Monday, February 27, 2006

Cold Part II

Cold comes back, bringing vile sounding cough with it. On train this morning, nose drips in way reminiscent of the Niagara Falls. Woman sitting next to me shifts away in highly disgusted manner, which can well understand, but feelings still badly hurt. As day progresses, nose redder and redder. Cough very likely tubucular, at very least advance pneumonia. The Contessa says I should Go Home. Would, but have meeting with the Dean at which am to discuss some unknown matter. Ask her if I look ok enough to go to meeting. She says You look fine. As we both know this is untrue, we move briskly on to original topic of what the Dean might want to talk about with me. At three, go to meeting. The Dean dressed in beautifully tailored suit that looks elegant rather than stuffy. This has immediate effect of making me feel that look exactly like less well dressed version of Charlie Chaplin in The Kid. The Dean says that there may be a new opening in the Literature department. Tells me what it might entail and says, It seems more up your alley. This leads to conversation about literature. The Dean says impressively that though he is a Historian, he studied quite a bit of literature on the side. Ask what. The French. In Translation? No, in French. Say May Wee in atrocious accent. The Dean launches into impeccable and fast French of which understand not a single word except for strange phrase, il y a beaucoup des punaises, there are a lot of bugs, which can't possibly have said. (Learned phrase after very painful and itchy night spent at Shakespeare and Company in far distant youth.) The Dean seems to think I have understood everything perfectly. We smile and shake hands (later,I think on what?) and I leave as quickly as I can.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Last Night

The Contessa says will I please go with her to get a drink after work. Say Sure, what's up? She says that she is feeling a little Blue. Maybe a little lonely. Ask her about the man who doesn't drink. She says the not drinking wasn't the problem. The problem was that He has a ferret as a pet. He takes it for walks. On a leash. Am interested -- though horrified -- she expands on theme. The gist of the conversation is that the ferret is only the tip of the weird iceberg. AFter work, we go to local wine bar. Libby appears midway through glass of wine. Sits down without being invited. Orders herself a seltzer with two wedges of lime (very emphatic about the two). Looks at me and says, I could have sworn I saw on on the subway this morning. Assure her in no uncertain tones that she didn't. She says she knows she didn't see me, once she got close she saw the person who she thought was me wasn't. He looked like a younger version of you, she says. Know that best to quickly change topic, but instead, hear self asking, how much younger? She says, I don't know, he just had that fresh faced look. Am definately defeated by story. The Contessa says darkly, none of us are fresh faced anymore. Trip to bathroom confirms diagnosis. Can only hope that Mexican sun will at least give appearance of general health. We cut short drink and part. (Leave Libby in high spirits at bar.) Feeling defeated and much in need of rest go home. Go to bed early. Spend night in rotation between kitchen sink (for water), bed (for paranoid and/or unreasonable thoughts, also painful memories) and the bathroom (see sink). At five, fall into very deep sleep. Dream that apartment extremely dusty and in need of a good vacuum. While cleaning, discover previously unknown closet at the back of which is a small door that leads into dusty hallway with Chains. Have creeping awareness that Someone has been entering and leaving the apartment at will.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Kindness of Strangers

Attend graduation committee meeting. Moderator of meeting--who have never seen before in my life--says she is so glad to see me again. Make noncommital noises. At beginning of meeting she says that she really hopes that meeting will be Very Short, an hour and a half, tops. Moderator's relationship to the truth and to reality apparently not close. Other attendees of the meeting conversational. Libby gives long speech about how graduations used to be. There is agreement adn disagreement at excruciating length. Only recourse is to draw detailed sketch of unicorn which later when look at see looks exactly like obese, maimed bull. Am mentally exhuasted by meeting and walk in a daze to neighborhood sandwich and soup shop. Owner calls me over and gives me small cup of beans, which are very salty. Owner and I have a discussion about cooking -- her philosophy is that the person eating the food shouldn't be able to tell exactly what the ingredients are. Disagree somewhat because can taste the bean, the garlic and the salt and think that there is no better combination in the world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

