Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Morning Travel

Feel that the idea of a fund raising breakfast is intolerable, especially when am required to be at said function at 7 a.m. Am feeling quite sorry for self waiting for subway transfer when hear noise of full symphony. Loud, Mozart, and what sounds to be a clarinet playing a solo. Am not certain that noise real. Aural hallucinations also possible symptoms of brain tumor. See crowd moving toward source of noise, not running, but being drawn in. Phrase, Like moths to the flame a cliche, but in this case describes scene exactly. Take self as example: Am interested in staying cool (why?) so only inch forward, still looking at book and trying to pretend that am just meandering, not going forward out of curiosity, but happenstance. Nevertheless, reach goal and if music had been bug light and I had been a moth, I would have been killed. Instead, when get close to the center of the circle am very surprised to see man playing the harmonica accompanied by recording and amp. At end of song, everyone claps politely. The man with the harmonica inclines his head and then starts up a new song, also Mozart. Later, after the breakfast (revolting hard scrambled eggs, inferior coffee, and stale bagels--if were being hit up for money instead of doing the hitting would not be inclined to give a red cent) am again waiting on subway platform and attempt to tell Oliver about earlier, unexpected and pretty, musical treat. Oliver says in extremely blase way that makes me what to nudge him in front of train. Oh that guy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Development Meeting

Have office meeting. Is run very efficiently by Cindy Stevens; we have a lot to discuss and most of it is with substance, but find attention wandering. First notice when discover self slumping in chair and wondering What it Looks Like under the acoustic tile, i.e. what is on the other side? What if a big Rat fell through? Worry, get hot, and slump. Tell self to sit up straight. Put pen to notepad and sit on edge of seat. Ask half-way intelligent question about Goals and receive firm nods from others around the table. Pleased with performance, vigilance ebbs and again begin looking at ceiling (perhaps have begun a new unhealthy fear? It is not just to be carbon monoxide, the Holland tunnel, global warming, electrical fires, and so on, but also drop ceilings? How uninspiring.) Sit up straight, on edge of seat, pen again poised. Do so for approximately two seconds and then enter dreamlike state in which see pen moving without really intending to do anything in particular until realize with jolt that have drawn passable horse, leaping over hurdle--more impressionistic than photorealistic, but one might say that one could almost see the muscles of the horse clenching under its sweaty hide. Rest of meeting spent trying to perfect horse drawing technique, but subsequent attempts come nowhere near the first. In weak moment after meeting, show drawing to Oliver who says Oh you drew a dog! Had thought of framing picture, but instead slide it into my desk calendar. Give Oliver unpleasant task of sending out form thank you notes, giving deadline of ASAP. Oliver gives egregious eye roll at this, but works dilligently until the task is done.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Drop by drop

Learn that Cindy Stevens has three children, ranging in ages from 9 to 13 (two boys and a girl) a standard poodle (side conversation here about dogs--like Cindy Stevens quite a bit more for seeming charmed by the story of Jenny and her paw and being rescued from New Orleans) a husband who Paints--assume canvases, but don't wish to ask. Also, she doesn't like peas, adores white chocolate (why?) and has a place in Montauk. A shack, she adds, hurriedly, nipping in the bud traumatic flashback about office retreats at the vice-boss's place in Amagansett. We are having lunch at sushi restaurant--paid for by school--development expense budgets decidedly more generous and fattening than academic budgets. As we are leaving restaurant, feel that have had a perfectly good time. Perhaps too good of a time. Wish strongly that wasn't the sort of person who looked for the worm in the apple.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Oliver II

Oliver oozes into office today, sits down, and--though receiving little verbal encouragement from my side of the desk--gives detailed accounting of his previous night, which thoroughly scandalizes me.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Witching Hour

(Prevented from posting yeterday because of errors with blog system. Am sorry.)

