Thursday, November 29, 2007

Watch 30-Rock Tonight and See Someone I Almost Made Out With!

Well, if by almost, you count that we have been at a few of the same social gatherings, and if you count that he might have just been pretending to have zero interest in me, and if you count that if we were introduced again tomorrow, he would politely shake my hand and say, Hi, Annie. Be that as it may, I do sort of know this guy--Val/Matt of Val Emmich, the indie pop band with all attractive members. Val/Matt is the lead singer and also adorable and has an agent and so got this part on 30 Rock wherein he gets to kiss Tina Fey. Look, look at his dirty li'l hipster cute pensiveness!

We first met at Julie and Danny's wedding, where my other friend, Jess and I were single gals living it up in our high heels. I danced a song (or two?) with Val and at the end of the song, put both hands on his face and said, I think you will go far. I think you are a very special person. Apparently, I had been watching way too many Dawson's Creek reruns. I think he said, Gee, thanks, ma'am. You're not driving yourself home, are you?

Reminds me of another time when I said the dumbest thing--this was at a Psi Kappi Phi party at FSU. My friend Cindy Harris and I were little sisters there, which basically meant that we were invited to parties and seen as options for making out with the frat boys. My big brother was the president of the frat so I felt really singled-out, then colossally disappointed when he informed me that he had a girlfriend and would never consider making out with a little sister anyway. I said, Haven't you read any Faulkner? It's okay to kiss yer sister! Anyway, what I really said that was reminiscent of my comment to Val/Matt occurred at the end of the party. There had been a band and we were dancing to 80s music on the basketball court outside of the frat house and as we were getting ready to leave, my big brother asked me if I had a good time. I said, Yes! I had a great time! I danced real hard! The record scratched and we were taken home to pull out our scrunchies and dream of future keg stands.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Have the Musical Tastes of a 23 year old frat boy from 1993

Now that I have nearly 500 songs on my i-pod (had more but accidentally deleted them all and had to start over), I am starting to realize that my taste in music is pretty goofy. I almost always listen to the i-pod on "shuffle," and then fitfully hit "next song" if I don't like what comes on until I find something I do want to hear. More often than I'd like to admit, the song I settle on is by Greenday or BareNaked Ladies or Blind Melon or The Lemonheads. Tragic.

Got to meet Padhraig's sister and her boyfriend on Sunday. Padhraig made brunch and we got to taste real, smuggled in Irish bacon. Then we walked downtown and the Suzanne and Carrie went to the spa and Padhraig and Richard and I went to Macy's. We walked down to Borders and Padhraig found my book. They had five in stock at the Philadelphia store and a few in other area stores. Very exciting. They also had them alphabetized in the wrong place, but I asked the guy and he moved them. Richard bought one which I thought was very nice since I don't think the stories really appeal to 20-something men so much. Not one single narrator is a guy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Everything That Rises Must Converge

Felt like that old woman in the story by Flannery O'Connor today as I browsed Circle Thrift and found myself followed by two little African-American kids--one was about three (the boy) and the other was maybe 6 (the girl). They were with their grandma and something I said to them made them think they could talk to me and then the little girl came asked me if I could help her look at some baby clothes. She said she had two dolls and wanted to buy booties for one of them. I took the box off the shelf and we went through it and she said, But I can't buy this. I only have two dollars. I said, Well, go ask your grandma if it's okay if I give you a dollar. She went over and asked the silent older woman who was browsing through the kitchen stuff and seemed utterly unconnected to the children. I didn't want to be insulting, I didn't want to be like, Oh, you poor li'l Negro chillren, here you go, here's a penny! At the same time, what's a dollar to me? So, the little girl went to ask her grandma if it was okay if this strange white person gave her a dollar and then she returned to me and said, She won't answer me. I surreptitiously slipped her and her brother 4 quarters each and tried to say something life changing to them like, When you're all grown up and you meet someone who needs something, be sure to give them a fucking quarter. Then I waited for the grandma to become indignant and hit me with her pocketbook. She did not. I don't know if the little girl got the booties she wanted or if the little boy got the puzzle book, but it was strange. If they had been white, would I have thought to offer them money or been so accepting of their asking? Maybe not.

In any case, I bought a very fuscia Christmas tree and also a silver wreath with pink. blue and yellow lights that I like very much.

