Friday, March 30, 2007

Activity Across the Street

See maid wielding wet rag on top of broom leaning out of window in very dangerous way to wash window. Imagine her falling, and get scared excited feeling. Imagine calling 911. Make up speech to be given to the Emergency Operator. Maid withdraws indoors without incident. Am mostly relieved, but her return to safety leaves me nothing to do but to turn back to unsavory task started yesterday--cause of many unhappy and angry feelings--producing fundraising database reports. This is, apparently, to make up a large part of my job. Cindy Stevens is understanding but firm on this point as she shows me how said reports are produced. On the one hand, see that process is relatively simple. On the other hand--this hand much larger--feel exact mixture of panic, dread, and helplessness first experienced when learning how to do Algebra in 7th grade.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Difficult Day

Often wish that had a better attitude.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Have difficulty concentrating today. Blame absentmindedness on weather--spend much of day in office staring at building across street--see several interesting sights: what look like and am 85% positive are pot plants; extremely large carpeted cat play structure--attempt to estimate square foot cost of floor space, but Stop looking when grown man, naked except for boxer shorts--is alarmingly skinny, face scrunched up like prune, has long, hairy arms, and is hanging on window sash looking exactly like a monkey in the zoo. Notice that he has Batman curtains, and when he reappears in window, again hanging on sash, he is gnawing on large turkey bone. Am for some reason petrified. Tell self with a shudder that will Never look at building again. This absolutely untrue as not longer than a minute later have eyes fixed on window with Batman curtains--ape man is no longer in evidence. Become concerned and interested. Get up out of chair and lean near window. Hear, Fritz, do you know... Gasp extremely dramatically and loudly. It is only Cindy Stevens, who also gasps, asking, What is it?! Tell her that she surprised me. Cindy Stevens says she knows all about that--the other day she was carrying her cat from the bedroom into the kitchen (don't ask why) and when she got into the kitchen she wasn't expecting to see a man there--her husband--so she screamed and threw the cat. The cat got in a good scratch before being flung to the floor. Cindy Stevens shows me the scratch. Tell her she should watch out for cat scratch fever, sometimes deadly. She says she will. Feel so warmly toward Cindy Stevens that want to tell her about the building across the street, but become shy and talk instead about dreaded Board of Governors dinner coming up in a month.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Have first iced tea of the season today with the Contessa, who tells me that the New Man has quit and that Jackie is gone parts unknown, she adds sinisterly. Alarmed, ask, I hope she's OK. The Contessa replies that all she meant was that Jackie moved to Accounts Payable. Ask the Contessa how she feels. She replies, The one I really feel sorry for is Jackie. I should have know how this would turn out, the Contessa says. She has two bright splotches of red on her cheeks and she takes a very vigorous suck through her straw. Ask, How should you have known? She answers, Remember the Fart Machine? Do remember the fart machine, but tell the Contessa that unpleasant though the experience with the machine was, do not think it even in the same ballpark (surprise self by using sports metaphor) as cheating on your fiancee. The Contessa says She Guesses Not. She has other news. Because the New Man has left, she, the Contessa, has been asked to take his place, at least temporarily. Tell her congratulations--she'll do an excellent job. You know, she says, I'm afraid I'm becoming the Vice-Boss--I've lost the love of my life and now I'm getting the Vice-Boss's old job. Fear that the Contessa is having an emotional setback. Ask her when she starts. She says right away. She looks worried, but in a less heart-broken way, and asks Do I think she's going to have to wear suits now? Remind her about the lady who used to work at the school who had tattoos all over her face.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Writing Weekend