Wake up in middle of night to smell of burning rubber. Diagnose brain cancer, imagination takes charge (shaved head, little gown, tearful speeches and goodbyes) until thought occurs that smell not olfactory hallucination, but actualy something burning. (Question: Which possibility is scarier? Answer: Equally scary?) Force self to get up. Am joined in expedition by Jenny, who walks briskly ahead of me into kitchen. Mere seconds later, hear unholy noise. Think 1) ghost 2) raccoon (unlikely on the thirteenth floor) 3) cat. Find Jenny's front right paw stuck on glue mouse trap. Mouse also stuck to trap. Both animals very vocal about their distress. Grisly scene follows, in which run to computer to check to see if internet contains answer to hastily typed question How Do You Get a Dog Off A Glue Trap? Jenny has limped along after me, whimpering and dragging trap and mouse along. Internet apallingly terse. Instructions: 1. Coat glue on pet's paw with vegetable oil. Do not feel at all that instructions convey difficulty of procedure, or take into account that dog and mouse in very close quarters. Strike on idea of first snipping trap in two with scissors--scissors ruined--mouse still very much alive, but at least no longer a pair. Disposal of mouse does not need to be recorded here but am sure that will be recalled at day of judgement. Turn attention to Jenny. As per original instructions, coat glue on paw with vegetable oil. Instruction number 2 advises: Oily reside is removed with soap and water. Put Jenny in tub. She shivers, cowers, shows the whites of her eyes and makes high pitched noise at the back of her throat as run warm water over paw while applying dish detergent. Jenny may be permenantly psychologically damaged (as am I) but paw appears good as new. Carry her back to bedroom and put her on bed. Am shocked and a touch angry to see that Dave has slept through whole escapade. Wake him him with poke between shoulderblades. Ask icily, Dave why did we have a glue trap in the kitchen? He says sleepily that he let the exterminator in the other day, why? Explain to him at length. Mmm, he says, sounds like it turned out all right. Jenny is in tight ball, sound asleep, and wish--not for the first time--that had the memory of a dog. Human memory keeps me awake for many hours hence.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hardy Plants

