Sunday, May 23, 2010

Strangely Appropos

Ahhh... Dionne prior to Psychic Friends... and Bacharach. The best combination ever.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where I outbark the Aardvark

Was yesterday an Aardvark fail?

Or was I being particularly - and egregiously - obtuse?

For the past four or five months, I've been answering random questions (they're only nominally reference-y in scope) on Aardvark - which Google picked up about a month ago. At first, it was really fun. Some of the questions were Yelp-like: best location for X in the City, doctor recommendations, etc... And then there were the host of students trying to get homework done in about 100 characters or less.

But I think, in hindsight, I went a little crazy with this poor guy from California yesterday. X asked:

Rome was so successful for so long and,why is it that great civilizations,like Rome, seem destined to fail? I ask this question, in reference to the United States of America.

Something about the question just set me off. I mean, how audacious is it to be the arbiter of US failure? As far as I know, I still live in the United States of America. Nor do I recall seeing barbarian hordes raping and pillaging (metaphorically?) the landscape during my morning commute. So I responded with this:

I think that is a very wide sweeping generalization on civilizations that are extremely distinct in composition. The idea of something "destined to fail" presupposes that there was a master plan inherent in their foundation (if, in fact, "destiny" exists at all). This is not true of either Rome nor the United States.

X responded with:

You are absoltely right I was new to aardvark and was more interested in asking a question than actually thinking to ask a intelligent question. Thank you for your answer.

Which made me feel like a first class heel. And a bad librarian. Siggghhhhh. So I'm trying to make it up to X from California with this:

In hindsight, I think my answer was a little obtuse ;) There are many, many reasons why there is no longer a Roman Civilization - although the US is still chugging along. Was there a particular facet that you wondered about: bureaucracy, food logistics, barbarian incursions, etc...?

Hoping that the use of an emoticon will reveal that I am actually a nice librarian... hopefully.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

[Not Quite New Music] Where Dan Seals is a Prophet

I had the realization yesterday that Dan Seals is (was, apparently!) a prophet. And not the alien variety who inhabit the Bajoran wormhole.

This might, topically, seem like blasphemy. Owning to Danny Wayland "Dan" Seals being a sweet, guitar toting country western star whose fame lay in the wasteland of the 1980s with no particular religious calling that I can discern. Which under normal conditions is a prerequisite for prophethood.

I'm not embarrassed to admit that I shed a tear when I learned he had PASSED AWAY upon boning up on his discography on Wikipedia this morning! Apparently I was smoking a great deal of crack in March 2009 to have missed this. Dan Seals was an integral part of my childhood. Back when I listened to a piped in version of the Grand Old Opry (on AM, since FM had long foresaken such awesomeness for the obviously more pertinent NKOTB) and knew exactly who was referred to when someone mentioned the "Redheaded Stranger" or "Beaucephus."

I "met" Dan when my Dad received a tape of his The Best (1987) and promptly left it somewhere, still under plastic, to be lost in the sands of time. Fortunately for Dan (and me), I have really sticky fingers when it comes to unprotected music, so I pocketed the 4" x 3" of plastic and magnetic tape and hid in my room. Little did I know how the lyrics would shift my reality (hrm... perhaps there are wormholes involved afterall?)

So, Everything that Glitters (Is Not Gold) is - after Toto's Africa - one of my favorite songs of all time. When my Dad died and I uploaded hundreds of his CDs on my iPod (in between crying my eyes out and cutting down wild blackberry bushes in my mom's backyard), I was sitting in DTW when it cued up:

But oh sometimes I think about you
And the way you used to ride out
In your rhinestones and your sequins
With the sunlight on your hair
And oh the crowd will always love you
But as for me I've come to know
Everything that glitters is not gold

The sentiment behind it is the reason I've been obsessed with Haley Bonar's Big Star (off 2009's Big Star) since downloading her Daytrotter Session. Particularly the lines:

i'm gonna read your stories
spend springtime in the gardens
tell my children all about the days

but i can't make you happy
i can't make you money
i can only fold your laundry

But Dan's All that Glitters isn't the only bit of lyric work that occasionally takes up space in my head. "...Believes without a doubt, that I could move a mountain and someone to tell it to..." (One Friend). "And they rage on some how searching for the answers/In the night like shadow dancers before their time is gone/They rage on..." (Rage On). "But you still move me/Though I'd never let her know/There's a place inside of me that just won't let you go..." (You Still Move Me). Siggggghhhhhh.

Danny Wayland "Dan" Seals (1948-2009) American Musician, Amateur Prophet, integral part of my childhood and sometime resident of my brain, you are missed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[PoemADay] No. 5 (although this should be No. 18)

I am the biggest slacker in the world. Thankfully, I'll just be minding one library as of next Monday. And maybe my thighs will recover from the AIDS walk NY last Sunday. Fresh from my crazy mind (and having read the Wikipedia entry for glitter (I was curious as to what it was made of):

No. 5 [all that glitters...]
my stupid heart hurts

the part of me that wants to hear you say: stop! wait! I made a mistake

needs to die
like ...
right now

because your words are a dime a dozen
cheap and shiny

I thought you were gold, but you were just glitter

just glitter
reflecting light in a sparkling spectrum


Friday, May 7, 2010

[PoemADay] No. 4

I realized recently that I completely suck at writing a poem-a-day. I'm already in debt for three poems as it's already the 7th and I only just wrote a fourth poem. I'm kind of in awe of my 17-year-old self who could toss out lines like nobody's business (of course that facility might have been predicated on dressing in black and reading Camus, smoking clove cigarettes and drinking vermouth - to steal from Stephin Merritt).

