The Contessa nods, satisfied. Turns on Computer. Sighs. Gets on the phone with Suzy and repeats spanking story, but tacks on new ending.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Am an Actor

Answer the phone at the office. It is the Contessa'a friend Suzy. Last time I saw Suzy we got into brisk discussion about the death penalty which turned into a debate about the Homeless and ended with the Contessa kicking me under the table saying, Didn't I Say I had plans with Other People? So as not to get into the quagmire of conversation with Suzy, immediately pass the phone to the Contessa. The Contessa screams, How Fun, We'll be there and hangs up phone. The Contessa alleges that Suzy has invited us to a networking party for movie people. She didn't mean me, I say. She said especially you. The contessa and I both know this is untrue. There is a pause. Am told by the Contessa there will be Free Wine and Hors d'Ouvres. Somehow this convinces me to go even though I know that the wine will be bad, the bar mobbed, and the hors d'ourvres eaten only by those standing directly next to the kitchen door (these suspicions subsequently confirmed). At bar am immediately abandoned by the Contessa and Suzy because Suzy has somebody she wants to Introduce the Contessa to, Cute and Rich, has his own production company. Have violent thoughts about Suzy involving the second coming of Communism. Push way through crowd to get to the bar order a vodka and soda. The bartender has a very heavy hand with the booze. Take large gulp of cocktail to reduce mounting panic that if there is a fire, people will be Trampled. Find small young woman with rabbit face at my elbow. She is wearing a name tag that says Hilary. Hilary asks, What do you do? in interrogative tone. Feel that am going to get in trouble (why?) Panic. Say, I am an Actor. (Last time acted was in the spring 1991 High School presentation of The Crucible.) Hilary says, What Have you Been in? Can see no way out of lie, so say Sex in the City, which, in the strictest sense is true. (Several years ago, through no fault of my own find myself as an extra in a bar scene. Proper term for extra is Background, as in, I do Background work. Do not care for term background, or Extra, for that matter. Spend 5 hours quarentined in unhealthy basement away from other actors and even away from other extras who hold SAG card. Only thing to eat Entemanns yellow cake and extremely nasty coffee. Hear extras brag to each other about about having "played" the Dead Body in Law and Order. Some own their own Police Officer Uniforms for work on Third Watch. Am apalled.) Hilary gives me her Card. Say, I will Send you my Headshot. Find that glass of Vodka and Soda empty. Have it filled up again. Hilary asks, Are you SAG? Conversation progresses (later have a very very hard time pieceing together the order of events.) Astonishingly, take leave from Hilary with appointment for screen test the next week. The Contessa and Suzy nowhere to be found. Take Taxi home on strength of future earnings from Acting Career. Imagination takes control. Write gracious letter of resignation. Buy unpretentious House in Montauk and small co-op in West Village. Tip the cab driver extravagantly. Go upstairs elated, but fear that the morning will bring headache and remorse (later confirmed.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Take Brisk walk down to Tribeca. Breezy, comfortable weather. Pop into Steven Alan. Try on shoes that I want badly but that don't fit and am aware that there is a 50-50 chance that I will buy the shoes anyway. This could be called optimism but am afraid that the impulse comes from a baser instinct. Miraculously, emerge from store without any other purchases. Look at feet of every person I pass on the way back to the office. Decide that shoes are very strange inventions and become a little creeped out. Hate own shoes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Ice Age

Have strong suspicion if told today that most scientists agree that a new ice age is upon us, would begin to see signs of cooling everywhere. For example, today is ninety four degrees, but the high (in 1985) was 97 degrees. Might begin to think that since today is three degrees cooler than the high, then maybe the earth is getting colder, n'est ce pas? Do not want to give impression that am a Global Warming denier. Am merely thinking about the propensity to freak out no matter what. To take the thought futher, what if told that the world will stay exactly the same? This possibility induces panic too. Philosophical thoughts interrupted by the Contessa's screams. What? I ask. She points at her computer screen, her hand over her mouth. She is pointing at a picture of what looks to be a bridesmaid dress: teal, gauzy, ugly, but no more so than any other bridesmaid's dress. I think her reaction is Out of Proportion but don't say so. She scrolls down the screen to show the back of the dress. Put hand to mouth and Adjust my impression. There is a cape. Say, are you sure that this is not the flower girl's dress? The flower girl's dress has some dignity, the Contessa says. One can worry about Anything.