The Contessa makes unnaounced visit to new office, bearing pretty jade plant in pretty blue earthenware pot, and stack of mail. Says, jerking her head at the mail, I'm sure you don't want this, but the new secretary at the arts instute refused to throw it out. She got snippy with me and told me that it was a federal crime. The Contessa rolls her eyes, Can you believe her? How many tons of mail have we thrown out over the years? Have inwardly been arrested arraigned, put on trial, and sentenced to mimimum security prison in Kentucky before regain composure and am able to glance at mail. It is, indeed, all junk and throw it immediatly into the recycling bin. Admire jade plant. The Contessa says that the man at the plant store said it was basically unkillable (very much doubt this) and that he gave her very strict instructions not to water it more than once a month. Notice that dirt in pot very very wet (actually, so wet that not actually contained in pot and runs across desk, soaking important file of octogenarian sex fiend Big Fish and am forced to make acquaintence of Xerox machine, in what--in moment--feels like Alias level of document recreation.) Ask about wetness. Oh, the Contessa replies, when she got it back from the plant store it looked a little droopy so she gave it a little sip. Feel that plant is not long for this world. The Contessa moves on to topic Cindy Stevens and gets right down to it. Do you like her? Tell her that can't say yet. She frowns, Can't say? Does she have any weird habits? Has she asked you do do anything inappropriate? Tell her that as yet Cindy remains a mystery and remind her that not all bosses are like the Vice-boss who is, shall we say, an open book. The Contessa agrees, says firmly that she would go so far as to say that the Vice-Boss is an open book with its underwear hanging out.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Dave says he has plenty of money and don't need to worry while he doesn't have a job, but have been on frugal kick anyway, bringing lunch every day. Today out do self (and also leave idententical lunch in refrigerator for Dave, who perhaps wasn't raised to be economical, but ought to be--am training him on this and other deficiencies--though this raises the possibility that he is training me on deficiencies of own--probably best to pursue topic no further.) Lunch consists of sandwich (cheddar cheese, tomato--the supermarket Roma kind that are only vaugely like tomatoes, but aren't mealy, spinach, mayo and dijon) salt-and-pepper chips, carrot and celery sticks, a slice of apple pie (from dinner last night, a bit smashed, but still edible,) a orange, and snack for later int he afternoon--bag of raw almonds and golden raisins. Consume every scrap of lunch at two minutes past eleven. At eleven fifteen, stomach a bit distended and uncomfortable, even considering undoing top button on pants. Cindy Stevens comes into office and asks Do you want to go to lunch? We have a big fish we need to land. Do not appreciate mention of either lunch or fish, but good manners and need to keep job force self to say That would be lovely! If not for discomfort, lunch would have been lovely because it is at Gotham and Big Fish is lively eighty-year-old who tells ribald stories about the nineteen-thirties. Observe that Cindy Stevens has rare talent of being able to seem to be sharing own personal history without actually saying anything at all. Eat half of bowl of leek soup and drink pellegrino.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Have long talk with Oliver today. Rather, he talks and I listen. He is short, has a long head and wears plug earrings, medium sized and though he has much to say about many topics--New Jersey, Cindy Stevens, the best egg sandwich around, the person I'm replacing, who was a--Oliver rolls his eyes--a to-tal night-MARE--details follow--apparently if don't sleep with donor, abuse American Express card, and fall alseep in meetings, will be far ahead of game. While he talks, worry about process of getting plug into ear lobe--it seems that one must start with a smaller plug and then work one's way up to the larger sizes, but don't know how to ask without sounding 500 years old. He's moved on to new topic. Books. When he's done with graduate school he plans to have a book done, ready to give to agent. He takes rare pause. Interject that have been working on book also (why?). Oh, he says how long has it taken you? Reply, For a couple of years.He gives me a look of utter disdain. He does not want to spend more than six months on his book. He's not writing the sort of book that takes forever to write. Everyone says that writing is hard, but that's just becasue they are neurotic. Reply weakly, Right. Retreat to office in more-or-less shattered state. Spend rest of afternoon reading through donor files--exercise which further calls own path into question.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

First Day at New Job

Am introduced to secretary, whose name is Oliver.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dr. Z

Accidentally leave Little Dorritt at home and am forced to read subway ads this morning. Become very interestedin Dr. Zizmor's ad, which now contains self test: Is your skin loose? (check yes or no) (yes) Do you have more than one chin? (yes or no) (no, knock on wood) Has your skin loss it's firmness and tightness (yes or no) (maybe--wonder if question needs to be so extreme--when it happens does it happen all at once? Do at all not care for image of sudden loss of firmness and tightness.) Do you think you look older than you should for your age? (yes or no) (Perhaps. Yesterday report for first day of work with Cindy Stevens--good looking woman, mid forties, severe black page-boy, navy suit, white shirt, bulbous silver brooch on left lapel, office extremely tidy, which makes me unreasonably nervous. Am sitting across from desk and legs hidden, so attempt to do sly stretch of right leg to try to release tension. Stretch unfortunately counter productive and suffer severe Charley Horse in right hamstring. . Kick out leg and gulp down scream. Am asked, Is something the matter? Tell her no, I am just excited about the job. Cindy Stevens appears pleased and as though I am telling the truth. Have disquieting thought that she doesn't believe me at all, but is glad that am able to lie--lying being an daily requirement in new position as--ask what new title is to be--Acting Development Associate. Do not like title--sounds like is missing a noun--but keep to self. Am shown to desk by Cindy. Desk in miniscule office, but does have window that opens to outside--view mostly of large water tower. Cindy Stevens says, So here we are. There is a pause. She asks, How have you worked her for so long. Do not quite understand. Can only ask what she means. She answers, You look like you're about twenty-two. The dean said you've been here for eight years. Feel that like Cindy very much. Tell her I am thirty-one, and thank you. Estimation of Cindy falls a bit when she take her glasses on her pocket, puts them on and says Oh yes, now she sees it.)

