Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Contessa

Meet for early morning coffee with the Contessa to talk about work situation. Extreme humidity has effect of turning brain to oatmeal (cooked) and no amount of coffee enables me to pay sharp attention to dire situation the Contessa has gotten herself into. The Contessa asks What do you think She wanted to know? Venture, Maybe she just wanted to gossip? The Contessa says in sarcastic tone that do not care for, Maybe she was just be your friend? The Contessa sighs, apologizes. Says, that she is very worried -- next weekend is the office retreat at the vice-boss's place in Amagansett -- what is she to do? Oatmeal brain bubbles and Say dreamily, I wish I could go on the retreat--those were sure some good times. The Contessa says, they were not good times. We got starved, force-fed liquor, and last year your face broke out. Reply, Yes, well this whole trouble started when you smoked pot with the New Man last year. Asks the Contessa, Did I? She answers her own question. Yes, I did. Well -- she says grudgingly -- that was fun. We could be very naughty this time. Tell her primly that do not care to hear details like that. Remind her to pack dried fruits and nuts.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Talk With Vice-Boss

Sigrid and Elizabeth leave for quick side trip to see another of Sigrid's friends in Woodstock -- yesterday ask Sigrid if it wouldn't be easier to just stay in one place, i.e. my apartment. Sigrid says she sees what I'm saying, but she has lots of friends to see and besides Elizabeth is so tiny and can be carried everwhere. This is true in a very narrow sense, but does not account for all of the baggage that the baby requires. Nor does it account for heat -- make point again. Sigrid says Well, we ought to appreciate this weather as it is going to become much worse in the coming years. Even though have had similar inward thought, feel that it is unhelpful to say such things out loud. Last night, Elizabeth--already much saner than her mother, sees the dire weather for what it isand fusses for hours, as do I, waking up with a start every time the air conditioner in the bedroom whirrs on. When wake up, worry. Am terrified of talking to the vice-boss about anything. Try to practice speeches for various situations. By morning am exhausted and resetnful of the Contessa who is unreachable by cell phone email, home phone, and even at the New Man's house. Help Elizabeth and Sigrid get to bus station in port authority--very likely the worst place in the world on a day like today. Ask Sigrid if she is reconsidering going to Woodstock. She says resolutely, but clearly untruthfully (her face is flushed and she has a very unattractive sheen of sweat on her visible skin--can only think what I look like), I like the humidity. Downtown on way to work, find that air continues to be unfresh and wet. Arrive at work. Decide to get meeting with the vice-boss over with. The Contessa is sitting at her desk. Says to me, You look like a wet rag. Can only admit that I am. Ask her where she's been, I've left her approximately a thousand messages. She says blandly, My phone died. Tell her about the vice-boss's visit. The Contessa says, What!!? She mutters a string of curses. She hisses, just be evasive--you know you are a bad liar. My feelings are unjustifiably hurt even though know that can't lie and wouldn't want to be known as a good liar. Tap on the vice-boss's door and go in. Vice boss says, I'm so glad you could come, shut the door. Says, I was wondering if you knew anything about the Contessa leaving--I heard a rumor that she was looking for a new job. Am definately shocked but glad that do not have to lie and so tell the Vice-Boss perhaps a few too many details about the Contessa's Great Expectations. Or rather, her Pretty Good Expectations--she won't be rich, but maybe she won't have to work for a while and she can work on her poetr...babble on in similar vein until see that the vice-boss's eyes have glazed over. She cuts me off with a wave of her hand, says, But what about her affair with the New Man? Say, inanely, That's news to me. The Vice-Boss sniffs, it isn't news to anybody else.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Sigrid sweeps into my office, pushing stroller and carrying about five bags. She says she finally got herself and Elizabeth out of the apartment and now she is going to lunch with A Friend. Elizabeth has been fed and is sleeping (true) and won't be any trouble at all for an hour or so. Libby has watched whole exchange with something like awe which, for some reason, find irritating. Introduce Libby, say to Sigrid that Libby is pregnant. There is a discussion about morning sickness. Sigrid says, What you need is a small glass of beer. Libby who has been looking green for the past two weeks, suddenly turns a very violent chartreurse. Says, No she doesn't think that sounds right. Sigrid, becoming her most firm and brisk says You are coming with me. Libby--perhaps not realizing that she doesn't have a choice, also not knowing that Sigrid would not even consider whether or not I should have a say in the matter--Libby asks Is it ok? Wave her off, say boldly Everything will be fine here. Thankfully, work study student Billy is in office. We watch Elizabeth sleeping. Am tensely alert--not sure what for, but feel ready. The phone rings four times. It is ignored. The maintenence man comes around to pick up the trash and we wave him off. Elizabeth wakes up. Flashes a winning smile. Billy makes faces at her which she may or may not be smiling at. She commences to blow spit bubbles. (Had never before thought that same could possibly be considered cute.) This scene interrupted by the sound of somebody saying Oh. It is the vice-boss, standing in the doorway. She looked at Elizabeth with a horrified look on her face. Says, I sent your wife flowers, right? Billy snorts--try to give him a surreptitious kick. Thankfully, remember that the vice-boss has genetic mutation which prevents her from sensing the presence of those too far below her--notice, in fact, that she has, for once, made eye contact with me. Take the baby out, she says, vaugely. Billy complies. Ask her if she wants to sit. No she doesn't. She want to speak to me privately. About the Contessa. Throat is very dry and start to hear sound of blood rushing through blood vessles in ears. Sigrid breezes in again, hitting the vice-boss with the door. Give door another good shove with frustrated look on her face. She is very apologetic when she discovers the vice boss glowering and clutching her knee. Introduce the two. Sigrid, says, I've heard so much about you! Envelops the vice-boss in a hug--vice boss like a marble statue--and aparently in even more pain than when door met shin. Feel that love sister very much. The Vice-Boss says sinisterly, that she would appreciate it if I could come down and talk to her very soon.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Very Trying Quarter of an Hour

