Monthly Archives: June 2003

Working the Dance Floor

So I got this job. I mean, a job. A real one.

Two weeks ago I decided to get off my ass and start looking for something because although the nailbiting anticipation and instability of temping was invigorating, my ulcers were starting to act up.

And, as we’ve discussed, $7 an hour doesn’t support my music habit.

So I sent out 12 resumes. Monday I got a call, Tuesday an interview, Wednesday a second, Thursday I was hired and I started on Friday. It’s been a whirlwind of madness, and here it is Monday and already I’m starting week two of my employment at Harvard.

Oh, Harvard. Ask, and ye shall receive. Can I just tell you? I have a seven minute commute and I get to spend my lunch hour wandering the square or writing or watching the punks in the Pit. It’s been good fun.

I won’t go into the details of my job, but I’m basically helping professors get money from non-profits and philanthropists to do research in their field. It’s a job that I feel good about. The weirdest thing is that there’s no irony. My whole employed life there’s been a tinge of “you don’t really know who I am” running underneath the current of whatever position I held. The ridiculousness of it came to fever pitch while temping at the investment firm. I just don’t care about making money. I like to have enough of it to live in Somerville, and feed myself, and go to a show or two a week. But I just don’t have that bloodthirsty drive for biggerbetterfastermore. I don’t give a shit what you think about my car, or the plaster peeling off my walls, or the fact that I bring a bagged lunch, or that my skirt is wrinkled because if I ironed it this morning I wouldn’t have had time to write.

So at this job, I can be myself. When they interviewed me, I was devastatingly honest. I felt like I owed it to myself to not have another ironic job. They asked why I left my last job. I told them marketing was sucking away my soul like some evil starving parasite. They asked where I saw myself in ten years. I said I had no clue. “Somewhere good.” And I actually let “work my ass off” slip out of my mouth during the interview. (I’m surprised I didn’t slip with, “work my fucking ass off.”) So they couldn’t wait to get me on board. And here I am, being myself, working my ass off, not showing up just to see what I can get away with or how sarcastic and cynical I can be.

It’s a young office. And full of unique individuals. And I’m getting my master’s degree for like $20. It’s out of control. Classes start September 15th and the writing major has some unbelievable courses. Creative Nonfiction Writing for the Arts. Hello?

So welcome to my world. Things are changing so quickly. It’s that time of year. June 21st has always been New Year’s for me, spring solstice. This week three years ago I relearned how to walk, two years ago I found God at a show, and last year I fell in love with a ghost. Happy anniversary, Blissboy. It’s been one hell of an adventure.

* * * * *

Peter the Great Dane is leaving for overseas from whence he came. His spring fling/going away party was insane. I felt like I was in an MTV video with every single guy in the room 6’5” and blond and drop-dead gorgeous with jaw lines that could slice apples. I’m moving to Denmark.

Peter asked me to cook the corn and I’m like, “how long do you leave it in for?” and he slaps the potholder on my shoulder and hands me the grabbers and says, “I don’t know – you’re the American.”

I danced with all the beautiful people – to Madonna – it was fun to forget my austere cynicism about pop music for one fleeting moment. I used to go clubbing all the time – Axis every Thursday and Friday night. Loved it. I haven’t been in a while but I miss it. Mon Frere has decided to take me to a lesbian bar on Thursday to dance. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe if I started dating chicks, the girlfriends of all my guy friends could chill the fuck out and retract their claws.

Ok it’s Monday morning. Welcome to another beautiful week in the city of Boston. Looks like it’s going to be a scorcher. I’ll keep you updated.

Save my seat.

Cut throat, cut out, candid glimpses and wind me up I’m ready.