No. 4 [Adam's Party]

How easy your scorn
sibilant and quick off the tongue
a serpent's quiver
slippery and quiet:

apples and breasts
and sin

And at this party of Adam's
after dogs and cattle and sows -
an afterthought
after thoughts of lying with beasts
(perhaps attempted and rebuffed)
his final and greatest creation (fiction?)

a single rib
for a scapegoat


This was inspired by this strange guy I've seen on the Downtown 2,3 a couple of times. Surrounded by plastic bags and weighted down by a thousand pins. He always reiterates the same sing-song tune: "Adam had a party, Adam had a party..." with the precision of a music box. I usually ignore people on the train, but I was perturbed by his memorized rhetoric. Obviously Victoria's Secret's being usurped by an Apple store was highly symbolic. Of course all that symbolism to this strange man was distilled down to the fact that women are the root of all evil.

And I thought, "What a terrible deal. All the blame for a single rib."

And thus my poem.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

[PoemADay] No. 3

Bluebeard [No. 3]

i was not always a laughing girl,

pleased with the sun and sky
and the brown silk of your skin

for i once had it in my head to marry a man
whose secrets were dark and deep
though I did not know it then

he said,
do not look into my closet, girl
and all that is mine will be yours

and i did not

i wore the key to his house on my ringfinger
a wealth of emeralds and diamonds
too heavy for my hand
too heavy for anyone
let alone girls who had tasted laughter

we will not talk of darknesses
or distances that have passed
because they are past
they have no power here

enough that I found the strength to open the door of his closet

where I found a laughing girl
crouched low along the floorboards

i wondered:
how many like us in this closet, girl
weighed down with gems?

who had forsaken the sun and sky
and happiness
for the wealth of emeralds and diamonds

i was not always a laughing girl,

pleased with the sun and sky
and the brown silk of your skin

but i am now


Sunday, May 2, 2010

[PoemADay] Nos. 1 & 2

My new initiative for the month of May is a Poem-A-Day. I was belatedly inspired by April being National Poetry Month. And the wonder of how likely most of these poems will be about zombies.

These are going to be bad. They're going to be awkward and stumbling and first drafty. But I really need to be more creative and don't have time for writing more substantial pieces right now. Even if the character of Yuuki sprung wholecloth into my mind this past week, along with the images of orange peels on a white sheet and zombies and Lyra Falamoun's Crewe. Yessss.

Since, in true Melissa Fashion (tm), I am getting a late start here are Poem No. 1 and No. 2:

Poem No. 1 (for Dad)
through my fingers like grains of sand,
the grit of your hair and
and heart
in a child's sand bucket
i carried through the surf foam

every step gone as i made it

the perspiration of the bottle in
my pocket, heavy against
my white thigh

we are all pieces of you
hair and
and heart

every breath gone as we make it

someday a pearl

Poem No. 2*
I am yours
for the taking,

should the taking be more than my desire
coloring you like the electric down of
light through my window

I am yours
for the taking

I want your body to smell like my body,
my mouth to plumb the wet heat of your mouth,
swallow your secrets
and make them mine

this is hardly original


I am yours
for the taking

* Where I might have inadvertently stolen the sentiment of Neruda

Sunday, April 25, 2010

[Poetry Warp] Sunday, April 25, 8:35 A.M.

So I woke up this morning after a particularly intense dream about my father. He was on the roof of the garage of our old house on Silman and was making something on the roof with rope. It was my Mom's name. At this point of the dream, the thought hit me (unwanted and rather rudely) that this could not be happening. Particulary in light of having been dreaming about kicking asses with strange, dreaming martial arts (which is more what I like to dream about).

But when I woke up, I realized rather sharply that I couldn't just call my Dad and tell him about this crazy dream. I hate when that happens. So I wrote a poem (first draft) about it:

and sometimes I wake up with the
ghost of you on me
like the cotton of my sheets or
the skin of my limbs

remembering you are
the fine sand of Folly Beach

remembering that I have lost
the only man who loved
me without preamble or addendum
not even in the moments between dreams and waking
with the ghost of you on me-

I thought we would have more time

and now,

sometimes I wake up with the
ghost of you on me
like the cotton of my sheets or
the skin of my limbs,

only just realizing that you are gone

Thursday, April 22, 2010

[True Work Tales] The Case of the ID and the Eyebrow

I am a librarian. A librarian at a private medical affiliated college in the Metropolitan NY area. My students are awesome. But sneaky. This is a true story.

As of March, I am officially in charge of the ID making machine for my (very small) college. At some point (probably during the massive overtime of accreditation), the ID Machine and I – not unlike King Arthur and England – became one. This explains my strange binary dreamscapes and why the ID printer sometimes hums the Allman Brothers. Taking pictures of the students at my college has allowed me to meet lots of new people – which I love – and to learn their names (which is good, because no one can escape having to sign in at the library desk for usage statistics). And to hone my guerilla tactics to get them to come back and utilize the burgeoning powerhouse that is my library. This last has been very successful.

