The Free Skate

There may be a series of posts about Halloween in the next week. This is in spite of the fact that i’m still unsure of where and with whom i going. Halloween’s tricky because there’s a big possibility of either over-committing or under-committing. On the one hand you can say yes to everyone and everything and end up being a tweaker and running all over the place like a loon, or flaking on 5 people and maybe or maybe not feeling bad about it. Alternately you say “Uh Maybe” to everyone and end up scrambling to find someone or somewhere at the last minute cause you’ve effectively said no to everyone.

There’s no chance of me running around to multiple parties this year. For one thing there’s only one door charge per evening in my budget (if that). Another bigger issue is that i’ll be on roller skates, and i want to keep the chances of me tripping over a curb and breaking something at a minimum. Speaking of, i picked up my brand new perfect black roller skates from an angel named Trixie on Sunday. I put them on and realized, that no, i have not been on roller skates since i was 13. You know when you were 13 and zipping around on roller skates like a matchbox car, and then you saw some poor slob adult, bent over and lurching, with no balance whatsoever? Yep, that’s what i’ve grown up and become. But this can not stand, and tonight i’m going to the adult free skate at United Skates of America in order to sharpen up my skills. I’m at a total loss as to what this is going to be like. I did do quite a bit of roller skating when i was younger, but that was always during the day, usually with the YMCA as a planned trip or something. I always knew there were these mystery adults that were really good and skated in the dark and spooky night… but what could they possibly be like? Tonight my friends, i’ll boldy answer that question.

In order to entice me the website has provided a couple of deliciously vague hints. Like it’s $5 for women and $8 for men. This isn’t unusual for a club, who wants to keep it’s quotient of drunk testosterone charged mail patrons balanced (by say 2 to 1) with the calming force of the ladies. But i have a hard time imagining a load of revved up guys clamoring to get in to a roller rink. The hours are 9pm to 1am, which is pretty late for what i keep thinking is a family activity. On the other hand, it was gospel night last night, so the place can’t be that much of a den of iniquity. Right?

I’m gonna go find the answers to these and many more skating questions right now. Here’s to a good skate.

Halloween’s Past

Decided to do the friday five today for no reason except that i’ve got a red wine hangover, and can not seem to get inspired to do anything for a logo i should’ve finished yesterday. But hey the questions are Halloween themed, and i’m a sucker for Halloween themes.

1. What is your favorite scary movie?

I’m not really into horror movies although one Halloween, in 7th or 8th grade maybe, my best friend and i went to this overnight thing at the YMCA where we all watched a half dozen Friday The 13th’s in a row until sunrise. It was fun but i think only for the obsessive nature of it. Otherwise, ehh. I can appreciate the Scream/I Know What You Did Last Summer genre of scary movie. The two scariest movies I’ve ever seen remain forever, Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer and Dead Ringers.

2. What is your favorite Halloween treat?

Making out in a cab on the way home.

3. Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, describe your best Halloween costume.

Always always. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I am famous far and wide for my pun costumes. It all started sophomore year when this senior girl that i semi-idolized showed up at a Halloween party in a joint costume with her friend. They had on regular clothes with maxi-pads stuck all over them. One girl’s pads were colored in red, the other’s blue. They were Picasso’s Red and Blue Periods. [Pause for laughter]. And i found my calling. Now my treasured reaction to one of my pun costumes is a cocked head wit a puzzled expression. And a few seconds later an, “Ah ha!”

My first pun costume was a Swedish Fish, partly because that year i was addicted to the little suckers. I bought them by the pound in a brown paper bag with meal points. So the costume: I made an enormous sandwich board to wear in the shape of a fish out of foam. I painted eyes and scales and a tail on it. Then i had on a long blonde wig and a ski hat – Swedish. Fish. Get it? I also had a bag of the gummi candy to give out as hints. The next year i put the puns on hold in order to be Jon Bennet Ramsey, post-death. I dressed up in super little-girl frilliness, put on loads of make-up, threw a rope around my neck and painted fake blood coming out of my lip-glossed mouth. It was incredibly tacky. At the Village Halloween Parade that year most people thought it was really funny and visibly felt guilty for laughing. I did actually got booed by one small stretch of sidewalk inhabited by more decent citizens. The best part was when i ran into another Jon Bennet Remsey at the parade. This one was with her real father who was dressed up in a suit with a “Hello My Name is… John Ramsey” tag. Brilliant.

