Monday, March 28, 2005

In remembrance of me.

* Sometimes I miss Ash. Sometimes I miss him a lot. The apartment's starting to get messier, and I need to vacuum it. My clean apartment, though, was never my motivation for being in the relationship. I was in the relationship because I love him. Yes, I love him totally. It never would've worked, I fear, but I love him.
* This week, it's my fifth anniversary of leaving CNN. A year ago, I was departing for London to see Miss Gibson, and I want to go back there. I want that almost as much as I want to live with the perspective I had when I was there.
* My brother Dan gets married on Saturday. Many members of my family (the ones I like) are flying in. It should be, once it settles, a great party. I can't help but think about how I'm the only one of my cousins or brothers who'll never marry, at least traditionally. I'm not unhappy with that choice, nor should I be, but it's there in front of me. It makes sense to acknowledge it when it's right there. Of course, I would've preferred to have Ash alongside me this week, but it wasn't up to me. Still, my cousin Holly wanted to meet him.
* Five years since CNN seems like an awfully big milestone. The jobs I chose upon getting fired are the jobs I still have. The person I thought I was is not the person I am, and that's different. It's been five years since I was a traditional journalist. Is that good or bad?
* Lupo's going to London this week for a film studies conference, and Miss Gibson, whom he has not met before, is meeting him for drinks at the Tate Modern. I hope the weather's nice for them. I hope they toast to me from the balcony of the member's lounge, looking out over the Thames at St. Paul's Cathedral. I hope they go to the dimly lit room with all the Rothko paintings. Or to that grand, beautiful mobile with the single lightbulb at its center, if that's still on display. (I suppose they could also pay tribute to me by going to Boots Pharmacy and inquiring about dentistry, going to Shoreditch to find "street art" or asking someone for the time in front of Big Ben, but the Tate was my favorite.)

Back to the closet.

Went to my mom's yesterday, where I had to hear my stepdad complain about the wedding, whine about why he can't wear jeans to the rehearsal dinner and then bitch about losing a lighter.

Then, we went to eat at the former PoFolks, where my mom asked me about my taxes, my work performance and whether my apartment was still clean.

After that, we headed home, and my stepdad jumped out of the car as soon as we arrived at the house. My mom used this opportunity to linger for a moment, using the rain as an excuse, to ask me in a whisper if Ash and I were "still broken up."

I told her yes, laughed, and then she asked me if I was coming back inside the house.

I told her no.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What I said happened.

My mother called me at my office this morning.

My mother: "So why'd you dump him?"
Me: "That's not exactly what I said happened."
My mother: "You said 'We broke up.'"
Me: "Yes."
My mother: "So he dumped you!"
Me laughing.
My mother: "Did you put clean clothes on the dirty ones again?"
Me: "No."
My mother: "So what happened?"
Me: "Um."
My mother: "OK, we'll talk about it later. At least you're in good spirits about it."
Me: "Yeah."

(Phone clicks.)

Friday, March 18, 2005

The most elusive special feature.

Last night, I borrowed Larry and David's copy of the special edition of "Memento," to see if I could find the hidden feature that allowed you to play the movie in chronological order.

The whole bonus disc plays like a psych ward quiz, and I had to get to the right question of the quiz in order to access the feature. After answering questions for maybe 20 minutes, trying to figure out the right pattern, the disc sent me to a question where I had to put four illustrations in chronological order. Instead of doing that, I put the images backward, following a tip from a friend of mine.

Then, the end credits of "Memento" started up, and they rolled backward up my television screen.

Late-night desertion.

Ash was "inspired" by sex and caffeine two nights ago to leave my
apartment at 3 a.m., while I was asleep, and head to his office to do
some work. He changed the voicemail there and came up with a handy
checklist that will help the office manage its caseload.

I woke up at 6:50 a.m. with a stomachache, trying to find my
boyfriend, but he was gone.

I called his cell, and I didn't get an answer. I called his office,
heard the changed voicemail message, assumed he was there and idiotically left a
message for him in the general mailbox. I figured he'd get it before his two co-workers did.

Something like, "It's early, early in the morning, and you were gone.
I don't know where you are. I just woke up, and the voicemail is
changed, sweetie. It sounds really good. I hope you're all right."

At 10 a.m., one of his co-workers got the message and gave it to him
while snickering.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I knew Tray in college. We both worked for the newspaper. He's a good writer and artist. (You can still see his illustrations in Creative Loafing, though he's apparently New York-based.) Though I didn't anticipate becoming one, I'm a regular reader of his, and he deserves notice.

Check his site out.

Short notes on short stories.

- My boyfriend Ash tried to leave me this week because, among other things, I left two pairs of clean pants atop a basket of dirty clothes. He freaked over it, leaving the apartment because he didn't want to live his entire life as my therapist, mother and/or slave. (I wasn't home when he came to these decisions, and I found out about these decisions over the phone, while I was at dinner at my boss's house.) The next day, he returned to the apartment to tell me he'd made a rash decision. We went to see a movie about a wife abandoned by her husband. Things are better, but I still haven't given him back his key.

- My mom told me that I shouldn't mess things up with Ash like that. She said, "Mess up again, Benjie, and you'll end up doing your own laundry. You watch."

- I've been reading short stories like crazy, and I've come to the same conclusion of millions of other readers. John Cheever is a mad genius. I wish I could write like that.

- Vic apparently quit or lost her job this week, though I'm not sure which. I didn't know about her job situation until yesterday. I thought she'd just taken some time off because one of her best friends is in the hospital.

- Kacoon, five months pregnant, is leaving her job on Friday. When Ash met her this weekend, he brought her a box of Do-Si-Dos to immediately get on her good side.

