Sunday, February 26, 2006

Made it


I successfully finished my first week at the new job and I really, truly like what I do and the people I work with. My boss actually complimented me for something I'd done well in front of her boss. I was amazed. I told Shawn about it and he said that's what normal bosses are supposed to do. I had forgotten. Three people who didn't have any idea about my skill level brought me pieces to edit and were very thankful when I turned them back. Along with that, everybody seems extremely competent and motivated--like, they want to do their jobs and do them well and will stay extra hours to get things done. I brought some work home over the weekend; editing this handbook and I get a tiny thrill when I find a mistake because I'm helping, I'm helping! So much is going on there in terms of rebuilding and vitalizing the campus and drawing in more students and caring about community outreach. I remember my first week at the other job and how I cried at least once because the girls there were so cliche and because I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. This week, I had lunch with two different people, took the subway home with a third, and was offered a ride home by another girl who lives in South Philly.

(Shawn is scanning the Philadelphia Inquirer for open houses and getting snarkier and snarkier as it dawns on him that to buy a house in this area will require half a million dollars).

I did nothing yesterday because I had the de ja vu--a seizure about every hour or more starting the night before and continuing even after I went to bed. It drains me and turns my head vacant. The seizures only happen when I'm fatigued and haven't eaten well. The same images repeat, but they vanish when the seizure ends (about 20-30 seconds). The face of someone I know but who I can't remember afterwards; a sort of horsey looking person or a young guy with shoulder length black hair. Phrases that repeat; "It's my turn," and something else about time. What's most disconcerting is that when the seizures happen, it doesn't matter where I am or what I'm seeing; the thing I'm looking at seems to be a related to what I'm trying to remember. For instance, we ate out at a Mexican restaurant last night and the de ja vu happened a couple of times before and during dinner, and it seemed like the other people in the restaurant were connected to the dream or the memory I was trying to piece together and have been trying to uncover the entire day. But later, I could be sitting at our own kitchen table when it happens again, and I glance at the floor thinking, This was in my dream too, the floor tiles, they mean something. But when it ends, none of it makes any sense and there is no answer to what I'm trying to remember. It's frustrating and compelling too. If I were a character in one of Stephen King's gunslinger novels, the visions would be from another world or time and hold the key to a greater truth that would at some point save my life if I can manage to figure out what they mean.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Quickly, quickly

I don't have much time to write because I have the first in five meetings for today in 10 minutes. I feel like I am pretending to be an assistant director. I have my own office which has come equippted with the following: a flat screened computer with speakers, a scanner, a printer, a palm pilot, an eraserboard, paper cutter, filing cabinet, phone, 2 booshelves, bulletin board, and, my favorite of all, a space heater. Oh, and there's a coat hanger on the back of the door. The door which I can shut if I want some privacy. The door which is not a cubicle wall. I'm wearing a suit today with a jacket that doesn't quite fit. It's the bust-line that's the problem. Is it unprofessional to wear a suit that won't button? The sleeve and waist length are fine. Oh the curse of being voluptuous!

Weird former job work dream last night. I went to an Indigo Girl concert that everyone from my old job also attended, including the male VP who I had a slight crush on. He was there with his wife and kids, but I kept trying to get his attention by singing really loudly to the IG songs (though I only know about 2 of them). Then suddenly the venue changed to being outside and a girl slipped on the ice. She fell on her head, and the noise of her head hitting the ice made an audible thumping noise. I immediately considered the possibility that she might go brain dead and be a potential donor. I ran to her side. She kept trying to stand up, but I told her to keep still. A nurse came over and gave her a shot with a long needle in the side of her mouth. After about one minute, she came back and stuck a screw in her check and then a long bar to secure it. Do not ask me what this was for, but it appeared that the girl would be okay. Nevertheless, I was required to report on the incident at a QB meeting of me, the VP, BN, and my friend Tamara. I wrote my notes on a napkin, leaving out very important pieces of information such as the outcome of the case. The VP was unimpressed. When will these dreams end?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Last Day: Cry Freedom

I start my new job tomorrow. What if I do something really dumb like forget to set my alarm and show up three hours late or accidentally ingest LSD and start tripping in front of the Provost? Or make an inappropriate joke or walk around with my skirt unknowingly tucked into my underwear (this happened to me in real life once). I hope I can do this job. I think I can, but I feel like I have to go in there on the first day and start making flow charts and setting up meetings and illustrating how assistant director-ish I am.