The three years worth of costumes after that are escaping me completely right now. It’s worrisome. The next one i can remember was a real beauty. I was a pink slip. I wore a pink slip of course, and then cut out and pasted the more salient pieces of the “Separation Agreement” i had been handed a few weeks earlier at a now-dead Internet agency. They were words like, non-disparagement clause, and non-compete agreement. With the blonde wig, crocheted tights and black boots, i was also on just this side of trashy.

Last year i was living in Paris, and was in New York as a visitor during Halloween. I came in and had 24 hours or so to throw something together. I had a vision on the plane in: all white clothes, trash taped to myself, spray painted white: white trash. Good concept, marginal execution. I ended up in a borrowed Tyvek suit that was made for a 6’2 man with a pizza problem, so i was drowning in it. And real trash isn’t trashy, it’s dirty. In a bad way. I don’t have to look like a street walker on Halloween, but kinda cute is always good. I changed midweek to a pretty faithful pill-addicted Marylin Monroe. The only way i justify dressing up as a celebrity is when it’s a specific, usually painful, portion of their life.

4. Do you enjoy going to haunted houses or other spooky events?

I used to love the Village Halloween parade, but a couple years ago the fun wore off. Ordinarily i love populous crowd-events and my first few years. The parade was the epitome of what i liked about them, interacting with strangers on the street in a loud and silly way. I really can’t say what changed, but something about it became predictable and totally unoriginal. Now i do parties, preferably free ones. And duh, if i could morph back into an 11 year-old, i’d go trick or treating for ever.

5. Will you dress up for Halloween this year?

Does a cow moo? Of course. This year’s costume came to me with the help of two Long Island friends who were visiting me in my Paris apartment all the way back in January. I’ll be in head to toe black, on black roller skates: a rolling blackout.

I Need a Shower

Well here it is folks. After more straight hours at the computer than i’ve had in a really long while, my new portfolio is live at Recommend me to your friends and family. I do good work and do it cheap. That’s all the self promotion i can muster right now because i am dying to go interact with the outside world.

Also you may have noticed that this site now lives at its namesake, Update your links, bookmarks, bathroom stalls…

And uh, not like this is some sort of acceptance speech or something but much love to john, jeff, and darleen for their massive design, editorial, and cheerleading/QA advice respectively. Having talented friends who’ll spend all sorts of time on your shit just cause is the best.

I Know Why He Didn’t Call

As usual rabbit is scarily reading my mind (and i’m beginning to feel like a link-stalker). Today she answers the age old question, Why didn’t he call? This is a question i was asking myself all weekend. She has three unhappy answers but forgot one last one which i’m happy to post here.

Why Didn’t He Call? Addendum

4. You signed up for a new local service plan which includes voice mail. You specifically asked the company to not activate voice mail because you prefer your old school out-loud answering machine for various reasons which are personal and don’t really matter. They say yes of course we can do that for you ma’am. Said (incompetent and just-filed-for-bankruptcy-i-wonder-why) company activates voice mail anyway which conveniently picks up before your old school out-loud answering machine, taking messages that you will never hear because you’d never think to check it because you asked specifically, twice, and they agreed specifically, twice, that it NOT BE ACTIVATED.

Days later, you’ve accepted one of rabbit’s answers cause you’re a with it girl and you know how things play out :

1) He didn’t like you.

2) He liked you but thought you might get weird about everything.

3) He forgot you existed.

