Thursday, March 31, 2011


And no, it wasn't the high-end jeweler.  I had a great interview with her, during which she said, "I will hire you" around four or five times.  Then I didn't hear from her for a week, and when I called, she wouldn't take or return my calls.  Go fig.  And I just wanted to let you all know that this stupid, unprofessional, lying bitch is named Gayle Grenadier, and if you ever have $40,000 to spend on a piece of jewelry, don't buy it from her.  And don't ever even consider working for her.

The people who did hire me are the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center (which we'll call PPSC to make life easier).  I'm going to be the office manager, working below the director and executive director.  It's basically a post-graduate training institute (probably only open to M.S.W.s or Ph.D.s in psychology) who want to be analysts, practice analytic-style therapy, or incorporate some analytic theory/technique into their therapy practice.  So it's a school, and also a clinic where trainees can rent rooms to see their patients.  Believe it or not, I worked at one of these places in 1980-81 (the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training, which no longer exists).  So it's familiar ground for me.  I'll basically be running the office, along with registering students and maintaining student records.

They are paying the money I asked for, plus a bump in six months when my Medicaid runs out.  I'll be getting a letter today setting out the terms and conditions, to make things really official.  I liked both of the women who interviewed me -- unlike NYCPT, PPSC was created and run by a woman.  NYCPT was definitely a patriarchy, created and led by the late Dr. Reuben Fine.

I got the e-mail last night, and called in sick to BTW today -- tomorrow I'll being in my letter and start the disconnection process.  We keep Medicaid for around six months, which is when they review eligibility. We'll lose the cash and rent benefits, but I'm not sure when -- immediately, when I begin working, or when I first get paid.  We may be able to keep some part of the food stamps.  And I believe they pay carfare for the first 90 days.  I think Barry will continue to go to Back to Work, which I think will help him with career development.

And let's see what MST3K has to say:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

fresh-cut grass!

It's about 61 degrees out now (1:44 PM), but it feels warmer in the sun.  I just took a nice stroll around the neighborhood, walked around for about an hour.  On Gravesend Neck Road, right around East 1st Street, there was a strong scent of fresh-cut grass, certainly the first time I've smelled that this season.  I've seen a crocus or two, but this really smelled like spring.

I'm home today on "Independent Job Search" -- which requires a midday walk in the spring sun.  I had an interview yesterday and I feel 98% sure I'll be hired -- possibly because she kept saying, "I am going to hire you."  She said it about three times.  I think what happened is that I asked for a little more money than she was planning to pay, and had to talk to her accountant about it.  But I think I did convince her that I was worth my $35K asking price:  even though I had limited experience in the jewelry field, I had a lot of administrative experience, and it was clear that I'd learn her business very quickly.  Stay tuned.

I have no idea exactly what happens on the public assistance front if and when I get a job.  Do I still have to go to the daily grind until I start work?  what happens to our benefits?  (I do know that Medicaid will be good for the next six months no matter what.)  I'm going to try to see my job counselor tomorrow morning, because I may well have an offer very soon.

I'm seeing Lily tomorrow, which is a big event because she is insanely busy with school and internships and work these days.  We're going to have lunch, since we get released from Back-to-Work around 12:30 on Fridays.

Also -- someone else who did me a good deed:  my former boss Ken (the good boss who hired me at Penguin, not the bad one who got rid of me).  He sent me a St. Patrick's Day card with a $25 Starbucks gift card in it.  I very, very rarely hear from him, although he's one of my job references.  He's a quiet person; I don't think he'd disagree if I said he's shy.  But he's tremendously goodhearted, and one of the very best bosses I've ever had.

Ken really believed in me and was always willing to give me a chance to tackle something.  I came to his department as a temp, and temped there for three or four months before I finally managed to get hired (there had been some terrible hires in that department over the past couple of years, and Ken and I had to really work at it).  One day when I was still a temp, Ken was overwhelmed by calls he had to make, or maybe there were a bunch he didn't want to do.  I think it was following up with some media that had received galleys (this was in book publicity, by the way).  I volunteered to do it, telling him, "I'm really good on the phone."  So he said, "Go ahead," and stood by to listen as I made the call.  A minute or so later, he gave me a thumbs up and walked away.