End of Storm

Yesterday evening achieve apartment in one piece (on way from subway to building in middle of fantasy about winning the Mega Millions Lottery am nearly killed by recklessly driven school bus.) Close brush with school bus does not improve mood, which is at low point anyway. Get home and try to console self by preparing cheese plate with olives and salami of unknown origin. With very little help from Jenny, consume most of food. Am sorry to say that Dave enters apartment as I am preparing last bite, which is a sandwich made up of two thick slices of salami around a piece of Manchego, three olives (pitted by self) and sprig of parsley. Dave says, what are you doing? In shocked tones. I say--with quiet dignity--that I am just having a snack before taking Jenny for a walk. Dave says, Wait a minute. I have a surprise. Am, as usual slightly apprehensive about what surprise might be (question: Is ther some childhood trauma that I am surpressing which would explain fear of surprises? Answer: probably, but do not wish to actually pinpoint.) Dave says Guess What it Is. Do not care to guess and say briskly, Just Tell Me. Dave says, Then it will be ruined. Disagree strongly and bad mood threatens to return until Dave says, OK Fine. I booked us tickets to go to Mexico. Scoop up Jenny and we do a little dance. (Note: Jenny apparently not a fan of the jig.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Dream that office relocated to Washington DC. Commute and dream arduous. Hear loud noise which become convinced is coming from Dave's side of bed and is caused by him. Become angry until realize that noise actually coming from alarm set by myself. Get up and attempt to look at book, which, in cold light of morning, is uninteresting, misguided, and even, maybe, a Waste of Time. When Dave gets up tell him about this grave state of affairs. He says, Have some Coffee, you will probably feel better. Do have coffee. For fifteen minutes I feel much better and see that maybe all doesn't need to be pitched in the recycling bin, but then become nervous and fatalstic again. Returning to non-dream work not physically arduous, but emotionally exhuasting. In middle of morning receive wine delivery, which had forgotten was coming. The delivery man, dressed in black cargo pants and black sweatshirt with raised hood -- after bringing up his first dolly-load -- says, I Shall Return, which has sinister sound to it.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Am on the brink of finishing draft of book. Unfortunately, diet and exercise regimen has broken down completely (Perhaps to counteract virtue in other area of life?) At any rate, actions have consequences and the consequences of sitting around all morning shoving gobs of fatty food into mouth is that after very brief ebb, roll has made complete recovery and, in fact, seemed to have added both mass and volume. If was sort of person who periodically wrote down everything he ate during day (or, for that matter, everything he spent money on during day, equally horrifing exercise), suspect that would find that bulk of current diet is made up of cheese, coffee with half and half, and wine (in that order.) In middle of unpleasant self-reflection (note: is there any other?) am interrupted by phone call from Sigrid who, without any preamble says, It turns out I'm going to have a little girl. Scream and am very happy for her. Tell her so. She says that if she were going to have a boy she would have named him Fritz, but as she isn't, she thought that Fritzy is not a nice name. Agree with her strongly (at same time suffer painful memory about self being called Fritzy in 7th grade by the boys in gym class who'd been held back---they were angry and big and what they lacked in wit, they made up for in cunning.) Tell Sigrid that I'd like to visit her when she has the baby. She says that she hopes I will.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Very trying day. Have cold. At early stages of work day go to bathroom and am very disturbed by image in mirror. There is severe puffiness under chin and and eyes. Hair somehow both coarse and greasy and see that all of skin has taken on sallow tinge. Have brief, but wholly sincere and desperate fantasy that will go to the tanning salon. The Contessa returns from a walk outdoors. She says that it is Like Spring. Go outside myself to witness. It is like spring except that the light is still of the depressing winter variety, not matter how warm it is. Have extremely slender moment of clarity when realize that am in middle of traditional february slump. Knowing that am in slump, however, only provides the most slender of reliefs. The rest of the afternoon spent in very low depression, and also unfortunately, in task of a large mailing. As feel strongly that this is the job of a work study student and not me, mood darkens. The Contessa helps with mailing. She curses Susan's name and then takes it back saying, unconvincingly, that she is just kidding.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New Copy Machine

The old machine is unceremoniously carted away today. Where she used to sit find interesting assortment of junk (mangled paperclips, large dust bunnies, pieces of oreo and pretzel) and treasures (an oromlou bracelet, a pill box, a ruler, and the master key to the office, which had hitherto been given up for lost and the office rekeyed, so in truth, tell self that this find should be classified as junk too--brain takes--at the time interesting--but finally unfruitful journey into the that way that one decides someting is valuable or not). At one, the new copy machine arrives, swathed in Saran Wrap. The delivery men set up the machine and turn it on. The Contessa and I take the event schedule to the copy room for the inagural scan. When we seen the unwrapped machine, we both stop dead in our tracks. The Contessa says in shocked voice, doesn't it look exactly like the old one? Say (without meaning to) I think it is the old one. I make a copy This machine, at least, doesn't have a death rattle. Instead there is a high pitched squeak like there might be a loose wheel at the end of the machine which spits out the copies. Have feeling that have entgered time warp and become dizzy. The Contessa white in the face. A call to the saleswoman clears things up. She says It is a Refurbished machine--the same model, but not the actual same machine. Say, I see, though don't quite see at all. Had though was getting a new machine. When, at 2:30 am called to load staples into machine -- an intricate and counter-intuitive procedure that calls to mind surgery -- am filled with a peculiar sadness.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Olympics Part II