Isn't it true that beginning a new job is supposed to be one of the top ten stressors in life, right up there with death of a loved one and moving? To my own personal top ten lists of fears, I would add (1). being judged by the grocery store clerk for not buying healthier food; (2). getting a horrible hair cut because I don't stand up to my hairdresser when s/he starts shaving my head which reminds me of another fear I just came up with the other day; (3). becoming so frustrated with my hair that I momentarily lose all sense and give myself really short, uneven bangs; (4) the apocolypse. I think about this more than I should especially after hearing W speak or after learning another new, horrifying piece of legislation his administration is trying to enact; (5) realizing half-way through a work day that what I'm wearing is horribly mismatched (this has happened to me several times. I once went to work wearing one black boot and one brown boot); (6). death of my cat; (7). and waking up one day and realizing that I've spent my entire life being afraid of dumb things.

Fears I've learned to live with: (1) tripping over nothing on a public sidewalk. I do that on a regular basis and it no longer phases me.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wrote this on Thursday but had no posting abilities

The best young artist people-watching in the city belongs to the Starbucks on Pine and Broad because the University of the Arts is right behind us. Here we have a kid wearing knee high athletic socks and sandals. He still sports a flush of adolescent acne. All of them must required to carry canvas bags with long straps to hang across their chests. They must also have unkempt hair—the girls wear it long and tangled and the boys have white kid Afros or long bangs they must constantly flick out of their ever-watching eyes, who’s looking at me? Who’s not looking at me? How are they reacting? A totally hot guy with a girl who has real dark red hair, Botticelli features and coloring, very pretty too though appears more conservative than he is. He has a square, cleft chin and long, straight blond hair in a Beatles type style, bug eyes, scruffy face. A younger, blond, less smelly looking Jared Leto doppelganger or else James Spader if JS were actually attractive. Once again, the look for me is spoiled by his shortness. I can’t hear what they’re talking about, but it appears to have something to do with her making her schedule, she keeps writing things in a pink planning book. Both are drinking Seagram’s ginger ale, not a Starbucks product in sight. Girls must also don sunglasses bigger than their heads and too long, hazardous multi-colored scarves made out of fluffy stuff. While I was walking here, the kid behind me (green train conductor hat, low slung dark blue jeans, nose piercing) said, Yeah, like he didn’t teach anything in that class, but I learned a lot from him. Profound or profoundly stupid? They have gone and in their place is another handsome short kid with a cleft chin, his hair is long and brown, he’s reading a paperback with da Vinci painting on the front. (The barrista just said, “I do have a way about myself, yeah.” He might be joking. He’s talking to girl—I think it’s a girl, I can only see her hands. He’s cute too, in a greasy way. It seems like he’s talking about how he enjoys the job at Starbucks. He’s good at maintaining eye contact with this person—if guys only knew how effective that is—how much women appreciate being listened to. My mom read somewhere that it’s for that very reason that housewives love the men on soap operas—on the shows, they really listen and respond. Though of course no one ever tells the whole story—that would wrap up the conflicts in like a day instead of six months). He’s leaving. Goodbye second cleft chin boy in twenty minutes. Good luck in your pursuit of art and the perfect non-haircut looking haircut. Half an hour later: a man across me wearing a checked taxi hat, robin blue sneakers, sideburns, he ordered something with whipped cream on top and is also eating a Subway sandwich and Fritos and flipping through Surfer magazine.