But then, in a twist of events, involving e-mail (a seemingly far more reliable method of communication to me now), you have an ah-ha moment and things become clear. And there they are: all your little nuggets of reassurance in the form of, “Hey it’s me.” He did call. And left a sweet message. In fact, a bunch of people you thought were blowing you off called and left messages. In fact, you realize, it is you who is now blowing off a bunch of people, him included.

Naturally i headed straight to the phone and immediately channeled my anger toward a customer representative by the name of Harold. In the course of my channeled anger Harold said (and yes he actually said this) “You should really have more of a sense of humor about things.” Ordinarily this would piss me off even more, but for some reason started me cracking up.

“See that’s better right?”

“I guess.”

“It’ll be even better with the month free coupon that i’m sending you today. Right?”


“Now haven’t i given you some great customer service today?”

Laughing again, ‘Yes you have, Harold.”

If this had gone on any longer i just know Harold would’ve asked me, “And who’s your daddy?”

Moral: Sometimes you think half the world is blowing you off, when in reality you are blowing off half the world. Moral b) Don’t trust my answering machine until i get this all sorted out which should be in a few days.

And not related to this story at all is that i am working like crazy on my new portfolio site and haven’t had time for anything except for one trip the coffee shop and a couple of hours of tennis. And frankly my computer is sick of looking at me all damn day.

I Want Free Movies

No, i didn’t have Bavarian creme doughnuts in honor of rabbit’s one year birthday, but i did have maybe a dozen peanut M&Ms, three or four chocolate covered almonds, and a mini Reeses Peanut Butter cup all in a brown paper bag at $2.00 per 1/4 lb at BAM. To go with, i saw a movie that left me feeling equally ripped off, Igby Goes Down. It had all the makings of a decent Tuesday night movie: good cast, pill humor (always a favorite), and Claire Danes to whom i still cling because of My So Called Life, even though she’s gone nowhere but down since. It just was not funny. Not even a little. And if that weren’t bad enough, you could tell the director, the editor and all the actors thought they were killing. I could have sworn there was a pause for laughter after every painfully unfunny one-liner. I know someone had to fight an internal battle to keep from putting a laugh track in. “My mother is a metaphysical poet” is not by itself funny. It’s not. Never. It’s Lame. Lame!

So there goes another nine dollars. And i keep getting instructed by many an unemployed friend that the first thing that should get cut out of my money diet is movies, but i just can’t do it. I just like the movies too much. More so when they’re funny of course, but it’s an unfair world and i’ve resigned myself to living in it. I saw Secretary on Sunday which was funny, and weird and good. Except for the end montage of happy-ever-after. There’s no better way to ruin an otherwise sharp movie than by tacking on a five minute acoustic guitar accompanied happy ending montage, even if it does include dead cockroaches and S&M sex. Shame shame.

And then before that a double feature of Double Indemnity and The Woman Next Door. Both were excellent. I’ve got a lot of classic movies to catch up on and the weekend double features at Symphony Space are a dream. Really they come out to $4.50 each. Ok actually $6.00 each counting train fare. (You know you’re broke when the $3 train fare gets factored into your evening.)

I should have saved my week’s movie money for Bowling For Columbine. Or better yet it should have gone towards getting the zipper replaced on my winter coat as the temperature is dipping lower by the day. But i just needed to get out of the apartment today. The thing with being a good productive home-worker all day is that i must leave the premises at night. I start to go nuts. It also has something to do with listening to NPR all day long (and i really mean all day long). By 7pm i am exhaustively aware of the world’s death toll for the day, and it’s too much to bear. After all that what’s $9 for Igby Goes Down, when even if no one’s funny at least when it’s all been said and done everyone’s alve?

Sad Again

Survivors of Indonesia Blast Are Left Stunned and Searching

I wish i had anything poignant or interesting or original to say about the violence in the world. I never write about it because i never feel like i do. Today is no different in that respect, but maybe i’m sadder. What makes me sadder this time? Maybe it’s the number, like there’s a ceiling that makes it most painful, 100? 150? Is it that i can relate easily? That i can relate easily to kids in a nightclub. The same as to office workers downtown. Bombs seem to be blowing people to bits every day, but i don’t feel like this everyday.