I am listening to Prairie Home Companion (please see previous post where listening to Garrison Keillor gives me an unpleasant tickle up my spine due to his nasalness). Billy Collins is on the program, reading his poetry. I met Billy Collins when I was a student at Penn State. He's an older man with that halo type monk hair cut. He is an excellent poet and a good reader and I was enamored because even though I had never heard of him before, I knew he was famous and a good writer. He drank too much whiskey and propositioned me, only after having been rejected by this other girl, Molly, can't remember her last name, just that she was very sweet and boring and had a gigantic head. I think I overheard him saying that she had the face of an angel. I am not sure if he told me the same, but he pretended to have noticed me in the audience while he was reading. He wrote his hotel number in red colored pencil on a napkin, inviting me to visit him later so that perhaps I could inspire a new line of Victoria's Secret poetry. I was flattered but did not for a second consider taking him up on it, because he had a lot of nostril hair and was older and was drunk.

"Victoria's Secret," by B Collins

The one in the upper-left-hand corner
is giving me a look that says
I know you are here
and I have nothing better to do
for the remainder of human time
than return your persistent but engaging stare.
She is wearing a deeply scalloped
flame-stitch halter top
with padded push-up styling
and easy side-zip tap pants.

The one on the facing page, however,
who looks at me over her bare shoulder,
cannot hide the shadow of annoyance in her brow.
You have interrupted me,
she seems to be saying,
with your coughing and your loud music.
Now please leave me alone;
let me finish whatever it was I was doing
in my organza-trimmed
whisper weight camisole with
keyhole closure and point d'esprit mesh back.

I wet my thumb and flip the page.
Here, the one who happens to be reclining
in a satin and lace merry widow
with an inset lace-up front,
decorated underwire cups and bodice
with lace ruffles along the bottomand hook-and-eye closure in the back,
is wearing a slightly contorted expression,
her head thrust back, mouth partially open,
a confusing mixture of pain and surprise
as if she had stepped on a tack
just as I was breaking down
her bedroom door with my shoulder.

Nor does the one directly beneath her
looking particularly happy to see me.
She is arching one eyebrow slightly
as if to say, so what if I am wearing nothing
but this stretch panne velvet bodysuit
with a low sweetheart neckline
featuring molded cups and adjustable straps.
Do you have a problem with that?!

The one on the far right is easier to take,
her eyes half-closed
as if she were listening to a medley
of lullabies playing faintly on a music box.
Soon she will drop off to sleep,
her head nestled in the soft crook of her arm,
and later she will wake up in her
Spandex slip dress with the high side slit,
deep scoop neckline, elastic shirring,
and concealed back zip and vent.

But opposite her,
stretched out catlike on a couch
in the warm glow of a paneled library,
is one who wears a distinctly challenging expression,
her face tipped up, exposing
her long neck, her perfectly flared nostrils.
Go ahead, her expression tells me,
take off my satin charmeuse gown
with a sheer, jacquard bodice
decorated with a touch of shimmering Lurex.
Go ahead, fling it into the fireplace.
What do I care, her eyes say, we're all going to hell anyway.

I have other mail to open,
but I cannot help noticing her neighbor
whose eyes are downcast,
her head ever so demurely bowed to the side
as if she were the model who sat for Coreggio
when he painted "The Madonna of St. Jerome,"
only, it became so ungodly hot in Parma
that afternoon, she had to remove
the traditional blue robe
and pose there in his studio
in a beautifully shaped satin teddy
with an embossed V-front,
princess seaming to mold the bodice,
and puckered knit detail.

And occupying the whole facing page
is one who displays that expression
we have come to associate with photographic beauty.
Yes, she is pouting about something,
all lower lip and cheekbone.
Perhaps her ice cream has tumbled
out of its cone onto the parquet floor.
Perhaps she has been waiting all day
for a new sofa to be delivered,
waiting all day in stretch lace hipster
with lattice edging, satin frog closures,
velvet scrollwork, cuffed ankles,
flare silhouette, and knotted shoulder straps
available in black, champagne, almond,
cinnabar, plum, bronze, mocha, peach, ivory, caramel, blush, butter, rose, and periwinkle.
It is, of course, impossible to say,
impossible to know what she is thinking,
why her mouth is the shape of petulance.