Jenny finds a diaper in the trash.

Sigrid's Visit

Sigrid arrives late yesterday evening, emerging from cab with car seat, diaper bag, screaming niece Elizabeth and dropping twenty-dollar bills as she tries to juggle all and pay the driver at the same time. A hank of sweaty hair is pasted to her forhead and she lookes extremely wan and tired, but as do not like to be told same when I look like that, say, You look Great. She replies snappishly, Of course I don't great. I look like hell. Upstairs, as we enter, Dave says to Sigrid, give us your baby and you go clean up. She looks like she might be difficult about it, but Dave says Now, in an impressively firm tone. Sigrid hand him Elizabeth and withdraws to bathroom. Elizabeth has not stopped bellowing. Jenny looks alarmed and worried, and barks, adding to din. Feel that what Elizabeth wants is to be held by her uncle (me). Hold her, and carry her around, but this does not work. Neither does she need to be changed and Dave confirms that 4 month olds do not eat solid food (had thought that small bite of cheese or chocolate might help bad mood.) Sigrid emerges from bathroom, taking Elizabeth back. Elizabeth is fed then falls asleep, looking like little angel (complete reversal from before). Pull out couch for Sigrid, who looks much improved by shower. We all go to bed--am to have short day on Monday so that Sigrid and Elizabeth and I can have fun. Feel that had better get plenty of sleep--Sigrid exhausting at her very best. For once, drop off quickly. Have dream in which Frostine and I have to climb a chainlink fence to get to a secret party. Feel that this is definately symbolic, but not sure of what.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Professor T