Wishing for world peace used to sound cliche, but now it sounds like the only wish worth having. That’s all for today.

Is it Harvest or Sowing?

Where am i? It’s one of those periods. There’s a lot in the works.

Let’s see, through a curiously nice set of events i’ve managed to get the domain name i always wanted for this site, So soon we’re gonna move. Then will be hopelessly devoted to my sleepy professional life. There’s a major overhaul of my portfolio in the works that gives extra special attention to the information architecture of the thing. What’s going on with it now is pretty embarrassing, particularly for someone trying to get work as an IA. Like they say, the cobbler’s children always go barefoot.

I’ve got mad work in the works, and all of it is on the barter system, which i totally dig. In exchange for the nil by mouth domain name i’m helping out a Londoner make a website for a future synagogue. In exchange for daily meditation guidance and feng shui repair on my apartment i’m designing a logo and site for my downstairs neighbor. And in exchange for some future work and pure self-satisfaction, i am rockin’ a new flash site for myself.

The next step is to offer to build a site for my landlord in exchange for a handful of rent checks. Hey, i think it’s not entirely inconceivable. With some luck i can cut legal tender out of my life near completely. This was actually the plan as i was coming back from France. My next barter scheme involves me teaching tennis classes in exchange for access to indoor courts in New York City this winter. There also needs to be a way for me to barter to see movies. Forking over nine dollars once a week is not cutting it. Neither is seeing shit like Auto Focus simply because it’s free, and then feeling nauseous after. In the meantime, Symphony Space has these awesome double features which are becoming a weekly routine for me. I also like going to the upper west side every so often and remembering my other life up there. It’s a little like hanging out in a grandparents kitchen, warm, easy, and a little stifling.

The rain continues, my coffee gurgles, and photoshop calls to me. It’s short today, but tomorrow i promise much more my sweets.

New York Story

Is it still possible to meet cool random people in front of cool random buildings in New York City and go out and drink wine with them? Well of course you knew the answer was going to be yes. I need to work on new questions. Just as i was beginning to lose some of my esteem for the city, it pulls me back and gives me a hug. Remember those days when you just got here? When you had never heard the word hipster, and thought it was declasse to ask people what their rent was? Those were the early days when you were not yet a New Yorker, but New York was having its way with you. I hated it then. It kicked my ass then. The dirt, the cold, the endless people everywhere made me miserable. In one of my notebooks i wrote over and over in purple ink “Clean Sidewalks. Clean Sidewalks. Clean Sidewalks.” On another page i wrote “High Curbs. High Curbs. High Curbs.”

I lived on the 9th floor overlooking Broadway and 114th Street where i sat on my radiator, arms hanging over the out-opening window and watched the traffic, the street fairs, the frat boys, the grad students, everyone, on the sidewalks, sweating, shivering, each weaving a different pattern through the crowd. It was a rare and special day that i saw a collision.

By my fourth year i lived with practically the same view, the two differences were that i was on the south side of 114th and on the 3rd floor. I had two new double hung windows with fat sills for sitting, but i rarely sat on them and stared at the sidewalks.

In the years between my move from the north side to the south side of 114th, like most of us, i got charmed down to the sidewalk. The dirty, tar stained, low-curbed, bag-of-honey-roasted-peanuts and urine smelling sidewalk got me down onto it. And i stayed there.

In between i broke my wrist and had to learn to light cigarettes from a book of matches with one hand. Of course i continued to use this trick well after my wrist healed and the cast was off. One day i was walking north on the west side of Broadway, under some scaffolding, and i executed sloppily. The one match i lit, lit all 19 others in the matchbook. The thing went up in a mini-explosion. I didn’t stop walking but held this ball of fire in my hand for what must have been three or four seconds, but felt much longer. Then i yelped, then i dropped the ball of fire on the sidewalk, where i was too afraid to even step on it. Thankfully it burned out pretty quick on its own. No one that walked by me looked, not even when i was holding a ball of fire in my hand. I devoted a lot of thought to that incident in the weeks after, and i couldn’t decide what it made me think about the city.

