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9/29/04
Itís so horrible, I canít stop watching TV. And I think itís starting to rot my mind because Iím having trouble putting sentences together (I know I probably always have typos, ungrammatical sentences, and overly used words, but I feel itís getting worse). Itís dangerous because it sucks you in and wastes your time. Itís like the less free time I have, the more I squander it. Those two hours a night I might spend watching TV could probably be used in more valuable ways. But then, Iíd probably just end up frittering time away on the internet. Like tonight I have to watch the ABC version of the mom swap show and ďLost,Ē which I totally got hooked on last week. I thought the stranded airplane crash survivors stuck on an island theme would be really lame, but itís so cheesy with a what the hell supernatural element, and has Charlie from ďParty of FiveĒ and that hipster hobbit. Itís too good to allow myself get all serious minded and shun the TV. I donít want to become one of those annoying liberal ďKill Your TelevisonĒ bumper sticker people who are too conscientious to even own a car to put one on. Ick. So far the new job seems to be going alright. Itís kind of old school in the sense that they still maintain clipping files. Like I didnít think libraries even did that anymore. Anywhere Iíve worked has either eliminated that collection altogether or has one that stopped in maybe the Ď80s when people got into computers. I always imagined old ladies or young assistants sitting in a musty back room, skimming and cutting interesting pictures and articles from periodicals. Now thatís me, but at least Iím not in a windowless basement. Itís actually kind of fun because itís really just an excuse to read magazines. Iím assigned to keep up with the NY Times, People, Rolling Stone and Forbes so I feel like a fount of useless current events and pop culture. Itís not really useless because there were two reference requests about Juicy Couture last week and I knew about all the hideous photos of Britney Spearsís wedding party wearing velour tracksuits. The best part of the job might be being near Cafť Zaiya, which I didnít really know about before, but itís a Japanese deli/bakery with a Beard Papa inside. They have all these great cheap snacks like onigiri and weirdo sandwiches and buns with curry and spaghetti inside. The onigiri are only $1.25-$1.75 each, so buying two, I can manage to eat a healthy (though carby, but I donít have carb issues) lunch for $3.50. Yes, Iím making a little more money now (though not much moreóI got my first paycheck today and it wasnít very impressive) but I will always be a lunchtime penny-pincher. But I have loosened up a bit, I donít totally brown bag it anymore. Now I might just bring a banana and/or yogurt to supplement the rice snacks, which is still thrifty. I mean, thereís a Pret a Manger literally next door to the office, and I really like British prepared sandwiches (I went nuts for them in England) but theyíre full of mayo and way expensive, like $6.75 for a pretty simple bread and filling combo (I read thatís why the stores in NYC have been going out of business and the chain has yet to expand to the rest of the U.S.óAmericans like ďoverstuffedĒ sandwiches and arenít as fond of mayonnaise as freaks in the U.K. are). Oh, and thereís a used bookstore right near Cafť Zaiya thatís maybe 80% Japanese and has all these great marked down cookbooks. Of course, I canít read the recipes, but the childrenís ones have great photos of food shaped into animals and the like. I also discovered that the New York Public Library (Iím weird because I donít have an NYPL library card, though I do have pnes from the Brooklyn and Queens systemsóI never lived in Manhattan or worked near a branch so I never cared), which is a block from work, has like 20 after-school specials on video. Maybe Iíll replace some of my bad TV watching time with bad Ď70s and Ď80s movie viewings.