You… well, maybe it’s just me… but I cannot believe the amount of passion, emotion and angst that is involved with the rather pixilated photographs that are printed on the ID cards. I’ve been begged, bribed and generally amused by students who seem to be expecting a Glamour shot from our Watchport V2 camera. That is seriously not going to happen. I’m not a bad photographer when the camera is stationary, focused and instantaneous. But under fluorescents and with the graphic backdrop of the Cardiovascular System, miracles are highly unlikely. Although very welcome, of course. It probably doesn’t aid the photographee’s cause that I am not picky about pictures. The gem for my ID was taken in the sweaty lost hours of March whereby I suspended the camera to about eye level and snapped a shot. I was desperately in need of either a shower or a beer – probably both. I don’t think my well meaning: “Oh! That’s not that bad,” really engenders confidence in my finished products.

The other issue is the printing capabilities of the card printer – which has been likened in physique to a Roomba by the observant. It’s kind of awesome altogether and consistently churns out a finished product with a doggedness the USPS could envy. But it also has a tendency to recolor faces. In yellows and oranges – particular shades that are not much represented in nature. Except by the manufacturers of highway paraphernalia. This has also caused no end of complaints featuring a host of adjectives I have never heard before in my life.

And this is where my true story begins.

Mr. X*, a student at my college, lined up for his photo ID with the rest of his class (a cohort of about ten students who are graduating in August). From the first, he was displeased with his picture. We had some words over his using the adjective “Chinky,” in the library – which I have some control over – which actually fostered some interesting discussion about stereotypes, racist adjectives and the general ethnic population segregation of JC. His dislike of the ID never waivered however.

In early April, Mr. X came to the library to report that he had lost his ID. “It just blew out the window,” he explained, while I wondered how likely it was that it was actually thrown out the window. I was happy to replace it… with the same picture that was already in the database. Cue Mr. X’s sigh.

While we were waiting for it to print (which takes about 6 seconds), the true story of his ID’s demise leaked out. Either I am getting really good at interrogation techniques (which is possible) or his conscience was entirely too guilty to maintain silence indefinitely. Here is the sad – but very true – tale that was recounted to me: “Well… I did have it clipped to,” Mr. X points to his left eyebrow, “here with the window down.” I inquired as to why it was attached to his eyebrow. Through a complicated series of motions, it became clear that this was not the first time it had ended up there. “So I was on the phone with my friend and it just… flew out the window.” I mentioned that perhaps his eyebrow was not sufficient enough of a perch for the metal clip of the ID card, to which he responded, “Yeah. I’ll know better next time.”

My goodness, I love this job.

*names changed to protect the guilty

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[32 Years] Day #1

So, as of 10:53 AM today, I have been 32 for 24 hours.

Personally, I’m kind of amazed that I – and most especially my body – has been around and functioning for quite this long. With normal respiration at 12 breaths/minute, I have taken 22,0752,000 breaths since my first. Equally, there have been 3,195,648,000 heartbeats between April 20, 1978 and April 20, 2010. 168,192,000 eye blinks. So many other unquantifiable things lost in the wake of time: an uncounted string of showers, the exact liquid count of tears or the audible capture of laughter.

After a couple of discussions that always come up around birthdays, I think I’m fairly certain that I would not want to be in my 20s again. Not that it wasn’t a good time, but there is a lot of ownership, self-knowledge and time-earned confidence in being in my 30s. I may not subscribe to the tangible American dream: a house, kids and husband – but I am unbelievably content. And I think over the last year, I realize that might be the goal of life – if there needs to be one. Whose contest am I subscribing to? Who am I competing against? I don’t really know anymore, although I’m pretty sure I thought I did a couple of years ago.

But such maudlin sentiment!

To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I went to a concert. This is all in keeping with the following Chinese New Year’s Resolution:

(1) Go to more concerts; even if I have to go by myself (and I know I will), I WILL go to at least 1/month. I will buy concert t-shirts for local bands and get more random lyrics stuck in my head.

Back in February, I was on a Nurses bender, and researched that they were playing in April with the Tallest Man on Earth. Not just any day in April, either, but my birthday. Score! I bought two tickets – realizing that I had plenty of time to beg, borrow or steal someone to come with – and sort of forgot about it. I also knew that the Morning Benders were in town that week – and snagged tickets to their spur of the moment Saturday show at the Williamsburg Music Hall. After an APB to my maligned associates, I managed to get Brandon and Anna-Maria to sacrifice their evenings to my madness.

So last night, kitted out in my NEW zombie threadless shirt from Anna-Maria (and painting my less allergenated eyes in gunmetal gray with veins of zombie green!), Brandon and I met up outside the Highline for the Tallest Man on Earth and the Nurses. And dude! Kristian Matsson – the Tallest Man on Earth himself – was standing outside the venue only thinly surrounded by unwashed Hipster Types (more on this later). And my goodness, is he a handsome man! I wanted to go up to him and tell him he was the sort of songwriter that guitars were made for, that his lyrics were visceral and beautiful and meaningful. But I just can’t bring myself to accost people. Brandon almost got me to turn back – but instead we went into the venue with me casting furtive and probably creepy glances back at him.

