Apr 28, 2010

Fumblr

I'm slowly going to start moving this blog over to tumblr. Which means you can now also find me at mollykay.tumblr.com. I feel a bit half-hearted about the whole thing, but at least no one will have to write my difficult-to-spell last name into the url anymore.

On a slightly unrelated note, we had this canvas bag that I got at the Tumblr Reads thing a little while ago that said "tumblr" on the front, but Matt changed it to read "fumblr." Now I can't stop thinking of it that way. Probably because if my website could be named mollykay.fumblr.com, I think that would make a lot more sense with who I am.

Apr 27, 2010

You can't do that to a jellyfish!

Some woman apparently spends a lot of time recording her husband talking in his sleep. Then she posts clips of what he says on the Internet. Here's the link. It might be my favorite thing ever.

I don't know how Kevin finds things like that (and this, which entertained me for longer than I should probably admit) but I am very grateful that he does.

Apr 26, 2010

Downhill from here

There are a lot of things I'm going to miss about our apartment when we leave. So instead I have been trying to focus on the negative. For example, I'm looking forward to no longer having a compost. Actually, scratch that. Composting is fine, but I am definitely looking forward to not having a compost bin in the yard that is filled with food sludge which gets covered with a layer of maggots inches thick in the summer because no one (we share it with another house) has ever bothered to add stuff like leaves and twigs that would make it turn back into dirt.

Also, I am looking forward to not having a wooden floor that, while charming, has small- to medium-size cracks between each of the slats, making cleaning extremely difficult. And I will enjoy having an oven that can actually be heated to a specific temperature, and a toilet that doesn't need to be jiggled after every flush.

None of that really matters, though. Secretly I think it's very possible that I could live the rest of my life without ever finding a place I like so much again.

Apr 25, 2010

Friday, April 23rd

At 7 pm I went to a Mexican restaurant to meet Matt. I was very early, so I sat at the bar, drinking a margarita and reading The Possessed, by Elif Batuman. Every few pages I'd find a passage I liked so much that I'd stop for a moment and put the book down to just think about how good it was. Like this one, which came after Batuman's explanation of how she ended up spending a summer teaching English in Hungary:

"Today this all strikes me as somehow typical of this way things happen, when you try to follow life. Events and places succeed one another like items on a shopping list. There may be interesting and moving experiences, but one thing is guaranteed: they won't naturally assume the shape of a wonderful book."

During these breaks I noticed that there was a basketball game on, that the woman next to me was wearing an incredibly low cut shirt, and that she could not ever seem to manage to pay attention to basketball—for some reason, she explained to her date, she finds it both mesmerizing and boring. And then I saw the fish. It was in a little round bowl filled with dirty water sitting on top of the soda jets. It wasn't moving and after a while I asked the bartender if maybe the fish was dead. "Oh no," he told me, and then he tapped the glass a few times. Sure enough it fluttered around for a moment before settling back to the bottom again. "We change the water every few days," he said. "He's just depressed."

This made sense to me. It strikes me as slightly barbaric, the way we keep fish in these tiny glass cages that they just circle through, again and again. My Dad tells me this endless circling doesn't bother fish, because they have no memory, but my dad keeps fish. One fish, actually, named Blackie, I think (there used to be two), who is grotesquely large for a goldfish, although you can't quite tell from this picture. He lives in a tank meant for a regular sized fish in my dad's kitchen, with only a piece of obsidian to keep him company. How could this kind of life not make a thing go insane?

Apr 24, 2010

Oh Northampton

It's so hard to know what to think about it. On the one hand there is this:
But there is also this:

Apr 22, 2010

I now understand this as an elaborate Internet joke

These days my Yahoo email account is mostly just a recipient for my junk mail, but I do consistently enjoy reading the featured dating advice on the home page. Yesterday's, for example, informed me that the things happy couples should talk about include their childhoods, current events, and their views on TV and movies. "Compared to politics and personal fears, entertainment might seem pretty shallow," the article explained, "but discussions about movies can fall into the 'deep' category if you focus on character motivations and plots rather than on, say, the cute leading actors."

I then clicked on another article that offered to help me learn if I'm ready to commit. The way to do this, apparently, is to ask one's partner a number of questions. For example, I should ask him if he envisions us growing old together.

As far as gauging the answer: "If your mate quips, 'How the heck do I know, that is a long way off' or 'I guess so,' neither answer should satisfy you. To suggest that you or your mate is uncertain of your eventual fate together -- or cannot envision those "golden" years as a couple -- should be a neon sign with bright red lights that flash, 'This may only be temporary.'"

Is it possible that there exist people for whom this information is illuminating? If so, where are these people, and how have they survived to dating age?