Intend to spend entire weekend, (naturally minus time for sleeping and eating and time in bathroom) working on revision, and at end of both days reward self with hearty dinners: Saturday, spicy turkey sausages, aesthetically unsuccessful Rosti--do not understand how one is to flip large pancake made of grated potatoes--feel that there must be a trick--and pea shoot salad--all from neighborhood Greenmarket--and beers, from deli; on Sunday, roast a chicken, carve, and then serve on bed of croutons, currants, pine nuts and greens, a la the Zuni Cafe of San Francisco--eat with sufficient amounts of white wine. But today, suffer painful realization that rewards perhaps larger than efforts demanded as audit of time actually spent writing yields distressing results. For example, on Sunday wear Jenny out with all the walking and in the afternoon Dave finds me underneath bed with rag scrubbing away all dust even in the little grooves between the floorboards. What are you doing? He asks. Writing, I say testily. On Sunday, spend five solid hours staring out window at scaffolding around church before realize what am doing. Thus, when go into work today, am secretly glad to be leaving the so-called writing behind. Arrive before Oliver. When he comes, have written up list of tasks. Remember from own recent life as secretary that one doesn't like to have this kind of a list sprung on one, especially the first thing on Monday morning, so get busy on own portion of tasks and decide to wait for Oliver to ask what there is that needs to be done. Watch through open office dooras Oliver put his head down on his arms. He yawns and picks up the phone. He has an exhausted sounding conversation in which he uses the word Dude a lot. Remind self that other people aren't mind readers and that one must ask for what one wants. Leave office and ask--very nicely, much nicer than the Boss ever asked, not to mention the Vice-Boss--Oliver to do mail merge for letter to potential donors interested in The Arts. He nods in a distracted way. Go back to office. He plays a game of solitaire. He finally bestirs himself enough to folds a piece of paper into an airplane. Start to become angry, but then brain splits and am able to see both sides clearly. Can well remember the panicked existential dread that having to do mail merges gave me. Wonder, not for the first time, why it is that humans bother to work in offices. What are we doing with ourselves? Best not to let one's mind wander into those woods, though and get up out of chair. Tell Oliver that am going to get us both coffees so we can concentrate. Generous impulse ruined by Oliver's bilious request for a chai with two shots of decaf espresso in it and whipped cream on top plus some nutmeg if they have any.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bad Omens

Am waiting for train this morning when see out of corner of eye mouse making its way toward me. Scoot sideways and crash into woman applying lipstick. See too late that it is not a mouse, but instead a giant black hairball being scooted down platform by wind coming from tunnel. Woman with lipstick not pleased and explanation about hairball meets with unfeeling shake of head. Feel that this is a discouraging beginning to day and spend morning and afternoon waiting for disaster that never comes. (But still may.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Unreasonable Expectations

Coffee with editor utterly pleasant (except for tricky moment in conversation when claim shared Love of Henry James--not a complete lie--did like Portrait of a Lady very much even though couldn't on pain of death recall even barest bones of plot--but trouble comes when topic of Wings of the Dove is raised and hear self saying sentence, It is always the end that gets me.) Gist of coffee meeting is that Editor says books is charming and original and she'd like to see a few changes (feel that her definition of few and mine alarmingly different), but that we should talk when I've got the next draft. Pea sized portion of brain that is rational sees that this is a completely respectable and forward-moving development. Rest of brain is very very disappointed to not be walking away with a large check.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Hear back from Editor today via email. Says that she'd like to meet for a coffee. Write back right away and suggest to tomorrow, which she agrees to--also via email--and then panic and wonder how will recognize her, so write back: What will you be wearing, I will be wearing a fedora. This joke neither funny nor helpful since do not (nor wish to) own a fedora. Do not hear back for 3 very very difficult hours during which am unable to reach anybody rational who could talk to. Unfortunately do mention exchange to Oliver who says, Dude, I think you blew it. Editor writes back to say why don't we meet at my office and then we'll go downstairs. Feel that this is very sensible suggestion. We are not, after all, spies. Finally get Dave on the phone. Say: Do you think she thinks I'm weird? Why do you think she wants to meet with me? Can't imagine why she'd want to take so much time with me. Dave replies, Maybe she likes your book, did you think about that? Reply to him that had not thought about that possibility and now that do, have distinct salty taste in mouth.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Break