But this is already too much.
Who has the time to linger on these delicate
lures, these once unmentionable things?
Life is rushing by like a mad, swollen river.
One minute roses are opening in the garden
and the next, snow is flying past my window.
Plus the phone is ringing.
The dog is whining at the door,
Rain is beating on the roof.
And as always there is a list of things I have to do
before the night descends, black and silky,
and the dark hours begin to hurtle by,
before the little doors of the body swing shut
and I ride to sleep, my closed eyes
still burning from all the glossy lights of day.

I most certainly have gotten some of the line breaks wrong, but you get the idea. I wish I could find one of my poems, but they are lost somewhere, perhaps under the sofa with a sock I have also forgotten.

When I'm an Old Lady I Shall Be Unwise

Have perhaps been reading too much Alice Munro as of late. This is due to the fact that instead of buying the book for this comedy of a grad class (an anthology), I checked out most of the novellas from the library (and borrowed others--thanks, Stephanie--and owned others already), but can't remember which one we're actually supposed to read for class. Consequently, I have overdosed on her stories; having read about six of them in this library book. I do like Alice Munro though her stories are somewhat dense with disgruntled Canadians. She always seems to have an interesting secret at the heart of each piece. A murder, a mistress, a cutting betrayal from a loved one. But the drama is muted, not sensational and is more interesting this way. Anyway, a lot of her characters are looking back on their lives or the narrator is a child trying to puzzle out the behavior of adults. This of course made me think of myself (what doesn't?) and about the kids who live in the house behind mine and how they sometimes see me, this slightly friendly single woman who appears every morning in various stages of night clothes to pour cheap cat food into plastic bowls for every cat in South Philadelphia. And what does this tell them about the world? That not everyone gets married, that not every woman cooks dinner (very seldom will they glimpse me toiling over a meal in the kitchen window), that not every adult puts on all of her clothes before stepping outside.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Actual Fires Were Started

As it turns out, Lisa Marie's oven broke at the last second and she had to come over here to finish cooking the turkey, the stuffing, and some potatoes. We were not able to cook the frozen pumpkin pie because neither one of us could figure out how to remove the oven racks. You will likely not find two less qualified people to be attempting to put together a dinner for ten. I did nothing actually except at the end, I suggested we could baste the turkey in some of the juices. We both did this for awhile, wondering if it would do something toxic to the meat, unbeknownst to us. But we made it and turkey was served (though it wasn't cooked all the way through in every place, it was mostly done).

Got to meet baby Ruby who is a dream child--didn't cry or fuss like the rest of us. I suspect she's not fully human; she must be part Sainted baby. I expected her to bless us at any second, holding up two fingers and waving them our way as most baby pope statues do. Didn't help at all at the house, except for being sure that the wine bottles were properly opened. Luckily, no one made us go around and say what we're thankful for because that inevitably turns cheesy and sad. We briefly played charades, but since I cut up all of the tags, I wasn't allowed to guess and could only act out movies. Stephanie's husband got one right away--I forget what it was--but I just did one gesture and he was like, The Fall of the House of Usher! Brilliant.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Oh, Good, Christmas Songs

So, like, at what point is okay to start hearing Christmas carols? Because in flipping through the TV channels, I have heard no fewer than 5 Christmas songs, most featuring animated snowmen (note: why are snow people always men? Or am I just assuming that they're men? Maybe they are actually snow women. I mean, what does the carrot symbolize, anyway? Obviously, I should stop drinking wine and just go to bed).

Maybe I'm being over sensitive, but there seems to be something desperate about all of this sudden holiday cheer, something Wizard of Oz about it, like, don't look behind this curtain, don't fret about this "war" in Iraq, stop thinking about how we might possibly be spinning into a recession and/or depression--instead, go to Old Navy or Macy's or Home Depot and buy, buy, buy in the name of Jesus' birthday. Or possibly I am all out of sorts because it's 60 degrees in November. Is this winter? Does this unseasonable weather have anything to do with global warming? Or should I just ignore all of this and go shopping for a bathing suit?

