Saturday, October 29, 2005

heat and snow

My house is steam-heated, and it is an adventure. It clangs and whistles with zero respect for a proper night's rest. Wakes me up at night. Sounds like someone is trying to break in more often than not. And I know I'll miss it when I am gone.

Today is the first snow. I'm sitting on a red velvet couch in a cafe looking out at huge snowflakes falling on Davis Square. Johnny Cash and that espresso machine sound like an elephant singing an aria. Couples everywhere. Sometimes I think people suffer through the slings and arrows of relationships for the payoff of being in love, or lust, or like, for the first snow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

vorwiegend nicht gut

If you knew me 2 or 3 years ago, esp. around the time that I had the summer Shadyside apartment, you may have been one of the several friends who FORBADE me from seeing a certain person, with whom I had been mutually hanging around, to the detriment of all (modifying "hanging around," not "forbade"). No encounter with this person ended favorably. I may go so far as to say that no encounter with this person ends favorably.

Naturally, I have tentative plans to go with him to a party tomorrow night.

adventures in language

I have been taking these German classes at night, just for a couple weeks, and I see that one of the vocabulary words for chapter 3 is the word for "predominately." (vorwiegand). Is that necessary? For comparison, here is a partial list of words we haven't learned:

sales tax

Seems awfully Teutonic to me. Draw your own conclusions.

It did get me thinking about how textbooks set about trying to teach you a language. When I took Chinese, the first chapter was all "Are you Mr. Wong?" "No, I am Mr. Liu." "Yes, I am Mr. Wong." Because, you know, we think they all look alike. My Chinese teacher, a Taiwanese woman inclined to gossip (to this day, one of the only things I remember how to say is "who does she think she is?") used to parade me in front of her friends and make me talk to them. An imprecise syllable lead me to tell one of them that Chinese people were very difficult, instead of the Chinese language was very difficult, but I don't think difficult retains that meaning in Chinese. And then there was the time that I got one LETTER wrong in a word changed the meaning, in Italian, of "call me or write me" to "call me or (do something violent and maybe exciting to) me." and the Italian to whom I was addressing this discourse wrote back pointing out this mistake and then wrote: "I will. Call you, I mean."

It was worth it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


I did NOT have another hypomanic episode. Drat!

But many of the signs were there - inner racing, inability to concentrate, finding what other people were talking about not all that compelling, great excitement. But while I didn't think I'd ever experience a negative emotion again, I could conceive of their existence. Maybe I was just excited at the prospect of dinner at Oleana.

Wow, having wireless access - being at a cafe that has wireless access - after an at-home wifi drought is kind of dizzying. So, things in no order:

1. today at church, someone got up and said "I'm from the Intergenerational Men's Discussion Group, and the topic of our next discussion is "Romance: Men's Hidden Strength." So if you're a man, or self-identify as a man, please join us."
That's what I'm going to tell someone if I'm ever asked about Unitarianism.

2. I haven't written anything in over a year and a half, and I'm finding it increasingly morally unjustifiable to continue that (although yesterday I did tell someone, somewhat ingenuously, that I needed to get back to procrastinating) and so today bought a book called - wait for it - "The Courage to Write." Ouch. And there was another one I kind of wanted called "The Motivation to Write" but I couldn't bring them both up to the counter! I was in Harvard Square! Maybe Davis Square would have been a different story - as I was walking up here I heared some young guy brag to two girls that he knew Portuguese Brazilian. The Motivation to Make a Fool of Yourself.

3. I subscribed to this Word of the Day email service not, I now see, so that I could learn new words, but so I could feel pleased at knowing all the words. But they're cheating! Tocsin? Pelf? C'mon!