Once I was on permanently and had my own book assignments -- well, let me go back for a minute.  I actually had my own book right before my permanent hire.  There was a certain author that Ken couldn't stand dealing with, and I volunteered to make a call to this author.  I figured out how to deal with the guy pretty quickly, and told Ken that I would handle any contact with this author if he wanted.  So he was actually my author before I was hired.  I guess because it was my first assignment, and at first, my only one, and maybe also because I realized how different and interesting the book was, I worked my ass off on it.  In all fairness, the author did get a few major publicity hits set up before I got started (a piece in Rolling Stone, an appearance on The Colbert Report).  It was a big home run, both in hardcover and in paper, and it really made me at that job.

But once I was hired, Ken would pretty much assign me to any book I got very excited about.  He figured out pretty quickly that I pushed really hard for a book I really believed in, even if it was a "big" book that wouldn't normally go to the most junior publicist.  (This was very untrue of his successor, who kept every single big book for herself.)  That's how I got to do the David Lynch book -- the second I heard about it, I ran into Ken's office and said Please Please Please.  (The new boss was there when the Lynch book came out in paperbook, and made a screwface about my being the publicist.  I was already in with the Lynch crew and she really couldn't do anything about it.  Very early on, she and I went to a Lynch event together, and when David came up and kissed me on the cheek, I think she knew she couldn't take the book from me.  As Emily Litella would say, "Bitch.")

One more story about Ken's generosity:  he represented an author I liked a lot, and loved the book, and I believe we had already arranged that I would do the paperback, or maybe it was that I took over a bunch of work on it a bit after publication.  Anyway, I was involved somehow, and Ken and I were both invited to a launch party that a friend of the author's threw (in an amazing little townhouse in Harlem).  Ken was both editor and publicist for the book, but when we were heading up to the party, he told me to tell people that I was the publicist.  It certainly made me feel more comfortable in a group of writers and book people who were strangers to me.  Ken actually looked fairly uncomfortable at the party, but as I said, he's shy.

I'm still on the mailing lists of both the difficult author and the author I liked, but not with the Lynch camp any more.  I had been closely in touch with his right-hand guy (I wasn't close enough to contact David directly), but he sent me a very snappish e-mail one time, and I never replied.  If it had just been a bad mood, he never made amends; I never heard from him again.

I've been thinking about setting up a little shop on Cafe Press to sell tee shirts and what-have-you with old advertising images on them, mostly, I think, beverage labels.  Like so:

Do we like these?  I also have some smashing foreign ones, and beer as well as soda.  I was playing around with some of the images this morning...they tend to get a little blurry when I enlarge them.  Maybe I need to scan some at a higher resolution -- these are actually images I downloaded, although I do own these labels and many others.

I would wear tee shirts with these images on them.  (Cafe Press, by the way, is set up so that you can sell with no set-up costs; last I checked, the seller uploads the images and chooses what kind of goods to use -- tee shirts, coffee mugs, etc.  There is a price for making each item, and the seller chooses how much over that to charge; the items are made to order.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

favorite new singer & new song

First, I want to apologize for the weird formatting on the poems in my last entry.  No idea how that happened, but I scanned and OCR'ed it and then polished it up in Open Office, but obviously there was something strange hanging out in the formatting.  I'm a little weak on formatting in Word (or clones thereof), but don't tell anyone.
OK, so I saw this singer and heard this song on SNL last night, and I was really blown away.  I've heard two songs and already I like her better than Lady Gaga and Katy Perry combined.  I went snooping around YouTube, and they don't yet have her SNL performance of this song, though they do have the other one she did last night.  But I found the regular video and a live acoustic performance which is just mindblowing.  Her name is Jessie J, and the song is called Price Tag.  She's British and I guess already pretty popular in the UK,
This is one of those songs I want to load onto my mp3 playing and listen to over and over until I know every word and then until I'm totally sick of it.