Am Thankful Also Not to be Cooking

My contribution to the Thanksgiving dinner will be brie, crackers, celery and carrots with dip, and wine. None of which required any sweat or tears on my part. Lisa Marie is making a turkey and everything else.
Here are some great Thanksgiving crafts you can do to make this joyous holiday even more fabulous (as taken from Martha Stewart's Living magazine):

1. Catch a few squirrels and dress them up in traditional pilgrim/Native American wear (probably just hats) and put on a play re-enacting the first Thanksgiving.

2. After eating the turkey, separate all of the bones and glue them to a large piece of paper and label each bone with its proper anatomical name (tibia, fibia, ulna, radius, etc.).

3. Fill the bathtub with hot cider (requires approximately twenty gallons of juice) and bob for cranberries.

4. Get a copy of Pilgrim's Progress, cut out relevant passages and replace and fill in the blanks with random verbs and nouns to rewrite the book ala a Mad Lib.

5. Gather 500 pine cones and build a two-room tepee.

6. Take turns giving each other traditional Native American hair-cuts while wearing blindfolds.

7. It's never too late to enter your balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

8. Invade the home of your neighbors wearing pilgrim garb, tie them up, and feed them turkey.

9. Put saddles on 4-6 live turkeys and have turkey races in the living room.

10. After you're bored with the turkey races, pluck the birds and use the feathers to weave together skirts and head-dresses and then perform a traditional Native American rain dance on the front lawn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What in the World Has Come Over Me?

Had a fairly innocuous Tuesday...Nothing crazy happened at work, I was in a pretty happy mood, good music on my ipod and then, very close to my house, I crossed the street after one car had gone past the stop sign, but apparently, the SUV behind that car didn't want to wait his turn and barreled forward without stopping. I probably would have been hit, except for this little hipster couple waiting to cross next to me who said, "Watch out!" I stopped and was not hit, but this upset the driver, who pulled forward and then stopped his tank. In the SUV was a fat man, his wife, and this twenty year old guy.

The driver said, "Watch it, you jerk-off! What the hell are you doing?"

I yelled back, "It's called a stop sign! Learn to read."

He said, "Hey, jerk-off, take off your fucking ipod!"

I said, "Ever take driver's ed?" The twenty year old jumped out of the back seat, to do what? Beat the crap out of me? I don't know. At the same time, the driver started to pull forward. I cried, "Don't forget your son!" The kid jumped back into the car, more "jerk-off's" were thrown my way. I finished with, "Happy holidays!" The car sped off.

I said to the hipster couple, "Sorry about that. Awesome way to end the day."

I don't know what came over me. I typically avoid conflict at all costs and normally would've apologized for not allowing myself to be flattened. It was liberating, in a way and also scary. Maybe I should scream more often.
Tomorrow, I will have Thanksgiving dinner at Lisa Marie's house. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for crafts that we could do for fun. As a result, we will be coloring pictures of pilgrims and perhaps also making turkey finger puppets.
Here are 10 things I am thankful for right now (not in order of importance):
1. My health
2. A sense of humor
3. My awesome awesome friends
4. Those goddamn cats
5. Books
6. My mom
7. Being fortunate to be white, American and living in this century
8. My brain
9. Trader Joe's
10. That digital camera that I hope to get for Christmas!!
Okay, now you should send me your thankful lists.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Postal Service Special Delivery

Went with Celia this weekend as a passenger in her Philly car share extravaganza. We stopped at IKEA where I had just enough time to eat lunch (meatballs and soggy garlic bread) before racing to Home Depot where I had again just enough time to find a shopping cart before she had finished up. On the way, she put in a CD of The Postal Service, and I said that they sounded familiar and she said that they had one of their songs in UPS commercial, but I am fairly certain that I've heard them before outside of advertising. So I downloaded a few of their songs and can't stop listening to "Such Great Heights" (from the UPS ad) and am wondering if it's something they stole from Iron & Wine or am I confused? The writing is great, great, great and listening to it while walking to the subway or while riding on the subway or wherever I am always makes me feel like I'm in an indie movie and perhaps the next thing you know, some scruffy hipster dude while accidentally bump into me, nearly spilling my coffee and we will fall instantly in love and that would become our song or perhaps the one from the Old Navy sweater commercial would be better?

You'll notice that I have not been giving running commentary on The Bachelor, in part b/c I keep missing it and also b/c I think there are only two of my friends who want to read about it and the rest find it irritating. But, I'm sorry, I have to say that last night's finale was the best/worst/best ever, because The Bachelor opted for neither of the women. None. He said, Pass! Next! to both. I wish, wish, wish, wish he would have then said, And I am also gay and in love with my twin brother, Chad, but this is prime-time network TV after all.

