Apr 28, 2005

sweet and sour frankenmonsterblog

You get a free eggroll with this order. And maybe some dumplings.

Two things have happened. Actually three. The first thing breaks down into two pieces:

a) the end of my career as a waitress (cringe as I say career)
b) the start of my career as a designer (career, this time without cringing)

I start my new job in the middle of May. This surprised me (even though I had just had an interview) because I had very cautiously not allowed myself to develop any expectations about this new, better, altogether wonderful design job.

I have wondered many times what it would be like to give my notice to my boss where I work as a waitress. He will say: Oh, now, FINALLY a smile! Where was that smile the last TEN years..?

Verbatim on Saturday. Mark my words.

It was like I was waiting to graduate from waitressing school. Four years went by. Then another four. I believe I now have the equivalent of my MA in waitressing (with a minor in bartending).

Though, if you can believe it, the whole putting waitressing behind me isn't the thing. And I always imagined that it would be a very big deal, that it would be fodder for many jokes, and colorful stories. But it isn't the thing. The other job. That is the thing.

They were on the fence about a putting anyone in a permanent position. When I got the message from my sister-in-law, I was ecstatic. I had been telling myself that there were other set design jobs out there. But this was the one I really wanted. I believe my previous posts about that job attest to this (and read nearly like Valentines). The word love was used more than once. And I know that I spoke of the prop room as one might speak of Moscow, or Paris.

I'm just a little nervous. It's such a 180. Last winter, when I first asked with my sister-in-law about openings at her company, I had already been avoiding all things design related for some time. I had been out of school for too long. Too many strange things had happened where I couldn't concentrate or get myself started. I stopped reading the trade magazines. Fabric. Pattern. Furniture. All of it was lost on me. Even color. Sure, I still talked about color, but it was rote, as if I was reading off of a page. I felt like such a fraud.

But now? Now even my colored pencils no longer make me sad. That is, the pencils (literally a thousand pencils) that my dad gave me when I first went back to school. It wasn't that long ago that being confronted by those pencils (and they're impossible to miss) was the product of guilt. They (there in their lucite containers, all sharpened, all pointing east, all color catagorized by my dad) seemed to mock me silently. Like ever present reminders just collecting dust. Waiting to be used. Not being used. It was a real waste. But now I hear myself reintroducing myself, ..hi pencils.. remember me..?

Relationship with colored pencils >RESTORED<

Part 2 now funnier and more vague:

So that's good. All good stuff. But, then, just as the interview/jobs stuff was going on, I received a phone call about a case that I'm involved in, which necessitated that I go to a police line up. Which was ridiculous, in terms of the timing. Here whole days could go by where all I do is sit around and watch the Batman reruns marathon (for example). But apparently, (and I don't believe in astrology) every important thing that was meant to happen to me this year, was scheduled to happen to me all at once on Tuesday afternoon. And I had no idea.

Actually, this was not totally unexpected. I knew a month ago that there might be a line up. I just wasn't about to hold my breath. This incident occurred eighteen months ago, and I've found it best to try to accept that it might never be resolved (at least in the legal sense). And to never, ever believe the police when they suggest that there's about to be a Crack In The Case! Because they tend to suggest such cracks forming in the case all of the time.

Still, I wanted to be as helpful as possible. They have no case without me, in my case (this person has several cases against them). So, before I was found to be officially useless as a witness (due to memory loss, something they could have determined long ago) I went to the line up. I felt ill at ease but I had my wits about me (though nothing even remotely resembling moxie) and quite a few (three or four million) police detectives around to protect me. Not like anything was going to happen. I just felt very much like leaving the building. I had a strong urge to leave. That was what I was thinking the entire time. The cops seem to know that this is going to happen. They just keep offering coffee and bottled water and leading you back to your chair. I think they do this because they feel helpless. And because they really, really want you to stay in the building.

Ultimately, I couldn't identify the person. Not in the way that was necessary. The minute you say, I think.. it's over. Think is an opinion. And when you say, 90% of me thinks.. it's really over. There is no 90% at Area 5 Police Headquarters. That is what Detective B explained to me (though I kind of knew this already from other experiences I've had in this case). If only there could have been a line up within an hour of the criminal activity. Or, a week.

