Monday, July 31, 2006

The Morning of Heaves and Sighs

Have very difficult time working on book this morning. While conducting spell check, spy many wayward sentences. Heave almost as often as sigh. (Question: If took an anti-emetic before writing would I not feel so queasy? Answer: Probably not.) Arrive at office hot and depressed. Office is very very hot. Ask feebly if the air conditioner is broken. Libby is brisk. Claims that she is so cold all the time that she loves the heat. She opened all the windows to get in a breeze. Point out that there is no breeze to be spoken of and strongly urge her to please close the windows and let the air condidtioning do its job. she finally agrees. When cold air finally begins to penetrate, and become human again, realize that am late for meeting. Run down stairs. The New man also in attendence. He gives an extremely friendly wave and I sit down next to him, thinking to self that One Neve Knows How Things Are Going to Turn out; before we have a chance to talk, meeting starts. During meeting draw faun, phallic looking seltzer bottle, and letters, F, G, Z and R because like shape. (Damage from heat apparently permanent.) After meeting, am grabbed by the New Man who asks, would I please tell him where the Contessa is staying? He's worried.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Have conversation with the Contessa about small talk. She says that sometimes if she is stuck in a tough situation she says, I'm sorry, I'm having a small attack of social anxiety. Tell her briskly that don't think that is any help at all. If tried to say phrase, would say the first part--I'm having a small attack...--and then be struck dumb. The Contessa nods, says, You have to practice. Do not care for picture of myself walking around city muttering phrase. The contessa pulls me out of this unhelpful line of thinking with question, Why did you go in the neighbor's apartment? Tell her, I was curious. I like to see other people's apartments. The Contessa says, That is fine, but he sounds a little creepy. Say, Not too creepy. She asks, Tell me what was in the apartment. Tell her, books, a ukelele, -- it is a studio, so a double bed -- a dresser, a nice looking ficus, maybe he'd converted one of the closets into a studio? The contessa leans forward, How do you know it was a studio? Tell her that it seemed that the walls were padded. She sits back in her chair, You believe what you want to believe. You are lucky you didn't get hacked to bits and get fed to Tom Cruise (the cat.) Tell her she is being ridiculous. But for rest of day terrify self with images of what might have been. Call Dave to tell him that he shouldn't ever talk to the neighbor across the hall. Dave says shocked, Of course not.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Talking to Others

Wake up this morning to discover that there is no milk. Throw on clothes and leave house without first taking Jenny, which seems cruel, but also know that need coffee before taking a trip to the park where am sure to have to talk to other dog owners. In hallway, however, find neighbor waiting for elevator. Neighbor historically very very friendly and brisk--once found self being invited to his apartment to see the view and to meet his cat named, disturbingly, Tom Cruise. Today neighbor asks, Is it Cool in Your Apartment in the Morning? Answer, Not really. Adding, unhelpfully, The sun shines in. (Fortunately, stifle impulse to say, It's Always Cool in My Apartment, in hep cat voice.) Conversation continues, painfully, until elevator comes. When get in, give firm look to side wall hoping to stop further talking. The elevator stops at every floor. Discover that know far more people in building than had ever imagined. Wish had not worn beloved, but baggiest, and most stained t-shirt. When return from store with milk, see hall neighbor waiting in lobby. Have You Tried the New Bagel Place? he asks. Answer, yes, The bagels are good. (Feel that Small Talk a belittling term for what is often a very, very difficult task.) Later, get onto train. Sit down next to mother and father with two small daughters. The adults are speaking Spanish. Smile at darling toddler closest. She smiles back. I look at my book (Gilead, which alternately love and am bored by; everybody else loves it though, so boredome probably just indication of inferior literary taste.) Discover small hand waving in front of my face. The little girl is offering me her slice of apple. Reply, No gracias, in tone reserved for talking to small children (wish same tone could be used for all strangers). The mother smiles. Little girl takes her apple back and then pretends to take a bite. Offers it to me again. Say No Gracias. See that we could be engaged in this game for the rest of the trip. The same thought seems to occur to the mother, because after two more rounds the toddler is picked up and deposited on the other side of her mother, where she wails and throws what is left of her apple onto the floor. Very often wish could do the same.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Jenny and The Contessa