I really really want to start working on this Philadelphia window project. Every day, I pass these amazing decorations in people's front windows and wish I had a camera. I'd like to take the photo or have someone take the photo and then post the photo and a story next to it.

One basement window, for instance, has this drawing some kid probably did in his 10th grade English class in 1978--it's a sketch of the members of Kiss and it's sun-faded and I can't imagine why it's still in the window b/c whoever did it must have left years ago (reminds me of this boy I liked in the third grade, Rawl Brown. He was from Georgia or Tennessee or somewhere and had a Southern accent and all he did during class was draw members of the band Kiss on his folders. He once gave me four of the drawings to keep. I may even have them squirreled away somewhere. I thought he was an excellent drawer. From him, I learned and still remember the names of the band members though would be hard pressed to tell you even one song they sing. Wait! I just thought of one, "Beth." Didn't Peter Criss sing that? "Beth, I hear you callin'/But I don't know what to do..." Cast members: Gene Simmons--scary, bit the heads off of bats, had an extremely long, surgically enhanced tongue and white guy Afro; Paul Stanley --is that right? Can't recall what he dressed as; Ace Frehley--the space dude; and Peter Criss--the cat, and of course, my favorite. I imagined he was the sensitive one, probably because he played the drums and drummers seem to be the shyest members of any heavy metal rock band. ??).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Here's What I've Been Doing

I am not that popular of a girl. So sometimes, on Saturday nights, I find myself at home with the 1,000 cats, watching free Comcast movies. Tonight, it's Philadelphia, a Tom Hanks movie about a lawyer fired b/c he has AIDS. Normally, I hate Tom Hanks b/c of Castaway and Sleepless in Seattle, two movies that I think are highly over-rated. But he is pretty fucking good in this movie and his eyes are really blue. It reminds me of the only personal encounter I've ever had with AIDs. This guy I went to undergrad with, Chaz. I can't remember his last name. While we were in school, I was intimidated by him. He was this very vocal black kid who had a caustic sense of humor. I think that maybe he slept with this other guy I had a huge crush on in school, Michael Chick. And then, in my last year of college, my roommate Michelle and I went to visit Chaz in the hospital. Because he was dying. I recall going into his hospital room and feeling apologetic, not knowing what to say; he barely knew me. In the middle of our conversation, he had to get up out of the hospital bed and slowly make his way to the bathroom. He was not the person I remembered. No longer was he intimidating. He was pale and thin and not snappy. I think he's dead now. He must be dead. This was the early 90s, before better drugs, before HIV didn't mean a death sentence. That's it. It effected me because I realized that I wasn't really that far away from him; that I too was mortal. It didn't sit well with me. It still doesn't.

Intellectual Programming

I have been listening to NPR nonstop; shows including Car Talk (the one with the two brothers who laugh manically the whole time but know what to do if your car is making a funny ticking noise) and whatever that show is after it...Garden Talk? And "This American Life."
And "A Prairie Home Companion." Does Garrison Keillor narrate that show? I suppose he probably does and I have a love/hate relationship with his voice. Often, it seems as though he is talking while resting his nostrils on the microphone. It creates this muffled, intimate effect that causes me squirm. And who is the woman who does all of the female roles? Some of the shows are slightly entertaining and others sort of suck or aren't as clever as one would hope. Interspersed, they present folk singers who I imagine are on-stage wearing square dancing skirts ala the Lawrence Welk show. Perhaps I should try to write for NPR? But, like, what? Also, does GK sing on these shows? I think he does. I hate Lake Woebegon where are all the women are whatever and all of the men are whoever and all the children are above medium. And then at the end, they thank pancakes for sponsoring the show. Yet I continue to listen with a skeptical, knitted brow.

