Thursday, December 29, 2005



i forgot to mention what was originally intended to be the whole point of that post, or at least its punchline. included in the box are two tubular entities called,


i thought chub was a fish, but apparently it's also a sausage-like wad of meat or cheese.

see, they gave us the gift of knowledge.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


can't pick 'em.

christmas was good, as i said. i successfully navigated being away from my family, and as my mother says, now we know we can do it. not necessarily in a big hurry to do it again. i imagined that a christmas alone would be restful, but there was so much cooking and cleaning involved. i always thought people who hated holiday stress should just slow down, but i think i underestimated how much elbow grease is involved in throwing a christmas, even a stripped down one for two people who don't care about napkin rings.

the other thing that was troubling was that christmas was all about me. i'm used to this at my parents' house, but in my house i thought it would be more . . . mutual. i mean, neither of us has a lot of money, but the monkey borders on being in serious straits--and still, presents for louella ranneth over. between his largesse and my mother's ridiculous and lavish habits, i was surrounded by mounds of tissue paper. it sounds childish to be worried about who has more gifts to open, but the disparity was pretty noticeable even though i'd tried to push my budget to compensate.

and it's uncomfortable not becuase i get more toys, but because i get more attention. my mom freaks out when i can't come home for christmas, sends boxes of chocolate and overflowing christmas stockings and A CHRISTMAS TREE VIA UPS, and the monkey's parents send him

a hickory farms gift pack.

remember in dead poet's society, when the kid gets a desk set from his cold, distant parents?

christmas ends up being a study in contrast: my relationship with my parents, for all it's weird co-dependence, is a picture of unconditional love. and the monkey's relationship with his parents is a picture of why people shouldn't have children if they're not interested in liking them. this wonderful, beautiful man--and his mother can't even be bothered to stop by when she's in new york to say hello and meet the girlfriend.

i don't want to meet them.

but i do want him to have a family. i'll know this, next christmas. that some special care and comfort is needed to ensure there are no lost boys.

i want to kick them in crotch.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005



i went to midnight mass with the monkey and the best one. and i got the giggles, bad. it started when the priest began the homily with,


what would happen
if we could look at the story of the birth of christ
and say that it was truly


and then he paused, and just as i was thinking, is he trying to reach the kids, here, or are we looking at a more straightforward definition of "awesome," free from contemporary connotations?

and then he said,


he delivered the whole homily as if it were in free verse--very measured, very grand, lots of pausing. it was designed to impress.


does god want

from usssss?


can we learn

from thisss


and at one point, the best one whispered in my ear,


the great

and powerful


and i lost my shit. apparently i succeeded in keeping quiet, but the pew was shaking something fierce. i hope everyone who was disturbed by my disturbance ended up forgiving me; a few pew neighbors were markedly cold during the kiss of peace.

it was a good christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005


everyone knows rhode island is full of commies.

bill o'reilly is right. there is a war being waged against christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


when life hands you chunks of the wrong candy.

you guys, this sucks.

you'd think having a strike-day at home would give me ample time to blog about the weirdness of current new york, but inertia was difficult to overcome. a city at rest tends to stay at rest.

i will say this: the transit union needs someone charismatic, sensitive and intelligent to articulate their concerns to the public immediately. in fact, two days ago. the people of this city hear every hour about the demands--retirement at 55, no contribution to pension and health, pay raises--and rarely about anything more sympathy-inducing. it's difficult to be patient without hearing more backstory that can explain the dire circumstances, especially when so many of us who rely on public transportation have no health insurance or pension, can't imagine being able to retire at 55, and make less money than most MTA workers. the union is not doing a very good job of cultivating public support. especially given that it is 18 degrees with wind chill outside. i keep thinking about little old ladies and people who need to get somewhere for dialysis.

it's never that simple, though. there must be six more sides to the story. roger toussaint said on the news the other day that the MTA had never bargained in good faith, that important leaders hadn't even come to the table until the eleventh hour, and that they were certainly responsible for some of the current impasse--and yet the only people being fined were the workers. and if the MTA did behave badly, who would tell us? the mayor? i have to admit i find it hard to believe this strike is justified, but two entities created the situation and only one is being held responsible for its fallout. i wish the union were telling people more about what went down to make the strike seem inevitable. i don't think i'd magically turn sympathetic, but i do wish i knew more.