The Y

Through fogged up goggles, observe figure waving vigorously, probably not at me. Check shorts to make sure that they are still secured around waist (ok) and continue marching on toward locker room. Hey, Fritz, figure with waving arms says. Consider pretending that I haven't heard anything, but figure blocks my way. I take off my goggles. Tracheotomy scar (turned purple in the water) identifies figure as the New Man. Blush, which makes me less able to speak. Finishing up, huh? The New Man says. Hear myself laugh like I'm unhinged and then say, "Do you swim in the fast lane?" Made perfect sense before it came out, but standing on the wet pool deck, sounds like a proposition, or worse. Laugh deranged laugh again and take self away to the showers. When new man comes in, incident not referred to.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Craig's Procedure

Receive alarming message intended for Craig. In message, Craig is told, This is to Comfirm his Procedure and to remind Him that he is only to consume clear or white beverages 24 hours prior to the Prodecure. Discuss with Contessa. We make list of drinks that fit the requirements: water, seltzer, Vodka, Gin, Milk, Sprite. We agree that Milk a bad idea (not to mention Gin) after any sort of Procedure. Feel that we ought to track down Craig, but as neither the Contessa nor I know how to work the University phones to check to see who the incoming caller was, and as we have no other way to reach him, we give up. There is a silence. The Contessa says, "Diet Sprite," to add to the list. Feel this is redundant.

Dear Libby stops by. We enlist her to help up crack the phone system so we can figure out who was calling for Craig. She gives us a look of disdain and says, unnecessarily, You don't know how to find your incoming calls? She punches in codes until she says Aha! What? Asks the Contessa. Who is it? It was a Restricted Call, Libby says, and seems disappointed in herself. She rallies, taking a look at my desk. You know, she says, a Successful Person only touches each piece of paper on His desk once. Am sure that have touched each piece of paper several dozens of times but thank Libby for suggestion. Libby has several more suggestions regarding our filing system (we ought to buy a label maker,) the Contessa's purse, and the health of the house plants (the potted palm is getting too much water.) Well, I say, what brings you down here today? Libby invites me and Contessa to a performance of her One Woman Show. The Contessa is busy on the evening of the show, has to go to a fitting for a bridesmaid dress. I wonder if she is lying or not, and am in deep admiration if this is not the truth, but while so distracted, suffer some sort of mental laps and I let slip that I would love to go. You won't be sorry, Libby says. Alas, this not true, because I already am.


Drink three sips of coffee and banana in the very early dawn and get to the Y pool by 8 a.m. Day promises to be hot, but am suffused with Virtue and weather does not affect me. Change in locker room. Refrain from looking at self in mirror as know this will be demoralizing. Jump into pool. Water very warm. Morning swimmers a vigorous bunch, even in the Medium lane. But the slow lane is not an option as occupied by very large woman who floats on her back and thrashes her arms, by man who dog paddles, and other woman who swims on her side so slowly that it seems impossible that she is afloat. There is a sign on the wall that says that so many laps equals a mile. While swimming, try to do math to fiigure out how many long it would take me to swim a mile, but can't seem to hold the wall equation in my haead. Fairly certain that these problems could be solved by Algebra. Have noticed that this tendency to do Math comes up when I exercise, perhaps as a distraction. Get a stitch in my side. Pull self out of pool, very pleased, but holding side. When I get into the locker room, I discover that I swam for fifteen minutes. Well, it is a start, tell self consolingly. Would not want to Cramp up. Get back to office and eat large tuna fish sandwich, chips, bronwie (from summer colony), orange, and, after a hunt, stale but otherwise delicious packet of barbeque chips discovered in back corner of desk drawer. Go to the bathroom and discover goggle indentations on face. No amount of rubbing makes indentations go away. Can feel the Roll disappearing already.

Truck Stop Secretary

Another dear friend, who is now a Woman of the Cloth, remembers her salad days as a secretary at a truckstop.

After college and before seminary, I temped for three months as the Executive Secretary to the VP of Operations of a truck stop in Oregon. My predecessor was a meth addict (an early adapter!), so my boss loved me. He took me out to lunch regularly and always brought his wife along. We kept in touch until he gave me a draft of his screenplay about an emotionally closed-off military contractor who finds romance in an unlikely place and he switched companies twice and I graduated from seminary.

