Monday, September 27, 2004

This is just a good idea.

If you've never seen the movie "Living Out Loud," then you probably don't know just how well Queen Latifah can sing jazz. (She had one song in "Chicago," which was great, but "Living Out Loud" gives her more of an opportunity to shine as a singer.)

Thankfully, she is FINALLY releasing an album of standards, "The Dana Owens Album."

It comes out tomorrow, and "Lush Life," a song originally on the "Living Out Loud" soundtrack, reappears here.

I think this might be great.

Mr. Blue Sky.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," thus far the best and most interesting film released this year, comes out on DVD tomorrow.

So, if you have Netflix (which I don't anymore), update your Netflix queue.

Or if you go to Blockbuster (which I don't anymore), then get it there.

Or if you're like me and buy movies that you want to see because you don't watch movies at home all that often, then go to a store and buy it. And if you don't like it, then you can just sell it back at a used CD store.

It's the first movie I've seen where a character works at Barnes & Noble.

Who am I that I would do this?

I was in bed with a friend of mine this weekend, and he had to tell me several times to stop laughing.

Other times, I kept talking or getting distracted. Or I was unsure over whether it was a good idea for me to even be there.

I couldn't focus. My friend told me that I think too much.

It was not my best performance, and I likely did not make a good impression. I was not hot. Nor daring. Nor commanding. Nor confident.


Sunday, September 26, 2004

The ballgame.

Poli Sci Guy and I went on Saturday to the Braves game, and the only part about it that I didn't enjoy was calling the bookstore to tell them that I wouldn't be there for my shift.

I'm bad at lying. Terrible. In fact, I know I shouldn't be writing that here, and I'm tempted to remove it.

But it was a good game and a good time with Poli Sci Guy, and I feel like writing about that. (I've been asked already, and it was not a date.)

Poli Sci Guy, who enters contests constantly and once won a guest appearance on the final episode of "Baywatch Hawaii," won tickets through a giveaway at Publix, so he and I headed down to Turner Field. Of course, he had four tickets, and there were only two of us. So he sold the extra tickets to this couple who approached me, asking if we had extra seats.

And Poli Sci Guy sold them his extras, not knowing at the time that the two seats he gave them were completely separate from both each other and from our two seats. (Way to go, Publix! Lucky we didn't have a party of four.)

I got a baseball cap and Cracker Jack. There was complimentary food as part of Poli Sci Guy's prize pack, so we wolfed down some barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken wings and beer before actually finding our seats.

And when we did find our seats, the guy we sold our extra tickets to had some words for us. Because he'd had to get someone else's seats since the ones we sold him weren't together.

So Poli Sci Guy refunded him part of his money and apologized. ("Just because they're comped tickets to me doesn't mean I should comp them for them," Poli Sci Guy justified to me, and I actually agreed.)

At one point, a foul ball headed out toward our section in the left field, and it bounced into the hands of the guy sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. It was the closest I've been to a foul ball in my life, and it was awesome.

Poli Sci Guy kept pouting (I think he was half-joking) that the ball could've been ours if those people hadn't been sitting there.

"You mean, it coulda been mine since it was the seat in front of me," I clarified.

And he stopped pouting.

The game went scoreless for the majority of innings, which wasn't particularly engaging to watch even though it means that both teams are playing well defensively. Luckily, we were sitting right in front of these enthusiastic, completely drunk fortysomething guys who kept shouting, dancing and trying to start The Wave. ("THAT'S HOW WE DO IT IN AT-LAN-TAAAAAA!" was their chant.)

During the sole home run of the game, those guys high-fived everyone on our aisle.

After the game and some browsing in the souvenir shops, Poli Sci Guy and I ended up both in line and on the MARTA Stadium Shuttle with a cute, young groom and his cute, young groomsmen - who were engaging in the second night of a bachelor party.

Watching women pile on the shuttles ahead of us, members of the bachelor party yelled out such lovely words to them.

"HEY, SWEET TITS! LOOK OUT THE WINDOW!!!" The Groom, as I shall now call him, shouted to a girl in a tank top.