Also, I have a job interview on Wednesday.  It's with a high-end jeweler -- very high-end.  She does very beautiful designs which are very expensive, and her business is on a much smaller scale than Stephen's.  We actually had a long talk on the phone today and it might be a good match.  This is mostly for production work but my feeling is that she also needs someone who can work with computers and has some design sense...possibly also some bookkeeping and publicity.  I'll just have to see how it feels, what the workload would be like and, if it comes to it, what she wants to pay.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I was recently bemoaning my lost poetry, of which I remembered a few snatches here and there.  The electronic versions disappeared on big floppies many years back, and were probably in WordPerfect or MultiMate anyway.  The hard copies were lost in The Great Storage Tragedy.  But I remembered that my dad and stepmother, within the past year, had sent me some old photos and old documents, including several college literary magazines with a few of my short stories and poems.

The short stories were and are hideous; any snatches I ever remembered from them made me cringe.  But I did dig up three poems, and scanned and OCR'ed them so I'd have electronic copies.  (I never used OCR before, and so am proud of myself for managing to do it.)  None, alas, is the Coney Island poem.

I think two of the poems hold up pretty well, and one is not that good but captures a very important moment in my life.  I won a writing prize with one of my poems back then, but according to the magazines where these three were published, it wasn't any of these.  I have no idea or memory of which poem it was, but I do remember that I won that prize, because I'd been trying really hard to get it for several years.  I seem to recall that it was one I hadn't liked as well as certain others, but I was so glad to win the prize that I didn't much care.

All were published in The Gallatin Review,  a nice little literary magazine published by Gallatin Division of NYU, which was my school (it's now called The Gallatin School), in the late 80s and early 90s.

I do want to apologize for all of that pretentious lower-case shit.  I did remove the pretentious every-other-line indentations from one of them.  I don't suppose I have to explain how artsy the lower-case thing was.  I did often write poems with long shaped paragraphs, which I believe I copied from Marianne Moore and Muriel Rukeyser.  I don't and never did read much poetry, but I did like those two.

The first poem is the one I don't like as much...well, I'm a little nit-picky about it. It does have some turns of phrase I'm proud of.  But the title is one thing I don't like -- I called it "Chinatown would have benefited by the addition of Bob."  What I was trying to say was that my experience that day in Chinatown would have benefited, etc. 

This poem was published in 1988 but it was written, I believe, in the spring of 1986.  I wrote it the day after the Chinatown excursion, extremely hung over.  This was when I was bottoming out on alcohol, and is a very clear expression (at least to me), of how I thought "Bob" would fix what was wrong with me. 

There was an actual Bob I was chasing at the time (although once we were together, I found he preferred being called Robert), who ended up being one of the most difficult boyfriends ever.  The line in the poem where he says "I just can't stand that kind of thing" is genuine, one hundred percent Robert.  I got sober at the end of August 1986, and I think I broke up with him a couple of weeks later -- even that early in recovery, I knew he was way, way too much to handle.  I met him through the clerical union at NYU (he had been involved for a while, and I was a passionate newbie), which is why the word "union" is slipped in there.  I always used to put those little touches into poems as inside jokes that no one got but me.  (How sad is that?)

Chinatown would have benefited by the addition of Bob
I never before minded the mournfully bent heads
of the ducks who were nearer to food than to life;
today they troubled me, as I window-shopped for supper,
browsing garish dangles of dark-red barbecue,
the number of the shops, the clouds of rich odors,
the pale innocence of fowl yet to be cooked;
closer looks at trays of unrecognized food revealed horrors:
the feet of birds, the snouts of pigs, whole squid
coaxed somehow to science-fiction orange;

even the vegetable stalls gave me pause:
would unfamiliar produce poison if miscooked?
guiltily, I bought two small cantaloupe off a truck,
paying a grizzled Italian who asked his chum,
"Isn't she a beautiful girl?"; he took my dollar
and bagged my melons in flimsy plastic;

the fish markets beckoned, then overwhelmed:
shrimp had faces, whole fish were clearly priced but unnamed,
lobster and crab were cheap but alive,
a bargain on whole squid reminded me of when Charlie
worked downtown, and brought some home,
bravely following a cookbook to bone and behead the creatures,
working a delicate miracle over fresh pasta;
I couldn't, I knew, looking one in the eye,
and couldn't behead shrimp, couldn't execute lobster
or crab; in the past I have cleaned fish easily,
but I know I am now unequal to the task;