Upon entering the venue, Brandon and I suddenly became an endangered species: probably the only two people who had showered that morning. In fact, we were fairly certain that Williamsburg had pretty much cleared out for the night and were all in the Highline Ballroom. Things I noticed: that I was probably the shortest person in the venue. Seriously. I was the only person there under 5’9” – and that by a goodly amount (I’m only 5’3”). Although I was able to blend in better due to my dark hair, as pretty much every girl in the joint had long, black hair. Also, the WBurg Hipster Type seems to glorify the barest ideals of a thing. So they appreciate a good Cash cover – but would they know who Mother Maybelle Carter was?

The Nurses were pretty good. I bought a shirt from the drummer – who I didn’t recognize at the merchandising table. I also bought a shirt for the Tallest Man on Earth – thus satisfying the second part of the triune ChiNeYeRe #1. Awesomeness.

As good as the Nurses were, the Tallest Man on Earth rocked the place. His pickings were so clean and resonant – and his voice was pitch perfect. Pitch perfect. And thankfully, owning to my shortness in a sea of really tall people, I listen to him for his lyrics. So I could close my eyes and drink in every painful syllable. I don’t have his new Dead Oceans’ album The Wild Hunt (2010) – so I was pleasantly surprised with several new songs off the album – including a borrow of Sade’s By Your Side which kind of drop kicked my heart (in a good way). In particular from Love is All:

Well I walk upon the river like it's easier than land

Evil's in my pocket and your strength is in my hand

Your strength is in my hand

And I'll throw you in the current that I stand upon so still

Love is all, from what I've heard, but my heart's learned to kill

Oh, mine has learned to kill

Monday, February 22, 2010

[New Music] Too Much to Name, Part 2

Back for Part Two, because I almost forgot about the Spoon Off!

I have been doing a lot of crazy... oh, alright... normal things lately. Drunken martial arts (this is a bad idea!), fondling strange bear nipples, dancing about amai ebi in Brooklyn Heights, Pac-Mania, donating blood to my students... and most especially... participating in the first annual SPOON OFF.

What is the Spoon Off, you ask?

To illustrate:

Once upon a time, there were two girls who live in Brooklyn (in fact, they still live there). One of them is sometimes known as Queenmob and the other as at5115. They were having a glum week because they both had crushes on guys who were resistant to their manifest charms (and they were otherwise busy with librarying and illustrating). Since they were both awesome (and had a friend named Mary who was gassing up the van to go cap some boy asses in the name of friendship) but very nerdy, they decided they needed some cheering up. Queenmob, who is obsessed with beating someone to death with a spoon (don't ask!) suggested spooning... and at5115 readily agreed (because she'll do anything once).

And, oh yeah, we were arguing over ownership of Transmetropolitan.

The rest will live in infamy. Or at the very least in a foto comic (which belongs solely to Queenmob -->

But now for more music. Because my life is crazy, but the soundtrack is awesome.

Voxtrot (who I love, love, love):

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes:

Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin (it burns because its wood and now you'll never call me darling):

The Nurses (who were very well displayed on Daytrotter this week, here):

Foreign Born:

Miniature Tigers:

Surfer Blood:

Randomness in closing:

My new bangs:

Ghosts 'N Goblins love (picture by Sarah):

Weird Bear Nipple Fondling:

[New Music] Too Much to Name, Part 1

Damnit Anna, don't you give me away ...
You know very well you say you got a soul to sell
but if you want to meet the devil you've got to go to hell...

Now that I've distracted you with the Morning Benders, who were going to be my birthday concert until I realized the Nurses and the Tallest Man on Earth were actually in town on my birthday (April 20) - perhaps you haven't noticed that I've been lapsing back to atrocious corresponding in this digital medium? Not distracted? Well...

Yes, I posted this on Facebook 'ere long ago... but god I love this video. In fact, I am totally in love with the Tallest Man on Earth (aka Kristian Matsson) and grateful to one of the slowest texters in the world for introducing me to him. And since I would otherwise write about either super creepy things -- the email from my Ex asking me to show up scantily clad to pick up very stray mail (?!), running into my Moroccan stalker at 2am at 14th Street after hours of (surpisingly sober) Pac-Man -- or some super sweet things that I don't want to pluck out of my brain just yet (flutter), I'm going to catch up on my music.

There's a lot of catching to do... if I can remember all the delicious music goodness I've been gathering around me.

To wit (which it becoming my new favorite way to begin): Starfucker!

Starfucker is from Belgium and they currently live in my head. They have supplanted Ra Ra Riot (who broke my heart at BAM a couple of weeks ago with poor concert showing - how I once loved thee, Wesley Miles) much to my surprise and delight. Which reminded me of how absolutely awesome the Antlers were (and with a concept album, no less):

And then there's Brooklyn's A Million Years. I had a first (and what should have been the only) date at a concert - but at least I found a new, awesome band. Incandescent (their EP) is available for free download at their Myspace. I particularly love "Incandescent" itself - because of the line: a mathematic mind loses its cool. But this band rocked - and I don't mean that lightly. The best thing ever is when my heart vibrates against my ribcage because of a thick and heavy wall of bass - and damme, but A Million Years just about tore out my chest. And they're playing on March 4! I'm seriously there.

Next... the Rosebuds. In particular the song Unwind, which I am addicted to.