When Sweet Tits did in fact look out the window at the groom, the guys all howled until it was clear that her father sitting next to her was unpleased by the attention.



Oh, the soon-to-be-married are such good role models.

We ended up on the shuttle with those guys.

That's when I found out from one of them that it was a bachelor party.

"You took him to a Braves game?" I asked the guy. "What about the strippers?"

"That was last night," he said. "And the night is still young."

I laughed a bit as Groom and Best Man, stumbling while holding on to the aisle rails of the bus, first accidentally and then jokingly began play-acting gay sex positions upon one another.

"Dude, quit ramming into me," the Cute, Young, Drunk Best Man said to the Cute, Young, Drunk Groom. "I don't want that end of you."

The Groom obligingly turned around and faced the Best Man.

"Is this more your style?" the Groom asked the Best Man.

Poli Sci Guy looked at me all embarrassed, but I laughed out loud and tried to imagine what they looked like naked.

They kept walking with us, and the Groom pontificated on the bus and in the subway station about the possibility of getting hot chicks to make out with him.

The last thing I heard from The Groom was directed toward a 14-year-old girl.

"Damn, in two-plus years, I could so hit that," The Groom said, his eyes following her ass as she walked by.

And today's his wedding day.

"I feel sorry for the girl marrying him," Poli Sci Guy said to me.

Before dropping me home, Poli Sci Guy used his scalped-ticket windfall to treat me to dessert at the Buckhead Diner, where I had the famous white chocolate banana creme pie.

That pie was so good that I immediately decided to serve it at my commitment ceremony. Whenever the hell that's going to be. If ever.

(Mental note: Have some guys take me to a Braves game the night before my commitment ceremony.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

What do you want?

My therapist asked me this. My thought is that we're all, to some degree, dissatisfied with our lives no matter who we are.

He said that was an existential dilemma that I had to solve for myself, and he asked me what I want.

From my life? From relationships? From my job?

I feel like I'm wasting my potential. And yet the way I behave doesn't really fit in with what I feel like I want, am capable of or deserve.

He said that I have an "integrity gap" between my goals, I think, and my day-to-day existence.

So I don't know how to fix that. And I'm the only one who can fix it. He said the trick is to get my goals and my actions to be "more congruent."

This is going to be tough.

I'm just throwing it out there because I don't know what to do about it. Or what I'll actually do about it.

Because it's hard to think yourself a loser when you secretly know you're not a loser even when you continue to treat yourself like a loser.

My therapist told me that I don't feel a responsibility to myself yet to make my life better. So I don't fix my situation.

Even though I know better, I don't believe my sometimes sorry existence is worth fixing.

I've not jarred myself into action yet.

I think I'm starting to hate therapy. It's adding layers to what I feared was my basic apathy.

And I'm confused. And you all probably are, too.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Oops ... she did it again.

Britney Spears got married again this weekend.

To that bad-haircut, no-account, deadbeat-dad jackass Kevin Federline.

Entertainment Tonight's website published an account of the ceremony and reception that included details, like people wearing pink jumpsuits with the word "Pimp" on them, chicken fingers on the menu and Britney doing a pole dance during the post-ceremony reception.

The pole dance thing, above all other things, baffles me. It sounds like the punchline to a Jeff Foxworthy joke.

"La Dolce" Sunday.

I woke up later than I'd wanted to on Sunday afternoon, of course, which is what happens when you stay up too late into the early morning hours typing entries on the blog so that you can cure your writer's block - or whatever it is that's ailing you.

I tried not to drive too much, so I actually didn't end up leaving my apartment until around 6 p.m. when I realized that my engine needed both gasoline and coolant.

Of course, thanks to the fender bender from weeks ago, I'm not able to raise the hood of my car. Luckily, the collision raised the hood sufficiently in the center, so I can reach up under it and put water into the reserve tank next to the radiator without ever lifting the hood.

I've got to get to the body shop tomorrow and get my rental car, sometime between going to the office, going to my therapist and meeting Ron for a movie.

When I did finally leave my house and decide on a destination, I ended up at the Landmark, where they're showing the restored print of Fellini's "La Dolce Vita." I had never seen it before, but, of course, I'd heard all about it and read countless reviews.