P.S. Remind me to write about the following:

  • 1. Jay Clifford at the House of Blues last week
  • 2. The new Starlight Mints album (Built on Squares)
  • 3. Leo Blais at the Cellar last week
  • 4. The new Andrew Bird album (Weather Systems… *ache*)
  • 5. Kris Delmhorst at Johnny D’s last week
  • 6. The new Radiohead album (not sure why I’m going to even bother)
  • 7. Jonathan Rodgers and his wine glass symphony at The Space in CT
  • 8. New (old) Death Cab for Cutie album (You Can Play These Songs with Chords)

Such a Nice Day

Since my favorite subway serenaders have risen above the underground scene for greener pastures, the T has been a barren, musicless hole for several weeks now. It’s been plain depressing. My morning commute became a tooth-pulling, foot-dragging occasion. I found myself being on time to work every day, with no promises of “Carter’s Tune” to stall me on the subway platform. In fact, it got so dark in there that I was ready to throw myself onto the tracks.

But Leo Blais has saved mass transit.

His voice is champagne sunlight. Warmly-colored and weightless, filled with sweetness and air.

Yesterday I was heading downtown with smiles for the world after kicking ass at an interview when I heard this angelic voice filling the Harvard T station. I was instantly struck. I rounded the corner quickly, curiously. I know all the regular buskers on the Red Line. I had never heard this voice. He was plaintively singing, “…such a nice day…” It was a nice day, I conceded, having just experienced a brilliant morning. But there was a touch of irony in his voice. Not quite bitterness. More like a child who’s been slapped but isn’t sure why.

He had a harmonica and an open guitar case, beside which was piled a stack of CDs. Being largely unemployed, I have no business buying CDs. I resisted the urge, leaning on the giant metal support beam and listening. But with each shining song and each passing train, my resistance grew weak. I finally got on the subway and the whole time I was at work I just wanted to get home so I could listen to my new purchase.

I immediately searched for the song that had been stuck in my head since the second I heard him sing it. “Nice Day” is officially my new Shower Song.

So today was obviously the result of a strange planetary alignment. The Harvard job I interviewed for yesterday requested a second intreview today, so I was once again coming down the escalator and heard Leo’s sweet vocals bouncing off the dingy brick walls. And he was once again singing “…such a nice day…”. I reveled in this moment of synchronicity.

He He slid through some gorgeous finger-picked harmonica tunes and then began playing “Green Plastic Trees.” The first few lines put a little shiver in my spine. In full-on coitus interuptus, a Fat White Man came bustling hastily over, wielding his copy of the Metro. I thought he was going to smack Leo in the face with it. He was panting for breath from the sheer exertion of walking, brow damp with sweat, chapped lips twitching with agitation.

At first I thought he was some MBTA official, but he was wearing Fat White Man civilian clothing. And, of course, reading the Metro.

Leo stopped strumming as the guy lurched toward him, gesticulating wildly. “Turn that down! It’s too freakin loud! No one’s going to give you money! You’re annoying!”

I stared at him incredulously. Leo’s champagne sunlight voice singing Radiohead annoying?

The reality is that he was jealous because he wasn’t young, beautiful and golden-throated. He was jealous because he didn’t have a soul.

Leo recovered gracefully. Eventually I had to procure an iced coffee and tear myself away to meet a handful of friends and scamper about the city. But I’ve returned now, sunburned and sandy-footed, to listen to Beethoven Never Heard This once again.

The album surprised me. I guess I was expecting largely acoustic solo material. Leo’s gorgeous melodies run through all of it, but some of it is big music. Several of the tracks are catchy, almost theatrical, piano-driven tunes with bouncy drums and horns. Bright and energetic, but maybe a little poppy for my current taste — a little too clean. My favorites are the darker songs — the ones that feel like he’s seen enough pain to write valid art but not enough to be bitter.

“Nice Day” (my Shower Song) is all minor chords, strings and sweet sadness. The vocals are breathy, airy and delicious. It feels the same on the album as it did in the subway — driving in the summer with the top down, but driving away from something painfully important.

Then there are the sparse finger-picked guitar and harmonica songs I was expecting that center around his vocals. “You Just Sigh” is another big favorite of mine, and the underwater “All That You Want”, which shudders with reverb and delay.