My boss didn't belong at the truck stop. He wore starched white dress shirts from Nordstrom with Ferragamo ties and finely-tailored suits. On my first day, he walked into my office and used two fingers to hold up the top sheet of paper in one of the many messy piles in my office. 'I don't like this,' he said.

The meth addict had saved many meaningless things so it wasn't tough to discern what belonged in the files, and what didn't. I soon realized that when you follow a disorganized or disliked person into a new job, you can throw away almost anything you want. If you accidentally recycle something important, just blame your loser predecessor.

Renovations began on the office building, and I was relegated to a dark cubicle in a trailer behind the truck parking area where the lot lizards hung out. There my main distraction was a co-worker who kept a Tickle-Me Elmo on her desk and grabbed it several times throughout the day so it would go off. She said she looked forward to casual Fridays because then she got to wear her 'grubbies.' Her grubbies turned out to be a men's flannel shirt, gray sweatpants and yellowed white sneakers.

On my last day, the owner's son, who was Ivy educated and liked to stare at my breasts, told me that there would always be a position for me at the truck stop, whenever it was time for me to come back.

Anna Asks: What Do Political Bloggers Dream?

Dear Friend Anna writes in with some thoughts from her Times Square high rise.

This weekend I watched the entire last season of the West Wing on tape and fantasized about having an Important Job in which I shape policy and serve my country while wearing tailored suits in fine fabrics. (CJ Cregg never gets more than 3 hours' sleep a night and still manages to curl her hair in the morning. She must be v. satisfied with her career.) There is the small problem of having never taken a poli sci course in my life and having no idea what entitlements are or how to fix them. Fantasize that I understand this and then some, and that I find short, brainy lobbyists attractive (while in reality, more likely that I find short, brainy actors who play lobbyists attractive -- fear that DC is as much a good-man vacuum as the financial sector is an interesting-man vacuum). With my luck, it'd be my job to wake the President or pass out cookies to the Press Corps. And would this leave me enough time for emailing you or reading your blog? And do political bloggers dream about working at investment banks?

Friday, June 10, 2005


Drop time sheets off in building a couple of blocks away. Elevator in payroll building tempermental and usually take stairs, but when arrive, elevator waiting and when I get to the fourth floor to drop off time sheets, woman offers to hold elevator for me. Feel in awe of the goodness of the world. Heading downstaris, woman says, "this elevator is pretty slow." I reply, "Oh, this the best elevator experience I've ever had." We are both shocked at my enthusiasm and conversation ends. We part at the first floor. To console self, purchase and eat Cherry Garcia ice cream bar. Feel that the new regimen already working.


Wake up extremely early, angry at sun shining in face. Very trying, sweaty morning spent installing rod and hanging curtains. Curtains sure to come down crashing down in the middle of the night. Piles of plaster dust left everywhere but run into shower as late for work. Exit shower to discover that that elastic on all underpants mysteriously constricted. Very very humid and hot day again and chalk up tight clothes to effect of Global Warming. Marvel at self deceit and egotism, making natural disaster the reason for fatness. Make firm commitment to Start Swimming. On Monday. In subway, have panic about New Man. Would not like to see the New Man at the pool. Give self a stern talking to. New Man surely goes to a fancy pool whereas I have my reduced price membership at the Y. At work, talk about swimming with the Contessa. She is of the opinion that swimming a great idea but warns me about the other patrons of the Y. According to her, the behavior of the other women the locker room not appropriate. And Frank in that Budget office told her that one time he saw a man in the shower shaving himself. What's so bad about that? I ask naievely. He was not shaving his face, the contessa says. But am undeterred and hatch plan to go shopping for own speedo and goggles after work.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Lunch with New Man