And, since this is my first impression, I must admit that "La Dolce Vita" is one of the most genuinely interesting films I've ever seen. Its protagonist is young, frustrated, indulgent and dissatisfied with his life, his job, his relationships. So he goes out and gets drunk most every night. The film consists of episodes that always start like this. Marcello goes out. Marcello gets drunk. Marcello meets a woman. The woman is unique, troubled. And Marcello and the woman explore the Roman night in all its romance and debauchery. And, by the end of each episode, the night and the woman in it are both pretty much ruined. Marcello, looking for something to believe in and something that will ground him, never finds it, even when hints of a more satisfying existence approach him.

I identified with the movie while also appreciating that Marcello's existence was completely unlike my own, even if our young frustrations were similar.

And, finishing "La Dolce Vita," I called Vic and talked about our mutual frustrations with work and life, got something to eat, returned home, sat here, typed this and concluded my weekend.

How sweet is life, really?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Good trouble.

The blog's not seen a lot of action lately, and I've not seen fit to write anything truly noteworthy (i.e., worthy of including as a link on the sidebar) in months.

I mean, it's all been downhill since I got attacked by that drag queen in July.

I need to write something that garners me praise and attention. I miss it.

I'll try and dredge up some horrible family memories that I can now make jokes about or something. Soon.

I need my sense-of-self back.

I do the best imitation of myself.

I love Ben Folds. He is one of the greatest songwriters currently not receiving proper radio attention or airplay.

Piano rock deserves the proper respect.

Luckily, most of my friends are disciples of the Church of Ben Folds.

If you don't know Ben, you really oughta convert. I don't know what album you should start with. Just pick up "Whatever and Ever Amen" or one of the downloadable iTunes. Or just listen to the lyrics of the song "The Luckiest."

Really, trust me.

The frustrating Saturday night.

Tonight, I worked a particularly stressful, annoying shift at the bookstore, where I was charged with completely rearranging the journal display. Only there are too many journals, not enough space and no real, concrete semblance of order to the display. So I dismantled it, per the recommendation of my manager, and it became a mess. Then, I told the manager it was a mess when she wanted me to do something else, and she then told me that she didn't mean for me to dismantle "too much of it at once."

So she picked it up while I, ashamed, did the other task she wanted me to do.

Luckily, someone is going through and reorganizing it tomorrow, while I don't work at the bookstore and remind myself that a damn journal display is really NOT AT ALL a big deal in both the long-term and short-term course of human events.

Frustrated, I went to see "Wimbledon." Well, um, actually I went to see Paul Bettany looking tanned and athletic, preferably shirtless. And, unfortunately, there was a romantic comedy-sports movie surrounding all that delightful Paul Bettany exposure. (I think there's a split-second ass shot that you might be able to freeze-frame when the otherwise-forgettable movie comes out on DVD.)

Paul Bettany is completely adorable.

The movie reminded me of London. I miss London. I want to live there. I miss London more than I miss sex. I miss London almost as much as I miss genuinely being in love with someone, which happened to me once that I can recall.

That object of my affection when I did that so long ago, naturally, was British, which means I need to move to another country or at least find a hot guy with an accent to regard dreamily.

OK, I should move.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The long Friday night.

If I were to have a really great date ever again, I'd want it to go the way my night went last night with Edmondson.

We met at 7:30 and stayed out until 2 a.m. It was great.

First we went to dinner at our usual place, the American Cafe at Phipps Plaza, and we had steaks. The service, because the restaurant was busy, wasn't as good as it usually is. (We never did get our salads.) But our conversation, whether we were on the topic of Edmondson's ex-girlfriend or not, was lively, fueled by my margarita and his Long Island iced tea.

Then we went to a nearby bookstore, where I get a discount, and he browsed some book on digital photography while I read through The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, inspired by the Susanna Clarke signing and a children's books conversation I'd had with Miss Gibson earlier that day.

We went to a 9:40 showing of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" at the Hollywood 24. And I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED that movie. It reminded me of that old series of "Batman" cliffhangers from the '40s that my dad once bought me. Every 10 minutes or so, the movie placed its characters in an impossible, life-or-death situation that they had to escape somehow.