Wrote 2 book reviews for Philadelphia Stories today and have been rereading this story I've worked on for about a year; a crazy sister story. It's a mess. Some okay moments, but it's pretty derivative of Amy Bloom's story about the same thing (schizophrenia). Regardless of any complaints I have about my current job, it has taught me to be precise. To get rid of unnecessary sentences and words and to be suspicious of adjectives. Finished reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich, really a beautiful story that could make one feel less afraid of death. I need to read Goodbye, Columbus for class on Monday. I used to have a copy of the book, but I think I loaned it to Luke. It's one of Jamie's favorite books. I vaguely remember the beginning; some girl asks the narrator to hold her glasses. I often confuse Roth's book with The Graduate for some reason.

Had many vivid dreams last night, including one where a co-worker and I just decided to say fuck it and hook up, regardless of the negative consequences. It was so real that I woke up feeling guilty. I think this means that I need to start dating again. Meanwhile, even as I write this, the fat Henri sits on my lap, staring at me with wonder and fear, certain that I will strangle him if given the chance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

City Life

Molly told me a story the other day about how she was riding the bus and this frazzled, homeless woman was asking passengers for change to help poor children in a Christmas choir. She appealed to Molly directly and explained how every donation would receive a small gift as a thank you. Molly said, I only have fifty cents. The woman said, Every little bit helps. So Molly handed her the quarters and the woman gave her a pen without a top, something she had obviously picked up off the street. Molly was like, Oh, thanks...Similarly, I watched a homeless guy reach into the trash last week and pull out a McDonald's drink cup, sip what was left in it, and then throw it back into the trash. I also saw two guys walking a chihuahua after dark. They were using a tiny little flashlight to find the dog's poop. In other news, there are too many cats in my life. I actually made Liz allergic to me last night simply by sitting next to her in clothes that didn't appear to be covered in a fine dusting of cat hair, but were apparently saturated with catness. Emma Carol is everywhere at once and into everything. At this moment, she is on the kitchen counter drinking out of my water glass and I supect after she's done, she will run across my computer on her way to the window. Often, I am just an impediment to her. Here she comes...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Night Life

I am doing nothing exciting tonight, unless you consider dyeing my hair and painting my toenails to be a scintillating proposition. I did something I'm not particularly proud of today. I bought dollhouse furniture. A sofa and a chair and a baby in a pink crotcheted dress and a lion cub, to be exact. I went with Lisa Marie to A.C. Moore and they have an entire section devoted to dollhouse furniture. LM said that we should do a stop motion film for You Tube using the dolls. Brilliant. I already have a narrative for the dollhouse family in my head. The dad is a closeted gay man (come on, he wears a tight flowered shirt and tie and pants that appear painted on) and the Mom, consequently, is a drunk who often wakes up on the kitchen floor with her head resting on a pat of butter. The daughter tries to ignore it by playing piano all day and torturing the baby. I don't know how the baby will factor in, though I suggested to LM that the baby could be a hermaphrodite who the parents are trying to force to be a girl.
What I should be doing right now is finishing the rest of As I Lay Dying for my Monday night class, but it is a frustrating book to plow through, particularly b/c there are about 15 central narrators named Tull and Vern and Cash and no one's voice is very distinct and you never really know what the fuck is going on, just that they are very poor but also philosophical, even the four-year old (Cardaman?). And also because Faulkner writes like this:

Ma come to the house and had the face of an angel and I thought about the fish and the horses and I said in my head, Ma is a horse too maybe a Palomino and then the dog barked and daddy shot off his rifle into the white sky, killing a broken-winged peasant or so I imagined as the sun streamed down onto my head sending stars and stars and stars around my burning eyes. What you doing, Jude? said Julian and he disappeared into the lake like something from hell or heaven, I don't know which. But that was long ago and I might have dreamt it all. Where did I leave them fishes?

I wrote a poem once that sounded a lot like Faulkner. It was meant to be tongue in cheek but I won this poetry prize for it accidentally (she said, modestly). I don't know what happened to that poem, otherwise, I would retype it here for your benefit, so you could wonder why I chose to use dialect.