New Man in today. Very tanned. The Contessa asks him if he's been in Fire Island. Maine, he says, smiling faintly. But that is all the Contessa can get out of him. New Man not very chatty. Closes door to do work in office (not sure at what). Harold comes to visit. Harold an emotionally disturbed young man who likes to visit the school and who has formed a special attachment to the Contessa. Because of the heat (presumably) Harold has taken to wearing very very short cut off jeans.The Contessa stares at her screen, trying to act very busy. New Man calls me in. Dread what ever is to come. Am very pleasantly surprised when New Man asks me to go to lunch so that we can talk about Project over food. He suggests the French Roast. Do not care for French Roast--soup known to have slicks of grease on top--but I say I Would Love to go. Rue the character flaw that prevents me from telling the truth. When the hostess asks whether we'd like to to sit inside or outside, am shockd to hear self say, outside is nice. Outside is not nice at all. Outside at least two hundred degrees. The New Man says, why don't we stay in the air conditioning? When we order drinks, I say iced tea and the new man says Sancerre. Decide to chug iced tea. Do so. Order Sancerre. Cold Glass of wine appears. After first sip find myself becomeing quite charming. But also notice tracheotomy scar on New Man's neck. Can't drag eyes away. Tell New Man the saga of the curtains. Imagine reasons for tracheotomy scar. We talk about Books. Order second round of Sancerres. The New Man likes Pynchon a lot. Oh, me too. I say. Am fairly certain that have never read a word of pynchon. Conversation steered to solid ground: Joan Didion. Very pleasant lunch is passed. Return to office. The Contessa says, "Well, I hope you enjoyed your little date." "Are you upset?" I ask. "I'm not upset, why would I be upset?" I sit down in chair. Head slightly fuzzy. "What happened? "I just got asked out on a date too." "That's great," I say, very loudly. "By who? "By Harold."


Have been woken up every morning at 5:30 by very strong sun coming directly through window making me feel like a pork roast. Not nice way to wake up, hence, much back and forth with the Contessa about the benefits and costs of different kinds of window coverings: shades, drapes, sheers, solar shades, sheet tacked into window (current solution.) All options other than bed sheet alarmingly expensive. Spend yesterday marching around City. Still very very hot, possibly even more humid than the day before. Push all thoughts of Global Warming out of head. Thoughts return immediately. Am sad to conclude (after much marching) that suitable curtains do not exist. Finally find bright, printed curtains for not too much money. Can't tell if actually like the curtains or experiencing delerium brought on by heat. Don't care because delirum turns out to be pleasant. Also experiencing shopping high. Purchase curtains. Somehow also buy new knob for medecine cabinet, bath mat, toothbrush holder, and shopping bag organizer. The store is out of curtain rods but there is another Branch in So Ho that may have what I am looking for. Here is a card so I can call them. Walk back to the office. Drop off bags, which seem to have multiplied. March down to SoHo. Air conditioning out in store and everything seems underwater. All of the shop clerks shockingly friendly. The clerk helping me apologizes for lack of air conditioning. Want to say something sympathetic, but instead say "it sure is hot in here" in peevish tone. Clerk taken aback. Curtain rod resembes nothing so much as a very long copper pipe almost as tall as me. On very trying walk back, in lobby, in elevator, and on office floor, enter into many conversations about pipe. All follow same outline. Whatchyou got there? Fixing your plumbing? Meet friends for dinner and check pipe at door. Take subway home. Become aware of spectacle caused by pipe. See other odd things on the train and am forced to conclude that I am more part of the tribe of strange behavior than not, i.e. man wearing hat with faux foliage sewn onto the back so that his head resembes a bush, very normal looking young woman wearing a white peasant skirt, high heels, a green tank top, and a black eyepatch, man sprawled out on seat of train playing with empty tuna fish can. Man with very tall pole sitting in chair. Heat has a leveling effect.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