The Contessa reports that Jenny behaved herself very, very well, was a princess really; adds breezily Except for when she growled at the woman on the fourth floor who doesn't like you. Ask for detals. The Contessa says, Frizzy hair, WNYC canvas bag, a limp. Don't know who she could possibly be talking about. Fear that will spend the next couple of weeks feeling (even more) panic about getting on the elevator.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Weekend Trip

Take quick trip to visit grandmother in Whidby Island. Dave comes with but Jenny is to be housesat by the Contessa. Give the Contessa firm instructions on the feeding and walking of Jenny: she is to be walked whether she wants to go or not, whether it is raining or not, and she is to be fed regular dog food. Have just finished speech and am showing the Contessa where the dog food is kept--dry in air tight container to keep vermin away, when notice that the Contessa has Jenny's face in her hands and is giving her a vigorous scratch behind her ears as she says, Jenny Benny Wooks Hungwy do oo want some cheese? Reexplain position to the Contessa. She nods. Adds caustically, I suppose at your grandmother's you'll be depriving yourself. Do not like insinuation, but free dog care very diffictult to find, so bite tongue. Also see that the Conessa may have a point. When arrive at grandmother's discover that there are five different kinds of cookies in the freezer, also heaps of fresh fruit and refrigerator full of cheese. For first dinner we have dungeness crab, grilled lamb chops, corn, salad, pie and with after dinner cofffee, cookies. Next morning, after gorging ourselves on cinnamon rolls, Dave says We Have Got to do some exercise. Take out two man kayak and paddle vigorously. When we get back, we are very, very hungry. Eat salmon salad heaped onto buttered bread. After lunch, Dave and I sit on deck chairs in the sun.Weather strangely hot, and have to keep batting away disturbing thoughts about Climate Change (Note: have noticed that is term now in use for Global Warming--can't decide if CC more or less terrifying.) Grandmother sits under umbrella and we work on cross word puzzle. Dave says we really Ought to swim. But despite hot weather, water of Puget Sound still icy cold and feel apprehensive about submersion. Tell Dave that It seems that sitting in sun is practically as good as exercise anyway. Speciousness of statement proved by arrivial of next door neighbor, name of Beverly Dussler. Beverly (Bev familiarly) is crisply umber and also at least two hundred and fifty pounds. Is wearing fuscia bathing suit with skirt. She lets herself down on chair. We talk (or rather Bev talks) about the weather (hottest its ever been), her husband's prostate (a little better, still gets up fifty times a night), her grandchildren (numerous and darling despite her sons' wives), what happend to the neighbor who owned the helicopter (gambling, bankruptcy), the new neighbors (the money comes from Her family, ; He drinks) and now she's taken up too much of our time she'd better go on and take a dip. Does not leave, however, but instead touches on What is Going on In the World. Lebanon. After one more try, does finally leave, promising to drop by for a drink tomorrow. Watch as she walks into the water, and then launches herself into the deep, seemingly impervious to the cold. Dave definately stunned. Grandmother rolls her eyes, says dryly, I wish she wasn't so shy all the time. Eat another cookie.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Les Punaises