If you'd ever unwind,
and relax then maybe
we could have a good time
this would help

Fanfarlo! A British band that makes me smile a lot. And again with the Swedish lead vox.

Oh no oh my:

the bus driver laughs and he shakes his head
says, "You're okay, I drive this route everyday"
you're uneasy and you say you're scared
and if I die at least you'll die too

Coconut Records (seriously, these Schwartzmans are kind of amazing, even if they are Wes Anderson in music):

The Rural Alberta Advantage (tasty Canadian-ness, as always):

And since I could do this indefinately, Broken Bells! I mean seriously Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley) and the Shins' James Mercer? How the hell can that not be all kinds of awesome. In fact, I think it might be absolute magic. The real kind that doesn't stalk you at 14th street/Union Square.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Good Crushes... and Bad (I didn't intend this to be about crushes at all)

I want to start this blog entry with something incredibly mundane. I finished reading the second volume of Scott Pilgrim Cary loaned me on the train this morning. About the same time I realized I hadn’t brushed my hair this morning. I would like to say these two things are mutually exclusive, despite being hallmarks of my semi-slacker lifestyle. I would also like to say that I don't very often forget to brush my hair. But that would be a slight untruth.

The last four weeks have been crazy. A good, rollicking, warm crunchy crushes, Ra Ra Rioty goodness sort of crazy. Mixed with my obsession of the last two days: KiD CuDi. I think I might be too old for crushes, as abstract as mine seem to be. But I have a serious crush on the way someone's (who will remain nameless in perpetuity) eyes pleat in the corner when they smile. This seems like flimsy grounds for a crush, I think, particularly as I barely know the individual in question. But I think I am going to write a story about it. I've been mulling over this idea about a train in France - two people travelling in the 1950s (or early 1960s), too poor for individual train compartments so they share some padded benches and ... other things (I can't help the fact that all my stories end up the same way, eventually). I've just about got the quality of the light in my minds eye, so I will probably work on it this week.

Now that I have that out of the way, here is my crazy (but absolutely, completely true) story of last week (it happened on Thursday PM) from the APB I threw out to Cary/Karen and Queenmob:

I was walking back from the bank and listening to my iPod. I turned to walk down my street and could see the shadow of someone walking behind me. Peripheral glance - it's a guy - but I'm close to home, so I disregarded it. Under the streetlights, the shadow shortens - he's catching up. And then he's almost alongside me, saying, "Hello!" (This is not uncommon in my neighborhood - soon to be ex-neighborhood - where people are so friendly they invite themselves into your house). I turn and offer him a brief hello, thinking that is it.

But no!

He starts talking to me - I have my headphones on, so out of kindness (self preservation?) I remove them to hear what he is saying to me (probably hoping it's not "I am going to kill you"). But lo! I actually recognize this guy. Why? ...

We go back in time about two weeks. I was catching the N train and in sort of a hurry - as always. I walk past this guy on the street and dismiss him as your average Bensonhurst Italian guy in his late twenties or thereabouts. He turns to look at me, looks away and then almost comically snaps his head back to look at me again. He does not stop looking at me. I disappear into the Station, thinking never to see him again. He gets on my train car. And proceeds to stare at me so blatantly (it wasn't creepy so much as I could actually feel it) that even the other women on the train kept looking back and forth between he and I. He gets off a couple of stops later - me thinking I must have ripped my nylons or something - and I never saw him again.

Until the moment he is walking down my street (essentially the same place I originally saw him).

So he tells me that he's recently moved to Bensonhurst from Morocco! (Bolivian Drug Czars, Russian Assassins, Emrati Financiers, Taiwanese Watermen - WTF!) And he has wanted to talk to me since the first time he saw me, but since I always walk so fast and listen to my iPod, he didn't feel like he could bother me. Because I was raised by wolves and have mostly guy friends, my first thought was: "This guy has some real balls to be doing this. I can totally respect this." But at the same time, this is kindof scary.

I'm standing on my front porch steps! He knows where I live. He has no compunction against staring at me unblinkingly or walking up behind me at 10pm on my street. I have a good sense of humor, but suddenly a line from Gavin DeBecker's Gift of Fear comes to me: men at their core are scared that a woman will laugh at him, but women are scared that a man will kill her. As I know KaiBot3000 would sell me down the river for a handful of tuna treats, I was caught between a rock and a hard place.

So I took his phone number to make him go away. Something that has progressively weighed on my mind since that moment. I am essentially a very honest person (I can't even cross the street until I get a walk signal, for goodness sake!) - so I didn't even think to tell him I was married or living with a boyfriend or something!

I called my Mom (her quote: "He's going to kill you!") and my Sister ("You could have at least gone out for coffee with him"). But my Rational Mind (aka Cary and Karen) thought it was more than a little scary. I mean, Hollywood would lead most to think this was high romantics: a man (he wasn't a bad looking guy, actually) seeing a woman on a train and wanting to meet her. And since these sorts of things NEVER happen to me, I'm not sure if I handled it right.

I suppose only time will tell. And hopefully moving out by Spring.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daring Glove Interventions!

I have these gloves that are the textile equivalent of juvenile delinquents.

They might also be running a fledgling anarchist ring out of my bedroom.

They enjoy attention (alternating striping between lime and pea green. C'mon!), drink too much Blue Moon (or at least aid in the attempts at such) and most importantly attempt to run away from my tough love at every junction.