More About Television Show

Continue to develop idea for own Food Network show. Can't think of title of show but content would be devoted to single person meals--i.e. the odd things one comes up with when one makes meals for oneself. Like a can of soup and some fresh greens thrown in at the last second. This is on the healthy end, but would also like to explore Bacon. For example, The Day of Bacon: Cook pound of bacon in morning. Have three or four strips for breakfast. Do research on curare via internet to be used in Murder Mystery and think about bacon. (what is Bacon exactly?)Work self into frenzy of hunger. Have very satisfying midmorning snack of bacon accompanied by hunks of cheese torn off the block. At eleven thirty, prepare skimpy BLT. Regret using bacon for midmorning snack. Eat BLT. Feel marginally sick but sad that bacon gone. Not sure how this sequence would be filmed. Am alarmed at costume choice of host (me). Pajama bottoms and oversized shirt with ink stain not suitable. Think up title for show, "Single Secretary Meals," but reject immediately. This sounds like the most depressing show possible,and want to shoot self for thinking of it. Title indicates future filled with many cats. On Memorial Day went to barbeque at friend's large house with a backyard in Brooklyn. Was enjoying self immensely until another guest leaned over to me and said,
you would never know there are twenty five cats here. At the time was gripped with terror at the thought of being pounced on. Remember and feel terror all over again. Check under desk to make sure there is no Cat. Mind set at rest but am alarmed to discover that though thought process runs far and wide in its unfruitfulness, it frequently dead ends in paranoia. This is what comes of having too much time to Think. Look over at the contessa who is, herself, lost in thought, chewing on pen. What are you thinking about, I ask. The Contessa gives me a firm look, "Oh, Mormonism." The minds of co-workers inscrutable, at best.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Take opportunity of absence of vice-boss and the New Man to go Barney's co-op sale. Am in dire need of clothes, especially pants. Down to one pair because as was bending down in my closet to pick up shoes the other day, whole crotch section of other suitable pair gave out. Even though all by myself, felt deeply ashamed. Got into fix with clothes because fear of global warming made shopping seem indulgent and destructive instead of fun. But once inside store feel familiar excitement. Take lap around perimeter to see what there is. Find nice cotton pants of trendy maker marked down by a lot. Practically being given away. Only problem is that pants have a 29 waist. Decide to be optimistic. Feel that pants may be tight but sometimes sizes run large. In dressing room, have trouble buttoning, but suck in stomach. Pull up shirt to look at waist area. Am horrified to see rolls of flesh . Have never noticed rolls before. 30 yrs. old apparently not the same thing as 24 years old. Pants clearly made by the devil. Kick off pants and hand back to the shop clerk. Say "these are too tight," with air of being deceived. "Yeah," he says as if he could have told me outcome. Console self by buying a belt with whales on it, a light summer sweater (to combat air conditioning) and a long sleeved shirt. Very hot outside. Walk quickly back to the office. Sweat. Start to feel sad--the sadness brought on by humidity which causes dramatic images of throwing self in front of train. (Question: if sadness caused by cold and sadness also caused by humidity, why do I live in New York? Do I like to be sad? Shouldn't follow this line of reasoning any further.) Office and rest of offices on floor empty as though all co-workers taken up by aliens. Or evacuated because of Legionairres disease contamination. Check email. The Contessa comes back with a coffee stolen from Summer Colony. Go to summer colony to get self coffee. Get excited by walnut brownie but remember stomach rolls and restrain self. Decide that Life is Too Short to not eat brownies. Take brownie back to office to Share with contessa. The Contessa has already eaten three cookies and she says she is huge, a beast. Take high ground. Think that discussion of weight is ridiculous. Eat whole brownie quickly to prove that not shackled by body image ideas. Lick fingers. Show Contessa new clothes. The whale belt ruined by the Contessa's facial expression.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Secretary who Cooks (and Cleans)

Even though deplore reality television and think it is a scourge, last night got sucked into The Next Food Network Star. One nice thing about this show is that actual skills are needed (not that sluttiness or ability to eat maggots not skills in their own way.) But being a television chef much harder than thought. The hardest thing seems to be the chopping of vegetables while also reading the teleprompter and also remembering to heat up pans, use all necessary ingredients, and fill up extra time with babble. Nevertheless, feel that self uniquely qualified as able to answer telephone, read email, eat sandwich, and communicate to vice-boss that am Very Busy, please submit request later, all at the same time. On show, each contestant asked to prepare dishes on camera for judges. Many got very flustered and, according to judges, their Personalities didn't come through. This morning have long fantasy about how I would behave if given the chance to have own Food Network show. Arrange ingredients (stapler, bowl of paperclips, coffee mug and calculator) on desk. Give sense of personality, chatting about (inside head) the beautiful new potatoes, beets, and asparagus found at Farmer's Market. But can't think of any way to work secretary job into patter. Feel that in own case, the less one knows about the chef the better. Put calculator in oven (desk drawer). Take completed dish (Advil) out of drawer and set on desk. Show dish to audience (spider plant). The Contessa asks what I'm doing. "Nothing," I say briskly, "Tidying up."