Last night Dave and I watch more of the Olympics. Both of us state quite clearly and firmly that we don't like to watch figure skating At All and that if it comes one, we will turn off the TV. I mention the use of nude hose on the chest portion of the men's suits as my least favorite aspect of the sport. Dave says simply, The Hair. Nevertheless, when the skating comes on, we do not either turn the channel (or, as Dave says) Cut the TV Off even though there is abundant nude hose and Hair in evidence. The commentators make vaugely racist generalizations about the contestants, i.e. The Chinese are Known for their Technical skills. Would not be shocked to hear the Canadian woman add, And also the Chinese are good at Math and Science. One couple dances to songs from the Phantom of the Opera. Am deeply horrified and am reaching for remote control when the broadcast cuts to a Story about the Russians. Am sorry to admit that become most interested in skating when frightening clip of old competition is played in which the Russian man holds the woman above his head. He appears to falter and then woman is flung to the ice. She lies in a heap, unconscious. Next, up is the russian woman talking. She is summing up their problems. The Man has begun to skate like they skated 10 years ago. He has lost his nerve, She, on the other hand doesn't remember a thing, so she's not afraid at all. (She says this last bit defiantly, which makes it sound like she might have more than a passing experience with Blacking Out.) The Russians skate passably, if tentatively. A new Chinese couple comes on the ice. They will attempt the Quadruple Sow Cow (Sow Chow? Both seem unlikely,) which has never been accomplished before in competition. Sit on edge of sofa. In startling recrudescence of falling theme, the woman loses her balance, skidding across the ice on her knees. She, as they say in sporting circles, Shakes it Off, and finishes her routine beautifully. Cry a little bit. See Dave seruptitiously wipe his eyes with the corner of his sleeve. Idiotic commentatator quite unnecessarily says, You'd never guess from her small frame that her heart is as big as the skating rink.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Olympics

Today at work, the Contessa says out of the blue that she thinks that the Olympics are dangerous. Agree heartily. Feel very very strongly that 85 miles an hour is too fast to be going on one's own propulsion. The Contessa says, Exactly. Tell her that while watching the snowboarders flip, etc. was compelled to ask Dave, with genuine curiosity, whether or not They Were Afraid to Fall. He (who it must be noted, used to dive competitively) said that they are not so much afraid as Excited. Do not understand at all. She says, making her mouth into a line, that she thinks that sort of attitude can actually be cruel. For example, she when young (and presumably still) was afraid of doing somersaults. In fact she refused to do them. Her gym teacher -- the cruel example -- finally got fed up with her fear and once, while the contessa was in the preparative position, gave her a Shove which caused the Contessa to, forcibly, do the somersault, but also gave the Contessa a Neck Sprain. She had to wear a brace. Which, understandably, was neither becoming nor the ticket to popularity.


Spend the whole of the weekend hunched in front of computer. Am both very productive (with side trips into, naturally drawing and chess; chess: computer 42, me 0; drawing: necktie with stripes, spider plant, good likeness of Dave even though he says it makes him look like a giraffe, coffee mug). At end of writing sessions each day, am hungry to core of being and become Suzie Homemaker. On Sunday, new role caused, in part, by necessity -- do not care go outside into Record Breaking snow Look in refrigerator and freezer to see what there is to eat. Am discouraged. Look outdoors and am even more discouraged, but newly interested in Making Do. Imagine self as member of the Ingalls family. Find passable vegetables (celery, carrots, onions) in crisper drawer. Make broth with chicken parts stored in freezer for such a purpose (assiduously keep Dave from seeing me pull out Neck and Back from Ziplock bag because of his known squeamishness. Unfortunately, he comes into the kitchen without warning to get a drink of water and bag slips to floor. Out rolls unidentified chicken part which Jenny pounces on. Frozen piece crunches in disturbing way as Jenny gobbles. Dave backs out of kitchen looking pale and says he will get water out of the bathroom. Jenny has extremely vile breath later.) End result is very rich chicken and vegetable soup. Also make biscuits which manage, contrary to past practice, to not cook for too long and both tops and bottoms turn out unburned. Dave, having presumably Blocked incident in the kitchen has multiple servings of soup and biscuits. Says, We should eat like this every night. Agree in theory. Earlier, while watching the Barefoot Contessa (no relation to our own Contessa) am struck by her comment that she always prepares Jeffrey (her husband) special meals when he's been away because, to quote, If I don't cook for him, I'm sure somebody else will be happy to and have a strong Reaction to her comment. But now see that there is some sense in utilizing the home arts.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Copy Saleswoman