First, they pulled a fast one on Lena who under the false belief of my abusive ownership, took them in. But Fingers and Thumbs O'Hooligan soon realized that the grass was not always greener on the otherside (and secretly missed KaiBot3000, alias 'Cat,' their main co-conspirator and typist). They asked to return home and I agreed. I should have set some ground rules. I think Lena taught them how to pick locks.

But teenage angst was soon to set in. Fingers O'Hooligan attempted his next great escape at the supermarket, somewhere between the spices and bread flour. Unfortunately, the O'Hooligans were of two minds - Thumbs not entirely sure he wanted to run away again. It was this NARC half of the O'Hooligan ring that led me to their delinquent otherhalf, sheepish and wilting under the yellow-green fluorescents. The two O'Hooligans have not been on the best of terms since this falling out, which like any textbook von Clausewitz, I have used to my advantage.

We had a serious discussion then.

But it didn't quite seem to sink in. Not just yet. As Fingers O'Hooligan made one last attempt for freedom - fluttering and pilled wool on the cold, litter strewn ground outside of TD Bank. I stood there - arched brow and amused - just waiting. This was the do-or-die moment, where Fingers had to agree to my indulgent despotism or forever circle the debris of Bensonhurst. An anarchist, yes. But a cold, hungry, homeless anarchist. With no access to Blue Moon (outside of the fuzzing aftereffects of tossed bottles), attention or research materials for pamphlet making.

So Fingers O'Hooligan took my hand and we went back home. Where, after all, Thumbs was waiting with the silky green number I picked up in Naples: Scarflette O'Hara. KaiBot3000 collating their latest work, Long live the revolutionary proletariat and the common glovesmith.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

[ChiNeYeRe] Update #1

So, in keeping with my drive to accomplish my Chinese New Year's Resolutions - regardless of the fact that sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in Karo syrup, forcing one gigantic step forward after two or three or twenty tiny steps backwards - I called my brother.

As for the necessary caveat: I am the worst correspondent in the world. Ok, I'll admit that's hyperbole. I know at least two other people who are worse than I am. And one of them is my brother ;)

It's not like I avoid responding. I read everything everyone sends me: emails, texts, cards, letters, books, etc... And then I either dash off something I don't over think (and should rue, but I rarely regret anything I do because it's a waste of time) or mull on it. A lot of the things that should be more important fall into the mulling category.

And then it's two months later and fuck! I haven't responded.

The other caveat is that I love my brother to death. But I never actually said it outloud - I'm not a vocal lover (that reads really bad, but I know what I mean) but I love really hard by action (this reads even worse!) - until September 2008. It took me 29 years to acknowledge that I loved my brother verbally. And it felt weird to say it. Not because I didn't feel it or mean it, but because the words "I love you," sometimes are so completely ineffectual in execution. As I only have poets and practical experience in what I think is love, what I feel for my brother (and sister-in-law and sister and brother-in-law and Mom) is exponentially more potent and well, meaningful.

I have a fear (that I've discussed with MrFrank who mocks me) that I've never really loved anyone in my life outside of my family (this is probably untrue, but I don't know!). That I've just been skipping through limerence after limerence like a pool of tricky sensation.

But anyway,

On Sunday, it was Madelyn's birthday. Madelyn is my badass neice. A punk rock princess in the making who is going to break every heart she comes across with keen intellect and beauty. I owe that kid a million birthday presents. She's my first niece and I met her and held her at three months. I'll never in my life forget the way the light in my brother's living room was in South Carolina or the sound of the wind she broke in the Chinese restaurant ;) It's a sort of magic that I don't completely understand but like (outside of the breaking wind bit, which was just hilarious).

I ended up talking to my brother for just under an hour. We talked about my break-in and guitars and work and kids. It was kind of awesome, even though I hate that sticky crackle sensation of having a phone pressed up against my face. And it was something I want to do again.

Part of the being audacious in the year of the Tiger, I think, is being the first person to do things when neither party knows what to do. I'm not promising the right thing - goodness knows I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time ('stabbing at the wind' as George Dakkas used to say) and thankfully am good at researching - but it will be something.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


A sort of cavalcade of my current mindscape (which is surprisingly alright - considering):

(Although AC in sequin spandex is kind of awesome in it's own right, of course. And of course, I couldn't post that version).

Crazy weekend so far. Of particular note the 1 am mochi run in Queens after quite a few more beers than was strictly necessary. And the introduction of my red patent leather heels. My goodness I love those shoes. I think I want to label this post, "Grrrrrrrrr!!!"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Burgled! The Amazingly True Adventures of a Casual Burglary

Ok, the first thing I have to say is… Enough already! I know I am a smart-ass. I know my sarcasm rivals only my punnery, but seriously this is beginning to lose hilarity at an alarming pace. I know I said I like to do scary things that “Melissa Allen” (my alter-ego) would not do, periodically. I do. This is why I fell in love with judo (although the affection was not reciprocated to the detriment of my ankle), this is why I put raw fish in my mouth ages ago (trusting to the antibiotic properties of wasabi), and why I have lived in Japan, Scotland and now New York by myself. And why beers with strangers have turned into friends.