- That Fulton County Courthouse shooting completely freaked me out over the weekend, but then the inspirational Christian witness story that came out of it just annoyed the hell out of me. It turned a horrifying incident into a Lifetime or PAX TV-movie.

- Last week, I printed out a couple short stories before heading to AID Atlanta for routine testing. They used to actually let you sit in the waiting room, but now they've moved the waiting area out into this narrow hallway. The only thing to read there now are pamphlets on abstinence and how to be an HIV-positive mom. I brought along stories printed from here. As people realized what Ash and I were reading, they asked for copies of the stories. (I tried to hand this one cute guy a pamphlet on abstinence instead, and he said, "It's too late for that." So I gave him something by Guy de Maupassant instead.) The scene eventually erupted into a dialogue about what we'd read and liked, how the whole waiting room experience made us feel, how much the Hawks suck and what we liked about living in Atlanta. I felt like Phil Donahue. Since that day, Ash will mention, at random, how much "Willa Cather rocks."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Jump around.

This has to be the oddest local attraction I've ever heard of. Has any one of you been to this?

This just screams "Day Trip."

Friday, March 04, 2005

When Ash's Parents Met Me: A Play.

Here's a rough timeline of how my visit to Ash's childhood home went:

3:30 last Saturday at my apartment:

ASH: Hey, it's my cousin's 50th birthday party, and I was invited to it by e-mail weeks ago but forgot about it. Would you like to come with me?
ME: Sure, when is it?
ASH: I'm supposed to be there at 4.
ME (with a look of panic on my face): Um, let me get ready ...

4:30 on Saturday at Ash's parents' house:

ASH: Hi Mom, sorry we're late.
ASH MOM: That's fine. Is this a new roommate?
ASH: No, this is my friend Benjie. I've known him forever. We met in college.
ASH MOM: Hi, what was your name?
ME: Benjie. Sorry we're late.
(ASH MOM smiles.)

4:45 on Saturday in Ash's parents' kitchen:

ASH: Dad, this is my friend Benjie.
ASH DAD: Oh ... hi ....
(ASH DAD looks at ME, trying to decipher what is going on.)

5:15 on Saturday:

ME: Pardon me, sir. Where is the garbage can?
(ASH DAD steps away from the counter, uses his foot to open the garbage disposal and looks at ME.)
ME: Thank you.

5:30 on Saturday:

ASH: Is that punch?
ASH DAD: Sorta. It's pretty good.
ASH: It looks gross.
ME: They mix lime sherbet and soda. It's good.
ASH DAD: Yeah.
(ASH DAD glares at ME. ME recognizes the look as the same one his own father gave ASH at the Super Bowl Party.)

5:35 on Saturday:

ME: I think your father hates me.
ASH: Oh, yeah, well, he hates everybody.

5:45 on Saturday:

ME meets ASH BROTHER, ASH's thirtysomething, computer-addicted, video-game-playing, Anime-obsessed, DVD-collecting older brother, when he looks away from the giant video screen in his bedroom and hits pause on his joystick, noticing a stranger in his room.

ASH: This is my friend Benjie.
ME (intentionally ignoring formality): Oh my God, I love your DVD collection. Do you have all the Mizayaki? (ASH BRO and ME talk for 10 minutes about Anime. ME offers ASH BRO a Gmail account, which he accepts.)

5:55 on Saturday:

ME meets ASH SISTER, ASH's pretty, smart 18-year-old sister, adopted from India, but they don't get to talk much.

5:58 on Saturday:

ASH MOM says goodbye to ME and ASH. ASH MOM tells ME to call her by her first name and smiles.

Lust, desire and Earth, Wind & Fire

I'm tired after hanging out with Ash - for those of you who don't know, he's my personal Yoko Ono - and Vic at Wal-mart last night, reading the backs of cheap romance novels with our voices extra breathy.

Vic's particularly good at that. She'll find ones where characters are named "Ridge" and "Lynetta" or something. One of them is usually a vampire. The other is a shapely truck stop waitress. And the big challenge to them will be whether to sacrifice eternal life for fiery desire or something.

Ash and Vic got along well. He helped her pick out a shade of nail polish.

We also spent some time at Waffle House, where we had hash browns and played Hangman. I almost stumped everyone by making them guess "EQUUS," but Ash figured it before the final body part was added.

The jukebox at the Waffle House didn't have Patsy Cline's "Crazy" on it. Instead, we played Matchbox Twenty and Earth, Wind & Fire.

The night started at the Barnes & Noble near Gwinnett Place, midway between our homes, where I read the first chapter of Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead." It was excellent.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Culture club.

Since I've not written extensively on the blog in a while, I should give you a new look at the sort of pop culture intake I've been doing lately, so those of you who look to me for salesman-like recommendations can update your shopping lists.

Author Marilynne Robinson, an instructor at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, is coming to the Margaret Mitchell House in March to sign her latest book, Gilead, and I'm really excited about it. "Housekeeping" was released 22 years ago, and it deals with two girls raised by eccentric relatives, and I've had customers in my store who raved about it.

I never watched "Murder One" when it first came on the air in, I think, 1995, but I heard a lot about the premise of following one murder mystery throughout an entire season. Getting it on DVD, I found that the regular cast features the great Patricia Clarkson, Dylan Baker and, most notably, Stanley Tucci. It's a bit dated now, though it was influential at the time, and the mystery still works. I recommend it.

Getting feedback.

Last night, having two pieces reviewed by my writing class, I was pleasantly surprised. One piece, I knew, had major, major flaws. The other one was good enough, but it could've been stronger.

I knew that going into the class.

The class picked up the very same feedback, gave me suggestions on how to approach the flawed piece so that it had more life and energy and gave me a better ending to the one I thought merely "good enough."

It was really useful.