9/24/04
Iím not sure why Iím so fixated on the Straphangers Campaignís Pokey Awards that just came out about slowest busses in the city. I donít even ride the bus anymore. I guess I was amused and vindicated by the fact that my old favorite bus the B63 (which technically I could still ride since it goes near my current apt. too) was ranked slowest in Brooklyn. Thatís against 54 total routes in that borough. I couldíve told you it was the slowest bus, but the chart that stuck in my craw was the one showing how it takes longer for many busses to reach their start to end points than to take Amtrak to Philadelphia. They donít give the mileage, so Iíll take a stab at it. Off the top of my head I can think of two landmarks near the ends of the B63 route: Harbor Fitness, my old gym with a branch in at the bottom of Bay Ridge and Magnetic Field, a bar on Atlantic Ave. almost at the East River, in what I consider Cobble Hill (or is it Boerum HillóI need to get the official boundaries). Neither are at the extreme start stop points, but quite close, so Iíll add in a mile for good measure. According to Yahoo! Maps itís 6.5 miles between the two and they estimate the trip will take 11 minutes (theyíre always brain damaged in their time predictions). Add the extra mile on to make it 7.5 miles. Iíd say the drive could take anywhere from 15-25 minutes depending on traffic and whether you took the BQE which a car would do, or go all the way down Fifth Ave. like the bus. Iím kind of weirded out over how Bay Ridge is only about 6 miles from Cobble Hill but how residents from the two neighborhoods donít really cross paths. Not that thatís unusual in the city (admittedly, Iím a retard when it comes to upper Manhattan and The Bronx. I donít really have friends to visit there, Iím not strongly motivated to check out local stores, restaurants or clubs. But then, itís not terribly close either. It took like two hours to get to the Bronx Zoo on the subway from the top of Brooklyn). Donít even get me started on ďThe ShireĒ that is Williamsburg. Theyíre far worse than the Amish, theyíve totally got the Puerto Ricans beat for insularity (Iím not really as down on the Puerto Ricans as it appears from my recent entries. I just donít understand anyoneís heritage mania. Like if I moved to someplace culturally and linguistically foreign like Kenya, for example, I still wouldnít want to band together with a bunch of other Americans and create a little enclave and celebrate our United States-ness), they might even be creepier and tight-knit than their disapproving Hassidic neighbors. Just wait, itís only a matter of time before Williamsburg residents start a yearly pride-driven parade, develop a flag and put these flag images on their clothing and stick them on everything they own, then get special busses to transport them to hipster approved spots. Theyíve already got the dietary restriction thing down (Iíd be interested to see the incidences of vegans and vegetarians in NYC by zip code). Anyway, NYC to Philadelphia is 100 miles, almost on the dot. The notion that you can travel between two cities, two states apart, faster than the 7.5 miles that span the B63 route is beyond pathetic. Itís irritating the heck out of me just to think about it, and I donít even ride that bus anymore. Busses have always seemed kind of pointless in NYC anyway (unless, of course, you donít live on a subway line, which is true the further out in the boroughs you go).

9/23/04
I kept my eyes peeled all day, but I seriously donít think I spotted anyone with calves bigger than their neck. At least not obviously so, and this may be the last week left for such body part gawking since this Indian summer canít last forever. (I was excited when it was stormy, chilly Sat. despite freezing in a strapless cotton dress. I was gung ho on bringing out the sweaters, cardigans and tweedy crap, you know, since the ďsexy librarianĒ [that clichť so makes me want to barf in a book drop bin] look is in for this season [See here and just about any September glossy fashion magazine for gross proof] and Iím like an official librarian now. Then the first day of fall was 85 goddamn degrees, which ruined everything.) Iím obsessed with the calf to neck ratio because I recently discovered much to my horror that my neck is approximately 1.5Ē smaller than my lower leg. That just seems so completely wrong. Iím like an elephant man or something. There was a kid in my high school who had one leg that was way more enormous than the other. It was totally bizarre, he always had to wear bell bottoms, which were seriously uncool in the pegged pants Ď80s. And his normal leg flopped around in the excess fabric while the tree trunk leg filled the flare to the brim. Iím not exaggerating at all, not even for effect. Iím not sure what was wrong with him, though I do recall some story about having a bad reaction to a shot. But I donít think allergic reactions are permanent, are they? I wonder whatever happened to him, and more to the point, if it could happen to me but to both my legs.