If you are not highly focused and if you are not trying to bat a myriad of cats off your bed while reading Faulkner, you could easily get confused and frustrated and throw the book across the room.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Me, Me, Me

How does one balance self-promotion and modesty? I don't know. So, like, I want to tell you good things that are happening to me, but at the same time, I feel like apologizing for being so self-centered. Pretend I'm writing about someone else. Not me. Not me got an e-mail the other day from a literary agent who read my story, "Wanted," in Cimmaron Review and said that he thinks that I could do well with a novel. He suggested that I send him 50 pages of a novel and he would read it and potentially shop it out to publishers. I wrote back to tell him that I do have a book of short stories coming out and that I had a couple of ideas for a novel. He responded with an anticlimactic e-mail that basically said, Well, when you have 50 pages, let me know. I think I could write an Evie book, but I don't know what it would be about. I am resistant to writing this Bridget Jones type book where everything works out in the end and the fat girl gets the hot guy. I'd rather write a novel where the woman doesn't end up with a man. Where she discovers that her entire identity doesn't rest on her ability to attract a man. But maybe that's not so marketable.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Top 10 Recurring Nightmares

I didn't sleep well last night even though the bed is really comfortable here (I'm dog-sitting for Stephanie in King of Prussia). My first mistake was to read a quarter of the way through In Cold Blood before turning off the light. Next, my brain decided it was a good time to remind me that the house is located across from a huge cemetery. So, I don't know if I was worried that real people or ghosts would break in. Anyway, it made for a fitful night of sleep filled with at least three of my more frequent bad dream patterns.

1. The Return of the Ex-Boyfriend. In this dream, I am either faced with an ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend and their exuberant happiness or, worse, I dream I am still dating the ex and haven't, in fact, freed myself of his body odor.

2. You're Late and You Forgot Something Very Important! This dream centers around school anxiety. In it, I suddenly realize I haven't been attending my M/W/F calculus course for weeks and am likely failing and there's a test in five minutes but I'm about forty miles away from the classroom and riding a bus going in the wrong direction.

3. Let's Put on a Show for the Dying Orphans. This type resembles the previous one; it has to do with a last minute production and having forgotten something; namely, the lines of a play that I haven't performed since I was 17 but the curtain is going up in ten minutes to a huge crowd in Yankee Stadium and we are without microphones and have only minimal props and costumes (though it's often a very traditional play which requires both swords and hoop skirts).

4. Hi-Ho, Kitties, Away! It occurs to me that these are all anxiety dreams and not so much nightmares. The kitty dream involves me having to look after dozens and dozens of kittens who keep slipping away from me under fences or getting caught in ravines or a pack of them will take off in five different directions across a meadow of knee-high grass. It doesn't always involve kittens; sometimes it's dogs or rabbits, but the point is that I'm faced with the impossible task of saving all of them when I can't even catch one.

5. What I Should Have Said. Purely an anger dream where I'm screaming the truth at someone who I have never before in my life said one cross word. This dream is often somewhat cathartic along with being frightening.

6. Bridges and Cars. I have two real life fears and they are high bridges with small guardrails and getting into car accidents. I can trace the first fear back to the collapse of the Sky Way Bridge when I was in high school. A ship crashed into one of the pillars and knocked over a huge chunk of the bridge. Dozens of cars careened over the edge and plunged half a mile into the Gulf of Mexico. We used to drive across this bridge while it was in a state of repair and you would look over to the other side where the bridge used to be and see nothing. My bad driving dreams involve me driving a brake-less car at high speeds while not having my contacts in.

7. A Date with Death. I've only had this dream a few times in my life. It's an apocalyptic moment where I come face to face with the Devil and he whispers in my ear, You knew this was coming all along. It's a mortality dream; the end, my death and everything else that has happened previously in my life is suddenly meaningless because I'm about to die and I know that afterwards, there will be nothing.

8. Gross. Occasionally, I'll have dreams that seem straight out of a horror movie; scenes of extreme violence and mayhem, decapitated bodies and blood and general ickiness. Frequently, they seem related to the Holocaust probably because of a short phase I went through as a teenager where I was morbidly fascinated with concentration camps and checked out way too many library books filled with black and white photographs of dead bodies piled on top of one another like firewood. My time working at Gift of Life Donor Program didn't help because every week, I heard at least three true stories of untimely deaths and sometimes, they even had PowerPoint presentations to accompany them.

9. Being Thirteen. Any dream which involves me going back to the time in my life where I wore Coke-bottle glasses and dressed in hand-sewn frocks and pinafores with lace and the occasional straw hat and sported a badly done Dorothy Hamil haircut which never feathered right because I was at that time taking a political stance on vetoing aerosol hair-spray, any dream that whisks me back to those days is a nightmare.