Yesterday, heat wave brought to an end as plauge of cockroaches begins. After work, attend yoga class. Air conditioning broken. Woman at front desk looks wilted, says that In the yoga room it isn't So Bad, the fans are on. Has obviously suffered heat exhaustion as room stunningly hot, fans merely pushing around sodden air. In class do not over exert self and become very calm and losose. The teacher summons us from the lying down portion of the class to sit up and say final Om. Sit, placing hands on knees feeling that have achieved very high level of bliss. Moment shattered by series of shrieks from back of room. Open eyes and wheel around, expecting to see sombody gushing blood. Shrieks spread from one woman to her neighbor. Finally one of them says it is A Bug. A Big Roach crawled on us, the other clarifies. It takes four men to subdue and kill the roach to which the teacher says (a bit caustically for a yoga class, feel) Look, all the men had to be involved. (Note: Perhaps there is an interesting article on gender to be pitched to Yoga Journal?)Meet Dave to see music on Ludlow. Afterward insist on Saving Money by taking the subway. Have often heard, and even used hyperbolic statement that subway platform like a sauna, but tonight, sweat drops off us at alarming rate. Get home in time for rainstorm, which feels lovely as am soaked through anyway. In apartment find large waterbug hanging from ceiling. Tense scene ensues. I am not afraid of the bug at all, but merely want to get it to leave and try to shoo it out the window with a broom. Dave, unfortunately, is afraid. After miscommunication, waterbug flying onto his forehead where it briefly becomes entangled in his hair. After the bug is thrown across the room to the floor. Jenny chases it, but loses her quarry under the bed. I am vociferously blamed. There is a sequence of trying cross-recrmininations until we both get tired of being mad. Read in bed. Turn off lights. Break in weather and benefits of refreshing yoga class cause me to fall asleep immediately where have exciting dreams about extremely rich friends, one of whom was a childhood tennis star (perhaps am also in a movie? There is a lovely feeling of suspense throughout.) Am jolted out of dream by shap inhilation of breath, wake to find Dave sitting bolt upright; join him, and ask What's Wrong. Dave claims that It Touched My Foot, which find hard to believe, but try to be sympathetic. Heart takes a long time to slow.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Being Noticed

While walking into work yesterday see extremely thin, tallish young woman--obviously a model--carrying her portfolio and pushing greasy hank of hair off her face and, naturally, looking none too pleased about it. Feel sorry for her (have momentary thought--thankfully surpressed--to tell her that if she is going to a casting she really ought to not have such grim expression.) Have conceited thought that own hair much more suited to weather--not to mention cuter. Unfortunately, change in look not noticed at all, even though attend two meetings and run into several dozens of people in the halls and in the elevator. At very end of day when as am leaving, Libby says merely in slightly accusatory tone, You Cut Your Hair.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Iced Coffee

On Saturday, hiding from heat, settle down to work on revising middle section of Murder Mystery. Before working, fix self large iced coffee. For once am focused, alert, and productive. Maintain high level of mood and output by near constant drinking and refreshing of iced coffee glass. When it comes time for a glass of wine and dinner, feel that both are well deserved. Remain alert. At one in the morning, Dave asks blearily if I don't want to turn off the lights. I do not want to turn off the lights, but do. Rest of night spent in trying cycle of going to bathroom, trips to kitchen (for drinking water) and bed (for the reliving of painful memories centered on own behavior in college--mortifying experiences with crushes, poor decisions involving planning for the future, wretched ideas about what was becoming or even appropriate to wear. By end of night, saying which contends that It is Better Regret Something You Have Done than Something you Haven't Done, is shown to be conclusively false.) Witness dawn; the sky a frightening blood red color. The next day, Sunday, feel resultingly feeble and achey. Am much less productive, but trudge along in edit. In afternoon when go out to deli to get seltzer knees, feel funny while walking. Worry. When get back to apartment, find knee pain self-test on internet. Take test. Discover that have arthiritis of the knee. Wonder if arthirtis will move to other joints. Feel likely that it will, in fact, fingers already very stiff. Have gloomy thought that baldness, paunchiness, dementia and death right around corner. Inform dave of diagnosis of arthritis. He asks sternly, Have you been looking on the internet again? Admit that I have. Try to defend the internet. Say, inanely that there it contains Lots of information. He says, yes, but you are highly suggestible--you like to pay attention to the worst case. Can see truth in this, but don't like to say so. Am horrified to hear self telling him about likely baldness--add, not confirmed by internet self-test. Dave says, Let me see. Says, Hmm. Am very alarmed,. Ask, What? Dave Says, It looks to me like you have too much hair--how about a haircut. Am very relieved and agree at once to trim--feel that nothing would feel nicer than to get rid of hair during such hot weather. Suggest haircut like a Buddhist monk. Dave counters with Choppy Tennis ball. Agree. Am extremely pleased with result and can't wait to show off at school.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lazy Thursday

