Friday, March 26, 2010

Riddle me this...

Sometimes, when I'm walking along the street, I'll all of a sudden have a sense of being in a soccer or basketball game. It's not a flashback, rather the moment is unfolding right in front of me, in real time. I'm 34 years old and on my way to work but I can see vividly a ball coming towards me. And I see - and feel - the path I need to take to meet it. I picture weaving in and out of pedestrians, receiving the ball with a sure touch, giving a little fake, and then setting up for a strike or a jumper that flies by a diving keeper or falls truly through the hoop. This is an immensely satisfying daydream.

Sometimes I have this fantasy with golf, too.


I played sports unspectacularly and my overall physical memory is, more often than not, one in which I'm - well, I believe leaden is the right word. What's the deal with this phantom fluidity (and that's what I fantasize about - the beauty of the movements)?

Also, unrelatedly, I have allergies! I was up all night last night blowing my nose, and it's now a raw, red beacon. I took some Claritin, but it's not working as fast I had I hoped. I need a good placebo.

I see now that this is one of my more boring posts. You can feel free to disregard.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It is not true that self acceptance automatically comes with age. It is true that when we are older our earlier aims seem more dubious and it is easier, cheaper, more painless to smile at our youthful ambition; but this is not the same as self-acceptance. In a certain respect, even, it becomes more difficult as we get older. More and more people to whom we look up admiringly are younger than ourselves, our allotted span grows shorter and shorter, resignation becomes easier and easier in view of our nonetheless honorable career, easier still for those who have no career at all and can console themselves with the thought of their unrecognized genius...

-- Max Frisch, I'm Not Stiller [1954]

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Overheard on Nostrand Avenue

"Look at them legs, Duchess. Mmm-hmmm."

- Man, 40ish, to bulldog, in wake of young woman

Prayer to St Catharine of Siena

O St Catharine of Siena
Patroness of Siena College
where I went to basketball camp as a young lad
back when I used to think I was black
and had a high and tight
and stayed with my grandparents
who fed me prunes and drove me to camp
in a Buick that smelled of Winstons

Look down on me tonight, O Saint Catharine,
me and the men's team from your College
and give them victory over Purdue
(who are Lutherans, most likely)
which would give me a much
needed 13 points in my upset pool

O Lady, then, in the second round
(hopefully against Texas A & M)
give them another victory
for I need those extra points in round two.

Generally, O Saint Catharine,
bless my bracket and all my picks
Guard tendons and ligaments, and give freshman,
such as that Wall kid on Kentucky,
wisdom beyond their years
as well as consistency at the free throw line.

For all this I pray, in the hopes of
making my May rent in various pools


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Modern Man

I can now see this missing Stiller pretty clearly. He seems to be very feminine. He feels he has no will power, and in a certain sense he has too much -- he employs it in willing not to be himself. His personality is vague; hence his tendency to radicalism. His intelligence is average, but in no way trained; he prefers to rely on hunches and neglects the intelligence; for intelligence forces one to make decisions. At times he reproaches himself with cowardice, then he makes decisions which he later cannot keep to. He is a moralist, like almost everybody who does not accept himself. He often runs unnecessary risks, or puts himself in mortal danger, to prove that he is a fighter. He has a great deal of imagination. He suffers from the classical inferiority anxiety that comes from making excessive demands on himself, and he mistakes his fundamental sense of inadequacy for depth of character, or even for religious feeling. He is a pleasant person, he possesses charm and doesn't argue. When he can't get his way by charm, he withdraws into his melancholy. He would like to be honest. In him, the insatiable longing to be truthful is partly due to a special kind of untruthfulness: he is truthful to the point of exhibitionism so that he can use the consciousness of being particularly truthful, more truthful than other people, as a manner of skirting around a sore point. He doesn't know just where this point lies, this black hole, that keeps cropping up again, and he is afraid even when it doesn't appear. He lives in anticipation. He likes to leave everything in suspense. He is one of those people who, wherever they are, cannot help thinking how nice it might be somewhere else. He flees the here-and-now, at least inwardly. He doesn't like the summer, or any other state of immediate fulfillment; he likes autumn, twilight, melancholy; transience is his element. Women very quickly have the feeling that he understands them. He has few men friends. Among men he feels he is not a man. But in his fundamental fear of being inadequate he is really afraid of women too. He conquers more than he can hold, and once his partner has sensed his limits he completely loses his nerve. He is not willing to and not capable of being loved as the person he is, and therefore he involuntarily neglects every woman who truly loves him, for if he took her love really seriously, he would be compelled as a result to accept himself -- and that is the last thing he wants.