10. Crazy/Retarded/Really Old People. As someone who craves order and good behavior by all, dreams featuring individuals who do not follow the norms of behavior are frightening. I think this stems from a Downs Syndrome kid in our neighborhood when I was seven who once cornered me and wouldn't stop kissing my face. I was horrified.

11. Doll Within a Doll Within a Doll Syndrome. Oh, wait. One more. I can't believe I forgot this one; it's my most common nightmare. For some reason, I think it has to do with the epilepsy because the sensations in it are so real that I feel like it must be the result of some erratic brain activity. It's the dream within a dream within a dream where I keep thinking I've finally woken up, but I haven't. I can really feel things in this dream, often I imagine that one of my cats is attacking me and biting my arm or that I am stuck in my blankets and fighting to get out of them. The main objective of the dream is to wake up out of the nightmare. The scary thing is that I keep thinking I have woken up, only to discover over and over that I haven't. These dreams usually end with me finally waking up and having to force myself to stay awake for a little while or risk falling back into the same pattern.

Luckily, I don't have any of the other classically bad dreams such as being buried alive or trapped under heavy things. I guess this means that I have escaped the fear of claustrophobia. I don't have the falling dream either--the one where you hopefully awake before you splat on the pavement.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sitting on the Dog

I am currently living in a two-story home in the suburbs of King of Prussia, watching a very intelligent and happy Eskipoo dog, T.J., named after a literary figure; I forget whom, maybe a character in To Kill a Mockingbird? We have done mostly nothing today, aside from watching ten episodes of the first season of Project Runway, flipping through back issues of Domino and In Style, and folding laundry. I realize from being here that I am completely sick of my bathroom; more specifically, I hate the tiny, free-standing sink that seems more suited to a small boat than one in a home. Every time I attempt to wash my face, I end up standing in a puddle of water. What a luxury to be staying in a place where you can actually put things down on the bathroom counter. Is there anything I can do to make my bathroom more user-friendly? Aside from shrinking my body down to child-size, I don't think so.

T.J. has been a dreamboat this whole time. All he wants me to do is to throw the ball in the back yard and to let him lean on my leg. He even followed me down into the basement, a place Stephanie told me he doesn't ever visit because of some dark, puppyhood memory he has. I have also realized that I am somewhat OCD. I find it difficult not to arrange things by size or function, not to tidy up and put all of the grocery coupons together or make sure the small pots on the back porch are facing the same direction. It reminds me of when Lynn visited me in Chicago and I returned home from work one day to find that she had rearranged my living space to suit her aesthetic. She had a lot of time on her hands while I was gone and most likely thought she was doing me a favor, but I was slightly offended to find that she had squirreled away my charming Pez dispenser collection and vetoed my doilies. So, I do not want Stephanie to come home and feel critiqued because of my overwhelming urge to make things line up in a certain way.

Eight copies of my book arrived on Thursday. So weird to actually see it in print. I know that everyone will think the girl on the cover is me, though clearly, she's dressed from the 1950s and I'm not that old. I do love the old yellow cat on the cover. And it's true that the photo works well with most of the stories; all of which are about this awkward girl (not ME, of course).
What do I do now? The book doesn't come out until November 28, but I feel like I need to be proactive and start selling myself. For some reason, all of this stresses me out. It has to do with being the center of attention. Most of my friends probably think that I love to be in the spotlight because I am often loud and silly, but the truth is that it's hard for me to have too much attention focused my way, or maybe it's hard for me to accept that this is a good thing. My co-worker, Joe, said the other day, You must be ecstatic. I said, Not really. My range of emotions is fairly contained. He said, But this is a big thing. How many people can say they've had a book published? I said, Lots. He said, No, not lots. I should be past the point now where I need other people to tell me how I should feel about my life, but I'm not. When Padhraig said he bought the book on-line ahead of time, I wanted to be like, Oh, no, you don't have to do that! I don't want to be this person who is self-depreciating to my own detriment. Maybe it's that I feel like a fraud because I haven't written a new story in so long. That's probably a big part of it. I feel like I should make an announcement, Enjoy this now because you will never read anything else of mine ever again. I've given that up. I'm into decoupage now. But fine, if you want to pre-order the book, you can here. And if you happen to have a personal connection with Oprah or The New York Times Review of Books, feel free to recommend it to them.