Libby calls in sick today. Assures me that this is the first time she's ever done so, ever, in her whole working life. Ever. And it won't happen again. Ask her what about when she has her baby? She replies that she intends to take one week off. Do not believe this for a second. Rest of day feel unusual freedom. Billy (work study student) makes a puppet out of a paper bag. Puppet is a wicked but very funny facsimile of the vice-boss--drinks vodka (water from cooler), eats pills (paperclips), and shoplifts clothes (envelope.) Becomes anorexic (rubberband cinched around middle of bag.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dog Days

Arrivial of new moon yesterday brings end to end of string of very trying days. On Monday have unfortuante misunderstanding with the Contessa. Ask genuinely interested questions about the weekend at the vice-boss's (we are on the telephone) while at the same time typing brisk email to professor who in previous email said that she was accustomed to dealing with Your Superior. Do not like the implication, and force used on keyboard perhaps a bit strong. The Contessa, in middle of sentence about the vice-boss declaring that there will be no alcohol for the whole weekend as she is in Recovery and needs all the support she can get and if she catches anybody smoking pot, the pot smoker or smokers will be fired. Also there will be no bread at the house. Her nutritionist has told her (the vice-boss) that she is addicted to bread and that likely her alcohol addiction and her wheat addiction come from the same place. The Contessa asks, Can you believe her? Can hardly belive anything the vice-boss does, but am a bit distracted by wording of email and murmer, So sounds like you had a good time. The Contessa replies in icy tones, Are you even listening to me? Recall self and try to cover saying, I was being sarcastic. The Contessa says shortly, If you are too busy to talk, you can just say so. Tell her I am not too busy, to please tell me more. She says no. Insist. She launches into minute-by-minute description of weekend. Feel phrase, I don't actually care rattling around in head. Want to apply it many times, e.g. about the New Man's cute and devastating play of the word Vodka and subsequent cold fury of the vice-boss during game of Scrabble. Thankfully do not say phrase--not exactly true anyway--just feel that loathe everything. Trip to bathroom and accidental glance into mirror nearly causes severe breakdown (hair once again bushy, face greasy). Go home on subway. Car insufficiently air conditioned and feel bubbling rage at fellow passengers, especially woman who insists on digging her purse into my side. When get home even Jenny slightly unpleasant, snarling when I lift her into the tub to give her a cooling bath. Speak to her sternly which makes her cower and shiver--application of cold water and she is very frisky afterwards, all is forgiven as far as she is concerned, but still feel that am in posession of coal black soul. Feeling furthered by sharply worded exchange between Dave and myself concerning the dresser by the front door, which after weeks of receiving change, junk mail, receipts, a hat, a used coffee mug, keys, a frisbee (?!), half empty waterbottle, and unidentifiable pieces of wadded up paper, has begun to resemble a landfill. Am eloquent on the subject and assign blame. Dave takes exception to my use of the word crap. Fly into a rage. Jenny cowers more, etc. until there is a stony silence and further inward remorse (outwardly do not give an inch.) Suffer crise de nerfs that lasts for rest of night (very disturbing dream about an Armadillo)and into the next day. Attend early morning yoga class in attempt to pull self out of swamp. There is a dangerous moment when woman in front of me misjudges her reach and am kicked in the eye. But somehow, kick (which raises impressive bruise on right temple) restores me to what like to think (though am probably deceiving self) is usual state of patience and good humor.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Brighton Beach