Growing up weird

Sometimes it really surprises me that even though Mirabelle appears to believe that Matt and I purposefully torture her by doing things like vacuuming and making her take showers (we would give her baths like a normal dog gets but we only have a shower—if she were human I'm sure this would be a strong point of contention in her teenage years), she still seems to like us pretty well.

Apr 21, 2010

Aquagirl

My first job was at this restaurant called The Black Dog. You have probably seen the t-shirts. They have a standing dog (a black one, obviously) in profile on the front and the restaurant name on the back. They got popular a long time ago, back when people liked to consume as conspicuously as possible—having a shirt from The Black Dog was a way of letting the world know you had been to Martha's Vineyard, which is an island with a bunch of fancy houses off the coast of Massachusetts. There are also a bunch of less fancy houses, one of which was owned by my grandparents, and this was I ended up in Martha's Vineyard for August the summer I was 15.

I was a dishwasher. The other dishwashers were Brazilian, and I still remember the Portuguese word for knife—faca—which I'm sure only stuck in my mind because it sounded dirty. I always worked the morning shift and would leave every day stinking of eggs, riding my bike back to the house because I couldn't drive yet. Pretty much everyone who worked there was ages older than me, except for one other kid who worked in the kitchen who I quickly developed a brooding crush on.

Eventually, one afternoon he invited me to go swimming at some spot he knew nearby—he lived on the island year round, and so knew places to go that I didn't. Once we got there and had stripped down to our bathing suits, he told me a few things about himself. He had been born with six fingers on both hands, he said, but the extra fingers were cut off as soon as he'd been born. He showed me his hands, and sure enough, there were strange little scars right next to his pinkies. He'd also been born with six toes on each foot, and he showed me his feet and I counted six toes on either side. And then he told me the part I've wondered about ever since. His sister, he said, had been born with gills.

I was not turned off by any of this information, it only made him more intriguing in my eyes, but it was near the end of the summer and we didn't hang out again after before I left. A few years later I ran into him on the ferry to the island. He was older, and had shed the gangly awkwardness of early adolescence. When I asked him what he was up to, he told me he had become a drug dealer, the biggest drug dealer on the island, in fact. Maybe it was true. Although it now occurs to me that if he really was, he probably wouldn't have been sharing his business with some girl he hardly knew who he ran into on the ferry. But I still wonder about those gills.

Apr 20, 2010

The impossible perfect life

The first thing I thought when I saw this picture (from this blog called Old Chum), was that if I lived in a house that looked like that, I couldn't imagine that anything could ever really be wrong. But then I realized the place I live right now is basically just like that house, and I certainly wouldn't say that nothing is ever wrong.
That blog is also where I found this picture, which I realized is a pretty much perfect representation of how the future feels to me at the moment. Have I mentioned that I'm moving back to New York? To do I'm not exactly sure what, and live I'm not sure where, and support myself I'm not exactly sure how? I feel a bit like I'm throwing everything all up in the air, and all I can do is hope it all lands with me when it comes back down.

Apr 19, 2010

Bachelorette weekend, night 2

Among other things, we went to see an Iron Maiden cover band playing at a brewery in Pennsylvania. Predictably, they were awesome.

Apr 18, 2010

Bad Hair

The Bed & Breakfast we all stayed at last night had a very special book in the sitting room. At first Liz thought it was called Dad Hair.
Which made sense for a while. Until we got to the ladies.

Apr 17, 2010

Bachelorette weekend night 1

We are at a dance club on the Lower East Side which is really just a basement with an uneven cement floor and some chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, which is low enough to touch. We have just arrived and some of us are sitting down at some banquettes in the back that are filled with other a bunch of other people's stuff. A few others are standing nearby, starting to dance and quickly shedding layers of clothing. Abruptly a girl slides down next to the bride-to-be.

"Hey," she says. She had been sitting there before we sat down. But actually she's sort of screaming because it's unbelievably loud. "You guys can sit here, but don't steal my stuff."

"Okay," my friend says. "But we're not really those kind of people. It's my bachelorette party."

"Oh my god!" the girl says (screams). She looks to be about twenty, and a few minutes later we saw her and some guy she's there with go into the bathroom together. "I am so, so happy for you. Seriously. That's amazing. Just remember, it's about the marriage not the wedding." She's been looking my friend right in the eye. "I'm so moved and excited for you. And I know this is totally New York, but seriously, still don't steal my stuff."

Apr 16, 2010

Two ways to be a genius

1. Was talking to a genius (!) (from the Apple store) and his Apple co-worker last night, sharing service industry stories. One time, a lady from Cambridge, England, came up to one of them who had a masters from Cambridge. He told her this. "What happened?" she asked.

2. I never saw anyone spit in someone's food. But I did have a co-worker who would "crop dust," which involved walking by a particularly obnoxious customer while unleashing a monster fart. He also stashed drugs in various clubs around the city, so as not to have to carry them around with him. He was sort of a genius, albeit in ways that might not serve him so well in the end.