After the film, Edmondson and I ended up at Krispy Kreme, where I treated him to his first piping-hot, fresh glazed donut. And though he was impressed by it, he only had one, saying too much more would cause him sugar overload. (I, on the other hand, finished off about four of them without shame. Thank God it wasn't a date.)

Then, he drove me back to my car, then pulled his laptop out of the trunk and quickly burned some Ben Folds tracks onto a CD for me. Edmondson, thus, is the best.

I'm thankful for what I have. It's as close to great - in those moments - as it ever needs to be.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Let the river run.

For some reason, even though I've seen it a hundred times, I stayed up watching "Working Girl" on my old VHS copy. It was good, as it always is, but I thought I would be able to watch about five to 30 minutes of it and be done. But it wouldn't let me turn it off.

I think I should be concerned, but I don't know why. Maybe because I'm ashamed of liking a Melanie Griffith film. I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm ashamed of liking a movie where someone gets a life-changing haircut.

(Once, a friend of mine and I tried to name all the movies we could where a haircut factored into the plot, but there were too many to name.)

Confessing my viewing habit to Lupo, he admitted that he once liked that Carly Simon song in it. I don't get that song. I mean, I know it's supposedly inspirational and all, but what about WORKING GIRL suggests "a new Jerusalem?"

So then, I confessed to Lupo that the boyfriend who I dumped over BABE: PIG IN THE CITY once suggested that "our song" was "I Finally Found Someone," the duet by Bryan Adams and Barbra Streisand, and that he bought me that single, which I never opened EVER and gladly threw away upon our break-up.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The best part about Saturday.

It was September 11, and I managed to never hear about it all day. Because I slept until 3 p.m. Then, I went over to see Kacoon, and we ate and watched DVDs.

So all of 9/11's third anniversary passed, and, because it was the weekend, I didn't have to deal with any flags at half-mast, any specials on the news, any moments-of-silence at my office. I didn't have to sit in my cubicle and relive how I sat in a different cubicle at the other end of the office that day.

People have allowed the shadow of that day to motivate them into changing their lives. I haven't.

Part of me feels like a complete fool for ignoring the anniversary in its entirety until just now. More, though, I'm really glad that I missed it.

Those aren't easy memories, and it doesn't feel particularly right or useful to dwell on them when there are no real tasks that you can use them to get motivated for.

I mean, what, in the spirit of American strength and in regard to 9/11, did I really want to do with my Saturday?

Yeah, not that much.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Forgive the silence.

By the way, I've been blocked for a couple weeks, so I've not been able to update the blog as often as some readers may be accustomed (which makes me sound a bit egotistical).

I've been blocked because of minor things and major ones. Nothing in particular is really wrong with me, meaning there are no causes for concern. There's just a genuine reluctance I've had lately toward being happy, excited or motivated about anything I've been doing.

At the same time, you can only write that you don't like your job or that you feel unfulfilled in your life so many times before you sound like you're just blowing hot air and not really doing anything to fix the damn problems you've caused yourself.

I'm still messy.

I didn't write on the blog about the fender bender I got into two weeks ago.

I didn't write about my dip into depression really until just now.

Last night, Black asked me what I really wanted to do for a living and with my life. He said he'd help me any way he could, much as other nice people have offered, but that I needed first to tell him what field of work I really saw myself in.

My mother asked me the same sort of question a couple weeks ago, and she didn't like my answer then.

"I think I want to write a book," I said. "This job is dead-end, but I'd probably feel the same way at any other job. I mean, what's the point, really?"

My mother seemed irked, understandably, about my attitude.

Certainly, there's got to be some job that I want to do that I'd be good at.

Tonight at the Margaret Mitchell House, I met lots of curators and promotions people there who get to work developing book events and promoting authors, which seemed to me like it would be really fun to do.

Talking to Black, I told him that I've been curious about people in movie promotional campaigns, as well.

I avoided public relations classes in college, though, because I thought PR people were the ones who tried to control perceptions and what was written about certain topics. I figured they were the ones screening what information was released, and the whole thing seemed kinda shady.