and underneath it all is this heady fascination with a situation in which laborers control the city. the disparity between rich and poor here is unlike any i've ever known. when the rich in this city speak, when they demand something, everyone listens. when bus drivers speak, no one does--but they do today. everytime someone calls this strike illegal, or shames the labor leaders, or denounces their selfishness, i'm left thinking: this is their power. this is what we have, the baristas and the checkout girls and the waiters and the cabbies and the doormen. you can't create a world in which you rely on us but in which we wield no power. it doesn't work like that. no matter how poor a decision this strike is, and how much awfulness results, there's a tenor to the finger-wagging that seems suspicious to me. disrupting the status-quo is the only weapon the working class has. their choice to use it right now is questionable, but so is this paternal, elitist "shame on you" act the city is pulling.

it's a crappy situation, no question. i'm generally pro-labor, but living here and seeing what's going on makes it very, very hard to be supportive. no good reason for the action is being publicized. no one is explaining why we can't get to the doctor, why we're going unpaid for days of missed work, why old men with walkers are hoofing it down broadway.


*i made both bread and candy yesterday. the candy was supposed to be homemade gumdrops; i boiled it too long and it turned into lollipop pieces. still delicious!

*the cookie party was, finally, the huge success it deserved to be. despite one moment in which social stress got the better of me, i think a good time was had by all. it had a nice vibe. and who knew we could really have twelve people in our station-wagon-sized living room?

*two things are abundantly clear: the monkey and i have a tough row to hoe, and we are seriously committed to the hoeing of it. age increasingly proves life to be a strange story in which our heroine faces, one by one, the very challenges she most heartily wishes never to encounter. all things that make one stronger, all things you could very well live your life without ever having to deal with. somedays i am tempted to believe Someone Important knows where the chinks in my armor are. if there is less joy than struggle right now, i believe it won't be that way for always.

*bread AND CANDY.

Friday, December 16, 2005


yuletide gay.

office christmas party last night.

funny; like, five people i thought were gay here are married--including some i was dead sure about, whose significant others' gender-neutral names ("robin," "chris") clinched my understanding. (and yes, i know it's possible to married and gay; still.)

i made poor drinking choices in my effort to maximize the open bar opportunity, and spent the evening trying to hang on to a presentable sobriety. woke up . . . compromised. still at my desk, a trooper.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


good things afoot.

so, due to the piece on my solo show in Backstage and a re-connection with an old acquaintance at a swanky party at a great theatre, i just got a gig to do my solo show for a month of thursdays in march. i'm proud of myself; i almost didn't make it to the party after the twin traumas of The Unmarital Therapy and a truly shitty work day that contained zero meal breaks. but i did make it, and i was reminded how lovely it is to have a home, especially when it's a home with a few naked cabaret acts, an open bar and some jugglers. when the effort feels good and pays off, it's a good day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005



rumor has it there will be a train strike on friday. i was sort of paying attention to this rumor, but not really seriously. i have a hard time believing that a strike is going to shut down the subway for a long time. a day, maybe. a weekend. and that's pretty serious, but i feel like the effect on the end user is going to be sort of like when a giant storm is predicted: it might happen, it might shut everything down for a day or two, but new york is more or less functionally incapable of grinding to a real halt.

i got interviewed on the train this morning by a reporter from the times, and i'm afraid i sounded like someone i would mock if i read the piece. what do you think of the MTA workers' demands? um, i don't really know. i have been too busy working on my college applications and upcoming holiday party to watch the news. and at work, i prefer blogging to keeping informed. erp.

my friend kevin, who lives in paris, endured a transit strike a few years ago. he said it was actually very inspiring: people driving cars would open their doors to passers by and give them rides; you could see lots of well-dressed guys on rollerblades scooting into work along the sidewalks.

somehow, just as paris eclipses new york in charm on almost every conceivable level, i feel sure that we will not be car-sharing and roller skating. what i *hope* we will be doing is staying home and drinking khalua and cream for breakfast (although i'm sure there are many, many subwayriders in this city who can't afford to miss a day's work this winter, and staying home does not mean freebie morning to them, just increased strappedness).

i don't want to go to work, but more than that, i just hope i don't sound stupid in the paper.

Monday, December 12, 2005


a tear in the anterior cruciate.

there's this feeling you sometimes get--and i think it happens more to those of us who are embarrassed to admit we tend towards the self-pity--when you've torqued the bejaysus out of your knee, again, and you spend a couple months in an immobilizing brace. and this isn't the problem time, because you're doing what it takes to get better, and everyone gives up their bus seat to you because of your scary darth vader leg and makes space for you on the elevator and offers to help you pick up your pen because bending down is a pain.