The Contessa calls me to say that she just saw Professor T parading around the lobby trailing a four foot length of toilet paper stuck to her shoe.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Since coming to Jesus, Libby and I have been getting on very well--have only once had to ask her to please not tidy my desk, and did not bristle even once when she asked me to proof the new photocopy policy Document five times over the course of one morning, but still feel that am not out of the woods with Libby yet. Yesterday morning, we talk about pregnancy. As yet, Libby looks totally unaltered, but she tells me of all of the impressive and alarming changes to come. The conversation is broken up briefly when Libby has to go puke. When she is gone, a Professor T. arrives, immediately lauching into speech. Speech given in very high handed tone and without eye contact being made. Gist of speech is that she does not care for the direction the school is going. Specifically, how the quality of student has gone down. And by the way, where are her copies. She left them here yesterday with the girl. Ask her coldly if she means Libby, who, as it happens, is a woman. Professor T says she supposes that's who she's talking about. Libby returns looking pale and a little shaky. Professor T pounces upon her. Have to run off to meeting, but Libby indicates the door with a head nod, which hope means that she will be fine. Meeting painfully long--draw stellar Diet Coke can, passable telehpone, and pornographic looking earring hanging from the associate dean's ear. After work, go to yoga. Emerge from yoga class into pink glow--likely effect of setting sun shining through toxic particles--but beautiful nevertheless. Purchased and am drinking ice cold water, refreshing to the extreme. Turn onto lower Fifth Avenue on way to meet Dave in SoHo. Feel that am likely in best mood there ever was. Do not recognize Professor T until she is immediately in front of me. Smile and wave, bestowing good mood on her. She seems to recognize me at the same time--instead of smiling, asks, Who let you out of your cage? Feel confused--is she making a joke? If so, it is a very poor sort, but laugh politely. She then says, Do you live here? Seeming to imply that clearly I should be returned to deepest darkest Brooklyn at once. Wish to kill her. Can only mumble defensively, I just got out of yoga. Later, think up many witty and sarcastic remarks, i.e. As a matter of fact, do live here--we keep a house around the corner on 10th street, but in the summer we try to spend most of our time out at the beach place in Montauk. Or, alternatively, yes, I live in a very nice refrigerator box on the river. Today, at office, am still irate. Retell story, with embellishments, to the Contessa (who is in my office.) The Contessa is sympathetic. Says that it is crystal clear to her that Professor T ought to be taken out and shot. Libby catches the last bit of the story, asks who should be shot. Tell her. She sniffs, Shot--at the very least. We all laugh. The Contessa even snorts. Feel very warmly toward Libby but am very sad to note that once again a mutual hatred has gone further than anything else to forward a friendship.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stoeln Kiss

The Contessa comes into my office looking flushed and excited. Shuts the door and locks it impressively (though uselessly as lock doesn't work, but don't tell her). Says, The vice-boss caught us kissing. Know immediately that she is talking of herself (naturally) and the New Man. Ask, were you kissing in the office? The Contessa says, No, of course not. There is a pause. We were in the wine closet. (There is a side discussion about what the vice-boss was doing in the wine closet.) Ask, Did she say anything? The Contessa shakes her head. Not a peep. Not one of us said anything we went into a meeting and talked about the luncheon for the board of advisors. Ask, And that was that? Yes, the Contessa says, and that was that...except for the notes. What notes? The dirty notes written by the new man to the contesa during the meeting. She asks, Is it sexual harrassment if you get turned on? Tell her that this a very anti-feminist tack to take. She says, yes she knows it very well. She strongly disapproves of herself.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Beginning of Summer