as I walked downtown from Washington Square,
the sun high and hot, walked through Soho,
through Little Italy, I put Bob in a number of scenes;
in my mind, he corrected situations
in which I felt too lonely and alone: too shy and
feeling too pathetic to enter a certain cafe,
I sat Bob at a table with me, the two of us sharing
fried calamari with hot sauce and drinking beer;
I placed him beside me in an antique jewelry shop,
surprising me when I admired a garnet ring,
saying, "It's perfect for you," and maybe buying it;
I saw him at my side in front of shop windows,
not caring if he shared my tastes in clothes,
happy just to have him there to say,
"I can't stand that sort of thing";

I really needed him in Chinatown; he would have
braved the tiny noodle shops where Chinese ate in crowds,
and enjoyed the wiseguy Chinese boy of twelve
who noticed my star and drawled, "Are you Jewish?"
and my reply, "Are you Chinese?"

without a doubt, Bob would have declared his ability
to clean fish; "You clean, I'll cook," I'd have offered,
wantonly bagging vegetables—asparagus or
broccoli rabe, a knob of ginger, a ripe mango to eat later;
at his apartment, I would create a meal
of memorable delicacy, the food of union, of sharing.

The second one, which was written later and sober, was a little unusual for me.  I tended to write poems which were love letters of some sort, and this one wasn't.  It feels kind of mature to me, for that reason.  It's just straight-up about a photo of my great-grandmother I'd never seen before.  What struck everyone in the family (because it somehow had just then arrived on the east coast from some west coast relatives) was how much I resembled her; it was always said that I looked almost exactly like my mother (I couldn't see it myself), but this was my paternal great-grandmother, and when I saw the picture, I thought, "My God, it's me!"

Well, of course, some fucking "lover" shows up in the last paragraph.  I actually may not have been sober yet when I wrote this, because I'm kind of suspecting it was that Robert again.  "Golden" means he was blond, and I don't really remember any blonds in that era except Robert.  I didn't really see anyone for a while in early recovery, not anyone I would have described this way.


I have never seen this picture before
and so I reverse the truth: she looks like me, this woman dead
long before my birth. My family laughs,
gives her to me in a silver frame.

There is nothing dry or stiff about
her sepia face and form; she must have
horrified the photographer, back in nineteen-ten.
A fisted hand rides her hip, the other draped
over her man's shoulder to own him. Her face
is nothing but assertive, proud, defiant.

My lover is as golden and as sad as autumn.
He believes in his own power; he forgets in daylight
how in the darkest hours of night, he curls to me
like kitten to cat. He will only see this when
the evidence is produced: a new photograph that
a man who belongs to a woman, my notes to the future.


Number three:  I like this poem a lot.  I wrote it about my favorite professor, although "favorite professor" doesn't begin to capture what he was to me and to others.  He was brilliant and warm and way, way spiritual; his students (including me) were more like followers.  He was pretty close to being a holy man to many of his students.  He taught religion, and I studied mythology under him.  He was a nice enough looking man, but everyone fell madly in love with him, or at least under his spell, because of who he was.  It felt like a next-level crush.  Even though the class was huge, I managed to get his attention with some of the assignments I wrote.  The title is another of my little inside jokes: "peregrination" means to move from one place to another, but it also refers to a wonderful story he told about finding a peregrine falcon in his apartment (it had flown in an open window).

The poem was my attempt to sort out and explain my crazy attachment to him -- which no less crazy in light of the fact that lots of people felt that way about him.  I actually took the class because I had a friend who would never shut up about him, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
It is surely for a reason, and one perhaps
not obscure, that he greatly resembles
the man I almost wed; he has the same brow,
and eyes so similar that I often forget
to distinguish between the two men, one
long gone and one filling my recent days.

He is the safest and most dangerous of men.
I was warned. I was told, both subtly and
straight out, that I would love him beyond
all others and beyond reason and sense and
beyond his own presence and facts and form.
As I try to know him, I learn about myself.

I was warned. He is universally loved, and
I turn Plato inside out, joining a symposium
of love for this old boy. And true to form,
I find myself more clever, more learned, more
virtuous than ever I'd imagined. He brings out
what is finest in me: this is the quality of love.