4. Last night Susan and I were cutting through Boston Common and there, lined up two or three deep all over the paths, were hundreds and hundreds of glowing jack-o'-lanterns. Piled everywhere. And there was this huge rack easily 40 feet high and 20 feet wide, filled with jack-o'-lanterns - really funny novice ones, and ones that were so intricate or so conceptually interesting that they challenged the notion of j-o'-l's, and it was dark and drizzly but there were all these people milling around under umbrellas drinking cider and checking out all the GOD I'M TIRED OF TYPING THAT. But really, you should have seen it. Nothing puts you in a good mood like having a zillion jack-o'-lanterns sprung on you.

Friday, October 21, 2005


I think I feel another hypomanic episode coming on.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


It’s been and will be cold, rainy, and blustery all weekend, so we went to Salem instead. Salem is a nice town, once you get past the pudgy long-haired men striding purposefully around in purple tunics and silver jewelry and tall black boots. I learned about how pagan healers were turned into what we think of when we think of witches (some of the herbs they used turned their hands green, and since windows weren’t so good back then, it was easy to see how you might think someone was all green (plus maybe the food wasn’t super, but I kept that to myself), and they’d be out in their garden with a broom, and there was this old thing about your crops growing as high as you could jump, so they’d spring into the air, holding their broom), and bought some wine in a box, er, boxes, and went to the Peabody-Essex museum, but got there too late so we only saw the gift shops, which are the nicest I’ve ever seen, and then drove to Marblehead for dinner at this restaurant that jutted right out over the ocean.

But the best 2 things to come out of the trip were:
1. Coming up with all-time best Halloween costume: a sexy ghost (costume). This because we were talking about how irritating all the sexy witches and sexy cats are every year. So we’re going to get sheets, cut them really short, cut out 2 holes for eyes, and wear fishnets and heels. I like that we’re going as both a ghost and the ghost costume, if you see what I mean.

2. We did not do this, but as we walked past the courthouse, the following suggested itself:

(C and S enter the Salem District Court)

Court person: Can I help you?
S: (gives court person exasperated look and jerks thumb at C)
Court person: I don’t understand.
S: (pause) I think we’ve got a you-know-what.

In other news, George Saunders was stunning. It’s impossible to get how funny his stories really are until you hear him read them. I bought and read his latest, “The Brief and Terrible Reign of Phil,” and loved it, although other fans with whom I spoke at the reading thought it was a little weak. After the reading, he signed autographs, chatting with each person as he signed their book. When I walked out of the bookstore clutching my autographed book, I was almost shaking.

And question: if you have a crush on someone (and think/because) they remind you so much of you, do you think that more strongly supports narcissism or the belief that we were all coupled long ago and rent asunder and continually look to rejoin our other half?

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I'm on this great streak of there being things that I want to do that I find out about just in time. Just learned George Saunders is giving a reading tomorrow. I'd sort of like to handcuff myself to him. And I think he'd find it conceptually interesting.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Oh Blogger, it's been a while. Free wi-fi at home seems to have dried up. Not very much is new, I don't think. Susan and I will go to Martha's Vineyard or MassMoCA this (3-day) weekend. I'm taking German, and a girl in my class who is married to a German told us that English was invented to get rid of the need for the formal and informal "you" that exists in other languages. Someone from the office went to Montreal and brought back banana Kit-Kats which oh my God. Ran into a girl I knew in middle school at the Park St. station, we went for a drink and were met by her new Basque husband, and I did not tell the joke that ends in "All your Basques in one exit" - admire my restraint! Thinking of going to the Ig Nobel awards at Harvard tomorrow night.

I've been having weird flashes of missing random Pittsburgh things. Specifically:

1. The corner of Ellsworth and College.
2. (unspecified lovesick pangs for the Sharp Edge)
3 The liquor store across the street from the 61C in autumn.
4. Abate - this totally mediocre restaurant in the Waterworks - and the non-Abate Waterworks parking spaces that abut it.

Am sort of dating that guy from MIT, who recently told me that normally he's the one who holds his cards close to his chest while the Other is only too willing to show her hand. The thing is, I don't even know what my cards are. Or whether I should be playing.