9/22/04
Iíve never been music geeky, though I do tend to keep semi-abreast of whatís going on in particular genres. I donít own an iPod for Godís sake (whenever I see people with those white wires coming out of their ears I get a very malicious urge to rip the little Apple device out of their hands or bag and run with it. Iím not sure if this anger is coming from jealousy and Iím secretly coveting their iPod or if Iím truly irritated by the coolness). I did buy a little portable mp3 player last month, that only holds about 60 songs, which is mildly peeving because when it comes down to it thatís not many, and I get bored of the songs Iíve loaded after a few days, then have change them and I donít have time for nonsense like that at the moment. And I donít go wild for mp3 blogs because Iíd rather read words about whatever than hear others rambling and posting obscure tracks. And as it is with blogs, everyone tries to outdo each other and ďdiscoverĒ bands so they can mention them first. Like a week ago or so I noticed a lot of talk about a band Go! Team, and instead of scrolling by as usual, I was curious enough to listen to a few songs. Itís insanely catchy stuff, Iím not even sure why I like it so much. Itís the sort of music you need to listen to while commuting, it peps you up and cheers you in the morning and makes you feel like bouncing when youíre tired and feel like going home and laying in bed when you really need to accomplish tasks. Iíve never paid to download anything off iTunes, but I just might cough up the $9.99 for this since I donít think the album is out in the U.S. yet. So, Iím researching, i.e. eating, and writing a story about Latin fried chicken for the NY Post this weekend. Thatís kind of random, but it appears that the Post is the only publication that will every actually pay me to write about food and drink. Itís not that I donít pitch other outlets (though to be fair, Iím not terribly aggressive or prolific with my attemptsówith school the last year and a half I havenít had the time. It wouldnít seem like I would have any extra time now since Iím working twice as many hours, but having nights free makes it seem like Iím freer.), itís that no one has any interest in anything I want to write. Itís only frustrating because I constantly see stories having to do things Iím thinking about or gathering notes on. Like Time Out NY never ever likes any of my ideas, which is pretty pathetic because theyíre supposed to be easy to get in, a springboard really for ďbetterĒ publications. I had the idea a few months ago about foreign chain restaurants appearing in NYC, but could only come up with three really solid examples (it seemed like four would be better) so I never did anything with it, and then they ran the exact freaking story only using three examples (and one different than mine, so really there were four good examples in total). But I know that if I wouldíve pitched it there would be some dumb reason why it wasnít ďnewsyĒ enough. And everyone takes food coverage so seriously. I read the NY Times because you have to, but itís just like blech (and I see that former supervisor of mine has this weekís Dining In cover story) the tone is all annoying. I just want to write silly things, and apparently the NY Post is the only place lowbrow enough to go for it. The weird part about this chicken story is that itís going to run in their Tempo section, which is this monthly Latin thing and Iím so not Hispanic despite my last name. The only reason I really approached them is because the editor, a guy I worked with a few years ago is now part of this section and heís my only in at the paper, and I figured being a Garcia would give me credibility, despite my knowing way, way more about Asian food than Latin fare. I hope I can pull this story off because I donít speak Spanish and while Iím pretty good at doing the ďdramatic and funĒ NY Post voice (thatís how the editor described it, which is funny because when I was doing Time Out NY Eating & Drinking reviews [which isnít the same as writing for the magazine, itself] the editor there was very specific about how I shouldnít write like I was at the NY Post and to ďplay up to the TONY styleĒ er, ok) itís not like Iím going to pepper the piece with Spanglish or Ay Caramabas. I was totally scared to the section editor today because I know she used to be the editor-in-chief of Latina (I think she founded the magazine) and has an Emmy from something she did with Telemundo, and I didnít want to say any Spanish words because I would feel like a fraud. And itís kind of tough because all the restaurants I picked have Spanish names, so I was trying to talk around them. And she was talking about maybe comparing chicken to things like Popeyeís or KFC so non-Latinos would have a taste comparison, like we were both a certain kind of person, and I donít feel like I am that person. Iím not even sure what Latina means exactly, and what makes you one (I donít mean that in some existential sense--I really donít know the exact definition of