The Contessa, Libby, Serena (of the park), and even the New Man have asked me if I've had the chance to see An Inconvenient Truth yet. Have not, and feel that it is rude to say that do not plan on doing so--do feel that ought to see movie--but also have rock solid conviction that would walk out of movie feeling that ought to throw self in front of subway. Feel especially that advent of extremely hot and humid weather would intensify feeling. Except that weather brings customary feeling of helplessness and lethargy--witnessed last night in own apartment. On friday, am told by Libby to expect a very hot weekend. On Saturday, set about hooking up air conditioner. Because of rearrangement of furniture , air conditioner cord does not reach outlet. Take trip to hardware store, which results in purchase of extension cord which--though a bit too long--better safe than sorry--should do the trick. At home, upon further examintation, see that extension cord of a never before seen variety in which the prongs go the wrong direction. Say very bad words and kick dresser which causes Jenny to scurry out of room. Dave says that I don't need to freak out--he will go back to the hardward store and exchange cord. He takes cord out of apartment as am gearing up to shriek I am Not Freaking Out. Several minutes later, he comes back with same defective cord. The Hardware Store is closed. The next day, it is discovered that all hardware stores in Brooklyn are closed on Sunday. Sunday spent at the New Man's apartment at world cup viewing--apartment delightfully air conditioned and snacks good (bagels and lox, chicken fingers, bowls of chips and m&ms) and drinks plentiful. Time spent talking to the Contessa and Dave and changing subject whenever topic of soccer is brought up by other guests. When get home, air conditioner still (naturally) unattached. Dave says hopefully that he feels a breeze coming in through the windows. At bedtime, we tell each other that we will take cold showers and turn the fan on high. It will be Fine. Showers and fan a success, but effects extremely short lasting. Try to focus mind on fact that air not warmer than internal body temperature and thus must be somewhat cooling. This works for several minutes until am furiously irritated at own hot hand resting on stomach. There is a sudden infestation of flying ants. Night continues on similar course until fall into restless sleep in which dream about terrifying albino half-cat half-monkey creature. This morning, Sigrid calls. She is brisk and conversational--Elizabeth happy and healthy, weather in San Francisco perfect, and she is coming for a visit next week with Elizabeth, is that OK? Tell her yes, of course.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Come to Jesus

This morning am sitting at table in kitchen having coffee with Dave. Am not talking because gray skies and brisk breeze blowing through window remind me of the summers of my childhood. Recall yearly ritual of going to buy Salt-Water sandals in the downtown of small city in which grew up. Dave asks what I am thinking about. Tell him. He laughs quite a bit too loudly and too long, asks, Did you grow up in the nineteen fifties? Disregard. Wonder out loud what sandals would look like on grown up feet. Dave makes a horrified face--which well understand--immage of own head very unappealing. Finish coffee, last bit of buttered cinnamon raisin muffin, and am struck low by feeling of extreme dread about work. Sigh. Dave asks if I am thinking about Lawn Darts now. Tell him no, I am thinking about work. On Friday Libby said in sinister tones that on Monday (today)whe would show me how to use the voice recognition system Once and For All. Tell Dave that Libby is absolutely unbearable and that hate ever scrap of my job. Am sorry to report that tears Dave says you might have to have a Come to Jesus about this. Tell him curtly that I think we could probably keep religion out of it. He says, No, it is a Southern expression for We Need to Have a Talk--but more intense--a Pow Wow--smoking the peace pipe. Tell him that I do not wish to smoke anything with Libby. But see that he may have a point. Set off for work with rock solid intention of having talk. During ride down elevator, prepare speech--starting off with a Libby, Please Come Into My Office--which see is the wrong tone entirely. On train begin to lose nerve and start to inwardly criticize attire and hair of everyone else in car--a sure sign of stress. Going up elevator to office decide that will only say something if the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately the opportunity presents itself immediatly on entering office. Libby is sitting at desk fiddling with phone. You're late, she said. Long and painful scene ensues in which voices get raised, there are accusations of high-handedness (Libby accusing me) of condensention (other way around) until, finally I ask in frustration, has it really been so bad for both of us? at which she bursts into tears and says Yes it Has, and she is pregnant. This, strangely, changes the tenor of the conversation completely and we chatter excitedly about when she is due and what she might call the baby, etc. Offer to get her an herbal tea, which she accepts. From street, call up Dave. Tell him that we talked, that feel utterly drained and yet somehow a bit better. He says, Yes.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Office Supplies