Omigod, no one in this coffee shop but me noticed this Afghan hound that trotted by wearing a gold lame scarf on its head. I swear to God. I smiled at the person walking her and she smiled back. Omigod again, Starbucks has its own satellite radio station. SICK! Okay, I mean they are playing Belle and Sebastian, but still.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Veneral Disease Day


Shawn and I went to Mandoline, a byob on 2nd and Chestnut for dinner last night. I gave him a book of sonnets, pjs and WD 40 for his bike. He gave me a lovely undergarment as (not so subtly) requested by me. He ordered better than me--a filet lightly doused in oyster sauce (whatever that is). I had scallops on top of potatoes that were covered in some kind of sweet juice. Both of us ate too fast. The waitress became our best friend even though we didn't order appetizers or dessert (the bill still totalled $58).

There's an attractive, possibly gay boy sitting at the table across the room. He's short---I can see this even though he's sitting down. He has moussed blond hair and side-burns and looks to be about 25 years old. He's writing in pencil in a notebook. He would be 5,000 times cuter except for the fact that he's wearing his oxford shirt unbuttoned just one button too far. I suspect it's to show off the thick silver necklace he has on--another fashion faux pas. He looks like a cross between an Abercrombie & Fitch model and a cast member from Dance Fever circa 1979. It's unfortunate.

Here's one thing I will admit hating about Starbucks; they have nothing good to eat. This is a lame critique, after all, they're a coffee shop, but at the same time, could they come up with something more than bagels and dry lemon poppyseed muffins? I'm hungry but don't want to leave yet (haven't written any fiction) and the only thing I could possibly think about eating and enjoying is a white frosted cupcake with sprinkles, but that's not very healthy, now is it?

Obviously, I'm bored and uninspired today.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Still haunted

Another work dream last night. This time, I was stuck in line for a party behind the VP and had to make awkward conversation with her for fifteen minutes. Then Shawn came up and charmed her by doing this intricate tango in the middle of the room. Woke up again this morning surprised to remember I don't have to go in there ever ever again.

I've been rereading some of the journal entries I wrote during our quarterback meetings and a pattern emerges in case after case--if you shoot yourself in the head, you will probably be a donor. Or let's just say, you have a greater chance of donating. So many cases start with SIGSW (self-inflicted gun shot wound), so you have a family in grief over the death along with the highly complicated feelings of anger, guilt, and shock that follow a suicide (that sounds like a sentence from a textbook). Some day, maybe I'll be able to write a short story about a case--lots of quotables from the meetings because on some level, you have to be a little punchy about it or else sob the whole time so people say stuff like, "Guess he was off in a depressive cycle that day."

(By the way, I hate when people want to ask you a favor and they say, What are you doing right now? Just ask the favor first so the person can decide if he/she wants to do it. Some guy just did that in here--"Yeah, oh, okay, you're not busy so could you give me a quick ride to the airport?").

We have dinner reservations tonight for a byob. The only problem is that I can't remember what restaurant we're supposed to go to. The only details I have are that it's located at 2nd and Chestnut and the name of the restaurant begins with the letter "M." Shawn hates Valentine's Day and does not want to participate, but he has agreed to go to dinner with me and to buy me something resembling (but not necessarily functioning as) a bra. Right, baby?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Wish You Were Here, So Glad I'm Not There


It is the first day of my temporary unemployment and I'm sitting at the Starbucks on 9th and South Street using someone else's Wireless connection illegally and feeling no moral qualms about it in the slightest. I have the rest of this week off and two days next week before I start the new job. I'm determined to spend at least part of each day writingf, even if it's only an hour or so. I have got to get into better writing habits. Dinty Moore (his real name) from Pennsylvania English sent me a copy of an essay I had published in that journal like four years ago and I reread it this weekend and liked it a lot and envied the me who used to write. I can't continue the rest of my life rereading old pieces that have been published; I have to keep moving forward. Maybe this new job will help, especially if I can take a grad fiction class in the fall which I am determined to do.