--Max Frisch, I'm Not Stiller [1954]

To which I say - Frisch! You old numbnuts! Turn that frown upside down!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Monday Night

In the brightly lit and colorful aisle of a Met Market, I labor for far too long in choosing between Florida's Natural and Tropicana Grapefruit juice while holding a basket weighed down by a week's provisions - pears, cheese, pasta, cold cuts, milk, plum tomatoes, honey wheat bread - and inadvertently bopping my head to a song whose chorus repeats "birthday sex" over and over and over again.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Receptionists can make the day the most difficult. And it’s a pity, as you encounter them first. But it seems that the people most likely to resent temps are those who see little value in engaging with them. People at the top and the bottom prove generally welcoming. Both managers and the mail room often are cordial and civil. But receptionists and secretaries, who cultivate close relationships with the powerful and get value from their everyday intimacy, at best see little point in talking to temps, and, at worst, see us as unpredictable and unwanted presences. Any information divulged from these surly sources is presented in a way to highlight obvious ignorance and confusion. Never have I been told quite as quietly witheringly where I could put my coat as I was this very morning.

Today’s assignment is at a midtown Public Relations firm. There’s another temp from the agency there, too. A tall, young man, still wet blond hair carefully combed, neck red with acne and the aggravation of a morning shave. He annoys me at first by engaging in pleasantries with the coffee bar hostess. This office has its own coffee bar complete with eight stools right in the lobby. Offered a cup of complimentary coffee he refuses politely (as do I), but as we wait for our contact to appear he ventures an exchange with the barista - “Do you have a favorite coffee to make?” Idiot, I think. Patronizing idiot.

We are charged by a very friendly young woman with saving a number of documents on to flash drives. It is boring, but rhythmic. There is a pile of them and we must get to the bottom, one at a time. I am pleased by the time it takes for the files to be copied and could happily spend the morning doing this. I am slightly annoyed when my colleague comes up with the idea of using both USB ports to double our productivity. “I don’t know, maybe it won’t save any time?” “No, it’s a good idea,” I reluctantly acknowledge. But if we finish...what then?

Lunch. We are told to be back in the office at 1:30. I’m a couple of minutes late having accidentally got on an express elevator which took me with an astonishing speed to the 46th floor despite my frantic pressing of button 17. For a moment I fantasize that the elevator’s gone haywire, and I’m ascending to the roof of the building ever faster only to burst through in a splinter of concrete, steel, and timber where I’m suspended momentarily in mid-air before crashing down in an arc of destruction onto the city street below. I cringe. Not in terror, but in mortification. While at lunch I had sat in a park where children played in a sunken concrete ring filled with simple sand. The parents - or ethnic guardians, as seemed to be the case - stood along the outside, arms crossed and watchful. It was like a gladiatorial event miniaturized and stripped of bloodlust. Instead of Romans and lions, there were little kids, curly haired and clumsy in brightly colored and oversized coats and ribbons, innocently sifting sand and walking in circles. They do this oblivious to the click clacking high heeled passers-by and the pitter patter of the small dogs who lead along an endless stream of elderly ladies.

Our friendly young woman is not quite ready for us upon our return and we’re instructed to hang out at the coffee bar. We pass a pleasant 45 minutes watching CNN and chatting. I’m warming to my young colleague. I talk of Dublin, he talks of his struggle to find work that is meaningful. I sympathize, and offer to get him another complimentary coffee.

The afternoon brings us to a conference room looking out over Manhattan and views of balconies draped in the spring sun. Folders in need of collating and reorganizing await us, along with some of the untouched offerings for an executive’s meeting canceled earlier. We help ourselves to cold sodas.

The frantic activity that keeps tearing our friendly young woman from us (How many years younger than me is she, I momentarily think - could it be a decade?) and the purported reason for our being there is a launch by a major Japanese electronics company of a 3D television. Our folders contain information useful to the organizers of this event, including too many references to how cool and un-cumbersome the special glasses needed for the TVs are. We learn of a performance by a popular hip hop group at the launch. At one point, we see a script which has the Japanese head of this major electronics company ending a very brief welcoming speech by painfully quoting from the current hit by this band. I’m embarrassed. Doesn’t anyone object to this foolishness?

By 5 PM the work we were really hired to do is still not yet ready, and won't be ready for a number of hours. And so we are anti-climatically sent home, despite being contracted until 6PM. “Don’t worry,” our friendly young woman says, cheerful to the end. “I’ll sign off on a full day.”

Thursday, March 04, 2010


The apartment I'm subletting contains the single largest collection possible of extant D'Angelo albums. There are only two extant D'Angelo albums. Ergo, the apartment contains both of them. A third album is evidently eagerly anticipated by a lot of people including, presumably, one if not both of the full time residents of this apartment. Though it is not eagerly anticipated by this listener. No, that will be one release that will sail under the proverbial radar.

I have enough on my plate without D'Angelo breathing heavily in my ear.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Remember when it was all snowy up in here??

That shit was hilarious!!!!