Friday, January 12, 2007


New chair arrives today--introduces himself with firm handshake and question, Is that my office? Can only feel stunned. On the way down to the Dean's office to receive explanation, compose sharp speech. Gist of speech is that have been very poorly used; after such long service, really ought ot be consulted about 1) chair quitting and 2) new chair being inserted. In exterior office of Dean, say in quiet but steely voice to secretary, I would like to speak to the Dean. Secretary says, Oh, Hi Fritz, it's you. The Dean's very busy, can I get you some water while you wait? Sit on edge of chair drinking frigid water out of little paper cup and feel--as always feel when waiting for the Dean--that have been sent to the Principal's office. The Dean apologizes for keeping me. Phone calls, he says, you know, waggling his eyebrows. Say, Phone calls, keeping own eyebrows rigid. He asks, What brings you to my neck of the woods? Deliver speech. Chin hardly wobbles at all. He waves away my concerns. He has bigger things planned for me. Have I thought about Development? You did such a good job with the doners in your last The Vice-Boss has always spoken highly of your work with the old ladies. Am scandalized by his choice of words. Say, inanely, I like old ladies. Great, then it's settled, the dean says, putting out his hand. You always knew that this other job was temporary. On Tuesday you can report to Cindy Stevens--she's the new head of Development. As am about to raise objections, the topic of money comes up--am to get substantial raise. Am blinded by greed and leave office without asking other pertinent questions. Take elevator upstairs. Like the name Cindy Stevens--sounds straighforward--and hope that she lives up to her name.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Have unpleasant encounter with mouse--should say fraught evening spent in company of mouse. Have been ignoring signs of infestation to come, especially last weekend when heard distinct squeaking of small clan of mice behind refrigerator and told Dave firmly and delusionally that It must be the Noise of the water going down the Drain, despite fact that drain has never--and never will--make noise of mouse chatter. Similiar delusion/self-defensive brain switcheroo occurs when am in living room last night and see gray shape out of corner of eye. That is a Moth, tell self. Unfortunately, gray shape is on floor and gets entangled in bottom of curtain for what seems like several hours while watch, paralyzed, as he leaps back and forth, causing curtin to sway violently. Mouse regains sense of direction and runs into presumed hole under radiator. After long, sweaty hunt for traps--in junk drawer in kitchen, in cabinet under bathroom sink, in shoebox at back of coat closet, in drawer in desk devoted to pens and tape, finally find traps at bottom of sock basket. (??? and Note: Life is unbearable if socks kept in basket rather than in functioning dresser. Further note: purchase closet organizing system as soon as bank account allows.) Set traps with peanut butter and barricade living room so that Jenny--who hasn't stepped a paw in the living room since the trouble began--won't get caught in trap. Dave gets home. He is grim and understanding when fill him in. Am on way to living room to show him death machines, when hear snap. Dave says sighing, It sounds like it's over. Further investigation reveals that it has only just begun. Trap is flipped over and mouse is calmly eating peanut butter off of disarmed trap. Readjust remaining trap and leave living room for the night. Get up this morning to see that trap still set but has been licked clean. Suffer low moment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Department Chair

Receive news that the department chair is leaving. News comes in verbal form, from chair's own mouth while we are sitting in his office. Ask who is going to take his place. Oh, the chair says waving his hand, he's sure they'll find somebody perfectly hideous, ha ha. Laugh along at the time, but more out of nervousness. Call the Contessa who says, Look at the New Man. Ask, Look at what? She replies, We were afraid of change and didn't like him and now we are enfianced. Tell her coldly that do not think that could hope for same result for self, nor would I. The Contessa snifs, Well, she is just trying to look on the bright side of things. Counter with mention of the Vice-Boss--what if somebody like her became the new chair. The Contessa mutters something about lightning striking twice--You wouldn't believe what she's wearing today. Remind the contessa that there is little I wouln't believe about the vice-boss. Fur boots, is all the Contessa will say. Tell Jackie about imminent departure of the Chair. Jackie replies that she never knew there was a chair until this minute. She thought I was the boss. Can't believe that Libby didn't tell Jackie exactly who everybody was and how they were related. Say so. Jackie says, Oh Libby. She didn't listen to most of what she said. Have always maintained that Jackie very sensible.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Contessa's Vacation