I am still experiencing PTSD from the previous job. Had nightmares all weekend about it. In the first one, I showed up at my last day four hours late, wearing a really cute pair of denim shorts (?) and a white t-shirt. I was extra stressed out because I had to perform in a musical in the afternoon and hadn't made any of the rehearsals and I was also worried that my boss would be mad that I showed up so tardy. Another dream had my boss telling me that I wouldn't be allowed to leave until I wrote the three employee promotion press releases though all of the staff had gone home for the day or were on vacation for the next three weeks. In another, he called me into his office to have me explain why I wrote that letter to the president and vp about his performance. Last night's dreams confused work and the episode of Grey's Anatomy I watched last night--something about me having to perform an emergency operation and make sure our graphic designer received the photographs for the next newsletter. Needless to say, I'm very happy that I don't have to work there any more this week--could've been responsible for three more days this week if I played by the rules. Instead, I'm watching the icycles melt from the eaves of this coffee shop and watching people walk gingerly across the slippery sidwalks and drinking coffee.

Okay, but speaking of Grey's Anatomy, I kind of hate it. I suppose the dialogue is better than most shows of its kind, but there's something irritating about it--maybe the idea that the writers aren't as good as they think they are, and maybe that they are really good at times. Here's an example of possibly good or horrible dialogue from the last scene:

Skinny Dr. Who Needs to be Hospitalized Herself in Real Life Because of Her Obvious Eating Disorder: As I was standing there, about to blow up (she had her hand on a bomb inside a patient. Plausibility is not a concern for this show), all I could think about was that I couldn't remember the last time I kissesd you.

Hot Patrick Dempsey Who I Have Always Liked Since Can't Buy Me Love and So Therefore Get Dibs on Him if We Should Ever Meet: (pauses. He was just about to walk out the door) it was a Thursday morning. Your hair was wet because you had just taken a shower and you were wearing that t-shirt with the whole in the back of the neck. Your hair smelled like flowers. I was running late for work and you were sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. You kissed me goodbye, a quick kiss but soft, a kiss like we would have the rest of our lives to kiss (or something like that) (He starts to exit).

Skinny: Lavendar! The conditioner I used smelled like lavendar (here's were I resent the writers because I assume they think they're being clever as lavendar is the fragrance of memory. It comes up in Shakespeare. This show is not Shakespearean).

HPD: That's right...lavendar. I remember. (Exit stage right. Cut to SD standing with her hands at her sides in the amazing foyer of this apartment she could never afford on an intern's salary even with three other roommates but oh well. Music swells. Fade to..Budweiser commercial).

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

I am Not Your Housewife. I am Your ApartmentGirlfriend.


I had the brilliant idea on Saturday night while at karaoke to make a list of all the housecleaning duties that need to be done on a fairly regular basis and then to write up two separate lists for what I often do and what he often does and, needless to say, it led to an in public fight consisting mostly of hissing comments made across the table at one another because we were around a bunch of others trying to have fun. It did not, as I had hoped, lead to Shawn wanting to take a greater part of the housekeeping duties but rather to him telling me I should clean his bathroom and he'll pay the phone bill. Or something like that.



We watched more of the American Idol auditions last night (Boston), and I have to admit that I have a slight crush on Simon, if only because he's the only honest one of all three judges. Paula A. would tell a ventriolquist to keep trying and the other guy is too nice as well, except when he's holding his head in his hands and laughing while the contestant is still singing. So much of this show has to be staged. I would never ever try out for American Idol (I know I can't sing) and so I wonder why is that some of these people give it a shot at all when they are so bad. One girl actually did the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club. Can that be real?

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

A look into my future


I was having an ugly-feeling day on Sunday when we went over to our friends to watch the Superbowl and so we were drinking Cosmos and then a PBR and then some red wine, you know, the usual alcoholics fare and having a good time. I said something kind of funny and everyone laughed and I was still please with myself when I went into the bathroom and caught a glimpse of my reflection and I thought, Omigod, I'm becoming a "character." As in the kind of person that people go, Oh, that Aimee, she's a character! My hair was all over the place and I looked pale and a little unwell and jolly. I don't want to be a character. I only want to be pretty and desirable. I don't want to be Ethel Merman, but that's how I looked and felt at that moment. I am doomed to characterhood.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Oh, "Peggy," how I'll miss you