So, yay! I love finding new music, especially in my neighborhood. And especially if Leo is going to make my morning commute sweeter this summer. I’ll have to start getting up earlier or taking a longer lunch.

This Just In

Boston, MA — Mother nature issued a retraction on her Curse of the Nonexistent Spring today, allowing the sun to emerge after the longest, coldest, rainiest spring in 37 years, sources say.
According to a report from the Harvard Botanical Society, there will regrettably be no flowers this spring since they have been buried in freezing rain for three months.
In the city of Cambridge alone, 4,267 people called in sick to work today. Phone circuits are down, having been overloaded with people frantically contacting friends and family to organize emergency outings to the coastline.
The MBTA reports that traffic is at a standstill citywide. Backup buses were arranged to handle the increased demand for service, but 35% of the mass transit operators reportedly came down with the same unexpected bout of illness, keeping them out of work today.
According to anonymous sources, Harvard Sq. is mobbed as pedestrians form a sea of bare midriffs, crowding the streets shoulder to sunburned shoulder. Dogs everywhere are howling in latent spring fever, sniffing each others butts with wild abandon. Street performers are challenging each other to compete in hand to hand combat for limited sidewalk space.
The Boston Stock Exchange has reported that sunglass sales are up 175% today, knocking umbrellas out of their reigning spot at Store 24 locations across the greater metropolitan area.
“Holy shit — Edith, look — the sun’s out!” reports area man.
No one at the Weather Service was available for comment.

Halloween & Hardware

This morning I came into the gleaming marble and platinum foyer of the gargantuan building where I’ve been putting in forty hours a week. I stopped at the concierge desk to give them my ID for entrance, and as usual, there was a bike messenger there as well. Downtown they are everywhere. They are tiny splashes of color on the urban landscape – dots of green hair and spiral print shirts, trying gracefully not to become splashes of color on the pavement.

I’ve always been attracted to the absurd and slightly frightening, the otherworldly; bells in the hair and mismatched eyes, devil horn implants; I’ve dated guys who wore more make-up than me and whose jewelry could kill a civilian at twenty paces. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll enjoy an Ambercrombie and Fitch romp every once in a while, but…

I don’t know why I’ve always been so attracted to the Bike Messenger species. Almost without exception, they are punkasses with freaked out hair, head-to-toe tattoos, and insane clothes, playing mad music on their headphones. They roll up their pants to their calves and wear ugly shoes that click on tile floors. They fascinate me. I feel this bond when they come into the office, and I feel like I’m undercover, like they couldn’t know I secretly relate to them, to their community of outcasts, dirty bars, fuck the man, and rock and roll. I used to see them at the Rathskellar downing their post-work pints, watch them in awe.

This morning as I came up to the desk, there was a messenger leaning on the desk smiling at the woman reviewing his identification. At 8:30 AM she hadn’t decided how she felt about the day yet, but he was trying to persuade her that it was going to be all right.

Even from behind he was a sight to behold, all Halloween and hardware. Slung across his chest was the uniform messenger bag: Pearl Izumi in chartreuse with a fluorescent orange ID flag stapled to it. The walkie-talkie chattering softly. He had one earphone in and the remote of his walkman clipped on to the strap of the bag.

He was leaning on the desk and when he stood up, he was easily six foot four. His hair was pale blond and kind of dreaded so it spiraled up off his head and it was tipped bright orange. Every inch of his exposed arms and legs were covered in ink, but these delicate, Tim Burton-esque curls. He had a purple ring through his nose and when he looked down at me, he froze me with these blue eyes that were so light they were almost translucent. He gave me the same warm smile that the desk concierge was presently ignoring as she smashed the computer screen with the heel of her hand.

I froze for two reasons… he was so startlingly beautiful. And I realized I knew him. He had a bit more ink on him, a few more holes, but he was Paul, and he spent the fall of ’95 drawing pictures of me with charcoals.