Latino and how thatís different from say, Hispanic, which from an interview I read with this woman I know she doesnít like as a term.) Iím not really into this idea that I think is true in NYC, where Latino somehow means youíre probably Puerto Rican or Dominican and ďurbanĒ and have an accent, are Catholic, darker skinned, and listen to rap and hip hop (she also wants me to interview and write a profile on some DJ at a hip hop station, and Iím like oh no). Isnít that a stereotype? But NYC is a city of clichťs. I mean there are plenty of South American and Mexican women who are blond, blue-eyed and have varied interests, right? Or suburban kids with one Hispanic parent, who grew up speaking only English like myself and probably thousands and thousands of people in this country. Jamesís mom is crazy involved with Latina causes and organizations (sheís Spanish-Filipino and is a blue-eyed, light skinned freak with a very heavy accent. Sheís nuts for ten million other reasons, but one of them is that she was born in Spain so thatís European, and thereís the whole class thing. Are Spanish people Hispanic? Like I said, I donít know my definitions. Europeans are white, but I donít know that all the Latin ethnicities in the U.S. and nearby consider themselves to be white. Ok, so race and ethnicity arenít the sameóI need to look into this) and he doesnít really speak Spanish. He doesnít have her last name either (though his sister took itóI think she likes the flair it gives her as PhD poet). My point is that I donít know why people thrive what I view to be stereotypes. Like, why do Puerto Ricans whoíve been in NYC for generation after generation keep that Rosie Perez accent? Itís like theyíre doing it on purpose. If as an American your last name were Heinrich, people wouldnít assume you spoke German. And even if your grandparents were first generation, the odds are you wouldnít have a thick German accent. Though I did notice those Amish kids on the WB show had weird accents, and duh, itís because they live in an isolated community and only encounter and deal with other equally Amish folks. Maybe all the peculiarly resolute Latin New Yorkers, or should I say Nueva Yorkers, are as closed off as middle-of-nowhere horse-and-buggy riders. Whatever, I just want to write silly stuff about fried chicken and get paid for the privilege.

9/20/04
Oh my god, Iím so old and tired. Itís barely past 11pm and Iím beat. Normally, I donít go to bed before 1am. Iíll be losing at least an hour of my life each day at this rate. I donít know if I can get up at 7am five days a week. Now thatís pathetic. How do people have children, husbands, hobbies, make nice dinners, go to the gym, and the like, and work full time? I could do without the children and husband, for sure. And today was easy because it was my first day, it was mostly filling out paperwork and getting oriented (if I wanted to try and sound smart, but really expose my dumbness I would say orientated. I guess thatís actually a legitimate word, but it sounds horrible). I almost forgot that I also had a Chinese class that started tonight. I donít thrive on the unfamiliar, so between the first day at a new job and the Mandarin lesson, I feel overdosed on newness and strangers (and believe me, libraries and continuing education classes are filled with the strangest strangers).

9/18/04
Yesterday was my last day of work, and it was pretty uneventful. Thereís something so much more energizing about being fired or quitting spur of the moment. I used to love the nervous, free feeling Iíd get after unexpectedly losing or leaving a job. I mean, these werenít really satisfying, career making jobs, most of them were temporary now that I think about it: cutting photo negatives at 5am, sorting Microsoft surveys in an unheated warehouse in December, answering phones and typing memos for a construction company (this describes two jobs Iíve had in NYC), creating travel content for a carb-obsessed boss (sheíd periodically call the Carbohydrate Addicts Hotlineóyes, thereís such a thing) whoíd say she threw out containers of muffins that had been left in the office when you knew she scarffed the six-pack herself after hours. Those are just the few jobs that immediately come to mind. Monday I have to start a real job, with only today and tomorrow as transitional free time. I donít know that Iím ready to buckle down yet. Last night I drank too much litchi-flavored sake at my going away party at this weirdo bar across the street from work, above the Korean deli. I think itís affiliated with the Korean deli, which is what made it weird. So, today I was so beat-up all I could manage was going to the new-ish Brooklyn Target (which is much more pleasant since the novelty has worn off, though itís still too crowded by normal Target standards) then sit around the house, not even watching bad TV. A most non-eventful Saturday. Now Iím getting ready to hit a few new Red Hook/Carroll Gardens bars. Who knows how fruitful that will be, but it beats being here, totally unproductive.