Apr 14, 2010

I would be so much better off as an accountant

Today I did what is probably the singular most nerdy thing I do all year—I sat down with two pencils, some whiteout, and a calculator, and did my taxes. I started doing them a few years ago because I didn't want to pay someone to do what I imagined I could probably figure out myself, and even though it would be a stretch to describe what I do with taxes as having much to do with figuring anything out—the whole thing remains a massive bureaucratic mystery to me—I kept doing them because it turned out I really liked it. There are so few tasks in life that offer such clearly defined endpoints, and when I find one I stick with it.

This not to say that I do my taxes well. I certainly don't do them quickly. But gradually I've gotten a little better. This year things went smoothly enough, even though the instructions on the state forms were predictably ridiculous. "If Section B line 14 is greater than Section A line 6, subtract line 32 from 31 on Form 1 and place the result both on Section B line 8 and on Form 1 line 33." There really was one line just like that. Although I should probably point out that last year I thought things went smoothly enough too, but over the next few months the IRS informed me of not just one but three mistakes. I am sure people at the IRS hate people like me.

But however things turn out, I got through them, and a little over six hours later, I was signing things and addressing envelopes. Tomorrow I will send them off, and this will mark the first time in my whole life that my taxes have gotten done on time.

Apr 13, 2010

What to do after jumping in the river

I sort of feel like this is what it looks like to stare death in the face:

Today was sort of a bust

This is how unfocused my morning was.
Things got a little better in the afternoon, but only a little.

Apr 12, 2010

Flying vs. mind reading

My mom was visiting a little while ago, and the conversation eventually got around to the inevitable endpoint question of all meandering conversations: If you could fly or read minds, which would you choose? We both immediately decided we would choose flying.

I mean, obviously we would choose flying. How could mind reading beat flying? Most of my thoughts, at least, are pretty bland. Except that until a few years ago it seemed so interesting to know what other people were thinking, generally because I was curious to know what they were thinking about me, and I was never sure which to choose. These days, though, it turns out I actually don't really care.

Apr 11, 2010

Back when computer screens were black, and text was white, and the cursor was a little blinking box

Certain emotions, I have assumed for years, are easily misunderstood when expressed via email. My first sense of this was around 1992, when my dad had email but I hardly understood what it was, and he received an email from a colleague that made him very angry.

The whole thing escalated very quickly, but eventually it turned out, at least in part, to be based on a misunderstanding. Once it was resolved, my dad passed on his newly acquired information about this unfamiliar technology to me by warning that emotional expressions seem to easily morph into something else via email. Also, that anger escalates quickly. I think his point was that being able to type and send ideas so fast sometimes leaves you sending something you might otherwise think better of, but in the years since then, in my mind at least, this has morphed into the idea that an emotion itself, when seen on a computer screen, can simply become bigger than it is.

But now I am thinking maybe this isn't it. Maybe emotions are simply expressed more bluntly in emails, and while this might make them more jarring, maybe it also leaves them more honest. Because really all those other expressions that surround our feelings when we express them verbally, the ones that impress the listener that we might be angry, but not out of control, or sad, but not in a way anyone should worry about, are simply meant to comfort the person you're talking to, and don't have much bearing on how you're really feeling at all.

Apr 10, 2010

De Robertis

I've made a few sort of important decisions in the last few days that on the surface probably look a bit strange. Mostly because they've all consisted of walking away from opportunities, and not too many opportunities have presented themselves in the last year, so walking away from anything at all feels a bit odd, even to me, and I'm used to making odd decisions about what direction to take my life. But at the moment my internal compass seems to have a pretty clear idea about things, and when that happens I generally feel like it's probably important to follow along.

Last night I passed by this old bakery named De Robertis on 2nd Ave., though, and remembered one time that I had a clear sense of what I should do but didn't do it. It was about six years ago, and I was looking for a waitressing job. I knew that at that point in my food service career I could probably find a pretty well-paying one, so I'd gone by Balthazar and they'd sent me to Pastis and I was supposed to start training the next week. But meanwhile I'd passed by De Robertis and seen a help wanted sign in the window.

I'd passed by the place before and never thought much of it. But that day I got this really strong sense that I should work there, that in fact my whole life was running with this current that had brought me exactly to that little bakery at exactly that moment. Which was strange because there was nothing about the place that particularly appealed to me. I imagined the customers mostly consisted of old Italian ladies and old-school East Village residents. I also imagined the pastries were probably dry, that the cake frosting left a pasty layer of shortening on your tongue, and that the same cakes stayed in the window for years on end.

Inside, I think, there was a black and white tiled floor, a bunch of rickety tables, and lots of brightly colored Italian cookies in a case. I talked to the woman behind the counter about the job, but my urge to work there made so little sense to me that after I moment I left and never went back.