then comes the time when you take the brace off, and your knee is this tiny atrophied sparrow knee, it looks like a sick drumstick, it kind of grosses you out and what's more, you've sort of forgotten how to bend it. you walk to work trying not to mind the jerks who push you from behind on the subway stairs because you don't climb fast enough, and you are tempted to notice every single sixteen year old who sprints by with their dumb perfect knees, who don't even know that they have them; their knees are round and dimpled and robust and they can turn on a dime and totter around on precarious shoes and they probably don't even want to go skiing or a to dance class or do child's pose, even though they can and you can't.

if you're lucky, you get to go to physical therapy and work on the knee. when you're home doing the exercises, it feels like your tiny chicken knee is permanently fucked, you're going to work and work and it still might never be the same, and you maybe think about those sixteen year olds and if you feel like wallowing you have a great excuse.

except i torqued my relationship--or, i didn't, no one "did" it, but it's gotten bent the wrong way somehow, and going to the dumb therapist today was like the very first time you try one of those impossible exercises and it isn't even just that you can't do them, it's that you can't do them but you will have to try every day, twice a day, to do them; you have six months of trying and failing, failing every morning, ahead of you just to get to where everyone else is naturally.

it's the same feeling i used to get in second grade when we got the full-page dittoes made of rows and columns of three-digit-number addition problems, big blocky pieces of math that made me want to go home, an entire page of them and i would sit at my desk and silently weep at the thought of so much frustration and failure ahead of me. i was a six year old who couldn't pick up a pencil.

i'm trying not to think of it this way. i know starting is a good thing. preferable, definitely, to not starting. there are also just pages and pages and mornings and mornings and lots of kleenexes ahead of us, and i feel like we are training for a very frightening marathon where masses of maimed people try to run and the bystanders all applaud like you guys are making so much progress! and it's so great that you're doing this! but secretly they think you are deformed and they're looking forward to going home with their non-maimed spouse to tango and slalom.

this is coming out sort of wrong; it's not that i think i have it so hard compared to mythical normal people; i'm just feeling daunted by the largeness of the task ahead.

a man in my writer's group lost his dad this year. his dad had brain cancer, and the first sign was his degenerating memory. his dad had to go to the occupational therapist a lot and do these memory exercises that were designed for children--young children--and he couldn't always do them. and my friend said that no matter how much he faltered, no matter how many elementary tasks aimed at ten year olds he couldn't accomplish at fifty-seven, he didn't spend much time being embarrassed, or feeling bitter about the huge amounts of work he had to put in just to make a show of keeping up. he just did it because it needed doing.

the therapist has a one-eyed cat named julie, and i think that's pretty awesome, so . . . leg lifts.


and next time, waterproof mascara.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


"mr." asshat.

at work today, i went over a list of bugs i'd found in some software. the software was written in french, and some of the translations are awkward. for example, the contact area has some options for people's titles. the titles are:


this seemed weird, so i found some business standards website that confirmed that in the US, it's standard to address woman in a business context as,


so i logged a bug about it. when we went over the bug list today, it was me, my immediate boss, the project manager, and this otherlady. my boss (female) and the project manager (male) have had incredible conflicts right by my desk before. she has some weird notions, and i can see how it might be difficult to manage her, but the guy routinely yells at her, and is dismissive and disrespectful--stuff that would make me angry but i'd show it by crying. it's weird; he has some good points about my difficult boss, but he is also totally inappropriate, and often comes out with these misogynist or homophobic zingers that take my breath away. he's british, and i wonder if, i don't know, offices are different over there.

anyway. i describe the issue, and the project manager says:

oh, come on.

and i say, no, really. i mean, i think if i were a CEO and got a business letter and it was addressed to "miss" byrne, i think i wouldn't like it. i might even be offended.

the otherlady says, i would be offended. my boss is staying completely silent.

and he snorts and says: this is a place of business

and i say, that is why i'm suggesting this. this is a business suggestion.

and he rolls his eyes and says, oh, get over yourselves.

and i laugh really, really loud! and say, no! you get over it!

and then i move us on to the next agenda item.

and that was a few hours ago, but i seriously want to punch something.


mendacious, improvident, perspicacious.

no one should ever tempt me with superlatives, or words like "perfect."

and, frankly, it's not very meaningful, but: i did get a full 800 on the verbal section. made me feel good.

i didn't realize that they were going to give me my score right away. except for the writing parts, which get shipped off to some adjunct faculty somewhere for scoring. computers, man. the monkey called to remind me to bring two--no, three!--number two pencils with me for the test, and i gently broke it to him that no one uses pencils anymore, only clicking fingers. although they do give you pencils for the scratch paper stuff, and oddly the computer screen administering the test cautions you that they must be number two pencils. why, i can't imagine. also, you can't bring anything into the room with you--not your purse, not your coat, nothing--except your ID (which you have to show them more or less constantly, especially if you want to go to the bathroom) and if you get too warm and want to take your sweater off, you have to get up and leave the room and put it outside, because it's against the rules to have it sitting at your feet or hanging on your chairback. i guess in case your bowtie is really a camera.