There was a party in Allston the first week of school. It was a big party, and pretty crowded, but I knew most of the people there. I sat down on the floor in the hallway (it occurred to me lately that there came a day when it stopped being okay to just sit on the floor) and I was wearing this ankle-length gauze skirt and burgundy Docs that I had stuck gold stars all over. I saw Paul across the room. He was one of the few people at the party I didn’t know. We made eye contact and he came over and sat down on the floor next to me. “You have stars on your shoes,” he said to me. I peeled two off and stuck them to his cheek. “You have stars on your face.”

We sat on the floor watching people for a while. Then he reached in his pocket. “I brought you something,” he said. He opened his hands slowly. It was an orange. He peeled it in one go with his very long thumbnail, in a perfect spiral, and then offered me a slice like it was a diamond. We sat on the dirty floor of this Allston apartment and he fed me oranges and watched people and said random things to one another and listened to the Verve. He told me he was a painting major.

“I want to draw you.”

“Okay.”

Our exchange was surreal and dreamlike and easy.

An hour later in the living room, he was sitting behind me in this huge chair and I was sitting on the floor between his knees. “I brought you something else,” he said. He put his enormous hand to my throat and tipped my head back gently so I’d open my mouth. He placed a pill on the end of my tongue and handed me a bottle of cider. I swallowed without a word. An hour later we were wandering in the mist, through this garden I had never seen and have never been able to find again, rolling hard and dancing through the Allston night.

We fit into that slot together for the brief time we knew each other, full-tilt and half-insane.

I sat for him in the studio of the BU School for the Arts. There was a beat up velvet couch that smelled like a church basement and it was covered with coffee stains. At least I hope it was coffee. Other painters spent the whole night in there frowning into their canvases. Mostly we went at night and I played my guitar and he drew me. It is one of the sexiest feelings in the world to have someone following every inch of you so intensely; feel their eyes mapping you, and then seeing the results – how they see you – on paper. It was a good thing he could paint because he tried to make me dinner and practically burned the apartment down with the bread.

It was fun for a few weeks. He called me to meet up with him and I tried to take a cab to his house, but got in the back of a cop car instead and rattled off the address before thinking briefly that the taxis were using serious armor these days. I never made it and we kind of lost touch after that.

So seven years later he’s standing in the lobby of this building in Post Office Square, all Halloween and hardware…

Just two days ago — before I ran into him — Ruby I were talking about gifts that guys give. I think flowers are unoriginal, and I much prefer something out of the ordinary, or something randomly meaningful, even if it’s as simple as a Magic Hat #9 bottle cap with a silly phrase inside that made him think of me. And I said, “Remember that kid Paul I went out with sophomore year? The night we met at Matt’s party he brought me an orange. That’s it right there.”

In the lobby, he kind of recognized me and he squinted like he wasn’t sure from where. I reached over the counter for my ID and he saw the BU insignia and the exposed tattoo. He took my wrist in his enormous hand, studying the tattoo. He turned those translucent eyes on me and he said, “You have a star on your wrist.” We both smiled. I walked toward the elevator as he slid the walkie-talkie out of its holster, watching me go. It was just as surreal and dreamlike as that Allston garden I’ve never been able to find again.

On Minis & “Topping”