It is surely for a reason, and one perhaps
not obscure, that he came to me when I was ready
to love knowledge and to love the love of learning.
I was warned. I cannot stay myself from the attempt
to merge with him, and in striving for sameness,
I discover what is different in me, and unique.

His beauty tempts me to many wicked thoughts.
He is the safest and the most dangerous of men.
He promises no occasion of sin, but is the
fixed star of virtue; by his light, I navigate
the darkness in my soul. He promises the love
of goodness; I cleanse myself quickly in order to accept.


Anyway, those are the three dug-up old poems.  I used to write too much poetry, and a lot of it was trite and gushy.  I wish I could find the Coney Island poem because it was really, really good.  Actually, I kind of like the rhythm of the Chinatown poems, and the first stanza is probably as good as anything I've ever written.  Don't know if there's really any more of my old writings to be dug up. I haven't written a poem in well over ten years, and I think the last couple were about that prick V.  One of them was actually good, as I recall.  But these three don't suck all that hard.

In other news, the first interview at Zabar's went well, I think.  It was with a consultant, and if I make the cut, I'll go back and meet with the controller.  The title of the job is "Inventory Analyst," which I like a lot.

Even with the many days I manage to get out of the Back to Work center, for one reason or another, it's both weird and dull going down there week after week.  It's like some bizarre planet.  I've recently figured out that the best use of my time there is to try to get a seat in the computer room, and just job-hunt online.  I put my resumes on what I called a "memory stick" (Rafael corrected me and I now know that it's a "flash drive"), which yielded a great half-day of online searching.  But you can't always get a seat there.  As much as the classroom was initially novel (and I still do adore the instructor), I'm tired of "learning" things I already know, and I'm tired of most of the lame and lowbrow (sometimes both) conversations that spring up there.  I've actually met a couple of very nice, bright people, but I can't imagine actually staying in touch with any of the post-BTW except Rafael.  He'll be a friend for a long time, I think.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

yet one more astonishing item about His Charlie-ness

Houston, we have benefits

After yet two more sojourns to the public assistance center at Coney Island, we have an EBT card with food stamp money on it, and we supposedly have Medicaid and rent assistance.  We will get a second card for Medicaid and the option to choose an HMO, which will come in the mail.  The rent assistance goes directly to the landlord and will we get a notice.

The good news is that it's all retroactive to the month we applied, so we have over $600 in food stamps and our first rent benefit will be around $500, which is about half our rent.  Couldn't have come at a better time.  I was hoping especially to get the food stamps soon so as to conserve our cash.  Actually, our wonderful sister-in-law treated us to a big load of groceries from a big supermarket this past week, so we're fairly well stocked on essentials, but we can use it for smaller things in the neighborhood, and then do a big shop at Shop Rite when we need to.  Barry's going to go down to a favorite Chinese market tomorrow to buy loads of fish (we have a kosher fish market right nearby, but the prices are about twice as high).

I even got my free cell phone, which is very cute.  I actually read all of the instructions so I know how to use pretty much all the features (we somehow never bothered to do that on the prepaid phone).  And I got my free glucose meter on Thursday, so when I run out of strips for the one I have, I can start using the ones Harriet sent.

Barry and I have been assigned to WEP, which is what they used to call "workfare."  You work three days a week and go to the job center two days -- like going to the job center, the WEP job entitles you to your benefits, but doesn't pay any kind of salary.  Luckily, we were able to be assigned to office work rather than janitorial; we both have to report to orientation at the city Office of Housing Preservation and Development (I think that's the name of the agency...I keep getting it confused with the Landmark Preservation one).  No telling yet if we'll be assigned to the same office or even what borough.  Doesn't start until the 21st.

I guess WEP is good in the sense that it gets us out of the job center for three days, which breaks things up a bit.  It's bad, though, because it's time away from real job-hunting -- you can get excused from WEP if you have an interview, but you can't actually spend the time looking for work.  At the job center, you can job-hunt in the computer room if there's a free station, or you can get excused for "independent job search" (this is supposed to be other than e-mail job searching -- you have to fill out a form saying where you went to drop off your resume or whatever).