The next day Detectives A and B came over to (gently) issue me a verbal waiver where, until something changes with my memory, I am no longer to be considered a witness to what happened to me. Then Detective B leaned in and told me in a very serious (now serious, because before it was quite laugh packed) tone that they know (for reasons he couldn't disclosed) that the person responsible for what happened to me was definitely in that line up. He was identified by someone (with the preferred certainty of 100%).
I was assured that, with or without me, this person will eventually be put behind bars. He has so many cases against him.

Sometimes I try to imagine what being in that kind of trouble would feel like. And for some reason I gain no satisfaction from the idea of this person being brought to justice.

And being waived as a witness leaves me ambivalent. It's both a relief and failure. It's confusing. I'm at least three different people when it comes to what happened to me. I'm (1) pathetic-vulnerable me, (2) emotionally-removed-numb-I-don't care me, and (3) intrigued-by-the-ugliest-most-gruesome-things-likes-to-turn-over-the-rock me. And that last one, though it sounds gross, is actually quite good.

So, Detectives A and B and I all finally said our loud goodbyes (their loud goodbyes, cops talk really loud) and they left. For good. Forever. For now. But not before Detective A forgot his police radio on my kitchen table (that crazy Detective A!). We all had a good laugh about that later (that is, a few minutes later, when they came back to get their radio). I'm going to miss Detectives A and B.

And I genuinely hope to never see either of them ever again.


Tonight I'm going to give my boss my notice. I'm not sure what will happen. He will either say, ..That's nice, now immediately leave the building..! (and I kind of need to continue working right now, though a vacation would be nice). Or he'll be cool, and let me work the remainder of my two weeks (then assign me my trainee).

I must say, I'm a little jazzed.

Apr 17, 2005

negative space now sufficiently filled

There is an area in my apartment, namely on the outskirts of the cat box/desk/computer/drawing table area, where junk just piles up. It is the dead space between what would be two rooms, but as there is no wall to divide these spaces, therefore no logical use for this space, stuff, e.g. crap, gets relegated there. And this is ongoing. The old TV. The spider community. School work. Furniture. The plant. Whatever is in queue to be the next to thing to go out of the apartment and my life forever, winds up in that space.

Currently this space is filled with old clothes. This began about a month ago. It was bound to happen. It was too clear for too long. Things were calm. So I started a project with my old clothes that should have been finished long ago. And if this were a reality TV show where a team, led by a (tastefully dressed, always understated, less is more, knows her best side, never minces words, has both an American and a British accent so that you don't know where the hell she is from) self proclaimed decluttering expert, were enlisted to remove the clutter from my life (and pay me a million dollars), this would have been resolved long ago. Of course it's just a pile of clothes. And reality TV would have had no part of my pile of clothes. Of that I'm certain.

(begin daydream sequence)

Idea for an episode of (insert name of reality TV show). Today's topic: the junk drawer. With all the gravity and seriousness in the world, the same that is necessitated by the instance of people who have more or less entombed themselves in their homes with junk, where issues of extreme laziness, lack of self respect and mental illness are put into sharp, unforgiving focus, where the root cause of the most self punishing of messes is identified.. Today, we give you the case of the junk drawer: Can this drawer be saved? The handheld camera weaves from the junk drawer (now pulled open by our host, exposed, raw and horrifying, a neglected drawer/ this is the money shot) to the reaction of the host/decluttering professional (uncensored judgment diluted by the authority of condescending mock concern) and then to the client (now desperate, now sufficiently ashamed). They all sit down to discuss the problem. Just where did things go wrong? How did our client get so far off track? Slowly they get to the bottom of the client's problem, as they get to the bottom of the drawer. Why has the client channeled all of her anxiety into this drawer? And why this particular, most public of kitchen drawers? Why not a more secret, vanity table or desk drawer? How are her other drawers? Let's enlist our resident team of helpful psychiatrists. And, somebody, please give this woman a day at the spa. Then (after a commercial break) there is a transformation. It turns out there were specific reasons that led to the poor condition of the drawer. The viewer is relieved to see that the client can heal her past. And the prognosis for the drawer is good. It's remade to be orderly and useful. Look, the pencils no longer roll around. The batteries, once loose and unwieldy (thus impossible to deal with) are now contained. And remember the Post-Its? They have been moved out of the drawer altogether, and have been resituated nearer to the computer, where they can be put to better use. The whole thing ends happily, though with a cliff hanger, which makes everyone a little uncomfortable. The question is: will the drawer remain in it's newly restored, functional state?