But seriously. Seriously??... Onto our feature:

Burgled! The Amazingly True Adventures of a Casual Burglary

Starring: Melissa Spangenberg, KaiBot3000 and “Random Baddie” (played by Jason Isaacs, because the thought of a random, hot Englishman – who is an AWESOME villain - breaking into an apartment in Bensonhurst tickles my funny)

Scene: Warming Thursday evening turning to chill. Jersey City PATH to WTC. Our intrepid heroine, reading a book on gastronomy manages to catch all her trains like dominoes sliding into order. Tegan and Sara form our soundtrack as she ponders pearl grey velvet jeans from Anne Taylor (want! want!). Stumbling off the N at Nth Ave, the thoroughfare hums with a steady buzz of night traffic: cars and teenagers and Hassidic women and Chinese businessmen. There is a remarkably liquid beauty of Nth Avenue at night under the paint of neon and exhaust fumes.

Home. Our heroine enjoys home because it is warm and small and away from people. It is the place where she plays with makeup (lots of playtime that no one ever sees) and reads comic books and listens to Throw Me The Statue playlists, finding new musics. A place of writing and laughter and much cooking.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the MelePad on this fine Thursday evening, she is alarmed to find the door of her apartment (reachable through two entryway doors) is slightly ajar. In a fug of thought and early sleepiness, she wonders Did I lock the door this morning? Which is a ridiculous thought, immediately chased away with the knowledge that she would never NOT lock her door. Our heroine DID grow up in Detroit. In a move that she will later be chastised for – she enters the place. It is full dark and slightly eerie, the black punctuated by the keening meows of KaiBot3000 who is acting completely normally. The card table she pulled from the closet for gaming purposes is on the floor, seemingly knocked over by the cat (who has done this before). The floor is suspiciously littered with clothing.

Gold glitter, caught in the hallway lights lays like fairy dust over everything. Curiouser and curioser.

Everything else looks completely normal, so she begins to wonder: what has happened here? The landlady has seen nothing. Calling her mother – who immediately tells her to call the police – she notices that her second, newer laptop is missing, power cord and all. The 1971 signed Detroit Tigers baseball she inherited from her father, who has recently died. A small tin box of quarters.

Suddenly, as if waking from a narrow dream, she realizes that the gold glitter is from a homemade jewelry box her ex-husband’s niece made for her. She checks the jewelry. Her wedding rings are gone. As are the diamond stud earrings and various and sundry cheap necklaces she has collected over the years.

She has been burgled.


Things descended into farce around that point – something I can deeply appreciate.

My landlady remembered the door was locked in the morning and had noticed it was slightly open for a couple of hours. She assumed I was home (despite being a very private person and never keeping my door open before). Her husband – who is slightly senile, but awesome – came to see if I was alright. He wasn’t wearing any pants.

Since my old computer was still there – thank god! – I went online to find the number for the police. I wasn’t sure this was strictly an emergency as I was not dead, no one was in the apartment and I had tidied slightly thinking my cat had wrecked the havoc. I called the first police station. They imputed my address and said I needed to call another station (at 62nd St). The dispatcher yelled at me for going into the apartment (very kindly, but crossly nonetheless). I called the second number. They told me I had to call 911. I called 911, who yelled at me for calling for a burglary. However, they did take my info and notify the police.

The police arrived. I was very thirsty, but didn’t want to touch anything more than I already had, just in case. Both of the officers were extremely polite and very kind. They were both Mets fans and I think my plight with the 1971 signed Detroit Tigers ball – after all, the Mets haven’t had a victory since 1986 – was a commonality that was surreal, but necessary (for me). I’m not afraid of police, I respect them very much for the most part, but two very large guys with guns in my little apartment made me feel very small.

At some point, I realized that I had not completely tidied up and certain items I would not ordinarily have on view before members of the opposite sex were completely out in the open. I was mortified, but decided to pretend I didn’t see them. Since the first cop got that I was a librarian after a cursory glance around my place, I realize they probably noticed them long before I did.

After a check of the windows, the door, etc… they called in their Sergeant and CSI. My landlady kept ascertaining that one of my friends had to have had my key and came in and took stuff. I kept ascertaining that if it were one of my friends, they would have taken my RPG stuff. Or my expensive MAC brushes. I pointed out that the locking doorknob in the hallway had been broken for two weeks. I had been alarmed last week when the delivery guy (for me) actually knocked on the door of my apartment. I’ve never had that happen before.

While we waited for the Sergeant, the officers and I chatted. I was really calm, considering (I had to calm my Mom down over the phone). I think a part of me thought the thief might have been the Dell representative who keeps calling me to return my defective hard drive (which the thieves did not get – NaNoNovel safe (ish)!) despite the fact that I (a) would never give my old hard drive to Dell, (b) as per my contract, I don’t have to return my defective hard drive, and (c) they gave me a fucking refurbished hard drive to replace my new hard drive that died. So in some small way, the lap top theft was slightly ironic. There was nothing on there, not even the software that should have been on there. I’m seriously springing for something better this time. I covet a Sony or an HP. I’d get a MAC, but I’ve never been down with the MAC operating system. But maybe this is the chance?


The Sergeant was completely awesome. The CSI team was pretty cool, too. They fingerprinted the joint (while I tried to stay out of the way of six cops) and talked to my neighbors. If I wasn’t so contained, I would have hugged them all just for coming out. And for wearing proper uniforms and using plenty of light sources.