Every once in a while, though, I wonder what would have happened if I had worked there instead of at Pastis, especially since so many of the things that have happened in my life since then have sprung, at least in part, from that job. Which maybe means that even when you don't follow your gut things can still turn out okay, and for some reason I find that comforting.

Apr 9, 2010

Some things we liked about yesterday

This grave:
The pyramid mausoleum:
This tree's roots:
And these guys:

Apr 7, 2010

Another thing I was confused about

When I was about 12 and got my hands on a copy of Seventeen magazine for the first time, I decided it must be a catalog. I then spent a number of hours searching, diligently, for the page that would tell me how to order something. Not that I had any money to order anything with, but I wanted the option.

When I finally realized it was not a catalog but a magazine, I thought my ignorance about the whole situation reflected a deeper inadequacy on my part and experienced a pang of shame at my essential uncoolness, a feeling I experienced often in middle school. Now, though, it seems a perfectly reasonable assumption, since really Seventeen was just one long ad for back to school clothes. At least that was true of September issue (and that was the one I got my hands on.) I still remember how it smelled (like Obsession, that Calvin Klein perfume), and the pictures of pretty, wholesome girls in plaid skirts running around in a field, wearing Keds. It was a vision of life that had nothing to do with my own, but if I could have stepped right into that magazine, and lived in it, I would have.

Apr 5, 2010

If I could be an element I'd be water

When I was a kid there was a period when I was terrified of firemen. My mom finally asked me what the problem was and it turned out that I assumed that because the appearance of firetrucks often correlated fairly exactly with fires (I am sure I did not use the word correlate), I believed that firemen were the ones actually starting the fires. So whenever they were blazing down the street with sirens running, I assumed this was what they were heading off to do, which was scary.

Of course, I was just a child, and children often come up with conclusions about how things work that turn out to be wrong. But it makes me wonder if maybe adults do this too, just about things that are vaguer and less likely to be talked about, and that therefore never have the opportunity to be corrected. I guess, now that I'm thinking about, this is sort of what therapy is all about. Except that when you're an adult, discovering that some essential belief that you've been basing your life around is actually a misunderstanding isn't enough to get you to let it go.

Apr 4, 2010

Childhood hallucinations

When I was a kid I believed in Santa in part because everyone I knew seemed to believe in Santa, but also because I had physical proof. Not only did Santa always drink the milk and eat the cookies we left for him, he also left me a note. This was in floral, cursive writing I now recognize as my dad's.

My proof of the tooth fairy mostly involved the fact that she left me stuff, and this was true of my proof of the house fairy as well. When I was a kid I always spent August sharing a room with three of my cousins, and the house fairy, an ingenious concept of my grandmother's, would leave us presents when we cleaned up and made our beds and did stuff like that. The fact that the house fairy's aims so exactly matched up with the aims of the adults in the house never led me to question her status as an actual supernatural fairy whose only interest in life was checking to see if my cousins and I had indeed made our beds. But last year, while cleaning out my grandmother's house, my cousins and I discovered her stash of unused house fairy gifts. As for the tooth fairy, my mom just told me she actually kept all those little baby teeth of mine I left under my pillow, and has them in her room somewhere. Until recently, it turns out, they were stored with my grandmother's dentures.

My proof of the Easter bunny involved not only the basket I always got, but also the little bunny prints she left all over the house while she went around hiding chocolate eggs in unexpected places. I now recognize these as the unique mark of my mother's three middle fingers when dipped in baby powder. There was something else too, though, because one Easter afternoon I was hunting for eggs in someone's backyard when I happened to look out towards the street and see the Easter bunny hopping down the street. Really. I remember this vividly. A life-size bunny was hopping down the street, not even walking down the street the way a man in a bunny suit would if he were, say, on his way to some Easter egg hunt where the parents had hired him to make for a memorable Easter for their kids. The bunny, appropriately, was carrying a basket.

All my fantasies of these supernatural gift-bringing creatures have dissolved, but I never have quite wrapped my head around what might have been going on with that last one.

Apr 2, 2010

After the apocalypse

I think everything will look just like this.

Apr 1, 2010

Hypothesis

That blowing one's nose and washing dishes are techniques learned by exactly mimicking the manner in which one's parents complete such tasks. Also, that no matter how many other types of nose-blowing and dishwashing one eventually is exposed to, one rarely deviates from the original method. One exception: if one's nose blowing technique is deemed "gross" or otherwise generally unacceptable by one's peers. Another exception: if one's dishwashing technique is deemed "delinquently wasteful" or otherwise environmentally unacceptable by one's peers.

(Both of these situations have happened to me, although I have yet to really change my dishwashing technique, so I guess it's not really an exception at all. I probably should, though. I use the running water incessantly technique as opposed to the soak, wash then rinse technique that is, I'm sure, far more inefficient where water is concerned.)