It seems like just yesterday that I thought donation and transplantation boiled down to whether or not you had "organ donor" on your license. How young and foolish I was! I now can tell you much, much, much more about the process than I ever hoped to know and than you will ever want to hear. I have heard hundreds of stories of untimely, tragic deaths and like maybe three happy stories of transplant recipients. Just today, I photoshopped eight quilt squares, each one dedicated to someone who died this past year. Some squares have the faces of the person who has died scanned on them. One has the name crookedly embroidered across the front by the spouse. Others have stickers and patches glued on them. How do you pick what will go on square to represent a person's entire life? Mine would consist of cat hair, an ink stain, and the words "she petted every dog she ever met" in glitter. I don't mean to make light of the squares. They are incredibly sad and touching and I hope to never, ever see one again.

Here are some sentences and clauses I have written about 245 times in the last few months:

1. "Make your license a license to heal today."
2. "Ordinary people have made the extraordinary power to save lives."
3. "One tissue donor can impact the lives of more than 50 people" (I still think that's an exaggeration, but okay).
4. "...the critical need for organ and tissue donation."
5. "Donate life on-line..."
6. "Who knew that your saphenous vein could come in so handy?"
7. "Join us...Kick off...Celebrate...Lace up your sneakers...!!!!!!"
8. "Help me, help me, help me" (scribbled on notebook paper during dept. meetings).

Liz L. lent me The Devil Wears Prada last night. She told me that the woman who wrote the novel based it on her real life experience with a hellish woman she worked with at Vogue. And she was on the best seller list for months and months. They are now making it into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. My mom always said that living well is the best revenge.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Live and in person from your local coffee shop

That's right, I have taken my laptop to this coffee shop in Italian Market and dragged Shawn along with me and managed to connect to their Wireless connection. Shawn did not want to come and i don't think this is the best example to give him about how great coffee shops can be because it's very smoky and they are playing the worst music ever...1980s mix of the shit that no one liked then and no one likes now. "Lies, lies, lies, get out!" And now, "Talking in Your Sleep" or whatever the hell Now we have this dwarfish old man with a limp and a brown hat who is loitering near us with a cigarette pinched between his fingers. Possibly retarded or a stroke vicitm. I know it will be a cinch to get Shawn back here every weekend! We seem to be having bad luck this weekend with obnoxious strangers--same problem at Moriarity's last night where we went for karaoke. We sat next to a table of 21 year old girls in sparkly tank tops who all looked slightly pregnant. They had what's known as the "muffin top" look; a term stolen from the Hipster Handbook to describe a woman (or man, I guess) whose jeans are so tight that her/his stomach hangs over it on all sides. The ringleader, Tara, sang two songs in an unfortunate voice--Liz Phair's "Why Can't I?" and something else that everyone at her table pretended she did really well. "Good job, Baby Doll!" Shawn ducked his head in embarrassment when I attemped to put a sugar packet in the visible butt crack of one of the girls. Shawn and I sang "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" to moderate smattering of applause and before we left, he brought down the house with Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" (bum-bum-ba!). Then of course we went home to spend the next two hours singing our own Karaoke Nation on Playstation II. We are very very good on our own.

(Shawn, who is reading the Inquirer, keeps sharing news tidbits with me while I'm writing and because he's been so good and come with me, I'm trying not to snap at him).

Bad dreams last night wherein I'm fighting with one of our VP's and she's telling me I need to clear out my desk immediately and then she starts crying and I'm all indignant and then later sneak back to get my stuff from my cubicle and decide to take the digital camera for ransom so they have to give me my vacation pay. It's amazing how, even though I'm leaving, I'm still frightened of getting into trouble or being reprimanded. Part of my continual anxiety stems from this letter to them I've been writing in my head to them...I really feel like I shouldn't leave until I explain the atmosphere in our department.

The small guy in the hat just asked, "Am I tall or short?" to the man he's sitting with--some guy I suspect he doesn't know very well because the guy doesn't respond much--just nods his head and looks around wildly for someone to come to his rescue.

Okay, so now I must try to freewrite for like thirty minutes. Something, anything.