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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Subway Poems & Chaos

I was reading about Kinesics (the study of body movement) this morning in response to the black eye I narrowly missed when a woman tried to take out my eye with her computer bag.

This is not the first time I've nearly or been slightly injured by random carried belongings of women who ride the subway. I was slammed in the head once with a purse - although I shared quite a laugh with the guy sitting across from me in that instance. But what is it with people being so completely ignorant of body space? I know exactly where my fingers are and the exact dimensions of my bags and toes. This morning was sort of hell. I was sat on - sat on! - by two different people (on the N and the 2). I'm sorry, but not knowing the dimensions of your ass is inexcusable.

Thankfully my irreverence came to the rescue and created this mantra in my head:

your body speaks a grammar i brush off your skin with my fingers
collecting sighs and syllables as if i spoke your language

but words bodies are only glamours
yours, specifically, are full and empty

and i am empty, too

This might actually be the opening salvo of a poem. Apparently, even when I'm happy, I can't foresee happy endings. Probably because that part of me was sat on this morning.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Baguette's Progress

Today was a wonderful day! And that has nothing to do whatsoever with the fact that Amaretto+Melissa=Warmandfuzziness (and a liquor-painted blush)! (Although, it probably has something to do with exclamation point quantities...)

After waking up around eight-ish, I picked up the Melepad and then bought foodstuffs. Glorious foodstuffs to the accompaniment of my friendly butcher (who recognized me this time!). Turkey and ham and swiss and tomatoes and orange juice and eggs and turkey bacon and English muffins. Queenmob showed up at 12ish with donuts and I made English muffins with eggs and turkey bacon, tomatoes and swiss cheese under the broiler. Delicious. After showing off my new comix (I am a comic acolyte in the truest sense): Harold Sipe's Screamland and Alan Moore/Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls, we discussed Queenmob's own comic while I worked on the quandary of a baguette while working on cups of loose assam black tea and a Sharon van Etten playlist (lots of new music to follow in another post).

I make my own bread. But I have never made a baguette before. I cheated slightly by using my bread machine for the dough. The recipe was remarkably easy: high gluten flour, hot water, white sugar, kosher salt and yeast.

Music interlude ***~~******~~******~~******~~******~~******


The finished product was surprisingly awesome - although a lack of a pastry brush made the yolk application a little awkward. And apparently I was supposed to cut perpendicular slashes rather than a crevasse down the center ;) The texture was dense and chewy - the way I love bread with a really nice flavor. The judicious application of Amaretto in my beloved Star Trek glasses (of course, I used Spock!) set the tone. The following are random shots of the baguette in its native environment:

And the orangey glow of my apartment is no fiction. Apparently when Mr. Smith was apartment sitting, the bulbs were mysteriously transplanted for orange party bulbs. I can't decide if I like it or not - but as I'm too short to reach the light and sufficiently lacking in a ladder - that is a moot issue altogether. As it lends a sort of hot-house, lady of easy virtue feel to the apartment, I'm not surprised I've been working mentally through Neruda of late:

Tengo hambre de tu boca, de tu voz, de tu pelo
y por las calles voy sin nutrirme, callado,
no me sostiene el pan, el alba me desquicia,
busco el sonido líquido de tus pies en el día.

Estoy hambriento de tu risa resbalada,
de tus manos color de furioso granero,
tengo hambre de la pálida piedra de tus uñas,
quiero comer tu piel como una intacta almendra.

Quiero comer el rayo quemado en tu hermosura,
la nariz soberana del arrogante rostro,
quiero comer la sombra fugaz de tus pestañas

y hambriento vengo y voy olfateando el crepúsculo
buscándote, buscando tu corazón caliente
como un puma en la soledad de Quitratúe

Or in translation...

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Job! Happiness ensues!

I am writing this post while I am at ... work! (Actually waiting for tech correspondence on exporting catalog into a hard copy when the web version is down and importing MARC records).

Yes, I now have a full time job (along with my private cataloging gig in Manhattan) with a small medical academic college in New Jersey*. And like magic (really, it's real magic) new, strange, amazing, crazy and just plain unusual things have started to happen as my weirdness magnet kicks into drive. It was only sleeping for a while, I think. So many new experiences lately that I still need time to absorb and understand them. And a few hours of sleep here and there would be nice, too.

So I started my new position on January 4 (after much date finagling). My coworkers are awesome and I scored an Audubon Society calendar for volunteering to keep the library open an extra 15-20 minutes yesterday. I also had to teach my co-librarian how to Copy+Paste. I don't think I will comment publicly about that particulary when I was wading through library statistics and pivot charts as a lark. I inherited a lot of paper. I hate paper. Paper is not searchable. It has no connectivity. It gets dusty and makes me sneeze. I get paper cuts. So in my free time, I started imputting all the stats into Excel (because I am a notable Excel junkie) and making beautiful graphics. I had a breakdown of 2008 by average length of visits, users by program, etc for my first staff meeting.

I also dive bombed an adjunct faculty meeting and introduced myself. Despite a head cold that has me sounding like a phone sex operator at the moment, I got lots of accolades for taking initiative. I am full of initiative and live on accolades, so I am very happy!

I like Jersey City so far, too. I have learned that Jersey City has a lower sales tax than the rest of New Jersey - which is half of New York on clothes and shoes! Shoes! Also, many people don't know where they're going. I have been asked at least twice everyday this week for locations. And random people talk to me all the time - despite my surgically attached iPod. I have never been referred to as "Mama" so much, even when I worked in the Bronx.

Suffice it to say, I am extremely happy. Work makes me happy. Productivity makes me happy. Finding books, answering reference questions, helping students with their resumes and running around in my Docs makes me happy.

But I have to go back to work, now. More blogging updates (and music!) later.

* I would give the name but, well, I *am* writing this from work!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Nerd Year's Eve! With Pictures!

I am so tired this morning. I can't decide whether it's a serious lack of willpower or the inability to stop having a good time in the midst of having it (because you have to wake up early to take the train and bus to Queens for your car). It's probably a little of both.

Pictures from New Year's Eve with the Nerd New York crew. I had so much fun I didn't get home until the wee hours of the morning. Further pictorial evidence suggest that there are people still at the unassuming "Fortress Astoria" playing Jungle Speed. If they can retain all their fingers, I applaud them. As I have all of mine! Losing = Win.

Ok. Shower. Toast. Train. Maybe coffee in there somewhere, which is crazy 'cause I dislike coffee but am as Harriett Low would say "stupid" today: caught in a fug of tiredness and ... oh my god, my cat is licking my arm! Shower!