(end daydream)

So, I decided that my closet is not a museum. That every article of clothing need not be saved by me for future reference. I mean, how pathetic? I can just hear myself blathering on and on:

..Oh, yes, just let me reach back into the archives of my clothes for a moment to retrieve blue skirt # 1089934 from the 1996 series, or "The Sofia", if you will (depending on which system I'm using to catalog my museum of clothes at that time) ..so that I might further illustrate my long winded (certainly drunken, certainly maudlin) story..

Finally I took every skirt, dress, purse, shoe, belt, jacket, pair of pants (and the one sad, lonely skort) out of my closet. That was the first step. I knew this instinctually. Without any help from the organizing authorities. Then I asked myself honestly about each item: am I ever going to wear this again? How long has it been since I've worn this? How does this item make me feel? It went on and on, and was far more disturbing than I would have ever imagined. And, it didn't look good for about 75% of my clothes. The garbage bags were brought out. I realized I had been saving things as testimony to whatever happened when I wore certain items. And it's not like all these were wonderful memories:

..this was the dress I was wearing when I found out he had a girlfriend.. ..I can't remember much about this jacket, but it makes me feel anxious, and why is there blood on it..? .. I was wearing this coat when I lost my wallet in it in the snow.. so that I had to put everything into hock in order to pay my rent ..and it was six months before I got everything safely back out of the pawners.. why didn't I ask my parents for the money..? ..what the hell was the matter with me..? ..I was a bad, bad irresponsible girl.. etc, etc.

It went mostly like that.

Certain things were of course exempt for this brutal process. A blouse from the 1930's that was my grandmother's, and all of my mom's stuff from the fifties and sixties. But my stuff from highschool? My stuff from the 1990's? From five years ago?

It was ridiculous how things went back and forth from various stacks into other stacks, and finally into sub-stacks, that is, catagories of clothes that seemed to create themselves. With some "stacks" being only one item of clothing, and with reasons, always with reasons (that I have long since forgotten). And with some items fitting into no catagory, but troublesome anyway (..I hate this dress/I wore this dress to my brother's wedding..). And continually needing to remind myself of why I was doing this. That the object wasn't to torture myself but to merely clean out my closet. So, what were supposed to be three simple categories of keep/give to charity/go into the garbage became:

- keep
- maybe keep
- possibly charity
- very likely charity
- charity
- possibly garbage
- what if I gain weight/get pregnant
- what if I lose weight
- maybe with alterations
- maybe as a pattern for clothes to be sewn later
- maybe just the skirt without the bodice
- maybe my mom will want this
- guilt (but my mom gave this to me)
- guilt (every other kind)
- dry cleaning
- possibly dry cleaning/very likely garbage
- this makes me sad
- this makes me happy

- what if I want to make a quilt one day
- garbage now
- garbage later/pending/still deciding
- what if I find the other shoe

So, there was stuff hanging from and stacked on every corner and surface in my apartment. Except in the closets. My kitchen, my living room, every door, every chair was clothes. It was not allowed back into any closet until this thing was settled. I was ruthless. Which was alright. I wasn't making progress. But I could see how I would just as soon as I got through the bittersweet, dark, murky, gloppy, godawful, memory overload phase.

Then I got the call to start the new job that meant I had no time to address this explosion of clothes for two weeks. I hadn't anticipated this. I was happy about the job. But, my apartment remained in this state for the duration. And it was a big mistake. It was unpleasant. And, some of the clothes found their way back into my closet.

So, the second that I had a day off, I sat down and decided exactly what was garbage. And it went out. I didn't even say goodbye, I just threw it all into the dumpster. And without the sense that I had accomplished anything, as I still had a bunch of bags that were, by then, all clean (for the most part, I gave up on some of the cat fur that had gotten on the clothes due to exposure to the kitten) and neatly folded and otherwise put together for charity up in my apartment. Still.