Thursday, June 02, 2005


A reader, codename MW, was kind enough to write in yesterday. Would like to encourage any other readers--current or former Secretaries or no--to drop a line. The commenting process is a bit daunting, requiring Registration, etc. so the alternative is to simply email (Does one put a period after ".com" if it comes at the end of a sentence? Sure that there is a place on the web to look things like that up but when online am far too tempted by reports of ecological Armageddon or of Tom Cruise's increasingly erratic behavior. Speaking of looking up proper usage online, apologies for the continuing hideous grammar and spelling. Am actually Very educated and know all of my tenses and know when to use a gerund or not despite proof to the contrary.) While on the topic of writing in, would like to note that I've bought the site and have discovered how to get you from there to here with no work on your part (the apex of my technological skill thus far, by far.) So if you have the urge (am flattering self horribly, very bad taste) to pass on the address to somebody, the blogspot portion of the address is no longer necessary. Never liked that part of it anyway, (blogspot, ugh) so good riddance. Back to MW. MW used to be a Secretary, and says that when a Secretary, knowing how to load the toner gave MW "an eerie sense of power." Am maybe less able to look on the Bright Side of Things than MW and am sad to report that rather than conferring power on me, toner makes me feel enervated. In fact, recently threw away home printer because of toner problem. Was glad to cut out issue of toner in home life. At the office, toner continues to be topic number one. Thought that we were all caught up with toner ordering but discover this morning that the office printer is out of toner (again! the beast's maw opens onto a bottomless pit!) and as Report on Artists required by New Man, am compelled to go upstais to visit Libby in the English Department. Libby is always good for office supplies. In fact, when she opens her closet, see that she has six boxes of printer toner. Am shocked at the profligacy, and ask how was able to order so much at once (toner Very expensive). Libby says, I just did it. Stunned at how simple she makes that sound and very impressed by the taking of the bull by his horns. Say so. Libby thoughtful enough to show me her newly updated Rolodex (printed labels!), her system for keeping track of the Chair of the English department's schedule (2 paper calendars and 1 computer calendar involved) and her colored pen collection (colors correspond to tasks.) Find performance exhausting. Go downstairs with box of toner feeling inadequete and in need of coffee. Even though feelings still hurt by Contessa's dismissal of my blog yesterday, ask Contessa if she would like an iced coffee. The Contessa, seeing that I've scored the toner asks after Libby. Once this conversational door is opened, we marvel at Libby's abilities in a nasty way. Become friends again in our united disapproval of Libby's superior attitude. For one thing, the Contessa says, it makes the rest of us look bad. Explore this topic further. Forget about coffee. Work selves around to feeling badly about being mean about Libby. She Can't Help it. Remember coffee. Contessa offers to buy me a coffee instead of the other way around. The Contessa makes it back in time for our staff meeting. At meeting give Report on Artists to New Man. Am profusely congratualted and thanked on job well done. Have mixed feelings about this as the task wasn't hard, just boring, and feel a little like somebody being praised for being able to tie his shoes. Vice-boss says that she and the New Man will be out for much of the summer but will be "checking in" now and then. We should plan on a few days at her house in Amagansett in July for the "annual office retreat." (Note to self: bring lots of food.) New Man asks me what projects I will work on since the summer promises to be very slow. Find that head is totally blank. Was planning on getting a lot of reading done, but this probably not what New Man wants to hear. An horrified to watch myself offer to "redo Rolodex. With printed labels." Babble on about how this will be accomplished, making it up as I go. The Contessa wisely keeps her mouth shut.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Place in the World

Asked the Contessa today whether or not thought that what I was doing, documenting the day to day life of an Office Worker, was going to be useful to future historians. She peering into her coffee cup. Said that she thought it was about time to order more toner for the copy machine and what did I think about the New Man being stuck in Fire Island yesterday? "Ok, what about current sociologists, this stuff is right out of the horse's mouth." Had brief fantasy about being invited to talk on a Panel instead of organizing Panels. The Contessa sighed,said she thought it was highly unlikely that anyone wanted to read a blog about toner. Did I? (Asked question to self, answer: no, as toner is bane of existence.) Said, wittily, "my blog is not just about toner." The contessa hooted, slapping her knee, "my blog. What a funny phrase, 'my blog.'" The vice-boss came out of her office, "everyone is having too much fun!" in a falsely friendly sort of way.