9/14/04
Saturday I had the pleasure of a suburban New Jersey shopping excursion. The Garden State Plaza in Paramus is pretty satisfying as far as malls go. They really cover all bases, both high end and low. Youíll find Hugo Boss and Louis Vuitton stores mingling with Spencer Gifts and Piercing Pagoda. In addition to a straight shooting food court they have many stand alone restaurants (both in the parking lot and the mall with separate outdoor entrances) like upscale chains Legal Sea Foods and Napa Valley Grille (which really cracks me up because itís not like youíre going to mistake the interior of a New Jersey mall for Californiaís wine region. We didnít dine on the premises, instead opting for the Outback Steakhouse down the highway. After settling in for our 60 minute wait with a giant Fosters and a Bloominí Onion, I totally had a revelation and got pissed at myself for not remembering that thereís a Cheesecake Factory in Paramus [or at least nearbyóall the townships blend together]. Thatís a chain Iíve always wanted to try, and there certainly arenít any in the city. I mean, the name is so grotesque. And their dishes are out of controlótheyíve concocted something called an avocado egg roll described as ďChunks of Fresh Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Onion and Cilantro Deep Fried in a Crisp Chinese Wrapper. Served with a Tamarind-Cashew Dipping SauceĒ Thatís a doozy alright). There was one particular store in the mall that I totally didnít ďgetĒ and was frankly scared by. But James forced me to go in. It wasnít like a typical windowed entrance, but a faÁade built to look like you were looking at a storefront from outside. There was an address plaque, stairs leading up to the door, light fixtures and clean cut teens greeting you as you made your way into the dark exterior. It was all moody and dark wooded and maze like, ambient music filled the background. It was deceptively large inside, room led to room, and rough-hewn tables were filled with nondescript nicely folded shirts, West Elm-ish couches were along the walls but it didnít seem appropriate at all to sit (James took a seat to tie his shoe and I got super nervous, the vibe in this place was eerie). No signage existed anywhere. I needed a clue. The customers were young and suburban. The labels on the clothes read Ruehl, which I just now looked up. Unsurprisingly, itís a new line from Abercrombie & Fitch that just launched last Tues (I love the bit about the fictitious ďGerman leather goods family that immigrated to America in the 1850s and settled in Greenwich VillageĒ). Iíve never really understood this storeís appeal, but I can admire the marketing behind it because clearly it works, and on such a strange level. Thereís such a disconnect between their racy advertising image and their actual butter knife dull duds. And the kids eat it up. Anyway, we were on a quest, and it didnít involve new A&F retailing concepts. James for orange cords and myself for a pair of boots. Both became missions impossible with the same oddball conclusion. All I want is a pair of pointed toe (not extremely pointy, just not square or round) boots with heels under 1.5Ē. These shoes do not exist (well, at least not in NJ and via online searching). Nevermind the calf girth issues. I canít even find a pair of shoes that match the first, seemingly simple criteria. I donít want riding boots, lug soles, kitten heels, stilettos, freakiní mukluks, moonboots(?!) and definitely not abominable UGGs. And once again, the only place that seems to fit the bill (the boots I wanted last year, but also never bought because they were too expensive) is J. Crew. The boots arenít amazing or anything, theyíre just the least ugly pair with low heels. And weirdly enough, they are almost the only store Iím aware of (Ann Taylor is the other one, but I donít care for any of their styles) that even makes their boots in extended calf sizes, which really only means 1Ē more circumference (the annoyance of this is that they can really only be bought online because theyíre considered specialty items, and once there is an in-store sale, which there always is at some point, the knocked down prices arenít reflected online. So, you really can only buy sale boots in regular widths. I had a fit last year when the $198 boots I wanted were $99 all over town, but not in the size I wanted. Iím inclined to boycott J. Crew on principle). As it turned out orange cords for men (there are tons of colors for women) are also a non-existent itemÖexcept at J. Crew where theyíre unsurprisingly overpriced. Whatís up with goddamn J. Crew? Why do they have the stuff we wantóand what does this say about us? I donít particularly care for their aesthetic, I know preppy is in, but itís not even a good rendition of that genre. Most of their stuff is just weird and/or dull and definitely pricey for what youíre getting. Can I go bootless yet another Fall/Winter season because Iím vehemently opposed to purchasing footwear from a lackluster chain like J. Crew?