I figured that PR people would spin Armageddon into a positive for headlines, like "Millions die: More air for everyone else."

Lately, though, it doesn't seem entirely as shady. Maybe because I'm not in newspapers, demanding answers to questions and trying to read between the lines. Maybe it's because I'm more into cultural happenings now, and I understand what it's like to know the best way to sell something to a consumer, how to change the message to suit a particular audience.

I've been a good writer. Now I'm a good salesman. How do I find the way to best combine these into a job that meets my interests and utilizes my talents? Is there a real job out there that does that? Is it one that I'm qualified for?

I don't want just any job. And I want to be able to see my life as something promising, something that allows for the occasional good and remarkable thing to happen.

I'm not asking for all-the-time happiness. I'm not that naive. I just want the possibility of good things to be in my mind and my mood more than it is currently.

The next big thing.

I met the author Susanna Clarke tonight, and she was really, really genuine and sweet. Her signing at the Margaret Mitchell House was the first stop on her press tour of the U.S. to support her first novel, "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," a fantasy book about two magicians that I've been chatting up - without having actually read it - to friends and customers for weeks.

Speaking before a group of about 50 people, Clarke was engaging, occasionally funny and told an interesting group of stories revealing how the book came about. But what I think I admired the most about her was that she was reading from notecards and clearly quite nervous about the whole speaking-in-public thing, which made her sort of darling.

I mean, sometime earlier this year, she gets paid a reportedly huge advance from Bloomsbury, a publisher, for the book it took her 10 years to properly research and finish. The marketing campaign behind it is massive, and reviews in the New York Times start calling it "the adult HARRY POTTER." It's put on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize. In its first week of publication, it's currently in the top 10 of Amazon's bestsellers.

This was her first stop, and this was the first time she'd been in a town to promote the book AFTER it was available in stores.

Clarke said, at the beginning of her speech, that she'd already found the first JONATHAN STRANGE-related fan fiction published on the Internet.

"Someone tied in my story with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN," she said, letting the audience laugh. "And I read it, and the story was actually pretty good."

In six months, as the sales continue and the buzz grows, she'll have a completely different take on the whole thing, so it was a really great privilege to see her before it all sunk in.

During the Q&A for the book, I asked her a very general and open question just because I was curious if she'd give a stock answer.

"I don't mean to ask something so broad," I started. "But how does all this FEEL? The advance praise, the sales, the reviews and being in front of people here."

"How does all this feel?" Clarke repeated for the crowd. "It feels really great. I mean, to look at all the sales and such and the reviews, to take it all in, that starts to overwhelm me. But here, concentrating on this moment in front of all of you, that I can focus on, and this feels really great."

Clarke told us about the books she'd tried to write before finishing this one, saying that she'd attempted a detective story only to find that it didn't really have a plot, "which is kind of important in a detective story."

With "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," she found that the title characters, who in the book both exhibit attention-grabbing egos despite different personalities, wouldn't escape her head when she would try to take a break from the book.

"I could never stop writing it for longer than a day," she said, saying the characters, in their way, insisted that she finish the story.

She mentioned books that influenced her, saying that she reread "The Lord of the Rings" twice while recovering from an illness during the 1990s. (My friend Mike, sitting next to me at the reading, giggled at this. He rereads that book once a year.)

She said she fell in love with the language of the books, the creation of that world. She said rereading Tolkien reminded her that the books she had fallen in love with as a child were books of magic - particularly C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia," so she decided to tackle that as a subject.

Stylistically, she used Jane Austen as a model.

To get the setting of England during the Napoleonic wars right, Clarke researched history extensively, finding that first-person battlefield accounts contained a useful level of detail that she borrowed from in creating her book.

Quirky characters from Normandy and random details about the life of Byron, for instance, factor into "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell." She also factored in her views on the cultural differences between the peoples of Northern and Southern England.

From what I've read of the very detailed, amusing, 800-plus-page novel, Clarke's effort is a success.

She said, though, that she felt she'd done right as an author when she received fan mail from someone, saying her book had kept them up at night.

"Authors are a mean lot," she said. "When he told me he'd lost sleep because of my book, I'd felt I'd done what I set out to do."