Experience very tiring conversation with Libby concerning staplers. She insists that I choose a new stapler. Tell her that I like my old one fine. She says, yes, but now there are much nicer models. Ergonimic. Also I ought to order a desk set. She holds up mug from Key West as evidence against keeping the old. Snatch back mug and tell her that mug was present from the Contessa. She is undeterred. I must at least order a stapler. She opens office supply book to page of staplers. Tell her I am shocked and appalled that there are so many options. She says in impatient tone, There are three more pages. Don't be so tree hugger. Tell her I want the purple (loathe purple) stapler. She says it Isn't appropriate. As see that there is a quick way and a slow way to do this, ask her which she recommends. Am to expect a black plastic stapler with gray rubber hand-rest tomorrow.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Rain on Saturday is very conducive to working on book and feel that will get 2 chapters in shape, at least. Send Dave out to do errands so that I will have necessary solitude. Construction going on in apartment next door, not as conducive to work as rain is. Try ear plugs, head phones, and finally, (experienceing severe dryness of throat and pain in stomach,) knocking on door to ask if perhaps workers could Keep it Down. First timid knocks and then, pound at door, to no effect, but do receive strange look from neighbor at end of all. Explain that there is loud construction going on. Unfortunately, at this moment, all noise ceases and it is perfectly quiete in hall--neighbor, rather than waiting for elevator hurries down stairs, which feel is unjustified to the extreme. Door opened and tell workers who apoplogize. Go back to apartment. Begin to smell polyeurethane. Feel that am going to be overtaken by fumes. To distract self, and to take self as far away from fumes as possible, go into kitchen, open window wide open, and try to teach Jenny how to shake (she came to us knowing how to sit.) Jenny very smart dog and learns quickly--also seems to think that if she gets a bite of cheddar cheese for offering one paw, then why not get double for two paws? We spend a long time unlearning this new twist to the trick. Next step is to wean Jenny off the cheese and see if a scratch behind the ear will substitute. Eventually it does, but can tell that Jenny feels it is unjust. When Dave comes home, very excitedly show him Jenny's new trick. Dave tries and is suitably impressed. He asks how the writing went. Have forgotten about writing and say briskly, I got more done than I thought I would so I ended early. Dave merely raises an eyebrow, which is infuriating and much worse than anything he could have said.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Chair

Yesterday there are no tearful students or professors in my office, just a tearful me after am yelled at by Dave sympathetic--he makes us shrimp and salad and we watch the thunder storm, which is dramatic and slightly scary. Jenny very disturbed and refuses to emerge from crook behind my behind my back, providing both lumbar support as well the calming effect that dogs bring. There are no classes today and office is delightfully quiet. Take walk out into the muggy day wanting to eat something, but not sure what. Happen onto cart selling shish kebabs--get one on pita bread with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato (dressed with parsley) and hot sauce. Eat it walking down street thinking it is the best lunch I've had for years. Perhaps decades. (From experience, though, know not to go back to cart immediately (Monday at 11 a.m.) because am sure to be disappointed.) Get to bottom of pita which is just as enjoyable as the first bite. Lick finger. Happen to look down at pants, which are in very sorry state. Walk back to office with head held high so that perhaps anybody who sees me will think that the stains on my pants are paint and that I am a painter (Unfruitful train of thought about being a painter--canvases, not apartments--and where a painter might live. Am walking past mews on little street between 8th st. and Washington Square Park. Pick out smallest ramshackle row house, renovate it, and built a studio on top.) When get back to school, go to bathroom to try to repair damage. Can only hope that nobody thinks that I wet myself. When get back to the office, see that the Chair himself is in. Libby's mouth a sharp line as she tells me. Go into the Chair's office to talk to him. He says, Shut the door. Ask if he wants Libby to come in too. He shudders and recoils, whispering, I can't stand that woman, she has no sense of humor. This sets us off on a long conversation--he once made a joke about forgetting a decade, Libby took it literally, etc. The Chair--very sensibly--says that he now prefers to work at home but that he had to come in for a meeting. Says firmly, Anybody who makes anybody stay at a meeting for longer than fifteen minutes out to be taken out and shot.