It's all a good safety net.  The system seems to work, no matter how bureaucratic it seems at times.  On Thursday, I had to go to Coney Island to give in some papers that Barry put in our caseworker's hands two weeks ago.  Luckily, I was already excused for independent job search, which was actually a Word class at Connect-to-Care Thursday afternoon, so I could bring the papers to Coney Island in the morning.  Otherwise, it's kind of dicey, since Back-to-Work wants a letter from the public assistance office (HRA) if you have to miss BTW to go there, and HRA insists you don't need it and won't give you one.  (So far, we've had appointment letters when we've had to go to HRA, have a home visit, or go to BEV to verify our identities.)  So it's a pile of hassles, but if you're very patient, it seems to work.

Better news:  I have an interview Monday.  I got a call from a guy who said he'd seen my resume (I'm not exactly sure where, probably one of the job sites where I had it posted), and wanted to see me about a job very similar to the one I had at Dweck...and it's at Zabar's!  Zabar's is one of the great great great New York gourmet stores, although it started as (and continues to be) an appetizing store.  (Another lesson in all things Jewish:  "appetizing" is basically all of the things Jews put on bagels, particularly the smoked fish like lox and whitefish, plus the various plain and flavored cream cheeses.  It is very desirable to find an appetizing store where they actually slice the lox to order, rather than sell it prepackaged.  I only know of three remaining in Manhattan, including Zabar's, though there may be a few still in Brooklyn.  There used to be a lot more, but now there are very few.)  Apart from appetizing, Zabar's has all kinds of wonderful baked goods and gourmet foods, plus they have an excellent selection of housewares.

The guy who called me from there was very nice, and I felt we had a good rapport.  I really like the idea of doing production at Zabar's...I could make sure the smoked sable gets in on time!  I could take my pay home in whitefish salad!  He asked what I had earned at Dweck, and didn't make uh-oh noises.  I'm really looking forward to the interview.  Sounds like it could be a mighty good job.

Luna Park didn't call -- they were supposed to decide by the end of the week -- and I admit I did relax myself a bit last night.  I do so enjoy that bit of relaxation.

OK -- I'm fascinated by all of this insane Charlie Sheen stuff.  Yeah, I do feel bad because he's a terrible addict and probably also mentally ill...but I can't help but be entertained by the trainwreck.  And the jokes are just too funny.  This one is one of my faves.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

south of north of Coney

In other words, Coney Island.

One:  I had the interview at Luna Park the other day. I was interviewed for the less-qualified position, and there are actually two of them, exactly the same, except that one will start sooner than the other.  The woman who interviewed me was lovely, and I think I did well.  She didn't mention money, but the job developer said it was $12-14 per hour, which is really less than I would like, but I'll try to talk them up to 15 or 16 if I get an offer.  It's seasonal, and would end in October.  The office is right inside Luna, and the job would entail a certain amount of time outside the office in the park, distributing paychecks and schmoozing employees to try to avoid the 67% turnover they experienced last summer.  The temp aspect of it works for me -- hey, who wants to be in Coney during the winter?  Also, they would require a drug test.

Sidebar:  I do not approve of drug testing, though of course I said I would take one.  Here's the thing -- if the issue is illegality, a background check would clear that up.  If the issue is possible intoxication on the job, who don't they ban any use of alcohol?  What if someone comes in hung over?  Also, there are a lot of prescribed drugs that might show up in a test.  I believe that Adderall (prescribed for ADHD in adults as well as kids) contains some sort of amphetamine.  Some people still take old-school antidepressants which are barbiturates.  I myself have a prescription for lorazepam (generic Atavan), a low dosage for bouts of anxiety.  And how about the whole issue of violation of civil liberties?  It's one thing if someone shows up at work obviously intoxicated, but what someone does on their own time should be their own business.  I generally do not apply for jobs where it's indicated up front that they drug test.  I think it's very wrong.