After the program, I stood in line to get two copies of the book signed, one for me and another for a friend.

When I got to really talk to Clarke, I didn't know exactly what to say, and I didn't want to sound hokey. (I thought my Q&A question could've been better, for, naturally, the reply was going to be "really good and kinda overwhelming," which is what her reply sorta was.)

I thought about her notecards. So I said what I would've said to someone in my college debate society after they gave their first speech.

"You did well up there," I said, looking into her eyes. "You should be really proud of yourself."

She really should be.

She smiled at me and started to thank me.

"Sorry," I apologized immediately, "that probably came out silly. I didn't know the best way to say it."

"Actually, that was a great way to put it," Clarke said to me, again genuine. "Thank you."

I looked over at her publicist, who was also smiling at me for saying something reassuring to a first-time author.

Clarke took a piece of scrap paper out and printed the spelling of my name to see that she got it right.

I told her I'd been to London for the first time in April and loved it. I told her a friend of mine edited the letters page at The Guardian, and she said that her partner, a man named Colin Greenland traveling with her, did reviews for them on occasion.

So I told her that the highlight of my writing career was a column on the Guardian website, my sole claim to fame.

And Clarke looked at me and said, "Really?"

And I felt cool.

So I told her that it'd been a real treat meeting her and that I wished her much luck with the book.

Then I went over to her partner and said hello, saying that he must be proud of her.

"She's been great," Greenland said. "I could've never done it, sold a book. I'm just a journalist."

It was funny. They were really cool people.

And now I'm dying to read her book.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The "What If" Episode.

At a certain point in any long-term TV series, there always appears to be some dream-sequence episode where the characters make an "It's a Wonderful Life" choice. Then they spend the entire episode seeing how different their lives would be if they'd made a single, defining choice.

If I had that option in my life, I don't honestly know where I'd choose to make changes. I mean, what if I'd not been born with cerebral palsy? What if my parents hadn't divorced? What if they'd never moved to Georgia? What if I'd been attracted to girls? What if, instead of journalism, I'd chosen to go into psychotherapy as a career? What if I'd written a film? Or a novel?

What if I'd tried to make things work with Welsh Guy?

Um, but my life is a "what if" episode. Everyone's is. This isn't fiction. There probably aren't, you know, alternate universes, places where I walk without a limp or live happily ever after with Welsh Guy in some London flat with Miss Gibson visiting regularly. Or, I don't know, some situation I can't even imagine.

My dreams have been sorta realistic lately, kinda colorful, but they haven't been good.

I don't really know what's in store for me. I hope it'll be good.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I can "Gosh" better than him.

Poli Sci Guy and I have been arguing for over a week over "Napoleon Dynamite." He adored it. I mean, he apparently just laughed and laughed and laughed in the theater, and he's been doing a Napoleon Dynamite impression for days.

I hated the damn movie. It was boring, senseless and not particularly funny. I told Lupo and Dr. Neupert, the film prof, that I didn't like it. They went to see it and didn't like it for the same reasons, so I felt validated.

Strangely, though, my Napoleon Dynamite impression is better than Poli Sci Guy's.

That makes me feel like a whore. I mean, if I can do a good impression off a bad movie, then it gives the impression that I support the film.

By the way ...

The only writing I've been incredibly prolific with lately, to the chagrin of people awaiting new blog posts, a novel and a new episode of my soap opera, have been my customer reviews for Amazon.

Please, by all means, look the customer "rileymccarthy" up, and vote on the usefulness of my reviews. I think I've become an Amazon review addict, and I'm tempted at times to foresake other writing tasks and review everything I own. (Mostly I review movies. Thus far, the most marginal things I've reviewed are a multi-device remote control, my George Foreman Grill and the heterosexual softcore porn series, "Emmanuelle in Space," on DVD.)

Labor daze.

Do you ever get so overtaken by your own apathy that you spend your days enjoyably doing nothing - even though you have tasks you could be doing - and think to yourself, "Um, the only way I'm getting out of this rut I'm in is if someone comes to my apartment door and forces me, at gunpoint maybe, to get on with things ..."?