These days, when walking north on Broadway with a ball of fire in my hand, i imagine people would look at me, and it may even get me arrested. But then again one or two people would probably stop to make sure i was ok.

From now on when people ask me if i think the city’s changed since the skyscrapers came down, i’m going to tell this story.

I’m Not Complaining

It’s the dream life. I mean it. I roll out of bed whenever i’m done sleeping. Sometimes 10, sometimes 7:15. Check e-mail, lazily make some coffee. Meditate with my teacher in the first floor apartment. Think about how it would be good for me to take a run. Scramble some eggs and listen to Brian Lehrer instead. After that i often fall into a slight depression about the state of the world, say hi to the plants. And then..?

I’ll usually look at The Big To Do List. The Big To Do List involves major life projects, scary and intimidating life projects. I made it earnest a few weeks ago, but now i’m thinking it mostly just gets me to do The Little To Do List. The Little To Do List has things like – Pay Student Loan on it. I’ve been powering through it. I re-potted that one plant, i hung the drapes properly, i called the phone company. The phone company seems like chocolate ice cream with sprinkles in the face of - Learn to Write, Really. That’s on The Big To Do List.

Money-wise i’m ok for the short while. Last summer’s months of working nights and weekends were meant to give me a couple months here to do my own thing. But like many who have come before me, the limitlessness of the day is freaking me out. Imagine the impossibility of using lack of time as an excuse for anything at all. And what about this incredible weather? The late summer days of the past week or so have been so lovely that they make me feel guilty about sitting at my computer thinking about redesigning my portfolio, or writing. So i take a walk. Didn’t i need something from the hardware store? Don’t i feel like a fifth cup of coffee? Where was that place with the good cheese again? Should i take a bike ride? But what about that writing thing, i should really start that. But what about the east side of prospect Park, i’ve never been over there… Can you imagine!?!? Naturally i head straight to the NY Times Crossword puzzle online, just to end the paralysis.

Also you can not imagine how dirty the apartment gets when you spend all day in it. Cooking three meals a day are murder on the white kitchen tiles. I find the mop and bucket permanently “out”. And i find myself turning into a loopy, yet politically quite well-informed, housewife. Minus the husband with the paycheck and the kids at soccer practice of course. I poached a salmon in white wine and orange juice and am playing enough tennis for a whole country club of idle ladies. And i may also be in the midst of setting a record for finishing five (yes five) issues of The New Yorker in a week and a half. It really is a dream life. I try to wake myself up by remembering prime late morning hours spent trapped in an office in front of a flickering screen dreaming of rolling around and reading all day. So why is it hard to breath deep and enjoy it now? Frankly, i mostly really enjoy it. There are these rough patches though. And i’m going through one of those this week. Big Time. It’s every so often, like turbulence in flight, when i feel completely useless and off course. It seems like the whole rest of the world is engaged in challenging and normal uses of their day, and even if they are unhappy and unsatisfied, at least they’re all brothers in the struggle. Where are my brothers? Here? Possibly..

It’s not boredom so much as kind of paralyzing fear of the day, of the week. It’s so boundless. Like most of the country i was raised strictly in the fashion that one does something during the week day. Only on Saturdays and Sundays is it acceptable to sit on the stoop and drink ice tea. (Unless you are sneakily playing hookey from school or work which is only legal like twice a year). Currently it feels gluttonous and directionless. It also feels like i’m not being even remotely as productive as i should be. To combat this i’ve started several sub-lists of the Big To Do List. It falls in the region between – Buy Toothpaste and – Decide About Career. It hasn’t yet been determined if this will be effective, but i’m hopeful.