9/10/04
Not related to anything, but thereís something weird with the squirrels one block up, on 3rd Pl. First I saw a black squirrel, which I didnít even know existed, he looked more like a rabbit. I wondered if other squirrels knew if he was a different color or not, and if they even care about that sort of thing. Then a few days ago, I looked up in a tree and saw what at first I thought was a statue (you might think statues in trees would be strange, but clearly youíre not familiar with the decorating style of Carroll Gardens. Itís not just front yards brimming with statues of Mary and saints, there are Micky Mouses, Huck Finns, assorted animals, windmills, fish ponds, you name it) but it was a squirrel eating a giant bagel. I donít know why I found this so funny, itís not quite as good as my other two unnatural sightings: a sparrow eating a chicken breast and a gang of rats eating a mouse. But it was so Brooklyn, even the squirrels eat bagels. So, once again Iím having this I must be old because I donít quite get it feeling that I have like every other day. Iím still not getting the deal with blogs, like why is this such a thing? Essentially, itís people going to events or reading about events, linking to the actual article (or other blogger who wrote) about said event, including a photo, then writing a few sentences about their take on it. Am I missing something? Sometimes they have get-togethers and meet in the real world, and then blog about it. My theory, and why I really do think Iím rapidly aging, is that itís a generational thing. I was really involved with the print zine scene in the mid-Ď90s, and that was when I was early-to-mid-twenties. It was fun, I was enthusiastic, and maybe thatís what blogs are to the same age group now. I draw a parallel to a fondness for thongs. Itís the same demographic, and Iíve compared notes to friends of various ages, and almost across the board 27 is the cut off. Girls born after 1977 wear thongs, those before donít care for them (this among my circle of acquaintancesóI know plenty of adult women and those much older than myself do wear thongs). Anyway, I do tend to read the more NYC-centric blogs, and they can be informative and/or amusing, but everyoneís ďbloggingĒ (if there was ever a more unnecessary verb) about 90% of the same things really. Is there something wrong with reading the original sources and forming your own opinions? I guess itís the need to share, and obviously I like to share my thoughts too, but about stupid crap that doesnít matter, not news and media. And thatís probably even more useless and annoying. Maybe what I find weird in people mentioning all the same things is how this creates a false (or maybe not) sense of whatís popular or notable. I couldnít even keep track of how many references to Cintra Wilson and Amy Sohn I saw in the past week. I guess theyíre both in self-promotion mode because they have new books out, but I was like enough with the both of them. Honestly, I donít know much about Cintra Wilson, sheís probably an ok person, I donít have anything disparaging to say. Amy Sohn I do know more about, though I have a tainted impression because one of the girls I stayed with when I first moved to NYC also had a NY Press column and totally couldnít deal with Amy Sohnís fluffy dating column in the same paper. I recall her saying how she (and others) were trying to get the editor-in-chief to cancel Sohnís section. I think Iím focused on these two because theyíre both close to my age, live nearby (Ms. Wilson was recently the subject of that stupid NY Times column, ďA Night Out With: BlankĒ and she went to Brooklyn Social Club, one of my new favorite local bars. Ms. Sohn also rides the hideous F train. Practically the only thing Iíve found funny and agreed with her on is this quote ďNow that I am a sappy Cobble Hill couple-y person I have had to find a new class of people to resent. I have selected the young Stepford mommies in Cobble Hill Park, who push their strollers in unison and say things like, ĎMy husband wants us to go to his ten-year-reunion but I've just gotten Jackson into a good sleep pattern.