That having been said, I have decided that it's a good idea to start taking a goldenseal supplement and drinking a lot of fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Two:  I had to go to the Coney Island HRA center this morning (luckily, I was excused for "independent job search," which is actually a Connect-to-Care computer class this afternoon).  They needed to make copies of documents that Barry handed to our caseworker two weeks ago.  These people may be overworked, but that doesn't mean they aren't fucking morons.  The woman who called wasn't our caseworker, but we referred her to him several times.  We find it impossible to get him on the phone, but you'd think this woman could have gone from the second floor to the third, walked to his desk, and asked for out file.  You'd think.  But no, I had to bring the suckers again this morning.  And as I said, it was a good thing I was already excused from Back-to-Work, because they require a document from HRA if you have to be there during work hours, and HRA insists that you don't need a document and they won't give you one.  Which of course, can put you at risk of -- all together now -- being FTC'ed.  Apparently they are FTC'ing people like mad because BTW is so overcrowded.

So Mrs. Abramova at HRA said that I had to bring the documents this morning by noon, and that I should go to the second floor and call her extension.  I was there before 10, and called her extension several times, and it didn't answer.  The receptionist didn't know who she was.  The receptionist asked me for her extension, and then she dialed it and got no answer,  Gee, thanks.  Finally, on my tenth time calling her extension, another woman who happened to be walking past Mrs. A's cubicle picked up the phone, told me Mrs. A was in a training session, but that she, Mrs. G, could copy the documents and put them on Mrs. A's desk.  Since I was a little concerned that these might meet the same fate as the documents Barry handed to the caseworker (not left on his desk -- HANDED to him), I came home and left a voice mail for Mrs. A and said that Mrs. G had left the documents on her desk, and that she should please call if she still didn't have them.  (I left out the part about her asking me to see her by noon when she was going to be in a training session.)

I hadn't noticed before that the HRA office is right behind the old Child's on the Boardwalk, which I believe Lola Star has converted into a roller rink.  HRA is about eight blocks west of the amusement area, past the baseball stadium (which used to be Keyspan Park but I've forgotten the new name).  It's kind of creepy and deserted there this time of year.  I thought about walking back to the subway via the Boardwalk, but my feeling was that the Boardwalk would also be creepy and deserted.  Plus, it was extremely cold.  It figures that I was at Back-to-Work yesterday when it was 51 degrees out, but at Coney Island today when it was 28 (plus the wind off the water is mighty strong).

Whether I'm working there or not, I look forward to seeing Coney in the summer.  I look forward to having a hot dog at Nathan's, even if I can't eat the roll (and have to skip the fries).

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this, but I wrote a poem some years back called "palm sunday, coney island," which was actually published.  It was in a small literary magazine called "Exit 19" or Exit something, comprised of poetry and stories that all involved a place.  They never sent me my copy, and I no longer have a copy of the poem.  I do remember the phrase "the sturdy inaugural turn of the wonder wheel" (I wrote everything in lower case back then...maybe I thought I was e.e. cummings).  I know that I actually wrote it on the subway -- I had traveled backwards to Coney to pick up another train line (a number of lines terminate there).  And it was Palm Sunday, which is the first day every year that the rides begin to operate.  (They run on weekends only until Memorial Day.)  I looked out the subway window and felt very Coney, and scribbled down the poem then and there.  (I wrote poetry very quickly and usually at one sitting.)  Most of my poetry is lost now, but I do remember parts of a few good ones.

Mitzvahs (or is it "mitzvoth"?) of the week:  my sister-in-law Elise, who would be a saint if there were Jewish saints, went to a Jewish non-profit (she works for one and knows them all), and brought a pile of free dressier clothes for Barry.  Three suits, maybe a dozen button-down shirts, and as many ties.  (You can't wear jeans to Back-to-Work, so Barry's basically been doing it in one pair of black chinos.)

Then Elise offered to take me to the supermarket and she would pay.  (This is a double mitzvah since we don't have a good supermarket close by and she drives.)  So I did a pretty serious shop, and got us stocked up on things I can eat and things Barry can eat (which are almost total opposites at this point).  It was a good shop, and except for the fruits and vegetables, should last us for a good bit.  I'm hoping we'll get food stamps within a couple of weeks.

I'm concentrating my job hunt on creative companies and universities.  I need work soon, but I'd prefer somewhere that I can be happy, and hopefully make a decent wage.  After these CTC classes, my Word and Excel will be sharp, and I'll have Powerpoint and Quickbooks.