but, it's over. on to revising my eight-year-old undergraduate thesis.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


number two pencil.

i'm taking the GRE today.

i took a practice one on sunday and did really well.

i took a practice one last night and felt like an idiot.

why is algebra so hard to reclaim? why have i not made flashcards?

i'm trying not to taunt myself for not studying the math like a replicant. i perhaps could have hit it harder, but: will the Ph.D. people even care about my math score? and: i had other stuff to do, like write essays. and: i did study, some. and that's to be proud of.

tests don't usually scare me, but i'm afraid now. i think it's because any situation that's set up to judge my readiness/appropriateness/deservingness of something i want now feels like an audition, and it's been a year or so since one of those went the way i wanted. nothing's worse than suspecting yourself to be fully capable of discharging the task you crave, but finding that some gatekeeping exercise screened you out before you could really give it a try.

i'm bringing a larabar and some juice.

think good thoughts at 4:30 eastern, if you would.

Monday, December 05, 2005


phenomenology: do dooo da doo-doo.

if pouting is so wrong, why does it feel so right?

i'm having a little pudding (sounds like: pouting!). it's extra-calcium pudding, which sort of excuses, a little, the fact that it comes in a disposable, landfill-filling plastic cup and is probably more than one-fifth plastic itself. chocolate plastic pudding.

sometimes, things are not going right.

pudding, though, is going okay. pudding is a constant.

my new thing is phenomenology. i did not know this until a month ago, but apparently there is an entire branch of philosophy based on the reality of individual lived experience. i feel like this was custom made for me. i'm reading a lot. i think this is the part of performance studies that is mine. a phenomenological approach to gender performance. if i don't get into school, i may feel stupid later for stringing those words together like a pretend-smartpants.

someone recently told me that as long as conflict is about outcomes, it's a push-pull fight--like tug of war. his suggestion to my current dilemma is that i try to approach it without ego, and maybe spend some time thinking what it's like on the other side of the argument.

i love this friend, and his advice did not come out as . . . turn-the-other-cheeky as it sounds here on the page. but i was sort of stumped. it's hard for me to imagine this situation from a point of view other then my own. i mean, i have no other points from which to view. empathy is a good thing, but when i start to think about removing my own interests from the equation, i get dizzy. because there is no equation without my interests. with my druthers erased, it's just the ghost of a girl and some lonely guy living in new york with, i imagine, a whole different set of problems.

Friday, December 02, 2005


rotten to the core.

last week the 24-h0urs plays people called the monkey to do one of their shows. those of you who know us know that theatre happenings like this are close to our hearts; that we met at one, actually. he couldn't do it because he was in rehearsal that day for the play he's doing. he was hugely bummed, as i would have been; the 24-h0ur plays are cool. and this time one of them was being written by one of our all-time favorite guys.

he was heart-warmingly nice enough to call the man back and suggest me in his stead. very, very sweet. i honestly thought that might work, but the guy never called back. sad.

except today the monkey's day off got changed for next week and suddenly he's able to do the show. he called the guy back, who had already gotten someone else, but said, hey! it's the 24-h0ur plays! we'll just have an extra guy!

so he's going to do it. and this is a great thing, but, man. it's one thing when he's getting constantly cast in musicals. it's another when he gets our dream job, then can't do it, then suggests me, and the idea is apparently so unattractive that no one even calls him back, although then they proceed to bend over backward to include him at the last minute. they saw both of us at that reading. i'm not an unknown quantity.

i suppose the greatest question is why this somehow makes me angry at him. he actually went way beyond the call to try to help me out on this one. someone else not wanting to call me back isn't his fault, nor is the fact that he went on to do a show with them and made a better, lasting impression.

i guess it's because he's here, and he is the face of win that's around when i feel invisible, and second-rate, and like i've been through the dumb rejection cycle so many times i'm starting to pill and look shabby. not his fault. but i wish he understood that part of my desire to leave this place is to get out of this situation, where the disparity between us is so wide and so constant, where i can't even forget about the incredible string of rejection when home on my couch because it follows me there. i know it's asking him to take himself out of a thing that's working out pretty well, but this just sucks so bad. it really, really sucks.

and i have to find a way to get past the petty crap when something good happens for him, even if i was rejected for the same good fortune. for now, though, maybe it's enough that i'm only venting here and not in our living room.

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