íĒ Some time back she also contributed to a blog about her search for a condo with her new artist husband, and I knew exactly which buildings she was referring to because Iím always skimming semi-relevant listings to pass along to James because I think it would be cool if he bought a condo and let me live there for cheap. Apparently, weíre [I use the term we loosely] looking in the same neighborhoods and price ranges.) and are of that successful go-getter genre. And Iím totally not. Not that I necessarily want to be. At least not based upon the unwanted tidbits Iíve culled about Sohnís life while innocently trying to read about things other than her on websites and in periodicals. I donít want to appear in an Anne Klein ad campaign, or be profiled in the NY Times Vows section wearing a burgundy wedding dress (so radical), or write fiction (I have zero literary aspirations), or create an animated show about my misadventures for the Oxygen network. Itís all very un-me, yet somehow I still find it irksome. I need to get to the bottom of this irritation. Thereís something here I can tap for my own personal good, Iím just not quite sure how to mine it. And I think thatís the problem, Iíve always been repulsed by New Yorkish self-promotion, but thatís the only way anyone ever makes anything of themselves. No one wins accolades through introversion and quietly plugging away, do they? Oh dear, I have been writing about things Iíve read on other blogs that they found on other blogs. Does that mean that I have just wasted the past 20 minutes or so blogging?!

Ok, Iím being haunted. I took a lunch break and ate some leftover catfish jungle curry (that I made using pea eggplants obtained in Montrealótheyíre so cool, like little fireballs if you put them in a super hot dish because they soak up the heat and burst in your mouth. I donít know why they donít sell them here) and turned on the TV and paused on Shortest Celebrity Marriages (this is how exciting my days off are). And one of the commentators (you know, those comedians, actors, insightful nobodies they get to make witty, quick remarks in a visual blog-like manner) was freakiní Amy Sohn. Lord, and then I started feeling gross (James bought a carton of cigarettes at duty free, and I snagged a pack because Iím compulsive that way and couldnít stop chain smoking all morning) and decided to go to the gym. And on my way I saw that black squirrel again on 3rd Place (though one block east from last time). Or at least I assumed it was the same creature, maybe theyíre multiplying.

9/8/04
So, why the hell is Ken Jennings still on Jeopardy? They had a seven-week break to find better contestants. Itís so disappointing. The last three nights in a row Iíve had to turn the TV off halfway through the show because I start feeling so embittered. Anyway, today was sort of a bust. After about an hour of trudging around, not being able to get on trains, riding a couple pointless stops on the G, and watching people get into all sorts of confrontations over space, all while sweating so profusely I thought I was going to throw up (Iím seriously starting to think I have cancer or some rotten immune disorder because this uncontrollable sweating that only seems to occur for the first hour or so in the morning is getting crazy. My face ends up looking like an overripe tomato and my makeup is ruined before I even get off the subway. Itís not anxiety, it doesnít matter if Iím walking slow or in a hurry or if itís hot out or not. My entire being is full of toxins or something.) I called it quits and went back home. Itís good that my job, which Iíll have till the end of next week, isnít terribly reliant on my being there with any sort of regularity. So, I hardly took any photos in Montreal, the urge never struck.But I did manage to capture the essence of our great country in the most unflattering photo of myself ever (you know, there are those annoying ironic ugly-sexy people who can put on anything, pretend they are a dork, but somehow convince others that they look hot and hip. Believe me, when I say that my attempts at non-cool really, really work.) I had thought the whole heinous fitted denim shorts look was a Southern thing, but clearly my problem is that I donít get out of NYC enough. Apparently, if you get outside of a one-hour radius of the city denim shorts for men and women is all the rage. So are those yellow Pray For Our Troops ribbon stickers on vehicles (75% of cars and trucks that we passed on I-87 had them, or a black POW/MIA version or a