Last week was spring break--development business oblivious to academic schedule, but nevertheless feel that deserve some sort of treat. Try dropping hints to Dave...Did he remember how much fun we had in Mexico last year? Has his grandmother said anything about sending any new influxes of cash? I've heard Vieques is nice this time of year. You want to hear something funny?: I've been having a hard time remembering what it's like to go outside without a coat. Aren't seasons strange?! How quickly we get used to our circumstances! Dave says, Yes, it would be nice to get away, but it's hard for him to plan trips right now because of his job. Can only admit that he is very responsible. In cruel twist of fate, however, Dave is given job with Coors photo shoot that compels him to go away for a week to the Dominican Republic. In light of this, when he leaves, suffer minor mental collapse and give self much needed rest anything resembling discipline: Jenny and I stroll in the morning rather than run. If she wants to sniff at one tree for ten minutes, I let her. If I want a glazed donut from the Donut Pub, I get myself one and also add a cruller to the order. If the next day I develop a hankering for a Two-Tone from City Bakery (half coffee, half very thick dark chocolate milk), I do not analyze or squelch this impulse, I merely tell Oliver I am Stepping Out for Some Air and then walk briskly to 18th Street, where I order a two-tone and also purchase and consume very large chocolate cookie and half a tuna sandwich. In the evening, go to yoga several times, but only because feel like it, and when go home in the evening, do not let self feel guilty when drink several or four large glasses of wine. One night, make tapioca pudding--which don't like, and which haven't had for decades, but am curious about why don't like it. Eat all four servings and decide, licking spoon, that don't care for the texture. Jenny sleeps under the covers every night. Apartment becomes disastrously filthy--though strangely see no sign of mice--and day of Dave's return have panicked regretful cleaning frenzy. Do laundry, mop, dust, vacuum. Feel grimy, pudgy and wan. Dave comes back tanned and thin and claims (kindly, if perhaps not especially truthfully) that he didn't have any fun because he missed me too much.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dog in Office

Oliver asks, actually very nicely for once, including pleases and thank yous in his speech, if he might bring in his girlfriend's dog to work, just this once, please, she is at a friend's place in Beacon and he needs to bring the dog with him so that they can both meet the girlfriend, please. Thank you. Am so excited by prospect of dog in office that forget to ask what kind of dog it is--if it goes well, why couldn't Jenny come too? She could lie down right under my desk and if I felt myself getting anxious or upset I could give her a little scratch behind the ears. Have pleasant fantasies involving Jenny at the office for the rest of the day, the evening, and the morning. When come into work this morning, however, come face-to-face with quivering Whippet, dressed in voluminous black fleece If it wore sunglasses, would look exactly like Mary-Kate Olsen. Am horrified, but do not want to be breedist, so reach down to give her a pat on the head. She snarls in in a high-pitched tone and then pees on the carpet. Oliver says, Bridgett, no! He shakes his head. She already went in your office too, he says, I don't know how you're going to get the smell out. Fantasies so rarely come true.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Conversation in whole when see Serena at park this morning.

Serena: Have you heard from My Friend the Editor?

Self: Nope not yet!

(Inwardly, conversation goes on for the rest of the day.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Snow Day

Cindy Stevens usually wears black clothes, nicely made suits and well cut coats, and the she never wears anything that might be considered colorful, so am a bit surprised when after lunch she comes into my office to show me new purchase. Suppose that this is a new milestone in our relationship, and ought to feel touched, but can only gape when she shows me floor length padded coat made out of (fake) hot pink leopard skin. I found this Dolce & Gabanna jacket at Lohman's! she says, What do you think? Can well understand excitement of the hunt and the find, but can also--from vantage point of momentarily relative sanity, and from hard-earned experience--see that severe regret will soon set in. Want to say that hope she still has the receipt, but instead, hear self say, I LOVE it!!! Cindy Stevens replies, Oh, good, I was hoping it wasn't too much. Oh no, I assure her, color is just what we need during these last few months of winter. Thankfully, stop self before say that like animal prints--don't, and never have, and wouldn't respect self if professed admiration for Zebra. Do, however, unfortunately, hand Cindy Stevens the scissors when she asks for them. Watch as she cuts off tags and throws them in my trash can. We all make our own mistakes and learn our own lessons.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Have dim memory of waking up in middle of night to smell of breakfast being made, but am tired and confused and return to dream of being given job of person in charge of the care and feeding of bat rays at an aquarium--feed the bat rays bacon and eggs, which feel is wrong and only one of a myriad of ways am unqualified for job. Attempt, several times, to explain that can't think how got the job--am not marine biologist, nor am at all certain what aquarium director is talking about when she says I need to clean out the Filter--finally perceive that I am to put on odd plastic suit and am to hold breath while scrubbing car-sized grate with toothbrush. And so on. All is explained (sort of) when wake up this morning and see that the Contessa has fixed herself a midnight (figuratively--true hour probably closer to 3 a.m.) snack, of eggs, bacon, and cinnamon toast--evidence of fixings on counter (bowl of cinnamon sugar, plus sprinklings of same in toaster over and on top of refrigerator), in sink (egg shells), on stove (greasy pan) Dave not pleased. Cleans kitchen with tense look on face, help him and make cup of coffee. The Contessa stays asleep throughout. Take Jenny for a walk. When come back, Dave is asking the Contessa if she needs help finding an apartment while the Contessa smokes a cigarette and says, no, thank you, she has some strong Leads. Oh, what neighborhoods? Dave asks. Cowardly hide in bathroom and wait until conversation is over. When come out, am hearty and make fresh pot of coffee, and the Contessa and Dave become hearty too. But see that situation can't last forever.