Convince Dave to go to the beach with me on Friday afternoon in celebration of the summer Schedule. On train ride out he asks in tone which do not care for, Is it going to be Dirty at the beach? Tell him, Of course not. When we get to beach, weather perfect, sand uncrowded and very tidy. Am sorry to report that make long speech to Dave about how people often have the wrong impression about places that are frequented by Working People. We sit in stony silence until suggest that we go swimming. Own original argument undermined when as we are swimming, we run into what first seems to be a condom, but upon further examination turns out to only be a deflated balloon. Dave, says to me, Maybe you could admit that it isn't totally clean. Reply tartly in same tone and phrase used by the Contessa (last week when I expressed similar horror at a floating surgical glove)--At least it isn't a syringe. Dave says icily that No it isn't a syringe. See that we are at an impasse. After swim, arguement is forgotten and we bake in the sun. End trip with a visit to the Tatiana Cafe (on the boardwalk) where we drink several large and extremely refreshing beers and attempt to eat plate of pickled herring. Dave, utilizing Southern witticism, says, I've eaten pickled twice--the first and last time. All ire is forgotten and wonder (unfortunately likely not for the first or last time) why we bother to fight at all.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Come into work this morning feeling very refreshed--weather pleasant last night rendering the use of the air conditioner unnecessary (Also renders unnecessary longing for device once seen offered on infomercial and wondered about ever since--the Chillow. In fact two weeks ago during bad night when got up out of bed in delirious fit root around in freezer looking for cold pack, not finding same and then debating with self whether or not ancient bag of frozen chicken breasts wouldn't work just as well as the Chillow--thankfully this impulse defeated.) On entrance, am greeted by the security guard who asks if I've heard about the Contessa and the New Man. Feign ignorance. She raises her eyebrows and says, You didn't hear it from me, but I hear He is leaving the school. Go immediately upstairs to ask the Contessa herself. In elevator, see Romeo the copy machine repairman who says Poor the Contessa but does not elaborate. On old floor Find Libby tidying the Contessa's desk. Ask her what she is doing. She says that she can't help herself and did I hear that the New Man is moving to Denmark? No I did not hear that. We leave note on desk and then go upstairs together. Admit to Libby that am dying of curiosity. Libby does not admit to dying but does admit to Wanting to Clear Things Up. Says she also heard that they Are Engaged. Feel very angry and hurt that wasn't told first until remind self that rumor not verified. Finally receive a call from the Contessa who sounds very distressed--asks, Did you clean up my desk? Tell her of course not. Ask her to please confirm or deny all rumors. She laughs a brittle laugh, says that none are true. Nobody is going anywhere and nobody is engaged. But. Ask, Yes... The Contessa says, But the vice-boss did say something snide about hoping that there would be no musical beds at the office retreat this weekend. Says darkly, I would not be surprised if She was the source of all rumors. Adds with hopeful tone, Maybe the vice-boss will break her anke and the retreat will have to be canceled. Says, but enough about her. Asks, what I am doing this weekend. Tell her that I intend to wrestle down the Murder Mystery and get it under control. She shudders, says it makes it sound like I am talking about Snakes, but that she understands. She's given up poetry writing for the summer.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Long Weekend

Spend most of long weekend (school now closed all Fridays for the summer, plus monday and tuesday off for the 4th of July) indoors except for Saturday trip to Brighton Beach which results in wicked sunburn on back (Note: pay no attention if the Contessa ever again tries to say that All you Need is another coat of sunscreen in reply to question, Am I burning? Second Note: Do not blame others for own reckless beach behavior. Separate note: Do not, under any circumstances, have so-called cappucchino from Russian restaurant on boardwalk.) Rest of weekend too hot to spend outdoors--Dave and I watch mind-numbing amount of television and movies. Jenny seems to approve of our sloth--becomes very upset when we try to take her for walks. On Monday, feel that ought to move legs so that don't lose use of same. Take Jenny downstairs. We are less than 12 feet out of door when she begins to dry heave. Can well understand her position--humidity causes same reaction in me. Nevertheless, do wish we could have made it a bit further from building. Jenny lets loose veritable flood of urine as busybody from 8th floor attempts to leave building. She gasps and hisses to her companion, That is exactly what I was talking about. Worry about what she means for the rest of the weekend.