pink one, which I couldnít figure out, maybe it was for gay troops or troops with breast cancer). I couldnít decide if the reason I never see them on a day-to-day basis is because most New Yorkers donít drive, disallowing them the chance to proclaim their patriotism on bumper stickers or because people simply donít do that sort of thing here. It has become a tradition to stop at the Wal-Mart in Latham, NY, just north of Albany. I think we chanced upon it on our first drive to Montreal, five years ago. Weíve been back about four times, and it never fails to impress. Wal-Martís a Wal-Mart, you might say, but this one seems particularly well stocked and cheap. They had flavors of Doritos Iíd never seen before, how exciting is Black Pepper Jack! (their exclamation point, not mine. I donít even eat chips, but this was the biggest news since their new-ish olive green guacamole flavor). Dr. Thunder (Wal-Mart brand Dr. Pepper) and other classy Samís Choice sodas are only 38-cents from the machine (once again, I donít drink soda, but I still was thrilled). I bought all sorts of Rimmel makeup (so I can put it on, then sweat it off before I leave the house) that they donít sell anywhere else in the U.S. and ogled the Olsen Twins makeup line (would it make me look 80 pounds if I wore it?). This is where I put together my All-American outfit. The denim shorts were easy, and they were on sale for $7 ($7.77 in the menís section, but James was a killjoy and wouldnít buy a matching pair). But the shirt was tough. I didnít want to spend much money, I mean like under $5, but all the good kindergarten teacher chic, giant novelty prints were out of my price range. I had to settle for a fitted shirt (there werenít any XL, XXL and XXXL on the clearance rack) instead of the more typical baggy-to-the-knees look that makes it seem like youíre not wearing anything underneath, until--surprise--jean shorts peek out. But it did have an underwater scene with the coral made of fake pearls and sequins, which was a classy touch for a $1 shirt. Faded Glory is Wal-Martís house brand, and that phrase pretty much sums up my Labor Day look.

9/6/04
Urgh, Iím not feeling so great. And Iím afraid I might have poisoned myself with Montreal food. Iím not sure if my malaise can be attributed to the insane brunch yesterday at our hotelís 30th floor revolving restaurant (Americans really are pigsóI observed everyone else choosing one dessert from the enormous spread of sweets, while I took four different pieces of cake and a chocolate croissant), the leftover pigís foot I ate this afternoon that sat unrefrigerated from Sat. night to Sun morning (though we did set up a make shift fridge using the ice bucket) and during yesterdayís seven-hour drive, or the smuggled mangosteens I snacked on a few hours ago (I donít know why theyíre illegal in the U.S., something about fruit flies). Or maybe my stomach is upset because Iím just not looking forward to work tomorrow. The first day of school is always busy, question-filled and generally annoying. And really, knowing I only have six days left there, itís hard to muster enthusiasm about helping faculty find images for art history classes.

9/2/04
HmmÖso I guess I have a new job. I don't know if I just have poor understanding of human interactions or what, but apparently, by being asked if I could start Sept. 14 on Tues. and saying yes, this meant the job was mine then. Today I checked in to see the status of things, like did they need references or anything and was told that everything was fine and they'd see me the 14th. Things most people care about like benefits, vacation, dress code, policies, etc. were never discussed. I don't even know the hours or what time I'm supposed to start. I mean, it's good that today I clarified and found out I have a new job, but there ended up being trauma both here and there because the 14th isn't two weeks from today and I had to shift it up to the 20th. I should feel happy, but instead I just feel kind of worried. No matter, I'm leaving town early tomorrow and hope to eat lots of maple flavored things, pick up illegal foodstuffs like mangosteens and raw milk cheese, and maybe eat fries cooked in horse fat (though I'll admit there's something off putting about the idea of eating horse meat and fat--call me bourgeois or American, I can take it).