And then they were gone. I called a locksmith and he came out last night and installed a really nice lock that is coming with me wherever I move to next. My landlady (who was still hanging around at this point) was trying to haggle with him to put another cheap lock on the door. As I was paying, I bought a better lock. He proved his point to her by opening the old deadbolt in about a minute. He was a total badass: an old school Russian guy who made me laugh my ass off. As I had to work this morning, hell or high water, I then cleaned up the fingerprinting dust, vacuumed and remade the bed before going to sleep.

I had no trouble sleeping because I can’t really take this personally.

Whoever did this (and I do prefer to think it was Jason Isaacs), didn’t know me at all. In all likelihood, it could have been the guy who gets a quarter an hour delivery business cards for the local taxi service. He saw an easy lock to pick and opportunity and took the chance. He got a computer with a refurbished hard drive, my wedding rings (good riddance, I say), some change and an autographed baseball. The ball being the one thing the police thought would have the potential to break this case (if at all).

It could have been much, much worse. My cat could have been killed (although seriously, I wouldn’t have minded if she’d been stolen). I could have walked in on the burglary and been shot or assaulted. My MAC brushes could have been stolen (they are one of the most expensive things I own) or my shoes. Or my zombie stuff. Nothing money related was stolen: not my passport, not my SSI card nor anything checking related. The cops could have brushed me off. My landlady could have tried to evict me for bringing in a bad element – owning to her strange assertion that obviously it was someone with a key. My lingerie could have been touched (but as far as I know, they weren’t). I could have come home to a completely tossed place. My car could have been stolen.

In Bensonhurst alone (for 2010), there have been 28 burglaries and 43 instances of grand larceny. But that’s a 27.3% decrease from 2009 (as per the 62nd Precinct CompStats) – although grand larceny is on the rise (8.3%). à

Out of 179,129 people (at last census) with a 10.1% unemployment rate (of legal, seeking work respondents) in Bensonhurst, the probability that I would be a victim at some sort of crime was rather greater than a year or two ago. This could have happened anywhere – something I kept reminding my Mom – as three Xmases ago my brother-in-law’s car was actually stolen outside my parent’s house on Christmas Day while everyone was inside.

Yikes, this turned into a novel. Updates to follow as they occur. I cancelled RISUS tonight for a beerfest that is sorely needed. Who could think about Rudolph Hess when I have a real life villain for discourse with friends.

But seriously. Enough with the scary things. Truly it is a curse (although, secretly it’s sort of a blessing) to live in interesting times.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chinese New Year's Resolutions*

*Understandably a bit early, but I'm being proactive here!

As my official resolution deadline doesn’t approach until the apocalypse… er… Valentine’s Day, I thought I would start to sort out what exactly I was being so resolute in doing in 2010.

Apparently 2010 is the year of the Tiger. A year whose mantra is “I win” and signified by the colors green and purple. It seems to share, at least topically, a strong correlation with the 1980s. Or a Gil Scott Heron song-poem. Come with us back to those inglorious days when heroes weren’t zeros. Before fair was square. When the cavalry came straight away and all-American men were like Hemingway to the days of the wondrous “B” movie.

Last year was a very good one for resolutions. I laughed a lot, listened to more music than I thought possible, walked off six dress sizes, cut out lots of life baggage (and in the process turned down the knob on my crazy loyalty focus, some people are just not worth it) and realized I could live without just about everything. I want to build on the year of the Ox in ways both subtle and audacious.

I have preemptively started on some things. I haven’t had any soda since December 31. I have also, through straight happenstance, not had any tea since then. The side effects of no caffeine have been interesting - from general edginess to a moment of complete insanity Frank had to talk me out of yesterday. I seriously don't know what I would do without Frank's guidance and general Machiavellian outlook on life.

I also only use the stairs whenever there is the option – avoiding escalators and elevators. The only escalator I cheat with is the one at WTC coming off the Path. While I’m sure I could take the 200 steps, the thought of my lungs after the experience is entirely another matter. In short, I am a stair pansy!

Here is the short-list:

(1) Go to more concerts; even if I have to go by myself (and I know I will), I WILL go to at least 1/month. I will buy concert t-shirts for local bands and get more random lyrics stuck in my head.

(2) Less RPGs and more non-RPG stuff

(3) Climb the stairs at the WTC Path station without getting out of breath

(4) Learn enough Spanish to talk to the cleaning lady; right now I am perusing Spanish for Nurses… and since the only terminology I’m learning relates to private bodily functions, less understanding is better

(5) Meet more people.

(6) More kisses. I suddenly realized that kissing doesn’t suck, so this may fall in with #5.

(7) Actually finish my Xmas baking for 2009 by July 2010. I owe so many cookies! Fuck!

(8) Want to have a beer with Jen – on me! My outstanding promise since after VAST this past Spring is downright scandalous.

(9) Try to remember more holidays. Hell, more things in general.

(10) Write more stuff. And back it up in four to six places.

(11) Bake more. Including KaiBot3000, if she doesn't stop eating plastic.

(12) Hang out with Aiden & Madelyn at LEAST once this year

Wow, my short-list is getting out of hand. So there's no room for achieving world peace and being nice to my sister... Oh, I nearly forgot (and most importantly):

(13) Collect my Dad's Dove and learn how to play guitar