Monday, March 05, 2007


When I come back from meeting, am surprised and pleased to see the Contessa waiting in my office. Ask how she is. She says that the gossip mill at the other building is in fine form. (Experience brief bitter moment of feeling left out of all gossip). She says that she was bearing up until the Vice-Boss came in and asked to Speak to Her in her office. Once in the office, door shut behind her, she was wrapped up in a hug--the vice-boss is anorexic again--and the Contessa says that she could hear bone scraping on bone. Then the Vice-Boss talked about her failed marriage. And then she cried, and asked the Contessa if she had any Kleenex, and if not, then maybe she could go buy some for the office??? The Contessa says she took the money offered--three crumpled up ones fished out from bag--and hasn't been back yet. The Contessa looks like she is about to cry herself. Ask tentatively, Did the New Man come into work today? She replies, He wouldn't dare. Judging from the look on the Contessa's face, can well believe it, but wonder why she didn't call in sick today too. Ask how she is doing otherwise. She shakes her head no, gathers up her coat and says that she is going for a walk and she might end up back at my apartment if that is OK, but that she isn't going to cry anymore. Tell her yes, of course, and no, of course she won't.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Contessa's Bad News

Receive phone call late last night and am awakened from dream in which have just had fried fish and tea with Sarah Silverman (why?) It is the Contessa on the phone. The wedding is off, she says in exhausted sort of voice. Can she come stay at my place--she'll tell me all about it when she gets here. Say yes, of course. Am glad that she has called, but her approach starts a tense and initially unproductive search for clean sheets. Dave is helping in search and he puts in his monthly bid for a cleaning lady to come and do our laundry. Before have chance to retort, remember box of sheets on top shelf of most inaccessable closet. Sheets, when found, are, technically clean, but perhaps not the freshest, and consist of one gingham sheet and one a sort of lurid chintz that can't imagine me or Dave buying or accepting (where then did it come from?) and two unmatched pillow cases, scratchy things from Ikea. But when the Contessa comes, sheets are not what she is worried about. The New Man has cheated on her with Jackie. Ask, shocked, Jackie from school? The Contessa nods grimly, the very one. The only bright side she can see is that the New Man's sister is going to be very, very upset and bigoted about Jackie. Tell the Contessa that she is being very strong--how is she doing it? At this she begins to sob. Rub her back. Dave, who has been in the other room, hears the proceedings, and with great presence of mind makes everyone cocoa which we spike with whiskey and drink once the Contessa catches her breath. Why, she asks, very late in the evening, why do things have to be ruined right when they seem to be going so well? Do not have an answer for her, and can only suggest that we make ourselves quesadillas.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Oliver's Black Eye

Oliver's right eye is swollen practically shut and is bruised. Eye itself--what can be seen of it is a grisly red color, presumably from broken blood vessel. Have thought that it might be funny if ignored eye and pretended like all was normal--Oliver has taken small mirror out of his desk and is examining his eye, looking pretty pleased with himself and also shooting side-long glances at me. Feel that ignoring the eye will involve battle of wills which do not have the energy for, so ask, How did that happen? Oliver puts down his mirror. He replies, How did what happen? He looks even more pleased than before. Half an hour later, wish had paid attention to original impulse to ignore wound, as have been treated to convoluted and self-aggrandizing tale, the gist of which is that he was punched in the face by a friend on a dare. Do not understand and do not approve and when free self from story, go into office, shut door, and call up the Contessa, who says firmly that if any so-called friend ever punched her in the face, That Would be That. And, she adds, she would be shocked if Drugs and Alcohol weren't involved and then just as we are going down the road of our own previous shocking behavior, she says, The New Man says he wants to talk to me. Let me call you back.