And somewhere along the line, I grew sick and tired of the whole thing.

And, because I made some edits along the way, that is, searched for specific items that I had changed my mind about giving away to charity, the bags were opened and reopened a number of itmes. To the point where the orderly bags of clothes were again reduced to a just a pile of clothes. With the bags and (as of this writing) some laundry thrown on top. The kitten likes it much better this way. She behaves as though this pile of clothes is now her permanent mountain. She plays there all day, jumping onto and off of her mountain. In her mind, I'm sure she roars like a lion when she's doing this. But it's really just this meak little baby sounding meow. Sometimes she chooses to tunnel her way through the clothes, like it's a short cut or something. Which is disturbing, as it's like being on pins and needles, the whole waiting to see if she makes it safely back out on the other side.

Bottom line, the cleaning of my closets has gone through its many stages, only to again unravel into a big mess on my floor. It is as it should be. And if I were at all into feng shui, I would no doubt find that this particular spot in my apartment symbolizes the stomach of my house. The hungry stomach that I keep feeding. Or maybe it's the toilet of my house. Either way. I'm sure it is symbolic of something. Something specific. Something about digestion. Something not good.

But, it doesn't matter. As of tomorrow, the clothes are finally going out. First thing in the in the morning, when the Salvation Army (and, it is no mistake that it is an army with which I have made these arrangements) gets here and drags what is to be, by then, bags of clothing. Kitten not included. Maybe, when they get here (and get a sense the degree of relief that they are providing me) they will bring me one of their famous blankets and hot cups of coffee. I Can't wait. I won't even look as I put everything back into bags tonight. I'll just close my eyes and start folding.

Apr 15, 2005

reviews a la frankenmonsterblog

I woke up this morning realizing that my decision to view Maria Full of Grace right before I went to bed was probably not a bad idea. I needed a good nightmare. I hadn't had a bad dream in a long time. It was curious. I was beginning to wonder, where have all of the nightmares gone..? Then I watched Maria Full of Grace. And I had a dream that I swallowed some erasers. Whole erasers. It was under duress that I had done this. Actually, the nightmare was more about the regret I experienced after swallowing the erasers. There was a whole logical plot leading up to all of this (which I won't get into right now, as it might give away too much about the movie). It was one of those dreams where, when you wake up, the realization that none of it actually happened comes slowly to the surface of your mind. And you're just so GLAD.

Review of Maria Full of Grace:

Maria Full of Grace. It's a good film. I'll rent it again. Or, I'll watch it again before I take it back. Either way. Go see Maria Full of Grace.

Like I said, I don't like to give too much away about the film in my reviews. I will say this, though, I enjoy writing reviews. And not just about movies. For example, I recently switched brands of cigarettes. This was in order to (further degrade myself) sort of shake things up. Because switching is so unpleasant.

Review of Parliament Lights:

Parliament Lights taste bad. And vaguely like men's cologne. Not right away. It takes a minute. And then there's the taste that can NOT be removed. Not by Listerine. Not by vodka. And this taste is not the taste of just any cologne, but the one I imagine is issued to inmates as they are being released from jail. Just slap it on. It kills bugs, and is effective as a warning to the local women. Maybe it's some sort of industrial soap that I am tasting when I light up a Parliament. Like Lava. Or Ajax. Now, I like the way Ajax smells. And it turns blue, which is a lot of fun and boarders on being elegant. It's a nice touch, this turning blue. Ajax has it all over Comet. It really does. Just NOT as a personal product. Or a cigarette taste. Bottom line, the associations that I've drawn from smoking Parliament Lights are not good. The packaging is stellar. Or it was stellar. I've noticed that they've tweaked with it a bit. Which effectively killed it's retro/Euro associations for me. Before it was like, ..Wow! I bet JAMES BOND smokes Parliaments Lights..! It had such cache. But not so much, anymore. And if they ever change the packaging for Lucky Strikes there will be an uproar. From me. Just me. But, still, imagine the hoarding (kind of like when Campbell's Soup threatened to update their design, then suddenly changed their minds, and, well, I've got plenty of tomato soup. That's all I'm saying). So. Parliament Lights. Good for quitting. I used to smoke Marlboro Lights. Their packaging is pure genius. Peaceful. Clean. White. Benign (pun absolutely intended). Like you're going to Heaven. Which I'm sure is no mistake.
What is that Japanese cigarette called? Ghost? Spirit? ..Skeleton?