Anyone? Anyone? Oh dear, I was kinda afraid it was just me.

No savior came to my door to force me to do anything this weekend. Just the pizza guy.

I wouldn't say I'm complaining about the situation, just recognizing it. I mean, I enjoyed doing nothing the majority of this Labor Day weekend. (Well, I did work every night at the bookstore - and I even pulled a shift in the music department for fun.)

I could've written a draft of my letter to literary agents or a chapter out of that book I'm planning.

Instead, I finished reading "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," which was sorta bad in a way that I felt guilty I wasn't reading better books.

I also watched an episode of "Days of Our Lives" where nothing in particular happened, then wrote Miss Gibson in London an e-mail to discuss "Days of Our Lives."

And, of course, after "Days" came a really great episode of "Passions" where a lot - I mean, A LOT - happened, including a scene where a character found out that she's pregnant with her BROTHER'S baby. "Passions" had me so worked up that I couldn't even watch "Oprah" afterward. It was THAT good.

I started, albeit slowly, "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," the book I've been talking about for weeks. And I discovered on the Web, while downloading new virus software, that the author of that book's doing a local signing on Thursday - and I'm totally there for that.

Arguably the most interesting thing occurred this morning, when I wrote an IM to Lupo apologizing for how messy my apartment was during his visit. And, upon sending it, I realized that he'd only visited my messy apartment in my dreams because I'd just woken up. So he and his boyfriend didn't really leave my apartment in a huff before going to buy a Sleep Number Bed.

So that was my Labor Day weekend. A whole lot of work. A whole lot of nothing.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Fun with microbiology.

Last night, I met Dr. Green, my new part-time co-worker at the bookstore. Dr. Green's a bit older than some of our part-time staff, so I assumed he had a full-time job. Dr. Green told me that he was - get this - a retired microbiologist from Coca-Cola.

So I'm thinking, at first, that he mixed recipes and such. But then I realized that my thinking was off. That would be either a cook's job or a chemist's.

Microbiology is different. And when I put two-and-two together, the conversation became just fascinating.

So then, I asked him, "Was it your job to see what sort of bacteria and germs could live in old Coca-Cola?"

Dr. Green said the biggest problem he ever found was yeast. Of course, he admitted that, if he'd found a culture of something truly heinous, he wouldn't be able to tell me about it - because he'd signed a confidentiality agreement.

"Cool," I asked him excitedly, then I jumped to something else.

"How many single-celled organisms are living in my eyebrows right now?" I asked.

Dr. Green told me that probably hundreds were.

"But you've probably got bigger things to worry about," Dr. Green said. That's microbiologist humor.

So I start asking Dr. Green if he'd be able to help us out if the bookstore was exposed to anthrax or something.

He said he'd be little help in the event of bioterrorism in the bookstore.

"Yeah," I said. "But if I got you a microscope, you'd probably be able to tell us what was making us all sick, right? Like, if the bookstore became THE HOT ZONE or something."

"And that would do you no good at all if we were already exposed," Dr. Green said.

Dr. Green was cool. He's my favorite new employee - just because he's got a Ph. D. in microbiology.

When we left the store, I guided him out of the parking lot in my beat-up Saturn so that his polished, souped-up 2004 silver Corvette wouldn't get scratched.

I knew I picked the wrong field in college. I shoulda been a microbiologist.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The first time I've cried in ages.

What happened yesterday was weird. I don't know what my mood was or what my intent was, but I just needed to be by myself. So I went to a used bookstore in Duluth, thinking that I was buying books for Vic, and I ended up getting stuff both there and at the Pleasant Hill Barnes & Noble across the street.

I wanted to buy something deep and meaningful. I wanted to escape something, but I don't know exactly what. I ended up buying books both for Vic and for myself, including a book about football for myself.

I drove to the movies, but I couldn't figure out what movie I wanted to see, if I wanted to stay out late or if I just wanted a nice, quiet place to read.

I went to the grocery store, bought some pasta, some orange-flavored Listerine and some cereal. I came home, watched an episode of BOOMTOWN about child abuse. When it ended, I sobbed for 10 minutes. It was weird.