I should really do some work but I can’t seem to bring myself to it. I got a shiny new toy on my lunch break and I had to play with it for three hours before I could be at all productive. “Productive” meaning updating Diaryland.
Toys. The new Sony Mini Disc recorder came out this week and I had to have one. So I tripped on over to Tweeter on my lunch break and traded in my battle-worn previous model. I bounced it down the escalator of the Porter Square T stop two weeks ago, unraveling the duct tape that was holding its door together. That’s 100 something feet. It started throwing mini temper tantrums so I cashed it in.
Speaking of Minis, I went to see The Italian Job last night for the second time in as many days. It’s a cheap adrenaline pusher, and I can’t get enough of it. It may be the combination of sexy Mini Coopers and sexier Charlize Theron. I either want to be her or bed her.
At my former place of employment, I was writing the Mini Web site, and then performing the quality assurance on it before it went live and Minis actually hit the road. One of my jobs was to build them online. If you go to the site, you can build your own Mini. Down to the color of the floor mats. It’s crazy. I put together some flaming winners, including my cab version in canary yellow with a black and white checkerboard roof decal.
Another favorite of mine was navy blue with the Union Jack flag roof and red interior. You are assigned a chassis number, and you can follow your very own Mini through production to showroom. There has been some controversy over whether human beings can actually fit inside a Mini Cooper, but some of the fun facts claim that a person up to 6’7” could lounge comfortably in the driver’s seat. I haven’t actually driven one, but when my taxi model arrives I’ll let you know.
In other news, popcorn at the Loew’s theatre was $25. And it wasn’t even a bucket. It was one of those crappy bags where the “butter flavored topping” seeps through and gets all over the place and you have to wipe it on the seat of the person in front of you. It thoroughly creeps me out that they actually call it “topping”. By law. I miss the good ol’ days at the cinema when we would buy a pound of Sour Patch Kids, suck the sugar off, and whip them at the screen till they stuck.
A friend of mine was citing a movie we were discussing as the first movie he “didn’t see.” I myself have never sat in the back row of a movie theatre to make out. I was a total prude in eighth grade. Come to think of it, I still am. But man, can I whip a glob of gelatinous substance at the screen like a champ. I gave Marky Mark one in the eye last night.

Skeletal Romance

There are few things more romantic than New York City on a Sunday in the pouring rain.
Although, the theme of the weekend turned out to be Old Dead Things, which in some context is Victorian and romantic in its own right.
My new favorite store is Maxilla and Mandible on Columbus and 81st, where they have a stellar arrangement of skeletons, skulls, general taxidermy, and pretty dried butterflies in glass cases.
In the same vein, soggy Saturday was spent in the Museum of Natural History. I discovered a few things while strolling the hallways of that enormous morgue. Almost everything we “know” about dinosaurs is pure speculation and paleontologists mask this fact by consulting their thesaurus and picking out the big words. That’s why it’s called a thesaurus. Also, my love of marine life and little furry things with opposable thumbs still runs deep. I didn’t have much of a social life as a child but I had National Geographic. It amazes me how much comes back to me when confronted with the twelve stages of horse evolution. Equus indeed.
A third realization was that Tom Hanks narrating the planetarium show was unsettling in a way I can’t put my finger on. With all the dramatic CGI and special effects on the domed ceiling, I wanted the guy who does the movie trailers – you know, Movie Trailer Man – “and NOW… ONE MAN’s JOURNEY…”
On Sunday I finally unearthed the secrets of the Chinatown Chickenbus. I’ve heard legend and lore of it for years, picturing the swinging open-air triple-decker vehicle surging through traffic, feathers billowing out, squalling children wrapped in swaddling clothes, women shouting in foreign languages. Anticlimactically, it was three-dozen college students and a renovated Greyhound bus. But it got me home in 4 ½ hours for $10. It gets my Bunny of Approval.
Speaking of bunny, I now understand how working parents raise fat, bratty children. Guilt. I’ve been neglectful of the Kobie rabbit since I’ve been away a lot of weekends, and in attempt to quell my own guilt, I hastily toss him a forbidden carrot whenever he gives me the imploring look. His orange bottom is verging on obese and he has taken to biting me in residual anger whenever I turn up the TV too loud.
I’m sad to say I did not get the job that I applied for at Harvard in the Zoological School Department of Evolutionary Biology. I was so excited to scan slides of amphibians and reptiles all day. I thought it would be my saving grace from the corporate world.
Have I mentioned I’ve been wearing a suit every day? Like, for real.
Happy Monday.