In the interest of reviews (and being green) I wil recycle this one last time:

Don't miss this one: From the very opening scene the audience is captivated. First by the score, which is brightly percussive throughout the entire piece. We are then immediately introduced to the story's lead character. Here's a thirtyish woman with her hair down, having a good day. She conveys that she's secure in the world and within herself. She smiles to herself and, without any irony, seems to really enjoy doing her laundry. But, as viewers, we begin to sense something's not quite right. We start to catch on to what's really behind this woman's smile, as it never drops from its utterly brilliant degree of joy (no easy feat for the actress, I'm sure..). At first her smile portrays a reassuring purity of motive.. some rare quality of truth and simplicity of her nature. But her smile becomes unnerving to the viewer, as we start to register that this is not a real smile. It is a truly chilling device that sets the tone for the rest of the story. As quickly as we start to suspect this character's secret frustration, it is validated. And the action starts to spin and escalate, drawing the audience further and further into the most private reaches of this character's heart and troubled labyrinth of a mind. In this moment, we sense her frailty and self hatred as she drops ( ..for those of you who haven't yet seen this piece, please read no further.. ) a just laundered sock on to the basement floor. Here is where all the incredible suspense and tension of the opening sequence really pays off. The director is remarkable for his trust in his audience. He understands that the viewer not only associates laundry with basements (and for that matter with dirty floors), but quite notably that they, as human beings, have undoubtedly had the experience of dropping a just washed sock back onto a dirty floor. And this is all executed with a subtlety and elegance that speaks to, rather than down to, the audience. As a viewer you are spellbound. You are not only taken hostage, but willingly surrender for this tightly wound, unrelenting holding up of a mirror to ourselves. What this piece lacks in dialogue, it makes up for with it's keen and and almost embarrassingly honest portrayal of the human condition. We cringe as we recognize ourselves in this woman. It begs us to ask, Who hasn't dropped a just laundered sock back on to the dirty floor? This leads us to the turning point, where an incredible gang of villains suddenly comes on to the scene. They are what can only be described as types of dirt. One portraying something linty, another something sticky, and the other two something unidentified (and all the more horrible for their very vagueness). They dance and posture en masse with a kind of in-your-face quality rarely addressed in American films today. The portrayal of this dirt betrays an almost outright refusal to ever be confused with any other generic, run-of-the-mill bad asses, thanks on the part of the director and these four bright new-comers. They are some of the most original characters I've ever seen drawn onto the screen. They are neither scary, cold, or tough. They indeed wear the same smile as our hero does. For this perhaps they are doubly menacing. They seem to celebrate their badness with true abandon, which only underscores our worst fears. They are mocking us. And they are very dirty. I must also mention that it is at this juncture of the story that the action very nearly becomes a musical number. It is super stylized in it's choreography, and as a reviewer, I can only guess that this sequence was informed by such classics as The West Side Story, or Sweet Charity (Bob Fosse, move over..). The ending is sublime in its delivery of a mixed message. Our hero, seemingly unfettered by all of this (seemingly, that is, to those unseen, off screen characters, and well understood by the viewer to be oblivious to our hero's personal moment of truth) lifts the ruined sock from the floor and puts it back into the washing machine. It's a moment of surrender for her and for us. She doesn't give up. She continues.. as must we all. But don't blink. Just as our hero does this, another revelation into human nature is brought rudely out of the dark, as we see that only the lint is still on the sock. The other three have abandoned him. Or is it sacrificed him. And it's an agonizing scene as the lint continues to dance unaware of what is about to become of his fate. Sacrificed by his pack for his lack of street smarts in the gritty hard-knocks world of dirt. It's survival of the fittest. And apparently here, a piece of lint is not the fittest, or even the smartest of the bunch. The audience gasps as they watch her place the sock with the lint still on it back into the washing machine.. the same machine that washes away the dirt. All of the dirt.

*frankenmonsterblog's reviews of All detergent commercials are neither meant to promote nor discourage the use of All detergent.