Arrive at work to see message light blinking on phone. Light is very large and red, recalls movies in which similar light indicates that there is a leak in the Reactor. The Contessa has sensibly placed a Post-it note over her light. Call messages, trying to go as quickly as possible through recording of own voice (at which hairs on back of neck invariably stand up and do not fully calm down until the afternoon). Terrifyingly cheerful voice of Your Sales Person on phone. Hiding business card in pending file not effective at all. Says she is available to meet any time today. Begins speech about the different options. Hang up phone. Phone immediately rings. It is the saleswoman, name of Pam Hightower. Asks, What do I think about the choices she outlined on the phone message? Do not like to tell her that have erased message so murmur noncommitally. She says what are you doing now? Not five minutes later, she is sitting in chair opposite desk. Try very hard to pay attention to what she has to say, but can only hear how she says the phrase et cetera. Ect cetera. It can do anything you need it to do. Ect Cetera. It can sort, staple, and if you want, you can print documents from youc computer. I has high Functionality. Inwardly, ask, yes but will it work, we don't want to deal just in possibilites. Naturally, outwardly say nothing of the sort.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Talking To

This morning we are faced with extremely unpleasant task of assembling and sending out mailing. The Contessa says with what know from personal experience is false confidence that she will take care of labels and that Susan the work study student is due in any moment. Susan does not arrive, the labels become alarmingly stuck in the feeder, and when to to make copies of letter to be sent out, the copy machine makes a horrible grinding noise then turns itself off. The Contessa, with what must be at least partially misplaced frustration, says that one of us needs to Talk to Susan. She can't come in late like this (this first time Susan has ever been late). Tell the contessa that she is free to to the talking. She says, No, not her, every time she has to Talk to work study students, her lip starts to wobble. Even the acting student who walked around the office barefoot and who once told the Contessa to hold on for a second, she (the Actress) was on the phone with her boyfriend in Alaska. She deserved to be Talked to, but the Contessa says that she, herself, was the one who was wreck for days after doing the talking. The actress agreed to all behavioral changes and then went promptly back to her bad habits. When Susan comes in, say in very firm tone that if One is going to be late, One ought to Call. Susan says, O. She is very very sorry but she's been too busy with school and she really ought to quite. Insanely try to take back firm tone and tell her that it doesn't matter, we can work around her schedule. No, no. She wants to do what is right. We shouldn't be kept waiting. As she leaves the office, presumably for the last time, Romeo arrives to look at the copy machine. He goes straight back to machine. Much later, he emerges from copy room with dark look on face. Says that there is nothing else he can do for her. Think, confused, that he is talking about Susan, who am still in shock over. He says She is like the Bride of Frankenstein, all patched together with different parts and now there is hardly anything left of the original. See that he is talking about he copy machine Think his metaphor very clever and tell him so. Romeo seems pleased. Leaves card with name of Your Sales Person. Hide in pending file. The Contessa claims victory over the mailing labels. Begin loathsome task of stuffing envelopes.

(Michael and Frostine99: thank you for your kind words.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Copy Machine, Once Again

Last night, watch television show Medium. Feel, as always do, that would enjoy much more if was on earlier in the evening so that disturbing images (this time, prostitutes tied to bedstand) have ample time to settle into subconscious instead of staying at forefront of brain and freaking self out. Nevertheless, rest of episode completely charming. Alison DuBois is found to have a peanut (not the medical term--peanut actually a tight bundle of veins and arteries in shape of peanut) in her brain that her husband thinks is the likely linked to her psychic abilities. There is quite a bit of sexy back and forth between Alison and husband and love every second of show except, naturally, the creepy parts. Fortunately, own dreams not at all bloody, but do, aggrivatingly, have to go back to eighth grade to take Math class that somehow Forgot to ever finish. Get lost on way to class and run into Libby who is running the snack cart. Libby says that I can get chips or salad with my sandwich but she thinks it would be better if i would choose the salad. Become very angry in dream and choose fattiest salad available (avocado suffed with shrimp) and as am about to take bite of unexpected treat, wake up. Ask Dave what he thinks the dream means. He says maybe I am Hungry, which I think is not at all creative. Would tell him so, but he has crawled back under covers and put pillow over head in aggressively sleepy manner. Go to office and find that haven't forgotten anything except to order toner for copy machine. Existential sadness and lethargy set in. Have rock solid sense that copy machine never has and never will be in perfect working state. Begin to draw paralles between wretched career of the copy machine and the Human Condition. The Contessa asks What is wrong. Tell her in chilly voice that the G.D. machine doesn't have toner. She says not to worry she put an extra cartrige in reserve. Give her kiss and we rejoice, as does the Contessa, until we realize what exactly we are so excited about.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Aplogize for lazy spelling, grammar, and thoroughly unintentional cockney: "New swimming speedo don't seem to fit quite right." (post below fixed, more or less)