Have lunch with the Contessa today at favorite diner. She orders One small split pea soup, no crackers, and a Diet Coke. Attempt to order same owing to recent recrudescence of stomach Roll theme, but the Contessa insists I get a bacon cheeseburger with fries, extra crispy. Own lunch turns out to be fairly moderate as the Contessa eats most of fries, half of coleslaw and corner of bun. After eating frenzy, she tells me aobut Christmas trip to the New Man's family cottage on Martha's Vineyard. He shares the house with his sister, a very, very nice woman with two darling children. Smart children. And the sister is very considerate. Alarm bells ring. Ask what happened. Nothing at all, says the Contessa. She--the Contessa--wouldn't think to tell a person who had her head hung over the side of the ferry having the dry heaves--not that the sister isn't nice--but the Contessa in that circumstance wouldn't suggest to the sick person that next time she should eat ginger snaps before going to sea. Agree heartily, adding that only a person who has never been seasick in her life would think that ginger would do any good at all. I don't want to give you the wrong impression though, the Contessa says, the rest of the time she was great. Maybe a bit vigilant about the salt. Ask, The salt? Yes, apparently it is bloating. No salt allowed on the table and none added to cooked food. Ask, So everything was bland? The Contessa gives a shudder, and a bit chewy, even eggs, she likes everything Well Done. She adds, But at least we're not getting married. There is a pause while the Contessa unwraps the crackers which have been brought despite not being asked for. She carefully licks off the salt granules. Feel that we are very good friends indeed for us to be comfortable together during this behavior. When done with the crackers, the Contessa says, One more thing. About the sister? Yes. When the Contessa and the New Man were leaving, the sister got all of their presents together for the Contessa and set them next to the door. She'd set a bottle in a brown paper bag in on top of the stack of presents. She kissed the Contessa goodbye and then whispered, "I noticed you liked to wear black. I'm giving you a bottle of shampoo that works really well for the danny."Feel face form look of extreme shock. Ask, appalled, And she had a nickname for dandruff? The Contessa nods, says, But this makes her sound awful. I don't want you to think she's not nice. This prompts long, possibly cynical, train of thought about the self-delusions necessary for most of human interaction.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Spend holiday week in San Francisco with Dave, Sigrid, Elizabeth and Sigrid's husband. Elizabeth charming, but feelings (mine) are slightly hurt when she persists in thinking that Dave is her blood relation rather than me (evidenced by tendency to crawl across floor and giggle until he picks her up.) This behavior certainly influenced by Dave's impression of Donald Duck, which Elizabeth can't tear her eyes away from. Once jealousy abates--hastened by scene in which Elizabeth seems to sneeze and Sigrid claims she is saying my name--but will take what can get--trip much better. Dave and I have nothing to do all day but eat and walk around, and see movies three things which we manage to do a lot of. After lunch of Dim Sum in the Richmond, Dave asks Why Don't we Move to San Francisco? Later that evening, mention idea to Sigrid. Sigrid replies, Yes, you could babysit! Which would be glad to do, but do not think should be first sentence to spring from her lips when hearing that her one and only sibling may move to her city. Fantasy proceedes very far over next couple of days, culminating in trip to rental agency and looking at several apartments. Regain senses after look at one large two bedroom in the Mission with lots of woodwork covered with thick thick paint. Hear self say, Isn't Big Enough. The agent says that he can easily find us something else...maybe if we upped our budget? Say briskly, Yes, of course. Am dragged away by Dave, who says that we have Another appointment. Walk back to Sigrid's. Day cloudy and sunny at same time. Dave says glumly that he is going to have to find a job again soon enough, and moving to San Francisco is not the answer. We must go back to reality. Do not at all care for sound of that.