Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm in a mood

We're having some plumbing work done. We've been having problems with a leak and two slow drains and Barry just plain didn't want to tell the landlord...because our apartment is less than spotless and he feared the landlord would give us holy hell. Which he did. We worked really hard on the problem areas in the few days between his first visit and his return with the plumber, and made a big improvement, but we have to do more before the end of the month and it's making me a little crazy. Barry, too. Besides the fact that I rarely go out, he has somehow gotten the idea that it's too much trouble to go out more than once a day; also, that he needs a big nap in the middle of the day. This is making life a little hard.

The good news is that the weather's turned nice and I'm thinking I'd like to go out within the next couple of days.

I now have a subscription to The New Yorker because I got a year for $10. It doesn't get much better than that, even if I don't read a lot of it. $10 a year is worth it just for the cartoons -- hell, it's worth it just for the Roz Chast cartoons. It's a little highbrow for me and a lot of it just bores me, but I see there's a story by Junot Diaz that I'm looking forward to reading.

The imprint I worked for in my long-ago publishing days was right next to the imprint that published Junot's novel The Brief Life of Oscar Wao. But the book hadn't come out yet. So one day, I see this way-handsome guy looking at the shelves with our books on it, and sort of chuckling to himself. I said, kidding, "Hey, are you laughing at our New Age books?" He smiled at me and said, "No, I just had no idea there were books about some of this stuff." Whoa, very handsome. Then his publicist got off the phone and he went in to see her. Before I saw him again, I read the book. I had just about enough Spanish and just about enough knowledge of the Dominican Republic to pretty much get the book. (In the 80s, I dated a Dominican guy for 2-1/2 years and studied up on Dominican politics out of curiosity...actually, I picked it as a research topic in a how-to-write-a-research-paper course.) The next time he came back, I made a sort of bowing down gesture and threw kisses and shit and told him how amazing his book was. Every time he won another award or was in another newspaper or magazine, I felt a very personal happiness for him, even though he wasn't one of "my" authors.

Here's something interesting, apropos of the Diaz novel: I just finished The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, and my knowledge of Yiddish culture and Jewish religion *wasn't* up to the book -- I know I missed a lot more than I did in Junot's book. I've always had that basic New Yorker third-generation-Reform-non-practicing-Jew smattering of Yiddish, and marrying Barry, who has actual Orthodox people in his family, has upped my knowledge of language and custom considerably. So why is Michael Chabon writing over my head? He didn't even append a glossary for non-Jews who would never get it at all. Who the hell is he writing for?

I read a lot less now that I rarely ride the subway. When I worked, I did almost all of my reading on the subway, which was a good 2-1/2 hours a day at my last job (the 10-15 walk from the subway to the office was for listening to music). Now I read a lot in the dentist's waiting room. I carry a book anywhere that I might have to wait. I'm rereading An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser because Theodore Dreiser was amazing.

I'm a little stuck as far as my own writing but it was amazing to hear from someone who knew of Floradan (among other really interesting parallels to my life).

Deep dark secret of the day: I subscribe to a few blogs with cute photos of dogs and cats. Especially cats. I am not only a fool for my own cats, but for all cats, really. And certainly all kittens.

I heard once from some scientific source or another that all baby animals, including humans, are particularly designed to elicit the "awww" response from adults. They have big eyes relative to their faces and features that somehow say "cute" to adults of their own species and often others. So we're basically hardwired to be drawn to and feel protective of babies and kittens and puppies and piglets and lambs and tiger cubs and the whole shebang. (I once bottle-fed orphaned baby piglets at summer camp.)

We have been watching this dopey show called The Human Target. It's just a kind of cartoony action show where a really good-looking guy protects people with the help of his two assistants, the big burly ex-cop (Chi McBride) and the weirdish guy who can do all kinds of things with computers and electronics and schematics and stuff. The only reason I like watching this show is that the weirdish guy is played by Jackie Earle Haley, and he kind of fascinates me. I could watch him all day. Barry calls him "Jackie Pearl Bailey," which doesn't mean anything except that it sounds funny. But I find Jackie more fetching than the handsome guy (the actor's name is Mark Valley). Then again, typical good looks are not my thing.

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