The Pool

Go to pool today. New speedo doesn't seem to fit quite right, but this probably to be expected with any sort of shorts cut that high and constructed with such stout elastic. Usual effects of swimming set in and feel like fish. At end of workout, am trim, confident, and completely unafraid of global warming (despite recently read fact that the Greenland ice sheet melting briskly)and am also even completely unafraid of being killed in sleep by carbon monoxide poisioning. Have wild thought that mood will continue indefinately and that linked problem of insomnia verly likely solved as well. In this generous mood, take self to the Donut Pub for treat. Pick out chocolage glazed for self. Choose cream filled donut with sprinkles for the Contessa as know that she likes extremely sweet things and because know that won't be tempted by nasty thing myself. On street, chocolate donut disappears very very quickly. Lick fingers and congratulate self that only had one to eat. Back at at school, as door to elevator is closing, wingtip booted foot is shoved in gap between doors. Doors open again and rest of body follows. It is the New Man, who has wet hair and his own speedo knotted on handle of his attache case. He says, I tried to get your attention at the pool. Have very dim memory of hearing somebody call out Fritz, but decided that somebody could have been saying "fast." The new man says, you have a nice Stroke, which makes me extremely nervous. To cover up nervousness, dig into bag and shove the Contessa's donut into mouth. Offer half to the New Man who shakes his head no and says that he Doesn't Eat Carbs, which sounds like 2002. Dispose of bag and make no mention of donut to the Contessa. Log onto computer. The Contessa says, what is on your forehead? Say, I don't know, What is it? She says, it looks like a little green something. Pick the little green something off of forehead. Am pained to see that it is a sprinkle. Confess to the Contessa that I ate her dounut. She says, no problem at all, and seems to mean it, but adds, implausibly, that she is giving up sugar during february. (Note to self: see if it is once again unpopular to eat pasta. Sincerely hope not.)

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Vice Boss calls this morning. See the Contessa nod. She rolls her eyes and then narrows them, shooting daggers into the mouthpiece. She slams the phone into the receiver. God. She says. First of all, as we all know, the Vice-Boss is a douche bag liar, but really. Don't say you are at your internist's office when One can clearly hear hair dryers going and the clinking of spoons in demitasses. Ask the Contesssa if she could actually hear the drinking of coffee. She admits, no, but she knew exactly where the Vice Boss was. She would stake her life on the probability that the Vice-Boss will waltz in later with newly highlighted hair. The Contessa says, That's not all. Apparently she (vice-boss) wasn't paid last pay period so she wants me to make sure that her payment goes through. Who doesn't notice right away if she doesn't get paid? the contessa asks rhetorically. Somehow end up agreeing to call payroll for the Contessa. (The last time the contessa called the payroll people there was yelling and then a flurry of emailed recriminations followed by emailed apologies after which the Contessa swore (colorfully if not quite logically) that her voice would never darken their phones again.) Call up payroll. After staying on hold for so long that have heard same Ella Fitzgerald recording three times in a row, a Man gets on the phone. Asks for the Vice-Boss's social. Give social security number with vauge feeling that do not care for the shortening of the phrase. The Man says, O. Ask, Did you figure out what went wrong? The man says, She'd dead. Adds unhelpfully, That's why she didn't get paid. Assure him that the Vice-Boss is not dead (inwardly have unkind thought, but naturally, as don't want to appear psychotic, keep to self). The Man very firm. Says, according to his computer, she is dead. Has been so since the beginning of January. Tell him that my coworker, the Contessa, who he well knows, just talked to her. The Man says, can we Prove it? See that proceeding in this vein very unhelpful. Hang up. Tell the Contessa, who becomes hysterical. Wipes tears away from eyes. Hysteria spreads to me and laugh until stomach muscles start to hurt. The Vice-Boss arrives at noon, hair looking freshened up. Is not pleased when told of her status. The Contessa begins brisk recitations of messages left for the Vice Boss in obvious attempt to stave off fresh attack of the giggles. Own tactic is to file papers on desk, which has usual effect of sucking all joy out of life.